Pep In My Step Kale Pesto

Traditional pesto is fantastic, but I don’t eat dairy and I don’t often have a bunch of basil in my fridg.  I do however, almost always have a bunch of kale in there.  I learned long ago how to make a good dairy free basil pesto.  It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve branched out to create different kinds of pesto using greens other than basil.  I love it so much and I always feel good when I’m getting in my greens.  It puts a little pep in my step!

I don’t know what it is about June.  When this month rolls around I get to feeling giddy and happy.  This is exactly where I’m at these days.  Of course, it might be because I’ve actually got several planned vacations through out the next few months.  I’ve officially gotten the time off and I can’t wait to get this party started!!  I am really looking forward to summer, to vacations and to play!!

This pesto will definitely be on my “make to go” list when I’m planning foods for out of town trips and camping.  I mixed it up a bit and tried something new-almonds!  Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, but they are cost prohibitive.  Walnuts are a more affordable substitute and my usual choice, however when I opened my mason jar of walnuts they smelled rancid to me.  That left me with almonds.  There ya go!  Pesto with almonds is quite delicious so remember, don’t ever limit yourself–in food or in life!

I tossed these simple ingredients into my trusty food processor and whizzed away until my pesto was creamy and mostly smooth.  I used this in a chicken and rice dish, as a pizza crust sauce base, as a salad dressing, in an omelet and even as a sandwich spread, more than once!  All from one simple bunch of kale.  Come on!!  You have to give this a try!!  So tasty and good for you; one bunch of kale can feed you for days when you get creative with it!  You’ll have a pep in your step, too.  Enjoy, my friends!  Happy June!

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One bunch of kale (variety of your choice-I used curly)

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

2 garlic cloves (I used home grown garlic from a friend and it packed some punch!)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh crushed pepper

a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about one teaspoon)

I free poured olive oil…guessing an amount? About 3 tablespoons then added water one tablespoon at a time until it reached the desired consistency.

Add all ingredients to a food processor and whiz until smooth.  Enjoy in a variety of creative ways!

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candy Cane Beets

Did you catch my recent faux pas?  Somehow I accidentally posted a paragraph of my draft writing the other day.  I am not a fan of the new post layout WordPress uses.  It’s not very user friendly for me!

You may have noticed I made some visual changes to my blog.  I have been playing around with it for some time.  I think I like how it looks for now and it is giving me what I want in layout design.  Some of my writing will be moving away from food and recipes.  I have found that writing thoughts and sharing life musings is healing for me.  I’m giving deeper consideration to a book writing endeavor.  I have been encouraged often so I’ve gotten a bit more active by studying more formalized writing.  It’s fun to try out my creativity in other ways.  Writing was always a favorite creative outlet for me as a child, teen and young adult.  I am finding the joy in writing again as I rest solidly in my “middle-age” years.

I have been giving serious thought to lots of new ideas recently.  I am a dreamer for sure!  I am a doer, too!  I’ve been rather bored with my current vegetable choices these days and long for the peak season of produce abundance.  I just planted my first set of indoor vegetable seeds!  Yay for veggies of the future!   I’m giving container gardening another try this year.  In the meantime, I have been on a quest to find a little more excitement in my veggies that will make my palate happy for them.

Check out what I found!  Have you ever seen one of these??  It’s called a candy-cane beet!  Isn’t it pretty?  Now, if that doesn’t make me want to eat my vegetables, I don’t know what will! IMG_3639

It tasted quite mild and is delicious raw.  I sauteed part of it which brought out a bit more flavor, but still very mild so that it picked up spice flavors quite nicely.  It does not have the robust, earthy beet taste like red beets.  I like this beet sliced raw in a salad best.  If you find one, pick it up and give it a try!  Break out of your veggie doldrums, too!

 

 

Simple Pleasures

The alluring sunshine gleaming upon the city enticed me from the views on my deck,  down the hill and to Portland’s waterfront.  The north end is lined with cherry trees coming into their peak as fluffy cherry blossoms create tunnels of pink.  I wanted to be encased in their beauty.

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Go down now, I thought; go while the sun is out.  Feeling the call to find things I love about Portland,  I thought walking the cherry blossom lined waterfront would fill me with the joy of simple pleasures found in this city. Perhaps a walk among the trees and the sunshine warming my skin would lift my spirits on an overall dreary weekend thus far.

