January 31, 2013

Tuscan Kale Salad



Dinosaur Kale. Black Palm Kale. Black Cabbage. Tuscan Lacinato Kale.

I call it OMG, this is so good for something so healthy.

I found this delicious recipe in a health magazine while on the treadmill, compliments of the good Dr. Andrew Weil. It appealed to me because it not only looked yummy, but because I had planted this same variety in my front bed in an expression of my edible landscape enthusiasm.


(Find the seed here.)  

It's looking a little winter weary, but will perk up in no time as the days lengthen and the weather warms.



In the meantime, I used this beautiful kale from Whole Foods.  

I heartily recommend it...it is simply DELICIOUS (even Husband, who is not always a fan of greens, scarfed it down in no time.)

To me, a complete meal with hot crusty bread and some red wine.


A hearty meal, heartedly recommended!





TUSCAN KALE SALAD
Ingredients

4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, "dinosaur," cavolo nero) midribs 
removed 

juice of 1 lemon 

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

2 cloves garlic, mashed 

salt & pepper, to taste 

hot red pepper flakes, to taste 

2/3 cup grated Pecorino Toscano cheese (Rosselino variety if you can find it) or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan

1/2 cup freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread

Instructions

  1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.
  2. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well.
  3. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.
  4. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

January 28, 2013

Cut Flower Caddie


Image from Fresh Floral Boutique by Eddie Zarastian

 Sweet Husband brought me flowers yesterday.  Several bunches of them as a matter of fact.  They have been conditioning in their water buckets overnight, and this morning I will have the happy task of selecting a vase, arranging them, placing them.

This may seem an odd thing to do on a Monday morning...most of us set out fresh flowers just before the weekend when we will be home, often with guests, to enjoy them. But in line with my philosophy that every day is a good day for flowers, perhaps especially a gray Monday in January, it is a chore I will
contentedly tackle, enjoying every little sensory delight as I do so.

To make arranging easier (and because I have been known to make cut flower house calls...) I keep a Cut Flower Caddie close by with all of the tools and supplies I  might want to use in the process. (Find them here). Nothing too special; just the obvious tools of the trade.

* Scissors, pruners, a sharp floral knife, and sturdy rose thorn stripper

* Packets of flower food

* Wooden floral picks for securing fruit, pinecones, etc.

* All forms and shapes of oasis

* Matches for stems that need to be singed

* Floral tape and clay

* Flower frogs, polished stones, balls of chicken wire --- for holding and securing blooms



* Small plastic vials for individual blooms

* Decorative moss

* A small bottle of bleach (1/4 tsp./quart of water)


and the fresh flowers, of course. And it doesn't hurt to have a book with basic information on cut flower preparation, conditioning and arranging.


Right now I'm reading Simply Elegant Flowers by Michael George (find it here). 








Good information; good inspiration.

For more tips on putting together your own cut flower kit, watch the video here that LC and I did in our most recent 4 Your Garden segment.

Then go out and buy yourself a bouquet to brighten up a gray Monday.  :)
























floral supplies

January 23, 2013

Flower Power

I have special areas in my home where I like to have fresh cut flowers...or maybe a flowering plant...at all times.  Like right by the door that I, and my guests and family, go in and out of every day. Or the bar, or my bedside table, or bathroom mirror.

It gives me joy.  Makes me smile. Connects me with nature. Flowers do that, of course...why we love them so.

Sometimes the arrangements are full and fussy and composed. More often, they are just bunched or plucked and put in a pitcher or vase or basket.


But regardless of their their placement or provenance (from the garden, grocer, or florist), the arrangements always share a few things in common.

They are, for the most part, seasonal.  No sunflowers in January or tulips at Christmas.


No special occasion is necessary. 
Any ol' day of the week or month will do. I especially like to put them out right after I've cleaned  ...as both incentive and reward.

I like to repeat a theme.
If I have a huge floral arrangement on my book table, I will probably have a smaller version of the same  (or one of its components) elsewhere in the vicinity.  A baby echo of the grander display...(and...a reminder to go into the living room and appreciate the more dramatic composition while it is still fresh!)

 Guests are not required.  While am always happy if fresh flowers please my guests, let me be honest

I do it for myself first and foremost. As should you I think!


There are few, if any, guarantees in life.  But this is one of them.

Fresh flowers have the power to delight us.

Why not join LC and me tomorrow on NewsChannel 4 at 4:30?  We'll be putting together a cut flower tool caddie  :).




January 8, 2013

Use What You've Got


We've all been there. Little to no food in our larder and little to no motivation to go hunt and gather. So we make do. We scrounge around, dig into the bowels of the freezer or pantry and see what we can come up with.  We use what we've got and make the best of it. Not haute cuisine, but edible. 

It is clearly the second week in January. Initial enthusiasm for the potential of the new year has begun to subside and a kind of listless apathy has set in.

I ran errands yesterday, and I can tell you that there were crying children at every location and grim, if not sour, faces everywhere.

We have bored kids at home who, nevertheless, dread going back to school, and we adults aren't exactly doing back flips about going back to work. Even dot, my darling zippy Fiat, was more than a little irritated today when a big ol' unmannerly Escalade parked next to her at the post office. 

