Cookbook Review – A Modern Way To Eat

 

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In the month of August I explored Anna Jones’ first cookbook, A Modern Way To Eat. All of the recipes are vegetarian and some are also vegan and gluten free. Though Brian & I are meat eaters, we are striving to include more meatless meals into our diet. I feel this book will be a good one to have on hand to help with that endeavor.

Because Brian is a huge fan of cauliflower I decided to try her Bay Leaf & Saffron-roasted cauliflower

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Flavors were great, albeit a bit dry. There are golden raisins in this and next time I will plump them up first before adding them. Next was Honey Roasted Radishes

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This was super tasty and I’m usually not a big fan of radishes as I find them to be a tad bitter – but prepared this way really mellowed that out. They would be a super appetizer on their own or added to a salad, plus they look pretty! We have a fondness for quesadillas so had to go for her Speedy Sweet Potato variety

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First time I’ve prepared quesadillas without cheese – didn’t miss it at all! We served this with a side salad for a light dinner. To satisfy my pasta craving I next prepared the Avocado & Lemon Zest Spagetti

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The yellow cherry tomatoes were not called for in the recipe but I added them because, well, we are over-run with tomatoes from our garden. Was a good addition to this already tasty pasta dish. There are a good number of snack recipes including this Spiced Salt Caramel Popcorn

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Good flavors here but oh so sticky! This is one recipe I probably wouldn’t do again as I’m not a huge fan of popcorn and super sticky fingers kinda creeps me out! (But don’t you love the mattress springs I used for this shot? The lovely Amy Duncan of Four Corners Design gifted these to me. Hours & hours of entertainment!) We also harvested potatoes from our garden so thought I could put them to use in this Caramelized Leek & New Potato Salad

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I just love anything with leeks in it and this was so good. Of all the recipes I tried, this is probably my favorite. Because of all the tomatoes from our garden, I decided to cook the Tomato & Coconut Cassoulet

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Intriguing mix of flavors here but overall a bit too liquid. Probably because I had used fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones called for. I think if I had seeded the tomatoes it would have been better. Will give this one another go. Finally decided to try one of Anna’s lemonade variations: Blueberry Mint Lemonade

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I had a lot of blueberries from the garden so made good use of them in this recipe. Super refreshing and it was fun to photograph too! Brian also discovered it makes a great base for a cocktail and added some vodka to one of his servings!

Overall I find this to be a great book to have on hand. Whether you are a seasoned vegetarian cook, just beginning, or like us, simply wanting more meatless meals in your diet – this book is a good resource. There is a great soup chart where you pick items from these categories; base layer, herb, spice, main body, back-up flavor, making it more substantial, and finishing. Quite brilliant really.

So, for the month of September I will be cooking out of this book

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I’m pretty excited about Seven Spoons by Tara O-Brady. The book itself is beautiful – lots of great photographs & I’ve been following her blog by the same name for a time now. She also has a gift for telling stories so reading both her blog and her book is a treat. Until next time…

Bon Appetit!

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated.

Posted in Cooking, Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Sucking Out The Marrow

 

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” – Henry David Thoreau

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I wonder how Mr. Thoreau would feel in today’s world with its global economy, being bombarded with media 24/7, and the pull of social media everywhere. Where in the world could he go to escape it all?

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I thought about him quite a bit while hiking through this lovely park just a mere 40 minutes South of us.

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Given my age with a child grown and running a business out of our home, I am privileged with the opportunity to carve out moments of solitude and also to indulge in interests that serve to “suck all the marrow out of life” for me.

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But there are days when I do have chores to deal with or other unavoidable events from the outside world that seep in and occasionally overwhelm.

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I need to take a lesson from these old trees and the undergrowth here in this park.

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You see its been a very, very dry Spring & Summer here in Seattle, and the plants show it.

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In the dark shady areas, it is still beautifully green, though if you look close you will see many plants have already dried up and moved to their next stage. Several of the trees in this park are over 100 years old. They certainly know more than I!

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But the environment here seems to take it all in stride as if to say “oh well, its been a dry year and we’ve lost some of our neighbors. This too shall pass.”

