Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer's Over Tostadas

Had to - just had to come up with a new recipe for the blog. (And oh, by the way - you're getting four with this post tonight!!) It's been weeks since I last gave you a mindful dose of cookin'. I was reading the article about Jennifer Aniston's cooks who made this super-yummy looking tostada and salad meal. I was really inspired to use kale in my tostadas, as I am always looking for new ways to get my kids to eat greens. What follows is my rendition, which is why I can name it. Please let me know if you make it, and tell me what you think.

By the way - many weeks ago, I asked for your recipes to put into a menu plan. I haven't forgotten, still have what you sent, and welcome more additions. This project asks for more time than I was able to give it this summer to complete it, but I'm almost done with a 2-week trial for your perusal. Feel free to send me more ideas!



Summer's Over Tostadas


Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Brush olive oil over one side of 18 corn tortillas. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes on a cookie sheet (I had to do mine in batches) or until browned. You may want to turn them over, but you will not need to brush more oil on. Remove from over and let sit.

Topping:
2 cans black beans
3 scallions, minced
2 T feta cheese (optional)
1/2 C chopped greens (I used swiss chard because that is what I had on hand. You could use chard, kale, bok choy, or other leafy green)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 C monterey jack cheese, shredded

Put all ingredients except monterey jack cheese in a large bowl to mix. Spread 2T bean mix over each baked tortilla. Put back in over and bake until cheese melts and bean mixture is hot.
Top with salsa verde, guacamole, sour cream. Serve with Enchanted Salad.

Salsa Verde

12 tomatillos, husked and chopped
4 scallions, minced
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3T Apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

To make this salsa the easy way, put everything in the food processor and pulse until somewhat chopped and uniform in texture to your taste. Refrigerate after using. Makes about 1 cup. Use to top tostadas.

Enchanted Salad

3 Cups various salad greens, torn into bite-sized pieces (I used Organic microgreens)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 avocado, cut into small slices
1 blood orange, peeled, cut into large chunks

Mix all ingredients, putting avocado and orange pieces on top (they look pretty there!).
Dress with Cumin Dressing, below

Cumin dressing
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T cumin

Mix all ingredients and pour over salad. So good. So, so good. Mmmmmm.


Ambrosia Delight
(in honor of my mother)

Fill a large drinking glass (16oz) with ice. Pour in 1/2 cup both pineapple and guava juice. Fill the glass with Seltzer (or Sprite) and mix with a spoon.

* Double check that the juice you use for this drink is only juice - no sugar, additives, etc. Sometimes the guava nectar is only fruit and gives the drink a nice, smooth texture. Ah yes, 'Ambrosia', my mother would say.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

What a Cool Tag!

Angela, at My Year Without Spending tagged me with a very special award:



"The Humane Award honors eight certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world. Link back to the person who gifted you with the award and share the love with other bloggers."

Every day, I am excited to see who has checked in on my blog. Like an excited neighbor, I rush to their blogs to see what's up with them. It really is a sweet and inspiring community that we blog in, supportive, encouraging and entertaining. Through blogland, I get to watch children grow, look at what they are studying through homeschooling, learn new crafts, discover new gardening techniques, explore places I have never been around the world.

In the interest of paying it forward, I would like to pass this award on to the following 8 blogging friends - I thank you all for your support, encouragement and inspiration on a daily basis!

  1. Barbara at Second Surf
  2. Stacy at Golden Bird Knits
  3. Cory at Pink Dogwood Blossom
  4. Michelle at Earthy Crafty Mommy
  5. Jamie at Inspired Mess
  6. Donni at The Magic Onions
  7. Kyndale at Earthy Crunchy
  8. Lisa at 5 Orange Potatoes
I am adding a ninth and tenth - My sister, Lisa and my mother, Sunny have been my biggest supporters all along. I'm adding them as 9 and 10 as they don't have blogs, but I really want to share how wonderful they have been, and truly deserve this award.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stop and Think, Then Think Again


Several folks commented on yesterday's post about my dryer. The general feeling that came through was to think about those who do not use a dryer - because they do not have one available. And also to think about the folks who choose to dry their clothes outside on a line.