I too have succumbed to the post holiday doldrums. I am trying to take the edge off my unpleasant, impatient disposition, (though Husband will tell you I haven't been too successful... far too insensitive to his recent invalid status after his New Year's Eve knee surgery.) We've come to kind of a blah stalemate for the moment; grunting to acknowledge each others' presence when we cross paths in the kitchen or laundry room.

Nothing to worry about, just a dreary little valley following those glitzy holiday mountain-tops.

January malaise if you will. Not a lot of smiling or sweetness or empathy left over from the season past, and not much inclination to conjure any up.

So we are forced to work with what we've got. Seasonal ennui and surly dispositions. Case in point:




(Snaggle-tooth is on the left.  L'il Sis' twin, my other baby bro, is on the right.  The Bears vs. the Colts.  A house divided.)  

Truly one of the kindest, funniest, caring men I know...

but, like the rest of us, subject to the occasional, testy, gray, irritable funk.

Yet here I was calling to ask him to deliver a rather distasteful message that would be uncomfortable for him (he, like me, has the disease to please) to convey.

Ever the wiser older sister, I counseled him,

"You're kind of in a ticked off mood at _____, aren't you? (..okay, another term besides 'ticked off' may have been used...)

"Yes", he responded.  

"With kind of a rotten disposition right now?"

"Yeeesss", he replied, no doubt wondering where I was going with this.

"Then, by all means, now's the time to go for it!  When you're not feeling especially kindly or sensitive.  Just irritated enough not to be bullied or intimidated.  A little uncaring, if you will.  So strike when the iron is hot and so is your temper...cuz before long you'll be back to your same ol' sweet push-over self." (or crumble like a cookie as L'il Sis would say)
  
All the while thinking to myself.....when you ain't got nothing else, you use what you've got.

Here's to making the most of what we've got, everyone. And welcome to January.











January 7, 2013

Zen Resolutions


Things have a way of stacking up, don't you think?

Last week I was quizzing a friend about his intent, or lack of, to make New Year's resolutions.  He responded no, he did not, and inquired the same of me.

So I shared that indeed, I did...every year...a great many.  In categories, and sub-categories, and sub/sub- categories.  I have a lot to resolve, quite obviously.  All of these imperfections require a commensurate resolution (despite studies indicating that the more
resolutions we make, the less likely we are to keep them).

Before I know it, they all stack up on me and I am forced to tease out
the one; I mean THE ONE!, that is the common denominator in this outline of intentions for the year ahead.


k e e p    i t    s i m p l e

Be just a little more zen, a little more realistic, a little (okay, a lot) less frantic about life.
























So I give you a great blog in that regard, Zen Habits, and its important missives on life's excesses, frustrations, and demands. 

I consider self-awareness to be one of the most important character traits one can possess, and I am very aware that I am easily, and often inappropriately, overwhelmed.  A little zen helps.  Good luck with your resolutions in 2013!

January 3, 2013

A Beautiful Place to Die


A while back I was telling L'il Sis about a string of movies I had just seen on tv. Only after some reflection did I realize all of the films had a common theme:

main characters dying in exquisitely beautiful places.

I can't tell you any specifics about the plots or the people or their respective raisons de morte, 

but I can tell you that the views they enjoyed while expiring were pretty wonderful.


There was that one movie with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey...


you remember...both of them sitting in deck chairs overlooking the sand and sea and crying to "You are The Wind Beneath my Wings"...

And another movie about a young man dying of aids...cared for by his loving companion.


Both of them, sadly and resignedly gazing out over a breath-taking expanse






of violescent vineyards and rolling hills.

In the last movie, a pale and wistful Susan Sarandon spent a good amount of time


(requisite throw in lap, of course) 


sitting stream side,

enjoying its babbling sounds and the gentle wind blowing through the gilded canopy of towering trees.


Ahhhh.

So I told L'il Sis that

though I wasn't ready to use it any time soon, 

I too wanted to own an exquisitely beautiful place to die.

Hmmm.

She asked me why my own garden didn't serve the purpose, and I told her (acknowledging the back-handed compliment),

that, indeed, it was beautiful. But not reliably  so. And it required way too much effort on my part to make it that way. (I am just guessing here, but I think that effort stuff will be in fairly short supply near the end.)  


 (Soon thereafter, Husband and I acquired our beloved mountain view property in Salida, CO.  I am a planner. )

She then said it was funny that I should bring UP the topic, because that very week (during one of my mom's stays at L'il Sis' house), our mother confided  

that L'il Sis' sunroom was so beautiful and peaceful,

 she could just DIE there.

My sister agreed, and said that she, too, had thought of that (so fond of her sunroom is she).  In fact, a male friend of hers had seconded the idea...

at which point L'il Sis had an idea of her own.

Maybe she could rent out space to all of those who would like to make their last passage on her very peaceful porch.


(My best 'Salida Sal' expression.  Just practicing.)

As our conversation continued about her idea,  she asked me what I thought of this business
plan.

Ever the romantic


and after thinking for a moment) I knowingly responded...




...you're gonna need more outlets, Dear.







January 1, 2013

New Year's Day 2013

Did you, like me, continue a  work out regimen over the holidays?

Even on Christmas and New Year's Eve?

I'm thinking you may have.  

If so, then maybe you, like me, are considering some changes to that routine now that the New Year has officially arrived.  :)

WISHING ALL OF YOU A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!