December 26, 2009

Christmas Day and Smoky Black Bean Soup

Well Christmas Day has come and have my folks.  It was a pretty low key day.  Gluten-free apple cake for breakfast, a hike at the ever great Shellburg Falls, and Smoky Black Bean Soup and Cornbread for dinner.  Tonight is Christmas with the Jones side.  Smoked roasted chicken, smoked beef ribs, pumpkin biscuits, roasted carrots and cherry sorbet.  Can we say, "Don't need to eat for a week!"

Smoky Bean Soup (adapted from here)

olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced (smoked garlic is yummy here too)
1 T smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp chipotle powder (depending on how hot you like it)

2 cans petite diced tomatoes (14-15 oz)
2 cans black bean refried beans
2 cans black beans
2 c. frozen corn
salt to taste
(water or chicken broth as needed)

Saute the garlic in the olive oil 1-2 min on medium until cooked.  Add the spices and stir around, letting the spices heat up a bit.  Add the canned and frozen goods, including liquids.  Stir well to get the refried beans to break up.  Add additional water/chicken broth as needed.  Cook on medium, watching to be sure it doesn't scorch for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with any or all of sliced avocado, cheese, sour cream/yogurt, green onion, lime juice, and cilantro.

Alternative: Cook garlic and spices as directed above.  Transfer to crockpot.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hrs.  This works the best really!

December 20, 2009

Clackamas River Hike

We haven't disappeared here at Fresh and seems to have just taken over a bit.  This weekend we did get the opportunity to go hiking with our friend, Roland.  The Clackamas River Hike is a little over 8.1 miles when you run shuttle and hike straight through.  Roland gave it a B- because of powerlines and the fact you could see Hwy 224 in many places.  I give it an A because it had lots of shady trees, moss, ferns and the river!  Either way, it was a great way to spend the day.  Bailey loved it too, however she's been a little less active today...her hike was a bit longer than 8.1 miles :)

November 22, 2009

GF Pumpkin Biscuits

Not bad for a first try. I might try a little less sweet rice flour or no xanthan gum next time but otherwise these were pretty good.  I adapted the Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits recipe from Cooking Light.

GF/CF Pumpkin Biscuits
1/3 c rice flour
1/3 c white teff flour
1/3 c tapioca starch flour 
1/3 c sweet rice flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c shortening
1/3 c coconut milk, full fat
3/4 c canned pumpkin
3 T honey (I actually did about 1 T honey and 2 T agave syrup since I ran out of honey)

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, spices, and salt in a large bowl; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.

3. Combine coconut milk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended; add canned pumpkin. Add coconut milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist and all of the flour has been incorporated.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (tapioca starch flour); knead lightly 4 times or until you can pat it out to about 3/4" thick. Cut into biscuits.  Place biscuits, 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 400° for 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm.

Submitted to Slightly Indulgent Mondays at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free.

Butte Creek Falls - Santiam State Forest

I call bs on those who say Salem has nothing to offer!  Andrew and I are finding Salem has lots to offer.  We didn't hike much this was more kayaking and camping.  But, now that the weather is crappy...we're hiking.  I know.  But at least we're still getting out some!

Anyways, if you haven't made use of the Santiam State Forest you are really missing out.  Check out their website and see the recreational opportunities that await.  Butte Creek Falls is just one such opportunity.  They categorize it as difficult...probably because it's steep in parts and can have a lot of slippery leaves.  However, it's only 1.5 miles and has wonderful views.
Bailey thought it was great as well!

November 17, 2009

Our Own Worst Critic

I’ve done it.  I’m sure you’ve done it.  What is it?  Well how about talking to yourself in a way you would never consider talking to your best friend.  It seems like all of us that struggle with weight loss have done it at some point.  Told ourselves a story about how we aren’t good enough, or how we don’t look a certain way or how everything will be perfect when…Get real.  Stop telling yourself these kinds of stories.  Tell yourself good stories, positive stories.  Stories about loving yourself how you are.  Stories about how you are a wonderful person, how you are making positive changes in your life. Stories that make you feel good not bad.  Even subtle stories have the ability to make or break us.  Stop the negative subtle…shoot for positive subtle and work your way up from there!

November 8, 2009

Are You the Driver of Your Change...Or is It Driving You?