Although these are very good points to ponder, I must admit to feeling a little defensive at first. I choose to dry my clothes in a dryer for several reasons. We happen to live in an area that gets tremendous humidity in the warmer months, and chilling cold in the winter, making a line somewhat challenging, since the clothes would not dry. I also share my yard with another family, and a really big trampoline - not much space for a clothes line.

But after more thinking about it, I am left wondering - Are these just excuses? Why do we choose to be tunnel-visioned about certain decisions (as in the effort to live mindfully), yet completely oblivious about others? Is my choice to dry my clothes with the dryer some way to hold on to older habits - as if my whole self was not in on the decision to take better care of the world? Or is it simply that I can't stand the feel of stiff, rough, air-dried towels on my skin?

I happen to be a rather robust woman living in a busy community, and the thought of my clothes hanging out for everyone to marvel at feels pretty humiliating. However, would 'airing my laundry' out where others could see actually set me free from the worries of "What would the neighbors think"?

I think the only way I will know is by trying. Before the ground gets cold (hard to think of that happening in this heat), we could sink a post or two and tie up a line. It would be good to work through my stubbornness regarding line drying, and see where it gets me.

Are there decisions in your life that you keep putting off? What would they be?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Dryer Saga, Part 3


Who'd have thought? You may have been around when I posted this about our dryer breaking down in January. Then, we were able to replace it with a free one, even though I was pining for a cherry-red, front-loading model. After a few months, it broke down, and I talked about that here. We were able to fix it, amazingly, as dryers don't seem too challenging to understand, once you figure out how to open them. So we were able to keep the free one after investing in a $14 part.

A few days ago, one of our sons just happened to mention that they had noticed the clothes in the dryer were still wet - the clothes they had put in a couple of days prior. They informed me - the dryer is broken, mom. Oh great.

How far do you push a free dryer? When do you throw in the towel and get a 'new' one? When do you throw in THAT towel and buy a really 'new' one from the store that gives guarantees and delivery and hauling away of the old one (or old ones in our case)? Those were the tough questions in our household this weekend.
I was ready to bite the bullet and get a brand new one. I'm tired of taking on other people's problem appliances. Why should I have to learn how a blower wheel works when other people get to watch their laundry spin round and round in their brand new front loaders? Grrr.

Earth to Jill... Remember why you started this blog in the first place??

Um... Yeah. So I started to do some research. The machine just wasn't starting up at all - no juice whatsoever. It could be many things, but we had to start at the door switch. Having learned recently how to open the dryer front, I took it off and quickly found the switch in question. Having unplugged the machine (of course), I removed the switch and set about looking for a replacement. Two appliance parts stores later, we found the part. Now to go home and find if this was the problem.

The part fit perfectly, with a little squeezing of some pliers, and low and behold... it started up. It's been drying all day now - and yes, we re-washed the stinky boy load and everything is just fine now. (Gotta give them kudos for trying to do their own laundry, right??)

What items have you fixed when you could have replaced?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blogger Showcase!

It's Tuesday! Time for the Blogger Showcase!

This week, I am showcasing a blog that is new to me, but not to some of my blogging friends.


Some amazing ideas for gardening are shared here. Talk about inspiration! I only wish we were going in to spring as they are over on the other side - my plants did so poorly this year, after all that planning and planting.

I also learned about a lovely loaf of artisanal bread dough that you keep ready in the fridge to be baked before a meal - you ought to check that out. I only wish it was gluten free (boo hoo).

There are some fantastic recipes, garden structures and stories about a husband (Superman) that likes to make surprises.

Check out Wendy at Urban Homestead South Africa when you have the chance. I know I'll be back for more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grouting 101


Way back when, we decided this was the year of the bathroom makeover. I touted that I would do the re-do on the cheap, and of course it's been anything but. But all that aside, I thought I would share my wise words for those of you considering a walk down the aisle of home improvement, especially projects in the bathroom domain. Being that we grouted the tile around the tub today, I thought this post could be ...

