Thursday, October 29, 2009

Possibly the World's Best Trail Mix

Next time you are making preparations to head for the great outdoors, make it a family affair to mix and package your own nutritious and energizing trail mix for your journey. If you find that anyone in your clan has an allergy to any one of the ingredients listed below, simple adjust the ingredients accordingly; select non-allergic alternative(s).

Here is Prevention Magazine's The World's Best Trail Mix:
Our exotic blend is low in calories, helps energize, and curbs hunger. Try this trail mix recipe for a delicious and healthy snack.
1. Dried Cherries (1/4 cup)
Picked from orchards in the Great Lakes region, cherries have twice as many antioxidants as red grapes and may help fight arthritis.
Try: Welch's Dried Cherries; supermarkets

2. Brazil Nuts (6 nuts, halved)
The seed of a giant South American Amazon tree, each "nut" contains 10 times the recommended intake of selenium, a mineral with heart-helping antioxidants.
Try: Whole Foods Market Raw Brazil Nuts; Whole Foods stores

3. Dried Yacon (1/4 cup)
This Peruvian-grown vegetable looks and tastes like a dried Granny Smith apple. It's high in cancer-fighting flavonoids and digestion-promoting chlorogenic acid.
Try: Navitas Naturals Raw Dried Yacon Slices; Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe stores

4. Dried Goji Berries (1/4 cup)
This tart Chinese fruit (think cranberry meets green tea) provides 18 amino acids, which help maintain and repair body cells.
Try: Woodstock Farms Natural Goji Berries; grocery and health food stores

5. Cacao Nibs (1/4 cup)
Grown in the rain forests of Ecuador and Peru, this raw chocolate has up to four times the flavonoids of more processed varieties, helping to lower blood pressure. Chocolate-covered nibs are sweeter.
Try: Natural Zing Raw Organic Cacao Nibs;; Dagoba Organic Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs; select health food stores

6. Jungle Peanuts (1/4 cup)
From the Ecuadorian Amazon, these soft and meaty nuts are a good source of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat recently linked to cancer prevention.
Try: Sunfood Nutrition Organic Wild Amazonian Jungle Peanuts;

Trail mix recipe nutritional info per 1/4 cup (makes 6 servings): 146 cal, 3 g pro, 17 g carb, 7.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg chol, 3 g fiber, 14 mg sodium

Since I am not always able to find all the above-mentioned ingredients like Cacao Nibs, Jungle Peanuts and Yacon, I create a similar mixture of nuts and dried fruits, which can include any or all of the following: apple-sweetened cranberries, organic dried apples, banana chips, apricots, raw cashews, almonds, pecans, dark chocolate.... I bag individual portions to carry baggies of them in my car for energy snacks in between meals and to take along on walks.

What do you put in your family's favorite trail mix?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder

Nature Deficit Disorder is a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, refers to the alleged trend that children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems. Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of the screen.
It appears that these capped crusaders are thoroughly enjoying the freedom they've been granted to explore the natural surroundings in the Mount Pisgah Arboretum, with family and friends nearby learning about hunting and cooking wild mushrooms and sampling the fare at the Mushroom Festival village.

I came upon these two lads playing together under the woodland canopy, leaping and flying about in what appears to be a dry streambed layered in fallen leaves, which softened their repeated and otherwise hard rocky landings.


Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events of their lives. - Thomas Berry

Mock Balsamic Vinegar and Jeera Lassi

The aromas coming from the kitchen were incredible. My pre-holiday test-run to try out these dishes was not without its challenges. While enjoying the warm notes of the smoky Provolone wafting from the kitchen as the strata baked, I took time out to defrag from a couple of glitches during preparation.

In the course of preparing dinner, I discovered (1) that my blender’s bearing was shot, leaking some of the swirling yogurt mixture all over the counter top as a metallic gray slurry, having run down through the motor first; (2) this is also the first time our fillet of sole came with its tough gray skin and spiny bones attached. My husband only noticed the topsides while making his selection at the fish market. Problems out of the way and resolved: blender in the recycle bin, fish recipe revised to accommodate two people who are not the least up to spending the next hour removing skin and bones, all ended well. The commingling of aromas kept us in a mood of great anticipation... and we weren't disappointed. Great meal!

