Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Lovin'

Happened so fast. It's summertime in KC and I am loving it! For one it's been so very gorgeous and all I can do is praise the Lord for giving me a 4th of July when I was outside all day long and loved every minute of it. I have thoroughly enjoyed many evenings spent on our gorgeous front porch sipping wine and spending time with a great sister and great neighborhood friends. This particular evening I was blessed to spend time with a couple of friends that live within a stone's throw and we enjoyed some great food and wine. Our evening was originally scheduled as a porch crawl but the 90 degree weather merited an inside dining experience. Nevertheless it was simply delightful.

On the menu for tonight: 
  • Most delightful farm to market bread toasted with avocado mousse and slivered radishes.
  • Massaged and sauteed collard greens with a delightful lemon olive oil dressing, sunflower seeds, and  blueberries.
  • A couple of different veggie patty fritters that I concocted.
  • Wine and the most interesting delightful sangria I've ever had made with cucumber, radish, and ginger slices among grapefruit juice and sparkling wine.

Veggie Patty#1: Mushroom Quinoa (I rarely measure so these are rough estimates)
In food processor rough chop:
  • 2 cup mushrooms
  • 1 cup eggplant
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa (I actually cooked together 1 cup raw quinoa with 1/2 cup red lentils and then ended up adding about 3/4 of the total mixture to the food processor. I ate the rest with some spices for a snack.)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal (I started out with 1/2 cup and then added handfuls until it was the desired consistency I wanted.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
Pulse all this until it is combined but don't over-process. Form into small patties and roll in additional corn meal. I then fried mine in a combo of grass-fed beef lard and coconut oil. Alternately they can be sauteed or probably baked if you are opposed to fat, although good fat is good for you!

Veggie Patty #2: Beet Falafel
Soak overnight 1 cup garbanzo beans. Drain the beans and into food processor put:
  • Soaked, but not cooked, garbanzo beans
  • 2 cups shredded raw beets
  • 2 Tablespoon cumin
  • 2 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Handful of cilantro going to seed, aka turning into coriander, (alternately about 1/2 cup cilantro and 1 T coriander will do)
Remove from processor and add:
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 egg
Form into small patties and fry also in your fat of choice. I fried them right along side the patties #1.

These patties were served with a funny little sauce that I concocted out of cashew butter blended with coconut milk, dill, and celery seed.

Most delightful. I love cooking for friends and wish I took more time for blogging about such adventures. I've certainly been creating some new things but have been too busy enjoying them with new friends to record the moments. Thanks Esther and MaryAnna for making me write these down!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Greens

Spring has finally sprung and I've been loving spending my days with the earth under my feet and soil under my fingernails. I am so blessed that I get to spend time reaching across garden beds, tucking tender transplants into the ground, and helping students spread tiny seeds along furrows in the soil. Life is crazy and that's how I like it. We rush to get things planted between the spring rains and wait in eager expectation for the bounty to come. Fruit trees are blooming and spring dandelions and wild onions are prolific. As I wait for my kale to blow me away I dig up dandelions and combine them in a pot for a delightful spring soup.

Amanda's Spring Bounty Soup

First saute:

  • One small onion
  • Handful of wild onion greens
  • Two overwintered carrots from the garden
  • Three stalks celery

Then throw into the saute:
  • Large amount of fresh young dandelion greens
To the saute add:

  • Four cups homemade chicken stock
  • One medium potato, chopped
Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until potato and carrots are soft. Then I pureed the soup although you could leave it whole if that is more desirable to look at. Then I added to the puree:
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Generous amount of granulated garlic
  • About one tablespoon Dijon or spicy mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of lemon juice
Then I was afraid nobody else would like my soup so I added a nice drizzle of honey to the pot. 

If you might be super apprehensive about the bitterness of dandelion greens which can happen if they're not young enough, I would suggest blanching your greens before using to remove some of the possible bitterness. The soup that I made has a distinctive dandelion flavor but it's not too bitter.

Quite delightful, delicious and nutritious!

Did you know that dandelion greens are a great spring detox food? Go pick some and if you don't have time to make your own soup consider sauteing them and adding to your morning eggs! It's spring folks, go outside!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Citrus Vinegar

Just in case you haven't heard yet.....Vinegar is the bomb-diggity! It is literally one of the most versatile, economical household essentials that you absolutely must have on hand. Think it's only useful for pickling? Think again. Think that it smells way too strong to even risk opening the bottle? Think again. Think that because it is so cheap to buy it must not be worth anything? Think again, my friends. Vinegar has been around for thousands of years, is all natural, and can be used for almost anything.

For some really great ideas check out this page:

I use vinegar mainly for cooking and cleaning. Recently I put together a mixture of apple cider vinegar and rosemary water for a hair rinse.

Additionally, I made this wonderful citrus infused vinegar that I plan to use for cleaning. Simply fill a mason jar with citrus peels (I used grapefruit and orange) then fill the jar with white distilled vinegar and let marinate for about two weeks. Strain out the citrus and you have a lovely citrus smelling vinegar to use. I will mix it half and half with water, store in a spray bottle and use for sanitizing kitchen counters and bathroom as well. This could easily be mixed with olive oil and made into a citrus vinaigrette dressing as well!

