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Sully and His Bike

As a parent, my time is super valuable in everything I choose to fit into all the minutes in the day.  The time invested in my children is such a huge deal, that I often times put myself last in order for getting personal time or taking care of my own needs. If you are a parent, I am sure you can relate.  Not to sound cheesy, but our children are our future scientists, our doctors, our teachers, our engineers, etc. The time you put into motivating your children, building their character, or even challenging them to grow in other ways, is worth more than anything.  It is one of their basic necessities, in my mind.

My husband, author of “Oh, Sully!” is currently raising funds through a social campaign network called Kickstarter. In his first book, his moral based story addressed self acceptance and acceptance in others. With this book, Sully and His Bike, his aim is to motivate kids to never give up.  His illustrations are so profoundly entertaining, and his story so emotionally connective.  I just ask that you please take a look at the video in hopes that he can be funded for his new book. Even sharing the link helps more than you can understand; it gets the word out to people we have yet to connect with on a personal level.  This world runs better when we help strangers, friends, family.  It is our goal to share these wonderful stories with children outside of our own.

This cute new book also meets a personal/business goal of ours.  Through our business Tree Swing Press (http://www.treeswingpress.com), we recently started a campaign to give back to the community; to children in need.  For every book sold online, a book is donated to a child in need.  This campaign is called Book-for-Book. His first donation will be in January while he is on a month-long tour visiting schools, stores, and an annual author’s event.  Additionally, he is currently training for our second campaign we call Border-to-Border. In the spring, he will be running from the Canada border to the Mexico border in hopes to promote literacy.  So your help allows Sully and His Bike to created, along with bigger aspirations of donating to kids, and spreading literacy.

We are hoping that your enthusiasm towards this book is contagious and your willingness to share the link helps us to meet our goals.

Please help us spread literacy.

Kindly,

Sommer Gard and Tree Swing Press

Sully and His Bike

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Split Pea Soup

The weather got down to 33 degrees here in WA  a couple of days ago, with expected snow on Thursday.  Nothing sounded better after a family soccer scrimmage then a hot bowl of Split Pea soup.  Split Peas are high in protein and fiber. Simple, yet satisfying alongside oven roasted garden grown potatoes, a green salad and cranberry-pumpkin loaf.  Absolutely loving experiencing seasons. In southern CA, we never got to completely grasp true weather fluctuations.  It’s truly fun.

* Un-soaked peas take from 1 to 2 hours of simmering; soaked peas take about 40 minutes. Also, the only difference between yellow and green split peas is color. Split peas absorb lots of water as they cook, so check the soup often and add liquid as needed. The peas only need to be cooked until they are tender.(yields: 6-8 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of split peas

1/2 white onion, diced

1 carrot, sliced thin

1 1/2 stalks of celery, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 cubes of bouillon

8 cups water

salt and pepper

olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot saute onion, carrot, and celery along with garlic in a splash of olive oil (roughly 2 Tbsp. of olive oil). Allow the vegetables to soften for 5-7 minutes.  Add the split peas to the vegetable mix and stir in for 2 minutes coated well.  Add the water and bouillon cubes and bring to boil for 8 minutes. Then place on simmer for up 1-2 hours (depends on if you soaked the peas beforehand) Check your water often. If you like a thicker soup, then 8 cups should be fine. If you like a looser soup, alter the water as you cook.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

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Pumpkin & Apple-Fennel Tamales with Cinnamon Masa

A favorite thing of mine to do is develop recipes. I love getting creative in the kitchen, and look forward to the outcome.  One important word of advice given in culinary school was….experiment. Sometimes things turn out great, other times you go back to the drawing board and make alterations here and there.  In the end, it only helps to make you a better cook.

Tonight I needed to use up some fresh pumpkin that I had roasted and pureed for a previous recipe; my cranberry pumpkin loaf.  I love to bake, but unfortunately cannot live off of baked goods. So, the pumpkin & apple-fennel tamales were born.  Seasonally appropriate, these tamales were delicious.  (yield: 10 tamales)

MASA INGREDIENTS:

3 cups masa harina

2.5 cups warm water

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup olive oil

1 tsp. sea salt

TAMALE FILLING:

1/4 cup carmelized onions

1 tsp. orange zest, minced

1 Tbsp. fennel fronds, minced

1/4 cup apple, minced

pinch sea salt

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp. organic brown sugar

* 10 tamale corn husks, soaked.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the masa: Place 3 cups of masa harina in a bowl. Add cinnamon, and sea salt and whisk.  Drizzle in water and olive oil and fold the wet into the dry.  Set aside

Soak the tamale husks in warm water for 3-5 minutes to soften.

