Fermented Food

Fermented foods have been made since Neolithic times. Fermented vegetables begin with a method of preservation that enhances the nutrient content of food known as lacto-fermentation.  Natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid.  The bacteria also produce vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial for digestion.  It is believed that fermented foods can lead to a stronger immune system and an increase in antibodies.

I have been making sauerkraut from green cabbage for years.  But almost any vegetable can be fermented either alone or by creating a mix of different kinds.  You can also experiment by adding spice and herb combinations.  The best news is that you don’t have to make mega quantities – small batch canning is a great concept.  You can find many ideas and recipes on-line.  Have fun with it! 

Polar Opposites – Socks

Don’t you think that these will make the perfect SF Giants socks?  The yarn is from indie dyer, Amy Lee’s company Canon Hand Dyes (colour way: Double Double Toil and Trouble). I just love them and they make me smile!

If you are interested in learning how to knit, there are several on-line tutorials and books.  But, don’t forget your local yarn store!

Happy Valentine’s Day

LOVE

The power of the heart is the power to love; to care and nurture all life forms.

May we all support each other no matter what differences we may observe from the outside. May we all remember that we come from the same place and are all part of life itself. When we are born, it’s the love that counts. When we truly live, it’s the love that counts. When we die, it’s the love that counts.

May all hearts be honored as we put aside our difference and just love one another.

This is from Lydia’s Foods’ Newsletter.  Such a perfect sentiment for today!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

Hike – 2.12.17

I’VE GOT MY MOJO BACK!  It’s been 7 weeks since I’ve had my Brooks trail running shoes on and have been hiking on the trails.  There was a break in the weather and it was absolutely gorgeous outside!  I encourage you all to get outdoors.  If this isn’t part of your normal pattern, add distance slowly.  I promise you won’t regret it and the Vitamin D is good for you!

KEEP MOVING!

Brownies

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There are so many resources when it comes to finding great recipes. A few of my favourite sites have been: Savory Simple, Smitten Kitchen and Style Sweet CA.  They do not disappoint. Another important thing, for me at least, with blogs is that you are not inundated with ads – I loathe them and they seem to slow my computer.  Recipes accessed in a user friendly manner is also important.

I tend to use the same basic recipes repeatedly with the exceptions of brownies.  I am always searching for the perfect brownie.  I wanted to share with you a simple, quick (with easy clean up) recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s blog.  It is brownie perfection! If you are in need of a quick and personal gift, this could be your answer. If you want to read the entire blog: My Favorite Brownies. Is there a better way to spend a rainy day other than in the kitchen baking?  Do let me know what you think.   ENJOY!

My Favorite Brownie

naptime brownies

Makes 1 8×8 pan of brownies which you can cut into 16 2-inch squares (shown above), 25 smaller squares, or 32 2×1-inch bites, which is what I usually do.

3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.

Let cool and cut into desired size. If you’re like me, you will prefer these and all brownies, cold or even frozen. But I bet you’re normal and will just eat them hot from the pan. If desired, dust the brownies with powdered sugar before serving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Walk – 1.29.2017

It’s been 4 1/2 weeks since the hip surgery and I am able to go on walks just over two miles (two days in a row).  I am super excited to share with you my progress with photos of my walking adventures.  Enjoy them and be inspired to “keep moving” and enjoy the sunshine as January comes to an end. It’s time to start exploring; it’s beautiful outside!

The Biodiversity Museum – Panama City

The building was designed to tell the story of how the isthmus of Panama rose from the sea, uniting two continents, separating a vast ocean in two, and changing the planet’s biodiversity forever.

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The Biomuseo, a natural history museum, was designed by renowned Canadian architect Frank Gehry (think Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain). The design was conceived in 1999 and it was announced in 2004 that Gehry, whose wife is Panamanian, would donate this to the people of Panama; his first in Latin America.  It finally opened in October 2014 well over budget.

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The site is located at the end of the Amador Causeway facing the Pacific Ocean at the entrance of the Panama Canal.  Incredible panoramic views of the ocean and cargo ships entering the canal add the perfect backdrop.

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The building’s colorful canopies were designed in reference to the richly diverse flora and fauna of Panama.

