Monday, December 31, 2012

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

* 1/2 pound black-eyed peas, soaked 
4 garlic cloves, crushed 
2 tsp. salt 
4 Tbsp. water 
oil for frying
* lime juice to taste

When the peas have softened from soaking, rub off skins. Soak 
for 30 minutes more. Drain and rinse. In a food processor, process peas, 
garlic, and salt. Add water while continuing to process.  Add enough water
to get a smooth, thick puree. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large skillet, 
heat 2 - 3 inches of oil and fry 1 Tbsp. of batter until it is golden brown. 
Repeat until all the batter has been fried. Place each batch in oven to keep hot.
Serve piping hot and sprinkled with salt and lime juice.

Black-Eyed Pea Burgers recipe here.

Read about the tradition of Black-Eyed Peas for New Year's Luck here.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Test of Living

"We cannot tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us --- how we take it, what we do with it --- and that is what really counts in the end. How to take the raw stuff of life and make it a thing of worth and beauty --- that is the test of living."

J.F. Newton

Photo: Bandon Beach, Oregon in the winter

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bucky and Feathered Snow

When he spoke, what tender words he used!  So softly, that like flakes of feathered snow,  they melted as they fell.

John Dryden

Photo:  Remembering Bucky, who's pictured enjoying a cozy comforter and warm sunshine filtering through curtains on a winter day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

To Happy Response

"In nothing more is the English genius for domesticity more notably declared than in the institution of this festival --- almost one may call it --- of afternoon tea. . . The mere clink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy response."

George Gissing
The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft

Tea is More

"Tea is much more than a mere drink in Britain. It is a solace, a mystique, an art, a way of life, almost a religion. It is more deeply traditional than the roast beef of old England....This khaki-colored concoction, brewed through an accident of history from an exotic plant grown thousands of miles from fog, cricket and left-handed driving, has become the life-blood of the nation."

Cecil Porter of Gemini News Service

Falling Tea Leaves: Oriental Beauty Oolong

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Faith is a Way of Life

"To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger; these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life."

Barbara Brown Taylor

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Moments. Precious time with family. Exchanging gifts. Appreciating the little things in life. Blessings.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Flakes

Snow Flakes

by Emily Dickenson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

2 cups flour*
1 cup pecan meal
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut, shredded
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup water
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. almond flour
strawberry jam, fruit sweetened

Mix all ingredients except strawberry jam together in a mixing bowl. Adjust water amount, adding more if the dough is too dry to form into small balls.

Form dough into small balls and place on prepared baking stone or cookie sheet. Use thumb to form a hole in the center of each cookie. Fill with strawberry jam.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes.

*your favorite gluten-free flour or flour blend will work great.

Chocolate Pumpkin Torte

A torte is a rich, multi-layered cake that contains a filling of whipped cream, jam, mousse, jams, or fruits. Sometimes they are iced or glazed. Other times they are served with whipped topping mounded on the top. 

Chocolate Pumpkin Torte

1 3/4 cup flour (may be a gluten-free flour blend of choice)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder*
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/3 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. flax seed
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Non-dairy whipped topping

Sift dry ingredients together in large bowl. In another bowl, mix together liquid ingredients. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Place batter into a prepared, oblong cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes. Test for doneness. Remove from oven and cool. Then slice in 1/2 lengthwise. Place whipped topping between layers. Add a dollop of whipped topping to the top of each slice when serving. Garnish with mint leaves and fresh raspberries or other fruit.

*carob powder may be used instead of cocoa.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

1 - 8 oz. container Tofutti cream cheese (soy) OR dairy cream cheese
1 - 14 oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 cup Veganaise (or mayonnaise)
1/4 parmesan cheese (vegan version is made from chopped almonds and nutritional yeast)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together until creamy. Serve on toast points or in a hollowed out bread bowl.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Green Salad with Raspberry Lemon Dressing

Holiday Green Salad with Raspberry Lemon Dressing

1 lb. red and green artisan lettuces, torn into 1" pieces
1 medium green apple, peeled and diced
1 avocado, diced into 1" cubes
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
2/3 cup corn kernels, defrosted

Prepare ingredients and toss together in a serving bowl.

