Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Escape Time !

Well, it was that time again....time when I needed to recharge my soul....I think some people recharge by being around people...and others like me get refueled by being alone in a quiet, serene place. Soooo, after enough busyness for a period of time, I knew that I had to get on my trusty computer and search for a place to escape to, to unruffle my feathers. After a search on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), I discovered a couple of photos that made me go ahhhhhh......a photo of a soft, fluffy white bed and another picture of a deep white tub with trees in the windows behind it. How bad could that be ??!

                                                                                                                               
Sold !  So I booked the home with the owner, a sweet, lovely woman who is from Eastern Europe. This home is located on a hill in Carmel Valley, California, with a view of the soft, green hills across the valley. I arrived at night, so it was a bit of a challenge to find the house, but the kind hostess guided me over the phone as I climbed the hill in my car.  She showed me all the rooms, light switches, the coffee maker, utensils, and dishes in the kitchen, etc.
   






   The next morning, I woke up to soft sunlight flowing through the windows of an incredibly peaceful, romantic bedroom. I loooove the dreamy white, cream, and beige colors of the bed, walls, fireplace, tile, and curtains. It just sort of felt like waking up in Heaven....



   So I went upstairs and made myself some luscious coffee, and a bowl of yogurt with Whole Foods Market Bakery Granola (which is fabulous !), blueberries and mango. I was so excited to crawl back into that fluffy white bed, and enjoy my warm, aromatic coffee and tasty
breakfast as I looked out the window at the green hills, listening to the bird songs coming through the open French doors, and feeling the gentle breezes blowing on me. The warmth of the flames in the fireplace were a sweet touch as well. Every bedroom should have a fireplace in it, right !!
   I also took some time to spend with Yeshua/Jesus, reading my Bible, and afterwards looking through a new French cookbook that I had brought. I always like to bring a new book or two and a few magazines to read when I go on my escapes !
 
   The house has a couple more bedrooms, a roomy living room, and two outdoor decks. I had my lunch on the upstairs deck that is outside one of the bedrooms. It was all very rustic, with that foothills/moutainous vibe...just a great place to get away for some soul restoration....
   And extra treat on my trip was to spend some time with my daughter Courtney ! We had a super delicious lunch at Cafe Sparrow in Aptos and then we scavenged through three of Courtney's favorite  antique/vintage stores that were across the street. She found a few lovely quilts and a big pot for her garden . It's always a fun adventure when I spend time with each of my three daughters because they take me to places I've never been ! I'm so very happy that G-d blessed me with three wonderful daughters....and now a son Jeff, as my daughter Brittany got married not long ago !
   If you're needing a little get-away....check out VRBO.com, airbnb.com,  go camping, have a stay-cation at home with all your electronics turned off, spend half a day at a park, go to the beach, get a baby-sitter,have coffee or tea at a cozy coffee house and read a good book, or just do what gives you peace and calm......find a place that tugs on your heart and run away !!! Bon voyage !


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Whole Grain Waffles that Taste like Mounds Bars !

   Hi ! Are you a waffle lover like me ?! My brothers and I grew up eating the waffles and pancakes  that our dad made for us, especially on early mornings before heading up to the mountains, an hour and a half  away, to go skiing ! These days Dad makes Swedish pancakes more often, with the perfect recipe he has found, and oh they are delectable ! But to get back to the subject of waffles, I decided that I wanted a recipe that was healthy and and enjoyable to eat ! So this recipe combines whole graines, olive oil, and honey, or raw sugar.

   One day I decided to put chocolate chips, shaved coconut, and warmed maple syrup on my waffle. Ooooh my...that was the bomb, as the young people say ! The hot off the press waffle and the warm syrup melted the chocolate chips, made them ooey and gooey. The chocolate mixed with the shaved coconut reminded me of eating a Mounds Bar, one of my favorite candy bars !
My waffle recipe has whole wheat flour, oats, and cinnamon in it. You could substitute ground flax seed for the oats, and buckwheat flour for the whole wheat flour. If you don't want to add cinnamon, you could add ground nutmeg or perhaps allspice, or just leave the spices out.
                                                            Whole Grain Waffles
 
   1 cup whole wheat flour
   1/2 cup all purpose flour (or cake flour)
   1/2 cup oats (or ground flax seed, or bran)
   2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder (without aluminum)
   1/2 teaspoon salt
   2 teaspoons cinnamon (or nutmeg, or a teaspoon of allspice)

   1 tablespoon raw sugar (or honey) (Leave the sweetener out if using the waffles with a savory recipe.)
   3 eggs
   7 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
   1 1/2 cups milk (or buttermilk)
   2 teaspoons vanilla
   100 % maple syrup

                                                          Procedure

   Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, beat the eggs well and stir in the oil, the milk, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the liquid ingredients and stir altogether until blended, with a pebbled look, like a muffin batter. Don't over mix. Put about 1/3-1/2 cup of the batter into the waffle iron and cook until the waffles are done according to your waffle maker.
   Pour warmed syrup over the waffle and sprinkle on top fresh fruit or berries, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, pureed dried fruit or raisins, shredded sharp cheese, butter, or chopped nuts. (I buy Lily's Chocolate Chips sweetened with stevia, at Whole Foods Market.) Some people eat their waffles with chicken, which I have yet to do !!


