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January 14th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

We’re renovating our Master bathroom, and it’s just as fun and exciting as it sounds. Mike is pretty handy, and I have some skills of my own, so we’re doing all the work ourselves. Obviously, we aren’t casting and pouring our new countertop and sink, and we’re not molding the tile for the floor one by one, but we’ll be tearing it all out, pulling off the enormous mirror that covers one entire wall (which I am THRILLED to be rid of, thank goodness), ripping up old linoleum, breaking off the gad-awful frosted shower door and throwing away every single piece of brass fixture in the room. When it’s done, the new tile floor will contrast nicely with Antique Blue paint,(formerly dark {DARK} teal green wallpaper <— [ugh] ), the Hollywood light fixture will be in the trash and a much smaller mirror will grace the wall. Plated nickel fixtures will soften the whole room.

Here is the BEFORE shot:
The walls had the same dark teal green of the countertop, which made the room feel so small and closed off. I should have taken a shot of that before we ripped it all off. That brass….. ugh. See that mirror that extends along the entire wall to the shower? That’s going away.   I don’t like that there isn’t a single spot in the bathroom to stand where you can’t see yourself in that mirror.

January is like that. There is renovation everywhere. Changing your life is hard. And it’s forever. The wellness journey I began when I was 33 is now nearly 17 years in process. I’ll never be finished with it. Each year that goes by adds another challenge, or change, to the equation. I’m OK with it. For you, in your process, please be OK that it will take time and a lot of effort, and don’t think that it will be easy. I’ve been often kicking and screaming my way to well-being, burrowing down in my bed making a million excuses why I don’t need to get up and go swimming at 8:00am on a Monday morning. But I only hurt myself when I do that. So I shake out the cobwebs and gather my swim bag. After I’m finished, I’m always, always glad I went.

I made a few decisions about my little space here on the web, too. There are a lot of words inside of me that are clamoring to be heard, and in past years, I’ve been focusing this space on just the foods that pass through my life, and not connecting the food with the thoughts, the life and the faith that also feeds my soul. Everything is entangled in one big web, and all of it is important, and if you come here for the food, you’ll still get that. But there will be so much more, pieces of me that, up until now I’ve pushed aside as irrelevant. There is so much more to feeding ourselves than just putting food in our mouths, and I want to be able to explore all of that.

One last aspect of blogging that I’m completely turning my back on is sponsored posts and product reviews. It seems that every PR company out there wants to send you a pitch for you to post to your blog [for free. Right.]  Why this is considered appropriate, I’ll never know. I’m not a successful blogger by any means, so I don’t get many product offers any longer, and a few that I agreed to try recently ended up being awful, and there was no way I could post about that. I received several wonderful cookbooks at the end of 2013, but never found the time to offer up even a minor review, and that just seems wrong to accept something for free and not give back.  So I’m done. I might talk about a product I love, but it won’t be due to anyone’s urging other than my own. I recall, with a deep sense of disappointment, that there used to be a time when blogging was fun, when it wasn’t all just pitches for products and sidebars jammed with anointed badges trumpeting accomplishment and I really long for that simplicity again.

It may never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I’ve never been one to jump on the blogging bandwagon and be like everyone else. I hope that’s why you continue to come here, for a different, or refreshing perspective. I hope you continue to stop by for a chat.



change and focus

January 17th, 2012 | 7 Comments »

See anything new???

A new year is a good time for change. And a good time for a re-design, whether with your life, or with your blog. I’ve been swerving back and forth over the past year on what the focus of this blog really is, and it’s pretty clear that it’s been changing a lot. It’s gone from strictly recipe focused to opening the door, just a glimpse, in to what goes on in my head, my heart and my life. So it’s really not a food blog any longer. But yet, it still is.

My on-line friend Lisa posted something today that blew me backwards a bit. And when I righted myself, and read it again and again, it sank it’s teeth in to me and held tight. She’s gotten so far away from where her blog had originated that she contemplated shutting it down. {{and haven’t we ALL been there, at least once or twice??}} But then a friend of hers said “This space has become more of a savings account for things you like, rather than purely recipes as it was.”