What is your favorite use for vinegar? 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Love d'Haiti

This is the second post in a series reflecting on my short vision trip to Haiti with the Global Orphan Project. Find the first post of observations here.

Exactly one week ago I was sitting in Haiti taking part in a time of sharing and reflection with a group of people that I had just met three days earlier. It's amazing how much God can move and unite people when we come together with one common purpose, spend three short but very eventful days together, and experience life so very outside the norm. This group of people I had just met were already folks that meant so much to me, encouraged me greatly, and inspired me to be more. Each night while in Haiti we shared memories and honored each other for exhibiting leadership, service, risk, and compassion. Each of our evening reflection times were filled with laughter and tears as we truly united as a big family.

This week as I've been enjoying viewing the numerous pictures that friends have shared and trying to process through my own thoughts. I keep coming back to one word: Love. Love knows no boundaries, needs no words, and is given to us unconditionally. I can't stop thinking about the first village we visited. As we filed off the bus the children were standing in great assembly singing beautiful songs to greet us. They sang several amazing songs and then were finished. The moment they stopped singing, every single one of them immediately rushed out to greet us. Many jumped into arms and clang tight to a new friend they had never met before. Many of us described the scene as if they had already picked out exactly who they wanted to spend time with, who they wanted to bless with their love. These kids loved us before they had any idea who we were. Their trust in us to love them back was instantaneous. This event happened over and over as we interacted with different children wherever we went. The children had so much love to give and all they wanted was love in return.

As I sit here now reflecting on the love that was exchanged in Haiti I am so very thankful. I learned a lot from the undeserved, unconditional love of Haitian children. It is just a beautiful description of the love that God lavishes on us. We are undeserving and do not earn it, yet God graciously loves us despite all our shortcomings. He loves us so that we may love others.

John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

I've been challenged to live each day loving God and loving others with that same reckless abandon. Praise God for smiles, high fives, hugs, tears, laughter, and the opportunities to experience a piece of the Kingdom of God in Haiti.

Receiving a little encouragement and love along the way.

Yes, we are that cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Observations d'Haiti

This will be the first of a two part series reflecting on my recent time spent in Haiti.

I had the amazing opportunity to travel with the Global Orphan Project on a GO Adventure trip taking part in a 20K trail run while there. I was first introduced to this organization this past year while traveling with my good friend, Barrett on his walk across America. While raising support and awareness for the realities that orphaned and abandoned children across our world face extreme poverty with little to no chance of escaping the cycle. This organization provides orphan care, establishing villages including orphanages, schools, care-givers, sewing centers, chicken farms and generally giving a whole lot of love. It really is beautiful to see such a group of folks working to address systemic reasons why poverty exists and assist in breaking that cycle through orphan care, education, and job creation.

I traveled to Haiti with a group of approximately 30 folks, some had already been numerous times and others, like myself, were experiencing it for the first time. It was a life-changing experience to say the least. I want to start out by simply recording some of my favorite memories or observations of the trip and then later I will expand on my reflections and processing.

  • Poverty is everywhere yet people are happy. What they don't have, they don't know about and thus don't miss. 
  • People are clean even though the streets are filled with trash. 
  • 98% unemployment rate yet the people I observed in the street were certainly busy doing something.
  • A particular man sitting between two piles of stones with a small hatchet breaking large stones into smaller stones. 
  • Gorgeous scenery
  • Running through the countryside finding cows, chickens, goats a plenty. Most of them tied to random sticks or bushes.
  • People laughing at crazy white people running through their lives, villages, country.
  • A mom trying to hand off her baby to us as we run past.
  • Children asking for hats, shoes, water bottles as we run.
  • Children running with us.
  • Listening to orphans sing the most beautiful songs. 
  • Rice and beans with chicken legs for dinner each night.
  • Dogs bark until 2 am while the chickens start crowing at 4 am. Earplugs are my friends.
  • Broken bottles line the top of a cinder-block wall serving as security. 
  • Worship in a church building with tattered tarp ceilings and makeshift walls filled with Haitians deeply in love with God.
  • The extra body heat of children that won't let go is no burden but a heart-warming gift.
  • Really long eyelashes that go everywhere on small children.
  • Amazing soccer players. 
  • Taking time to enter the window of others.
  • Doing a morning workout with a crowd of small children watching and joining the actions from afar.
  • Running past locals bathing in the stream, washing clothes in the stream, and watering their cattle in the stream.
  • Gorgeous stream flowing out of the mountains.
  • Children playing a card game so seriously. Really wishing I knew what the heck they were playing.
  • Man using a hatchet to cut off a tree limb. 
  • Women kneading bread dough in large bowl on the side of the street. Messy dough covered her hands.
  • School desks made of very sturdy 2x8" boards.
  • Little boy wearing a necklace like none other. A power outlet box tied on a string.
  • The pastor during church gets up to start speaking and in his prayer appears to be crying. 
  • Did I mention Haitians are strong people?
  • Holding a little girl and being held by her as she falls asleep on my chest.
  • Being fought over by small children.
  • Got my nails painted for the first time in several years. 
  • Coloring pictures needs no talking to connect.
  • Singing back and forth with young ladies I started to sing Amazing Grace and they joined with me in Creole. 
  • God is good. His love is unconditional, just like the Haitian children.