Normalcy

I woke up today feeling so normal, and good. My head is clear and I can focus. And the most wonderful part is that through this bought of SAD, I never felt full-out depression. Yay!

I have been doing creative things like making delicious mustard. This mustard is so full of flavor it inspires creativity. Therefore I deem it art. The recipe in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook makes a delicious mustard, and I found through experimentation the perfect blend of mustard powders from my local herb store. Using a mix of hot and regular mustard powders, this mustard produces an incredible zing. We find ourselves not only using it in traditional ways, but also adding it to our soups and the like.

Our pickle supply was getting low, so I had to whip up a couple jars of fermented cucumbers. I have found that the fresh garden cucumbers taste superior, but during this time of year and through the winter I use the cute little cucumbers available at Costco. One pack of these makes two quart jars. The Nourishing Tradition recipe for fermented cucumbers is the base, but I always add garlic cloves as well.

And today, besides spending time in my art studio, I plan on getting the house back in order. My husband was out of town this past week, and with me not functioning normally, the house did slip a bit. The kids did a wonderful job picking up the slack though. Without them the dishes would still be dirty, and that mountain of clean clothes would still be on the couch. Now to attack the dust bunnies…

amanda ∞

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The Big Draw day 26

Day 26: taffy, sketch and eat

I really don’t mind waiting to pick up my kids from activities. Sometimes it is the perfect pause that I need and often don’t allow myself at home. Today I sat in my sun warmed van listening to excellent tunes, sketching, and reading. Peaceful bliss. I also enjoyed watching the patterns and shadows the birds made as they circled in flocks.

amanda ∞

Fermented Green Tomatoes

When my family gathered at my grandparents for family dinner, the meals were enough to give me a life-long pursuit of delicious, made-from-scratch food. My favorites were the pickled fruits and vegetables that accompanied the meals, cucumbers, beets, watermelon rind, and (my mouth is watering) green tomatoes. My grandma pickled the traditional way with vinegar.

Since learning to ferment vegetables, pickling them without vinegar, I experimented and came up with the most delicious, fizzy recipe for Pickled Green Tomatoes. We opened a jar yesterday and were WOWed by the flavor and texture.

Since the tomatoes are fermented rather than pickled with vinegar and heat, the contents of the jar are full of lovely, little, living organisms, mostly lacto-bacteria. My daughter had the bright idea of viewing these little organisms under the microscope. Let me just say they are cute and wiggly and very tiny.

And let me also say, YUM!

This is the perfect time of year to pickle green tomatoes as the last tomatoes linger on the vine. The perfect tomatoes to use are still smallish and very green. If they have started to turn, they do not taste good pickled. They taste downright awful. I found this out last year. Bleck.

These tomatoes were prepared today. They are bright when first placed in the jar, but will soften in color as they ferment.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 1 quart

7-8 small green tomatoes, freshly picked from the vine
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons fresh dill, snipped
(OR 2 tablespoons dried dill weed
OR 1 tablespoon dried dill weed and 1 tablespoon dill seed)
1 tablespoon sea salt, preferably Kosher
4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use and additional 1 tablespoon salt)
2-3 cloves garlic (do not mince or crush)
filtered water

Wash green tomatoes well and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Add all the ingredients except the water to the jar, stuffing the garlic in the holes. Add enough water to fill jar, but leaving at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly. Shake to stir ingredients. Keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. For best results, allow to ferment for at least 1 month. When the jar is opened, the liquid will fizz. This is a good thing!

This recipe was adapted from other recipes found in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon.

amanda ∞

Decompression

For almost two years, my family has been preparing and serving meals each Friday at VERONICA’s Voice. This past Friday was our last day. God had been leading me to reevaluate our service this summer, and once school began for us, the answer was obvious. It was time to stop.

I really have mixed emotions about this decision. I absolutely loved serving those women. God truly gave me a heart for them, to serve and treat them as the precious women they truly are. My kids did too, immensely. But there is such freedom in following God’s lead.

My greatest question for God about giving this up was, who will take our place? Who will love these women like we do? I prayed for help, then a replacement, but neither came except more help from my own family. God’s answer to me was to just let go. He would take care of the details. 

As we served up our last meal on Friday, I received confirmation in several different ways that we were supposed to be there that day, and that it should be our last. I was thankful for that. Upon driving home, van full of dirty dishes, I felt relief wash over me. A burden had been lifted, not the burden of service, but the burden of carrying too great a load.

I think that I was questioning God a bit about what He was asking me to do before Friday, wondering if I was hearing Him correctly. One of the books I picked up at the library about a month ago was Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God by Dallas Willard.
 Developing a Conversational Relationship With God  

But, you know what, I was too busy to read much of it. How ironic.

So this next week, with an extra 10 hours added to my week, I plan on reading, pondering, loving, listening, and keeping up with year 3 of The Latin Road to English Grammar. And I plan on thanking God for directing me. His way is always the best, even when we don’t have the whole picture.

amanda ∞

Good Eats

Our family loves to watch the show, Good Eats. We enjoy the humorous, clever, and scientific way Alton Brown teaches us about food preparation. Alton comes up with some unusual recipes and ideas. I was not surprised to receive avocado ice cream and white cake with avocado frosting for my birthday from my daughter, the chef.

This cake and ice cream were strangely delicious. The color makes this the perfect “retro” 1970s cake. The ice cream tasted like, surprise, avocado. Yum!

amanda ∞

Prayer Brings Surprises

I’ve been serving lunch on Fridays at VERONICA’s Voice since late fall 2006. The number of people that are there each week differ, so I plan for 20-25. Sometimes I have leftovers, sometimes there is not a scrap left. Here’s what we do each week:
Monday: plan the menu and grocery shop
Tuesday: set aside ice to take on Friday
Wednesday: start with preparations
Thursday: cook, cook, cook; make tea; my daughter usually makes the desserts this day too
Friday: load up the cloth napkins, utensils, cups, finish any cooking, make name cards for the place settings, haul everything to my van, drive a few blocks to VERONICA’s Voice, unload everything, set the table, serve the meal family style, remove plates and serve dessert, wash the plates there, load up everything else that’s left, drive home, start washing dishes and packing things away until next week, wash napkins
Saturday: fold napkins

I usually work for several hours on Thursday and from wakey time until about 3pm on Friday. The work involved is quite rewarding since I absolutely love to cook and God has given me a super-huge compassionate heart for these women, but coming on 2 years straight with very few Fridays off can wear a girl out. I do have a friend that helps to serve on Fridays, and my daughter helps so much by making the dessert, but I thought it would be good to pray for some backup.

God has such a great sense of humor. My daughter’s love for cooking has grown immensely this past year. This week she says, “Can I cook the whole meal?” What a blessing to me since I really needed to focus on planning our school year. Little did I know my backup would come from within my own household.

Today my daughter will be serving:
Stromboli Sandwiches
Potato Salad
Grapes
Orange Sponge Cake (which is sitting on the kitchen table looking like a good breakfast 🙂 )

amanda ∞

Settling in

I’m used to addressing school issues at some point throughout the day. Now on day 2 of summer vacation, I am quickly settling in to meandering. I did force myself to go to the YMCA to sweat, and actually had some creative freedom in the Turbo Kick class. Our teacher encourages us to just let loose and have fun. I’ve also had fun editing a book my son has written while drinking some swirly, black java, and then letting loose in my art journal. Next I’m off to pound and ferment some veggies.

One of last’s weeks pages:

Completed today:


This one has cut up negatives glued down on the left side, and a secret spy message is under the negative envelope.

amanda ∞