Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Man of Many Roles

Brandon, a man of many roles; script writer, costume developer, director, filmer, editor, producer. Whew!

And the Actor

Rylan has is own studies to attend to this week, but he cheerfully took a break from them to help Brandon with his project. Although I don't think Rylan has any aspirations to become an actor, he enjoys helping out and took the role of army buddy for this short film.

Wading Through Snow

Strenuous work, this acting and filming! Here they are, wading through deep snow on a very cold day!

The Special Effects

A breeze sends powdery snow off of the trees, giving the appearance of falling snow. So Brandon took advantage of the moment to add some special effects.

Waiting for the Film Makers Creative Direction

Brent and Rylan wait for the director's creative direction. Well, if the truth be known, they were actually posing for me! I wanted their full attention for a photograph of my own.

Snow Angels

Nothing stopped Brandon from getting the shots he wanted, not even the cold, cold weather. He was up and down, even laying in the snow to get the angle he wanted on film. It looked like he was making snow angels and his black coat became white with powder, but he was oblivious (until filming was done; then he discovered that he couldn't feel his toes!).

Warming with a Cuppa Hot Tea

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Door Ajar

"Long years you've kept the door ajar
To greet me, coming from afar.
Long years in my accustomed place
I've read my welcome in your face."

Robert Bridges

Those Kitchen Disasters

We all have kitchen disasters from time to time. Some are easier to 'fix' than others, but hopefully we all cope and move on. Recently I was making brown and wild rice for supper, but became distracted by a project and burned the meal. I had to start completely over with something new. I couldn't make rice again, as the pot was so blackened that it would take me days to get it cleaned out again. Please don't tell me that I am the only one who has these traumas! I like to think that it's quite alright to make a mistake in the kitchen now and then.

The kettle was deeply blackened and required alot of elbow grease and every other trick I could think of to remove. Well, every other trick without using steel wool (which I don't like to use on stainless because it leaves marks). Instead, I placed dishwashing powder in the kettle with some water and brought it to a rolling boil. Then, I allowed the mixture to cool and sit for awhile before scrubbing. This method worked well for most of the marks, but there were some stubborns ones that I simply could not remove. Next, I tried the vinegar soak method, then the Comet soak method, and finally simply water and more elbow grease. The kettle is finally clean and in full use again.

But I'm wondering, what methods do YOU use when you blacken a pot?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Citrus Fruit and Grain Salad

4 cups cooked whole grains (brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, or a combination)
2 navel oranges, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Combine the cooked grains, oranges, parsley, and raisins in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar,and mustard. Pour over the grain and fruit. Toss well. Season with salt to taste. Toss again and then chill until ready to serve.

*Source: Taste of Life magazine

God's Little Surprises

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I always dread the dreary winter months and that I always look forward to the flowers of spring! My home gardens are bleak since our killing frost, although because the flowers are gone, everything has been neatly trimmed and the beds are cleaned up in preparation for spring. This past week-end, a visit to the Oregon coast revealed a pleasant surprise --- one of God's little gifts! Beautiful flowers in full bloom --- were in a garden bed near the ocean shore. What a lovely surprise for a winter day!


"The very best thing is good talk,
and the thing that helps it most is friendship."

Henry Van Dyke

Winter Shore

A winter day at the coast. . .ocean breezes. . .sandy shore. . .sea shells and crab shells. . .sunshine. . .friendship. . .relaxation and calm.

Patience and Faith

The sea does not reward those who are
too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient.
Patience, patience, patience is what
the sea teaches. Patience and faith.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

* * *
Manzanita Beach, Oregon

Friday, November 24, 2006

To Grandfather's House We Go

Grandmother established this table as the "children's table" for Thanksgiving dinners. From very tiny children, this was where the cousins ate for Thankgiving dinner. The adults and other guests sat at another table nearby. But our group has grown smaller due to illnes, death, and distance. Thanksgiving day marked the date; yesterday it was five years since Grandmother passed away. For the past several years we have chosen to all crowd in and sit around the "children's table". Grandfather had it set so nicely and although only a portion of the food fit on the table, we adapted and a feast was enjoyed by all! It was a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Those We Love

God, we thank You for this food,
For rest and home and all things good;
For wind and rain and sun above,
But most of all for those we love.

