Laboring Last Labor Day

Let’s face it, we all believe that every weekend should be at least three days long. There’s the unwinding and then the settling followed by the satori-moment when we catch our wave and finally, the gearing back up. Isn’t it odd how even the most mundane of tasks can translate from labor to a zen-like repetition under the right circumstances?

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Why I Cheer for Mexico

I doubt most Americans can remember a time when so many of us were gathered around large screens to watch the World Cup. Having had a crush on an Arsenal player in my 20s, my interest was always peeked but this year, it’s on every screen as I traipse through the hotel lobby bars and restaurants. During the early contests, in the heat of the game, my youngest child asked me, “Why are you cheering for Mexico?”

flickr.com/cc2.0/katiebordner/

flickr.com/cc2.0/katiebordner/

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Dads and Home

Wherever I looked yesterday and today, I was reminded of something that we were or ought to be celebrating. Yesterday was Flag Day, Juneteenth, National Bourbon Day, Family History Day, and World Blood Donor Day. Today we’re greeted with the World Cup, Magna Carta Day, National Lobster Day and of course, the homage to our male lineage – Father’s Day.

Father Daughter Lecture out by the Chopping Block

Father Daughter Lecture out by the Chopping Block

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It’s Pi Day π

“How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.”

Pie for Pi

Pie for Pi

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After the Shrove

The word “shrove” is not used often in our home. Ever? It is the past tense of “shrive” which is a religious word meaning to hear a confession, assign penance and be absolved from sin.

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At least this Bowl was Super

Had my beloved Broncos imbibed on this Asian slaw prior to their play, they may have had a fighting chance.

Radish and Mizuna Salad

Radish and Mizuna Salad

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For Pete’s Sake

It ran in the family. You see, Charles Seeger was forced to resign from the music department at the University of California, Berkeley because he was an outspoken pacifist during World War I. Frankly, it’s both surprising and warming to recognize that there were war protesters in 1918.

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Pete Seeger’s well known banjo. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pavdw/ Paul VanDerWerf creative commons 2.0

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How to Hack Happiness in 2014

Google trends shows strong upward movement around the term Happiness. Of course, this is driven by uses of the word such as Quarterback Brett Smith finding happiness in Wyoming but overall, the trend is indicative of a world that is seeking to learn more about happiness and endeavoring to find ways to become and remain happy.

Night School Photo by Director, Piya Jacob

Night Labyrinth

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Chicken with Glory-Twig; One Common Plate

The kitchen should always remain the laboratory. Whether it is to reveal the essence of an earthy spice, the nutritional contribution of local legumes or simply to discover a new method of preparation, the cookery is where research and creativity marry in an unbridled dance. In the words of, the great Harvard Psychologist, Boring (yeah, pity of a name), “anyone who knows the difference between work and play doesn’t belong here”.

Found in the 10th century Lacnunga Manuscript

Found in the 10th century Lacnunga Manuscript

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Chocolate and Sea Salt; One Common Plate

There is much written about how to fight the commercial engine of Christmas and simplify the holidays. Each year we take a couple more steps to resist antagonistic stress and embrace the good cheer of holding our families and friends dear. This December, I did the majority of my shopping at second-hand and consignment stores. We worked on a holiday greeting that we’ll send out as a New Year marker and for the Christmas baking, I embraced a low-involvement and no-sugar recipe that used the combination of chocolate and sea salt as directed by the efforts of 1Common Plate at slurrpy.com.

Simple Holiday Cookies

Simple Holiday Cookies

The notion of raw foods always captures my attention as I near the new year. It seems a terrific time to reset expectations, set goals and draw up plans that I hope to accomplish. Near the top of my list in 2014 will be a lighter, more enlightened diet as a food centric lifestyle has manifested results in clothes that aren’t fitting well and a general concern for other health risks that follow. This recipe easily becomes raw with a different choice of almond meal and a replacement of the maple syrup with another sweetener such as agave. The result is a not too sweet treat that also doesn’t tax your time.

Nearly-Raw Chocolate Cookies with Salted Caramel
from the Sweet Life Online
yields 16 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw walnuts, soaked 4 hours
  • 1 3/4 cup almond meal (mine is from blanched almonds)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 5-6 tbsp Nearly-Raw Caramel Sauce (see recipe below)
  • sea salt for topping

Directions:

Drain and rinse the walnuts and place in a food processor with almond meal and cacao powder. Blend until well combined. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp sea salt and blend again until a thick dough begins to form.

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Roll dough into balls about the size of a large tablespoon. Flatten each ball and press an indentation in the center of each with thumb.  Place cookies in a food dehydrator set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit and dehydrate for 3-4 hours, until cookies are crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle. Unwilling to drag the dehydrator in from the garage, I used our warming tray for this and left the cookies for about two hours.

While cookies are dehydrating (or warming), make the Caramel Sauce. Remove cookies from the warming tray. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of Caramel Sauce and return to the warmer or dehydrator for approximately 20 more minutes. Top with fine sea salt. Store in refrigerator.

Nearly-Raw Caramel Sauce
yields 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Macadamia nuts, soaked 4 hours
  • 1/2 cup (about 6) Medjool dates, pitted and soaked at least 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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Drain and rinse nuts and dates. Combine all the ingredients and process in a food processor or vitamin until very smooth. Process until very smooth. Store in a jar in refrigerator for up to 10 days. (Good for many other uses like ice cream topping!)