All of us are subject to change.  It's one of the laws of nature.  Some change we drive...some change drives us.  I find it difficult to deal with change I didn't initiate.  But, much of the time that unsought change benefits me as much or more than change I bring into my life.

How a person deals with change can say a lot about them.  Most days I'm afraid my dealings with change probably don't have very nice things to say about me.  Change is just one of those stressors in life we have little control over.  I'm not telling you to "embrace change"...not being of a hugger and all. But, learn to be patient with yourself and realize this just might not be the time to fight.

We've all heard how to deal with stress.  I need to hear it as much as anyone, so I'm going to tell you again.
  • Breathe
  • Exercise - Especially when you don't feel like it.
  • Eat right - Whatever that might mean for you.  For me, it means no wheat, very little sugar and carbs, and plenty of protein and good fats.
  • Get an appropriate amount of sleep - Too much is just as bad as too little.
  • Find things or people or places that bring joy and happiness into your life.
  • And, finally, learn to love yourself, accept yourself, and strive for reasonable expectations in your self-growth.
So, it this post about change or stress? For me this year, they've pretty much been one and the same.  I'm thinking a few of you might be able to relate.  

I'm grateful for where I am, but look forward to moving on...even if that means more change and in the process more stress!

November 4, 2009

Food For Thought

From Mark's Daily Apple: Coca-Cola Cares About Your Health

And, from USA Today Op-Ed blog: Food Labels Provide More Confusion Than Clarity

Why is it that we seem unwilling to take responsibility for ourselves and the food we put in our mouths in this country?

November 1, 2009

Opal Creek

I'm afraid I may have turned into one of those people...yes that kind...the kind that dresses their dog up.  In my defense, it isn't about fashion, it's about her being 10lbs and not having a lot of hair.  She gets cold.  And, she loves her jackets!  Okay, now that that's out in the open...we had a great day yesterday.  

If you're like me, you've been having a little difficulty with the change of seasons.  I love the leaves, but the cold and damp is an adjustment.  In order to deal with this, it's best to get out and enjoy our state.  So, Andrew and I took Bailey to Opal Creek.  It's on both of our Top 5 Places in Oregon lists and we love it up there.  Bailey thought it was pretty great too! The quality of the photos below are not so was drizzling and I didn't want to use my good camera so we used our cell phones. 

As we go into the wet season, I hope you too can get out and enjoy our state.  Just get some warm clothes and rain gear.  You'll be fine!

October 18, 2009

Sunflower Cookies

In case you haven't noticed, I like food and blogs.  So, I read a lot of cooking blogs.  Well, The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, is one of them.  Today, I've taken the opportunity to try about three of their recipes.  So far so good. Of the three, I decided I want to share the Sunflower Cookies recipe.  Please visit the link to see their recipe. I've included what I did below...very few changes other than leaving out the raisins...not so much of a fan. This cookies are ridiculously easy...the most involved part being grinding the sunflower seeds!  Andrew gave them a "They're okay," which is pretty good...he doesn't really say something is great unless it's his favorite food of all time. 

Sunflower Cookies (from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen)
 1 c raw sunflower seeds, ground into a flour - I used a coffee grinder I keep around for this type of thing
1 c brown rice flour
1/4 c tapioca flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c melted coconut oil
1/3 c maple syrup, grade B
2 T applesauce
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Grind the sunflower seeds and mix with the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet.  Flatten with a greased glass.  Bake in the oven for approx. 13 minutes.  Cool on pan.  Enjoy!

For more good food check out Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free's Slightly Indulgent Monday.

October 16, 2009

How I "Spent" My Furlough

Today was one of fourteen furlough's I get to take over the next two years. Don't get me wrong...I'm not really complaining...I am very happy to still have a job!  But, there's just something about a forced "vacation" day.  Andrew and I decided to make the best of it.  Today was quite possibly the most beautiful fall October day we could ever have.  We toured five covered bridges near Scio, Oregon.  Just gorgeous.  Check the photos out below.  So, if you're a state of Oregon employee, how did you spend your furlough day?