- - -

Raspberry Lemon Dressing

1 small package raspberries
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raspberry apple juice, concentrated OR raspberry white grape juice concentrate
1 to 2 packets stevia
1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh
3 Tbsp. black cherry fruit spread, fruit juice sweetened
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard OR 1 Tbsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. poppy seeds

Place all ingredients except poppy seeds in a blender. Whiz until well blended. Pour into serving pitcher and stir in poppy seeds.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Veggie Meatballs in BBQ Sauce

Veggie Meatballs in BBQ Sauce

2 - 3 cups textured vegetable protein* OR Soy Curls
4 cups water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup oats, certified gluten-free
Generous dash of cayenne pepper
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp. flour (garbanzo/fava is my gluten free favorite)
1/2 cup pecan meal
2 Tbsp. tamari, wheat free
3 cloves garlic, crushed OR 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. chicken-style seasoning (McKay's or Bill's Best Chicknish)
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs, gluten free**
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

In a saucepan, soak textured vegetable protein (or soy curls) in water to rehydrate. Add oats. Cook over medium heat until mixture reaches a slow simmer. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients. 

Prepare a large casserole dish or baking sheet with non-stick spray. Using a cookie scoop, portion small rounds of mixture onto casserole dish or baking sheet. Mixture should be firm enough that the mixture stays in a ball rather than flattening out when placed on baking pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes. Makes about 75 meatballs.

BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cups fresh tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp. honey
4 tsp. tamari, wheat free
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

Place all ingredients in saucepan and stir well. After combining, cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer.

Before serving, pour warmed BBQ sauce over the meatballs (hot out of the oven). 


*Textured Vegetable Protein is sometimes called TVP. It can be a gluten or  soy product. The soy version is readily available and is available for gluten-free vegetarians.  The light colored (chicken style) TVP generally does not contain gluten, but the dark (beef style) always does. Soy Curls can be used instead. They are a dehydrated soybean and work very well in this recipe. 

**Bread Crumbs: I used a store-bought, whole grain, gluten-free bread from Costco called Silver Hills brand.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Lot Like Christmas

 It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!

And a curious nose is peeking over the counter top.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Countdown to Christmas

I hope your countdown to Christmas is going well. It was a slow start around here, so I've been scrambling to get caught up. Recipes and menu ideas are whirling around in my head. Presents are bought and are waiting to be wrapped. The tree needs trimmed, but since it is a fresh-cut tree, I suppose the delay will simply keep it fragrant and green for Christmas day. At least that is what we are telling ourselves. I hope your Christmas preparations are happily busy and merry! More soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steamed Christmas Pudding

More than 30 years ago my mother decided to start a new Christmas tradition that reflected her English roots. After much research, she found a recipe for steamed pudding that she loved. Each Christmas season, she would serve this pudding in a beautiful presentation of flaming pudding on a holly decorated plate. The grandchildren especially enjoyed the flames and fire as grandma carried this festive dessert to the table. This is her recipe, which she converted to gluten-free and vegan.

Steamed Christmas Pudding

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaranth flour*
1/4 cup sweet rice flour*
1/4 cup garbanzo flour*
1/4 cup tapioca starch*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup grated raw carrots
1 cup grated raw potatoes
1/4 cup raw grated apple
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts, walnuts
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp. black walnut extract

Mix all ingredients together until moist. Place mixture in a prepared Pyrex bowl and cover with foil until secured. Put in a kettle of gently boiling water and cover with lid. Water should be 3/4 of the way up the side of the bowl. Steam for four hours, adding more water as necessary. Additional steaming is okay, but will result in an even darker pudding.

Serve with apple gravy (thickened apple juice concentrate with cinnamon added). To flame: soak sugar or sugar cubes in pure almond extract. Working quickly, place on top of pudding and light with a match. Take to table while flaming for a beautiful presentation.