All About Grout
  1. Do not leave grout all over the floor, the tub, the wall and your hands unless you plan on sanding everything down at a later date - including your hands.
  2. Do not use a kitchen spatula to transfer grout from the bucket to the float, especially one with holes.
  3. Do not expect happy moments with your spouse if you are both squeezed into the tub trying to grout the walls before the grout dries, and both making a royal mess.
  4. Do not... 'ahem'... do not wear a favorite outfit while grouting, especially when grouting with your spouse as grout has a tendency to fly about the room and permanently land on clothing (and the floor, sink, tub, toilet, door, hall)
  5. Do not make any other plans for the day. The grouting takes forever, and then you will be too tired to even get up off the couch to go look at your great job done until tomorrow.
  6. Please - and I am asking nicely - please do not put blue-green wall tile around a pink bathtub. If you do, the next person will just have to come and rip it out - and then they will have to learn how to grout. Think neutral, people!
  7. Do expect very sore arms by the end of the day - grouting is all about the 'push', you know.
  8. Do expect that you will either have to miss those very important calls while you are grouting - or expect that your phone will become one with the bathroom wall after you reach for it (not thinking) and inadvertently cover it with grout.
I am grateful for the ability to begin, carry out and complete home improvement projects with my husband. I do wish they were less messy, and hope that the next project could be in a somewhat larger space.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summerings

Can you ramble with pictures? Well - consider this a major rambling. We have been so busy with family visiting, that blogging has been tough to get to. Here are a few pics of things we have experienced lately.





































This is a mushroom










Be Well.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pretty Sweet Giveaway!


I came across this giveaway through Debra at flotsam and had to pass it on. I think the bag is amazing and oh so cute - going to try to make one myself someday... hmmm.

Sew Cute Shop Amy Butler Birdie Sling GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

12 Ways to Pamper Yourself, On the Cheap!


It's summer. I thought things would be slower and less hectic. But no, I'm a mom, and being such calls me into place repeatedly to taxi, feed, kiss, referee, manage, juggle and supervise. Finding that little slice of 'me' time is still challenging, without the full time job (I'm off for the month of August). So I set out to find little things that aim to pamper oneself, inexpensively, and in small amounts of time - just right for a busy mom, professional, or all around too-busy-to-take-care-of-myself kind o' gal.
  1. Take a bath. These days it is a cool bath for me with the humidity in the stratosphere. Strew fresh herbs and flowers under the tap as it fills your tub. The scents will fill you with happy and relaxing, invigorating thoughts. Light candles. Play soft music. Read something light and enjoyable (or nothing at all). Soak as long as you like, or are able to - after about 20 minutes I'm a bit prune-ish.
  2. Make a smoothie. Check here for a great recipe. I try to keep a variety of frozen fruits in the freezer just for this purpose. Typically, when the kids hear the blender, they have this Pavlovian response and come running, so when I want something all to myself, I have to make it quick or make it when they are outside ;). (Not that I don't love sharing with my boys - but the point here is to have an individual experience.
  3. Clean out a drawer. I know - weird, huh?? Who would think that to pamper might mean actually cleaning? But hey - try it. Stop putting it off and actually clear out that junk drawer. It is surprising how wonderful it feels afterward. The sense of pride that fills my heart after I do this is tremendous.
  4. Take a walk. How well do you know your neighbors? Have you noticed what's been going on in your neighborhood lately? What are the trees doing this time of year? Are there any animals running about? Get outdoors and clear your head. I walk around my neighborhood and find things I never knew were there - after living here for 10 years!
  5. Swim. Do you have a local pool or pond/lake nearby? We are lucky to have a town pool where we can swim for no cost. We also live on a river - we can't swim in it, but we can be down by it and enjoy the wildlife there. How about a beach? I'm an hour away from the coast, but with a little planning, I can take a drive and spend some time there. The water is so refreshing and renewing. Even a gym membership, if you already have one, will work for this - if they have a pool. You don't always have to swim laps in a gym pool, especially if the pool isn't busy. Splash around and cool down. Float. Sink to the bottom. Feel your body suspended.
  6. Sit. Ask any busy woman. She'll concur with you how little time we all get to sit and think. Or not think. Just sit to breathe and rejuvenate. What a treat not be talked to for a few minutes. Ahhhhhhh...
  7. Go ahead. Eat a cookie. Sugar does something to us. Chocolate too. I know it's supposedly scientific with endorphins and all, but the truth at the bottom of the barrel is... we like it. Sweets make us smile. Perhaps some key to a door closed during childhood - sugar opens us like a good book. Grab one and enjoy.
  8. Spend time with a friend. This is one of my favorites. I especially love calling my sister and chatting for long minutes about all sorts of things. We can be in any kind of foul or frustrating mood, and know exactly what to say to the other to help boost things. The unconditional love felt between two individuals is more powerful than steel in my book.
  9. Garden. Whether you have an acre or windowbox, you can take some time to connect with the seasons through gardening. Planting herbs for the kitchen, planting flowers for the bees and butterflies, or planting the family garden plot at the community garden. These are all ways you can spend some time communing with Mother Nature, connecting with her cycles of germination, pollination, fruiting and finally, death.
  10. Sleep. Or, if you can't sleep, meditate. Can you spare 10 minutes to close your eyes? Past studies have shown that just a few moments of peace and quiet will restart your motor. Any longer than 20 minutes might make it more challenging to rest later on, so you would want to keep this to a little catnap.
  11. Enjoy some time with animals. We have so many little beings at my house. When things get a little rough, I love pulling a cat into my lap to chill out for a few minutes. There is a reason pets are used for therapeutic sessions. Talk about unconditional loving - wow! When you need a moment to be reminded that touch is sometimes the most important thing in the world, find a pet and enjoy.
  12. Be creative. I spent many, many years not creating. Making music for other people left my own bank empty. Recently, I started crafting, beading, collaging, dreaming. I wake up in the night, sometimes, thinking over a plan to create something when I next get the chance. Crafting fills me with excitement - as the energy I feel inside has somehow become tangible. I can hold the product, rework it, hang it up, throw it out. I'm in charge of it, and I like how that feels. The possibilities are endless and I like that as well.
It is so important to find time to pamper yourself. In fact it really is TAKING CARE of ourselves - not so much pampering. Pampering brings to mind luxuries that we could do without, and such is not the case here. Finding a way to recharge is a necessary part of each day. Can you make time for it?

