Tuesday, July 31, 2012

raw pasta


It's called a Spiralizer.  

I mentioned it in my post about Ani Phyo and other celebrity crushes. Thanks goes to my friends at Food2Live4, and Ani's published encouragement.  Yeah, I know she didn't write her books for me, but I like to pretend she did.  I actually ordered her 15-Day Fat Blast last week, as a way of kick-starting my incorporation of more raw foods in to our diet.  The weight-loss will be a bonus.  

You can go to the Food2Live4 website to see where my inspiration is coming from, including a shop with links to the Ani Phyo books, and Jennifer Wegryn's blog with recipes and personal insights.  

In fact, it's where I got the recipe for Sunday night's dinner: Zucchini Noodles With Basil & Walnut Pesto. My friend, Melanie, gave me a big green zucchini from her garden and I used five small organic yellow ones I bought from the market.

Why I've let this handy kitchen gadget sit in a box for three months, I don't know.  But now that it's out, watch yourself.  I may just slide a bowl of tasty zucchini noodles in front of you.  Granted, the "wow factor" really comes from the sauce.  Without it, there is no way my husband would be smiling after eating this meal.  I'm pretty sure I pushed my blender to the limit making the pesto, though.  Next time, I'll chop the walnuts in my mini food processor first.

I toasted some pine nuts in a pan and sautéed spinach and garlic in olive oil to use as my base for the dish.  Then I piled on a handful of zucchini ribbons, a dollop of the pesto sauce, and garnished it with cherry tomatoes and a dash of shredded parmesan cheese.  It looks prettier this way as opposed to mixing it all together first.  But the mixing can be fun, too, especially when done with your hands.

And while you'll be tempted to save the leftovers, try consuming them by the next day, as the zucchini tends to lose it's girth (and water). 

No boring veggies here!

Monday, July 30, 2012

lunch date


Remember these little beauties from two years ago?  They have grown in to lovely young ladies, all entering high school this Fall.  

And yes, they still like coming to my house to play pranks on my husband, eat way too much junk food, take silly pictures, play games in my basement (Mafia anyone?), update me on all of their news, tell me about cute boys and current social trends, watch movies, and laugh.. A LOT.




The parents thank me for spending time with their girls, and investing in their lives.  I think I get the better end of the deal.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

life is colorful



The night before Chris returned from his overseas missions trip, I sent him a text message with the above picture and a note to the effect of, "Water is flooding the basement again when I wash clothes. Would you mind calling Jim when you get home?"

Thanks to modern technology, we texted each other the entire time he was away, sending happy pictures of ourselves and our surroundings.  We even tried to Face Time once, which was brief, due to a stalled connection.  I will gladly still take my husband live for a minute, even if it means broken conversation and frozen poses.

Anyway, the water seemed harmless (wasn't the first time).

Probably just a clogged pipe.

That next evening, around 11:30pm, I picked up my scruffy man from the airport, fresh off of his nine day outreach.  I baked him brownies and brought him a travel tumbler of our favorite hazelnut decaf.  For sure, our grocery store beans paled in comparison to the Nicaraguan coffee he had grown accustomed to, but he was grateful.

Nicaragua is only two hours behind us, so the time difference didn't phase him much, but the experience did.  It was a marked moment in his life, one I know he will carry with him for a long time.  The people, the children, the joys and challenges.. he had a dozen stories to tell me.  It was a pleasant drive, almost as if we had the freeway to ourselves.

If you recall, I made mention about hubby's disdain (fear) of mimes in an earlier post.  Our roommate and I were this close to painting our faces white for Chris's arrival, but decided against it at the last minute.  Amanda had her own fun while we were gone, though, as she surprised both of us by filling our room with decorated balloons.





Such a sweet girl.  Clever, too.

Unfortunately, that surprise was clouded by what we found the next morning.  Instead of sudsy water, raw sewage flooded the basement floor.  And by "we," I mean Amanda made the discovery, and she and Chris set to trouble-shooting it.

I don't do well with this kind of crisis.  I can handle medical situations, life changes, and family emergencies, but poop sludge and bugs are where I make my exit.  Hubby and I have an understanding, which is why my farmer's market date with Anna came at the perfect time.  She and I got to buy goat cheese and spelt waffles, while the sewage situation was being handled at home.

Turns out, our handyman-on-speed-dial friend, Jim, was out of town, so Chris called 911.  Plumbing 911.  Over the next few days, they came, assessed ("clogged pipe" was an understatement), projected, quoted, jack-hammered, repaired, cleaned, and cemented our basement floor.




Seriously, they were the nicest guys.  And very professional.  Not one poop joke.  Okay maybe one, but only because I provoked them.

Life is colorful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

jammy


I'm not a very efficient baker.  I take a long time going from one step to the next, unless I'm on a time constraint.  But even then I wouldn't say I'm efficient.  

Checking text messages, changing the laundry, heating up leftovers from last night's dinner, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the counter as I go along, sorting through mail on the counter, reading a magazine that came in the mail on the counter, taking pictures of my food..  Seriously, I am distracted by everything.

Good thing the end result makes up for all of that wait time.

Tonight, I baked a dessert bar recipe from one of the blogs I follow. With hubby in another country, I find I have time on my hands where I would otherwise be spending with him.  It's in those moments when I'm most inspired to bake from scratch.  My naturopath has me on a dairy/gluten-free diet, so I'm always keeping my eyes open for interesting recipes that don't require seventeen ingredients I don't have, and taste like cardboard.

These almond berry jammy dessert bars are neither difficult to make nor tasteless.