October 13, 2009

Another Pumpkin Patch

This weekend we took my mom and Bailey to pick pumpkins.  The place we choose was called "Another Pumpkin Patch."  This place is great!  They are donating all of the proceeds to either Marion Polk Food Bank or Farmers Ending Hunger.  And, they have a corn maze.  So if you haven't gone yet, go to Another Pumpkin Patch.  Take the Brooks exit, turn right when you get to River Road and it will be a few miles up the road on your left!


October 6, 2009

How I Got Here - Part IV

Looking at ways to simplify my life has been a very important part of my journey to health.  Typically, we might look at getting rid of clutter, making wise money management decisions, reducing activities, etc.  But sometimes it can be difficult to make a decision on what would simplify our lives.  There is a great way to look at this...and I didn't think it up.  I read about it in a free e-book by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits.

It goes something along the lines of, "What are four to five essentials in your life?"  Once you have these essentials, you can begin to prioritize activities, objects, etc.  If at any point you are doing something that doesn't fit into one of your essentials, you have an opportunity to re-vist your essentials and evaluate whether you need to re-think that activity or change your essentials.  I first made my list of essentials over a year ago, and so far, I haven't changed my essentials...I have, however, changed my activities!  Listed below are my four essentials...what are yours?

Fresh and Feisty's Four Essentials:
  1. My health
  2. My husband
  3. Photography
  4. Meaningful contact with friends and family

October 4, 2009

How I Got Here - Part III

This topic is something I feel a bit awkward discussing.  I have a health issue called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  I don't feel awkward because it's a "female" issue...rather I feel ackward because it's not visibly debilitating.  I don't have a handicap or something most people can see.  So, while it can be a nightmare for me...I want you to know that in no means am I trying to say I have it any worse than any one else!  This just happens to be my deal.

Okay, now that I have that out there...what is PCOS?  Well, the first thing to realize anytime you see syndrome associated with something, doctors are basically saying we don't have a good explanation for these symptoms so we're going to lump it all together and call it ____ _____syndrome.  PCOS fits this bill.  Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Irregular or no menstrual periods
  • Acne
  • Obesity
  • Excess hair growth or male pattern balding
  • Infertility
  • Depression and anxiety
These symptoms also put women with PCOS at high risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure on top of other issues they may have if obese. Because of the far ranging symptoms and a lack of a clear cause, PCOS care typically focuses on managing the symptoms rather than eliminating them.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at 15 because I was having two periods a month. It contributes to my weight issues, causes me to grow hair that I don't want, gives me mood swings and generally contributes to a bad self-image. I have done a lot in the last two years to overcome these issues.  Losing weight, while hard, has helped with many of them.  Western medicine hasn't been able to provide a lot of answers.  So, I've sought other complimentary medicines that have been more helpful but again it's a syndrome and there are no real answers.  For me stress is a strong contributing factor to the symptoms. As a culture, we don't realize just how much stress we are letting into our lives.  We need to take time to stop and smell the roses once in a while...we'd all feel better!  So, now if I bite you're head off, join me in trying to blame it on messed up hormones!

October 1, 2009

Bailey's First Day @ the Dog Park

Since Andrew is out of town, I decided to take Bailey to the dog park at Minto Island Brown Park today.  She loved it.  It was almost smell overload for her!

Bailey's New Rain Coat

September 30, 2009

How I Got Here - Part II

A few years ago, I was reading one of those free "health" magazines you can get at health food stores. In the back it had 10 Affirmations for 2007 by Elson M. Haas, MD. By no means have I stuck to this but I refer back to them regularly and find that they help me refocus when I am out of sorts. I have copied what was there below. Click on the name above to be taken to Dr. Haas' website. I don't know much about him but it looks interesting.

Adapted from 10 Affirmations for 2007 (or any time!)
  1. I will eat the most wholesome foods as Nature provides them.
  2. I will eat the right amount for my body and eat only when I am hungry.
  3. I will chew my food thoroughly and take time to eat.
  4. I will avoid junky foods and artificial ingredients as much as possible.
  5. I will let go of any regular use of troublesome SNACCs: sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals.
  6. I will stretch my body and mind to be my most flexible.
  7. I will exercise daily with enjoyable physical activities.
  8. I will drink plenty of good, clean water.
  9. I will allow myself enough sleep to rest my body nightly, recharging my batteries and supporting my immune strength to protect against illness.
  10. I will pay attention to my emotions and stresses and find ways to develop non-aggressive, non-hurtful ways to express my feelings and let go of stress.