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Midway through the hiking trail I usually take when visiting here, is a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. Often, if you watch carefully, you will see an Eagle sitting in her nest. Looking out there are usually a few sailboats gliding by. The tangle of branches in the dark shadows of the first half of the trail – looking like the tangle of thoughts in my mind – suddenly open to this bluff and my mind clears. Perhaps Thoreau was on to something here!

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Table Questions

What does it mean for you to “suck all the marrow out of life”?

What does that for you?

About the photos: All taken at Discovery Park located in Seattle, WA. Many, many years ago while training for my first marathon, my trainer had me meet him at this park. I had never been and was quite taken by it. It is a frequent place where Brian & I take our walks.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate the time you took to be here.

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Tending to Life

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The Gardener

Have I lived enough?

Have I loved enough?

Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion?

Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?

Have I endured Loneliness with Grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.

   Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden, where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,

   is tending his children, the roses.

– Mary Oliver

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I’m a big fan of Mary Oliver’s poetry and this is one of my favorites. As a gardener myself (albeit a neglectful one at the moment), I appreciate the use of the gardener’s work to illustrate the tending to life.

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As we get older, feeling our own mortality, I think we ask these questions more often.

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And I think that’s a good thing. Tending to the present moment expands our sense of life, but it is also important to tend to the prospect of death as well.

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I think these questions are a constructive way of doing that. Used as a guide to bring us back to what is important to us when the noise & confusion of life leads us astray.

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Table Questions

What questions are you asking of yourself these days?

When feeling caught up in the tasks and appointments of the day, what do you do to bring yourself back to center?

About the photos: All taken in my garden, which is not the tidy showplace it has been in years passed. It is a jungle out there, with weeds that need “relocating”, but somehow I am called to other things at the moment. The garden patiently waits.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

xo

Posted in Gardening, Inspirational, photography | Tagged | 11 Comments

New Mexico – Beauty in the Desert

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Brian & I were in New Mexico for a few days for my family reunion. However, we did get a chance to get out with our cameras and capture some of this beautiful area.

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These sweet sunflowers are growing wild everywhere. Some people here actually consider them weeds and mow them down. I think they are beautiful.

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_DSC1722My sister lives in Nogal, Nw Mexico, which is in the Southeastern part of the state. Their area is more in the hills so it is more green than in other parts of the state.

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Brian doing his thing!

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_DSC1738Probably not my best picture but was drawn to the jelly & jam promotional painting on the side of this abandoned building so had to share.
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_DSC1743About 3 years ago there was a terrible fire in this area so there are many black, dead tree skeletons standing in the hills. Already green grasses have grown back at the base. Nature finds a way.

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Many long-needle pines in this area. So graceful.

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Lots of old fences, still serving a purpose.

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We ran across this great old abandoned motel along the highway heading toward Roswell.

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_DSC1782Love the fact that amidst the ruins of this old motel, this lovely rose bush still offers her best blossoms.

 

_DSC1787I’ll be back next week to resume the “Table Questions” theme post. Just wanted to share these while the memory of this place is still fresh in my mind.

Thank you all so much for stopping by. Means so much.

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography, Travel | 8 Comments

Between the Tiger and the Dragon

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There is an old Sufi story that has a man leaving one life for another, and far enough into the desert that he has no sense of where he has been or where he is going.

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At some point he begins to sense a wild tiger chasing him. He has nowhere to go. Frantically, he runs and runs and comes upon a well. As the tiger approaches, he has not choice but to jump into the dark well.

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As he falls, he can see the tiger growling above him. As he continues to fall, he can suddenly see that a dragon is hissing and waiting for him at the bottom of the well.

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Just then, he sees a branch growing out of a stone in the well. He grabs it. Amazingly, it holds his weight. As he strains to hold on, with the tiger above and the dragon below, a single ray of light falls on the one leaf on the one branch that holds his life.

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And on that leaf, in the light, is a single drop of honey.

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With the hissing of the dragon and the growling of the tiger in his ears, the man, leaving one life for another, summons all his strength, to lick the single drop of lighted honey.