 

 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Our Family Thanksgiving and a Honey Cranberry Sauce Recipe !


 

 Have you had your turn roasting a Thanksgiving turkey...or are you going to take the challenge any other time of the year !!??  Well, last year I waited until three days before Thanksgiving and I had to go to a couple of stores before I found an organic turkey. This year I decided to buy one sooner than that, so I became the turkey roaster this year ! I'd never tried brining poultry before, and after hearing chefs on cooking shows say how tender the meat becomes, I thought why not, I'll try it ! It's actually not scary or hard at all. It's just a matter of combining in a big pot, water, salt, sugar, fruit juice, spices, herbs and putting your bird in there overnight ! "How to Brine a Turkey"from the kitchn.com looks pretty easy, if you want to try it !

I also tried Chef Jeffrey Zakarian's Turkey Wet Rub recipe on foodnetwork.com,  for roasting the turkey, because it looked easy and had ingredients that I love, like tarragon, honey, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice ! 
  Some of our family celebrated at my brother Brett and sister-in-law Laura's house. We missed our family members who couldn't make it this time. My mother  Sonje made delicious cinnamon, brown sugar yams. Laura made the yummy  Apple Walnut Cranberry Salad that you can find on Pinterest. It has gorgonzola cheese in it....oh yeah ! She also made two scrumptious cranberry sauces, one was flavored with orange and one was traditional. I made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic in them. Now my mouth is watering !


 
  My nieces Tessa and Tatum, nephew Jared, and my brother Chris were there too.  Chris "cooked" two Marie Callender's pies; a sugarless raspberry and a pumpkin one that we had with vanilla ice-cream ! We had a lovely, intimate time, enjoying each other's company and giving thanks to G-d for His blessings on us in 2016. I'm so happy that we have this unique, special Holiday in our country each year to pause, reflect, and give thanks.
                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                     
                                                            Turkey Wet Rub

Preparation Time: 5 min
Yield: Enough to coat a 12-14-pound turkey
Level: Easy

                                                             
                                                                  Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise, such as Hellman's
1 cup fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

                                                         Directions for the Rub

   In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, tarragon, honey, mustard, lemon zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. Rub the mayonnaise mixture all over the 12-14-pound turkey before roasting. I would add to rub this mixture under the skin, where possible  as well.

  I followed the directions called "How to Cook a Turkey : The Simplest, Easiest Method" by Emma Christiansen, on thekitchn.com.  Maybe you'd like to follow her directions too ! ( The truth is, I was going to type the directions, but when  saw that they were about  10-15 paragraphs long,  (And I type with 2 fingers !) I decided that  hopefully,  you wouldn't mind looking it up yourself ! But seriously, don't freak out ! It has been said that cooking a turkey is like cooking a big chicken !

   P.S. In past years, I have made cranberry sauce with honey....so here is a recipe for you !

                                                          Honey Cranberry Sauce

   1-12oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries
   1 cup honey
   1 strip orange zest
   1 cinnamon stick ground cinnamon stick
   1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
   1 whole clove nutmeg
      (You can also use 1/4 teaspoon of each powdered spice instead.)

                                                                      Directions

   Pour the cranberries into a medium saucepan. Add the honey and the strip of orange zest or peel. Grind the cinnamon stick, whole cloves, and whole nutmeg in a clean coffee grinder.  Cook the cranberries and honey over  medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cranberries until they burst and until the the mixture has a saucy consistency. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the freely ground or powdered spices. Taste the sauce  to see if it needs more honey or spices. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.



P. S. I decorated the turkey with citrus branches from my trees, fresh sage and rosemary sprigs, tangerines, apples, a pear, pomegranate, and some persimmons.
                                                                                   

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Daughter's of Simone Goes to New York Bridal Week !!

   I had the wonderful  and exciting experience of going to New York City during Bridal Week, to attend a runway show that two of my daughters, Brittany and Ashley, were involved in, with their wedding dresses !!  As I look back, to how the seeds began of their wedding dress business, I remember the fun that my three daughters had as children putting on fashion shows, after we had  bought new clothes for school or summer. Ashley recently told me that she used to go hide in a corner in our house, and look at my Vogue magazines, after I had torn out the less modest photographs ! Their company is called Daughters of Simone, which specializes in romantic, bohemian looks. The show was put on by One Fine Day, a wedding fair group from Australia, a very kind and helpful group of people. Several of them asked me if I was Simone, to which I had to say 'no, that's the name of a  French author.' There were eight other designers from countries around the world participating as well.

