Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2012

Kishu Mandarins

Watching fierce winds whip the branches of a small Kishu Mandarin tree forced me to make a quick decision. With a trunk no wider than an inch and tiny branches heavy with fruit, I worried that the tree might break under stress. With a pair of pruners and a basket, I harvested all the fruit from the tree, being grateful for its abundant crop. Considering that this is its first year of bearing fruit and it’s container-grown, this little tree did itself proud.

#1 – Gratitude
“Gratitude provides for us even when we think we have nothing or no one. Because we do have many things and people in our lives. Gratitude just lifts the opaque veil from our eyes so we can see that more clearly.” This passage from the article 3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude highlights the simple fact that even when we think we have nothing, there still must be something for which we can be grateful. In addition, it suggests maintaining a gratitude journal to help keep life in perspective.

#2 – Falling Leaves
The winds are also blowing down beautiful autumn leaves. When I take walks in my neighborhood, I carry an empty plastic bag in which I can transport home my newly found treasures, freshly picked off the ground. I’ve researched ways to preserve and display leaves. Here are some techniques and ideas I found that will let me enjoy the beauty of leaves for a long time to come:

Skeleton Leaves how to make skeleton leaves How to Preserve the Beauty of Fall Foliage how to preserve leaves

Fall Leaf Candle Holder fall leaf candle holder

Very Cute Leaf Animals
animal leaf art

Easy Leaf Prints how to make leaf prints

#3 – Cork It!
wine cork wreath I can never resist sharing ways to reuse, re-purpose or upcycle things. Here are some Awesome DIY Ideas With Wine Corks. Included are a few holiday-themed projects. Check them out!

#4 – For the Love of a Dog

Fiona Apple and her dog Janet

Fiona Apple and her dog Janet

Singer-songwriter and pianist Fiona Apple wrote a touching four-page, handwritten letter to her South American fans explaining why she needed to postpone her tour there. This may be old news for some of you, but I thought it was worth posting for those who have not read it yet. Read a small excerpt below and then click here to read Fiona’s touching letter in its entirety. Animal lovers, be advised, have tissues in hand:

It’s 6pm on Friday,and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet.
I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.
Here’s the thing.
I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now.I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then ,an adult offi
cially – and she was my child.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.
She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.
She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight ,or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.
We’ve lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few make shift families, but it’s always really been the two of us . . . .
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head . . . .

#5 – Success
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Maya Angelou

Have a lovely weekend!

Read Full Post »

Fall Fruit Salad

“Healthy” and “holiday” are words rarely used together, especially when describing food. Trying to plan healthy meals during the holidays can be quite a struggle, right? Well, not necessarily. This past Thanksgiving, I served my family a visually appealing, texturally satisfying, and heart-healthy salad. Not only did this salad splendidly highlight fall fruit, such as persimmons, Asian pears, pomegranates, and ruby grapefruit, it was served with a delicate, FAT-FREE, slightly sweet and slightly tart salad dressing! This salad has it all: gorgeous to look at, easy to prepare, and a delight to eat!

Fall Fruit Salad
Recipe from November 1995 issue of Sunset Magazine

Ingredients:
1 to 2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons (1/2 lb. each)
2 ruby grapefruit (1 lb. each)
1 Asian pear (about 3/4 lb.)
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 to 3 cups frisée, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup pomegranate seed
Salt

Directions:
1. In a 6- to 8-inch frying pan over medium heat, frequently stir pine nuts until pale gold, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour from pan.

2. Rinse persimmons, then trim off and discard leaf tops. Slice persimmons crosswise into thin rounds.

3. With a knife, cut peel and white membrane from grapefruit. Holding fruit over a bowl, cut between segments and inner membrane to release fruit into bowl. Also squeeze juice from membrane into bowl, then discard membrane.

4. Rinse pear and discard stem. Cut fruit crosswise into thin rounds, right through center seeds. Coat pear slices with grapefruit juice.

5. Mix 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice (reserve remainder for other uses) with lime juice, rice vinegar, and honey.

6. Line a salad bowl or individual plates with the frisée. Arrange pieces of persimmon, pear, grapefruit on the greens; sprinkle fruit with pomegranate seed and pine nuts, then moisten with the grapefruit-lime dressing. Add salt to taste.