Maryleona Frost

Thanksgiving Eve & Recipe Sharing

The hustle and bustle of preparations for Thanksgiving day continue at a relaxing, yet frantic pace. I've been busy baking today, and am nearly done but have one more dish to make tonight. This morning started with apple and cranberry flans and pumpkin pies. I experimented with two new crusts, both gluten-free, that worked nicely for both desserts. The day was broken in half by a trip to town for groceries and errands, and then kitchen duty called again. Yet this evening, I'm planning on preparing a Tofu-Rice Salad. Then, in the morning before we leave for Dad's house. I'll make a gourmet green salad (with baby corn, artichoke hearts, avocados, and more) and Cashew Cilantro Dressing. Are you looking for a last minute recipe to complete your holiday meal? I'll share the Tofu-Rice Salad recipe with you here:

Tofu-Rice Salad

1 cup diced tofu
4 cups cooked brown and wild rice combination
1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped pecans
3/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water and then drained
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce, Tamari sauce, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
lettuce leaves
parsley or cilantro

Toss the ingredients together and chill to marinate flavors. When ready to serve, arrange on a bed of lettuce leaves and sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

For variation: add a small amount of ginger powder. You may also use 2 - 3 tsp. sesame oil and then add olive oil to equal 1/3 cup. If you prefer, you may omit the lemon juice and olive oil and add Veganaise instead.

Serves: 4 (generous servings)

Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


"May God give us
Grateful hearts
And keep us mindful
Of the need of others."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Holiday Cranberry Molded Salad

Here's the recipe for the cranberry salad that I listed in our Thanksgiving menu (previous post). It's delicious and makes a beautiful presentation. It's also very easy to prepare!

You'll need:

2 (16 oz.) cans cranberry sauce
2 (20 oz.) cans crushed pineapple
4 cups non-dairy whipped topping*
2 cups chopped pecans

Mix cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple together well. Gently stir in non-dairy whipped topping and chopped pecans. When well mixed, pour mixture into a mold of choice. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer. Freeze for at least 10 hour (can be made days ahead and be kept in freezer until ready to use). When ready to serve, remove from freezer and gently unmold onto pretty plate or cake stand. You can use a warm, moist towel to gently thaw the salad so it releases easily from the mold. Garnish as desired. It's pretty with more non-dairy whipped topping, whole cranberries, orange slices, pineapple mint leaves, etc.

*Rich's non-dairy whipped topping works very well for this recipe.

A Thankful, Traditional, and Terrific Thanksgiving

A vegetarian Thanksgiving is just as thankful, traditional, and terrific as a Thanksgiving with a turkey as the centerpiece. But, for a non-vegetarian, I'm sure the thought of no-turkey seems very strange. When the boys were young, they had a pet tom-turkey who followed them everywhere (and sometimes attacked them!). Our family would joke that turkeys were safe at our house during the holidays. The turkeys always made it through traditional turkey holidays with full tummy's and the run of the coop! The last turkey I remember eating was when I was 5 years old and was celebrating a Canadian Christmas at my aunt's house. It was shortly after that holiday that my parents made the decision to completely engulf a vegetarian lifestyle for our family. Once that decision was made, there was no turning back. Back then (I won't say how long ago), it was not trendy or common to be a vegetarian like it is now-days. Holiday dinners have always been special --- and although the menu has varied somewhat, certain elements always remain the same. Would you like a peek at a vegetarian Thanksgiving menu? Here are some of our favorites holiday foods:

* Vegetarian 'turkey' slices (made from soy and gluten with wonderful flavorings) filled with bread stuffing and served with cranberry sauce or cashew or brown gravy

* Tofurky, a tofu loaf that's well seasoned and slices nicely; or a Cashew Loaf that's savory and delicious!