Jeera Lassi is a traditional drink in India made by blending dry-roasted cumin seeds, yogurt, water and salt and pepper to taste. Especially with spicy foods, this beverage refreshes your palate between bites. Garnished with mint and roasted cumin.

Christmas Fish is a holiday entree meant to be presented as stuffed, rolled fillets sprinkled liberally with red paprika. Here you see that I spread the stuffing over the top of the sole fillets and baked according to the directions. This worked out quite well; much less work than rolling the fillets around loose stuffing.

Dinner this evening was an infusion of textures and flavors from four recipes taken from both of my Cooking Course Challenge books. The Christmas Fish is found on page136, Shilpa’s Roasted Beets on page 96 and Jeera Lassa on page 207 of the Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet; Asparagus and Provolone Cheese Strata is found on page 156 of The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen.

Asparagus and Provolone Cheese Strata can be prepared a day ahead. Chill 3 hours or overnight before baking.

Shilpa's Roasted Beets first marinate in Mock Balsamic Vinegar, combined with garlic, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. This is now my favorite way to prepare beets. No boiling or peeling necessary. Delicious served hot or cold.

How to make Mock Balsamic Vinegar:


3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon honey


Mix all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes longer. Let the vinegar cool. Refrigerates well for up to 2 weeks. Yields 1/2 cup.

Because the beets cook for an hour at 400 degrees, the strata for 45 minutes at 325 degrees and the fish for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, I baked the strata first, then increased the temperature, roasting the beets for a half hour, placing the fish on the lower rack to bake for the last 30 minutes without adjusting the temperature. The fish was moist and tender; not overcooked. I kept the strata hot in my warming drawer until the other two dishes were ready to serve.


Here's how to make Jeera Lassi:

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste ( I used cayenne)
  • Ice, optional
  • Mint sprigs and roasted cumin seeds for garnish
  1. Dry-roast the cumin seeds in a small pan, without oil, over medium heat.
  2. Stir seeds until they brown; do not burn.
  3. Set a few seeds aside for garnish.
  4. In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the ice and mint.
  5. Chill or pour into glasses and add ice. 
  6. Garnish with mint and cumin seeds.
Serving size: one 10 ounce glass


"A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen and this kitchen is delirious." Anon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cooking with Shrooms

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

My friend Jacqueline recently shared this recipe with me, which turns out to be the same Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe I have from Rain Forest Mushroom Company, except theirs calls for a mix of wild mushrooms.  I've needed to get over my discomfort with the notion that cooking with mushrooms picked in the wild is "a dangerous fare". This past weekend was the perfect opportunity to take the wild mushroom challenge. I'm hooked.

Homemade Mushroom Soup 101 Wonderful!

While I took a break from cooking Friday evening, my husband spent 40 minutes in the kitchen making us this absolutely delicious creamy mushroom soup; vegetarian and gluten-free. He served it up in deep bowls with slices of fresh-baked bread for himself and gluten-free bread for me to sop up the rich and flavorful broth. Here's Cliff's version of the recipe:


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 cups chopped onions

  • 1 pound fresh white cap mushrooms, sliced (or mix: shiitake, maitake, oyster...)

  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

  • 1 tablespoon wheat-free soy sauce (or regular)

  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock)

  • 1 cup milk

  • 3 tablespoons almond flour (or all-purpose flour)

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • cayenne pepper, to taste (or ground black pepper)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Melt the unsalted butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour the mixture into the soup and stir until it's well-blended. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Finally, stir in the sea salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow the soup to heat through over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve while hot. 
  4. Option: garnish with a dollop of sour cream and paprika. Serves 6 or 2-4 very hungry people.

Then on Sunday afternoon, we attended the Mushroom Festival and Plant Sale sponsored by the Cascade Mycological Society and Lane Community College at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum in Eugene.

Human Shroom ticket-takers at the footbridge. 

First things first, cast our vote in the Scarecrow Contest.

Kimby and Jade Maxson pose with their Spider entry,
which won "Best Overall" in the Scarecrow Contest.

