Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carrot Cake Oatmeal? Try it, You'll Like It!

Those of you who know me well know that I usually recommend including a bowl of oatmeal as part of your breakfast, and that my favorite cake is carrot cake.  So imagine my delight when a good friend sent me a recipe for "Carrot Cake Oatmeal" (pictured here).  I was hesitant in making it at first - afraid it would be disappointing, as pumpkin oatmeal turned out to be last year.  But, made as recommended, it was surprisingly good!  I had it for breakfast 3 times this week and will continue to make it as the mood arises.  The recipe I was given was completely Vegan and goes as follows:
1 cup Almond milk (I used Almond Breeze, which I highly recommend, since it contains 25% of the daily minimum requirement of calcium, among other things), 1/2 t. lemon juice, 2 T. Coconut Cream (the recipe says to skim it off the top of canned coconut milk.  I actually found coconut curd and used a Tablespoon of that), 1/2 to 1 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ground ginger, 1/8  t. ground nutmeg, pinch of salt, 1 cup finely grated carrot, 1/2 cup regular oats, 1 t. vanilla, and 2 T. maple syrup.    In a small saucepan, heat almond milk, lemon juice and coconut cream on medium heat.  Stir in spices and salt until spices dissolve.  Stir in grated carrot and oats; cook for 8 minutes until oats are soft.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and maple syrup.  Drizzle with 1/2 t. maple syrup mixed with coconut cream, and (optionally) top with a few chopped walnuts, golden raisins, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.. 

It sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't at all.  I grate the carrot the night before and just squeeze a little lemon into it while it is on the stove.  The rest is really easy.  If, like me, you are a carrot cake fan, try this recipe and let me know what you think of it.  

I hope you are all doing well.  This fall has been so busy for me - something I had not expected with one of my two boys in college.  I hope to write more in here soon.   But until then, happy and healthy eating!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our Last Week Of Farm Deliveries - Was It Worth It?

Today was our last week of receiving produce from our CSA.  On the left, you can see what was in our bag - a big, beautiful spaghetti squash, beets, apples (which have been delicious!), green leaf lettuce, green beans, and mesclun greens.  I don't have a clue what to do with mesclun greens, but I will learn this week by checking my favorite recipe web sites.  Our season began the first week of June and ran for 20 weeks.  It's funny because we started and ended with greens - something I had not expected.  But don't get me wrong.  I am not complaining.  I have learned to love greens which, until this past season, were nowhere on my radar screen.  The first couple of weeks, we received primarily greens, with the addition of fresh garlic (the best I have ever had), spring onions, asparagus and lettuce.  As you can see from the photo, we now receive a bounty of yummy fruits and vegetables with our "fall" greens. 

Throughout the season, there have been ups and downs with the produce we have gotten.  The cherries and strawberries were small and bitter.  The Asian pears tasted more like potatoes than fruit (although they yielded a delicious pear cake).  And speaking of potatoes, due to the heavy rains, we only got them once and, although they were very tasty, there weren't many of them.  But, when you join a farm, you are part owner, so to speak, and if there is a rough season for some of the produce, you share in whatever the output may be.  It's what I expected. 

In spite of the few disappointments mentioned above, however, overall I was very pleased with what we received.  As I said before, all the greens were incredible.  I have occasionally purchased greens from the market and, for lack of a better word, they always had a "smell" to them.  Plus, they always made me sick - stomach upset, pain - symptoms that had once led me to believe I was possibly allergic to raw spinach, Kale, and lettuce.  With the greens we got from the farm, I never once got sick.  I felt perfectly fine, in fact, with all the food I ate, whether it was peaches, apples, beets, eggplant, squash, or greens.  Which leads me to believe that I am "bothered" by whatever they spray on fruit and vegetables to either get them to market or to keep them looking good enough to sell at a market.  Not necessarily the pesticides they may use, but preservatives, anti-fungals, and other things that were not used on the produce we got from our farm.  Sadly, even some "organic" produce from a conventional market bothers me.  Maybe it's what they wash it with to make it presentable.  I mean, the stuff from our farm was often covered in dirt - nice pure earth that I enjoyed washing off to get to the treasure that lay beneath.  It was like I had grown it and picked it myself!

