Scrumptious Raspberry Pancake Sauce

Raspberries are in abundance and I have been harvesting so many pounds of these delicious jewels!  The raspberries are incredibly bountiful this year.  I already have some in the freezer, I’ve made some yummy recipes, I’ve popped them in my mouth as is for a fresh, refreshing and healthful snack.  I’m giving them away even!  I’m not kidding!  There are copious amounts of raspberries.  This makes me so very happy because I love raspberries!

I always enjoy working in the kitchen with food.  I find the task of preparing food calming and it brings me back to my happy place, especially in times of distress.  With the recent tragedy in Orlando, I have felt heartache and grief.  I have found the past few days difficult to tend to the essentials in each day.  As such, I have found myself standing in the kitchen more often than usual after spontaneously deciding to see what I can throw together just to take my mind off all the hate and pain in this country.

With so many raspberries in my kitchen I decided to focus my attention on making something with those.  I went with a sauce.  It just sounded good.  I am craving pancakes, so guess what’s next?  Pancakes!  I’m going to make a batch and have breakfast for dinner!

This was super easy and took no time at all.  Check out the recipe below and give it a try yourself!  You won’t be disappointed!

Raspberry Pancake Sauce

3 cups of fresh raspberries20160614_182747

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup of water

a mix of arrowroot powder and water (for thickness)

pinch of salt

squeeze of lemon (about a 1/2 tsp)

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Place on stove top and bring to a boil.  In a separate small bowl, make a paste with arrowroot powder and water.  I tend to use about 2 tablespoons of the powder to 2 tablespoons of water.  Add to the sauce when it boils, stir until combined then continue to let it boil for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken.  Reduce to simmer and let cook until it is your desired sauciness.  Serve warm. Yum!

 

 

 

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The Sweet Life Of Raspberries

My friends, do you know what time of year we are coming into?  Raspberries, people!!  20160602_174445The precious short season of the raspberry is here and I am so happy! They are a bit early this year and growing abundantly.  I’m so fortunate to have family that share their bountiful harvest.  In fact, picking the berries is most exclusively done by me.  If I don’t they will dry up on the vine.  Age and health issues keeps my loved ones from tending to them as they have in the past.  These happen to be my favorite berry so for the next few weeks, I’ll be a raspberry picking fiend as I pluck as many as I can before they disappear.

Of course, these delicious raspberries must have a coming out party and what better way than with these fantastic scones?20160602_185952  One of my favorite recipes; I’ve made them so many times with different variations.  This time the only change I made was substituting the maple syrup for raw sugar.  Turns out that was not the best choice, but it was all I had and I’m using up my cupboard staples before I buy more.  They are good, but maple syrup is way better.  There’s a reason it’s in the recipe title.  That’s my opinion.  It certainly won’t stop me from munching on these for a mid-morning snack!

I’ve posted this recipe many times before here and if you haven’t given it a try, I highly recommend it.  Go ahead, you deserve this treat!  Happy Friday, y’all!!

http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/07/gluten-free-maple-raspberry-scone.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad Mango Green Smoothie

It seems it was just a few days ago that I blogged, but I realize that a bit more than a few days has passed.  I find it ironic that I am about to share about a smoothie I made this morning when my last post was complaining about the inconveniences I experience in making them!

Ha!  I was whining.  I get like that about my kitchen.  It just lacks the space I want.  However, I am quite content with my sweet little place overall.  I am getting so close to having a completely furnished studio apartment!  Yes, heading toward my tenth month of being here; it has taken quite some time to thoughtfully recreate my small home into functional, usable space without being over crowded.  I recently got the perfect bookcase that fits the space I wanted it like it was meant to be right there.  I finally unpacked a box just marked “home” not knowing what I would find inside.  I discovered all my wonderful books and spiritual totems that were in the former “Zen room” as “M” and I liked to call a room at the old house.  It was the only room in the house that felt peaceful and calm to me.  It was the only room “M” did not go into to except for plant watering, thus the tranquility!  It was my refuge and it was the room “M” had much scorn toward.  Too much feeling stuff could happen in that room!  That’s why I loved it.  That is why “M” didn’t.  I remember my beautiful symbols that grounded me and brought me back to center were called “clutter”.  Well, I am thrilled to have my totems, books and pictures that bring me so much happiness displayed where I can see it all again.  This is no clutter!  This is what guides my life! Visible in a lovely cabinet I scored at a bargain price!  A glimpse over to my fireplace mantle, rustic and charming; there is an arrangement of memorabilia dedicated to my childhood and my mom along side my most precious spiritual totems.  It makes my heart so happy.

