Sunday, June 30, 2013

Relaxing Music for Sunday, Nature Sounds with Piano

Today, I wanted some piano and found some mixed with nature sounds. Perfect, after spending much of the weekend outdoors doing this and that.

This music video is performed by pianist Tziv Erez. It is titled Tranquility, Time Solitaire.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Better Garden Salad

A recipe for salad? You betcha. Along with a highly encouraged nudge to visit your local farmer's market to browse, nibble, sample, and pick up some of these wonderful tidbits to go into your guaranteed, bonafide delectable, splashy, full-of-color garden green salad! What do I have in this one?

red romaine (a new variety I can't remember the name of)
baby spinach
baby Swiss chard
red leaf lettuce
baby green leaf lettuce
baby beet greens (this is what you "weed out" when thinning your beets that may be growing in the garden, but they are extremely tasty and in demand, so savvy farmers now offer them for sale)
snipped baby beets (Why waste the root that you would otherwise eat when it's bigger?)
snipped chives
fresh parsley
fresh mint
dried cranberries
crumbled feta cheese
fresh black ground pepper
balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing

Of course, you can add whatever is available and in season from your own local market, like shaved fennel root or snipped fennel tops. But I encourage you to try something new. Fennel was a new thing for me that I tried a couple weeks ago, but my source was out of it by the time I got to the market this past weekend.

How did I come to be inspired to create, let alone write about what some may otherwise overlook as a common table food? Because I am lucky enough to be a year-round teacher for some special students. In the summer I teach an environmental science class, and during our unit on agricultural resources I always schedule in a field trip to some local farms. Bill Masslich and his wife Penny own a small organic farm named First Frost Farm. I've known Bill for more than 20 years. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Cache Valley, and I can whole-heartedly say that he is one of the best guys I have ever known. His sincerity and honesty and goodness just emanate from within. My students always pick up on this, and always become immediately enamored with him as soon as they meet him. Without a doubt our annual field trip to his farm is always a favorite. And even though I've known Bill for many years, and have talked to him many times about gardening and growing vegetables, I always learn something new.

The most important thing that my students and I take away from our annual visit is that local farms are important. They are vital to communities. They are vital to local economies. They are vital to our health and survival. Good agricultural land is disappearing too quickly. Healthy produce (that won't make you sick, as in recent headlines) is vital to local consumers. People want to know where their food comes from, who grows it, who takes care of the land. Farmers like Bill and Penny at First Frost Farm are doing just that, and we should do our best to support them. So visit your local market and scoop up what's in season. Ask about what you can do to grow your own produce. You don't need a whole lot of space, and local farmers are always more than happy to offer ideas on how to do it, and well as ideas on how to cook whatever they are offering.

For example, this past weekend, Penny talked me into trying fresh mustard greens. She chuckled when I asked her what to do with them. But per her suggestions, I brought them home and sautéed them with butter and fresh scapes of garlic (another new hot item which you can also get right now at your local farmers market). It was quick, easy, and delish!

Just like me, you'll walk away inspired to eat better, and feel great about supporting your local community and the people who are working to preserve the heart of it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Life as a Lumberjack and its Recipe for Omelets in a Bag!

One of the things I love about summer is being able to find quiet times where I can sit in the shade while the sun beams down around me and read a book, especially if it is a cute book--one that makes me laugh, one that takes me elsewhere, and one that I immediately want to share with the other readers in my life, like my daughter and my YA book-loving friends. My Life as a Lumberjack (or How I Fell for the Wrong Guys) meets all of these expectations. It's a fun-tastic read that took me to the heart of an adventure set in the mountains of Northern Utah. Plus, I've got a recipe to go with it! "Omelets in a Bag" is hot off the press (or the pen), from the Lumberjack author herself, Sara V. Olds.
Whether or not you're up for making an omelet lumberjack-style, I'm highly recommending that you add this fun book to the TOP of your "Must Read Summer List!"
And there's another plus! Since this book is currently on tour, we've got a contest that you can enter to win cool prizes, like a copy of My Life as a Lumberjack! Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

 So buckle your seatbelt! Wrap yourself up in that apron you know you've got tucked in a kitchen drawer, or go out and kindle that fire. Here we go!

