Sunday, August 21, 2016

An Atmosphere of Beauty

"Children growing up in an atmosphere where beauty is considered an important part of daily life cannot help being inspired to develop their own original ideas in these areas, nor can they help being prepared to live aesthetically themselves. There is a 'togetherness' in sharing a prepared table that even very small children feel, although they cannot express it verbally." 

Edith Schaeffer

These are words that guided me on my homemaking journey at the beginning of my child rearing years. Mrs. Schaeffer speaks so eloquently when she writes; she creates word pictures of simple things that speak so profoundly to our souls. In another place she shares that every dinner table should have a centerpiece that is vibrant, interesting, and transitions with the seasons and experiences of life. Such a focal point provides family members with objects of nature and beauty to enjoy. Flowers, moss, rocks, shells, seed pods, and more can be gathered outdoors and be brought inside to make creative points of interest without added expense or fuss. Including children and grandchildren in the process might mean adding points of color found in small toys like Lego's, plastic figures, or miniature tea sets. An atmosphere where creativity is encouraged can inspire a child and set the stage for original ideas as they grow through life.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tea is Blue

Remembering a favorite song from my teen-age years as I share this vignette of favorite blue things.

Love is Blue

by Andy Williams

Blue, blue, my world is blue
Blue is my world since I'm without you
Gray, gray, my life is gray
Cold is my heart since you went away.

Red, red, my eyes are red
Crying for you alone in my bed
Green, green, my jealous heart
I doubted you and now we're apart.

When we met how the bright sun shone
Then love died, now the rainbow is gone.

Black, black, the nights I've known
Longing for you so lost and alone
Gone, gone, the love we knew
Blue is my world now I'm without you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fragrance Extraordinaire

It's that time of year! Spring has erupted and the lilacs are in full bloom! I can see the row of lilac trees in the front yard, all abloom in several shades of purple. They were started from shoots taken from my in-laws home more than twenty years ago. They have thrived and ended up growing so tall that I could no longer reach the blossoms. Last year we decided to trim them to a manageable height, and although we were careful to trim at the right stage of their bloom cycle, I will admit to being somewhat fearful that we wouldn't have blossoms this year. But they are more abundant than ever! A walk down lilac row is filled with their fragrance. Extraordinary! Just wonderful. And with the gentle hum of bees as they work their magic among the blossoms. Someone is going to be fortunate to have some lilac honey in their hive! It's the little blessings, like lilacs, sweet fragrance, and beauty that make life happy and complete.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Spicy Vegetable Curry

Spicy Vegetable Curry

2 c. potatoes, cubed
1 c. cauliflower florets
1 large onion, slivered
1 c. carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium eggplant
4 Tbsp. oil
2 - 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
one 2-inch piece ginger, finely minced
2 Tbsp. green chilies
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2-3 Tbsp. curry powder
1 1/2 c. vegetable stock
3 c. canned tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2/3 c. coconut milk
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper 
salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, potato and cauliflower and cook gently for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, green chilies, ginger and spices. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

2. Add stock, tomatoes, and eggplant and season with salt. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Mix cornstarch and cold coconut milk together until smooth and stir into mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with Basmati or Saffron steamed rice.

Yield: 18 half-cup servings

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Vegetable Stir Fry

1 lb. firm tofu
3 teaspoons McKay's Chicken-like seasoning
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thin
3 stalks celery, sliced thin at an angle
2 medium carrots, sliced thin at an angle
1 medium green or red pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 cups broccoli florets
3 - 4 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup lightly toasted cashews or slivered almonds
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger root


1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup water

Drain tofu, rinse and squeeze out excess water. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place tofu in large non-stick skillet, add chicken seasoning and mix to coat. Saute until tofu is browned, adding oil as necessary. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

To make sauce, dissolve cornstarch in soy sauce in a small bowl. Add rest of ingredients and stir to mix.

Have all vegetables chopped and ready before proceeding with cooking.

heat a small amount of oil over medium-high heat in large wok, skillet or saucepan. Add vegetables in following order, sauteing briefly (1 - 2 minutes) between each addition:  1) onions, 2) celery and carrots, 3) green or red peppers, 4) broccoli. When broccoli has turned bright green and is still crunchy, add tofu and stir fry sauce.  Cook, stirring constantly until sauce thickens and vegetables are crisp tender. Add cashews or almonds, ginger and green onions. Serve over cooked rice, couscous or Oriental noodles.

Variation: Substitute a frozen Oriental vegetable mix for fresh vegetables. Add water chestnuts, fresh or canned bean sprouts, or very vegetables as desired.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Corn Tamale Pie

Savory tofu mixed with vegetables and topped with a cornbread topping. Yum. It can't get much better than that!

1 lb. firm tofu, frozen, thawed, squeezed dry and cubed
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together soy sauce, peanut butter, onion and garlic powder. Work mixture into tofu until well coated. Fry in non-stick skillet until tofu is browned, adding oil as needed to prevent sticking.

Vegetable Mixture:

1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chill powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup sliced black olives
2 cups frozen or canned whole kernel corn
1 15-oz. can chili beans with liquid
1 4-oz. can green chilies

In a large non-stick skillet, saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a small amount of oil until soft. Add chili powder, oregano, and cuming. Saute briefly. Mix in rest of ingredients and browned tofu. Pour into a 9 X 13 inch oiled baking dish. Cover with cornbread topping.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until cornbread is golden.

Cornbread Topping

Mix together in a bowl:

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free alternative)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir in:

1 cup soymilk or milk
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon honey