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The story ends there with the man, en route to a new life, savoring the single drop of honey while the tiger and the dragon wait.

I had read this story a few years back and then Mark Nepo reminded me of it as he read it at the workshop I attended a couple weeks ago. While on my cancer journey, I felt very much like that man, hanging on the branch. My tiger was the cancer and my dragon was the chemo. While going through treatment I felt like one or the other was going to do me in. But one day while in the treatment room with my iPad open, I received an email about a year long photoshop class. At first I told myself that with all the chemo there was no way I could take the class. But then I stopped, looked around the room and made the decision to sign up anyway, even if I would not be able to do all the assignments. That email was my branch, and the class was my honey. That class let to several others and I formed new friendships with people who continue to be an inspiration to me. What I’ve come to learn from this experience is that these lighted moments come and when they do, we need to grab on, to taste the honey of life in that moment. I do my best to carry the lighted moment with me.

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Table Questions

What is your tiger and your dragon?

What does standing by one’s core in the face of danger and the press of life mean to you?

—————–

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who left a comment on the blog last week for The Conversation post. I am touched by your soulful comments. I continue to appreciate each and every one of you for visiting me here.

About the photos: Last week we decided to beat the heat and head over to Double Bluff on Whidby Island. It is a local spot. Lots of driftwoods washes ashore and the kids have fun making forts with all the debris. When the tide is out it is also a grand place for beach combing.

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cookbook Review – Bowl & Spoon

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In the month of July I cooked out of this lovely book by Sara & Hugh Forte. Sara is the cook and Hugh is the photographer. Well it’s obviously a match made in heaven because this book is lovely and full of fabulous recipes. There are so many things I want to try here but these are the items I managed to get to last month, beginning with Celeric & Yukon Mash with Roasted Salmon and Haricot Verts

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I’m always on the lookout for a new masher and this was to die for! We wound up doing the salmon our way (we Pacific Northwesterners have our go-to preparation!), but did follow the recipe for the Verts, which were fresh from our garden. So good that I’m drooling right now just looking at this picture! The next recipe was the reason I bought the book in the first place

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Strawberry Tabbouleh

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We wound up having this meal on one of the hottest days of the summer. This was flavorful and refreshing

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Next up was Ahi Poke Bowls and Snap Pea & Edamame Salad

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Such incredible flavor! Ingredients include rice, sushi-grade ahi tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, wasabi paste, green onions, avocado, strips of nori & sesame seeds. The Snap Pea & Edamame Salad part included snap peas, edamame beans, cabbage, green onion, cilantro, mint, and black & white sesame seeds. So satisfying. For another hot day I went for the Grapefruit and Shaved Fennel Salad

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I absolutely love grapefruit and fennel, but never thought to pair them together. Simply brilliant! Then, going for texture I went for the Slivered Veggie & Soba Salad w/ Mapled Tofu

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Everything but the tofu is raw so it is a bit of a workout to eat. Lots of chewing but the flavor was great, though I really could not taste the maple on the tofu. I might double that sauce next time. We were heading to the beach one day and I wanted to pack a salad so I tried the Summer Quinoa Salad

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This holds up for about 5 days so you can make this in advance. So good and I loved the texture. Seeing that I was running out of days in the month I flipped over the the dessert section to try a couple things there. We’ve had a bumper crop of blueberries in the garden this year so I decided to go with the Lemon Creams with Blueberries & Gingersnaps

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Don’t you wish you could lick the screen right now for a taste? This was awesome! For a final recipe, I had a craving for chocolate and noticed I had quite a stash of Sharffen berger semi-sweet chocolate lying around so made the Double Chocolate Pudding

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Well, needless to say it was absolutely delicious!

I can’t say enough good things about this book. All the recipes work – makes me think some time was taken to test every one to ensure success for the cooks who buy this book. I also have to share a bit of excitement. I will be at a 2 day food styling workshop with Sara & Hugh in October! I expect to learn lots. In the meantime, for the month of August I will be working out of this book

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Brian & I do eat meat but we have been including more and more meatless meals into our weekly menu. Cookbook review on this one will be in the first week of September. See you then. In n the meantime, Bon Appetite!

xo

Posted in Cooking, photography | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Conversation

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Before we begin this new experiment, I want to take a moment to thank all of you for stopping by last week and many, many thanks to those who shared your thoughts about blogging in general and what your blog means to you. It was enlightening and I learned so much. I have a new respect for the blogging platform. Now, instead of shutting down my blog, which I was really close to doing, I’m excited to continue…with all of you.