It has been a good long time since I have felt my love for this city. Returning from a wonderful trip to North and South Carolina did not bring a new appreciation for Portland.  I find it even more detestable.  I wanted some simple reminders like cherry blossoms,  the portrait of beauty for so many Portland neighborhoods.

I had an easy drive down the hills toward the waterfront.  Positive attitude, camera and creativity were primed to be impressed only to be confronted by the endless battles for street parking.   Where every minute matters on days with Portland’s precarious weather,  I tested out my North Carolina learned aggressive driving skills to score a spot close to my destination.   In the less than two block walk,  I was greeted with drizzle as I entered the north end waterfront.  Momentarily in awe at the impressive show of pink,  I reached for my camera to snap a few pictures then began my tree lined walk.   Keeping with my feigned optimism,  I told myself a little drizzle is okay;  classic spring time in Portland.   Keep focused on the beauty and wish for that sunshine to show its glow any moment.  I quickly snapped some more pictures being careful to protect my camera from the drizzle turned pouring rain.  I was able to catch just a couple more perfect shots when the wind did a fast dance among the trees creating cascades of pink pedals whisking across the park,  whipping the heavy rain sideways,  blowing off my hat and pelting my face as I hurried back to my truck.

Completely soaked,  upset wet dog in my arms,  I grumbled as I got back into the truck, trying to conjure up what little bit of positive thoughts still remained.  I encountered an inordinate amount of traffic and my short trip back up the hills took me triple the amount of time.  I was met with several irrational drivers whose unsafe driving frayed my weary nerves.

Arriving home,  as I walked my deck to the front door I found exactly what I wanted-a gorgeous sunshine upon the city,  creating a glimmer that made me pause in admiration and enjoy the beauty of Portland.  I guess I find appreciation in my city from a distance more accepting these days than being right in the mix of it all.  I took that message and gave it thought as I created a comforting chicken stock,  made from the bones of a whole roasted chicken.

Sometimes the simple pleasures are right in our line of vision yet we are too busy looking past them as we seek something better.  I discovered that investing time in my kitchen with an occasional glance out the window to appreciate my views was the simple pleasure I needed to bring me back to a place of gratitude.  Not necessarily for my city,  but for my current journey that for now,  still exists in Portland.

May Your Pockets Be Heavy and Your Heart Be Light

That title is an old Irish blessing.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.  I’ve been hiding in the recesses of my mind these days.  Depression has engulfed me and days feel dark and long.  Grief has it’s grip on me making it so difficult for me to do the necessary activities to get through my day and to do much more…well, it just isn’t happening.  I’m still waiting for my heart to be light again.

We’ve had some beautiful sunshiny days, warm enough that one could say Spring is in the air.  Days like we’ve had usually fill me with joy.  Spring is my favorite season, especially here in Portland where the cherry blossoms pop out in huge pink fluffy clouds on tree tops and Daphne scents are intoxicating.   However, not even the gorgeous weather that brings flower buds to a blossom, rich with their fragrances has been able to pull me from the depths.

I’ve temporarily lost my desire to enjoy my most favorite past time; cooking.  All inspiration is gone.  Making any food seems like way too much work and my body is simply heavy and tired.

Today I wanted to recreate a delicious dish from happier times when we visited Ireland this past summer.  While in Dublin, we found a quaint Irish Pub that served a fantastic Irish stew.

I thought getting in the kitchen and preparing some food would help lift my spirits as it always does.  It didn’t do that for me, but I did manage to pull off one mighty good stew even though every bit of it was such an effort I just wanted to get it done.

The stew from Ireland used the traditional lamb meat and I used beef since that’s what we had on hand.  All other ingredients I tried to match as closely to what I enjoyed in Ireland.

Here’s what went into my stew:

1 pound of beef stew meat

1 Tablespoon Sunflower Oil

2 Tablespoons Arrowroot powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons basil

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 cups red wine (Guinness is true choice, but it’s not gluten free!)