Prepare the filling: In a saute pan, caramelize onion. Add orange zest, fennel fronds, and minced apple.  Saute for 7 more minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt and vanilla extract.  Then add pureed pumpkin and 1 tsp. brown sugar.  Saute for 3 more minutes.

Prepare the tamales: Place husks flat with pointed tip towards you (almost like a triangle tip) and the wider side away from you.  Press 1/8 cup of prepared masa onto the husk and make a flat surface to place the filling.  Place 1 heaping Tbsp. onto the masa and then cover filling with another 1/8 cup of masa; encasing the filling with the dough.  Take the pointed tip and fold onto the pile of uncooked tamale, then fold one side towards the other, rolling in the process.  You can tie the tamales with twine if they feel loose, or keep them piled with the fold on the bottom to prevent unfolding.  Repeat this step for each tamale.

Cooking the tamales: I have a 30-year-old tamale steamer I use, but I suppose you can use a steamer  if there is enough space for the tamales to cook thoroughly.  Allow 60 minutes to cook completely due to the pumpkin puree.  Otherwise, it will be mushy.  I like to accompany this meal with cumin scented pinto beans, Spanish rice, fresh salsa, a side vegetable, and home-made guacamole.

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No-Knead Sourdough Loaf

Sometimes my recipes derive from requests.  Thanks Kerri Kiran for this recipe development.  Without failure this go, this recipe turned out quite nice.  I love making it into a nice loaf of sliced sourdough bread. My sourdough starter is 3 months old right now; just a baby. But I intend to continue to nurture it, so it will be around for a while.

SOURDOUGH STARTER:

1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active-dry yeast

2 cups warm water (105 degrees-115)

2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose

To Create Starter: In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.  Add remaining water and flour and mix well.  Place the bowl, uncovered, in a warm place overnight.  In the morning, put the 1/2 cup of starter in a sterilized pint jar, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator or a cool place for future use.  Leave lots of room for expansion in the container, or set the lid without tightening it.  The remaining 3 1/2 cups of starter can be used immediately.

Set the Sponge: Place the 1/2 cup of starter in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups warm water and 2 cups of flour. Beat well, and set in a warm, draft free place to develop overnight.  In the morning, the sponge will have risen and wil be covered with air bubbles and smell yeasty.  It’s now ready to use.

To Store the Starter: It will keep almost indefinitely if covered in a clean glass container in the refrigerator.  Never use a metal container or leave a metal spoon in the starter. If unused for several weeks, the starter might need to sit out an extra night before adding the flour and water to rejuvenate it.

Feeding your Starter: To feed, means to continue to allow the starter to grow for future uses.  Each time I use my starter, I add 2 cups of flour, and 2 cups of water.  I allow this to sit out overnight in a warm spot, covered. If I am not going to use it right away, I refrigerate it.

SOURDOUGH LOAF:

1 cup sourdough starter

5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 Tbsp. organic cane sugar

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. active-dry yeast

Directions:

Mix  sourdough starter in a bowl with warm water, cane sugar, and dry yeast. In a separate bowl, mix flour and sea salt.  Combine wet to dry and mix well.  Place the mix in a parchment lined bread loaf. Allow to ferment overnight.  This will allow the mix to rise also. When you are prepared to bake the loaf, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil over the loaf, and sprinkle it with filtered water.  This allows for a nice golden loaf and crusty top.  Bake for 35 minutes.

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Tempeh Tacos with Candied Yams

This is such a fulfilling meal.  I made it years ago, and it has become part of cycle of regular meals.  Full of flavor and packed with nutrients; it’s a family favorite.

