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Archive for March, 2015

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl A bowl of salad should contain wholesome and healthy ingredients. Not all do. With spinach, tofu, almonds, blueberries, and cucumbers as its primary ingredients, this Asian-inspired salad is loaded with nutrients and exotic flavors. Plus, this recipe is actually three recipes in one: a salad with salad dressing, Lemongrass Tofu, and 5-Spice Tamari Almonds. All the parts are wonderfully versatile and will enliven your ho-hum salad repertoire.

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl
Recipe from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romeo

INGREDIENTS
For the Salad
1 pint blueberries
3 Persian cucumbers, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup 5-Spice Tamari Almonds (recipe below)
Lemongrass Tofu, chopped into 1-inch cubes (recipe below)

For the Lemongrass Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu or super-firm tofu (no pressing needed)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons tamari
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemongrass
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons peanut oil or olive oil

For the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds
1½ cups raw whole almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dark agave nectar
3 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
About 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (such as Maldon)

DIRECTIONS
For the Salad
1. Place the blueberries, cucumbers, scallions, and greens in a large salad bowl.

2. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the tamari, maple syrup, sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger, and red pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to coat, and divide among serving bowls. Top with almonds and tofu, if using, and serve.

Serves 2

For the Lemongrass Tofu
1. If using extra-firm tofu, press the tofu first:
A. Slice 1 pound of tofu in half and slice each half again. Slice each remaining piece in half for a total of 8 slabs of tofu of equal thickness.slicing tofu

B. Layer a large cutting board with clean towels or paper towels. Arrange the tofu slices in a single layer on the towel.tofu slices

C. Spread another towel over the tofu, and then press another cutting board on top of the towel. Stack a few heavy things on the cutting board: cans, cast-iron pans, 300-page cookbooks, etc.Pressing tofu

D. Press tofu for 20 minutes, or up to an hour. Tofu will ooze water, so it’s best to arrange this near a sink, propped on a slight angle on the edge of the sink to drain.

2. Slice the pressed tofu into thin 1/4-inch strips.

3. Preheat the oven to 400° F and coat the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.

4. Combine the maple syrup, tamari, lemongrass, garlic, and oil in the baking dish and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in the marinade and set aside while the oven is preheating, about 15 minutes. Occasionally stir the tofu strips.Marinating pressed tofu

5. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the strips over. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the strips are golden and the marinade is absorbed.IMG_2433

6. Serve warm or chilled. Store chilled and consume within 2 days for best flavor.

Serves 2 as a salad topping

For the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

2. In a 13 x 9-inch metal or ceramic baking dish, combine the almonds, agave, tamari, and 5-spice powder. Stir until the nuts are completely coated. Sprinkle with salt.

3. Roast the nuts for 16 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a sticky glaze forms. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and use a fork to break apart any clumps of nuts.

4. Once completely cool, store the nuts in a tightly covered container. Use within 2 weeks.

Makes 1½ cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Chinese 5-spice powder is a blend of star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and Sichuan pepper. Jars of it can be found in the spice aisle of Asian markets.

2. Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce. If you follow a gluten-free diet, look for bottles of tamari that are wheat-free/gluten-free.

3. Save yourself a step and purchase pre-toasted sesame seeds at your Asian market.

4. I made the 5-Spice Tamari Almonds, the salad dressing, and the Lemongrass Tofu the day before serving.

5. My Lemongrass Tofu had absorbed the marinade and was golden-dark brown by the end of the first 20 minute cook time.

6. I felt that making the nuts not only added work, but also an added another tamari-flavored ingredient. The next time I make this salad, I will add freshly toasted plain almond pieces to the salad.

7. I added a splash of rice vinegar to the salad dressing, because I felt like it needed it.

8. Do not toss the salad with all of dressing. You will only need a fraction of the dressing or it will overwhelm the other ingredients. Keep in mind, also, that all the ingredients will take on the color of the dressing.

Enjoy!

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Remembrance Box The woodworker stood back and looked at his project. While pouring his heart into the design and construction of it, his mind focused on only one thing – the purpose of it. At a recent meeting of local woodcrafters, a plea had been made for boxes. Keaton Raphael Memorial, a nonprofit organization that assists families with children with cancer, was in dire need of woodworkers to help make Remembrance Boxes. When a child being helped by Keaton Raphael Memorial passes away and becomes a special KRM angel, the organization gives the family a wooden box containing bereavement reading materials and oftentimes a grant to help with funeral expenses. The woodworker rose to the challenge and his expertly-crafted work reflects the beauty of fallen leaves, signifying, in my opinion, the short, but significant lives of young souls.

#1 – Land Art
Land Art Nature doesn’t need any embellishments. However, when man works with natural components, interesting art can result. You will be impressed by the scale of some of the projects in 21 Unforgettable Examples of Land Art.