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 small russet potato, cubed

1 medium red garnet yam, cubed

1 cup sweet peas

2 cups beef broth

2 large carrots, cut into rounds

Using a 5 quart dutch oven, dredge beef in arrowroot powder and saute’ the beef in 1 Tablespoon of oil until just browned. Add wine and continue to saute’ as the wine reduces. Add spices and stir to heat so aromas are released from them. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes then add remaining ingredients. Set to low heat and simmer for 2 hours.  Ladle into a bowl and add a dollop of mashed potatoes in the middle, drizzle a little stew gravy over the top and enjoy!  Slainte!Image

Snowbound Gourmet-Sweetie Style

Days upon days of snow and ice are keeping many Portland residents inside.  We haven’t been able to make it to the grocery store.  Already low on groceries even before this storm started, we are digging in the depths of our cupboards to come up with meals each day.

It is not too often I see my sweetie in the kitchen rummaging around to assemble ingredients for a meal.  Not being as passionate about the process as I, nor the end result; tossing things together with a “Who knows!  It might taste good!” attitude is something I both envy and loathe.  I am way too precise, so concerned with correct flavor combinations, obsessed about how it will look as well as how it will taste.  My perfectionism can be my nemesis.

 We are very different in our cooking expertise.  I certainly struggle with adopting the “Why not, right?” attitude my sweetie has about ingredients that I often find rather questionable together.  Complex is my style.  Guess and go cooking simple style is for my sweetie.  Opening a few cans, lopping off parts off an onion with nary a thought to the precision of dicing, no measuring of anything and wondrously a meal is created.  The end result is rarely disappointing.

Simple can be good.  Real good.  That is what the cook says of this lovely creation.  Sadly, there are ingredients here I cannot eat, and those biscuits; total gluten.  By the way, complete guesswork here as well and look at those beauties!

This is what transpired in our kitchen. No recipe is needed. Plain and simple. Sweetie style.

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There’s Snow here in Stumptown

This is the day I’ve been longing to enjoy. For weeks I’ve been begging and pleading with Mother Nature to blow some white stuff this way. I don’t mean some pretty flakes floating down only to have no evidence of snow hours later. I want a good Portland kind of snow dump. I want the kind of snow that snarls up the city and shuts it down. We are not well equipped here in Stumptown for the amount of snow we are seeing today. It is the type of day that allows for the city to call a snow day and I am fortunate enough to have the flexibility in my job to let me have my snow day.

I found myself feeling a little giddy as I prepared my afternoon of leisurely activities. I love this kind of snow because it is one of the only times that I allow myself to really just do nothing. Snow is my permission and my excuse. It’s the perfect “storm”.

Considering my recent yearning to remain in my pajamas and under the covers all day, today is the perfect opportunity to indulge in this desire.

I miss my kids the most as young ones when there is a lot of snow here. I have such fond memories of homemade hot cocoa simmering on the stove top waiting for us to delight in while we chilled our cheeks and fingers making snowmen and snow angels. We played, drank hot cocoa and watched movies. It was a time of relaxed togetherness that I completely enjoyed.

I got a spontaneous desire to recreate some of those memories by making hot cocoa, picking out a good flick and getting cozy in my pajamas. I am going to enjoy this snow day!  Having been living vicariously through my daughter who now lives in Boston, I’ve been a tad envious of her stormy snow stories. Stumptown is trying to compete with her new home state today. However, Boston doesn’t shut down like Portland does. She must keep the pace and I get to just sit back, look out the window in wonder and sip on some hot cocoa.

Here is my recipe for what turned out to be more of a sipping chocolate than hot cocoa. It is smooth, chocolaty rich and only lightly sweet.

I’ve got my snow day pajamas on; lovingly made by my mom. I’ve got my chosen movie. I am cozy on my couch cuddled up with my sweet Boy kitty and I will enjoy every moment of this snow day. Here in Stumptown we don’t see many of these days and it is sure not to last.

I suggest giving yourself permission as well; permission to indulge in some rich chocolate goodness and relish time in your pajamas. Enjoy the peace of our lovely snowy day. It really is so beautiful.

Sipping chocolate:

6 ounces of light coconut milk

6 ounces of almond milk

2 ounces of organic 72% cocoa bar, broken into small pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons of agave syrup

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and warm on medium low heat until chocolate is melted completely and all ingredients are completely combined. When heated to a good sipping temperature (around 145 degrees), remove from stove, pour some into your favorite mug and enjoy.

Topping:

3 Tablespoons of coconut milk

1/8 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Blend in a bullet or some other similar device, drizzle over hot cocoa and finish off with a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes.

sipping cocoa in honor of my daughter

sipping cocoa

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the back deck

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Boy & my snow day pj’s