Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sensory Deception / Open Your Window




Sensory Deception / Open Your Window


Difficult to open our eyes to the truths inside of us.  

Like a bud failing to open,  to what is and can be 

Petals clenched, denying the sunlight    

With a fog of deception,  we deny what we see.  


Difficult to verbalize the truths inside of us 

Like a bud failing to perfume, and sweeten, what is bleak   

The day’s fragrance, staunchly held hostage 

With a wall of stoney silence,  we refuse to speak.  


Difficult to listen to the truths inside of us 

Like a bud failing to heed the call, of nature so near

Life blighted by a frost laden stance 

With an ice cold reception , we deny what we hear.  


Out of touch can we be, with no eye for life’s joy

Out of touch can we be, with no tongue for the sweet

Out of touch can we be, with no ear for glad songs

Blind, Silent, and Deaf to what makes Life complete.


Sense, feel  and share all that you are

Open your window to the view from within

Let the wind carry the song of your soul

Resonate your truths and let living begin.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Saving Someone's Prince


Just a short anecdotal post with regard to a 'tiny adventure' I recently had in a home improvement center parking lot. I picked up a few items for future work in my garden. Little did I know that a small part of my garden had accompanied me to the store.
 I had gotten into my car to head for home, and I began driving out of the lot, when I felt beady little eyes on me.  I looked out of my window, and there, clinging to the side view mirror was a tiny green tree frog. This particular kind of frog has been caught napping in prior times in the car mirror. And he evidently made his bed there, and slept thru the trip to the store. He leapt from the mirror to the window, clinging for dear life. Thankfully, I was able to pull my car over and I emptied a water bottle I brought with me. I carefully opened my car door to pursue the frog. He jumped to my car front hood and then headed toward a nearby tree. Thankfully, at the tree, I was able to retrieve him. I placed him safely into the water bottle for the trip to home. Surely, he would have been hurt or worse in that busy store parking lot. So I was quite relieved to have captured him. I feel certain that in my garden there is someone whose heart he has captured and who would miss him dearly were he to be lost or hurt.  And just look at him, you can almost see him smiling!  Someone's Prince was saved... and I feel glad for that.... :) I will hear them singing together, with happiness,  on warm summer nights. No person or creature is insignificant on the face of our Earth.

If we can discover the meaning of the trilling of a frog, perhaps we may understand why it is for us not merely noise but a song of poetry and emotion. Adrian Forsyth

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tropical Breakfast Bread



Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in Winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


I had Mango in my fruit bowl the other morning and I planned to bake Mango Bread. I found a recipe and then my usual 'I'm going to mess w/ this recipe' attitude kicked in. I altered the recipe to include Guava and Pineapple in addition to the Mango.  I also cut the sugar in half, substituting Stevia; tossed in chopped Pecans, added the warmth of cinnamon. So the calorie savings were probably a wash..but... it's a girl's perogative.. and if you have to be bad... better to be bad with nuts  :P ...  The result was a wonderfully moist bread with a crisp outer crust and juicy chunks of fruit baked right inside. I hope you'll give it a go....

Tropical Breakfast Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup Stevia
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups chopped fruit ( I used Mango, Guava and Pineapple, leaving the chunks big and juicy. If you want the fruit to be more subtle, simply chop finer. )
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans.    

Combine ingredients. Pour into a greased 8 x 4 loaf pan. Bake at 350' for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rising to Aspirations



I wrote this poem on one of those days, when I woke up and began the tasks of my day, my activities of daily living, or ADLs, with a nagging question. Throughout my day, that little voice in my head kept asking 'To what end?' Particularly as I get older, I find myself asking that question more and more.

It seems there is no greater day planner, than time itself. As time ticks away, it becomes more crucial, I become more wanting, of life experiences that fulfill me as a person in a different way. I'm more keenly aware of my mortality as I age. And what I want to do throughout my day is so very different from what I desired when I was younger. In my travels, I once encountered a wise  'owl' who told me that nesting sucks. I remember thinking at the time what an odd thing for someone to say. In retrospect, however, I find those words do become true at some point in our lives.

When we are young, I think we embrace our repetitive activities of daily living more openly, and with good reason. Time is at it's dawn and we are in the mode of finding out about and shaping who we are as people. Our ADLs are the vehicle we use to get to the place where we define who we are in society. The daily, repetitive tasks lead us to our career, our home. Some of us become parents and our ADLs are the enrichment we offer to our children, as we nurture their growth in the world.