Field to Table sauteed mushrooms (sans the penne pasta) and LCC Culinary School mushroom stroganoff in phyllo bowl.

We bought several bags of wild mushrooms, including
chantrelles, shiitake, maitake and oyster; 3 for $10.

We also came away with some excellent mushroom recipes.
More Mushroom Recipes on the Cascade Mycological Society website.

Last night, I used two bags of the mixed wild mushrooms I bought at the mushroom festival for a saute that will serve 2-4. This recipe really brings out the flavor of the mushrooms. Delish!


  • 1/2 pound of shiitake, oyster and maitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
  • Sea salt and cayenne (or black pepper) to taste
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Light sprinkling of garlic salt, to taste
  1. Clean mushrooms by gently brushing away any residue with a damp paper towel.
  2. Cut of any tough stems and discard. If mushrooms are large, cut into bite-size pieces, following the shape of the mushroom.
  3. Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and saute for about 3 minutes. 
  4. When liquid is released, raise heat to high and saute, tossing often for another 2 minutes.
  5. When liquid is nearly evaporated, add shallots and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender. Add parsley and tarragon or chives. 
  6. Taste. Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve hot.

 Cooking from Raman Prasad's Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet on page133, I made Nafisa's Spicy Fried Fish with halibut and served it with red Himalayan rice and the sauteed mushrooms. Magnifique!

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound firm fish fillets, such as sole, halibut or bass
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
  1. Combine lime juice, chili powder, turmeric and salt in bowl large enough to hold fish fillets.
  2. Coat the fish on all sides and marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Place fish in skillet and cook until the bottom is done; about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Turn the fish over and cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the fillets reach a crisp consistency and the fish is firm.
  6. Garnish with wedge of lime. Serves 3-4.
Get yourself some wild mushrooms, invite some friends over and have your own Mushroom Fest!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gluten-Free Pecan Pie Crust

My planned visit to see my granddaughter and introduce her to Knox Blocks was waylaid when a Realtor called to schedule an appointment to bring her clients out to view our property in a couple of  hours. So, about the same time our home was being shown to potential buyers, I met up with my daughter in town to give Sephira her tray of orange "jigglers". She's going to share them with her cousin Max this weekend. 

Effie had a treat for me, too. She had made a pumpkin pie for a friend, but with a little of the filling left over she poured it into an oiled ramekin with a gluten-free "crust" of pecan bits, and baked it just for me. Effie and Sephira delivered their pumpkin dessert to me chilled with a side of whipping cream and a fork. Maybe it was the element of surprise, or that it was a very fall-ish sort of day, or the fact I hadn't eaten breakfast and it  way beyond breakfast time, or that I was sitting alone in my car in the parking lot of my allergist's office and didn't have to share it with anyone else... I devoured every bite of it in bliss! I wish I had a picture of it to show you. It was Yum! Loved the pecan crust! Here is the recipe Effie used from the back of the Santiam Classic Fancy Golden Pumpkin can. 


1 can Santiam Pumpkin, pureed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups white sugar (we did 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown)
2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg or allspice (we did 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. allspice)


Preheat oven to 425F. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Blend in beaten eggs and milk. Pour into unbaked pie shells. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350F and bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center come out clean.
Bake as instructed above. Recipe makes 2 nine-inch pies.

For Pecan Ramekin Tarts:
Spray casserole ramekin dish with cooking oil. Sprinkle pecan pieces into bottom of dish. Pour pumpkin pie filling over pecans. 

Here is another way to make a gluten-free pecan crust. This particular recipe was created for a raw vegan pumpkin-less pumpkin pie. I plan to make and bake this crust with Effie's baked pumpkin pie recipe this Thanksgiving, using all organic ingredients.

Pecan Crust as shared by Melissa Breyer


2 1/4 cups pecans, soaked overnight and dehydrated for 24 hours
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon date paste
1 pinch sea salt


  1. Place prepared pecans in food processor; pulse into small crumbs.
  2. Mix pecans and all remaining ingredients together well by hand.
  3. Press into plastic (or parchment) lined 9-inch tart pan to desired thickness. Dehydrate 48 hours.
  4. Chill crust in freezer for 15-30 minutes before filling. If not using all of the crust mixture, store extra in a container in the freezer.


