Friday, June 29, 2012

Fermented Friday: Summer Ale Couscous Salad

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

I'm not really sure how I came up with this one.  Sometimes even I can't follow my own train of thought.  It could be the result of 9+ hours of driving time this week to think.  Yay for summer road trips! Or it might have more to do with the fact that I haven't been home as much and needed to make something quick, take a few pictures and leave enough time to try something different in case this was a total flop.  Or maybe my brain is just going crazy in all this heat.  But hey, I had a lot of other weirder ideas that I held back on, well for now.   Let's just stop trying to figure it out and get to the food.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Summer Fun

Less thinking and more doing again.  I took a quick trip to visit some friends while they were in the area.  In short, we had a great time.  Lunch out, making french silk pie, a brief hike to a waterfall, out for pizza, in for a movie, eating our pie (which was delicious) and lots of talk time.  I got more sleep than I expected and woke up to fresh coffee and more time with two great sisters. Thanks you two!  Here's a few pictures of the waterfall and another river we came across:

Food for Thought: "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out." -Proverbs 20:5

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Balsamic Honey Granola with TVP

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Yeah, I know, I've been putting balsamic vinegar in a lot of stuff lately. And by stuff I mean food.  Fruitvegetablesketchup, salad, grilled carrots and sweet potatoes, pizza, and now granola.  But it's Weird Recipe Wednesday, so it's okay. Right?

Granola with balsamic vinegar isn't quite weird enough for me so I added some TVP, Textured Vegetable Protein.  Let me explain. My friend Emma just finished an internship with The Soyfoods Council.  Her job was to develop creative recipes featuring TVP.  I had heard of TVP, but never actually used it.  After seeing all the great recipes Emma developed I was inspired to try it out for myself.  TVP is made from defatted soy flour; making it low-fat and high in protein.  It is typically re-hydrated and used as a meat substitute.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Grilled Romaine Salad

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

It's summer. Time in the kitchen and baking in a hot oven have been replaced with time outside enjoying the sunshine (though sometimes I feel like I'm being baked myself).  Longer days mean even more time to be outside and less time for sitting behind a computer.  I'm sure you know the feeling, so let's just keep this short and simple and get back outside, okay? Okay.

Summer means grilling. Summer is also the perfect excuse to eat more salad.  Since we want to be outside let's just grill our salad while were at it.

This salad has that smokey, charred, grilled flavor that screams summer. It's slightly warm but still crisp and crunchy.  Better yet, it take only a few minutes and requires practically zero effort.  Throw it on when whatever else you're grilling up has just a few minutes left.

I thought of drizzling this with a balsamic reduction or topping it with blue cheese, but didn't want to mess with pictures on such a beautiful day. Well, that and the fact that recipes later this week may also use balsamic vinegar and/or blue cheese.  While I'm a fan of both, I realize others may be a little less approving.  Feel free to top with your favorite salad dressing, whether it's bottled or homemade.  Or just eat it as is and enjoy all that grilled flavor.

Grilled Romaine Salad

1 romaine heart
1/2 tsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
salt, optional

* Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat
* Slice romaine heart in half lengthwise, leaving stem attached. Brush cut-side of each half with olive oil. Season to taste with pepper and salt, if using.
*  Place cut-side-down on grill and grill 1-3 minutes or until slightly charred.  Flip and grill 1 minute more.  Do not over-grill or salad will be limp. 

I have no idea why this is appearing in white, and can't seem to fix it. That happens if you copy and paste from a word document, but I wrote this straight from my head to the post not in word.  Any ideas? 

Food for Thought: "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint." Proverbs 23:4

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mindful Monday: Long Story Short

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

1. I've realized it's easier for me to pray for things I view as completely out of my control  If it's out of my control then I give it to God and trust Him for the answer.  But if it seems like something I can handle on my own then I don't necessarily ask for his help.  In reality I can do nothing by my own strength and need to give him control of all areas.

2. The more you step out of your comfort zone the easier it becomes.  I've been avoiding joining a small group for lots of lame reasons.  I finally went to a new one last week and found none of those reasons to be true.  Sometimes I get stuck in old patterns of thinking and forget how much easier it is for me to be assertive and speak up than it used to be.

3. I feel like I complain a lot about not having a job and not knowing what to do with my life.  But at the same time, I know this phase of life has a purpose.  Without a busy schedule I have time to slow down and think. I'm taking a look at a lot of things that would otherwise be pushed to the side or set on the back burner.  Some are things I've been avoiding while others are new discoveries.  Either way I'm learning I have a lot left to learn. A lot.

4. Since this was a short post, I'll end with a long quote.  (And because it's so long I'm not going to type it in bold like usual.)

