May 26, 2015

Moments with Mutts

Because of my dogs, I'm committed to finding animal inspiration in the day to day moments.  What animals inspire you? Share your stories and links in the comments!   

- the coolest way ever to win a goat farm (thanks for the link, M)
- lava on one side of the Galapagos, iguanas on the other
- how did the needle even get there?
 - I am smitten with Zappa!


May 14, 2015

Moments with Books

This week I'm chatting about "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler and "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi.

VITALS: "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler
HOW WE MET: It was time
A MOMENT'S SUMMARY: Opening with a section called "Instructions For How To Use This Book", Poehler describes her book as an "open scrapbook" of memoirs, photos, advice and essays.  Beginning with a nod to her childhood acting debut, she writes her love of performing and improv grew aggressively from that moment.  The book adds details to her publicly known timeline: adventures in comedy and improv; joining the "Upright Citizen's Brigade"; her time at "Saturday Night Live", then Parks and Recreation"; friendships with Tina Fey, Seth Meyers and Rachel Dratch... even Poehler's grandious schemes when hosting the Golden Globes.  These sections of the book are spectacular; her keen balance of humor and truth felt on every single page.  I was smitten with the SNL gossip tidbits she mentions.  What makes this book more than the usual fine book to read though is that unflinching honesty, especially when directed at herself.  She writes of her drug use, journeying through divorce, beginning her career at SNL just as 9/11 impacted America, and her children Archie and Abel. All sprinkled in perfect doses throughout the timeline, leaving me wanting to know a little bit more as I turned each page. 
HEAD AND HEART: This is undoubtedly heart text.  In her section on "time travelling" she boils down clandestine moments to simply believing.  In God, or purpose, or destiny... whatever one's choice, but in always believing.  Knowing firmly that seemingly unrelated events happen for the good of our souls.  Always. 
FOR MY QUOTEBOARDS: "It's easier to be brave when you're not alone."

VITALS: "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi
HOW WE MET: I had just finished a reread of "Lolita"- this book seemed like a perfect follow up choice!
A MOMENT'S SUMMARY: The title refers to a secret book club founded by the author in the Islam Republic of Iran where she taught.  The club was composed of 7 handpicked, female students who met weekly to review the classic texts of "Lolita", "The Great Gatsby", "Daisy Miller" and "Washington Square".  Nafisi's intent was to allow the women room to discuss literature without the overriding censorship and fundamentalism that ruled the Republic just outside the book club's doorstep. Tentatively the group begins. As each week progresses, they draw strong, impactful connections between the characters in the books and the harsh day to day experiences of life as a woman in the Islam Republic 
of Iran.
HEAD AND HEART: it was a great follow up choice, but admittedly there was a time I might not have picked this type of book out so readily.  I can read about past national and world issues, but I don't tend to pick up novels that are still stinging and fresh with those same issues.  In the end, I'm glad I read this.  Parts were difficult to get through, but important for me to be reading.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR: the "magician"
FOR MY QUOTEBOARDS: "No I am not over dramatizing. Life in the Islamic Republic was always too explosive, too dramatic and chaotic to shape into the desired order required for a narrative effect."


AS FOR YOU: Have you decided these books are worth the read, or not?  Got an insider scoop on one of these selections?  Carry on the discussion in the comments- using the rating scale is optional ;)

May 11, 2015

Mother's Day should always involve fiddleheads and ramps

A few years ago a Mother's Day tradition involving fiddleheads began for me.  Some Mamas would prefer jewelry, or a new skein of alpaca yarn.  Others hanker for spa treatments and shopping sprees.  Still others desire nothing but the love of their offspring.
I am none of those women and Champ knows it.  I like nature; especially eating things straight from nature's woods.  The tradition goes that on or around Mother's Day, Champ drives me to a known spot on the side of the road that sells fiddleheads.  We load up.  I am euphoric for days on end.  Bear shares my Spring enthusiasm, so this year I taught him how to forage for fiddleheads since he is my only competition in the house when it comes to gobbling them up.

The fern buds are delicious I kid you not, but admittedly the specific seasonality of them and the way they are acquired is what I am most in love with.  It all feels very Vermont to me.  That's not to say fiddleheads aren't embraced elsewhere (for starters, ask any Mainer); it just underscores some of the things I find enigmatic, but wonderful about where I live.  This environment serves my soul perfectly.... even when I'm not physically 
exploring the woods for these succulent green bits.  Here's the deal:

1- why would I when they are pre-cleaned and sold at a fair price?
2- in the woods these days I am fixated on finding ramps.  Once I master them, maybe I will move on to fiddleheads.