I woke up way too early this morning.  I’m not sure why and I really wanted to sleep more, but my body said no so I was putzing around before the sun was up.  That used to be a regular waking time for me, however I now enjoy sleeping an average of seven hours nightly and generally sleep much later than in the past.  This is another interesting observation I have made in my time away from “M”.  Some of the worst sleepless nights I experienced were while I was living with “M”.  I now enjoy some of the most restful nights ever in these past nine months! Amazing, isn’t it?  I think it’s fantastic.  I suppose that is why most mornings I wake feeling energetic and motivated to begin my day.  Even though this day began around 4:30 a.m. I feel happy and excited for the day ahead.  I have enjoyed the company of one of my favorite out of town friends this past week and hope to catch one more glimpse of him before he heads back to the east coast later today.  I’ve spent my early morning finding peace in my tranquil environment, candles burning, fall decor surrounds me.  I love this time of year.  My little place is comfortable, homey and cozy.

It put me in the mood to take some time to continue this good feeling by fueling my body with healthful food to start my day.  I have had frozen mango chunks in my tiny freezer and want to move them out so I can make room for jars of chicken soup I’ll be making later today.  I went a little crazy with chicken on my recent shopping trip!  More on that in another blog!  I came up with this delicious breakfast treat that satisfied me and had the perfect flavor.  I also feel really good knowing I’ve begun my day with wholesome, fresh goodness!  Give this smoothie a try, drink (or eat) and feel great!

Mad Mango Green Smoothie

2/3 cup frozen mango chunks

1/2 medium banana

1/2 cup packed purple kale

1 cup cashew “milk” (or other milk of your choice)

sprinkle of nutmeg

drizzle of pure vanilla (about 1/4 tsp)

Blend all ingredients in magic bullet or other blender until smooth.

Mine was just thick enough that I decided to enjoy it with a spoon!!  YUM!

Thick enough to enjoy with a spoon!!

Thick enough to enjoy with a spoon!!

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Clutter?? Phooey!!

Clutter?? Phooey!!

Chocolate Chunk Banana Walnut Bread

Once again I have let bananas sit too long on the counter.  I cannot resist those beautiful yellow bunches so lovingly displayed in my local market. They entice me into a purchase nearly every time I shop.  Bananas used to be the base of my daily smoothie. There was rarely a morning I would not make a smoothie to go on my way to work.  Since I’ve moved to where I currently live, I have not been able to re-establish that habit.  I went in phases when I first settled here.  I would make smoothies for several days then abandon the idea on days I felt too slow and groggy to go through the hassle of preparing everything, which quite honestly is not that much.  However, in the early days of coming to terms with what happened in my life, nearly everything was too much.  Ultimately, I feel that has come to be the main reason I no longer have my daily smoothie.  My kitchen is so small and counter space is limited.  None of my smoothie making equipment sits out as it used to when my kitchen had more space.  It seems so silly, but it truly is a hassle to pull out the equipment from the bottom drawer, put it all together on the few inches of counter space I have, then moving to another area of my tiny kitchen where I have a bit more counter space to prepare the food to go into my blender.  Once done, I have to wash, dry and put away the things I’ve used.  I have no dishwasher to toss them into anymore.  My counter does not have the space to slide the blender base into a corner as I used to do.  I have to wipe it down, wrap the cord and bend over to put it back in the bottom drawer.  That bending over part is another reason I don’t often make smoothies anymore.  On the mornings I wake in pain, it simply hurts too much to bend over.  When the craving for a smoothie grabs hold, I will not let even the pain of bending over keep me from making one, but it is not something I will do everyday regardless of the desire. The hassle outweighs craving more often than not.

This leaves me with over ripe bananas that plague me.  I cannot have food waste.  The thought pains me deeply.  Really.  I will find any way I can to use something unless it is deemed impossible for consumption.  I remember this same value in my mom.  She would cringe and complain if she discovered food was bad.  She did what I will do and stand over the garbage saying how awful it is that it will be wasted, hesitating to let it drop into the pail.

My mom used to made some delicious banana bread.  During the holidays she would make it in tiny tins for neighbors and friends.  She would take it out of the tin, neatly use plastic wrap over it like holiday paper, then tie a ribbon around the bread like a gift.  As a child, I would take them to my teachers.  People loved getting mini bread loaves from my mom.

When I make banana bread, I feel like I take a step back in time remembering my mom and her process for preparing her bread so lovingly.  Nothing about my bread is like my mom’s except the bananas. I make a very different kind of loaf and as I go through my own process, memories of her in the kitchen permeate my mind.

I am thinking about my mom a lot these days.  The sadness from grief has found a wearisome place in my heart.  I know it is there yet it no longer consumes me.  There is still not one day that goes by without thoughts of mom in my mind.  As the fall season sets into Portland and October rolls around, I am feeling a little raw again as my attention feels more focused on reminders of her.  October is my mom’s birthday month.  It is also the month she began her swift spiral into illness and ultimate death as her cancer devoured her body.  This is a difficult time. I miss my mom more than I can describe, but I think anyone who has lost a parent understands there really are no adequate words to define such a profound loss.