September 29, 2009

Oh Shit Chocolate Cake...or How I Gained Two Lbs This Weekend!

This recipe is one of those that you just cannot make that often...because it goes straight to your...well you know! My mother designed it originally and now I've made it gluten-free. I think I have a bit of refining to do yet but it's good enough I thought I'd go ahead and share it today. It's not slightly's totally indulgent. And, just fair warning, don't eat four pieces in the course of a weekend or you really will gain at least 2 pounds. As my husband, Andrew, says..."It's gluten-free not glutton free!"

Oh Shit Chocolate Cake (as in oh shit that's good, and oh shit I ate too much!)

Sift together:
3/4 c millet flour
1/2 c corn starch
1/2 c tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

2 eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c oil
1 T vanilla

Mix well at medium speed for 2 minutes and then add 2/3 c boiling water (coffee would work well here too.) Pour into well greased and floured bundt pan.

8 oz cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips (I like dark or semi-sweet)

Mix first four ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop filling in center of pan all of the way around. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack, then remove from pan and let cool completely. Top with cream cheese frosting and chill.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 c butter (at room temperature)
8 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 2/3 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.

September 27, 2009

How I Got Here - Part I

I haven't really spoke about my weight and emotional problems on this blog. I have a bit on the blog I share with my cousins. However, I feel it's time to share it here as well. Below is a bit of text that I shared on the other blog. I have edited it to be current. Let's start with that and then another day, I'll tell you a bit more:

I can't point to one day when something changed in my brain. I, however, can point to a personal low...December 25, 2006. My dad, my husband (Andrew) and I were hiking at Coquille Falls. It's 0.5 miles downhill to see the falls. The downhill was just fine. Coming back out my blood sugar got low, I was fat and out of shape, and that half mile was hell. At one point, I just sat down in the rain and the dirt and cried. Andrew tried to cheer me up saying, "You are doing what you like, with people you love." It just didn't wasn't fun anymore.

I had just left an organization that required much of my free-time. Later that day Dad suggested, if I could devote that much time to the organizatio
n before, maybe now I could devote that time to me.

I will never know what my highest weight was...I refused to own a scale. And, it would take another 9 months before I got "serious." I tried counting calories over the summer, although I'm not sure how effective that was. I do think it got me in the right frame of mind. I also know jealousy played a role. At our annual August family reunion everybody was excited about my cousin Mandy losing 40lbs since April. What the hell? I could do that. I didn't want her to be the only "skinny" one!

At the same time we got a dog and I started Weight Watchers. A dog with lots of energy that needed walks everyday. At first we just went around the block. That's all I could handle. Then pretty soon it was half a mile and by the end of the winter we were walking 2-3 miles in the morning and more in the afternoon. The dog had to leave but the exercise and Weight Watchers stuck.

I believe that without exercise I would never have lost the weight. I started riding my bicycle, I've added dragon-boating, I worko
ut to clear my mind during my lunch break, I walk downtown with my husband in the evenings. Two years ago I rode 3 miles to church. As soon as I got there, I called Andrew and asked him to pick me up after church. I just couldn't imagine riding the 3 miles home. Seriously, I thought I was going to die.

What a difference 2 years makes! From sitting in the dirt, crying in the rain in the woods, to a 41 mile bicycle ride a year ago, and competing in a 500m dragonboat race with 19 other people in June. I have more energy and I've lost 60 lbs. I haven't "arrived" and I don't think I ever will continue to be a daily struggle. But, it's one I know I can continue and not end up where I was. And, I can inspire others to make changes in their lives that benefit them - physically, mentally and emotionally! That's a good start for now.

Cherry "Sorbet"

I don't have a pretty picture or hardley even a recipe for this week's entrance into Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free's Slightly Indulgent Mondays but I can tell you it's easy and great. This is one of those almost too easy to be true "recipes"...if you can call it a recipe. We freeze pitted cherries in the summer when they are ripe and sweet. Then, when it's hot or we just want a cool treat...I defrost them in the microwave until I can just barely puree them with the immersion blender (and yes, it really is an immersion blender that works best). Once all the fruit (approx. 4 c frozen) is pureed, I add a bit (1/4-1/2 tsp) of almond extract. If you have cocoa nibs to put on top that's great...if not...that's fine too! Sometimes this makes one serving and sometimes it's two. Just depends on how generous I feel that day! This works well with strawberries and blueberries too.

