Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

Perhaps it's just a result of disagreements and exhaustion that we've ended up with a calendar that has an extra day every 4 years but this year, this 'extra' day feels like a gift. 

For me this year there is a crazy synchronicity today. I leave here tomorrow after almost two weeks with my parents. As I am preparing to leave a friend from high school who is now living in the Azores has arrived here to see her family. Coincidence that we have both come home at the same time and if it were not for this 29th day we would have missed each other but we were given this gift, this day where our lives aligned so that we can spend this day together. What a beautiful thing. 

I can't think back on a Leap Day and remember what I did. I will remember what I gift it was this year and I hope to celebrate the beauty of this day when it comes again in 4 years. 
Or at least watch The Pirates of Penzance. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let go and flow

There was a wonderful theme in the yoga class I went to today that also served as a great reminder.

The theme was to let go and go with the flow. The image of this was beautiful. 
Imagine you are in a boat in a river. You have this great goal for yourself and it is upstream. So you row and you row... your arms get tired, your back gets sore, your shoulders hunch and you begin to close in on yourself but you still feel determined. You muster up your energy and row. If you were on the shore looking at this scene you would see that you are stuck, that all this energy to row is just holding you in place, you are no closer to your goal and you are exhausted. Pick up your oars. Place them inside the boat with you. Let the current take you. The universe was telling you that now is not the time for that goal. Let go so you can live in the moment, open up to possibility and flow with the current instead of struggling against it. Really see what is around you instead of putting your head down and pushing against this unknown. Why make so much work for yourself and so much pain for yourself? You're missing the beauty and you're missing the light. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Aebleskiver - low sodium

My Grandmother is Danish. It was always a treat to have aebleskiver when staying at her house. If we were there on a Sunday it would be waffles for breakfast - a tradition my Dad carried on in our house. Although it is Sunday there was still some buttermilk here that needed to be used up so I adapted my Grandma's recipe for my Dad's low sodium diet and made my parents aebleskiver for breakfast.

Beat together wet ingredients
1 3/4 cups reduced fat buttermilk
3 egg yolks (don't discard the white you'll use those later)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons melted (& cooled) butter

With a fork mix dry ingredients together
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Hain sodium free baking powder
2 teaspoons Ener-G baking soda substitute

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until smooth - make a fairly thick batter about the consistency of cake batter

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry

Fold egg whites in to the batter

Butter the "cups" in the pan, when butter starts to sizzle add batter, when batter begins to bubble turn each over to cook the other side

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits - salt free

I'm visiting my parents and they'd mentioned they had buttermilk that needed to be used. Buttermilk always makes me think biscuits. My dad is on a very low sodium diet which has been a challenge for my mom. We'd found Ener-G Foods baking soda substitute and Hain sodium free baking powder.

So I got up this morning and made biscuits (and eggs) for breakfast.

1 egg white
6 tablespoons softened, not melted, unsalted butter
3/4 cup reduced sodium buttermilk

In a separate bowl combine
1 tablespoon baking soda substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

With a spoon mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
Add 1 teaspoon honey while mixing

When everything is mixed but still crumbly gently mold with you hands into biscuits and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the heart

The heart. This beautiful muscle at the center of it all. 
Protected behind ribs, pulsing with life, or perhaps  jumping to be set free out from behind the cage, to open, share and spread joy... this symbol of love. 
The yoga classes I've been taking have a lot of focus on the heart, bringing your shoulder blades on to your back to open your chest and let your heart go first, and bowing first to your heart to the beauty that is inside you which is the same beauty inside all of of... 
The heart gets a lot of attention. Particularly today. What symbol is more synonymous with Valentine's Day than the heart?

The heart is also often described as fragile - people are heartbroken when there is loss. 

When I was in 4th grade a girl named Tanya temporarily transferred to my school from Kodiak Alaska. She came down here to get a heart transplant at Stanford Hospital. It seemed a success, her body with someone else's heart. Her family headed back up to Alaska. She caught a cold around Seattle and they went to the hospital. She died there a few days before her birthday. All I could think about was how she'd told me all she wanted was to be home for her birthday. She was the first person I was close to that passed away. 

So it's an interesting thing now when a doctor suggested that perhaps my dad needs a heart transplant. It's incredible that such a thing is even possible. The heart has been a big topic of conversation in my family over the last year, with my father's diagnosis of amyloidosis which for him is mostly manifested in his muscles but also in his heart and more recently being told he has congestive heart failure, the heart is a hot topic. 

There's such a duality of ideas about what to do with the heart - open your heart, protect your heart; keep your heart, get a new heart - how confusing to have such mixed messages. If you don't open your heart you don't really get to experience joy and you don't let yourself experience loss. It is in those places that seem the darkest that we find the most space to grow and shine. 

So I suggest that starting on this day, Valentine's Day, you live with your heart open. Share your beautiful light, telling those you love that you love them and and shining your light on others you come across. Opening up to all possibilities so you can live and love more fully because you never know how long you will be here. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Dinner

Oh Valentines Day, I see you there, I've seen glimpses of things in shop windows, red, pink, candy, roses, hearts... Trying to bring some warmth to a month that is a little shorter but always feels much longer... 
I remember being in school and having to exchange valentines with everyone in the class. It always felt like a lot of work - especially since in my house we had to make all our valentines, no trip to the store to give out already made cartoon valentines - but also exciting to get all this love given to you. I've tried to keep some of those lessons with me as I've gotten older. I still make my own valentines and I see it more as a time to send them to my friends so they can feel that love instead of this focus on buying things for my partner or for most of my years trying to give out that love instead of focusing on being lonely and single. 

I work tomorrow night so decided to make a nice dinner for my partner tonight to share some love. I've been holding on to this bottle of wine. 
You can only get it from the source, in California. Usually I go for the full bodied reds especially in colder weather. And I would have continued to save this bottle for some 'special occasion' or celebration but why not instead enjoy it and celebrate today? Besides a beautiful pink with hints of strawberry does seem to say love... 
I also wanted the meal to be about us, how we and our love can grow and becomes something stronger, more beautiful, so not just using this wine that came from the vineyard where the wine we had at our wedding was from but also using some of the foods that we'd grown over the summer. We had lots of basil that I'd frozen because we couldn't use it fast enough and it gives a taste of summer in the winter. We also grew heirloom beans. Again, I'd been 'saving' them for something special... I cooked the beans as inspired by the basic Rancho Gordo cooking instructions. I had some pumpkin ravioli from a local shop. I sautéed broccoli rate with some garlic and added a bunch of the frozen basil and cherry tomatoes from our farm share to have on top of the pasta. 

And a little chocolate for desert... which I prepared earlier in the day and refrigerated, then removed from the fridge right before dinner so they could warm to room temperature and then be cooked after dinner
I adapted a recipe for molten chocolate cakes which ended up making 3 ramekins 
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate (could use bittersweet but semi was what I had)
3/4 stick of butter
3 eggs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of flour
Melt chocolate and butter on the stove, remove from heat
Mix the eggs and sugar, add in chocolate and butter and mix well, add flour
grease and sugar ramekins then divide batter into them 
bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes 
Since I was proposed to in Argentina we have a fond connection to dulce de leche so I bought dulce to leche gelato. Once the cakes were cooked I turned them out into bowls and topped with the gelato. I also made a strawberry sauce with strawberries from our farm share and to tie the flavors of the wine back into the desert. I had put the cut strawberries in a small pan over low hear with kirschwasser (cherry brandy) a dash of almond extract and about a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of salt. I let that simmer and reduce. 

It was a lovely, tasty evening.