INGREDIENTS:

TEMPEH MARINADE:

1 cup water

1/4 soy sauce

8 oz. tempeh

1 clove garlic

1/2 Tbsp. minced ginger

TEMPEH FLOUR DREDGE:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. sea salt

1 heaping teaspoon of cornmeal

CANDIED YAMS:

1 yam, diced

1 tsp. brown sugar

1/3 cup coconut milk

pinch of sea salt

SALSA:

3 cups tomatoes, diced

1/4 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 jalepeno, diced

1 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. lime juice

BLACK BEANS:

2 cups cooked back beans

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. onion powder

sea salt to taste

RICE:

1 cup brown rice

3 cups of vegetable broth or 3 cups water with 1 bouillon cubes

GUACOMOLE:

1 avocado

2 Tbsp. lime juice

sea salt to taste

CORN TORTILLAS/ CHOPPED LETTUCE

6-8 and 1/2 head of lettuce

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the marinade for the tempeh. Slice the tempeh into strips.  Refrigerate the tempeh in the marinade for 3 hours. Doing this the night before helps with the rest of the preparation OR during that time, prep the other items.

For the yam: Dice, steam, and mash with coconut, sea salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.

For the salsa: Find a mixing bowl to combine all ingredients.  Combine the diced tomatoes, diced onions, minced garlic, minced jalepeno, chopped cilantro, sea salt, and lime juice. Set aside in a refrigerator.

For the beans: I like to soak my beans overnight, then cook them on a stovetop.  Canned beans will work too.  Just flavor the cooked beans with onion powder, cumin, and sea salt. Set aside.

For the rice: I like to soak my grain overnight. Cook the rice in either vegetable broth of water with a bouillon cube for 35-40 minutes. Set aside.

For the Guacomole: Mash one avocado, lime juice and sea salt. Refrigerate.

*** If you marinated the tempeh overnight, the other items that have been cooked: yams, beans, and rice, can be kept on low heat until ready to fill your taco. If you are preparing the tempeh the day of, it’s best to to the rest of the items during marination prep.

When you are ready to Grill the tempeh:

Oil a saute pan, and then coat the tempeh in the flour dredge noted in the ingredients list above.  Then saute each side of the tempeh for 5-7 minutes.

To fill the tacos: Warm the tortillas, and layer with candied yams, tempeh, chopped lettuce. Garnish with guacomole and salsa.  Serve the beans and rice alongside.

 

 

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Plant Based Power Smoothie

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Sometimes all I want in the morning is a power packed smoothie.  Sometimes it’s a mid-day snack or a evening dessert.  Either way, this smoothie I concocted is packed full of greatness!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

2 cups pre-made from scratch cinnamon flavored oatmeal

1 banana

1 cup of power greens (spinach, mizuna, kale, and chard)

2 Tbsp. almond butter

3 Tbsp. organic dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp. of chia seeds

1 Tbsp. raw local honey

8-10 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

* almond butter for protein, oatmeal for fiber, banana for potassium, power greens for vitamins, cocoa for antioxidants, chia seeds for calcium, almond milk & honey for the vitamins and natural sweetener.

 

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Orange loaf

A great flavor for Halloween; a wonderful way to embrace that full pumpkin fare.

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 GF Bob’s Red Mill all purpose flour

1/2 cup rice flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup safflower oil

2 Tbsp ground flax meal

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup cranberries

1 Tbsp. freshly grated and minced orange peel

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

1/4 cup almond milk

1 cup of Pre-baked and pureed pumpkin

DIRECTIONS:

* Pre-bake and puree peeled and seeded pumpkin. To do so: slice, peel outer rind, cube and place on oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until tender.  Add to a blender and place on puree.  If it seems too thick, add 1 Tbsp. at a time until you get the desired consistency. Should be the consistency of baby food. (In fact, if you have a baby, this is a great way to introduce solids; full of nutrients)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the all purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, sea salt, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and orange peel.  Whisk.  In a separate bowl, the maple syrup, safflower oil, flax meal, almond milk, and pureed pumpkin.

Add wet to dry. Mix well. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  It is sweet enough on it’s own to go without icing or powdered sugar.

 

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Ginger Molasses Cookies

When I think of cookies, I think of derby.  When I think of derby, it makes me miss home and miss my league High Tide Derby. My derby name was Cookie Cut-Her.  It suited me for all the love I have of baking.  High Tide Derby was part of me, and the coaching was motivating and hard; I loved every minute.  I miss the camaraderie and the physical outlet.  I miss lacing up my skates.  I tried skating here in WA and the roads were so steep I flattened my wheels trying to slow down.