  
I used a jar of tayberry jam my friend, Lily, gave to me during my last Seattle visit (instead of making my own as this recipe suggests - though the cherry-chia jam sounds divine!), and I added fresh blueberries on top of the jam, before adding the almond crumble. The only ingredient I didn't have on hand was ground flaxseed, and I added 2T honey in with the agave syrup for sweetness.  I also added local bee pollen, but that's just me (I heard that eating local honey can help with seasonal allergies).

This dessert would be perfect dressed in vanilla ice cream, and shared with friends.

Summery.  Sweet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

secret admirer

When was the last time you had a secret admirer?

You know, that special someone who (without prompting) surprises you with love notes and goodies?  It's been that long for me, too! 

Except now, for two months in a row, I've received letters in the mail from Cleveland, Ohio.  No return address.  Signed only "Secret Sender." Before you go thinking it's another real life episode of the Twilight Zone, I have proof.  They know me.

The first envelope contained a handmade puzzle:



The second mailing came in six parts:


I posted about my secret friend on Facebook and still have no idea who it is.  The handwriting leads me to believe it's one of my youth girls, but I suppose it could be anyone.

Secret or not, I'm smiling.

Monday, July 9, 2012

scary movies


Hubby is currently in Managua, Nicaragua serving with a Foursquare church.  The last I heard, he went zip-lining on one of his free days and is training to be a puppeteer.  He also handed out Bibles door-to-door, prayed healing over local families, and might have to learn a dance or two for the children.

As long as there is no talk of mimes, he's happy.

In his absence, I'm catching up on blogging and laundry, going to farmers markets, seeing clients, and spending time with girlfriends.

On two evenings recently, I had friends over for a movie night.  Each time it was me, our roommate, two other gals, and armloads of junk food, with the first one including an appearance by my husband.. from the shadows.. with a scream.  I'm pretty sure one of the teenagers wet herself.  The second night was just us girls watching Paranormal Activity 3. I lost count of how many times we jumped and squealed on account of nerves.



That's what friends are for. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

fireworks & lightning storms


What I like most about the fourth of July is the way it brings communities together.  Every other day of the year, you may limit your neighborly interactions to a wave and nod as you drive by.  But on this holiday, everyone is out in friendship and festive attire.  No one seems to mind the heat index, and barbecues fill the air with their signature scent.

Our church hosts a tailgate party on the third of July, and this year, I volunteered at the SnoCone machine.  I think I've finally acclimated to the extreme temperatures of the midwest, but I will always prefer the cold.  The SnoCone machine did well to keep my sweating (or at least my concern of it) at a minimum.




I love seeing all of the familiar faces that show up on that day. Everyone is in a good mood at our tailgate party, faces get painted, and our church parking lot is transformed in to a giant playground.

The following night, we joined Bruce & Patty and a few other friends for the Spencer city fireworks.  Medina does a fine job, but Spencer does it better.  For sure it helps that we sit in a big park with the fireworks lit only half a football field away.  You can feel the boom all the way down to your toes!  Next year, we're talking about scooting up closer.. living on the edge.





God spared no expense with His own pyrotechnics this year, as both nights the human version contended with an impressive lightning storm.

Let freedom ring.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

tornado warning

© photo credit: www.wkyc.com

Whenever someone asks me what I like about living in Ohio, my answer is often "thunder & lightning storms!"  Something about the way the clouds form and the sky opens up with grumbling and rants. It's ominous and brilliant at the same time.

Our roommate grew up with these weather patterns and is less inclined for excitement.  But, we're only 28 months old here.  We get excited.  The wind, the sheets of rain, the way we all jump when a really good thunder clap shakes the house.. it's a wild ride.

This morning things got serious.

Medina has had "severe weather warnings" and "tornado watches" before, but rarely do we get a tornado warning.  Just before noon, we had a tornado warning.  I was at home with Amanda when the tornado sirens went off.  She and I moved in to the living room and watched the news together, while texting friends we knew in the outlying storm areas.  It was intense where we were, but we knew others were getting it worse.  Thankfully, the warning only lasted a half an hour, and everyone we know is safe and sound.

We came close to retreating to the basement with our lunches.  I think Amanda would have preferred that to my dancing around. Clearly, she's the smart one.

We're scheduled to have our annual tailgate party at church tonight, but the skies are still angry.  Not sure if we'll even get to see the city's fireworks, but at least we're warm and dry and still have our homes and families in tact.

I hope to never experience the opposite.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

sandwiches


It started with a text message from the Maid of Honor, asking me about finger sandwich recipes she could use for Anna's bridal shower.

First, can we please discuss the phrase, "finger sandwich?"

To quote a friend of mine, "Odd name.  I mean, what else would you eat them with?"  Good point.  I suppose, you could go the way of the macabre and think of them in terms of hand parts and cream cheese. Perhaps, that's why they are also called "tea sandwiches." Not that you have to eat them with tea, but they do sound more refined that way and less like a gory Halloween snack. 

Second, since I'm also one of Anna's bridesmaids and food is my love language, I was sure that I could find interesting recipes online and double sure I could prepare the sandwiches myself.  

After an hour of pouring over recipes, I was inspired to make the following three types of sandwiches (I added my own spin to them - mixed everything to taste):  chicken waldorf salad in a mini pita pocket, cucumber with lemon-mint mayonnaise on 12-grain, and a goat & cream cheese spread with toasted pecans and red pepper jelly on hearty white bread.



My husband graciously helped me stuff the pitas.  I asked him if he ever imagined this moment the day we said our vows. He replied, "Well, we did say 'for better or worse.'"  Funny guy.

Anna & Steven were showered well yesterday.  They participated in games and gift-opening, and enjoyed a bounty of sandwiches (all three were a hit!), fresh fruits & veggies, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts (another bridesmaid named Amy made those = divine!), coconut-rolled dates, and a table overflowing with desserts.

  
What a joy it was to celebrate two friends in love.