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As mentioned last week I have an idea for a weekly post that I’d like to try. Many of you know I participated in a weekend long workshop with Mark Nepo. For those who don’t know him, he is a writer and a poet who shares his journey of spiritual inquiry. At the workshop he would share stories or poems, many his, others not…and then he would pose what he called “table questions” and then open it up for conversation with the group.

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It was an uplifting and enlightening experience and I was wondering if it is possible to do something like that in a blog platform. What do you think? Perhaps we could take this one small step together, starting with this short story by Mark Nepo

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The Oldest Conversation

I wonder, will anyone recognize us without our anger or our fear?

And if we stand here, softly in the open, will we be watered or just mowed down?

Wait. Now that you’re here, tell me about the moon and how deer dream of running water and how dogs are simply dogs.

Teach me – before we’re tossed back in – the Sanskrit of your eyes.

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What I get out of this story is that if we shed our anger and/or fear to reveal who we are born to be, will we be nutured or shunned? I think that is the question we all ask ourselves and maybe that is why we sometimes hold our anger or our fear close to us like a protective blanket. I also like his asking for us to wait and tell him about the moon and how deer dream of running water and how dogs are simply dogs. Each of us know what we know, but we have the opportunity to be enlightened by learning what others know based on their experience if we listen. Try and see through their eyes.

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Table Questions – comment only if you are comfortable doing so. There are no wrong responses.

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Tell about a time when you put down an anger or a fear. How did it feel? How were you received by others?

Have you ever been privileged to hear someone else’s truth? What opened in you from that experience?

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Thank you all again for being here today.

A note about the photographs – they were taken over the weekend at Greenlake Park in Seattle, WA. It is a lovely park with a large lake in the center. There is a 3 mile paved path around the lake, but also places in the grass and at the water’s edge to sit and enjoy. I take a lot of pictures like these but rarely share them. I mean, they aren’t incredible works of art  or anything, but to me they reveal a certain quiet and introspective part of my character that I’ve been hesitant to share. So here I am, putting down my fear for the day.

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Hello there!

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How are you? What have you been up to? I know I know. I’ve been a little quiet here on the blog lately. The thing is, much like everyone else I suspect, I’ve had a lot on my plate. The pace does seem to pick up in the summertime with gardening and friends to see and places to go.

In addition to the usual summertime activities extra blessings have come my way recently. I was recently interviewed by Kim Klassen which allowed the opportunity to connect with new people. Quite by accident I found out that Mark Nepo, an author I adore, was in town to host a weekend workshop and I was lucky enough to get in. Wow, what an experience. Mark is so wise, so kind, so humble. He is the real deal. My heart and mind are still spinning with all that we discussed that weekend. I had also been placed on a wait list to attend an all day food styling / photography workshop on August 1st with Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille fame and just found out a few days ago that someone had dropped out so I am in! Can’t wait.

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But these are not the only reasons I haven’t blogged in a little while. You see, it seems about every 5 months or so I ask myself “why do I have a blog?” I mean, I don’t have a business and I’m not selling anything so what’s the point? I don’t have a lot of followers, though that really doesn’t bother me. Truth be told I don’t follow a whole lot of blogs myself. It seems so many of the artists I want to follow are on Instagram these days, which is convenient because that means we are all in one place and I don’t have to hop from blog to blog to see what my people are up to.

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So, with Instagram changing the way we share with our fellow artists, friends, and family, I’m asking – why blog? Do you have a non-business related blog? How long have you had it? Do you post regularly? Are you thinking of shutting it down, or would you feel lost without it? I’d love to hear.

As I look at my own blog I think maybe I’ll try a new kind of post on a weekly basis and see how that feels, and I hope, if you are comfortable, you will give me some feedback. I will still do my monthly cookbook review but starting next week I’m going to try out something new. Stay tuned!