Serves 6

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Fuyu persimmons are the round, squat persimmons that can be eaten while they are firm, unlike the elongated and pointed Hachiya persimmons, which must be eaten only after the fruit has ripened to a soft and somewhat squishy state.

2. Besides a light sprinkling of salt, I also sprinkled some fresh ground pepper on each plated salad.

3. Keep an eye on the pine nuts while toasting them. They contain a high level of oil, so they will burn quickly!

4. My family is not a big fan of frisée, so I substituted fresh green curly-leafed lettuce.

5. It is easier to peel the grapefruit, if you first cut off the top and the bottom peel. This will give you a flat surface when you stand the grapefruit on the cutting board.

ENJOY!

Read Full Post »

split pea and spinach soup

A sip of hearty soup and a bite of freshly baked cornbread takes the chill out of a chilly evening. But better than that, when this thick and flavorful soup is paired up with cornbread, which is a complimentary protein, a complete protein is formed. How comforting to know that the comfort food you’re eating is not only delicious, but good for you, too!

Split Pea and Spinach Soup
Recipe from Linnell’s old recipe box, original source unknown

Ingredients:
2 cups chopped onions (about 2 large ones)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb. or 2 cups yellow or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
2 quarts water
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and add onions. Sauté the onions (and the pork, if using*) in oil until tender.
2. Add peas, water, bay leaves, and basil.
3. Cover and simmer for approximately one hour or until the peas are tender.
4. Add the spinach, cover, and simmer, while stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes longer.
5. Season with salt, pepper, and cloves.
6. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and a crusty loaf of pumpernickel bread.

Serves 4 or makes 10 cups.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. *I add either diced salt pork, ham, or 2 smoked ham hocks for additional flavor. Obviously if you’d like to make this a vegetarian soup, you will omit the meat.
2. Taste soup before adding the salt, especially if you’re adding a cured meat.
3. As the recipe suggests, pumpernickel bread is a good accompaniment, but my family would revolt if I did not serve this with cornbread.

ENJOY!

Read Full Post »

Bartlett Pears

Photos by Linnell Chang

“No two are alike,” I think to myself as I study a trio of Bartlett pears sitting on my kitchen counter. Their rosy-hued coloration, their skin texture, and even their stems are all a bit different. Wanting to capture their unique beauty, I get my camera out. Some 50 photographs or so later, I remind myself how thankful I am for the invention of the digital camera. To be able to shoot photo after photo, without concern for cost, helps this amateur photographer fulfill her desire to capture the beauty found in simple things. Looking at objects through the camera lens provides me with perspectives that I might not normally have. There’s an honesty in what the camera lens reveals as it frames the art existing in everyday objects.

#1 – A Few More Ideas
Colander as a planter Simple objects can be transformed into wonderful gifts. In these economically-depressed days, it is more important than ever to be creative. With the holidays right around the corner, here are a few more creative ways to reuse things. From Earth911 comes this article on 100+ Ways to Reuse Thrift Store Finds. Remember, it’s the thought behind the gift that matters.

#2 – Free Thanksgiving Printables
Decorate your your home and Thanksgiving table with homemade decorations and special touches. It’s easy with the help of FREE printables. Here are just a few that I found:

Cupcake holders and toppers at Fleece Fun
Thanksgiving free cupcake printables

“Thankful” dessert flags from Pizzazzerie
Thanksgiving Dessert Flags

Large and small place cards at Gwenny Penny
Thanksgiving place cards Small thanksgiving place cards

Turkey place card and treat boxes at Spoonful
Thanksgiving place card and treat boxes

#3 – Don’t Forget . . .
While thinking about all that you are thankful for, don’t forget to thank yourself. Everyone’s list of self-thanks is different, but here are a few examples: thank yourself for all of your accomplishments – whether great or small; for staying true to yourself no matter what; for having a kind heart; for taking care of your body; for nurturing your spirit; for staying positive in difficult situations, etc. Along that line, Pick The Brain: Grow Yourself  has a read-worthy article titled, “7 Steps to Positive Self Talk.”