*All-purpose flour may be substituted for the gluten-free flours given.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Season of JOY

This is such a busy time of year! I admire my friends who are ready for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. They are the ones who plan ahead and seem to always be organized. I tend to live in the moment, savoring the last of Thanksgiving before heading into a family birthday and then eventually Christmas. Every year I purpose to change, but I never do. I suppose that deep down I enjoy the preparation involved in the Christmas festivities. This week, the tree has been bought and is waiting for lights and decorations. Menu ideas are being written on lists for Christmas day. Plans are being made for out of town guests. And last minute Christmas presents wait to be bought. Candy Cane Lane tea is being enjoyed by cupsful! This really is the season of JOY! 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Creole Mushrooms

Creole Mushrooms
{a unique and festive addition to your holiday table}

Makes 4 servings.

1/4 cup apple juice or water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 pound whole-button mushrooms
1 Tbsp. tomato sauce

Simmer the garlic, oregano, and onion in the apple juice or water for five minutes. Add the bell pepper and jalapeno pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and cook for another five minutes. Finally add the mushrooms and tomato paste. Cook until the sauce is thickened. Serve hot.

Carottes au Cumin

Carottes au Cumin
{adding fancy flavor to your holiday meals}

Makes 8 servings.

1 Tbsp. olive or garlic oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp. cumin seed, ground*
3 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped into coins
3 cloves garlic, chopped

In a large skillet, saute chopped carrots in oil for 15 minutes. Salt to taste. 

Add garlic and cumin. Add a little water and cover. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes. 

Stir frequently so carrots do not burn. Serve hot.

*grind cumin seed with mortar and pestle or in a small coffee grinder

French origin.

An Eye in Common

It is hard to believe that anything is worthwhile, unless there is some eye in common with our own, some brief word uttered now and then to imply that what is infinitely precious to us is precious alike to another mind. 
G. Eliot

*Dining Room at The Cochise Hotel

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Bean & Garlic Dip

Holiday meals are being planned around the world. Time is of essence and it is easy to get pulled into convenient foods that come pre-packaged. But, homemade is generally less expensive and healthier. I thought I would post a few festive recipes in the next few days. Maybe one or two will fit easily into your holiday menu planning.

Bean & Garlic Dip
{a touch of spicy hot}

2 cups fava beans, cooked
1/4 cup Veganaise (mayonnaise)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. red chili pepper, ground
1/4 tsp. salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce

Mix all ingredients together. Then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or raw vegetables.

E*L*E*G*A*N*T Chestnut SOUP

{{Elegant}} Chestnut Soup

Makes 4 servings

3 cups water chestnuts, roasted and peeled
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 1/4 cups water
1 tsp. tamari
1 dash nutmeg, optional
1 Tbsp. oil
1/4 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup apple juice
1 vegetable bouillon cube, broth OR 1 tsp. chicken-style seasoning

To roast chestnuts: Choose fresh, firm, unwrinkled chestnuts with no signs of mold. On the flat side of each chestnut, make two cuts with a small, sharp knife from one end to the other, making an X. Place the chestnuts, cut side up, on a low baking sheet with a thin layer of water on the bottom. Bake the chestnuts for 20 - 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. until browned and the cuts peel back naturally from the heat. Test one chestnut to check is the "meat" is tender. When tender, remove from oven. Cool only slightly, then peel and enjoy or use in recipes. Some people like to boil the cut chestnuts for easier peeling. 

Prepare chestnuts. Peel off the outer shell and the fuzzy skin before using the inner chestnut meat.

Heat the oil until hot and saute the onion until semi-tender. Add the celery and saute until both are very tender. Blend the water and apple juice with the chestnuts and all the remaining ingredients.* Simmer everything on low to medium heat (do NOT boil) for about 15 - 20 minutes or until hot throughout and the flavors mingle. Enjoy this rich and tantalizing soup with extra chopped or ground nuts as garnish.

Keeps 4 - 6 days refrigerated.

Variations:  Double the vegetable broth and omit tamari if desired. Apple juice can be replaced with 1/2 cup applesauce and an additional 1/4 cup of water.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Festive Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. sea salt
3 cups carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup oil
1/4 cup cranberries, dried OR craisins
3 egg substitutions*

Mix together using a Kitchen Aid or hand mixer. When well blended, pour into an oiled and floured pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 50 minutes.

