Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 in review

Annual year end review workbook 

I can't believe that 2015 is over.  It feels as though it went by in a whirlwind.  In my annual tradition, I am ending the year with a look back to acknowledge the year's accomplishments and evaluate the misses and then set intentions for the new year.  I find that the busyness of life means I don't always get to savor some of the accomplishments as they happen or don't take enough time to take a look at what didn't work and why so I can make corrections or be at peace with letting go.  I know this doesn't work for everyone, but taking just a few hours for this makes me feel as though I am setting myself up to make the most of the coming year.  This process helps me put things into perspective and it's interesting and rewarding to see what I was able to accomplish and how differently some things turned out from what I imagined.

Last year's word was embodiment and I dug deeper into a few topics and projects that I had been dabbling in for awhile to see where they might lead.  I enjoyed my explorations which are leading to more changes ahead and my word for 2016 which is transformation.  This is just the beginning of the changes to come, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Here are a few highlights from 2015:

Volunteering at the DC Food Bank 
My son and I usually volunteer at the DC Food Book once a month and we were able to make 8 times last year.

1.  Sorting food into bins  2.  View into the warehouse

Road trip to an ancient forest
A day trip to Beall Woods State Park in Illinois which is a forested area that has not been logged or altered and remains today pretty much as it was hundreds of years ago. 

Fall Craft Cornucopia with Hyattsville Aging in Place
A great day of demonstrations and teaching crafts along with some of my neighbors who are also crafters and artists.  I enjoyed teaching the participants how to make collaged gift tags.

Starting in the upper left:  1.  weaving demo, 2.  felting wool, 3.  some of the seniors group working on their needlework and sharing stories, 4.  my table with supplies for making tags, 5.  upcycled old t-shirt, 6.  origami instruction, 7.  wool for felting projects, 8.  origami examples, 9.  reclaimed t-shirts cut into strips ready for weaving, 10.  weaving on t-shirt strips on a stick loom, 11.  t-shirt weaving examples

Garden adventures
Lots of hard work in the garden yielded abundant harvests and filled our freezer for the winter.

Art exhibition at the Popcorn Gallery
Two pieces of my mixed media collage were chosen for an exhibition using reclaimed materials.

Thank you for reading and wishing you all the best in 2016!

Unravelling the Year Ahead
Zen Habits: The Practice of Year-end Reflection

Sunflowers in the garden

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mushroom Veggie Burger Recipe

Mushroom and eggplant burger on a whole wheat bun with garden fresh spinach, tomato and refrigerator pickles

I love a good veggie burger and enjoy giving new recipes a try.  The recipe in this video was the inspiration for a burger that has become my current favorite.  During the summer months, I even substituted eggplant for some of the mushrooms when the garden offered up an over-abundance.  (The mushroom/and eggplant version is pictured here.)

Here is my take on the original recipe:

Mushroom Veggie Burgers

(makes 6-8)

1 pound mushrooms (white button or portobellos)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup black olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Braggs amino acids or soy sauce
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce 
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 teaspoons garlic powder or 3-4 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper  (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 to 1 cup rolled oats, oat flour or bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking burgers

1.  Process the mushrooms in a food processor until mushy.
2.  Cook over medium heat in a skillet, stirring often until most of the water is cooked out.  Put in a large bowl.
3.  Using the same skillet, stir fry the onions and peppers until wilted.  Add to the bowl with the mushrooms.
4.  Add garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, Braggs, barbeque sauce, olives and brown rice and 1/2 cup of the oats or breadcrumbs to the bowl.  

5.  Mix well.  
6.  If the mixture seems too moist, add more oats or breadcrumbs until the mixture holds together.
7. Shape into 6-8 burgers.  
8.  In a skillet heated over medium heat with olive oil, cook until browned on both sides, turning only once to keep from breaking apart
8.  Serve on buns with your favorite burger toppings.  

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
Eggplant veggie burgers
Whole wheat sandwich rolls

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December Garden Update

Giant bowl of mixed greens:  rainbow chard, spinach, arugula and kale

At this time of year I'd normally be snuggled up in front of a cracking fire to write this post. However, this year, we've got the windows open and the warm weather feels more like late September than December.  Whether it's because of global warming, El Niño or just a normal shift in weather patterns, we are enjoying harvests far longer than usual.  Amazingly, the last of the summer peppers were just picked in mid-December!  The hoop frame tunnels only have a layer of light garden fabric over them instead of the usual layer of fabric topped by heavy plastic that is usually need to protect the fall and winter garden from cold weather.  Here are a few photos of the late fall garden as we head into winter.  

A view inside the fabric covered tunnel where collards, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, onion seedlings grow during the cool weather months

A sea of arugula

Tender spinach

Swiss chard

The last harvest of this summer peppers

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Highlights from this summer's garden

Most of the summer garden is gone as the days have grown shorter and the temperatures cooler.  Although the garden got off to a slow start because of a cool spring, production picked up and we were not disappointed with the variety in our harvests.  Here are some of my favorite garden photos from this year.

Sunflowers were abundant in the garden this year, and beautiful from both the front and back view.

Colorful lima beans

A day's harvest #1

A day's harvest #2

A day's harvest #3

A day's harvest #4

A day's harvest #5

Soy beans

Zinnia glamour shot

I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Discovering aquafaba - Vegan Lemon Pound Cake

Pound cake is a favorite dessert from my childhood, and every family seems to have a prized recipe.  My Aunt Carolyn makes one of the best as does my friend Lisa.  Now, how to make this delicious treat vegan friendly...

I was inspired by Popsugar's recipe for a vegan version of Starbuck's lemon pound cake and research into aquafaba (canned chickpea water) as an egg substitute.  Vegan baking can have mixed results as the chemistry isn't always quite right when you substitute for an ingredient like eggs, let alone all the dairy products in a recipe.  The finished recipe can sometimes be quite dense and sometimes more soggy than the original version; usually still edible, but not always as satisfying as imagined. That being said, I've had mostly good success with my vegan baking adventures because I do so much research to learn from others' mistakes beforehand.  I am happy that the aquafaba worked well and that I again have a great pound cake recipe for special occasions.

Vegan Lemon Pound Cake

makes 12 slices

Lemon cake:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup almond meal (ground raw almonds)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil (coconut, olive, canola)
2/3 cup aquafaba (water drained from canned chickpeas)
Juice from half a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
grated lemon rind from half a small lemon
2 teaspoons almond extract

Lemon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice from half a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
grated lemon rind from half a small lemon
1 -3 teaspoons non-dairy milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
  2. Lightly oil or spray a large loaf pan.
  3. In the medium bowl add the milk, aquafaba, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla extract, grated lemon rind and mix well.
  4. Make a well in your dry ingredients, pour in the wet and stir until just combined and fairly smooth. 
  5. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let sit for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
  7. Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and rinding for the icing and drizzle in just enough milk until you have a smooth icing that is not too thin.  
  8. Drizzle icing on top of the completely cool cake.

I'll definitely be ready with this cake next spring when the strawberries are ripe in the garden to make a strawberry shortcake.

Thanks for reading!