Celebrating Life

Balance in all our dimensions creates energy, strength, and support to ourselves and others.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rhubarb Muffins

A friend gifted me with many stalks of rhubarb yesterday.

I enjoy rhubarb. Rhubarb pie, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb jelly, rhubarb crisp.

Today I tried a new-to-me recipe which I found in Simply in Season, by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. I love this cookbook as it has recipes categorized in, you guessed it, seasons. So convenient! The recipes are amazingly fresh, interesting, varied.

Not willing to forget this Rhubarb Muffin recipe - or where I found it - I am posting it here for posterity.

Perhaps you'll give it a go? It's easy. Slide some rhubarb stalks from your garden, or your friend's garden, or perhaps purchase a stash of freshly picked rhubarb from your farmers' market, dice up a bit, and make a batch of these nutty, fruity, fluffy, delicious muffins. 

You'll be glad you did.

Rhubarb Muffins
Yields 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups / 375 ml all-purpose flour
1 cup / 250 ml whole wheat flour 
(I had no whole wheat on hand so used only all-purpose. You can use all whole wheat if you prefer, or this ratio)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine thoroughly

1 cup / 250 ml buttermilk, sour milk, or plain yogurt (I used yogurt)
3/4 cup / 175 ml brown sugar 
1/2 cup / 125 ml oil
1 egg (beaten)
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a separate bowl, mix well. Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened.

1 1/2 cups / 375 ml rhubarb (diced)
1/2 cups / 125 ml nuts (toasted and chopped; optional)
Stir in. Fill greased muffin tins two-thirds full.
(My muffin tins filled almost completely full. But it worked just fine! I baked two minutes longer.)

1/4 cup / 60 ml sugar
1 Tablespoon butter (melted)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon flour
Combine and sprinkle on top of batter. Bake in preheated oven at 375F / 190C until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. (If they last that long! My gang enjoyed these muffins warm.)

Credit: Marilyn Swartzentruber and Clatherine Klassen

Monday, June 15, 2015


Sometimes the difference between success and failure comes down to simply pausing.

Pausing in that space between impulse and action.

To wait out a craving, to just wait, to grab onto all the lessons learned which inform that the morning will be happier if an impulse is denied.

By my own free will.

My choice.

There is a difference between deprivation and choosing to rest in satisfaction rather than over indulge.

Freedom. I see it as freedom to rule my impulses.

Sometimes they get the better of me. But, if I win more than my impulses do, the results I need will come.


Last evening I won.

This morning I smile.

I am that much stronger.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

French Croissants

Croissants on Sunday morning add aroma, taste, and happiness to our home. Three bakeries in town have good croissants, but they each lack a thing or two. One bakery adds too much salt, the other two haven't a crispy enough outer shell to suit us. We like a croissant that crunches and leaves little pieces all over your shirt if you don't catch them in your free hand.

Solution? Fresh home made croissants from an old french recipe which takes three days and is very simple.

It's one sure way to create smiling faces in the early morning hours!

Final rising near the wood stove. Works like a charm.

Brushed with milk.

One dozen crispy on the outside, soft on the inside croissants

Wish you were here!

Interested in giving it a go? Here's the recipe:


Friday Night 

1 cup milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 ¼ cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm milk. Measure out 2 ¼ cups flour and add 2 Tbsp of this flour to the milk and yeast. Whisk until smooth, and then cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for about 20 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar and salt with the remaining 2 1/8 cups of flour. Prepare your mixer by putting on the dough hook attachment.

Next, transfer the raised dough of milk, yeast and flour to the mixing bowl. Warm the remaining ¾ cup of milk and add it to the bowl. Using dough hook (if your mixer has one) turn the mixer to medium and gradually add in dry ingredients of flour, sugar and salt. Reduce the speed to low and allow it to mix until the dough is sticky and soft. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (I lay a plate atop the plastic wrap covered bowl, too, to hold the plastic wrap in place.)

Saturday Morning
12 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature (I set the butter out the night before)
3 Tbsp flour
Using your hand and a plate or a clean surface (I use waxed paper), knead the flour into the softened butter until fully incorporated. Shape into a square.
Cover your work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the fridge and begin to roll it into a 6 inch x 15 inch rectangle. Place the square of butter on the top third of the rolled dough. Gently spread the butter to cover the top 2/3 of the rectangle of dough leaving a ½ inch border around the outside.
Fold the dough like a letter, folding the bottom 1/3 up first and then the top 1/3 down. Turn it counter clockwise so the open flap is to the right. It should look like a notebook.

Roll it out again to a 6 inch x 15 inch rectangle and fold again. Transfer to a baking pan (I use cookie sheet lined with parchment paper), cover lightly with plastic wrap (give dough room to expand) and put back in the fridge for about 6 hours. (I lay a towel atop the plastic wrap, too, to keep it in place.)

Saturday Afternoon 

Remove the dough from the fridge, place on a floured work surface. Roll out the dough and fold just like during the morning. Do this two times, wrap it again and refrigerate it overnight, (covered with plastic wrap and towel.)

Sunday Morning (You’re almost done!)

2 Tbsp milk for brushing
1 egg yolk + 1 Tbsp milk for glaze

Plan to start this process about 1 1/2  to 2 hours before you want to eat the croissants. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Working quickly, roll it out to a 16 inch circle. Cut the dough into quarters and each quarter into 3 triangles. (I use a pizza cutter - works great!)