*Powdered egg replacer, flax gel slurry, or gar/fava slurry - OR - use eggs.

Vegan & Gluten Free

Delicious with a cup of 
Celestial Seasonings
Candy Cane Lane Tea

*This recipe gets rave reviews; people won't even know it is gluten-free or vegan. Nice and moist. Make into cupcakes and decorate with a holiday theme for a festive addition to your holiday!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Button Teacup

A velvet pincushion is decorated with pinned-on vintage buttons. It fits perfectly into an old porcelain teacup that sits on my shabby chic coffee table. Simply charm. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Reminders While Shopping

Have you ever noticed that sometimes things you observe while shopping remind you of a friend you have? Does it make you smile? The cute little pigs above remind me of my friend, Pinky! Aren't they cute? 

Sometimes some unusual things can be seen while on a shopping trip. This is especially so when visiting quaint little tourist-type towns.

But it you look carefully, you will be sure to find things that make your spirits soar! How about an antique shop called "Made in England"?

Or a sign that says "Tea for Two". Now, doesn't that sound nice?

Now --- is a good time for a cuppa!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Where Would That Place Be?

Do you have a favorite winter get-away?

Someplace where the sound of waves offers tranquility and peace?

Where light and shadows create beautiful effects?

And man-made objects provide points of interest?

Where would that place be for you?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holiday Dinner Loaf

Here's a recipe that I have adapted to gluten-free. It's festive and delicious! Although it 
might look complicated, it really is not. Adaptations are listed below the recipe. Enjoy! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tofu Roll:

2 lbs (900 g) firm tofu, not silken
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) cornstarch
2 Tbsp (6 tsp) nutritional yeast
2 tsp powdered agar
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups 'Herbed Stuffing' (recipe to follow)

You'll also need: parchment paper, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil.

1. In a food processor, puree all roll ingredients, stopping to scrape down the
sides, as necessary. Mixture will be fairly stiff; don't add liquid. Preheat
oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).

2. On a work surface, lay down two 16-inch (40 cm) long pieces of plastic wrap,
over-lapping them about 2 inches (5 cm), lengthwise. Spoon tofu mixture onto
plastic wrap and spread out into an 8 x 12-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch
(1.25 cm) thick. Make sure thickness is even all around.

3. Lay a third sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface, and on it mound the
stuffing, forming it into a roll about 11" (28 cm) long. Carefully transfer
the stuffing roll to the center of the tofu rectangle (eliminating plastic

4. Now is the time to summon an assistant. With one person on each end of the
plastic wrap, bring the two sides together. The tofu will meet over the top
of the stuffing roll, encasing it. Gently press together and smooth out any
places, including ends, that have stuffing showing through; twist and tie
ends with twine to seal.

5. Securely wrap roll in 2 layers of aluminum foil, making sure no plastic is
exposed. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove
from oven, let cool in wrappings, and refrigerate until 1 hour before

6. To serve, carefully remove aluminum foil and plastic. Wrap with fresh foil,
place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 F (175 C) until heated through,
about 30 minutes. Remove foil and transfer roll to a serving platter.
Decorate as desired. (Nice decorated with portobello mushroom slices and sage
leaves). Serve with mushroom gravy.


Herbed Stuffing (recipe):

1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp (3 tsp) vegetable oil
3 celery ribs, diced small
1 Tbsp (3 tsp) dried sage
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp caraway seeds
5 cups bread cubes (I used gluten-free cornbread, tapioca and rice breads)
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable stock (I used water and Chicken-style seasoning)
salt(and pepper)

1. In a large skillet, or Dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion in oil,
stirring frequently, until golden, about 15 minutes.

