Friday, December 31, 2010
This morning I laid on the floor in the 40C heat, closed my eyes and felt the deliciousness of living. My heart pounded. My body was mine. I felt fresh and alive. And I considered my New Years resolutions.
To be honest, I can't stand resolutions. I don't mean to be negative here - but I feel that resolutions, in general, are negative. Reflect on what went wrong in the past year and set up goals for the new year that (in many cases) are unattainable. Hmmm ... I almost never feel good about resolutions.
So this year - I'm having none. That's not to say that I won't do my best to be good to myself ... but I'm going to be less specific in what my expectations for next year are.
I want to move forward.
My no-guilt plan?
I'll try to be good to my body - give it exercise and good food and (oh yes) wine - but I will never. ever. diet.
I'll try to be where I am - meaning, for example, that when I'm reading to Nelle I won't be making up my grocery list in my head at the same time. Or writing blog posts.
I'll try to remember that I'm not perfect. At least not all the time. So if I mess up? Well, I'll try to do better next time.
I'll try to live and love without reserve. Because if cancer taught me anything, it was to do my living now. And to do that living with my favourite people.
Those are my non-resolutions. What are yours?
Have a happy, happy New Years - and a great 2011!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I've been trying to think of something interesting to tell you, but I can't.
I could blame my lack of inspiration on the hot yoga. Or the glass of wine. Or the jet-lag.
I could blame it on the fact that I'm concurrently writing this ... and watching the Iowa vs. Missouri football game ... and listening to my little Nelle running around the living room throwing a balloon back and forth to my parents ...
and (maybe) I'm drinking that glass of wine, too ...
But, hey, I'm not the blaming type.
What I can tell you is that these buckwheat and butter cookies are amazingly yummy. They're a perfect balance of sweetness and buttery-ness and nuttiness ... the best of buckwheat pancakes in a cookie. A perfect counterpoint to the over-indulgences of this time of year. Make them and you earn yourself major brownie points! (so to speak)
10 min prep + 30 min fridge-ing + 15 min baking and cooling
150g butter, softened
1/2 c raw sugar
1 free-range egg + 1 free-range egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 c almond meal (I ground mine myself)
1 c buckwheat flour
*As always, use organic ingredients when you can ... especially for the eggs.
1. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the almond and buckwheat and mix to combine.
2. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for 20-30 min. Preheat your oven to 160C (320F). Line a cookie sheet (or 2) with baking paper. Have a cup of coffee. Tidy up the kitchen.
3. Now, remove the cookie dough from the fridge and roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in your hand. Put each ball on the cookie sheet, about 2" (5 cm) apart. Before you put the cookies in the oven, use a fork to flatten out the tops of each.
4. Bake for about 10-12 min, until lightly golden and puffy. Leave the cookies on the tray for 5 min after you take them out of the oven, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.
5. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, if they should dare last that long.
My batch of 100% organic buckwheat cookies cost me less than $6 to make. Or about $3 per dozen.
I mean ... enjoy your cookies!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
a pinch of cinnamon (optional)
*You could use milk, too, if you don't have yogurt at home. Just use less - maybe 1/2 cup? And add only enough to get the frozen bananas to blend without making it too milky.
**As always, use organic ingredients when you can.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Think outside the box-store.
Whatever you do, have a lovely and happy holiday season! Try not to be too hard on yourself ... and have a great time!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I don't know about you, but I loooooooove chai. If you wanted to make me a really excellent homemade Christmas present, you could make me a batch of it. I can even show you how ... and give you a recipe.
Go on ... you know I deserve it ...
There's something so warming about chai ... even here (in summertime Australia) I love a cup when I'm getting ready for bed. And what makes a good chai? A bit of spice ... a bit of sweet ... a bit of milk. Something involving green or black tea and cloves, cardamon pods, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, fennel seeds, star anise, orange peel, black peppercorns - in whatever combination you like the best. Raw honey and creamy milk. Warmth.
But I'll give you my current favourite recipe, just in case you're not up for tinkering!
And if you'd like to check out another chai recipe ... look here.
I just found these two retro mugs at the thrift store today ($0.25 each)! Just right for chai, don't you think? And maybe that re-match in Scrabble ...