At this time in my life, I find that I have defined who I am in society. I have established my home, practiced my career, raised my beautiful Daughter. I feel a need to get off of the ADL treadmill at some point and go down a different path.  The repetitive tasks of the day, will no longer serve a purpose for me. Rather, those tasks feel akin to something that binds me. At some point, for me, it will be time to step away from my career and home activities, and focus on embracing the other things that make up who I am as a person.  We are, importantly, a member of society, a career person, a family member, and homeowner. But we are more than that, and time can and should present us with an opportunity to embrace all that we can be.


Rising To Aspirations 

The sun rises on yet a new day
And I wrap myself in my persona
Dangling this mood from my face like earrings as I  
Dress
To cover what may be possible  
And I wrap myself in limitless faith  
Cooking up plans for the sweetest success as I  
Break  fast
From all that would end my actions
And I wrap myself in ambitious quest
Steering away from cannot - to I can-  as I  
Drive
To venues yet to be traveled
And I wrap myself in a well laid plan  
Thinking of actions that I need to take as I  
Work
In frenzy for time for other matters  
And I wrap myself in a hastened pace
Running toward my high aspirations as I  
Play
At a happy, inspiring time   
And I wrap myself in a spirit so free
Clearing away stressors that bind me as I
Clean
Out clutter from my closeted mind
And I wrap myself in future held goals    
Planning a time to awaken my soul as I    
Rest
My mind from all cares and desires
And I wrap myself in a faithful dream  
Hoping the sun rises on yet a new day.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Natural Goodness: Making Artisan Pasta



A recent undertaking was trying my hand at making handmade Artisan Pasta. This is something that I have always wanted to do. The idea of incorporating natural flavors and colors from vegetables right into my pasta noodles was especially appealing to me. So I set myself up with an Italian Pasta maker, a Marcato Atlas. This is a well constructed and very 'easy to work with' Pasta maker. A bonus is a number of available attachments to allow for a variety of pasta styles to be made. Kid in a candy shop time :)

With the Pasta maker, I purchased a book written by Aliza Green, who served as Executive Chef for Ristorante DiLullo and she has studied Pasta making extensively. She has worked with many chefs in Italy. For obvious reasons, I won't be sharing Ms. Green's recipes with you on my blog. But I would suggest to you, that if you are ever interested in trying your hand at Pasta making, certainly avail yourself of  Ms. Green's book, Making Artisan Pasta.

In Making Artisan Pasta, you are instructed in the Art of Pasta making from the basics of ingredients, to making dough, flavoring dough, and stylizing Pasta.

A mixture of Semolina, Durum and All Purpose Flours are at the heart of making pasta. Although Durum and Semolina are wheat based flours, both are milled differently; Durum being more finely ground, Semolina more coarsely ground. I purchase mine from King Arthur Flour, since both are generally not found in local groceries.
My first attempt was to make a basic pasta dough. In doing so, I learned several tips for success: humidity, proportion of flour to liquid, kneading, temperature of ingredients, and timing all affect the outcome of successfully making pasta.

If you adhere to the basic principles of successful pasta making, I'm telling you that it is not as difficult as you might think. A bit time consuming, yes... but if you enjoy cooking as much as I do, it is time well spent and great fun.

I also tried out the recipe for Pasta Verde, or Spinach Pasta.

   Special care must be taken to ensure that fresh Spinach leaves are properly prepared to be certain that there will be a lovely green distribution through the pasta noodles.

It also does not hurt to have your special kitchen supervisor on hand...  but only if well behaved, like my Hera, as she did not lift a paw to disturb the drying strands of pasta. :P
I also tested the recipe for Lemon Pepper Pasta dough. A decidedly aromatic pasta infused with Lemon juice, microplaned Lemon zest and freshly cracked Pepper. Beautiful with seafood, chicken or vegetables! Perhaps topped with olive oil and grated Parmigiano cheese... unbelievable..  
All doughs that I made were a joy to work with. Very easy to roll and to cut with my Pasta maker. I had no trouble at all. It is all in the gauging of how to balance the water and flour and letting the gluten in the dough 'rest' before rolling the dough out. This also allows the flour to become properly hydrated.



My final attempt at Pasta was the recipe for Roasted Red Pepper dough.  A lovely pasta that gets it's color from a puree of roasted red pepper and smokey sweet paprika. I often purchase more difficult to find spices at a local gourmet spice shop, or another wonderful source I have used is Penzeys.com. This Pasta is so wonderful when served with a light herb sauce.

                     


I hope that you will try your hand at Homemade Pasta one day...  It is fun to make and with healthy rewards.



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