2. Stir in celery, sage, rosemary, and caraway seeds and continue cooking for
about 2 minutes.

3. Add bread cubes and toss to combine.

4. Turn off heat and slowly add vegetable stock, tossing to combine, until
mixture is moistened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


*** Generally I don't use plastic wrap in baking, nor do I allow aluminum foil
to come into contact with food. I decided to follow the instructions given, but
to add several layers of parchment paper between the food and the plastic wrap.
I'm not sure this really protected us from the dangers of baked plastic, but I
decided it was "once a year" and we would probably be okay.

*** Next time I will add more flavoring to the tofu mixture. It was a bit bland
(although we did not serve it with gravy, which would help). The flavor and
texture was great, but I think it needed more onion powder, garlic powder, and
some Bragg's Liquid Aminos. We don't use pepper either, so omitted it from the

*** The stuffing was delicious, but it didn't stick together enough to satisfy
me. I think gluten bread crumbs become doughier. Next time I'll add either a
flax gel or tapioca/potato starch to the stuffing. The stuffing recipe contains
a bit more than the tofu mixture may with to leave about 1/2 cup of
the stuffing mixture out of the filling.

*** The end result is beautiful! This makes a rolled "log" of "skin" that looks
like a regular vegetarian roast. When sliced it makes beautiful rings of shell
and stuffing inside. I think cashew gravy would be a delicious addition to this

*** I'm quite delighted to find a recipe that is vegan, gluten-free, and FESTIVE
for the holiday table!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Grandmother's Cranberry Relish

4 cups cranberries

1 apple
2 oranges
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Chop cranberries. Section oranges and cut into small pieces. Grate apple with peelings on (for color). Blend well and sweeten with maple syrup (add more if desired). Add salt and walnuts. Stir. Chill over night. 

Makes 4 cups.

Cashew Stuffing in Winter Squash

Cashew Stuffing in Winter Squash

1 cup diced sweet onions
1 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup parsley
1/2 cup sliced black olives
3 quarts cubed bread, toasted (gluten free if necessary)
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken style broth*
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped raw cashews (oven roasted)

1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Stuff into a whole, half-baked pumpkin or winter squash that has been cleaned out

3. Bake 45 minutes at 350 F. Continue baking until pumpkin is tender when poked with
a fork.

4. Makes a beautiful, edible center-piece for your Thanksgiving dinner table.

*For chicken style broth, add 1 tsp chicken style seasoning to 1 cup water.
May use water or vegetable broth.

Serves 6 - 8.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Love wholeheartedly,
be surprised,
give thanks and praise...
you will discover the
fullness of your life.

David Steindl-Rast 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cranberry Tea for a November Day


Cranberry tea is tart and such a great morning wake up call! Not only does it attract the attention of your taste buds, but the health benefits of cranberry abound. Cranberry contains multiple vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. The nutrients cranberry contains are especially helpful in protecting you against heart disease and cancer. Additionally, the acids and other components in cranberry juice are helpful in treating or preventing urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and peptic ulcers. It also helps prevent the formation of oral bacteria that can lead to gum diseases and plaque. It is a great natural defense for the body!

Taken alone, cranberry juice can sometimes be difficult to take in any quantity, so it can be helpful to mix it with other tasty ingredients to make it go down just a bit better. What better ingredient to pair with cranberry juice than tea! Try this recipe and see what you think!

Cranberry Tea

1 quart brewed tea of choice
4 cloves, whole
4 cardamom seeds
cinnamon to taste
1 tsp. stevia
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 cup orange juice

While brewed tea is hot, add cloves, cardamom seeds, and cinnamon. Then add stevia. Stir. Allow tea to cool to room temperature. Then strain.  Add cranberry juice and orange juice. Warm to a comfortable drinking temperature (do not boil). Serve and enjoy! For garnish, add 2 or 3 cranberries to each cup. They will look beautiful as they float.

*More stevia can be added for a sweeter tea.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Counted & Thanks

Not everything that
can be counted counts,
and not everything that
counts can be counted.

Albert Einstein

I'm thankful for the little ones in my life (some now grown up) and all the tea experiences they've so willingly shared with me!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Afternoon Tea Occasion

You can serve high tea around the dining room table, but afternoon tea is more of a living room occasion, with everything brought in on a tray or a cart.