Omelets in a Bag
Pre-cooked bacon or ham
Shredded Cheese
Salt and pepper
Quart-sized freezer zip bags
multi-quart pot
cutting board
Dawn Dish Detergent
  Before using the cooking pot, smear a thin layer of Dawn on the outside of the pot—it will make it easier to clean up and keep it from staining in the fire. Fill the pot about one-half to three-quarters full of water. Set on heat source (fire or propane burner) to boil. Chop fresh ingredients while water is coming to a boil. (If this is for your first breakfast in camp, your ingredients could already be prepared if you thought ahead to pack them in so they're ready to use).
  With a partner, break eggs at least two—into one of the freezer bags, then add all other ingredients as desired and squish up eggs in the bag to mix. Squeeze as much air out of the plastic bag as possible (**VERY important!).  Zip and drop flattened bag into boiling water. It WILL expand! Boil for 2 to 3 minutes and fish the bag (or bags) out, using your tongs. Carefully empty your eggs onto a plate and eat! Use the boiling water that remains for hot chocolate or tea. Use the hot leftover water for cleaning any dishes.
(Isn't that so smart?!)
Who is brave enough to try?

Author Sara V. Olds

Visit Sara's website here
Find Sara on Facebook here

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Music for Sunday

My daughter introduced me to Boyce Avenue that does acoustic covers of popular songs, some with upcoming young artists. Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" is done here with Alex Goot. I think he has a really unique, yet cool voice.

Boyce Avenue is already hugely popular. I'm not even sure if they can be called "Indie." But nevertheless, they do a lot of acoustic covers with other new artists, so it's neat to see who may be about to break out on the scene. Plus, if you like Boyce Avenue's vibe, they are going on a Pacific Coast tour this fall.

One other artist that caught my ear in one of Boyce Avenue's videos was Megan Nicole. I love her voice. So pure and crystal clear. I loved her take on Skyscraper by Demi Lavato. Both of these singers, Alex Goot and Megan Nicole, have their own channels on YouTube.

Here you go. Have a great Sunday (it's Father's Day!), and enjoy some Indie Music surfing!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Music for Sunday

Today I'm sharing "Clouds" by Zach Sobeich.

My youngest son introduced me to this song. It is one of his favorites that he has saved on his phone. The story of Zach inspired him, and I'm touched that he shared it with me.

Zach was diagnosed with cancer about four years ago. Facing this disease, he tackled a bucket list, so to speak, and lived his life to the fullest. One of the things he accomplished was to become a successful singer and song writer. Clouds is one of his songs. You can also check out more of his songs, like Sandcastles and Fix Me Up, and his story on YouTube. His story is tremendous. Be sure to bring tissues. It did make me cry.

Zach left this world about three weeks ago. Without a doubt, he and his talent will be missed.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Better Rhubarb Pie?

We're about at the end of rhubarb season here in Utah, but just in case you happen to be lucky enough to snag a handful of tart stems and are wondering what you might do with them, I'm going to tempt you into trying what I'm calling a "Better Rhubarb Pie."

Why? Because this recipe comes from grandma, of course, and who else would have a recipe that I could say is BETTER than anything that is already out in this big yonder world?

Yes, I know we all have grandmas.

And we all have favorite recipes from grandmas.

So if you happen to already possess a favorite, better recipe for rhubarb pie from your own grandma, then I'll simply say this: Here Is Another Rhubarb Pie Recipe Worthy of Trying.

Doesn't it look pretty?

And different?

That's because this recipe happens to have a sweet custard base for the filling. Kind of like pudding. Remember Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie? Ring a bell? No?

Sorry, I digress. Let me just say that these two great tastes go great together. Rest assured, I get yearly requests for this pie from people that are not members of my own family. Some have even crossed state lines for it (at least when I put gooseberries in it, which taste just like rhubarb when they're baked). So, it's good. At least, I have always liked to think so. Enjoy!

Better Rhubarb Pie

3 cups chopped rhubarb
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Line a 9 inch pie pan with pastry, then set in fridge to keep cool while prepping batter.

Mix eggs, sugar, flour, nutmeg, milk, and cornstarch together in a large bowl. Stir in rhubarb.

Pour batter into the pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and dot with butter. Cool. Chill. Serve.