Monday, May 30, 2016

Kitchen adventure: Superfood granola

Granola with fresh picked strawberries, blueberries and cashew milk

Store bought granola can be loaded with more sugar and fat than you'd like to start your day.  This granola is packed with superfoods and sweetened with dates and dried fruits.  The traditional oil is replaced with banana and tahini (or nut butter of your choice).   This easy to make recipe works well for breakfast, snacks or dessert.  This recipe was inspired by this original recipe at Jenny Mustard's blog.  Although the ingredient list is long, it comes together quickly. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite nuts, seeds or dried fruits that you like.

Superfood granola

12 large medjool dates, soaked and drained (save water)
1 large ripe banana
½ cup tahini (or use almond, cashew or peanut butter)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 scoop (1 tablespoon, superfood green powder) optional
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup raw nuts roughly chopped, (I used walnuts and almonds for this batch)

8-10 prunes or dried mission figs, chopped (this batch had figs)
½ cup raisins or other dried fruit like cherries, blueberries or cranberries
1/3 cup goji berries (or more raisins)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom 

- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a food processor or blender combine drained dates, tahini, bananas, superfood powder and vanilla extract until smooth.  If the mixture is too thick to process, add just enough date soaking water to make a thick smooth paste.
In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Add the date mixture to the bowl and mix until all the dry ingredients are coated.  
- Spread the granola evenly on a parchment paper or silicone mat lined large baking sheet and press flat with your hand or back of a spoon
- Bake the granola for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown
- Remove from the oven, let cool thoroughly and break into bite sized chunks

- Store in an airtight container.

Thanks for reading!

If you liked this post, you may like:
Healthy cold cereal
Carrot cake granola
Overnight oat and chia seed pudding

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

My mother's Julia Child yellow rose blooming in my garden

As I contemplate Mother’s Day this year, it is with a bit of sadness as it is the first one since my mother’s passing a few months ago.   I still reach for my phone to text her ,“Mom, you won’t believe what I just saw!” or to send a photo of an art project I’ve been working on or show her the progress in the garden. 

 My lovely neighbor gave me a beautiful yellow rose bush named after Julia Child for my garden to commemorate my mother’s life.  She gave it to me because my mother liked yellow roses.  She had no idea that my mother and I watched Julia’s cooking show on PBS together for years when I was growing up or that I endlessly watched the cooking channel with her the last time I saw her when she could no longer get out of bed as cancer had sapped her strength.   Any time I start to miss her, I only have to look out the window and see the pretty yellow blooms open to the sunshine to make me smile.  I smile at the thoughtfulness of my neighbor giving me a beautiful reminder of my mother.  I smile at the memory of my father giving my mother roses often: for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and just because.  I smile for the times she and I spent enjoying Julia Child’s cooking shows and sharing our love of culinary adventures in the kitchen and at the table. 

Although I can't call her this year to wish her a Happy Mother's Day, in my heart my mother is forever holding my hand and encouraging me through the journey of life.   

Me and my mom on a stroll in Hof, Germany

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 NiƱo 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!