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There are 4,000 meters of structure and will contain eight permanent exhibition galleries designed by Bruce Mau Design.  The exhibitions are led by the University of Panama and the Smithsonian Institutions and focuses on Panama’s biodiversity, one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

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I LOVED everything about this museum and I learned so much starting with the land bridge between North and South America three million years ago and the cross-migration of animals that took place.  This room was fascinating with fantastic creatures carved out of fiberglass and covered with brilliant white epoxy that allowed touching of the exhibits. The sloth was just amazing!  I was never bored as all of this was new information to me.

It’s not finished yet- three remaining galleries need completion.  One gallery is a two-story aquatic exhibit called Oceans Divided.  It was to be completed last year, but when I was there in May 2016 it was far from being done.

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Some call it post-modern genius; others a flaming pile of garbage.  What do you think?

Travel Logistics: Flight time from San Francisco is 7 hours; I paid $500 on COPA.  I would recommend staying in Casco Viejo district as there are great restaurants and shops. There is a sightseeing bus for a minimal daily rate that takes you to all the necessary spots.

coconut

Everything Pumpkin!

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The origination of the word pumpkin is from the Greek for ‘large melon’; something large and round. The French later adapted it to pompon; the British changed it to pumpion and finally the American colonists changed it to pumpkin.  Pumpkin, a winter squash, is thought to have originated in North America with pumpkin seeds found in Mexico dating to 7000 and 5500 BC.  This  vegetable is nutritionally dense and rich in antioxidant vitamins (A, C,E), minerals and B-complex.

Pumpkin’s popularity is not confined to culinary delights as it is the emblem of Halloween not to mention folklore and the supernatural (turning people into pumpkins by witches and the jack-o-lantern warding off evil spirits). Cinderella – we must not forget about how the fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a carriage and back again at midnight!

Typically in the fall, I start getting obsessed with everything pumpkin. Perhaps I have a Vitamin A deficiency and this is my way of satiating it.  I start searching my data base for pumpkin recipes ranging from curry, chili, pancakes, ravioli, soup, pie to a myriad of baked goods!

Another rainy day and I am about to bake my final (sigh) recipes of the pumpkin season: Pumpkin Muffins and Pumpkin Bread.  What do they say about muffins – that they are cupcakes without frosting – I love the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction; it is the perfect muffin and not too sweet, but it has those yummy and tiny chocolate chips which makes everything so wonderful.  She includes a chocolate frosting recipe on her blog if you want cupcakes instead.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

pumpkinmuffins

1 and 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup (100 grams) packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (227 grams) pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (90 grams) mini chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray two 12-count muffin pans with non-stick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes: In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until combined. Add the pumpkin, oil, milk, and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do NOT overmix the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter evenly into 14 cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.



I’ve made many tea cakes and especially like the pumpkin ones and finally I found a delicious and easy recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It has the best crispy cinnamon topping!  Do believe the recipe and be assured that there is not too much sugar in it; it IS a large loaf.  I have always gotten a few pockets of uncooked batter.  I simply turn off the oven and leave the bread in for a few extra minutes which seems to solve the problem.  And, yes, it is good at tea time and great for breakfast, too!  Try it toasted with cream cheese, jam, crème fraiche or butter.

Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin-bread

1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral cooking oil or melted butter (115 grams)
3 large eggs
1 2/3 (330 grams) cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Two pinches of ground cloves
2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
To Finish
1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 6-cup loaf pan or coat it with nonstick spray.In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and sugar until smooth. Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinanmon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over batter and whisk until well-combined. Add flour and stir with a spoon, just until mixed. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth the top. In a small dish, or empty measuring cup, stir sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter.

Bake bread for 65 to 75 minutes until a tester poked into all parts of cake (both the top and center will want to hide pockets of uncooked batter) come out batter-free, turning the cake once during the baking time for even coloring.

You can cool it in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove it, or cool it completely in there. The latter provides the advantage of letting more of the loose cinnamon sugar on top adhere before being knocked off.

Cake keeps at room temperature as long as you can hide it. I like to keep mine in the tin with a piece of foil or plastic just over the cut end and the top exposed to best keep the lid crisp as long as possible.


I do hope that you try the recipes and enjoy them as much as I have.  Let me know some of your favorite pumpkin recipes!