1/2 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons carrot juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

  1. Blend all ingredients in a basic, heavy duty blender until very smooth.
  2. Fill tart crust and chill in freezer overnight. 
  3. Remove pie from tart pan and cut into 12 even slices and serve, or wrap each slice in parchment and store in refrigerator.
Adapted from the great raw cookbook Everyday Raw (Gibbs Smith, 2008) by Matthew Kenney

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ridiculous, Insanely Wasteful Products

Back in the early 80's, I bought for our family what I thought was a pretty nifty kitchen accessory, the revolutionary Tuna Turner by Hoan with Charlie Tuna pitching "Perfect every time!".

We parted with our underwhelming Tuna Turner in a garage sale shortly after our one-and-only experience; not only hand-cranking our acrylic and steel Tuna Turner filled to the top with a slurry of mayonnaise, mustard, dill, celery, onion, pickle, tuna and hard-boiled egg, but the ridiculous, labor intensive effort it took to clean up afterward.  So much for the claims of "Quick & Easy," "No Fork- No Mess!"

Twenty-five years later, my husband searched and found this Tuna Turner in mint condition on eBay and bought it, which I consider wasteful spending, but at least he's never used it. Being the quirky guy that he is, he saw the value in collecting what he considers should be on the Top 10 list of Mother of  All Labor-Increasing Devices, designed by an engineer with no comprehension of its use that can be replaced by a fork.

To give honor where honor is due, today I entered my photo of The Tuna Turner into Huffington Post's: "No Impact Week: The Most Ridiculous, Wasteful, Consumer Product Ever!"

Huffington Post - "A major theme throughout No Impact Week has been consumption, and how much we buy (and waste!) that is unnecessary. Here at HuffPost Green we've been thinking a lot about consumerism, and in the spirit of cutting back, we thought it was worth highlighting some of the most insane and unnecessary products out there right now. An automatic spinning ice cream cone, an avocado slicer, and a snuggie for your puppy... some of the products created and sold in this country are truly ludicrous and unnecessary. Be sure to vote for the most outrageous offender.

However, we know that we've only reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of wasteful product that are out there. HuffPost Green would love to see these crazy products that you've come across (through website screenshots) or even have around your house."
What can you think of, or actually own, that is a Tuna Turner-ish insanely wasteful product? Share it here, share it on Huffington Post.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Roasted Ling Cod, Mexican Rice and a Thankful Heart

Today turned out to be one in which I eventually ran out of emotional and physical energy, yet I was hoping to gather enough steam to cook a couple more dishes from my Cooking Course Challenge cookbooks. I almost opted for cheese, crackers and organic soup from a box. Instead, my husband gave me a much needed shoulder massage and poured me a glass of wine as I set to work in the kitchen to make us dinner.  I regrouped, relaxed, and it was well worth the effort. We sat down to a lovely meal and gave thanks to the Lord. Every bite was deliciously rewarding.

Tonight’s fare was Roasted Ling Cod (recipe calls for bass) with Parsley Butter from Raman Prasad’s Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet from page 135, served with lightly steamed spinach and Mexican Rice from page 140 of Donna Klein’s The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen.

Here’s Prasad’s recipe for Parsley Butter:

4 tablespoons of butter, softened
1-1/2 tablespoons almond flour
2 shallots, minced
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 limes, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the almond flour, shallots, garlic, parsley, lime juice and softened butter in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. I substituted cayenne for black pepper.

This savory butter would be excellent with any grilled, roasted or baked fish and can be made in advance, by storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Before using, allow the butter to soften.

I have to say that the hearty, perfectly seasoned Mexican Rice was the best I have ever eaten, anywhere, ever. The house was fragrant with the pungent aroma of chili powder, cumin and garlic slow cooking together with stewed tomatoes, green pepper and onion with rice. From now on, I will cook this rice dish anytime we have a Mexican-themed meal or potluck with family and friends.

