Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reading Between the Lines

I opened the door to walk out and get the paper in this godforsaken heat at seven in the morning, and this fellow was staring at me. First of all, it must have taken him all day to get up the gigantic hill in our back yard to our FRONT door. Omg. Poor creature. 

Then, working in the book biz continues (to my utter shock and dismay). At times, my intermittent dealing with the public slowly erodes my faith in the future of humanity. Not that all book lovers are dealing a blow to my sensibility of our plight, but let's say if I have one more seventy year old woman ask me to look up five erotic-romance titles for her while she steadies herself on her walker, well, I think I might just leave the whole entire job behind with utterances of "WTF?!" I cannot make this up. I wish I could. But nope. When I come home and share these stories with DH, he laughs hysterically, shaking his head in disbelief.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Homemade Chamomile Tea with Fresh Flowers from The Garden

The flowers of the chamomile plant resemble a carpet of mini-daisies blanketing a small, sunny corner of my vegetable patch. 
They're lovely, actually. Hardy, too.
Tonight I made my first batch of chamomile/mint tea. 
By the way, mint is the other "easiest herb in the world to grow"--you simply cannot kill it. 
Trust me. 
So back to chamomile: I snipped a small bouquet of the white and yellow flowers and placed them in my coffee mug with a few sprigs of mint leaves. I poured warm water over and set the timer for about five minutes. 
I strained the liquid into another mug, and like magic, we had homemade chamomile tea.
Your tea will taste nothing like the dried bags of herbal chamomile tea you may have tried. 
The fresh-flower variety of tea is very herb-y. A bit of a lemony taste, too. It's delicious. 
Chamomile tea is said to be good for helping ease stomach upset and to help with sleep.

The best chamomile herb to buy is one of German origin matricaria retutica, or so I've read. 
I basically used common sense and bought the herb from the nursery with the tag that said, Excellent for Making Tea! 
Side-by-side growing mint with green beans. I KNOW! 
But it works. 
Make sure you strain the tea. Once you do, you'll have this lovely pale greenish-yellow brew. 
Comfort in a cup.
In other news. This is Frankie. She's a giant. We just adore her and her sissy tolerates her. 




Monday, May 2, 2016

Gluten Free Mexican Casserole with Pickled Onions

This dinner should be called, "my-kitchen's-calling-me" casserole. 
Here' how this awesome vegan (oh and did I mention it was gluten-free, too?) casserole came about.

 I made a lovely pan of veggies and beans to use as my filler: onion, garlic, green pepper, mushrooms, black beans, corn and a can of tomatoes, plenty of cumin and oregano--spice it up to your heart's content. *I have a special Penzey's blend I use, too. Let this mixture simmer for a bit (let the juices reduce, too), and while it simmers, make the pickled onions: red onion slice thin, juice of one lime with a pinch of sugar and some salt and white vinegar--enough to cover the onions in a bowl. Set this aside. When you've finished the pickling stuff, begin layering the casserole by using a square dish, spread a bit of salsa over the bottom to begin with, then cover this with corn tortillas (you'll have to break a few in half just to fill in the corners well. In between the three or four layers you make, add a smattering of vegan cheeze in between for good measure, then top the casserole with a bit of the cheese and bake at 375 until bubbly, about 30 minutes. While this bakes, make your rice and guacamole you'll be serving with it on the side. This has been on our table at least once a week for the past few weeks now. 
You can see here what I'm talking about with the whole "layering" thing. Just keep layering until you run out of filling. You'll want to keep room at the top so while it bakes, you don't have oven spillage.
This is delicious and makes for an even better left over.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March Gardening Chores and What the. . . Snow?! (And Books I'm Reading Now: Padma Lakshmi, and When Breath Becomes Air)

I'm so glad mother nature has a sense of humor. It's not unheard of to have snow in St. Louis in March or April for that matter. But this morning, it looked like a December morning when I pulled back the curtains and looked outside. The flakes were like wet cotton balls coming down. Very odd.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Vegan Feel-Good Chili with Everything (cooking to help heal--isn't that what all cooking is anyway?)


I needed to spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen. It began like all chili making endeavors: a glug of oil, spoonfuls of cumin, coriander, some mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, salt and the pile of veggies I had carefully spent the last half hour chopping and mincing. I literally just kept pulling out veggies from the crisper and methodically went through them with the knife: zucchini, onion, carrot, garlic, green pepper, celery. Then poured in a can of black beans and a can of kidney beans, then two cans of tomatoes--one sauce, one diced. And finally, added a bag of my favorite vegan crumbles (Beyond Beef). With the aroma of cumin and my heavy-handed scoops of some favorite chili blends (okay, it's Penzey's), my kitchen began to heal my soul. 
Low and slow--the way all chili should be cooked, the way all souls should heal. 
Quickly, while one eye was on the pot of chili, I whipped up a batch of brownies, too. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Easy Vegan Veggie Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust (comfort food cooking. . . simple knitting)

I will give this pot pie recipe one thing, and that is, it came together in a snap. My prep work consisted of pulling a puff pastry sheet out from the freezer and putting it in the fridge while I went about sauteing an onion, some mushrooms and garlic, adding a can of tomatoes, then opening a bag of veggies, pouring in some ready-made potato leek soup (oh the horrors! but hey, that's life right now) and a smattering of seasoning, close it up with the pastry top, bake: ta-da! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Finding My Voice and Strength Through Change (and a new blog direction)

Time is ridiculously cruel. How dare spring think she can rear her head up! It's only February for goodness' sake! Now here I am post-seven-years-of-solitude, and everything around me seems to be moving at lightening speed.

 I loved every minute of my time alone. Well, I wasn't exactly "alone" in the sense that I sat in my hovel worrying away every minute of the day in my own head--there were the dogs, my husband, our garden, the woods, books, my cooking, running, knitting. 
Every day had its ebb and flow. 

Mornings were set aside for morning stuff, like coffee (lots), reading, knitting, walking the dogs and running. 

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