I made this banana bread to use my over-ripe bananas, hearing my mom’s voice saying food waste is a sin.  As I mixed my ingredients I recall memories as a child watching my mom whip her batter with a vengeance.  How did she stir so fast??  Mom loved baking.  You could see the love in her process and taste it in her fantastic treats.  I remember that she loved banana bread, especially with walnuts.  So, this bread is made in her memory.  Since I was the kid who always wanted to do things a little different than the rest and that sentiment remains as an adult, I tossed in dark chocolate chunks.  I don’t know that mom would have approved that variation.  However, we all enjoyed giving mom reason to think outside the box a bit.  I think she would be smiling at this.  Give this banana bread a try.  I’m sure it will make you smile, too.

I adapted my recipe from the original version found on one of my favorite sites:  http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2007/11/banana-chocolate-chip-bread.html

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Chocolate chunk Banana Walnut Bread

4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (I chopped part of a bar for this recipe)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350ºF
Combine the wet ingredients a mixing bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and stir until smooth. If the batter looks too thin and wet, add more gluten-free flour, a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the batter.  Add in the chocolate chips and stir by hand to combine.

Pour the batter into the lightly greased standard size loaf pan and bake in the center of a preheated oven for an hour, until the loaf is firm, a bit crusty, and when a toothpick is stuck in the middle, comes out clean. (45 mins – 1 hr)

Cool the loaf on a wire rack. Slice when cool.

Radical Raspberry Compote

This past week seemed to be calmer than the last, or maybe it was because this week felt more balanced between work and play so that made work seem more tolerable.  I have encountered a lot of firsts in my job recently.  I got to experience the not so pleasant side of my job when I had to break the news to a resident that he was being evicted. On the heals of that, I attended a local rally about the rental crisis that is happening in my city. (#RENTERSOS) Portland is a mess right now. People who are income challenged are being displaced at an alarming rate.  Immediate change needs to happen and it was impressive that our city commissioner proposed new protections for renters the day after the rally.  It’s a short-term solution to a deeper problem, but it is a step in the right direction.

I went to the rally to network with other housing advocates and to get a better pulse on the severity of this crisis.  I was there as a professional, yet this is a deeply personal issue for me.  I am incredibly fortunate that I am not one of the many uprooted Portlanders struggling to find adequate housing.  I very easily could have been.  I honestly do not think one day has gone by that I haven’t sent out a ‘thank you’ for the beautiful place I call home when I enjoy my amazing views from my deck.

I reconnected with my old next door neighbor, who I lived next to when I was with “M”.  We had lunch and caught up on life.  It was nice to share my story with someone else who knows “M” and it felt good to get validation for the inhumanity I experienced by “M”.  She also works with the same populations as I do and, I discovered her office is in the building directly across from my main building where I have my office! We will be working on creating a professional partnership between our organizations. This is super cool!  Her and her partner moved as well and I got an invite to their new house when they are more settled.  I am thrilled to be back in contact with the people I thought were pretty cool neighbors.  She also lives a gluten free lifestyle so it’s exciting to know I’ll have a gluten free lunch buddy when I want to break up my work day.

I hung out with co-workers one night after work.  It was nice to go out and get to know them a little more personally.  We are all so busy during the day and many of us are “out in the field”.  I was happy to have the opportunity to sit around them all and casually mingle.  I spent time with a couple people I haven’t seen in a while, I attended community events and overall had a really busy week, yet it ended with me feeling much less stress than the previous week.  I do believe the nice balance between hard stuff and fun stuff made my week pretty decent.

I’ll be out and about the city doing my usual weekend errands then later having fun with some extra special people.  I am most excited that I will finally be getting some more of my belongings from one of the places it’s been stored.  I am desperately missing a few things and I really hope they are boxed away.  I got rid of so much in my panic of needing to move because I had no idea where I would go.  Thinking I might be in my car, I gave up nearly three quarters of my things.  Now, months later, I have been learning I gave up some precious items I really wish I would not have.  I suppose I will find out if what I want and need got saved a little later on today.  Either way, it is what it is and I have another opportunity to let the past go a little more.

Another one of the firsts I am experiencing in my job is working with veteran’s. Thus far, I can only describe it as an intense experience. This raspberry compote developed after of one of these said veteran’s threatened to steal my food from the community room freezer.  I often keep excess freezer food at work because my home freezer is very tiny.  I am still trying to learn this man’s personality and I could not decide if he was making a threat or a joke, so I just removed the temptation and brought my food home.  I simply had no room for my gallon sized bag of raspberries that I had picked earlier in the summer so I made a compote, poured it into jelly jars and froze those!  They fit snuggly in my little freezer space and will make lovely gifts when the holidays arrive.

