Monday, February 28, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie

This recipe is a family favorite! Easy to make, it has a rich flavor and appeals to anyone who loves coconut or custard!  It's dairy free and eggless and can be poured into a regular pie crust or into a nut or graham cracker crust as well.

Coconut Cream Pie

3 1/2 cups vanilla flavored rice milk
1/2 cup agave syrup or honey
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups unsweetened coconut, fine
2 tablespoons coconut extract

Save out 1/2 cup rice milk to blend with cornstarch for thickening. Bring the remaining ingredients to a slow boil, then add the 1/2 cup rice milk with cornstarch. Cook until thick. Cool completely. Pour into baked pie crust. Chill and serve.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making "Sea Salt"

I love the glass canisters of sea salts that are sold by the ounce in the gourmet section of the supermarket.  They come in a variety of colors; black, brown, tan, and white, depending upon their source and how they are processed.  Some are aged in oak barrels while others are fresh, pristine, plain white.  Each is named in some fashion according to the location it was gathered.  They are flavorful and unique.  The cooking experience is enhanced by something as simple as sea salt.  It is generally thought to be more flavorful and have a better texture than regular table salt.  Gourmet cooks seek it for their dishes.

Recently members of an online recipe group shared their ideas for making their own sea salt.  It was a new idea to me!  Have you ever made your own sea salt?  Their conversation centered around the use of a slow cooker to speed up the evaporation process.  The subject peaked my interest and I decided to see what more I could discover on this subject.  Sea salt is a product of evaporation where brine is taken from the sea and warm, dry air applied and dissolution occurs.  The sun's energy is generally used, but in cool climates other energy sources must be applied.

Making sea salt in your own home is a simple process, although not without its complications if you do not live by the sea.  But, for the fun of it, let's explore the possibilities.  You will need:  sea or ocean water, a gallon size jar, a kettle, and a stove (unless you decide to use a slow cooker).  Be sure the sea water is as clean as possible.  Check out the environment where you gather it to make sure that there is not stagnant water with obvious pollutants.  Once you are in your kitchen, strain the sea water through cheesecloth to remove any particles of debris or sand.  Place the sea water in a kettle and boil on the stove-top for several hours.  The idea is for the liquid portion to evaporate (take opportunity to give yourself a steam facial in the process).  As the kettle becomes emptier, keep close watch.  Remove it from the heat when there is a small layer of water left at the bottom of the kettle.  It's important that you do this so that you don't scorch or burn the salt at the bottom of the kettle.  Allow to sit overnight, if possible, so that the remainder of the water evaporates naturally.  Then, scrape the salt crystals from the kettle and onto a plate.  Allow the salt to dry out completely.  When dry, pour the salt into a small container and use when cooking your favorite recipe.  How fun is that?  

(The slow cooker method would be similar, but would require less attention than a kettle on the stove-top because it is less likely to burn.) 

~ Photos:  Bandon Beach, Oregon ~ 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Winter Sea

Have you noticed how the winter sea is always BLUE?


So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.  Psalm 104:25

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.  

Psalm 96:11

Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.  

Isaiah 42:10

Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:  

Jeremiah 31:35  

~ Bandon Beach, Oregon ~

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mexican Soup

There's nothing nicer on a very chilly evening than a steaming bowl of soup.  This recipe is quick and easy.  It uses ingredients that are simple to find in the winter.  And best of all, it's delicious!  What's for supper at your house?

Mexican Soup

2 cups cooked pinto beans
4 cups canned tomatoes (blended slightly)
2 cups whole kernel corn
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 package (1 1/4 oz.) Taco Seasoning
1 small can green chilies (optional)

In a large saucepan, mix everything all together and cook over medium high heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

*For variety, toss in a handful of corn chips, taco chips, or bits of tortilla's! Yum! Another option is to add rice to the soup. Garnish liberally with cilantro!