Cuanto más gratitud que tenemos, más tenemos que ser agradecidos para.
The more gratitude we have, the more we have to be grateful for.

Knox Blocks aka Jello Jigglers

I'm making my granddaughter Knox Blocks tonight, so I can take them with me when I go to visit tomorrow. When her mama Effie Ana and her older sister Skye Rianna were little girls, we loved to make Knox Blocks, also known as Jello Jigglers. We also made them for their summertime birthday parties, because Jigglers could sit out all afternoon as playful finger-food without melting.

Photo Update: Seph shares Knox Blocks with her cousin Max.

Curious to see what the world looks like through a Jiggler.

Try reading Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss to your kids with your cheeks stuffed with Knox Blocks. This excerpt will get you started:


Knox in box.
Fox in socks.

Knox on fox in socks in box.

Socks on Knox and Knox in box.

Fox in socks on box on Knox....
The Knox Blocks recipes I found on offer some variations.


4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
3 pkg. 3 oz. flavored gelatin
4 cups boiling water

Combine Knox, gelatin, water and chill in refrigerator until set. May cut in squares or use cookie cutters to have more fun!

Double Decker: Add 3 cups water, 1 cup cream.
Fruity Blocks: Add 2 packages flavored gelatin, 1 cup (17 ounce) fruit cocktail, undrained.

Prefer to make sugar-free Knox Blocks?


4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold fruit juice
3 cups fruit juice, heated to boiling

In a bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold juice; let stand 1 minute. Add hot juice and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into 9 x 13 inch pan. Chill until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares.

How about this recipe. I never thought of making Chocolate Knox Blocks. How fun!


4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. sugar
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips

In medium saucepan, mix gelatin with sugar; blend in water. Let stand 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved; about 5 minutes. Add chocolate and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. With wire whip or rotary beater, beat mixture until chocolate is blended. Pour into an 8" or 9" pan. Chill until firm. Cut into 1" squares. Yield: about 6 dozen blocks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recipe for "Sense of Wonder" Pie

One of the reasons I love the movie Waitress is the song Jenna sings to her toddler Lulu with the words "Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle...gonna make a pie from heaven above, gonna be filled with strawberry love... gonna make a pie, and hold you forever in the middle of my heart".  

Thinking about the end of the movie, I got to thinking about the contrast between the life Jenna had before giving birth to her baby girl, fraught with unhappiness, threats and fear, compared to the new life she created for Lulu and herself filled with love and wonder.  Then I got to thinking about all those pies that Jenna made and the crazy names she gave them, which got me thinking about her recipes, which got me to thinking about what  ingredients would go into a "Sense of Wonder" pie? 

According to Dr. Peter Haiman, a sense of wonder is a key ingredient in the life of every newborn infant, saying that "Wonder is possible when children are free from threats and fears."

If we were to make a "Sense of Wonder" pie, then... imagine Dr. Haiman as a pastry chef and this is his recipe: 

"Here are some ideas of how parents can provide an atmosphere in which wonder can flourish in children. A sense of wonder is created, nourished, and sustained when:

  • Sensitive parents react in a prompt, responsible, and satisfying way to the voiced and unvoiced needs of their children.
  • Children are well-fed, rested, and allowed ample opportunity to run, jump, ride, climb, and play.
  • Parents have lovingly held and cuddled their child in ways and amounts that addict not only the child but the parent to their mutual comfort and joy.
  • The child feels secure in the child-satisfying love and attention of her parents.
  • Parents and other adults who are models for the child regularly show their surprise, interest, and attraction to the natural world and its happenings - from the movements of a worm, the wag of a dog's tail, bubbles popping in a bath, the shadow cast by the sun, and a spider's web, to the mold on an old slice of bread.
  • Parents and other adults close to the daily life of the child interact with the child and her world from evident interest, spontaneous humor, and joy.
  • Parents encourage children to freely experiment, taste, feel, hear, see, explore, and get into things that are interesting and safe.
  • Parents show their pleasure and delight and create novelty in what otherwise would be life's daily mundane chores and routines.
  • Children see and hear their parents become engaged and responsively enlivened when doing such things as reading a story and playing or listening to music.
  • Children safely and playfully enact the stories in their imaginations or the imaginations of creative, empathetic parents.
  • Children notice that their parents let themselves get lost in the fun and creativity of play.
  • Parents find something good about the mistakes children will make as they grow and learn.
  • Parents are flexible enough to postpone their planned activities from time to time and let a child's creative idea or direction lead the way.
  • Children are encouraged to voice their emotions and to talk about their hurts and fears with attentive, responsive parents.
  • Children can choose play activities based on their own feelings of interest and boredom and not the decisions of another person.
  • The efforts of young children are regularly encouraged and prized. Children's sense of wonder is damaged and grows weak if their efforts are often met by adult corrections and criticism.