I am curious what you might come up with as additional ideas for pampering. What do you do to relax?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blogger Showcase!

It must be Tuesday! Time for the Blogger Showcase!

I look forward to this time every week so I can share one of the great blogs I've been looking through, reading, getting excited about (when I'm supposed to be cleaning/parenting/sleeping... you name it). The hardest part for me is deciding who to pick because I keep finding such great ones.


This week, I am showcasing... drumroll please...




Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick has the most incredible decorating ideas I've found so far. Being mindful and mindfully simple does not mean being boring and ugly. I love to bargain hunt down the aisle of the flea market on any ol' day. I could - and often do - stop the van on a moment's notice to peruse a tag sale or two on a hot Saturday morning, coffee in hand. But then, what should I DO with those new treasures??? Well, I look to Sarah for the answers. She's amazing. Her motto is: "A good home must be made, not bought" (quote by Joyce Maynard)
  • Want to know what to do with those great second hand finds? Look here.
  • Looking for support while re-organizing the house? Look here.
  • This woman will arm-wrestle you under the table for molding. Look here.
  • Have you ever needed a reason to use spray paint? Look here.
The options are endless the way Sarah sees it. And to top it all off, she offers decorating advice at a steal of a price.

I am always looking forward to whatever she comes up with next - but I find myself asking, "Why didn't I think of that?!?" as I read her posts. It's really okay that others come up with the good ideas, as long as they don't mind that I try my hand at their projects every now and then (when I'm not reading blogs!).

Check out Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick when you need a good decorating idea, or when you need to smile - her sense of humor is terrific! You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summerings

It's just after 11 pm - not too late to get in my usual Sunday Summerings post. Here are a few pics from our trip to Maine, with just a few explanations.



Cobscook State Park, Dennysville, Maine
A truly beautiful and peaceful place.
Felt like we went to the end of the earth to get there, though.
This is a picture of mud flats - the tide had gone out and people were clamming.



Boys decided they needed a mud bath.



I loved the texture of this seaweed, but it was too slippery to walk on.




Looking out over the mud flats, mid-day. Such peace and tranquility.



Our campsite was on this little pond, surrounded by icky, gooey, deep mud. Bet you can guess what the boys discovered once the tent was up...



I fell in love with this little man in the rock. In the interest of leaving things as they were, I left it at the shore. I miss him.


Sandy Beach at Acadia State Park. Wow, what an amazing place. You must visit Acadia if you ever have a chance.





Brotherly love runs deep in our family. Especially when you spend very small spaces together all week long!


Lubec, Maine. Supposedly the Easternmost town in the US. They claim to see the sunrise first here.