To make each croissant, with both hands roll the wide base of triangle toward the corner. Transfer each one to a baking sheet. Brush with milk and then let them stand for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on room temperature. They should double in size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Stir yolk and milk together and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (I switch tray positions halfway through). If they brown too quickly lay a piece of foil over the top during baking. Let them cool 20 minutes before serving.

Recipe from French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Celebrating the Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World

We combined Passover and Easter foods today for our Resurrection Sunday Dinner. What fun! And the taste was out of this world, thanks to my many helpers.

Rotisserie Leg of Lamb
Tom hit it out of the park with this lamb today. Last evening, I stuffed the cavities left from bone removal with fresh-from-my-garden sage, chives, and rosemary, plus garlic. I also tucked spears of rosemary and long chives under the outer strings. Into a kitchen trash bag went the meat. Cassie poured an entire bottle of red wine into the bag, onto the meat. While pulling the bag up and pressing the air out we were able to get the wine to draw up and around the meat pretty well. We left it that way all evening, then turned the meat to continue marinating while we slept. Smelled divine! This morning, Tom fired up the old grill, speared the meat, and let it turn, turn, turn over smoking wood chips and a pan of water to keep the lamb moist. Cassie is so right when she describes what she learned in culinary school: it's not the tools, it's the person using the tools that determines the outcome. Tom gets all Gold Stars and Thumbs Up today! He has 'the magic touch.'

Farm Fresh Eggs which we Deviled
Tom picked these flowers from our yard for our centerpiece! What a sweet man!
The view from my Easter Dinner. 
Italian rosemary flatbread for unleavened bread, a roll because we like them, lamb which represents the Passover lamb and Christ the Lamb of God, Cheroseth (apples, nuts, brown sugar, honey, and wine) symbolizing the mortar the Israelites used to build Egyptian buildings, eggs representing New Life because of Christ's resurrection, and radishes as 'bitter herbs' for the bitter time in Egypt (which we dipped in the little white cups of salt water which represents tears shed.) And asparagus, because it's yummy, plus four flavors of jams, jellies, and preserves including Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly from Sedona, Arizona!

Caroline's Famous Chocolate Cake topped this meal off in style! The pictures do not do it justice. It's moist and not too sweet, but oh, so chocolatey. The first photo is the frosting being prepared, the second, obviously, the finished cake, the third is Caroline's piece of cake. Wish you were here!

While the foods of Passover and Easter remind us of what we are celebrating - the most relevant, important event in all of history - it is our very living in the light of the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus, our Promised Messiah, that gives us Strength, Courage, Joy, Love, and Hope.

Christ is Risen, Hallelujah!

And Happy Resurrection Sunday to You!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Feeling Dippy

Tomorrow the entire family comes and goes with mismatched schedules leaving me to figure out a meal that can be eaten whenever a family member has time.

Pita Triangles grilled with Olive Oil and Kosher Salt
Leftover Polenta Crostini
Spinach Spread
Thin Cucumber Slices
Diced Tomatoes 
Fresh Herb Leaves
Raw Veggies for dipping
Mugs of Leftover Navy Bean Soup
Fresh Apples and Oranges
Biscotti for Dessert

Sounds like a plan.

Today I whirred up the Hummus and the Spinach Spread.

Hummus - so fresh compared to store bought

Click on recipe to enlarge it, for easier reading.

Fresh spinach - it took only about 15 relaxed minutes to de-stem the spinach

Creamy Spinach Spread full of Flavor

Click on recipe to enlarge it, for easier reading.

Fresh food, new flavors, quick meals. I'm eager to see how my family responds to tomorrow's food.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pecan-Almond Biscotti

Hibernation consumes January for me. Every year. The weather presses itself down on me like a heavy quilt and I slow to a sloth's pace.

But February brings subtle changes like longer days, a bit of blue sky, sunshine on my face for a moment or two. A mental thawing. Energy begins to buzz in my spirit.

I begin to want to cook.

This fact thrills my family. Cookbooks come out, glossy photos of foods never tried inspire, delight, and prompt.

Today there was enough buzzed-up energy for actual creation.

It started with a batch of yogurt, and a kettle of applesauce, then slid over to a modified Shepherd's Pie sided with Maple Nutmeg Acorn/Butternut Squash Puree. Full Steam Ahead! Perusing the books led to a menu on our refrigerator that sports things like homemade Hummus, and Spinach Dip, Basil Orzo and Shallots, Navy Bean Soup, Zucchini Chicken Kabobs, Polenta Crostini. Nothing fancy, nothing big. Just happy flavors.

Impatient to get started, this evening I stirred, rolled, sliced, and baked Pecan-Almond Biscotti. These cookies are easier to make than one might imagine, offering heavenly aroma during the entire process, plus they make an impressive dessert or snack. One daughter wants to dip the tips of some of them in melted chocolate. We'll do that tomorrow. Other daughter plans a hot cocoa and biscotti reward for the end of her busy day. Coffee tantalizes husband. I look forward to dipping my Italian cookie in chai tea.

Biscotti. Versatile, crunchy, flavorful, long-lasting (they actually get better after a few days) and, because of their hard texture, enjoyment lingers. Crunch. Crunch. Dip. Crunch.

Italian music plays between my ears tonight!