Tomorrow I look forward to meeting up with a friend at a roller rink 30 minutes from town.  It’ll bring that inner joy that reminds me of being a kid.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop roller skating, nor will I ever forget loading my league up with home-baked cookies.  Here’s a recipe for you  coach Albert & coach Eddie, and all you fine ladies.  Thanks for all the fond memories. Missing you!

COOKIE DOUGH: (yield: 18-20 cookies)

1/2 cup fresh chopped ginger

1/3 cup of organic cane sugar

2/3  cup sugar – divide. (1/3 for the recipe and 1/3 for the rolling)

6 Tbsp of  Earth Balance

1/4 cup molasses

2 tsp. of egg replacer by Ener-G

1 Tbsp. almond milk

2 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground ginger

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

In a blender or food processor, whirl fresh chopped ginger with 1/3 cup sugar until ginger is finely ground.  Set aside.  In a bowl, hand blend Earth Balance, 1/3 cup of sugar until fluffy.  In the same bowl, add ginger/sugar mixture, molasses, and egg” replacer with the bit of almond milk.  Hand blend until combined well. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Combine wet ingredients to dry.  Chill dough for one hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Shape dough into balls about 1 inch size and coat or roll in remaining sugar.  Place the sugared balls 2-3 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes.  Allow to cool.

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Gluten Free Apple Spice Loaf

I created this recipe today for my darling Margeux.  Poor thing has such a sensitivity to gluten. I got lazy over the last month, and was not as careful or restrictive with her flour and she has been experiencing more issues lately. So, back on the wagon I go.

LOAF INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all-purpose GF flour

3/4 cup white rice flour GF

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup organic cane sugar

1/3 cup safflower oil

2 Tbsp. ground flax meal

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup walnuts (optional)

1 cup apples, peeled and diced small

1 tsp + 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut milk

ICING:

1/4 cup organic powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the flax meal with the water. Whisk and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, white rice flour, baking powder, sea salt, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, & ginger.  Whisk well.  In a separate bowl, combine oil, vanilla, coconut milk. Add flax meal mixture to wet, and whisk well.  Combine wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and then fold in apples and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from center of loaf.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes before glazing.

For the glaze, combine all three ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.  When apple loaf has had 15 minutes to cool, drizzle on lemon glaze.

Allow apple loaf to cool thoroughly before cutting.  Cooling overnight in a refrigerator will bind the loaf better.

 

 

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Rustic No-Knead Bread Loaf

Kneading bread has always been therapy for me.  There is something so therapeutic about kneading bread over and over and forming a supple smooth mound; like a babies butt. It’s enjoyable and relaxing. But time ticks away, and every now and again, I’m in a pinch for not enough time.  This recipe is great for preparing, leaving alone, and coming back to when you’re ready.  Not only is it easy, it’s incredibly delicious. I hope you find this recipe as easy as I do, and as enjoyable.

DOUGH:

3 cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. dry yeast

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 cups filtered warm water

1/4 cup organic corn meal

1/8 cup olive oil

additional pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup blend of sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds (optional)

parchment paper, dutch oven

DOUGH DIRECTIONS: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sea salt. Whisk.  In a separate bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Whisk. Combine the wet to the dry and fold in using a rubber spatula.  Roughly mix it all together. The mound does not need to be smooth. It will look jagged and pointy. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm location for 8-12 hours. When you see the mound after the time is over, it will be bulbous and smoothed out.  This is due to the yeast working its wonder and the time allowed to ferment (fermentation process allows for easier digestion of bread/ much like sourdough) After this process, line a dutch oven with a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with 1/8 cup cornmeal.  Roll the dough into the dutch oven and cover for one additional hour in a warm location.

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BAKING DIRECTIONS: Lower all racks in oven to the lowest possible allowed. Preheat oven to 425. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/8 cup cornmeal, optional seeds, and sprinkle of sea salt. Bake for 35 minutes on lower rack with lid on. When the 35 minutes is over, bake with lid off at 425 for an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool before cutting.

*** I have allowed much longer rising time.  I’ve prepared the dough at 2 pm and not allowed the 1 hour additional rising time until 9 am the next morning. It just gets the dough to have more of a sour taste; which I prefer (much like a sourdough)