Autumn and roasted vegetables... a perfect pair. Think about it. What veggies have you recently harvested from your garden? What in-season veggies are showing up at local farmers markets? Squash, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli... all perfect for roasting. The flavor of roasted veggies is much richer and the natural sweetness is more intense than eating raw or steaming.
Here are a few methods for roasting veggies. Method 1: Roasting veggies is as simple as cutting them into uniform pieces so they cook evenly, scatter on a parchment paper- lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, mix to coat, season with salt and pepper, and place in 375° oven for 30 - 45 minutes or so depending upon the vegetable variety. Method 2: Preheat oven to 375°. Place fresh (firm), scrubbed veggies in a baking dish with a lid. If no lid, you can cover with aluminum foil. Covering the veggies causes them to roast more evenly. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt, if you like. Roast until tender. When roasting beets, fresh (firm) ones cook faster. Smaller beets take about 25 minutes. Larger and older beets can take up to an hour. When beets are fork tender, allow them to cool enough to handle then slip their peels off using a paring knife or by rubbing them with your fingers or... Method 3: You can place beets in a glass baking dish with about ½ cup water in the bottom. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and roast until tender. Cool, then peel.
Fudge... there are so many recipes. Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge requires cooking to 234 degrees on a candy thermometer then cooling to 110 degrees. Next, it requires beating until thick, about 15 minutes. Too fussy. Marshmallow Creme Chocolate Fudge only requires melting the ingredients then allowing them to harden on their own, but the ingredient list is a bit long- sugar, butter, evaporated milk, marshmallow creme, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and vanilla. Still too fussy. My daughter, Heather, and her two year-old son made "Easy Fudge" with just two ingredients: semi-sweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. A while ago, they boxed some up along with the recipe and sent it to Dick because he loves chocolate in any form. It solidifies perfectly, is so smooth, and the flavor is scrumptious. I made a batch today before Dick finished off all of the chocolate chips in the freezer.
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 – 14 oz can organic sweetened condensed milk
Mix together chocolate, condensed milk, and salt in a saucepan. (I used a double boiler.) Melt over low heat. Mix nuts into melted mixture. Pour into a buttered pan. Allow mixture to harden.
This was the view in our front yard a bit shy of 8:00 this morning before it was completely light outside... our first snowfall of the season. The snow continues to silently flutter to the ground forming a blanket that has muffled virtually all sound. The silence... Can you hear it? Listen ever so quietly.
Wabi-sabi, an ancient philosopy rooted in Zen Buddhism, is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection. An easily understood example, from the October 2010 issue of Whole Living Magazine Wabi Sabi Your Life: 6 Strategies for Embracing Imperfection by Gretchen Roberts, is "asymmetrical heirloom vegetables, handmade pottery, crow's feet, and the frayed sleeves of a favorite wool sweater." Loosely translated, wabi is simplicity and sabi means the beauty that comes with age and wear. Roberts focuses on six areas in which the wabi-sabi philosophy can be implemented: relationships, food, home, beauty, closet, and work. Relationships Accept the imperfections of others and yourself. Food Gathering, preparing, creating the dining environment, and consuming meals should be a purposeful engagement of the senses. Home Appreciate the natural aging of things you own as you grow old with them. Thrift shop finds and handmade items have more meaning than shiny, new purchases. Beauty Embrace the aging process and be open to seeing new kinds of beauty in ourselves. Closet Appreciate what you already have rather than acquiring new things. Work Align your actions and words to your values. Be authentic. Keep small frustrations in perspective.
When I buy clothing, I appreciate when the stitch lines aren't perfectly straight because it has a homemade look and I can more easily envision and appreciate the person who sewed the garment. When I sew, however, I strive for a perfectly constructed finished product. To wabi-sabi this part of my life, I am implementing some shortcut sewing methods from Amy Karol's Bend-the-Rules Sewing Book and learning "when not to sweat the small stuff." I am beginning to plan my projects for the approaching winter and my goal is three-fold: to accept... and, more importantly, celebrate a less than perfect end-product to 1)more fully enjoy the process, 2)finish projects more rapidly, and 3)achieve the handmade look I desire. Where might wabi-sabi make a difference in your life?
My summary is a simplistic view of wabi-sabi. It is me trying to bring some of its meaning into my own life. To delve more deeply into the philosophy, there are many books available. A few that I found when searching on Amazon are Wabi Sabi Simple: Create beauty. Value imperfection. Live deeply. by Richard Powell, Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life by Taro Gold, Practical Wabi Sabi by Simon G. Brown, and Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life by Diane Durston.
When Dick and I stopped by Caribou Coffee for a hot chocolate recently, I tucked the napkin into my backpack... the messages imprinted on it were worth revisiting again.
I ran across the napkin this afternoon, which reminded me of the hot chocolate we had shared. The drizzly, chilly (49 degree high) day begs for a cup of hot chocolate. I pulled out a simple recipe that I have made many times. It is equally good with or without the cinnamon stick, but it does add a nice subtle flavor. Since I had a stick on hand today, I tossed it in. Life is short. Slow down to feel the warmth of your fingers wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate... savor each sip.
Vanilla Hot Chocolate
1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (kind used for baking)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp water
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp dark chocolate, 72% cacao, shaved
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and cinnamon stick together over low heat until scalding hot (little bubbles are forming around the edge of the pan), about 4 minutes. While the milk is warming, mix together the cocoa and sugar in a small bowl. Add the water and stir until combined. Remove the cinnamon stick from the milk, add the chocolate mixture and vanilla to the milk, and whisk until slightly frothy. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug, top with chocolate shavings, and enjoy. Serving size: 1 cup.
My daughters tell their kids stories. One story my daughter Heather has retold is that each year, when I was growing up, I spent hours looking through a Fall/Winter Sears Catalog choosing the perfect fabrics for dresses my mom would sew for the new school year. One year, I chose a fabric with monkeys printed all over it.
My 6 year-old granddaughter, O'Malley, gave me this drawing and swatch of monkey fabric for my birthday because I like to sew and the fabric reminded her of the story. Isn't it the sweetest gift one could receive?
Just in time for October's cooler temperatures, my daughter Jessie gave me a sweatshirt for my birthday. I had complimented her on the sweatshirt she was wearing... and she remembered.
A stitched triangle at the base of the neck adds a spot of detail to its solid color... a perfect shade of gray.
It's slimmer cut is roomy enough so as movement is not restricted, but it doesn't look like I'm wearing one of Dick's sweatshirts. The inside is lined with a layer of fleece making it soft, cozy, and warm. My trip to Bayfield for my birthday spent with Dick... and my three girls and all their sweetness. My birthday was most perfect. Yes, perfect.
My daughter, Lisa, gave me money for my birthday. I had the greatest fun deciding how I would spend her gift. After careful consideration, I chose this pair of "midsummer black" gardening clogs. I love the autumn colors.
The price on sloggers.com was $34.99, but I found them on amazon.com for $20.98. The savings left me with additional money to spend... enough to order two cookbooks that I have had my eye on... which qualified my order for Amazon's free shipping.
When NYC unexpectedly lost its power during a two-day multi-state blackout in August 2003, Louisa Shafia, author of Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, was preparing to depart on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan when everything suddenly shut down. Shafia discovered that "something truly magical emerges when we slow down, turn off our gadgets, and approach the shared rituals of food - procuring, preparing, cooking, and even cleaning up - with an appreciation for its timeless role in our daily lives." Neighbors, who had scarcely acknowledged each other previously, gathered for spontaneous street parties during the power outage. Restaurants set up grills on the sidewalk outside their businesses and lit candles to invite patrons to gather inside. "The modern world of bright lights, cable TV, and fast food took a backseat to genuine face-to-face interaction, simple pleasures, rediscovery of true community spirit." Shafia organizes her healthful recipes by the seasons to synchronize our cooking with the earth's rhythm. She stresses the use of locally grown products because they are in-season, fresher, less processed to keep fresh, require less packaging, less fuel is needed to transport, and it supports the local economy. I have made Creamy Red Kuri Squash Soup from Lucid Food and it is very good on a cool autumn day.
The recipes in Good to the Grain Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce use a variety of twelve whole grain flours from amaranth to teff. I chose this cookbook to expand my repertoire of flours. I have already made Boyce's Fig Buckwheat Scones and they are a definite keeper.