"Wonder becomes possible when children can risk being themselves without there being any risk at all."
Excerpted from Developing a Sense of Wonder in Young Children as posted on The Natural Child Project.

Richard Louv's "Sense of Wonder" pie ingredients are... "The earlier the better. Three and four seems to be a time when that sense of wonder comes alive." Author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder ( a favorite book of mine)

"Reducing that deficit—healing the broken bond between our young and nature—is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends upon it. The health of the earth is at stake as well. How the young respond to nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the configurations and conditions of our cities, homes—our daily lives."
Excerpted from Last Child in the Woods.

Rachel Carson's "Sense of Wonder" pie ingredients are...

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

 "A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy, who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from sources of our strength." Carson, Rachel. The Sense of Wonder. New York: Harper & Row, 1956.
I highly recommend the movie Sense of Wonder about Rachel Carson.

If we want to hold our children forever in the middle of our hearts, then part of loving them  to that depth of heart is to encourage their inborn sense of wonder and love for their creator, so  that we  enjoy a healthy, life-affirming bond with them. Our nurturing puts the joyful responsibility on us to model  a lifelong relationship with God through Jesus Christ and an appreciation and respect for His creation, so that they will mature holding the beauty of God's diverse and magnificent natural world in the middle of their hearts, too... with a growing capacity to lovingly care for all that God has created.
A scriptural ingredient...
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. " Proverbs 22:6
It was such a joy to take our 13-month old granddaughter on a walkabout this past weekend with her Mama and Dada, giving her  opportunity to explore Le Roost Lorane, and meet our neighbor's crowing "doo-dle" and fat cackling hens,  their gentle horse and frisky pony, and  a cute"itty" that hopped about like a bunny. Sephira jumped about in the crunchy autumn leaves, her Papa raked up for her to play in,  swishing them about and offering us samples, and swinging beneath the fiery red maple tree as we looked around at everything lively and arrayed in fall colors. Here are some of our precious moments experiencing her sense of wonder... slices of our "Sense of Wonder" pie...


Until the next time we go on another Le Roost Lorane walkabout, we hope you enjoy creating your own "Sense of Wonder" pie and will share a slice or two with us.

Check out my "Quiching in the Dark" Pie made with chanterelles gathered from our walk in the woods near our home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playful Teasing with Food

This is a really fascinating phenomenon to observe. Starting anywhere from five months of age on, babies discover on their own how to tease an adult by offering a toy or some kind of food, only to pull it away to make a teasing game out of it. Playful teasing. It becomes increasingly amusing for the baby as he or she repeats the gesture, especially if the adult’s reaction is amusing. Watch as our granddaughter Sephira, the day before she turns 13-months old, discovers that she can tease her grandpa as she offers him goldfish crackers from her cup.

Fishin' for Papas

Great Friends, Local Wine and Spicy Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Rice and Mint Gremolata

Every year Chateau Lorane Winery hosts a fall wine club party at their tasting room overlooking Chateau Lorane's Lake Louise. Our friends the Stavers, also wine club members, took us as their guests. Roger scored, winning a bottle of Merlot for making the closest guesstimate of the weight of one of two giant pumpkins that greeted us. I believe it weighed 103 pounds!