      Look!  My first independent find of ramps.  Thanks foraging coach B for for teaching me well!

As a bonus to this Mother's Day post, I'm going to share a way to cook up some of those 
tasty fiddleheads foraged from the forest floor or from a neighbor's blue cooler.

Soba noodles with panfried fiddleheads 

*Parboil a handful of fiddleheads for 5 minutes or until fork tender (the water will probably turn a bit brown). 
*Rinse fiddleheads under cool water and set aside to drain.  
*Prep a handful of soba noodles according to package directions.
* heat up your oil for frying.  I use a wok and canola oil.
* prep your 3 part dipping station: 1 bowl of flour 1 bowl with whisked egg 1 bowl/bag with dry batter mixture.  I use a homemade Bisquick type mix and add in a bunch of garlic powder.
* dip your fiddleheads in the flour, then egg, then dry batter.
*fry in small batches for 3-4 minutes
fiddleheads are needed for this recipe, cute Mother's Day teacup present from your son is optional.

They end up looking like vegetarian fried shrimp

* grate some carrot and find your black sesame seed container
*happily discover chives flourishing in the garden and use some
* put the whole thing together and...

there you have it.  Top it off with a little tamari or soy sauce, then dig in while thinking fondly of the motherly figures in your life.
Happy Mother's Day!  Happy Monday!  Happy Extended Birthday week to: Melissa, G.A.D, Mason, Cole, Kyle, Addison, and G-dad! Who did I miss??! 


May 09, 2015

Snapshots of Life: Teach

This week's Snapshots of Life challenge,  sponsored by The Lazy Pit Bull, is "teach".  A good word; a word that can be stretched.  Because you see, I could leave this week's definition as a lesson in teaching Trot and Huckle to remain still while trying to capture a photo of them side by side...
Trot, just moments before sneezing

See?!  And what in the world is Huckle doing (besides being filthy dirty)?

But if I left it at that it wouldn't be the whole truth, and it would only totally showcase how this version of teachable moment went down hill fast...

Listen up though, readers!  We weren't in the woods to teach about proper portrait behavior.  Oh no! We were in the woods so Champ and I could teach the entire family about exploration, and being together as a unit. About using the buddy system when venturing somewhere unfamiliar, and about enjoying nature.  About appreciating what is gloriously wonderful in those woods just beyond our doorstep.

Thankfully, in that definition of teach, it was a success.

May 05, 2015

Cinco de Mayo bean salad

Right?  Now if I were a bean salad, I'd totally want to get introduced like that.  I make this recipe on Cinco De Mayo because the final presentation is so darn festive but...  I also like to make this recipe on a weekend in January, a Wednesday in the middle of July, oh and on the second of every month.  It's flexible and have I mentioned adorable?
I'll get to why some jars aren't filled all the way, don't worry
I found this recipe in Get Togethers With Gooseberry Patch.  Let me be the first to tell you that there are a bunch more worthy recipes in that there cookbook!  In the cookbook, the recipe is called Southwestern Layered Salad; anymore, I tend to add-lib to that recipe, so I felt I could take liberties by bestowing it with a special name for today.


Alright, so to begin here's the original recipe.  That picture is way cuter than any I have taken, so go ahead and admire it for a moment.  Now grin, because you can easily make your own version of that!  The first step is to gather up some containers for the individual salads.  Mason jars work the best because you can clearly see all the layers of the salad: you need 1 jar/person.

These were the empties at my house.  Are they not the oddest collection of labels you have ever seen?

Clean your jars and think about what you want to put in them.  I didn't use the gooseberry patch recipe verbatim.  On hand I had: spinach, some cherry tomatoes, a tiny bit of corn, and a bunch of beans.  I had made the beans ahead of time in the crock pot; I thought I had a post about how I do it, but I can't find it.  Only found this version, so expect a crock pot bean post in your future.  Divide out your supplies and fill each jar.  Top them off with the yummy cream cheese mixture that Gooseberry explains (I tend to use sofrito sauce instead of the can of tomatoes with green chilies).  Screw on the lids and place jars in the fridge.  I've found these salads can last up to 2 days, so it is a great "make-ahead" meal.

Can you guess which one is Champ's?
Hint: he likes the least amount of vegetables.
Can you guess which one is Ace's? 
Hint: he loves cream cheese.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!
(*** my sister-in-law A introduced me to sofrito sauce and it has been a love story ever since.  Thanks again, A!)

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