Food for Thought: "Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being 'in love' which any of us can convince ourselves we are.  Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.  Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two." -Louis de Bernieres

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fermented Friday: Slow Cooker Beer Chicken

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

I planned to share this with you last Friday, but then this happened instead!  Now that the excitement has died down I'll tell you about beer chicken.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: How it All Started

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

I was looking through some old photo albums and thought I'd share a little bit about my beginnings in the kitchen.

Do you think my plate was big enough?
My mom had me start "helping" around age 2 by letting me dump ingredients into the bowl and stir.  I would stand on a chair so I could reach and watch her measure out ingredients.  I'm sure I asked a million questions and made a huge mess, be she continued to let me be her little helper. She even took time to snap a few pictures....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Balsamic Roasted Radishes

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Radishes rarely frequent my kitchen.  It's not that I dislike them, I've just never bothered to buy any.  I got some for free last summer and didn't quite know what to do with them.  I think I just ended up tossing them in a salad.  I mean, what else do you do with radishes?

Well, you could toss them in balsamic vinegar and roast them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Peanut Butter Cornmeal/Quinoa Cookies

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Your basic three ingredient peanut butter cookie is edible, but it can definitely be bumped up a notch or two.  I've seen a few concepts floating around the internet that I wanted to try, so I split the dough in half and tried two new twists.  To one half I added cornmeal, and to the other half I added toasted, ground quinoa.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mindful Monday: Never Empty

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

I'm sure you've all heard the saying about the optimist seeing the glass half full and the pessimist seeing the glass half empty.  I received an email this past week with a new perspective on the glass I hadn't thought of before.  Sure, half full is better than half empty, but why only half? If you stop and think about it the glass is actually full to the top.  It's full of water to a point and then full of air, but it is completely full.  (Here's the full story if you want to read it.)

We can't see the air, but we know it's there.  Sometimes in life we need to step back and look for what we have in our glass.  When I need to change my perspective from half empty to completely full, I find it helps to make a list of things I'm thankful for.  Try it out for yourself.  Your list can range from simple everyday things you often take for granted to things you are choosing to be thankful for even when you don't feel like it.  There's no right or wrong way to do it, just start. I have more to be thankful for than can fit on a list but here's an idea of what my list includes:

Things I'm thankful for
blue skies
great friends
good conversations
wooden spoons
second chances
a full fridge
the ability to come and go
a place to live while job searching
simple things
letters in the mail
summer breeze blowing the leaves
long walks
a kitchen to play in
time to slow down and reflect on life
opportunities to practice patience
a good deal
God's unconditional love
role models
the color blue
and so much more...

Food for Thought: "Dear Optimist, Pessimist and Realist, While you were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it. Sincerely, the Opportunist." -unknown

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday's Friends: SURPRISE

I know I've been lacking on recipes here lately and I was planning to make up for it today. I even made beer chicken for you instead of bread or cookies.  But before I got a chance to write up the post...well, let's just say I was in for a surprise...

I was taking my time getting ready to go to a small group Bible study.  I had a good hour to kill before leaving and my mom kept asking me when I was leaving, where was I going , do I know how to get there, isn't it about time you leave, etc.  All her questions were driving me crazy! Why did she need to know every detail, doesn't she think I know how long it takes to drive across town, I can decide on my own what time to leave and she doesn't need to tell me what to do! I was annoyed and definitely responding like a cranky teenager who doesn't want their parents asking questions.

While killing time before I left, I got a text from a friend saying she had exciting news.  I sent a text back saying I was about to leave for a small group and would call her later in the evening.  She replied that it was about a special friend and I sent a text back saying how curious I was to hear about her news.  With a little more time to kill I checked my email and finally decided to just go even if it meant being awkwardly early. I went upstairs to get my keys and purse but they weren't where I left them.  The lights were off and it was dark from an incoming storm.  All of a sudden I hear a "hello!" from the living room.  I look over and much to my surprise two of my dear friends  from out of state are sitting on my couch!!!!! Ahhhhh, what are you doing here!?!?! How long have you been here?!?!? I'm so excited to see you and can't believe you're actually here!!!!!

Best surprise ever!

They had been sitting there nearly an hour waiting for me to come upstairs.  Oh, so that's why my mom was asking a million questions and telling me it was time to leave.  Oops, now I feel extra bad for being so short with her.  Sorry, mom.  And the friend who texted me, yep she was upstairs when she sent the text trying to figure out how to get me to come up.

Man, oh man was I surprised. I had no idea this was coming :)  Actually, they had just planned it the day before so there wasn't much chance for me to pick up on any hints.  I noticed a few things out of place but my mom gave some nice covers.  "Mom, why is there so much pizza cheese in the fridge?"..."Oh, I just thought we'd make pizza when you brother comes home so I took it out of the freezer earlier."  Sounded good to me, brother + pizza = normal.  Little did I know all the pizza supplies would be used to make supper with two special friends.