Will I join the CSA next year?  I would really like to.  My husband thinks that at $500, it was expensive.  But over 20 weeks, that comes out to just $25 a week.  I could easily spend more than that on produce at the grocery store.  Yes, I had to still buy carrots, onions, peppers, and potatoes from the store since they did not grow them on our farm (normally they do grow lots of potatoes, but the crops were largely ruined this year).  But, as a rule, I planned my meals around what I knew was coming from our CSA.  On Monday, we received an e-mail telling us what we would be getting each Thursday.   And during peach and apple season which covered more than half of the time we received the produce, I ate at least a fruit a day - sometimes 2 or 3.  They were so good!

Many of you have asked me about our CSA and if I would recommend joining one.  The answer is definitely yes. 

It's been a while since I have written in here.  Lots going on with my boys!  I hope you are enjoying this fall season.   Until next time, happy and healthy eating!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Unfinished Business

I don't believe in the Easter Bunny, the Boogey Man, or the Tooth Fairy, but, crazy as it sounds, I do believe in ghosts.  It's not a far stretch from believing in the soul - the part of us that continues on after we have shed this body that keeps us captive here on earth.  If you are a Christian, then I know you have heard of the "Holy Ghost" - the "Spirit" part of the Trinity - the part that exists around and in us and that guides us through our trials and tribulations.  I do not believe that heaven is literally above us or that hell is somewhere down below either.  I believe that, somehow, the "afterlife" exists on the same plane as the one we occupy.  If our eyes could see into the spiritual realm, I think we'd be shocked by what is around us.  With bodies, we are limited by space and time, as well as by what we can hear, taste, see, smell, and touch.  Without them, the possibilities are endless.  Recently scientists discovered that with the neutrino, it is possible to go faster than the speed of light.  It turned Einstein's theory of relativity on its proverbial ear!  Translation?  Theoretically, time-travel may be possible.   I also believe that, with all the possibilities that will be available to us, for most of us, the realm we will be in after our bodies die is so wonderful, that we will have no reason, no desire, to hang around "here" anymore.  But for some, that is just not the case.  For some, there is what can best be described as unfinished business.  In the photo above and to the left is a window on one of the at least 3 buildings on the William & Mary campus that is rumored to house a ghost.  Below is another one:
I took these photos during what was called a "Lantern" (or late-night) tour of the campus.  It's strange but I was not trying to find ghosts on the tour, however at these 2 locations (both of which are purported to be haunted) there were shadows or light in the windows, as you can see in my photographs.  Coincidence?   I'm not so sure...

When I was 17, my grandmother died and, for several days afterward, she came into my and my mother's rooms in the middle of the night and brushed a comforting hand across our cheek.  Even though we were startled at being awakened by her touch, it did not frighten us per se.  It was just something she had to do.   She had died completely conscious and aware, but unable to speak due to a tracheotomy, therefore unable to tell us one last time how much she loved us, or to say good-bye.  At least that's how I have tried to make sense of it. 

In a beautiful book called God's Child Andrew, a mother and father write about the death of their 6 year old son, Andrew, who had wanted nothing more than to be an Altar Boy.  And on one icy Sunday, on the way to church of all things, there was an accident and little Andrew was killed.  The family's grief was so strong that Andrew appeared to his mother, father, and grandmother, encouraging all of them to stop mourning, that he was happy and at peace.  I had the pleasure of meeting with and talking to this incredible couple (the father actually became a priest because of what he had experienced!) and it was such a blessing.  I will forever be grateful for the experience. 

So, yes, I do believe in ghosts, but that is not exactly what this post is about.  I have been unable to sleep lately because I left unfinished business down in Williamsburg.  And like a ghost that can not find peace, the soul within me will not rest until I go back down there and take care of things.  When we were there last weekend, my son was sick and feverish.  He had an infection but had not been taking his antibiotics properly.  Everything in me told me not to go home - but we had to.  My husband had a job to get back to and my other son had to go to school.  I felt I should have stayed and it has bothered me all week.  He is not feeling much better, so now, I am going back - by myself - to make sure my son is all right.  And, if not, to help him get the care he needs.  I look at the many pictures I took of our visit last weekend, but the ones that I can not stop looking at are the windows with the shadows behind them.  Like kindred spirits reaching out to each other across a transparent divide, I know my place.  Right now at least, it is to be back with them on that 300+ year old campus filled with opportunities, incredible young men and women, and the spirits of those who, for whatever reason, have been destined (or have chosen to) stay behind...