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Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to visit and read through my ramblings!

I hope your day fills you with joy.

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , | 39 Comments

Cookbook Review – Extra Virgin

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Last month I worked through this cookbook by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos. You may recognize Debi’s name as she is an actress who made her debut in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”. She and her husband Gabriele (raised in Tuscany) are the producers and cohosts of the Cooking Channel’s primetime show “Extra Virgin”. I was drawn to the simplicity of the recipes and was not disappointed. Their salads were quite lovely. I made two, starting with this one

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Butter Lettuce & Pomegranate Seed Salad. It is dressed with a simple shallot vinaigrette. Delicious. When the first peaches made their arrival in the farmers market we made

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Peach & Fennel Salad. Oh man, what a combo! Really great. It also includes thinly sliced bresaola (a cured beef), which I never had before. I was going to substitute Prosciutto but when I saw my local market had the bresaola I went for it. Wow…super tasty. I could see thin strips of this wrapped around cantaloupe cubes. Will have to give that a try. This made a great starter to one of our meals

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Grilled Apricots with goat cheese ricotta. No one needs a recipe for this brilliant concoction. Just grill the halved apricots, place a small scoop of ricotta in the middle, then top with your favorite chopped herb, drizzle a little olive oil and a wee bit of salt. Simply magic. So, of course an Italian cookbook would not be complete without some pasta dishes. I just had to try this one

 

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Baked Pasta In Eggplant. This looks way more complicated than it is. The filling is pasta and a seasoned ground pork, all layered in a baking dish that has been completely lined with eggplant slices. There’s a bit of a wow factor that you experience with you pull out your first slice! The other pasta dish I tried was this

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Pesto Lasagna. This did taste delicious but I gotta say it threw me for a loop because it wasn’t thick like lasagnas I’m used to. The layers are just lasagna noodles, besciamella sauce, pesto, and parmesan cheese. So, it has a flat appearance. Because we love eggplant we had to give this a try

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Now, we usually eat our eggplant in Thai dishes, so it is cubed and cooked in a curry. This was the first time I made Eggplant Parmesan. It was absolutely delicious, however the prep was so messy that I probably won’t make it again. The eggplant is sliced, turned in flour and deep fried. I have grease splatter all of that page in the cookbook! Finally, I thought I’d give one of their desserts a try

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Lemon Brule Tart. Actually this was supposed to be made in one large tart pan, but in a recent clean-up, organizing frenzy I found my individual tart pans so thought I’d use them for this. Really good, but would probably be easier in the one large tart pan. I will make this again!

There are so many good recipes and ideas that really don’t require a recipe that I would highly recommend the book.

So, in the month of July I will be cooking from this book

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Bowl & Spoon by Sara Forte from Sprouted Kitchen fame. So many wonderful ideas in this book. Can’t wait to get started!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you have been enjoying some wonderful meals in your neck of the woods.

xo

Posted in Cooking, photography | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Sparking Joy

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Hello! How are you? Summer is finally here in the Pacific Northwest and that means a lot of time spent outside, not just gardening, but also enjoying our meals al fresco.

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For me, this is also a time to cleaning and tidying. Recently I picked up the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Her approach is inspiring. Basically she suggests you hold each item in your hand and ask yourself “does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and remove it from your life.

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So, I’ve gone through every item of clothing, eliminating 3 garbage bags full and donated them. The rest were neatly hung or folded. I’m now working on kitchen gadgets & appliances. Since Brian & I both love to cook, you can only imagine the stash! Seriously, who else has cannoli forms? A ravioli cutter? 23 tart pans of various sizes? It’s crazy!

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As I go through this process I am also thinking about the other things in my life…the tasks, the chores… are they sparking joy?

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Of course there are tasks and chores that I really must do. So then the question becomes, how can I approach these things with a joyful spirit?

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These are the things I am pondering as I go through all our stuff. As the space in our house becomes more clear, perhaps the space in my mind will find a clearing as well.

I hope whatever season you are in that it is sparking a bit of joy in your life.

Cheers!

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | 8 Comments