Angela Hynes
The Pleasures of Afternoon Tea

The Leaf

There is the size of the leaf:
Its unique shape,
Its unique color,
Its unique fragrance,
A taste all its own,
And it changes...sip by sip.

Ron Rubin, Tea Chings

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This November Day

The seasons changed quickly this year! A late and pleasant summer gave way to a few weeks of autumn, and then cold, wintry weather set in. 

Today the freeway over a nearby mountain pass was closed to all traffic. Fortunately, Dad and Alma, who were on their way here for a visit, passed through it yesterday without delay. They arrived on their way home after an eight-thousand mile road trip around the United States. We were their first and last stops as they made a huge look-around America. 

Dampness, gray skies, and a chill in the air make staying inside quite appealing. The pellet stove keeps the house cozy and warm. A basket of yarn sits by my chair, and I've been enjoying crochet during breaks from chores throughout the day. My teacup has been filled with Ambessa Choco Nut Black Tea sweetened with a touch of stevia and a splash of soymilk. Crock pots have been filled with soups: potato; vegetable with sauerkraut and spinach; and lima bean with carrots and celery. The bread baker has been busy too, providing ambient heat in the kitchen. The dogs cuddle up to cushions in the armchairs in the family room and sleep the afternoons away. Such simplicity. Such luxury. So many blessings.

How have you been on these November days?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Presents in Pots

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!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Grandma's Recipes

This has always puzzled me, just how much is a pinch?
These recipes of dear Grandma's surely are no cinch.
A "snip" of this, a "dab" of that, a "lump" of something else,
Then "beat it for a little while", or, "stir until it melts."
I have to be a wizard to decipher what she meant,
By all these strange proportions in her cookbook worn and bent.
How much nutmeg in the doughnuts? Grandma wouldn't flinch,
As she said, with twinkling eyes, "Oh, just about a pinch."
There must have been in her wise head a measuring device,
That told her just how much to use of sugar, salt and spice.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Brown Teapot Raises Hope-Refreshed

As you start a new home, I pass on this teapot,
brown-glazed, old and squat, unlovely, yes. . .

But it's more than a receptacle for tea,
having long experience in brewing endurance,
containing patience and dispensing courage.

Clasp trembling hands about this treasure
when the need asserts itself.

Over a steaming cup the lump of grief ---
intolerable at times ---
softens, and bitterness dissolves.

With clearer eyes one looks
through this amber well at truth,
and rises hope-refreshed.

Unfailingly with me it has been thus. . .
with you also let it be.

Anonymous poem

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Stovetop Granola

My favorite granola easy and yummy! Make it for your own breakfast, or mix up a batch to gift to others. 

Stovetop Granola

3 cups oatmeal (rolled oats), not quick or instant
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
1/2 tsp. cinnamon or coriander
1/4 cup light oil (sunflower, etc.)
1/3 cup maple syrup (or your favorite sweetener)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice (raisins, currants, cranberries, or
chopped apple, apricot, pear, pineapple, prune, etc. or combination;
may omit entirely)

Use a large, heavy skillet, at least 10 inches round, with high sides. (If you don't have a skillet this big, use a smaller one and prepare granola in two batches. Or use a wok, which works great!). 

Into the cold skillet place the oatmeal, nuts, sesame seeds, coconut, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Blend the oil, syrup, and vanilla together in a cup. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients in the skillet, stirring well to blend.

Turn the heat under the skillet to medium high. Toast the mixture, stirring frequently, until the oats and nuts are crispy and browned. The sesame seeds will start to "pop" and the maple syrup will smell like burnt sugar --- be careful not to let the mixture burn.

Toasting will take no more than five to seven minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the dried fruits. Let the granola rest in the skillet to cool.

NOTE: Some people don't like a crunchy or chewy granola. If you prefer a tender granola omit or reduce the amount of nuts and add seeds instead. Choose a combination from: sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, etc. 

This recipe is very adaptable. If you don't have an item. . .leave it out or find a substitute. It'll still taste great! This is a yummy recipe and takes much less time than "oven" granola. It turns out differently every time, depending upon which ingredients you choose.