   My daughters invited me to come early to do a little hand sewing on a dress that was going to be hanging in their display room, and when I walked into the venue, it was like walking into a beautiful soft white dream. All the walls were painted snowy  white, with vintage white furniture, and dreamy, beautiful, mostly white dresses hanging on white racks.  You could see cool architectural views of New York City through the windows which added  a soft glowing light, perfect for those of us taking photographs. Was this real or a dream !!?
   A separate floor where the runway was located, had white floors, white walls, rows of white chairs, and a large paned window with a  multitude of creamy white candles of various heights in front of it. This array of lit candles proved to highlight the  anticipation and drama of the models entering the runway ! My girl's father and I were surprised and  blessed to be given front row seats.
M

    The models walked out to an assortment of  hip music choices and it was interesting to see the varied styles and fabrics from beaded, to chiffon, to lace, and more.  After each group of models walked the runway, most of the designers came out and waved to the crowd, to the applause of the audience. My daughters decided to follow their models and walk the whole runway, celebrating the culmination of their hard work and accomplishment ! Those of us family and friends who were there clapped and cheered...rather loudly  I'd say !
   I think back in time of being a fifteen year old, when my fellow classmates and I had to write papers on the careers  that we envisioned for ourselves in the future. I wrote about my dream to be involved in the fashion industry....so I became an artist and a teacher instead, ha ha ! I didn't have a clue as to how to break into the business, but I guess that G-d didn't forget my dream though, as now I get to live it through my daughters ! Well, I'll be....life is full of so many unexpected  surprises and blessings ! Thank you Brittany and Ashley for giving me such joy as I watch you living out your dreams and helping to give brides such happiness, wearing your beautiful dresses on their wedding days ! Yahooeeee !!! Aaaannnnd check out daughtresofsimone.com everyone !!

  
   
                                                                                                       






     

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jammin' with Plum Jam !

 


 Aww Summertime....Why do you have to leave me until next year ? I am already missing your luscious fruit !!  Well....I can dry my tears because I have a most happy summertime memory of making PLUM JAM with my daughter Courtney in Santa Cruz !! And we'll be able to taste the bright flavors of summer when we spread our jam on toast, drizzle it on top of ice-cream, or eat it with meat, etc.

    Courtney called me and told me that her fruit
trees were loaded, with three kinds of plums and asked me if I would like to come to her house for a jam making day ! How fun that sounded, so we put a date on the calendar about a month away, when she wasn't working with her  company 'Ramblin Adventure Club' in which children are taken on wonderful outdoor adventures ! She froze the plums in plastic bags for our future date. I was excited to spend some time with  Courtney !                
 So when I arrived at Courtney's she had the plums thawed out, we had some quesadillas and  herbal tea for lunch, and then we proceeded to pit the plums with our hands ! Fortunately Courtney gave me some blue surgical gloves while she went au naturel  with her bare hands. Her boyfriend Andy stopped by to see what we were doing and remarked that we looked like we were doing surgery. Well, uh yes...moving on...we put the plums in a large pot with some water, lemon juice,  and some sugar. After tasting the jam we thought it needed a little flavor enhancing so we went to the grocery store , bought some honey (and ice-cream !). In went several tablespoons of honey into the pot !
                                                                     
    After a while Courtney and I took a little rest and then sterilized the jars and filled them until about 11:00 that night. And oh....we added cinnamon to half of the batch to spice it up a bit !
   The next day my daughter  Brittany and son-in-law Jeff came by to visit and they got to see the fruit of our labor all packed in cute little jars.
   Aaaand...I asked Courtney for the jam recipe, but maybe she's secretly guarding it...or maybe not...hee hee soooo, I found what looks like the easiest honey plum jam recipe on the planet....except your labor and time of course ! It's just two ingredients...how hard can that be !
   I recommend making jam with your family or friends. you get to spend the whole day together, talking, laughing, and creating something wonderful together ! How great is that !
   Thank you Courtney for a very special day with you....I enjoyed our time together so much !! Let's do it again ! With all the ABC girls and more !
                               
                                           
                                                 
                                                     Beemaid Honey Plum Jam Recipe

Ingredients

4 cups cut up plums
1 3/4  cups honey

Proceedure

   Wash plums ; remove stones and chop into fine pieces.Place in a large saucepan ; stir in honey and let sit for an hour. Bring to a boil. Cook at a full rolling boil for 15 minutes. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with a thin layer of paraffin. When cool, add another thin layer of paraffin. Cover, label, and store in a cool place. Makes about 6 jelly jars.
   ( Courtney and I did not use paraffin. We boiled the jars for about 10-15 minutes and washed the lids in hot water, then dried them. The jars were lifted out of the pot with canning tongs and turned over onto a clean cloth. Hot jam ( after we tasted it to make sure it was yummy) was spooned into a  canning funnel and into the jars. The lids were screwed on, not too tightly. The jars whose lid centers sink in are safely sealed. Screw the lids on a little tighter. If a lid center  has not sunk in and they make a clicking noise, it's not able to be stored, but you can put it in the refrigerator and eat it now ! )
   Store the jam jars in a dark, cool place and eat it within 6 months. The jam may get runny after that.

   Thank you Adonai for the beautiful fruit You give us and special times with family and friends !

P.S. Check out Courtney's website ramblinadventureclub.com where kids go out for a new adventure and hike every day !!

P.P.S. I spy Lynette Shor's gorgeous Challah bread and a jar of her delicious jam on the table ! She's my friend and Messianic Rabbi's wife who has a home bakery business called Challahday Bread Company in Fresno !