Living less than two miles from the winery, we returned to our place for dinner. Although it was a busy afternoon, with very little time to prepare our meal in advance (a little over an hour), I got busy cooking up Donna Klein's The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen Moroccan Vegetable Stew made with scallions, carrots, chickpeas, tomatoes, peas and onions and spinach, served with rice (steamed with turmeric), while my husband set to work making the Mint Gremolata garnish to top the stew. Recipes are on page 47 and 48. I doubled everything but the salt, and  tripled the crushed red pepper flakes, cinnamon, ginger and coriander. Glad I did; made our taste buds happy!

I also had everything ready to go and chilling in the refrigerator to quickly  assemble individual salads of romaine, green onion tops, sliced mushroom and mandarin oranges with a  light vinaigrette.  For a cold beverage, I served the homemade Horchata de Arrzo I made a couple days before. A very tasty, sweet complement for most any spicy meal.

I got a laugh out of making this particular recipe the day after seeing the movie Cold Soul.  Paul Giamatti plays an actor named Paul Giamatti whose extracted soul looks exactly like a chickpea.

Thank you to Roger and Joyce for a lovely evening and the 2003 Chateau Lorane Cabernet Sauvignon with flavors of plum and blackberry with hints of spice and licorice.

Here's Donna's recipe for Mint Gremolata. I doubled the recipe, as follows:

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients until well-combined. Refrigerate up to one (1) day until ready to serve.

Note: Having a warming drawer is absolutely wonderful! While we were away for a couple hours with our friends, the stew and rice kept warm without over-heating or over-cooking, ready to serve as soon as the loaf of 10-minute bake-and-serve Pugliese (artisan recipe; not gluten-free) came out of the oven!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Homemade Horchata de Arroz

Last year, our daughter and son-in-law introduced us to the Mexican beverage horchata (or-CHA-tah), a delicious, sweet creamy cinnamon rice (arroz) milk. For some reason, horchata popped into my mind as I was reading a Mexican rice recipe. When I discovered I had all the ingredients here at home, I opted to make homemade horchata to serve as a cold beverage when I serve the Mexican rice on Friday night.
It's a very simple 3-step process to make your own horchata from ingredients you probably already have on hand.
1 cup uncooked rice, rinsed
2 quarts hot water (almost boiling)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Step1: In a blender, pulverize the rice grains to a smooth consistency. Pour the rice into a big bowl, stir together with the hot water, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Step 2: Cover the bowl or pour into a container with a lid and let the rice mixture sit in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Step 3: Strain through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Serve chilled or with ice cubes. You can store your homemade horchata in the refrigerator for up to  3 days.

I have a set of glass straws for such occasions.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Spoon Full Of...

I had some extra corn grits left over from making polenta the other night, so I whipped up a batch of some good old-fashioned spoon bread and let it bake while I was working late from my home office. It turned out light, fluffy and was incredibly delicious, especially serving it up hot right out of the oven dripping with butter. Here's the recipe I used:

Good Old-Fashioned Spoon Bread


  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
Combine cornmeal and sea salt in a mixing bowl. Stirring constantly, gradually add the boiling water, and keeping smooth, stir in the melted butter. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs until pale in color and thick. Add the milk and beat to combine. Add the milk and egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture along with the baking powder. With an electric hand-held mixer or whisk beat to blend thoroughly. Turn the mixture into a generously greased 8-inch square glass baking dish or 1-1/2-quart round or oval casserole or oven proof bowl. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes, until it is set and lightly browned. Serve the spoon bread hot, with plenty of real butter. Serves 4 to 6. Gluten-Free!

Cook Around the Block Tip:

Let's say you are somewhere without access to measuring cups for some reason, like backpacking with limited cooking equipment, but you have measuring spoons or a tablespoon or teaspoon-size eating utensil. Here are the cooking measurement equivalents for following a recipe calling for cup-size portions of ingredients. Print this out, laminate it and store it in your travel gear or with your camping supplies:
  • 16 tablespoons = 1 cup
  • 12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup
  • 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 2/3 cup
  • 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
  • 6 tablespoons = 3/8 cup
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = 1/3 cup
  • 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
  • 2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 1/6 cup
  • 1 tablespoon = 1/16 cup
  • 2 cups = 1 pint
  • 2 pints = 1 quart
  • 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
  • 48 teaspoons = 1 cup