September 21, 2009

Fresh Nectarine Pie (GF)

Can I just say oh my goodness?! I love this pie. Really, I hate cooked fruit so this is just perfect - a pie and eating a fresh nectarine! But, since I know gluten causes problems for me and my mom, I wanted to make a good gluten-free crust. It's hard enough for most people to just make a good regular crust. As you can tell, I'm a bit of a crust snob. This isn't 100% there but it's pretty darn good! I adapted a recipe. We typically aren't huge rice flour fans around's usually gritty so I avoided it. And, I am starting to veer away from potato starch as well. So, here it is...try it. I think you'll like it!

Fresh Nectarine Pie

For 1 nine inch crust (the bottom crust):
1/3 c millet flour
1/3 c tapioca starch flour
1/3 c corn starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c shortening
1/4 c cold butter
1 lg egg, cold
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together millet, tapioca flour, corn starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.

Cut shortening and butter into dry ingredients. Blend with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small peas. Beat egg and vinegar together and mix into dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out between plastic wrap or wax paper until slightly bigger than the pie pan (approx. 1.5 in) (NOTE: I use a gallon ziploc freezer bag, cut into two pieces. Stuff doesn't stick, it's pretty heavy and can be washed and reused multiple times!) Gently peel one side of plastic off and then lay it back down, flip over and gently peel the other side off. Then flip onto your hand, cover with the pie pan and flip over into the pan. Now, re-peel the first side off (you peeled it the first time so it would be easier this time). Make it look nice in the pan, trim the edges and crimp or whatever you like to do. I like to cover mine with a pie crust shield so the edges don't get too brown. Since we are going to use this as a pre-baked crust, poke the crust with a fork.

Bake in the oven 12-16 minutes or until it starts to brown a little. Let cool.

Fruit Filling
4 c nectarines, peeled and sliced
1/4 c sugar + 3 T cornstarch mixed together
1/4 tsp almond extract, optional

Measure 1 c nectarines and add enough water to bring it to 1 1/2 c. (if using almond extract add it now). Put into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, without stirring. Once boiling, add sugar/cornstarch mixture all at once and stir. Continue to stir and boil until the mixture thickens and gets clear (approx. 2 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes to cool. Put remaining sliced nectarines in the cooled pie shell. Pour cooled mixture over the top, making sure you cover all of the "raw" nectarines (this keeps them from turning brown). Chill for two hours...and try not to eat it all at once!

NOTE: Works great with peaches, blueberries (I increase the amount, pack them in), and strawberries. It's okay to have fun with it!

This is my contribution for Simply Sugar & Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Mondays.

September 17, 2009

September 10, 2009

Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins (Corrected!)

These are great! I adapted this recipe from Karina's Kitchen. By the way, if you haven't checked out her so. It's full of yummy gluten free recipes.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray 8-12 muffins tins (I used the silicon deals).

Mix together in large bowl:
2 c banana puree (give or take a cup)
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c olive oil (I forgot this the first time I posted it! So sorry.)
1 T vanilla
1 egg

Sift together in a separate bowl:
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c potato starch (or corn starch)
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon, heaping
1/4 tsp nutmeg, heaping

Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix well. Add 1/2 c pecans if you like them. Spoon into the muffins tins...go ahead and fill the tins really full if you like! Bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool for ~5 min and then pop out of the tins.

These are excellent right away or the next day with peanut butter.

NOTE: I don't like a really sweet muffin...if you looked at the original recipe you might have noticed I increased the bananas a bit and cut the sugar back a lot. Feel free to add more sugar, but if your bananas are really, really ripe...well then these should be sweet enough. I also prefer the unsweetened shredded coconut. If you have regular, that will make the muffin sweeter too.

This is my contribution for Simply Sugar & Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Mondays.

August 31, 2009

How Dragonboating is a Metaphor for Life

First things first, if you don't know what dragon boating is then go check out this LINK. It's okay, we'll wait!