After the initial excitement, hugs and talking we started making pizza while listening to a pretty intense storm going on outside.  I was still in disbelief and so excited that it took twice as long to get supper on the table.  I can't even remember the last time all three of us were together at once; there was a lot to catch up on.  Besides that I probably stopped every few sentences to say "Ahhh!!!I can't believe you're here!!!" and "You were really upstairs waiting that long?"

As if their being there wasn't enough,they also brought a hilarious card and gift.
Hope your birthdays's loaded with nice surprises (like us!)

Inside the bag was....

Whoa, I didn't even know Jif made this! Being girls, we immediately got out the spoons and dug in.  I also got out the Cookie Butter (Biscoff) for them to try.  After a few spoonfuls of each we took a break before dessert.  We contemplated a movie but ended up just talking.  It is SO good to sit and talk with friends.  I am truly blessed, (and still can't believe you two were here!!!)

Plenty of girl talk was accompanied by a delicious dessert.  P brought strawberries she and her sister had just picked along with homemade shortcake.  Soooo good! She even cut the shortcake in little hearts, awwww.  We managed to snap a few pictures before digging in. 

We took a few pictures of us too, but those will stay off the blog. (besides, I still think this post fulfills my quota for pictures of me, right?)

They even got to stay the night. Sleepover!!! (you can't tell I'm still excited can you?) The term sleepover is still just as off when you're older. Sleep was somewhat elusive a midst the excitement. Less sleep is replaced by more coffee but the fun factor of sleepovers never changes. For breakfast we made crepes using various combinations of leftover strawberries, cookie butter and the chocolate hazelnut spread, accompanied with lots of talking, of course. 

This was the best surprise ever, THANK YOU!!!!!!!  I can't even express how much of a blessing these two women have been in my life.  The surprise visit was just the cherry strawberry and whipped cream on top. Thanks ladies!!!

Food for thought: "Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.' " - C.S. Lewis

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Truth

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

Sometimes it's better to just stop thinking and turning things over in your mind by taking a step back to dwell on Truth:

- Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

-And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

-But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

-Consider it pure joy, my bothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

-Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

- But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25

- The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4

-Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11

-'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:24-26

-Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -if anything is excellent or pariseworthy- think about such things. Philippians 4:8

-He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

-Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Food for Thought: "The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind." -Caroline Myss

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Spicy Salted Pineapple, Grilled Fruit and Garlic Scapes

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

These are more concepts than recipes, but still fall under the category of weird things I've tried as of late.  They're definitely not as weird as last week, but still might be something the average person hasn't bothered to make.  On a side note, I just found PicMonkey, a site that lets you create free photo collages like this one with your pictures.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Standing Spoons

The day I spent in Lanesboro started with the Rhubarb Festival and pie contest and only continued to get better.  After the festival my mom and I walked around town window shopping.  Much to my delight, I stumbled upon a unique wooden spoon store.  If you had been there you would have seen stars in my eyes, I was sooooo excited.  It was like being a kid in a candy store, only way better. It was love at first sight.  Here's the window view from the sidewalk.

Inside the store I saw the woman who judged the pie contest and found out her husband, Frank Wright, owns the store.  He hand carves each piece in his workshop at the back of the store.  My eyes scanned the shop jumping from spoon to spoon.  Each was a unique work of art with a story of its own.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mindful Monday: An Anwser

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here. 

This poem came in the mail the same day I heard "no" back from a job interview.  I've asked God many of the questions in this poem and he has told me in various ways to wait.  Even the poem itself was a gentle reminder to continue waiting and being patient.  At least I'm hearing an answer even if it's not the one I was hoping for.

by Kathy (Nievar) Jelsma

Desperately, helplessly, longingly I cried
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, He replied
I pleaded and I wept for a clue to my fate
And the Master so gently said, "Child you must wait."

"Wait? You say, wait!" my indignant reply.
Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is Your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith, I have asked, and I'm claiming your word.

My future and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a "yes", a go-ahead sign,
Or even a "no" to which I can resign.

And Lord, you have promised that if we believe
We need but ask and we shall receive
And Lord I've been asking and this is my cry
I'm weary of asking - I need a reply!

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again -- "You must wait."
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taunt
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes met with mine,
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to crumble .

All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want; but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;

You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust -- just by knowing I'm there;
You'd not know the joy of residing in me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.

You would never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of my spirit descends like a dove;
You would know that I give and I save for a start
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of my Heart.

The glow of my comfort late in the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
Of an infinite God that makes what you have last

And you never would know should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that "My grace is sufficient for thee"
Yes, your dreams for that loved one overnight could come true
But the loss, if you lost what I'm doing in you

So be silent my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know me.
And though 'oft may my answers seem terribly late,
That the most precious answer of all is -- still ---- Wait!