* Wild and brown rice pilaf

* Mashed potatoes and brown gravy

* Succotash of corn and lima beans and other cooked veggies

* Creamed Squash (from Grandpa's summer garden)

* A fruity gelled salad, veggie style (no gelatin though)

* Tossed salad with all the fixin's and salad dressings

* A tray of vegetables like carrots, celery, olives, pickles, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, and more --- served with a healthy dip

* Whole wheat rolls with spreads like apple butter or blackberry jam

* Fresh apple cider or homemade grape juice

* Pumpkin pie

* Apple Crisp with Tofutti Ice Dream

It's off to Grandpa's on Thursday. I'm taking a gluten-free loaf, a huge green salad with dressings, and the pies. Everyone pitches in and many hands make light work. Blessings abound!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving traditions vary from family to family; from region to region. In our family, Thanksgiving is the 'big' holiday of the year. Grandma loved this holiday and made sure it was always a joyful, family time of feasting and recreation. The holiday meal was a shared affair, with each of her children's families bringing something to share. My assignment has always been to bring a large green salad, a side-dish, and dessert. Although Grandma has passed away, we continue her tradition with Grandpa in charge. The children are all coming home from colleges and universities throughout the USA and Canada. This is the family's time to express gratitude and express appreciation for those we hold dear.

I've been thinking of things we done over the years for this traditional family event. Nature walks after dinner have been common, but the time that brings back fondest memories for me is when the children were very young. After dinner we went into the garage (cleared out for this activity) where one of the adults read the story of Thanksgiving aloud. The children were dressed up in the costume of Pilgrims and Native Americans. Props were set up and the entire story was reenacted. What fun the little ones had! And the history of the first Thanksgiving was reinforced in their minds as something to be thankful for and of historical importance. We finished the day with a huge pinata that they broke all over the floor and then scrambled for the sweet treats inside. I don't remember what the sweet treats were, but I'm sure it was probably dried fruits and packets of other healthy treats. The day ended with a wagon hayride and singing of songs.

Memories of Thanksgiving's past. . .with more traditions to be made. . .

Enjoy a blessed and thankful week!


As Thanksgiving approaches, the cookbooks and recipes are out as I look for traditional and new foods to prepare our holiday gathering. Today I'm sharing a recipe for cornbread. It can be prepared in a square pan or as muffins. Serve with warm apple butter or nut butter.

2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer***
2 Tbsp. agave syrup
1 cup soy or nut milk
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. melted margarine
2 tsp. baking powder

Mix dry ingredients into a bowl. Form a well in the center and set aside. In another bowl, blend all liquid ingredients together. Pour the liquid ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and hand-mix only until ingredients are moist. The batter should be lumpy. Do not overmix! Place batter into a prepared 8x8 square pan or into individual muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until golden on top. Muffins may be done in 12 - 15 minutes.


***With liquid to equal two eggs

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holiday Wassail

1 can grape juice concentrate
3 grape juice cans of water
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
3 sticks cinnamon
1 Tbsp. whole allspice
1 Tbsp. whole cloves

Combine first four ingredients in a large saucepan. Place spices in a tea infuser or tied in a cheesecloth. Simmer the juice with the spices for 20 minutes. Remove spices and serve hot in a pretty mug or clear glass teacups. Enjoy this festive and healthy beverage!

Potted Presents

Autumn is here and winter isn't far behind. The holiday season is usually abundant with the blessing of fellowship with those we hold dear and lots and lots of presents! Gift giving is an integral part of the upcoming holiday season. Presenting a gift in a pot is a fun way to wrap up some of your holiday giving. Here are a few ideas for making your own potted presents.


*Pot --- Pick a pot that is the right size for your gift idea and is a style and color that compliments the gift. If you are mailing your pot, pick a light-weight plastic one.