Okay, now that we're all together again, I've been thinking about how dragon boating is a lot like life. Here are a few of those thoughts.
  1. It's not intuitive and it feels weird
  2. Just when you think you've got it figured out, you realize your doing it wrong or forgot something
  3. It takes a lot of people to do it properly, if they work together; if they don't you're just crawling
  4. Your heart is exposed to your partner when you're doing it right
  5. Most of the time you need to look forward and let the tiller take care of things
  6. It's important to use the buddy system
  7. Some days are better than others but most anytime on the boat is good
  8. Everybody needs to brace the boat when someone's going to stand up
  9. If you're on the water, you're going to get wet
  10. If you think too just doesn't work!

August 11, 2009

It's that time of year again...

If you planted a zucchini you have a lot! Well, have I got the recipe for you. I adapted this recipe, that another blogger adapted, and included some spices similar to a recipe my great grandma would make when I was a kid. Her cake was the first time I would even consider eating zucchini cake. Try it...I guarantee you'll love it!

Chocolate Spice Zucchini Cake (GF/CF) (adapted from this page)

Mix together in large bowl, set aside:
3 eggs
1 1/4 c sugar ( I've updated this...and will try 1 c next time (was 2 c in the original recipe, everyone at work seemed just fine with 1 1/4 c!)
3/4 c milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
3/4 c oil
1 T vanilla

Sift together, then add to wet ingredients:
1 tsp salt
1.5 c gluten-free flour blend (ingredients can be found at the link above, works great)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

2 c zucchini, shredded give or take a bit (I usually use 2 medium zukes)

Once the dry ingredients are mixed in well with the wet ingredients (get rid of those cocoa lumps!), add the zucchini. Pour into greased 13x9 pan and cook at 350 for at least 20 minutes or until done. Take out and cool on a rack. Unlike many gluten-free baked goods, because of the zucchini, this cake will not dry gets moister with age. I actually like it better after a day or two!

Optional: Sprinkle chopped pecans/walnuts, cocoa nibs/chocolate chips on top before baking.

July 24, 2009

Seriously...I don't think so!

I love all things it's grown, how it's processed, cooking, reading recipes...if it's about food I'm all over it. I'm even fairly willing to try a lot of things...but we all have to draw the line. I think I could have made it had I not seen this picture. Yes, your are reading that right! It's goat penis. Apparently it's the cause of a recent food safety scare in Vietnam. And, the peni (plural for penis?) had been imported from Australia. So, what we have here is an international goat penis trade. Sorry, this just has fascinated me since I heard about it earlier this week!
Picture from:

July 20, 2009

Bailey's Peak....I Know It's Really Mary's Peak

Sometimes we think we just don't have the energy to get away and yet, what we really need is to get away. This is how I felt this weekend. Drained of all I had to give. We've both decided that our backpacking tent is great for backpacking. Seems like a no brainer right? Well, we went and bought ourselves a car camping tent. It's a palace! It even has a little popout that we can fit Bailey's kennel, bag of toys and food and water dish in comfortably without using up the general floor space. While it was darn cold, it was a wonderful evening. We drove up Saturday, set up camp, ate dinner and then walked to the top of Mary's Peak to take in the view. Later, we stayed up in the tent reading with our head lamps and ended up sleeping in until 10 o'clock! After breakfast of bacon, eggs and blueberry pancakes we hiked again. Bailey is a wonderful camper and great hiker. Now we just need to continue on leash walking. Doesn't seem to like walking with us...she'd rather walk behind us. Probably has something to do with the fact that our feet are huge and she's tiny!

July 17, 2009

Hanging Rock

Quick, are you from Oregon...can you tell me where Powers is? If not, google it! Okay's the Wikipedia link. My grandfather moved to Powers from Iowa when he was 13. He's since left but my cousin was mayor once! Anyway, Andrew and I went to the South Coast last weekend to visit family and went hiking at Hanging Rock which is outside of Powers on the way to Glendale. Gorgeous. Andrew says it's one of his top 5 places in Oregon. So, tell me, what are you're top 5 places in Oregon?

June 14, 2009

Shellburg Falls

I am somewhat loathe to tell you about Shellburg Falls. It's just that nice of a place and I really love that there are not a lot of people up there...but oh well you'll find out anyway. Shelburg Falls are part of the Santiam Forest and is similar to Silver Falls. Only, while a bit smaller than most of the falls at Silver Falls State Park, Shellburg Fall have a seat where you can sit behind the falls and enjoy them. And, there is no fee for parking your car.