Camden, Maine. You wouldn't know it to look at this picture, but Camden is one of the most touristy coastal towns in the whole state of Maine. Thank goodness we found a quiet spot.






West Quoddy Lighthouse. Easternmost lighthouse in country.

Thunder Hole - in Acadia State Park. The tide was high, so the effect of the thundering and splashing was not nearly as effective and exciting as we had hoped. We will return next year and wait for low tide. It is supposedly quite the show!

Everyone needs those experiences which make them feel on top of the world! This is in Lubec, Maine.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. Our trip was terrific, one to be repeated in the future - but perhaps with less driving (we drove 1000 miles over the week).

Tag! I'm It!

While I was away, I was sneakily tagged by Cory at Pink Dogwood Blossom.

Cory just started a new blog, using a title near and dear to me - I have always loved dogwood trees, since I was a little girl, actually. In fact, when my father passed away several years ago, we planted a dogwood tree in his honor. It graces the front of my walkway, being passed and admired by everyone who comes to call. The interesting thing about this dogwood tree is that for the first year after being planted, it bore no leaves or flowers. I was so sad, since we have planted it for such a special and important occasion. One day, I looked out at the tree, and decided it needed a fairy bell. Funny thing was, I had no idea what I was talking about! I just knew it needed a fairy bell to call for some special energy to help support this tree. So I set off to find one from Ebay, for lack of a better place at the time. What I found was a sweet little brass bell of a hummingbird. Once it arrived, I hung it on one of the inner branches of the little, leafless dogwood tree. During rain storms or light winds, I could hear that little hummingbird bell ringing away. This was at the beginning of summer, after the dogwoods in this area had bloomed. Wouldn't you know it - within 6 weeks, the lower part of that dogwood was covered in leaves!! The following year, more of the tree was covered in leaves, and each year after that, leaves seemed to be climbing up the trunk. During the 3rd year, small blossoms appeared. The leader of the tree (the part that grows the highest from the center of the trunk) remains bare. I find this reminds me of the reason I planted the tree, and the reason I hung the fairy bell. I don't dare trim the bare spots for fear of damaging the tree, and losing sight of these amazing events.

The fairy bell rings less often now, being that it is buried among so many thick leafy branches. But if I peak way inside, I find it hanging there, so faithfully.

Cory tagged me to share 6 things about myself. So hear goes...
  1. I say purple is not my favorite color, yet if given the choice, I will almost always choose something in a purple hue.
  2. I do not like to eat fish, but I love hand-made plates with fish on them.
  3. I do not like to window shop.
  4. I could stop a train with my urge to check out flea markets.
  5. I adore avocados.
  6. I think a day at the beach with a good book is a day very well spent. (Who cares about the laundry??)
There you are - simple and now, over (phew). When you have the time, go over and check out Pink Dogwood Blossom. There are some pretty great photos of Rocky...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summerings




















We are going away for a few days - a well-deserved vacation to the coast. I will post as I can (and where we have access), but it will mostly be photos with brief descriptions of what we've discovered. I will resume my usual postings (Blogger's Showcase, Thursday Grocery Day) when I return. Have a great week, everyone!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some Great Giveaways and a Guest Post

Some of my buddies out there are hosting some amazing giveaways/gift givings that I wanted to share with you.

Michelle at Earthy Crafty Mommy is having a giveaway to celebrate her 37th birthday. She is offering some lovely fabric pieces and a "Sewing For Dummies" book. Her giveaway ends at 8pm on Saturday the 8th, so get your comments in!!

Barbara at Second Surf is hosting a wonderful giveaway, ending at 11pm EST on 8/11. Check out her site to win a beautiful hand made necklace.

Stacy at Golden Bird Knits is hosting a 100th blog post giveaway, with either a pack of fat quarters of fabric or a menagerie of yarns. Leave her a comment before Monday, 8/10.

Holistic Mama is holding a gifting for 100 followers. She is giving away a lovely baby carrier. Check her out before mid-August.


And Now...

It's Thursday. Time for Grocery Bill Reducing Tips!




Today, we have my first guest blogger, Lisa. You may recall I blogged about Lisa last week. Rather than share tips, she is describing an amazing week of food she is having:

Hi Everyone! Excited to be here! I had an amazing experience at the grocery store this week, and Jill asked me to write it up and share it. Here goes...