#4 – Learn
Watching this video whet my appetite and made me think of the words from young Oliver Twist, “Please, sir, I want some more.” In this case, I’m not literally referencing food, but the hunger to learn and to do more. Watch it and see if you don’t have the urge to go out and learn something new!

#5 – No Two Alike
“There are something like eighteen billion cells in the brain alone. There are no two brains alike; there are no two hands alike; there are no two human beings alike. You can take your guidance and instruction from others, but you must find your own path.”
– Joseph Campbell

Make this weekend unlike all others!

Read Full Post »

Chocolate-Pomegranate-Ginger Bark Candy

The intensity of bittersweet chocolate mixed with the spicy zip of candied ginger tantalizes my taste buds beyond delight, but the bursts of fresh, tart, pomegranate juice in my mouth sends them into pure ecstasy. This confection combines few ingredients to create a depth of flavors you’d not expect from such a simple recipe. Individually, each ingredient is potent enough to stand alone, but when combined, they deliver an incredible treat. Flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, zingibain-rich ginger, and antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice give impressive reasons to eat this candy. Too bad I had to force myself to sample so many pieces to write this review!

Chocolate-Pomegranate-Ginger Bark
Recipe from Oct/Nov issue of Fine Cooking Magazine

Ingredients:
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), broken into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from 1 large pomegranate)
1½ Tbs. minced candied ginger
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or waxed paper.

2. Put the chocolate in a wide, shallow, microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until it just starts to melt, about 1 minute. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, heating in additional 15-second increments if necessary.

3. Gently stir half of the pomegranate seeds, the ginger (break up any clumps with your fingers), and the salt into the chocolate.

4. Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it into an 8×10-inch rectangle.

5. Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds evenly over the top, pressing them into the chocolate.

6. Refrigerate until fully set, about 30 minutes.

7. Break the bark into chunks with your hands (be careful not to crush the seeds), and serve. The bark will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Serves 6

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Obviously, the better quality chocolate you use, the better tasting bark you’ll have.
2. To open up a pomegranate see the instructions in my “Linnell’s Notes” section of my post Brussels Sprouts Roasted on the Stalk. The pomegranates I had were huge, so I used more pomegranate seeds than called for. The next time I make this recipe (and I will be making this again), I will cut back on the amount of pomegranate seeds.
3. I minced a little bit of extra candied ginger to sprinkle on top of the bark.
4. You might be considering omitting the salt from this recipe, but don’t! I think the salt adds a good counterbalance to the other flavors.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Pasadena, CA

Photo by Linnell Chang

Like clockwork, my hip started to ache as soon as the weather grew colder. The saying goes, “You’re only as OLD as you feel.” Or is it, “You’re only as YOUNG as you feel”? Let me think about this: My hip hurts, so I feel old OR my hip hurts, so I don’t feel young. Really, I think the sayings are one and the same. However, if I disregard my cranky hip and listen to my mind instead, I am young. My mind is my fountain of youth – like the fountain I photographed one warm summer day, my mind “bubbles” with energy and activity.

#1 – New Life for Old Bottles
glass bottle Christmas Tree What to do with old bottles? The obvious answer is to find ways to reuse them! Check out this post Impressive DIY Ideas With Empty Bottles for more creative ways to reuse bottles.

#2 – It’s Okay
Orca Bookstore sign This sign from the Orca Bookstore in Olympia, Washington, gives you permission, as an adult, to read young adult books (YA). It’s not like you need anyone’s permission to read these books, you just need to get over the self-limiting-stigma you impose on yourself. Besides popular series such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, good books with great story lines exist in the young adult categories. If you’re too embarrassed to purchase a YA book in person, order one online. After reading the comments to the 22 Words post and taking notes on particular authors, my “Must Read!” list is now longer.

#3 – Under the Sea
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Moby Dick, The Little Mermaid, and Finding Nemo reflect the interest of both the old and the young in sea creatures and the ocean. Oceanographer David Gallo said, “Today we’ve only explored about 3 percent of what’s out there in the ocean. Already we’ve found the world’s highest mountains, the world’s deepest valleys, underwater lakes, underwater waterfalls . . . . There’s still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is empty or just full of surprises.” Watch this TED presentation and be prepared to be astonished at the amazing sea creatures captured on film.