Andrew and I go at least once or twice a year in different seasons to enjoy this area. Since we last went, they have done a lot of improvements at the campground that you can drive to or hike to as we did. They've started charging to camp at the campground too but with all the improvements I'm not surprised.

Another thing we learned yesterday, was Gene's Meat Market (corner of Fernridge Rd and Hwy 22 in Mehema) is wonderful. We stopped on the way up to the falls and bought some jerky and a buffalo pepperoni stick. On the way back, we stopped and bought some frozen sausages that didn't have too much nasty stuff in them. They are open Mon-Sat., so stop in sometime on your way by.

April 19, 2009

I Didn't Even Realize It!

I worked on my bike yesterday. Cleaned the frame, the rims, the sprockets, and the chain. I also, and this is the really important part, put air in the tires. My tires say to inflate to a maximum of 65 psi. They were maybe 20 psi. What a difference it makes. Between that and putting fresh grease on my chain it was like a whole new ride...and I didn't even realize how bad it was. I also borrowed one of my neighbor's recumbents to see if that is a position I could get used to. And, yes, I do know it's nerd patrol central!

As part of my recumbent trial, Andrew and I rode down to Wallace Marine Park, across the Union St. Bridge, and then back to Riverfront Park this morning. We took our books and read in the sun. While we were sitting there like lizards, we saw two little boys and their dads. The little boys were learning how to ride their bikes. The one boy was doing just fine with Dad running along. The second little boy...not so much. He was crying and screaming just a bit. At one point he kept repeating, "No, more. No, more." I'm getting used to the recumbent but definitely knew where he was coming from. It was great to again see so many people using the public space here in Salem.

April 12, 2009

Union St. Bridge and Cherries

Satuday, Andrew and I helped get the dragonboat across the Willamette for the season. To do that, we rode across the "new" Union St. Bridge. We were both so surprised to see how many people were using the bridge. Lots of people with kids and dogs. It wasn't even a nice day and it was getting a ton of use. Very cool. After getting the boat across the water, we went to the bike shops downtown and ended up getting Andrew a new bike that doesn't suck!

If you haven't seen
the cherry blossoms at the Capitol Mall and live in Salem, get down there NOW! They are so quick to pass. The wind and rain are taking them away!

April 10, 2009

Just a Thought...

My cousin recently purchased a home in Tacoma, WA, so I went up there last weekend to visit and as he put it, "Show him all the stuff he hasn't seen in Tacoma." I think sometimes we get used to going certain places or doing certain things. It's not a novel concept but just a friendly reminder that sometimes it's fun to play tourist in your own town. And, if your interested in Tacoma, below are some nice pictures of the Chihuly Bridge of Glass and the flowers in W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park.

March 7, 2009

Another Recycling Update for Salem - Styrofoam and Steel

Okay, you probably know this already but if you don't, pay attention. You can recycle styrofoam at the Fresh Start Market on Center St. This is the wonderful little market that is run by juveniles in the county corrections. The market is great and the program there appears to be doing great things. Check out their coffee cafe and drop off that styrofoam you've been saving in your garage. You have been saving it right????

Also, I heard on the radio last night that you can now recycle steel aerosol cans and small steel pieces (less than 18" and less than 12 lbs or something along those lines) in your blue bins. I am going to call the county, and our garbage hauler, to get the details. If anybody with the county is out there, you really should update your website more often! I think you need to remove the plastic cap and the plastic sprayer on the steel cans.

February 21, 2009

Small Farms Conference

Today I am attending the 9th Annual OSU Extension Service Small Farms Conference at Oregon State University (OSU). This is the third year I have attended. As always its been a wonderful experience. This year has the highest attendance, around 500 attendees. The beauty of this conference is it brings together farmers, market managers, restaurant owners, schools, state employees, federal employees, food bank folks....basically the whole range of folks involved in dealing with were our food comes from.

The session I went to this morning was led by the executive director, Andy Fisher, of the Community Food Security Coalition. It was an informative session about what their organization does and possible things we can expect on the national level. I was extremely struck by something Mr. Fisher said about food being a social justice issue. I know this subconsciously but haven't really approached this from a conscious level.