Husband called to let me know that Safeway was having a promotion for next 2 weeks on "Perfect Choice" (or Mann Packing) brand packaged produce, you know, broccoli slaw mix, baby carrots, etc. $1.00 per 4 serving bag. So I threw a few of those in the cart. By the time I was finished with my shopping, I went to pay. I had brought 2 $15.00 gift cards to Safeway that I had received as gifts. With all my savings and gift cards added up, I ended up walking out paying only 86 cents! I couldn't believe it. Neither could my family!

Beyond that, we decided to eat what we had in the freezer as it was jam packed with who knows what. Turns out there was a ton of great food in there, waiting to be made into fantastic food! I made stuffed zucchini (overgrown garden zucchini!), using the recipe from: www.recipezaar.com/recipe/print?id=32080 - Drop Dead Delicious Stuffed Zucchini.
I also made zucchini muffins and zucchini cake, using ingredients we already had. I made a chicken pot pie with crusts I had in the freezer, plus pot pie mix already made previously from double portion, just adding more vegies from the garden plus a salad from the garden. Today for lunch we had vegetable soup (veggies from the garden) with organic chicken broth and gluten free pasta (from the pantry). Tonight we are having fish tacos. A friend of ours is a fisherman and so I have yellow fin tuna in the freezer. I will saute this up along with some shrimp (from the freezer) and add lettuce and tomatoes (from the garden), cheese and sour cream all wrapped up in tortillas...from the freezer! Add to this black beans from the pantry.

Usually I spend on average $300 a week for a family of 4 (including 2 teenagers), buying mostly organic food. This week I am up to a whopping $80! And the freezer is getting cleaned out, how cool is that! Now I have to come up with recipes for frozen fruit...have lots of that! Mmm, muffins and smoothies!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Too Hot To Cook, Mama!!

Are you ready for another recipe? This summer, the rain has given way to intense humidity and heat. Not much to you Westerners out there, but we have been getting up close to 90 degrees F with at least 70% humidity. That's just sticky weather. So, since it's too hot to cook, I have been trying to come up with some creative ideas to keep the stove off. Here's my recipe for

Mama's Too Hot To Cook Quinoa Salad:


All I did was make too much quinoa for dinner one night and had a ton left over. Quinoa is like rice when you cook it: 1:2 ratio grain to water. So I took 2 Cups of quinoa, rinsed it to get the bitter enzymes off of it, and put it in 4 cups of boiling chicken broth (you can use water or other broth if you like). As it was cooking, I added frozen organic peas and sliced zucchini. Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed - about 20 minutes or so (but keep an eye on it in case it needs more or less time). So that is all the cooking part, which hopefully you can do without sweltering up the kitchen like I do.

This is one of those improvisational recipes, where you throw in whatever you have around the kitchen. You could add grilled chicken. You could add cooked beans. For this dish pictured above, I chose to add things like sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, red onion and parsley. I think I threw in a couple of garden tomatoes as well.

For the dressing, I chose olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. I mixed that up in the food processor until smooth, checked for taste, and poured it over the top of the salad.

This salad received rave reviews, from friends and family alike. Definitely what I would call 'a keeper'.


********
Have you ever tried quinoa??

Quinoa plant

From Wikipedia:
Quinoa (keen-wa) was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthful choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[3] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.

From Me:
What I love about quinoa is how easy it is to prepare. It cooks as quickly as white rice, tastes mild and a little crunchy, and is beautiful to look at with it's little collars that float to the top of the pot while cooking. You can find it in your local health food or specialty food stores as well as in some well-stocked supermarkets. Of course, it is also online as well. A little more pricy than rice, it is worth every cent with it's high protein count and great taste.

If you've never tried quinoa before, try it and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blogger Showcase!

It's Tuesday! Time for the Blogger Showcase!!



Today, I want to spotlight someone I have been following for quite some time. Angela at My Year Without Spending has spent many months being seriously devoted to something called The Compact, an amazing idea where one carefully considers each purchase made, focusing on reusing, recycling, borrowing, bartering (and going without in some cases), in order to ease the economical and ecological burden of ourselves and our society. Angela talks about joining a CSA, de-cluttering, and learning how to cook meatless Mondays. She has highlighted other friends who have purchased clothing at their local second-hand stores in her weekly Thursday posts titled, "Thrifty Threads".
Angela has also introduced me (and many others) to this idea of the 'baby steps challenge' toward simplicity. She has set herself the goal of becoming more mindful of how she treads upon the earth, but to get there, she recognized that she needed to master several smaller steps in order to be successful. So far, her monthly goals have included:
  • Eliminate junk mail
  • Air-drying her laundry
  • Composting
  • Eliminate hazardous household chemicals
What I love about Angela is rather than only shout out about all the great things she's doing to 'save the earth' (although she really IS doing so many great things to save the earth), she talks about how hard it is. She talks about major changes she has had to make in order to live with her decision to remain true to the Compact. She talks about how it used to be, how it is now, and how she sees it in the future. A real perspective, from a real person. I like that, and I really appreciate that.

Go visit Angela at My Year Without Spending. I think you'll be glad you did.
Keep the great ideas coming Angela!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Viva La Salsa!


One thing I love about summer is farmers markets. One thing I love about farmers markets is freshness. On thing I love about freshness is...
SALSA!
You know, it's really so simple to make, yet so many people are truly amazed at how incredible fresh salsa tastes. And what's great is you can alter it in so many ways. You could make it spicy, nose-dripping hot (sorry), or much milder. You could use fruits such as watermelon, papaya, mango or peach. You could use no tomatoes whatsoever and make a salsa verde of sorts. Tomatillos or not. Onions or not. Super garlicky or not. Truly an improvisationalist's dream in cooking!

Here's my basic recipe - but you have to promise me you'll play with it to come up with new versions (then share them here!).

Viva La Salsa!

Makes approximately 4 cups

6 plum tomatoes, quartered
6 tomatillos, de-husked and quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste

hot pepper - do what tastes right to you: I use 1/2 small jalapeno pepper (no seeds) and it is pretty spicy. If you want the pepper taste but not the spice, try a lesser hot pepper, such as an Italian (or others). Always use caution opening and cleaning hot peppers as the oil becomes airborne and is quite easy to inhale. It also gets on your fingers (some folks use gloves) and can irritate your skin, or get into your eyes if you rub them. Wash your hands immediately after finishing with the pepper part of this recipe.

Put everything in the food processor. I typically do the tomatoes first, pulsing to get them just chopped but not too juicy. I do the same for the tomatillos. After pulsing, I put each of these ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Then comes the rest of the ingredients, including the pepper, if using. This time, you can let the processor run a bit longer, because this part can be more juicy. Put everything in the bowl and mix. Salt to taste. Add more vinegar/lemon if it needs more bitter, pungent flavors. In fact you could adjust any part of the recipe at this point to make it taste more to your liking.

Just don't expect it to stick around too long!
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Calling All Bloggers! Urgent!


Dear Friends of the Blogosphere -

I am awarding hand-made beaded bracelets and hand-painted note cards (your choice) to those who pass the word on about Looking Out For Lisa.


Many of you have already read (and even commented on) this post from Weds, 7/29 about my fundraising efforts for my sister. Already we have been able to raise almost $2200 in only a few days, just through the internet. It amazes me that through the incredible kindness of several people, we are able to move mountains.
I am a firm believer in human character, that deep down, we know what to do to get the job done, even if we don't know each other. Just this week, I reached out to hundreds of people in an effort to raise money for my sister's medical care. I asked people I don't even know to send money - something we all are having a hard time letting go of these days. And slowly, people are responding. I love that people see the need, and find a way to fill it - don't you?

So the point of this post is to ask for your direct help. Many of us blog to a few, others to hundreds each day. If each of you posted just a link to Looking Out For Lisa, think of how our community circles could grow and intertwine.

Looking out for each other is something I would love to work hard for - not just for my sister, but for yours. For your mother, brother, father, best friend. This is our chance to make changes in our world for the better. If our health care cannot sustain us, perhaps we can find ways to move those mountains on our own, without breaking anyone's piggy bank - ever.

I am asking that you please post this button on your site, if you feel you can support our mission to begin to 'fill the gaps' of today's American health care crisis.


Looking Out For Lisa
If you aren't able to get the linking code, email me at jonjibu@verizon.net and I will send it over.

Once loaded on your site, leave me a comment,
and I will happily send you a gift.

For considering this direct request, I thank you. I know together, we can work miracles.
All the best-

Jill