I am letting another week go to enjoy my weekend filled with all things good and nurturing!  Here is how I’m starting my morning and my weekend:  IMG_3472Using gluten free oats, I made oatmeal on the stovetop.  While the oats were cooking I added 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a tiny drizzle of pure vanilla and a dash of sea salt.  I topped it with chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax meal, chopped candied ginger and the raspberry compote.

Raspberry Compote

4 cups of frozen raspberries

2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

1/4 cup of raw cane sugar

dash of sea salt

Put all ingredients into a 2 quart pot and simmer on the stovetop until bubbly.  Allow to simmer on a low heat until the raspberries break down and develop a syrup like texture.  Remove from heat.  Let cool completely then store in air tight glass jars.  Can be frozen for later use or use right away over oatmeal or maybe even over a delicious dairy free “ice cream”!!  Enjoy!

Good Morning, Portland! A glorious view. Thank you.

Good Morning, Portland!
A glorious view.
Thank you.

Purple Power Smoothie

I was in the mood for something a little different than my usual breakfast smoothie this morning. Digging through my cupboard I happened upon an open bag of raw cocoa nibs. Why I’ve been sitting on this bag of healthful jewels is a mystery to me!  I pulled them out from the basket and decided to use them as part of my smoothie!

Raw cocoa nibs provide some amazing health benefits. They are a great source of iron, manganese and copper.  Cocoa nibs are known to be one of the foods with the highest source of magnesium. They are also high in flavonoids which are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties.  Believe it or not, they even provide a good source of fiber at nine grams per ounce!  If all that good stuff isn’t enough, these little brown nibs also give you a boost of some essential minerals that we humans are often deficient of so if you’ve got these dark nibs hiding in your kitchen, pull them out and get this smoothie going!

Yesterday was my long day with work then class.  It got me home late, but because of an intense resident issue at work and my excitement over an upcoming community event I’m planning at my “home base” building, I was up even later with thoughts swirling!!  Even with a solid night of sleep, I woke up feeling a little slow to shake the brain fog.  One more thing that is fabulous about cocoa nibs is their caffeine content, though lower than the average cup of coffee, nibs provided an added boost with naturally occurring stimulants called Theobromine and Phenylethylamine, which act as mood enhancers and increase energy.  Like I said, why have I been letting these sit in my cupboard!?

I got on to making an incredible breakfast drink that is waking me up and making me feel ready for my day!  Seriously, give this a try.  It tastes great.  It’s quick and easy to throw together and it’s super satisfying.  Oh, yeah….one more thing; cocoa nibs helps stabilize blood sugars and with that good dose of fiber, your tummy will feel happily full for hours! Cocoa nibs; my new super-food of the day!

Purple Power Smoothie

small banana

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 Tbsp flax meal

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp raw cocoa nibs

1 cup almond milk

Add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass.  Enjoy!!

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Gluten Free Breakfast Tortilla

Back when I was working in the Head Start kitchen, I had an assistant that would come to work with her breakfast.  A native of Ethiopia, I often got to be the recipient of her traditional dishes she brought to eat.  She would make a type of quick tortilla that she considered a decent substitute for the time intensive injera bread, an Ethiopian staple at meals.  She would eat it with Atkilt Wot or Mesir Wot.  While I completely enjoyed these two dishes, I could not try the tortilla she made with regular white flour.  They always looked so delicious, cooked perfectly with just the right amount of browning.

I was reminiscing about my old kitchen assistant, who became a wonderful friend in the time we worked together.  Remembering her food gave me a craving and I just had to give these tortillas a try.  After trying a few different flour combinations, I decided that sticking with a single type of flour works best.  I really liked the Chickpea flour version I made because the texture was spot on, but the flavor wasn’t quite what I was going for.  I ended up just trying Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour and while I am not as excited by the texture, the flavor is perfect and just what I had in mind.

They are so quick and easy to make and when scrambled eggs and spinach get added in, the combination is fantastic!  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  It starts great with this delicious meal!

Try it for yourself.  It just takes:

3 1/2 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour (or chickpea flour)

3 1/2 Tbsp cool water

mix together until thoroughly combined and smooth in texture.  Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into a skillet.  I used olive oil.  Swirl around the pan to coat, pre-heat the pan and when ready, pour tortilla batter into pan.  Use a spatula to spread the batter about 6-7″ round.  I like mine to be crepe thin and I think it gets the best consistency.  Cook on each side for about 2 minutes.  Remove from pan, add scrambled eggs and spinach!  To prepare my egg, I cracked one egg in a pan, scrambled it up a bit, tossed in thinly sliced spinach leaves, scrambled until done.  Added a little sea salt and freshly crushed peppercorns…boom! Enjoy breakfast!

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