I also had an interesting discussion with a lady interested in local foods who lives in the Redding, CA, area. If you haven't been paying attention lately, water is a huge issue world wide. California is experiencing one of the worst droughts since 1977. An article came out this week indicating the feds may shut off all water to agriculture in CA for a three-week period. This lady indicated that farmers with orchards in her area for example could lose their trees and go out of business. They would likely never be able to return if this happens.

All of this will result in increasingly higher food prices. Food is not cheap and that's a lesson that we as Americans need to realize. We spend less of our income on food than many developed countries. Our farmers typically make less than minimum wage. I don't have any answers but thought I'd share these thoughts with you.

February 8, 2009

When the Simple Life Isn't So Simple

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately...what do you do when a seemingly great friend turns out to a) not be the person you thought they were, b) not bring anything positive into your life, or c) all of the above? Now, note, I said friends. Family is a whole different story.

What is the acceptable way to deal with these situations? I personally have moved and not provided a forwarding address. It's a totally passive way of dealing with it. That particular friend was never mean or aggressive towards me...rather it was all about her, never about me. And, we all know, it's about me! But seriously, I had discussed, or at least thought I had discussed how I felt about the friendship. Apparently, she didn't get it. So in keeping with simplifying my life, I decided not to maintain that friendship.

So, really how many people can you maintain close friendships with? Really. Think about that one for a minute. You can "know" a lot of people but how much energy can you or are you willing to expend maintaining close personal friendships? And before you freak out, realize that it's okay not to be best buds with everyone you meet.

If people aren't bringing joy into your life, then don't have them in your life. And, I don't mean they can't share their problems with you, or that you can't share your problems with them. I mean, do they give you the love and support that you give them. Or, is it one-sided?

It's okay to move on. If you're looking for those things that make your life more full and enriched, that friend is probably not the right one for you. Sometimes the simple life just isn't that simple!

January 24, 2009

Check out my other blog!

My cousins, Rachel and Mandy, and I have started a new blog together...Sisterhood of the Not So Skinny Pants. Each of us has had a lifelong struggle with our weight. Each of us has a slightly different approach and reason why we struggle. In an effort to share our struggles, defeats and accomplishments we thought we would start the blog. Find out what we do, why we started and how we keep charging ahead. Maybe you or someone you know also struggles with their weight. Maybe one of our stories will sound familiar. Either way, check us out over at Sisterhood of the Not So Skinny Pants. It'll be fun!

January 3, 2009

Clams, Cabbage, and Butternut Squash

Not exactly what you had in mind for dinner? Well, let me tell you about ours. It was wonderful!

First, clam cakes using clams we dug this year and Ener-G gluten-free bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are not cheap but they worked really well. And, rather than frying these babies, we baked them in the oven. Steamed the cabbage and made "fries" out of the butternut squash...and I actually liked them. Normally, I'm not too fond of cooked winter squash. These were tasty. The recipes are below if you'd like to try them for yourself.

Clam Cakes Oregon

2 c or 1 pint frozen clams
2 eggs, beaten
dash of chipotle pepper sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
2 T light mayonnaise
2 T fresh parsley, chopped or 2 tsp dried parsley
1 c. dried bread crumbs (if you don't need gluten-free, 1/2 c. cracker meal works well too)

I did mine in the food processor. Our clams were whole so I spun them around until they were chopped a bit. Added everything but the bread crumbs. Pulsed. Added bread crumbs. Put in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Sprayed baking sheet with oil. Divided clam mixture into 8 dollops. Flattened on the baking sheet. Sprayed with oil. Baked for 10 min. at 400 degrees. Flipped cakes over. Baked additional 5 minutes.

Note: I'm going to try 2/3 c. bread crumbs next time and then putting in oiled muffin tins (12) and baking at the same temperature.

Butternut Squash "Fries" adapted from this recipe

1 med. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into thin "fries"
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Toss squash with oil and salt. Spread out on baking sheet. Broil approx. 5 min. Stir. Continue to broil approx. another 5 min. Stir. Repeat until cooked to desired doneness.

Andy loved these. They weren't crispy like normal "fries" but might be a little crispier if you used more oil. I wanted them to be a bit healthier. Try them. I'm sure they'll be a hit in your house too!

Love Letters to My Sons..