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Lovely title, don't you think? It gets the point across anyway. The way I consider things - that is, if there's a chance that I'm going to eat something directly off the surface of something else - then I want to minimise the chance that either is going to cause me harm. Or my child harm. Or my husband harm. Which is why, for instance, I clean my benchtops
And when I got a new garden setting for Robbie for Christmas, and I wanted to protect it from the torrents of rain we've been getting, I had to come up with an alternate solution. An alternate to the fume-ridden pots of oil I bought last time I had outdoor wood to protect. Because the whole point of the table and bench and chairs is eating outside. Eating. Eating those little crumbs that get nudged off the plate. The tidbit that falls off the fork between serving platter and plate (or plate and mouth, for that matter - if you're like me). You see what I mean.
So I'll do this myself, I thought. And I trawled the internet looking for recipes - and let me tell you the whole furniture polish topic is hotly contested out there! I won't bore you with the details, but I did find one forum where people were openly calling each other idiots ... And what did it all come down to? Common sense, I reckon. If you have a $30,000 antique chest of drawers - do NOT apply anything without consulting an expert first. If you're like me, and you just want some sort of non-toxic product to protect some furniture you paid a couple hundred dollars for ... read on.
Anyway, here's what I figured: oil for moisture, wax for waterproofing. Simple. Easy. And so the beeswax and olive oil furniture polish was born. I chose olive oil because 1) I usually have it on-hand, 2) it's not prohibitively expensive, and 3) it has a long shelf life - meaning that your table shouldn't go rancid. And beeswax - ditto!
1 c shaved natural beeswax*
1/4 c olive oil
6 drops lemon or orange essential oil (optional)
a soft cloth (I used an old, cut-up T-shirt)
*I ordered my organic beeswax from a farm in Australia (via Ebay). I use it to make lip balm as well! It's actually really great to have in your cupboard, so I recommend you invest in some. It's not that expensive - the site where I got mine is currently selling for $12 / 750g. Beeswax can be used for beauty and candles and polishes and lasts ages.
I know, you never imagined you'd buy beeswax. Me either. Now I want bees.
1. Shave the beeswax into a bowl and melt together with the olive oil and orange or lemon essential oil.
2. Warm it up in a low-heat oven or over a pot of boiling water until the mixture melts together. It'll proceed to harden again into the paste above.
NOTE: Don't be silly and dip your cloth into the recently-melted liquid!! It'll be quite hot!
3. Smooth a bit over your wood surface, till the wood loses that 'dry' look. And looks oiled instead. Then, when you're finished, grab a clean cloth and wipe off any excess.
NOTE: You can have too much of a good thing. Excess polish left on the wood can cause dirt to adhere to it. Or your arm. Or your newspaper.
You'll probably get by with polishing your furniture once or twice a year - though after the first time you'll have to clean it with a mild soap before re-polishing.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This may sound absurdly simple. And why would you want to use up the whole lemon anyway? Why not just use half of it and then let the other half turn wrinkly and dry in your fridge? (I know you know what I'm talking about ... )
Ok, I'm resorting to sarcasm - a sure sign that I'm too tired to be doing this. But it'll be a short post, so I'll keep at it.
1. Buy organic or spray-free ones. Wash them well.
2. Use a peeler to peel the zest from your lemons. Try to avoid the white pith - just get the lovely yellow peel.
3. Now your lemon looks ridiculous. Nude. Put it out of its misery by juicing it.
- Use the juice in baking
- Add it to a pitcher of icy-cold water (with a sprig of mint)
- Add a couple of spoonfuls to a mug of warm water. (Many consider this to be a good liver-cleanser first thing in the morning)
- Use it however you like to use lemon juice. The options are pretty limitless.
- And if you have extra, do as Steph does and pour the juice into ice cube trays and freeze it.
4. Finally, all you've got left is the hollow shell of your lemon. What more could you possibly do with it?
- Use the shell to wipe down your sink. There'll still be some lemony goodness in there that will cut through any residues. Plus lemon in your sink smells nice.
- Then, if you've got a garbage disposal - grind up the shell in it ... that's what Kelly does ...
5. Now you have to bin your lemon, because if you have worms in your compost they don't like citrus. And too much citrus in a worm-free compost can acidify your soil.
But that's ok, because you've used all that you could.
Now to celebrate with a nice lemonade ...
PS. check out the comments for more great tips!!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Ever have one of those days where you feel a bit like this?
Yes, well I can relate. I just had one of those days, complete with a voice like Grover from Sesame Street (only it doesn't sound so cute on me). I whisper-read books to Nelle. I drank lots of green tea with lemon. I tossed. And turned. and couldn't. get. comfortable.
And then, I made this. My new cure for the common cold. A miso-based soup, with mushrooms and asparagus and egg and *chili*. You're going to love it!! And ok, maybe it's not technically a cure for the cold ... but it'll make you feel much more human. And that's a start.
