You are currently browsing the archives for August, 2012.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Posted 5 years, 1 month ago at 9:07 am. 3 comments

alone.

As an introvert, I know I’m supposed to enjoy doing things alone. Being by myself is supposed to restore my spirit and make me feel most myself. And generally, that’s true. Except in one area: dining. I used to recoil from  eating alone. I still shudder to remember walking through a noisy cafeteria, tray in hand, desperately scanning faces trying not to look like I was desperately scanning faces. If no inviting countenance was glimpsed, I played the part of a solitary scholar and ate in the shadow of a book. Being an introvert, it was not an option to just say “Hello! Is this seat taken?” and plunk down next to another eating-alone stranger. Then there was the dark time I found myself both companionless and bookless. It was not my most dignified moment when I pulled out my cell phone, pretended there was someone on the other end, and ate as quickly as I could. (Promise you’ll keep that a secret, m’kay?)

No longer.

I recently found myself with a baby free morning and nowhere specific to go. I decided to head to Uncommon Ground, a local spot that wears a rooftop farm as a crown. Instead of the coffeeshop atmosphere I was expecting, I was greeted by a hostess who seated me with a menu. I felt the tingle of my old  anxiety in my finger tips for just a moment. Dining alone?

Oh yes.

Now I steep in it, this eating by myself. I sat at that table with nothing but the condiments across from me and let myself suffuse. A kettle sang in the kitchen as I exhaled the tensions that seemed to cling to me more tenaciously than a toddler. (At least toddlers can be left with a sitter. I’ve yet to find someone who will tend my worries with the same care that I do.) Through windows pin pricked with rain I watched the tide of people outside at the bus stop while, inside, my thoughts began to color the air around me. My fingers lingered around a hot mug, purposefully feeling the warmth slowly ebb away instead of abandoning it after only a sip or two. An hour passed as I spooned at a berry and yogurt parfait. (Drizzled with honey gathered from hives on the roof just above my head!) I read and reread paragraphs from my book, squeezing out all the the beauty I could from words like these:

“All ingredients need salt. The noodle or tender spring pea would be narcissistic to imagine it already contained within its cell walls all the perfection it would ever need. We seem, too, to fear that we are failures at being tender and springy if we need to be seasoned. It’s not so:  it doesn’t reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself.”
- Tamar Adler An Everlasting Meal

Indeed.

These hours dining alone were a much needed dash of salt.

 

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 1:32 pm. 1 comment

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 8:43 am. 3 comments

Homemade Three Ingredient “Nutella”

I was in denial about Nutella for quite awhile. It held great emotional significance for me. Capped under that white lid was countless sleepy mornings in the dorm packing my brown bag lunch next to my roommates. Swirled amidst the chocolate and hazelnuts was a rooftop picnic in Italy with crusty bread and fresh fruit. Sticking to the sides of the jar next to the reduced minerals whey….

Wait, what?

I told you I was in denial. Even though I’m an obsessive ingredient list reader, I refused to check the Nutella label for about two years. I didn’t want to know. In this one instance, I desperately wanted to believe the front of the label with the bright cheery apples and oranges next to toast spread with Nutella.

One day I took the plunge. I turned the jar around and read this label:

(For those of you who can’t read my jiggling-baby-on-hip-camera-phone-quality picture, the ingredients are: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey, lecithin, vanillin.)

Just as quickly I stuffed that memory down into my subconscious with miscellaneous childhood humiliations. I bought several more jars of Nutella over the next several months in this state of forced forgetfulness. Finally I had to be honest with myself; this was not the kind of food-like substance I wanted to eat.

While I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could find an artisanal chocolate hazelnut spread that some guy makes using nuts from his backyard and chocolate imported from his Swiss grandmother all packaged in a vintage heirloom glass jar, I have too strong of a DIY gene for that nonsense.

A quick check with Uncle Google revealed that homemade Nutella is nothing new. Still, none of the recipes were quite up to my real food standard. They either included massive amounts of sugar or dry milk powder, a product that gives me the heebie jeebies. Was it not possible to make a chocolate hazelnut spread that contained only whole fresh ingredients- ones that I’d eat separately anyway?

Happily, yes it most definitely is. With soaked and sprouted hazelnuts as a base, real cream, and no sugar other than what’s in the chocolate, this recipe is genuinely nourishing without sacrificing tastiness. Soaking and sprouting the nuts increases the availability of protein, vitamins, and minerals while decreasing the effects of nutrient inhibitor phytic acid. The resulting spread is not as creamy as store bought Nutella. Little nibbles of hazelnut remain, which I find quite enjoyable. If you’re seeking imitation perfection though, strain the spread through a fine mesh sieve before storing it in jars.