Talk Like a Pirate


The pirate speaks,"Every beach town seems t' have its own version o' pirate fun! Most o' us be familiar with Captain Jack Sparrow and t' quirky kind o' pirate adventure he brin's t' t' big screen. Even grown up lads seem t' find intrigue and humor in pirate lore. Pirate food, attire, and trinkets be abundant in any seaside down worth its salt! Our seaside town had enough t' brin' a smile t' everyone's face. "

Time & a Perfect Day

When sharing time with friends, it is always interesting to observe what decisions people make regarding use of their recreational time.  "What shall we do today?" is a question asked each morning.  Responses vary and a melding of ideas occurs.  Tradition (things done or places visited on other trips) decrees that some things simply must happen.  Individuals new to the group come with their own, unique ideas.  Answers range from walking the beach (a must for each visit to the ocean) to shopping in the quaint little town nearby.  Favorite bookstores must be visited, fudge or caramel corn purchased in tiny candy shops, and trinkets examined in stores where shopkeepers work to vend the most unique things they can find.  Seagulls and sea lions beg be fed.  And it is always entertaining that fishing boats observed.  No matter what the activity, relaxation occurs (yes, even with shopping).  Lively conversation over a cup of tea and an afternoon nap cap off the days activities.  A perfect day.  

Wired with Friends

There are several things required for a get-away week-end when a group is involved.  You need adequate space (places to take a nap and sleep), a clean kitchen with lots of space for food, and Internet!  Twenty-somethings are fully wired these days!  So are fifty-somethings!  If the beach isn't right outside the door, that's alright.  A meandering walk to its sandy shore allows for many things to see along the way.  Kids, kites, cozy couples, dogs, quaint houses, driftwood, and more all entertain as footsteps lead to miles of sandy shoreline and the magnificent crash of waves!  Today, as we experience a wintry day at home, with temperatures in the teens, memory recalls the milder temperatures of the coast and a half-dozen or more flowers we observed in bloom.  Little things create pleasant memories that carry us through the rest of winter as we anticipate spring.  The ocean in the winter is one of my favorite things!

Sea Quest

The winter has been long, gray, and chilly.  News of a sunny week-end at the beach was welcome as we turned our wheels toward the beach.  The great Pacific did not disappoint!  Waves and sunshine mixed with the fellowship of family and friends created a lovely meld of activities inside and outdoors.  A pleasant surprise, miniature daffodils blooming beside the rental house, added an extra touch of cheer!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beach Buddies

"Don't grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach."

- Michelle Held

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Signs of Spring

Slowly but surely, little signs of spring are appearing. The first tender shoots of daffodil and tulips are pushing through the earth. The special tulip bulbs, hand delivered via the honeymooners after their trip to Amsterdam last September, are also starting to push through the earth in the large clay pots they were planted in on the porch. Tiny white snowdrops are budding, looking like pearly white teeth right now. Soon a sunny day will arrive and they will open their faces wide as they seek the sun. Don't you just love the little bits of spring that are appearing, even on these wintry days? They speak of hope, promise, and joy. For now, I'm just wishing the clouds would move aside and LET THE SUNSHINE IN!

Have you seen signs of spring in your yard?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love Seasons

Love maketh its own summer time,
'Tis June, Love, when we are together,
And little I care for the frost in the air,
For the heart makes its own summer weather.

Love maketh its own winter time,
And though the hills blossom with heather,
If you are not near, 'tis December, my dear,
For the heart makes its own winter weather.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Pasta con Faggioli

Fresh, savory, and quick to make --- Pasta con Faggioli is great for a crowd. Serve with sandwiches and enjoy the fellowship of family and friends.

Pasta Con Faggioli

6 cups water
4 - 5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1 sweet onion, medium
8 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 Tbsp. chili pepper, crushed
1 Tbsp. parsley, fresh and chopped
15 ounces cooked Great Northern White Beans
8 ounces spaghetti, broken (gluten free if necessary)

In a skillet, sauté sweet onion and garlic until soft. Add seasonings, tomatoes, and beans. In a kettle, bring water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until tender. Drain spaghetti. Add spaghetti to the bean and tomato mixture. Add fresh parsley and stir in gently. Adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and allow to sit for 2 - 3 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Dear Potter

We realize we have been jarred by life, causing brokenness. Some of us feel like shards of china instead of the exquisite and intriguing vessels that we want to be. We want to be pots that, when poured, tipped, dropped, or spilled, issue forth streams of life. Please, You who rework clay to repair damage, mend us. In Jesus' restorative name, Amen.
Patsy Clairmont