In my case, the next day I sounded more like Morgan Freeman than Grover, and I even felt up to a coffee date with a friend. But before I could organise a vocal agent and make my millions doing Morgan Freeman gigs on the radio ... my very own voice returned. How sad, really. Maybe I shouldn't have made this soup after all ...
10 min prep + 20 min cooking
4 c veggie stock
6 Tbs brown rice miso
1 strip kombu seaweed (optional)
1 - 2 Tbs butter
2 - 2 1/2 c mushrooms**, sliced
5 stalks asparagus, cut into bites
3 eggs, beaten
chilis (optional; to taste)
tamari or soy sauce, to serve
*As always, use organic when you can.
** I used Swiss brown mushrooms, but feel free to mix and match. Just try to include a non-button variety, as they tend to be more flavourful.
1. Heat the veggie broth + miso + kombu over med heat until just below a boil. Try your best not to boil it, as that decreases the nutrients you'll get out of the miso. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in the butter.
3. After 10 minutes of simmering, add the sauteed mushrooms and asparagus bites to your soup. Continue simmering for another 10 min, at which time your asparagus should be perfect - not too soggy and not too tough. The time will depend on your bunch, though, so adjust as necessary.
4. Remove the pan from heat and, while stirring the liquid around and around, gently drizzle the beaten eggs into the soup. It'll form long eggy strands that'll break up somewhat as you stir.
5. Serve with tamari and chilis, as you wish! Oh - remove the seaweed before you serve, or someone'll get an extra special mouthful ...
I made the stock, from veggie odds and ends. My organic egg drop miso soup cost me $9 to make - or $2.50 - $3 per serving.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
What was I thinking? Seriously?
I've had two colds in the span of a week. I've lost my voice, sniffled, coughed, agonised, had a sore throat and a sore body, napped, nightmared, and been unbearably grumpy (or so I think Robbie would say). A series of enemies? Or just one?
no trip. no plans. feeling the earth beneath my feet. buying veggies. reacquainting myself with Simplicity. (I'm sure it's hiding in a cupboard somewhere). remembering my priorities. reading, preferably in bed. listening to music - and really hearing it. smiling at myself in the mirror. playing games with my child - and while doing so, forgetting every. single. other. thing. that needs to be done. breathing in. breathing out. Grounding.
And what does chocolate have to do with any of this?
Seriously ... you have to ask?
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I want so much to plant a banana tree. We have the climate for it, after all. And recently my friend Amanda gave me a bunch of her home-grown bananas (the ones pictured in this post!) and - well - they were amazing. I read recently that I could get something like 50-150 bananas a year ... oh, bliss.
And what to do with too many bananas? Use them in your favourite recipe! But here are my favourite ways to save them for later:
1. Store them in the fridge (under very particular conditions)
Don't just lob them in ... they'll go icky or hard. But if you buy an excessive amount of bananas because they're on sale or something, you can store some of the greenish ones for later. So you don't have 20 ripe bananas all at once.
Here's what you do:
Wrap your bunch of bananas in a thick tea towel. Put them in the door of the fridge, near the bottom - basically, the warmest part of the fridge. Ideally you would keep them at around 10 - 15C (50-60F). There you go! I learned this method from my favourite banana vendor at my favourite farmers markets ... and it really works!
2. Pop them into the freezer
I've read before that you should peel them and store them in baggies ... but really I just can't be bothered to do that. I just pop them in, as is, and then when I fancy a smoothie at some later date I just cut the peel off while they're still frozen. Easy peasy.
3. Dry them out
I love dried fruit, and bananas are no exception. But when drying something aromatically fruity, how to prevent a fruit fly infestation?
Here's what I do:
I dry fruit in the back window of my car. For example, if you're going to dry out some bananas - slice them thinly and lay them out on a cookie rack. Pop them into the back window of your car (or on the dash) and they'll be ready to store in a day or two. I love this method because it allows me to preserve my little fruits without having to think about them at all.
NOTE: do not do this if you're not keen on the smell of whatever it is you're drying, because when you drive around you will be trapped with the aroma. I think it actually smells nice - it's not like when you forget a banana peel under your seat or anything. That's pretty ick.
NOTE TWO: And don't forget to remove the rack from your car window before driving off! Some might consider flying bananas to be slightly dangerous ...
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Little Red Riding Hood lives at my house. No matter where you are - she'll find you, with her basket of 'googies' in tow. An imaginary wolf hides behind the couch, or under the dining table - always ready to leap out and frighten our little heroine away. But she persists. She's very stubborn, our Little Red.