Homemade Three Ingredient “Nutella”
adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe
2 cups hazelnuts
12 oz of your favorite chocolate
2 cups cream (or leftover whey)
salt*
Pour hazelnuts into a large bowl and cover with warm water. Let them soak overnight in a warm place. I put it in my gas oven over the pilot light. The next morning, drain the nuts in a colander. You may stop here and proceed to roasting them, or you may choose to continue rinsing them every few hours until they just barely sprout.
Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 350°. Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 10-15 minutes or until toasty brown goodness wafts from your kitchen. Stir or shake the pan occasionally to make sure they are browning evenly. Take the pan out of the oven and let the nuts cool slightly.
While the nuts cool, place a heatproof bowl on top of a pot filled with a few inches of water. Or use a double boiler. Place your chocolate in a bowl and allow it to melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth throughout.
Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it is just above blood temperature (about 100°). Don’t be a perfectionist; just stick your finger in there and if it feels like bath water, you’re golden.
Gather your nuts into the middle of a large tea towel or in a pillow case. Rub the towel over them vigorously until most of the skins have been removed. Don’t be a perfectionist.
Place the nuts and a two generous pinches of salt in the bowl of a food processor and whirl away until they almost become a nut butter. (Be sure to warn any toddlers in the house that there will be a loud noise.) Add the chocolate and whirl again until evenly incorporated. You might have to stop to scrape down the sides a few times. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the warm milk. (Again, stopping if necessary to scrape the sides.) Once the mixture is smooth and homogeneous, pour it into two pint jars (or two jars you’ve saved from previous Nutella indulgences). You may strain the spread through a sieve to remove the bits of hazelnut. Personally, that’s too much work and I quite like the chunkiness anyway.
Store your Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread in the fridge for about a week to ten days. Freeze it for up to a few months.
Eat it with a spoon. Or fingers. Your prerogative. Leave the guilt in the fridge.
*So I realize that the salt technically makes it four ingredients. But let’s not quibble over details, a’right?

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 7:57 pm. 7 comments

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 5:51 pm. Add a comment

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

Isn’t it weird how new things make old familiar things seem foreign? Like bumping into your teacher at the grocery store. Or that first brush with a new toothbrush. Or strolling through your garden barefoot. There’s a moment of floundering followed closely by a jolt of recognition. (Oh right! That’s how I brush my teeth!)

That’s similar to what happened to me when I was first introduced to dandelion tea. I imagined it to be some exotic process unlike anything I’ve done in my life. So it was with an embarrassing amount of surprise and a small jolt of recognition that I realized that making dandelion root tea is just like making… tea. It involves an almost too shrill kettle, an herb, and some steeping time.

If you are the diy type, you can wait till the first hard frost and forage your own roots from your backyard. If you’re not quite so adventurous (or you just can’t wait till the first hard frost) you can buy the roots at most well stocked natural grocery stores. You can also purchase them online from Mountain Rose Herbs. If you know an herbalist in your area, it’s worth checking with them as well. However you get them, you’ll want to roast the dried roots, which is a pleasure rather than a chore. The roasting roots make your kitchen heavy with the smell of strong brewed coffee and buttery sugar cookies.

Why would you want to make dandelion root tea? Let me answer with another question. Have you ever had an experience where you ate or drank something and felt down to your bones that it was the exact thing your body needed at that moment? Maybe it was a charred grass-fed steak, or a spoonful of fermented salsa, or even salty french fries. Whatever it was, it answered a craving you didn’t even know you had.

That’s why I drink dandelion root tea. I could say it’s because of it’s diuretic properties that gently cleanse the blood and support the liver; unlike other diuretics that leech potassium, dandelion root tea gives a net gain of potassium. It’s also rich in magnesium, a mineral that has a lot to do with your mood and ability to cope with stress. I could also say that I drink dandelion root tea because of its high calcium content, which is important for healthy bones and teeth.

I could say all those things. And they’d be true. But the real reason I drink this tea is the way I feel my body respond with a chorus of “Yes!” from every organ, every curve, every cell.

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

a palmful of roasted dandelion roots
boiling water
a pint jar

If the roots are not already roasted, spread them in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350° for 10-15 mintures, until they are dark brown and their bittersweet aroma fills your kitchen. Allow to cool completely and store in an air tight jar. Measure out a palmful of the stored roots. Pour the roots into a pint sized jar. Pour boiling water to just below the top. Allow to steep for at least four hours. Strain and enjoy warm, gently reheated, or over ice. The roots can be used again to make a second, weaker infusion.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 4:10 pm. Add a comment

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 1:21 pm. 2 comments

You know you’re a mama when…

  • you wait until nap time to eat the cookie someone gave you so you don’t have to share it
  • you pick a half a gnawed raw carrot up off the floor and put it in the fridge for later
  • you delight in your cats because you can love them and then throw them on the floor when you’re done with them
  • you keep a mental tally of how many times your jeans have been spilled, smeared, leaked, peed, and pooed on. And you don’t even think about washing them until that tally reaches at least 17. (Poo counts as 5 points)
  • you spend your baby-free evenings watching videos to learn new ways to fold cloth diapers
  • you understand what it means to be physically but not sexually attracted to someone
  • you look down and realize you’ve been wearing oatmeal as some kind of nouveau pendant. Suddenly stranger’s small smiles and headshakes make sense
  • you can locate your child anywhere in the house based solely on the unique sound patterns resonating from the particular things being banged together
  • you spend your falling asleep moments trying to describe the smell of your sleeping baby’s head
  • you wonder how you met new people before you had a baby as an ice breaker
  • you carry around the sinking knowledge that sometime, somewhere, a guest is going to find that apple core your toddler dropped in a secret hiding place
  • you’ve slept with a teddy bear for the first time since your own childhood in a desperate attempt to make it smell like you so you can trick your baby into sleeping longer
  • it’s totally normal for your toddler to finish his lunch after his nap…. off the floor where he threw it
  • you’ll drink a glass a water that’s 15% baby backwash without a second thought
  • you forget to drop the royal “we” when your child’s not with you
  • you have nursed/snuggled/read to/ played with your child… while pooping
  • you plan date nights with the same attention to detail and wishful thinking that you used to plan your wedding when you were thirteen
  • you rarely snap all the snaps
  • you know what a full body hug feels like

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 1:46 pm. 1 comment

Milestones: Helping

Ever since Aunt Rachel and Tiffany visited and showed him where the silverware goes, he’s never let a dishwasher-door-open moment pass without helping put away something. His favorite are the spoons. Dirty ones.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 8:12 pm. 1 comment