* Stuffing--- Fill the bottom of your pot with a stuffing that will help lift up your gift and "show it off". Good stuffers are tissue, shredded tissue, Easter grass, a crushed colorful bag, or popcorn.

* Gift --- This is the fun part! The possibilities are endless. Coordinate the colors for a real splash. Adding colorfully wrapped candy, silk or dried flowers really adds pizazz. Don't forget to put in a package of seed that ties in with your theme.

*Tying It Up --- If you are sending your gift, you will need to wrap it in Saran or cellophane, then tie it with raffia, french ribbon, shredded Mylar ribbon, or strips of netting. If you will hand deliver your pot, then leave it unwrapped and tie your bow around the pot. Painted and stenciled designs on your pot make it really unique.

* Card --- Be creative! Make homemade cards, use recipes, seed packets, sachet packets, postcards, etc. Whatever it is, let the message you inscribe on it reflect the fun you had making this potted present as you thought of them.

Types of Pots:

*Bath Pot --- Fill this one with soaps, lotions, loofah and new undies!

*Dessert Pot --- Provide the ingredients to make a yummy dessert (like mint brownies)!

*Garden Pot --- Stuff it with garden gloves, trowel, seeds and a book about flowers.

*Get Well Pot --- Full of items for god health; Kleenex, lozenges, "chicken soup mix", and crackers.

* Kids Pot --- Your favorite munchkin will love getting a pot of crayons, markers, a tablet, and their own packages of seeds to plant.

What other ideas can you think up for pot types? I'd love to read them. Please post your ideas in the comments section of this post. Happy gifting!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sharing Friendship Through Stitching

Mary Kathryn of the Happy Stitcher blog is participating in a fun game of sharing and friendship. I was one of the first five who posted a comment under her post today (as per below) and thus, am a participant in her event. Now it's my turn. . .

The first five people to respond to this post (via the comments section) will get some form of handmade needlework. After you comment, please email me your snail mail address ( I’m going with a 365 day deadline, but will try to get the items out much sooner than that! There is a catch, of course, the way this works is that if you sign up, you have to blog this as well and continue the sharing.

The link to Mary's Kathryn's blog is on the right, in My Favorites.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Enjoying Tea Just Like the Czar!

Many years ago, there was an old peasant who loved his tea. After a long, hard day's work, he would come into his humble cottage, heat up the water in his beat-up samovar that had definitely seen better days when his grandma was still alive, carefully measured out the tea, brewed it in his teapot that was in worse shape than the samovar, and pour it into his chipped cup. Then, he would sit down in his old wooden chair. He would lift the cup to his nose, sniff the tea deeply, take a sip, smile, lay back in his chair, and deeply sigh, "Ah! Good!"

He liked to talk about drinking his tea to his friends. He would often say, "I enjoy my tea just like the czar!"

Well....the czar got wind of this. And the czar, being the czar, was, you might say, just a bit angry. How dare a mere peasant say he was anything like a czar!

So, he had the peasant hauled up before him. The czar said: "I heard that you think that you enjoy your tea just like me. Now, before I punish you for your nerve, I will give you a chance to prove it!"

He made the peasant sit beside him in a comfortable, carved chair lined with the finest silk. "Is your chair like this one?" asked the czar?

"" said the peasant.

The czar clapped his hands. Several servants appeared. One brought out a beautiful samovar made of gold and decorated with all kinds of jewels. "Is your samovar like mine?" asked the czar.

"No," gasped the peasant in awe.

Another servant measured out the tea from a caddy made from the finest imported wood and brewed the tea in a teapot that outshone the samovar. "Do servants serve you your tea?" asked the czar.

"Oh, no," said the peasant. "Definitely not."

A third servant poured the tea in tea cups made of the finest bone china, and handed the czar and the peasant their cups. "Does your cup look like mine?" asked the czar.

"No," said the peasant. Then they both lifted their cups to their noses, both took a deep, appreciative sniff, both took a sip, both laid back in their chairs, and both sighed deeply, "Ah! Good!"

The czar stared at the peasant in amazement. "Wow!" he said. "You certainly do enjoy your tea just like I do!"

Ladylike Luxuries

Yet let's be merry; we'll have tea and toast;
Custards for supper, and an endless host
Of syllabubs and jellies and mince pies,
And other such ladylike luxuries.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Warmth for Winter

It's that time of the year again. The time to prepare for cold winter days and nights by gathering wood for the stove. It used to be that this involved trips to the mountains, chainsaws, leather gloves, and lots of elbow grease! It was heavy work, but very rewarding. Over the years sources of wire wood have been more and more difficult to find. The forestry department has closed areas of the woods that were available for gathering fallen or dead wood and opened other areas that are difficult to get to. Because of these restrictions and some serious troubles with Brent's back that required surgery, we are now heating with pellets. The warmth is not quite the same (it's cooler) but it's adequate and much less labor intensive.

Brent prepares to place a pallet of pellets under cover so they are ready for our winter use.

Three and a half tons of wood pellets are ready for the cold of winter. The pellet stove will warm our home on a daily basis. On a thermostat, it comes on night and day as needed (and turns off as needed as well) keeping the house an even temperature; cozy and warm. Our previous wood stove was airtight and I could not see the flame. The pellet stove has a large glass window and the bright and cheerful flame that lights the room is relaxing and soothing to watch.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In Nothing Be Anxious

"In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your
requests be made known unto God."

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6, A.R.V.; 4:7

Photo: Chinese Gardens; Portland Oregon

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Puddle Duckie

My friend, Lisa, from Puddle Duckie Farm, is creative and energetic. In early spring she starts herbs and plants in her farm greenhouse, growing exotic and wonderful herbs that she sells as plants, product, and craft. It's a treat to visit her farm and shop each season, and I love walking her garden and taking pictures of plants and garden decor. Lisa is a mistress of all things --- cooking, herbs, crafts, soap making, sewing, and is a loving mother to two adorable little boys. When I was there last she was making this adorable jumper --- puddle duckies wearing hats --- with colorful buttons to match --- to go with the name of her farm. Some people are so creative! And all this reminds me that it's time to go visit Lisa and her farm again. The holiday's are nearing --- and it's time to purchase a few more gifts. It's time to decide who gets fragrant soaps, spicy mixes, or bath bombs. Hmmm. . .

The Mighty Columbia

It was a beautiful autumn day, one in which I was blessed to take a drive along the Columbia River Gorge with my husband. The road follows the river, mile by mile. Rocks, waves, water fowl, a train on the track, a barge hauling wheat, and occasional stern wheel cruise ship, rocky cliffs, and sagebrush all provide much of interest to look at an observe. There's something so calming and serene about vast expanses of water and it was a lovely treat in the midst of an otherwise busy week. The ride along the river is the same one that Lewis and Clark traversed with the guidance of Sacajawea -- and was later used for transport by wagon trains trekking west from Fort Walla Walla to the Willamette Valley in Oregon as they turned their wagons into boats and floated towards the Pacific. History, beauty, geology and ecology, transportation, nature, and more all tied up into one beautiful flowing package -- the mighty Columbia.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Birthday Celebration!

We were blessed this week-end with a visit from Dad and Alma. This is their annual autumn visit where we celebrate their birthday's and they deliver our order of tree-ripened canned fruit from Hood River, Oregon. We had a lovely time visiting and celebrating. The gifts were enjoyed an appreciated, and so was the chocolate cake!

More Birthday Cake!

Another chocolate birthday cake --- made without wheat so that it meets the dietary needs of all family members. Unfortunately our killer frost destroyed the last of my miniature rose blossoms and the mums are past their prime. So, to decorate this cake, I resorted to colored taper candles, coconut, walnut pieces, and an orange slice. Adequate, bu I sure missed the flowers!