#4 – Autumn Leaves
poplar leaves If the youthful side of you enjoys identifying familiar shapes in clouds, you might like New York Time’s illustrator and graphic designer Christoph Niemann’s Bio-Diversity collection of leaves.

#5 – As Young as You Feel
“You are as young as you feel. If you begin to feel the warmth of your soul, there will be a youthfulness in you that no one will be able to take away from you.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Go ahead and feel young this weekend!

Read Full Post »

Roasting Brussels Sprouts on a Stalk
Are you a hater or a lover . . . of Brussels sprouts, that is? Which category do you fall into? Scientists at Cornwall College have discovered a genetic reason why people fall into one category or the other. These scientists discovered that some people have a mutated gene which makes them immune to the bitterness of Brussels sprouts. Too bad for those who don’t eat these sprouts, though, because they are packed with nutrients – with high levels of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron, just to name a few. I purchased a whole stalk of Brussels sprouts at an Asian market for only $3.99 and roasted it, stalk and all, in maple syrup and olive oil. For an added nutritional punch, I sprinkled fresh pomegranate seeds over it. Treat your family to this visually interesting, nutritionally-charged vegetable this Thanksgiving and you’ll feel less guilty about serving them the other nutritionally-challenged Thanksgiving fare!

Brussels Sprouts Roasted On The Stalk
Recipe from Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market

Ingredients:
1 Brussels sprout stalk
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
Fresh pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries, for garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Trim the stalk down to the fullest, best looking part, if necessary. Trim sprouts off one side of stalk to make a flat bottom. Also trim off any discolored or blemished leaves. Brussels sprouts stalk 3. Rinse stalk and trimmed sprouts in fresh water.
4. Wrap damp stalk in plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes (or blanch in a large pot of boiling water). Place trimmed loose sprouts in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes.

Blanched Brussels sprout stalk

Blanched Brussels sprout stalk

5. Whisk maple syrup and olive oil together. Place stalk flat-side down along with any loose sprouts in a roasting pan and pour the maple sugar mixture over it.
6. Use a pastry brush to mop the maple syrup mixture onto all sides of the sprouts and stalk.
7. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Brussels sprout stalk

Ready for oven

8. Place in oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until sprouts on the stalk are fork tender and caramelize to a golden color.
9. To serve: Place stalk on a holiday platter, pour any syrup from the roasting pan over the stalk. Garnish with something bright and tart such as cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds*. Roasted Brussels sprout stalk with pomegranate seeds

Serves 6 – 8

Linnell’s Notes:
1. The stalk I bought was covered evenly with sprouts, so I did not need to trim off any straggly stem.
2. Before trimming the sprouts off of one side, you need to decide first which side is the most attractive, then turn it upside down and trim off the sprouts that prevent it from laying down flat. Trim off as few as possible. I did not trim off any near the top back portion of the stalk, because when I flipped it over it was balanced and laid flat nicely.
3. If you are blanching the stalk in a large pot of boiling water, instead of microwaving it, you will have to turn the stalk over so that the both ends of the stalk gets some time in the hot water.
4. For easy clean-up, I covered my roasting pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
5. When selecting pomegranates, select the heaviest ones. They’ll contain more juice. It’s not important how red they are on the outside, unless you’re buying pomegranates to dry for decorations.
6. To serve, I just snipped the sprouts off with kitchen shears and served them on the same platter.

*How to cut open a pomegranate easily and without a mess:
1. Wash and dry the exterior of the pomegranate.
2. Fill a medium-large bowl with water and put it in the sink.
3. Cut off the top, just below the crown, and then cut the bottom off.
4. Notice that four to six sections of white membrane are now exposed. Cut the skin vertically along each section.
5. Put the pomegranate into the bowl of water and break apart along the cut lines.
6. Break the sections into smaller parts, loosening the arils and allowing them to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
7. Using a spoon or your hands, scoop up the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the surface of the water.
8. Pour the arils and liquid through a strainer and let drain.

ENJOY!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: