Monday, August 29, 2011

Celebrating Tasha Tudor

Yesterday was Tasha Tudor Day!  Although I remembered it all day long, I didn't have time to post because we were helping our adult children move.  Things are still very busy around here, but in honor of Tasha Tudor, I would like to repost something I wrote about Tasha Tudor several years ago.  Here it is:

For Tasha Tudor day I wanted to do something that would celebrate something about Tasha's life. I thought of gardens and flowers; children's books; and art. I thought of tea and old-fashioned things. But I decided to focus upon some of Tasha's handiwork and celebrate her special day by concentrating on old quilts. Tasha was an artist not only with brush, pen, and pencil --- but with her needle as well. Stitchery of some sort was a common part of her daily life. So --- I set out to visit my friend, Paula, and to see the antique quilts she'd recently brought back to her shop after her trip to the 'longest yard sale' in Tennessee and Kentucky. We had a lovely time, setting up her antique quilts on an old trunk; over a railing on the back porch; and on the front porch bench --- and taking pictures of them. We examined patterns, fabrics, and simply appreciated them. Although they are very old and some are worn, each has an individual beauty that is expressed even more deeply by the wearing of the fibers. Each has a story and was part of a life of someone and their loved ones during a time in the past. Sixty or seventy years of experiences are worn into the very heart of each one. Each is a precious keepsake; a treasure to even those who know not the stories each quilt represents, but to those who choose to become the keeper of the memory's unknown.

The quilt Tasha Tudor was working on when this book about her handiwork and craft projects was published was called Yankee Pride. I wonder if she ever finished it. It sounds like it was an ongoing project. She stated that "before I leave earth, I intend to finish my quilt --- you can count on it." For more than a decade, it was an ongoing project. For some reason that brings me much comfort (I have a quilt that I'm hand-quilting and hope to complete by the time a decade is up myself. I was feeling quite slow. . .but maybe it's the way quilting should be. . .soothing, relaxing, and something to do peacefully over time.)

"cold enough at night to make forced bulbs content"

Of course Bucky Bo-Jangles didn't want to be left out of the quilt experience. He's the most curious little thing! While I was taking pictures of Tasha's quilt --- he was climbing the chair and working hard at not being left out of things. So, here you go, a picture of the little guy as he's up to much mischief! Needle sharp claws! Maybe I should have him finish my quilting project!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I read something today that reminded me of the value of gentleness.  I think it will bless you too ~

Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. A gentle person speaks the truth in a way others can receive.

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
Philippeans 4:5 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Parisian Sweets

Parisian Sweets

1 cup raisins, seedless
1/2 cup figs
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup cherries, dried
1 cup dates, pitted
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar*

Grind fruits and nuts together in food mill.  Mound mixture and then roll out on a flat surface to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar* (optional) and cut into squares.  

Makes 4 dozen

This recipe can be varied by the types of fruits added or taken away from the recipe.  Fruits that could be substituted are dried prunes, pears, peaches, citron, candied orange peel, etc.  If desired, fruit squares could be dipped in chocolate or carob.

*If you don't have a food mill, a food processor with a good blade will work just as well.

African Violets

Have you noticed the weary, nearly dead African violet plants that are sometimes in the discount basket at the supermarket? The market where I shop for groceries has a discount basket near the floral department. It often contains several sad looking African violets that are either ready for the trash bin or for someone to come and rescue them. It appears that I have made it my mission to save them from a sad ending. For 99 cents, a sorry looking little plant sometimes comes home with me and the work begins to restore it to good health. It doesn't take long to perk them up or even to get them to bloom, although they do need time to grow new leaves to look vibrant again.

The African violet, or saintpaulias, is a common houseplant that can provide beautiful blossoms in purple, lavender, white, and pink throughout the year. When conditions are right, continually blooming can result. The soil should be kept moist, but never soggy. Generally I allow the soil to dry completely before watering. To water, place the flower pot in a larger container, like a bowl or carton. Without allowing water to touch the leaves, drench the soil in water so that it drains into the container below. Allow it to sit in the water that pools for 10 minutes or so, then remove. The soil should be completely moist but the plant shouldn't be left sitting in water for a long period of time. If allowed to sit in water too long, the stems and leaves will get mushy and rot. I like to use fertilizer sticks that slow release into the soil so that blossoms result. A low level nitrogen fertilizer gives the best results. In the winter, sunlight from a nearby window seems to give me the best results when it comes to growth and foliage, but during the summer when it is hot, care should be taken to keep African violets out of too much direct sunlight. Too much light and heat can cause spotting of the foliage or wilting of the leaves. Books about caring for African violets all mention that they require a fairly high level of humidity to thrive. This is something I don't worry about too much, as my climate is fairly dry in both summer and winter. They seem to do alright without extra effort to humidify them as long as I keep them in the proper light and well watered and fed.

The process of restoring these little African violets plants has just begun. Before long I hope they will thrive, grow, and grace the room with abundant colorful blossoms! In the meantime, the journey of restoration is interesting and rewarding. African violets are not just your grandmother's living room plant!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Parmesan Sprinkles

Are you looking for a delicious, low-fat alternative to Parmesan? A friend made this recipe for me when I was a guest in her home. It was so good and she was happy to share the recipe. Nutrient dense, this recipe is high in calcium and vitamins B and C.  With no free fats, it is cholesterol free. To serve, sprinkle on vegetables or pasta or pizza. You can also sprinkle on to your favorite crackers, toast, or sourdough.

1 cup toasted sesame seeds, unhulled and toasted (if preferred)

1 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1/4 cup Bakon Yeast (a very flavorful plant-based seasoning)
3 Tablespoons chicken-like seasoning (McKay's or Bill's Best Chicknish)

1 Tbsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1. Blend sesame seeds in blender for several minutes. Use spatula to help blend evenly.

2. Pour into bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well and add 1/4 cup lemon juice and knead in with hands or pastry blender until little chunks have a nice, even, small size.

3. Store in refrigerator. Freezes nicely.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A New Flower

As summer progresses, so do the flowers on the mountain. The yellow and white blossoms were replaced with blues and purples. Then mid-summer brought out the pinks and reds. The Indian Paintbrush is blooming prolifically right now and since the plants grow in groupings, the red is multiplied and vibrant. By now the progression of blossoms is predictable to me, so I was surprised to find a new flower that I don't remember seeing before. It's blossoms look somewhat like a hollyhock, but the leaves are a much different shape. The flower stalk was nearly as tall as me! I need to find my wildflower book and identify it, but maybe YOU already know and can tune me in! Isn't it beautiful? I found two plants with tall flowered stalks right beside one another. I can see it nowhere else in the woods. A mystery.

The resolution:  Globe Mallow (Iliamna rivularis, I. longisepala).  Mallow family Malvaceae.  Globe mallow is a close relative of hollyhock and hibiscus, a stout perennial of stiffly erect stems, several to a clump.

People may not remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  

Author Unknown

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sally

August is here, bringing late summer flowers and a birthday!  We were happy to celebrate Sally's twenty-fifth birthday with her this week-end.  A chocolate cake with chocolate frosting was in order!  

Brown-eyed Susan's, cone flowers, pinks, roses, and lavender in simple vases brought life to the table as homespun centerpieces. 

The mix of purple, pink, and yellow created an eclectic mix of cheer.

Local watermelons are ripe and so tasty.  I enjoy local melons because the farmer's make sure they are well-ripened in the field before harvesting them.  A friend shared her recipe for watermelon and sweet-onion salad with me and it was yummy!  Orange segments, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro added much depth of flavor.

Recently I've been trying my hand at spring rolls as well.  They are so simple and very tasty!  The wraps are made from tapioca or rice starch.  They look like hard, translucent crackers and can be found at the Asian market.  There's no cooking of the wraps involved.  Instead, soak the wrap in a bowl of warm water and then remove, drip dry a bit, and place on a plate.  Then add a filling of choice.  I used a filling of stir-fried vegetables with tofu, seasonings, and soy sauce for the one pictured above.  For another option I made a fruit salad of mango, apricot, and cantaloupe that was served with a cherry fruit sauce.  

Fortunately Sally stuck by while we sang Happy Birthday to her!  We had a false start and were a bit off-key, I'm afraid!  She blew out all the candles at once, so she's in for a great year!

Gift time included some beautiful prints, patterns, and notions.  A tiered sun-dress in pink and orange is option one.

And a turquoise tunic is option two.  I stopped a woman about Sally's age at the fabric store to ask her opinion on prints and colors.  I figured she'd set me straight if I was way off fashion base!  I made sure I asked someone who looked like she knew something about style or it could have been disastrous!

Of course Sally needed something to stitch the garments together with, so a new sewing machine was in order as well.  Since Sally's career involves being a computer expert, we made sure her sewing machine was computerized as well.  A girl can never have too many computers!

Happy Birthday to you, Sally!!!!
All the best for the year ahead!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Summertime Fare

What's a picnic without a blog post? Summer produce is abundant and so available this time of year. The Lo Mien recipe called for half of the garden veggies that were put into it --- but they only enhanced the flavor rather than detouring it. Carrots, broccoli, sweet onions, string beans, and more were mixed with brown rice pasta, nutritional yeast, a sprinkle of stevia, and soy sauce. Yummy, yummy!

And a salad is always in order in the summer as well. Garden leaf lettuce, sweet onions, tomatoes, and avocado all blended with an organic garlic vinaigrette equaled lots of flavor!

Rylan baked the cake and it was excellent! Super dark and abundant chocolate layered with a frosting that he made from an old-fashioned recipe. There's no powdered sugar in it! I didn't know it was even possible to make frosting without powdered sugar, but he did and it was very good. Marcona almonds and cherries in syrup added garnish and flavor.

And last, but not least, wonderful slabs of local watermelon! So sweet and good. When the watermelon is ripe in the valley you know that summer is really here!


It is sometimes possible to get "the man" to take a break from work on the mountain. Having guests for supper on a summer day provided time for catching up with friends. Even Lucy, the retriever, enjoyed the day. Butterflies were abundant and a joy to see! Birds sang from the tree-tops. Except for a few deer that we saw along our way up the mountain, wildlife was scarce. That's not unusual for the hot days of summer. They tend to hide away in shady spots when it is so warm outside. Coolness arrived as the evening shadows lengthened. Reluctantly we boarded things up after dark and headed homeward. It was a pleasant, relaxing day.

Click on photo to enlarge.