Coconut Crackers

1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup raw cashews, cleaned
4 1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup quinoa flakes

Process cashews with about 3/4 cup of the water in a blender until very smooth. Add sesame seeds and coconut and continue blending. Add remaining water and other ingredients and blend again until smooth. Pour onto a sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 350°F (175C) for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and score to desired cracker size. Return to oven and bake an additional 40 minutes, or unti very lightly browned. Check frequently to prevent burning.

Yields: 4 dozen 1 3/4" (4.5 cm) crackers.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mountain Ash

Everyone has their favorite trees, and I will admit that I have been heavily influenced by my mother on this subject. Mom was an avid gardener and loved trees that had colorful flowers or berries. The mountain ash was one of her favorites. She grew a large one in a garden off her deck and it provided an 'umbrella' that shaded the beautiful garden below it. The mountain ash is also the official 'tree' of the college I attended. My parents also attended this college, and now Brandon is enrolled there. In honor of this beautiful tree, the college yearbook is named the "Mountain Ash". It seems that there are many emotional triggers for me, causing me to place high value on this type of tree!

One of the first trees we planted at our home was a mountain ash. It's had nearly 20 years to grow and is doing well, although it's decided to grow with a side ward slant rather than straight and tall. Each autumn it's berries are abundant in clusters of orange. These berries attract birds of many kinds and we especially enjoy having the cedar wax-wings visit and feast on their migratory route. The berries also attract boys! Over the years they have been used for games of war (becoming bullets in homemade blow guns) or weapons for throwing in clusters at brother as he takes his turn on the lawn mower. Many times I've looked out the front window to see the riding lawnmower cutting strange patterns in the lawn as the driver was dodging berries thrown by Dad or sibling. It's interesting how something as simple as a tree can create so many word pictures and memories of events in the past.

Here's an explanation of this tree from the Columbia University Press Encyclopedia:

Mountain Ash, name for any species of the genus Sorbus of the family Rosaceae (rose family), hardy ornamental trees and shrubs native to the Northern Hemisphere, not related to the true ashes. They are deciduous and bear flat-topped clusters of white flowers followed by orange or brilliant red berrylike fruits, for which they are widely cultivated as ornamentals. The astringent pom fruits are often used in domestic remedies. Of native kinds, the most common is the American mountain ash (S. americana), ranging from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Introduced species are often cultivated, especially the common European mountain ash or rowan tree (S. aucuparia). This tree is one of the most revered plants in the folklore of the Old World. It warded off evil influences and was “Thor's helper”; bits of the wood were thought to avert almost any disaster. Mountain ash is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae. 

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Calli Cat

Calli is our cat. He lives outside and is happiest when left alone. Except, that is, for the late autumn and winter. Then he goes through streaks of friendliness and begs to be petted. I've always wondered why this is so and don't have an answer for this. Right now his coat is getting thick and heavy in preparation for colder days ahead. And sometimes during the cold months he joins the family by coming in the the dog door in the evening and spending the night, sleeping snugly under a desk or another quiet corner. But, come morning, he's always glad to get outside --- on the search for mouse or bird --- Calli, the hunter cat.

Tea and Pajamas

Tea and pajamas. Those words conjure up cozy thoughts of a warm jammies, a fire, a cuppa hot tea, and a relaxing evening at home. But, this post isn't about that. That would be normal, and I've been observing an unusual trend that I don't understand. Maybe one of Gracious Hospitality blog readers would have more insight in this than I do!

Last even our family stopped by WalMart for a few items. In the Christmas candy aisle, I found this cute little 'tea for one' set and bought it for a birthday gift for someone I know. That's where the tea part comes in. Isn't it cute?

But the pajamas is where I get puzzled. What is it about WalMart that makes women think they can shop in their jammies? Last night we observed a plus-size woman, somewhere in her thirties or forties, shopping for groceries in red, printed, baggy, flannel pajama bottoms with a T-shirt and slippers. And this is not an uncommon sight. Since WalMart first came to town, teen girls have walked the aisle rows in slippers, crop-tops, and pajama bottoms --- and now it appears those closer to middle-age are also adopting this habit. I suppose one could assume that these are the people who have their motor homes parked for the night in the parking lot and they've just made the store an extension of their accommodations, but this would be a false assumption. Last night there were no RV's in the parking lot!