Well, that’s what blew me backwards because it was exactly what my mind was trying to find in regards to this space of mine. So, in addition to a new, fresh and modern look, with some more muted color schemes, I also changed the tagline of the blog. See it over there on the upper right side? It used to say ‘the evocative fare and delicious stories of a passionate cook’.

Now it just says what this treasured space of mine has become: a blog of food and life. Because when it comes down to it, there is no life without good food. And there is no good food without a richly varied life.

I’ll be updating the Recipe Index a bit more too, but to start, I wiped it clean of really old posts, with recipes that are no longer relevant, and photos that made me cringe. If you go searching my site for a recipe, I want it to be the best one I can offer as that’s the least I can do. And if you ever come across a dead link, please let me know and I’ll set it right again.

We’ve also got icons for my Facebook page if you wish to keep updated on my posts that way, and another one so you can come and hang out with me on Twitter.

Ready for another spectacular year?? I am!!


spiced sweet potato waffles

January 3rd, 2012 | 2 Comments »

January is a good month for waffles. Just the word ‘January’ in the Midwest conjures images of bracing wind, snow whipped sidewalks, scarves and thick mittens. It’s the aftermath of December, a holiday-less month of Winter. Nothing but winter. It needs something to lighten it up a bit, to warm us against the long dark months ahead.

My most favorite Buttermilk Cornmeal Waffle was born in January, bringing it’s crunchy warmth to a bitterly cold sub-zero day, just about 2 years ago. I’ve relied on that waffle recipe without question, reaching for it time and again to stir myself to face Winter’s white bite, to fill me with the gumption to dress for a day that rattles the windows like an angry giant. Our December was so uncharacteristic for Minnesota; unseasonable warmth, no snow and mild temperatures. We celebrated Christmas without a trace of snowflakes, then came New Years Eve, and rain began to fall, quickly changing over to the fattest, wettest flakes I’ve seen in ages, and by the time the sun rose on 2012, it looked a bit more like January should, and it felt like it too. Waffles needed to bridge the gap between the past year, and the start of this one. But not just any old waffle.

That burnished beauty isn’t exactly showing off it’s best in the photo, but that plain looking waffle is hiding a rich, spicy secret; cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, mingling with tiny chunks of tender sweet potato. A bit of inspiration, and an urge to start off the New Year with more than just the same old waffle, I reached for a container of cooked squash, opened the spice cabinet and crossed my fingers. The scent rising from the steaming waffle iron was heady and enticing; the first bite, amazing. Tangy with buttermilk, hearty with wheat flour and altogether a knock-out way to start 2012, this will definitely be on ‘Repeat’ for the remainder of Winter, whether it chooses to snow like crazy as it did last year, or remain mercilessly un-winter-like, there is one thing for sure; bellies will need filling, and this is the key that slips perfectly in to place.

Spiced Sweet Potato Waffles

3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. AP flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cardamom
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 T. sugar (or honey would work too)
1-1/2 c. buttermilk (I like to use vanilla soymilk, and add two tablespoon vanilla yogurt for tang)
2 eggs
1/3 c. neutral flavored oil, such as rapeseed or canola
1 c. cooked mashed sweet potato or other cooked squash

In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat flour, AP flour, powder, soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. If using honey, add that to the wet ingredients.

In a separate medium sized bowl, add the buttermilk, eggs, oil and squash. Whisk until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and gently fold together using a rubber spatula. Be sure to scrape across the bottom of the bowl to mix thoroughly. Do not overmix the batter. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. You’ll see bubbles form on the batter. Don’t stir it anymore.

Bake waffles according to your individual waffle maker. Mine makes 8″ round waffles, and I used 1/3 c. batter per waffle. This recipe made 6-8 waffles.

The original recipe used for this batter comes from The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham.

workin’ it in 2011

January 3rd, 2011 | 2 Comments »

Resolutions aren’t my thing. If there is positive change to be made in life, and let’s face it, there always is, then it should be ongoing and daily, with a intended eye toward a paradigm shift that is realistic, and works best for you. And if that happens in January, or March or even September, than it’s better than not happening at all. So be kind to yourself, and gradually allow for the time needed to make whatever positive shift you wish to make in your life. What it boils down to is that you’re creating new habits, and these take time to stick, to become something that you just do and don’t think about. It won’t happen in a day, and likely not in a month. So please… if there is an agenda in your life for your new year ahead, tread slowly, be present with it and allow for your life to sometimes get in the way.