That's all I've got for today, I couldn't have said it better myself. 

Food for Thought: "The Bible is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions." -source

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fermented Friday: Riesling Strawberry Slushies

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

After two weeks of bread and double fermentation with beer and yeast, I suppose it's time for a recipe with wine.

Freshly picked strawberries don't last long, and not just because I inhale them.  Within hours they loose their shine and that deep red luster is replaced by a cloud of fruit flies.  To capture their beautiful flavor you should eat them immediately, use them in a recipe or freeze them as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Salted Strawberry Sunburn

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

1. Process of elimination is often how I make decisions.  Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." This week I've found 5 pairs of footwear that don't work for me.  Each pair gives me blisters in a different spot. I've also found that cheap band-aids don't stick.

2. Going for long walks doesn't help with the blisters, but not being able to go for walks makes me restless. 

3. I've discovered an excellent way to dry out your contacts, go on a really fast bike ride.  Sunglasses would solve this problem.  They would also decrease the chances of permanent wrinkles from squinting so much.

4. The saying "the grass is greener on the other side" also applies to picking strawberries.  The berries in the next row are always bigger and brighter until you switch rows and look back. I also like this version, "The grass is always greener where you water it."

5. Freshly picked strawberries are so much better than anything in the store. Better than candy.  But like candy, they can still give you a stomach ache if you eat to many.

6. Picking strawberries from 11:00-1:00 is not a wise time of day, but sometimes that's just what happens.  Sunscreen helps, except when you miss a spot.

7. The new hand soap on my bathroom counter contains sea salt. Sea salt does not mix with sunburn. Yes, it is possible to sunburn your hands.

8. It's way easier for me to come up with food posts than write about other stuff, as evidenced by this post.  But non-food posts force me to step back and look at life.  Well some of them do....this one, not so much.   Let's call it a day, shall we?  Besides, I need to locate some sunglasses and aloe. (Seriously, put sunscreen on your hands.)

Food for Thought: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -Samuel Beckett

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate Chip Blueberry Peanut Butter Cookies

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Wait, wait, wait, come back. I know these sound too weird but let me explain and then you can decide if you want to keep reading.  When I came across this idea I was skeptical too, but the author's description convinced me to try it.  Well, that and my curiosity and obsession with weird recipes.

Peanut butter and chocolate go together and so do peanut butter and jelly.  These cookies are both in one bite.  Peanut butter and jelly doesn't sound as scary as peanut butter and blueberry.  I was still a little iffy on the blueberry with chocolate, but I figured if chocolate-covered strawberries work then why not try chocolate blueberry?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Rhubarb Pie Contest

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Yesterday I shared some pictures from the Rhubarb Festival but I saved the pie making contest for today's post since there's a twist.  When I realized the twist in my pie I couldn't help but post it under Tuesday's Twist.

I've decided the main reason I had such a blast at the rhubarb festival was due to a change of mind-set.  Normally at this type of event I watch from the sidelines, a wallflower worried over looking silly or drawing attention.  This time I decided to just enjoy myself and have fun instead of worrying about how silly I looked or felt trying something new.  It worked(!) and I'm looking forward to applying that approach to the rest of life. In fact, I was having so much fun making pie I didn't even try to hide from the camera.  (Ten pictures of me in this post should be good for quite a while, right?)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekend Recap: Rhubarb Festival

Instead of my usual Mindful Monday post I thought I'd share a few pictures from the weekend. On Saturday my mom and I went to the Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro, MN.  I had so much fun!!! Everything rhubarb from a tasting contest to a pie making contest to Rhu-lympics and rhubarb juggling.  I ended up in the pie contest, but that's a story in and of itself. Here's a taste of what the festival looked like.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fermented Friday: Jalapeno Beer Bread (with a few tablespoons of science)

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

Double fermentation, again!  Most beer bread recipes use baking powder for leavening rather than yeast.  The really simple ones use self-rising flour which already contains baking powder. Since it's Fermented Friday, we're using yeast in this beer bread.  Last week I finally found the manual to my bread machine and it had a recipe for jalapeno beer bread, score! (It's driving me crazy that I can't get the tilde over the n in jalapeno for this post. Trust me, I've tried.) The bread machine (got it for $1 at a thrift store) has been passed onto my brother for the summer while he's off at his internship.  I thought it was pretty cool that he wanted to take it with to make his own bread.  To cut down on ingredients he needed to buy I measured out all the dry ingredients he would need for one loaf and put them in resealable bags.  I labeled the bags with the additional wet ingredients he needed to add for a complete loaf.  Only time will tell how that all works out, but at least he showed interest.  Sorry, back to the beer bread.