Where are the days when women dressed up in presentable attire to go shopping?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Autumn, the Time for Haystacks

Haystacks in autumn bring thoughts of barns, piles of hay, and a sweet fragrance. But if you we are talking about food, haystacks have a different meaning. Haystacks are a classic vegetarian one-dish meal that is frequently the main course for week-end potlucks and family get-togethers. There are probably as many variations for this recipe as there are cooks; all taste great, but some versions have more calories than others. My version is the 'low cal vegan' version. Layers of brown rice or corn chips; pinto beans seasoned with salt, garlic, and cumin; shredded lettuce; tomatoes; olives; pickles; onions; and salsa. Yum! Fast and easy! Other versions include melty cheese made from cashews, pimentos, and seasonings (or shredded cheeses). Avocados, ranch dressing, catsup, and other toppings also help create a haystack that matches your favorite flavor needs.

What's on Your Fridge?

What's on your fridge door? Is it clear and creamy white, chrome, or black? Or is it dotted with magnets and photographs of loved ones? I try to keep my fridge clear of clutter, but it seems it always ends up being a palette where I express my personality and exhibit mementos of the thing I love. Magnets showing scenes from the Olympic National Park, Grand Canyon, or Zion National Park are dotted in among tea-themed magnets and baby pictures of the boys. Someday soon I'll try again to have a creamy white fridge and I'll clear everything away, but it won't belong until those favorite magnets and pictures start dotting the fridge door again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tea for Non-Congestion

1 1/2 teaspoon dry sage
1 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger or 1 slice fresh ginger root

Pour boiling water over herbs. Steep for 10 minuts. Strain and sweeten with stevia to taste. Drink four times a day to eliminate or prevent congestion.

Cookbook Classics

Do you have a modern, classic cookbook that you go to when you need a basic recipe for common foods? Biscuits, chocolate cake, icing, crackers, bread, cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, and recipes for jam are all examples of things I look for in my 'classic cookbooks'. For these classics, a good Martha Stewart cookbook can't be beat. Sometimes Martha's integrity and ethics have been questioned, but her cookbooks are well written and researched. Chemically, ingredients are balanced, creating perfect products and foods that don't give you a tummy ache. Did you know that if alkalines aren't balanced properly with an acid, the finished product can sit heavy in the stomach? Martha's recipes have been scientifically developed to avoid doing this. I sometimes wonder where she comes up with so many different recipes! This is just one of the Martha Stewart cookbooks in my collection. It stays on the shelf where my 'classics' belong. Although not used frequently, it's nice to know it's there if I need it.

The Joy of Cooking is another classic that I've had in my kitchen during most of my married years. It's a terrific basic cookbook that includes recipes from all categories and covers the classics well.

Gentleness Tea

1 c. dried rosemary leaves
1 c. dried lavender flowers
1 c. dried mint leaves
1/2 c. dried chamomile
1/2 c. dried cloves

Blend herbs and store in a dry, airtight container. To use, place 1 tsp. of blend to 6 ounces of water. Steep for 5 to 8 minutes. Strain and serve. Add stevia for a tasty herbal sweetness.

Tea Table and Chair

"One should clean out a room in one's home
and place only a tea table and a chair in the room
with some boiled water and fragrant tea.
Afterwards, sit salutarily and allow one's spirit
to become tranquil, light, and natural."

-Li Ri Hau, A Ming Dynasty Scholar

Tea Drinking

"The first cup moistens my lips and throat; The second cup breaks my loneliness; The third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs; The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration --- all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores; At the fifth cup I am purified; The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup --- ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves. Where is Elysium? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither."

Lu Tung (Chinese poet during T'ang Dynasty)