Because you’re the only one who can.

I’m looking ahead for 2011, dreaming of new foods to explore and share with you all, trying to negotiate my way through some ideas to start out the year with and finding myself a touch unmotivated. There is a lot going on in my head, and I’m trying to draw it all out and make sense of it. This happens to me, this information overload. I’m faced with fresh promise and 12 months stretching on endlessly ahead of me and it’s like a new notebook or a unread book. I’ve got a few ideas to start, and a thought about how to get it out and organized, so please stick with me. I’ll have something for you in time, and as always, it should be delicious. And if there’s anything you wish to see on this blog, feel free to let me know as I’m always open to other suggestions. Who knows? It might help push me over this creative slump that I find myself in.


December 31st, 2009 | 17 Comments »

For all the angst that entered my life in 2009, the accidents and stress and overall sense of “What the….?” that occurred, this year that I will happily forget has ended on a pretty high note.

Let me introduce my newest niece Sara.

She made her entrance with one day remaining in 2009, and we have been eagerly awaiting her arrival. She is the tiny little sister of Nina, a well-known face on this blog.

As for all that went before, well….I’m happy to walk away from this past year, to drop a match into the midst of it all and bid it farewell. There have been monumental lessons learned in a gripping and tough-love sort of way; I’ve not been very good at keeping my perspective positive and genial, but in looking back, the one thing that keeps coming forefront to my thoughts is that I survived it all and came out today, December 31st, generally unscathed. And with a deep sense of humility.

These past few months I have done a lot more looking inward. And plenty of gazing through a camera lens. I’ve found so much beauty that I’ve failed to notice before. In 2010, I look forward to enjoying this more. I’m pretty simple in my photo-taking life. There’s my basic point and shoot digital, and I’ve discovered that the iPhone camera, while it does have limitations, can be relied upon to capture some rather dramatic and stunning images. Like this one:

And this one:

And that really, it isn’t about what kind of camera, the amount of money, a lens that is above all others….what it comes down to is that when you lift it to your eye, the world opens up and you click the shutter at just the precise moment to capture life happening around you. This is one of my goals for 2010: Project 365. A photo a day for the entire year. Keep your eyes open for it.

I don’t make resolutions. They’ve always failed me, or maybe I just am a failure at them. This coming year is more about stepping up, being present, lifting my head and accepting grace. I think I may have fretted a bit more in the past year, fought against the tide and been resentful of being in a place that I didn’t feel I deserved. What I didn’t do, and should have, was stop and really examine where I was, and maybe think about the fact that it probably was just what I needed, and yet wasn’t willing to realize. Even in our trials, and through very, very dark times that seemed like they were endless and painful, the most amazing of life’s moments shone right through. And I often refused to even look at them. I spent too much time focused on the darkness and that just can’t happen anymore.

So 2010 has potential- like the seeds of a milkweed. All new beginnings do, and we shouldn’t wait until a new year to make subtle and lasting change happen. Why not November? Or July? And when we resort to being human, and we make mistakes, why not be soft and forgiving to ourselves, get back up and start a new day again, with a fresh perspective? Last November, right around Thanksgiving, I decided that I was tired of being heavy and out of shape. I embarked on a plan that I’ve stuck to the entire last year. I’ve lost 20 pounds and almost three pants sizes. It wasn’t a resolution, but a serious lifestyle change. And during the past year, if I faltered, skipped some workouts or simply felt unmotivated, I allowed myself to be all right with it. And so should you, with whatever personal gain you take on this year. The perspective, and the journey is often far more important than the goal, and I hope you don’t lose sight of that like I did this past year.

“It’s been a long December, and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last”

Happy Blue Moon New Year’s Eve, everyone. May many blessings, much love and gentle peace be yours in the year ahead.