#2 – Got Stuff?
Recycling Goods With children moving hither and yon, I am left with a garage full of “stuff.” All of it is useful – to somebody. Rather than toss everything into the garbage, I’d rather find new homes or new uses for them. If you are in the same situation of having stuff and not wanting to add to our landfills, go to earth911. Type in what you would like to recycle, add your zipcode, and a listing of local recycling centers should appear.

#3 – Easter Decorations
80 Fabulous Easter Decorations While scrolling through the ideas in 80 Fabulous Easter Decorations You Can Make Yourself, I went into creative overload. There are so many cute and clever ideas in it, I don’t which project to start first!

#4 – Fresh Eggs
How to Buy the Freshest Eggs PossibleWith Easter right around the corner, you’ll want to make sure you buy the freshest eggs possible. In How to Buy the Freshest Eggs Possible, learn how to read the Julian date on an egg carton. And here’s a tip from me: when selecting a carton of eggs in the grocery store, just don’t open the carton and look at the eggs. Always wiggle each egg. If an egg doesn’t move, there’s a good chance that its shell is cracked, causing it to stick to the carton.

#5 – In Every Falling Leaf
“In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.”
Amit Ray

Note: The beautiful Remembrance Box in the photo was made by Mr. Jim Hunt

Now go and spread joy!

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Lemon-Black Pepper Cookies What about this? What about taking a great lemon butter cookie recipe and adding a peppery twist? Now take that incredible cookie dough and mix in some cornmeal for additional crunch and flavor. Sounds pretty good, right? Wait, we’re not done yet! Bake a batch of these cookies and let them cool. Here’s the best part: spread some vanilla bean ice cream or lemon gelato on the back of one cookie and take another cookie and smoosh the cookies together to make one intriguing ice cream sandwich. Whether you make these cookies for a holiday tea or make the ice cream sandwiches for the hot days of summer, you’ll be so glad you did!

Lemon-Black Pepper Cornmeal Cookies
Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

INGREDIENTS
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
Pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (approximately 4 lemons)
2 large egg yolks

DIRECTIONS
1. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, black pepper, if using, and salt together in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, and zest in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine well.

4. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended; the dough will be crumbly.

5. Press the dough together with your hands and divide it in half. Place each half on a sheet of waxed paper and form each piece into a 10-by-1¼-inch log. Smooth each log with dampened fingers. Chill the logs, wrapped in waxed paper, for at least 3 hours, or until firm.

6. At least 25 minutes before baking, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter 2 large nonstick baking sheets.

7. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and arrange rounds 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes 6 dozen cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. To get 1/4 cup of lemon zest, I used 4 big Eureka lemons and 1 small Myer lemon.
2. My dough was not crumbly, but more sticky.
3. The next time I make these cookies, I will add a little bit more salt.
4. I used parchment paper instead of buttering the cookie sheets.
5. The cookbook author states, “If you’d rather, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger with the dry ingredients, instead of the pepper.” I personally like the idea of a peppery surprise over a more tame ginger flavor.
6. The author also states that “These are perfect with ice cream and fruit.” I agree!

Enjoy!

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Felt Baby Shoes “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Reading this six-word piece of flash fiction, purportedly penned by author Ernest Hemingway, always made me feel sad. Like other people, I wondered about the tragic tale and about the fate of the baby. Now, I know of a plausible good ending to the story. A month ago, I decided to sew shoes for my infant granddaughter. I worked on them sporadically throughout the month, as there never seemed to be enough time to sit down for more than five minutes. By the time I finally finished embroidering the last of the three pairs and tried them on Charlotte, they were too small. Babies’ feet grow all too quickly. Alas, I have baby shoes for sale, never worn.

#1 – Workspaces of the Famous
Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative Some people think that Ernest Hemingway wrote the six-word story while he was at lunch with friends and not in his office. Was he that much of a literary genius to produce incredible work just anywhere? Where do you do your best creative work and what does your creative space look like? Check out these Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative and see if your workspace more closely resembles that of Georgia O’Keefe or that of Alexander Calder.

#2 – Six Things
Throw a Six Quote Hemingway’s six words provoked much thought. Here are six quotes about “six things” that will certainly inspire you at least six times over:
Six Things Go Unsaid Quote

Tom Hopkins: Six Things

Arabic Quote: Six Things

Eddie Rickenbacker quote

Lewis Carroll: Six Impossible Things Quote

Marcus Tullius Cicero: Six Things

#3 – Toast, Anyone?
Creative Breakfast Toasts If you wake up at 6:00 in the morning and are looking for an energy-boosting breakfast, look no further. Here are 21 Energy-Boosting Breakfast Toasts. They all look good to me!

#4 – Six Innovations
Interview with Steven Johnson: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World If you had to name six innovations that made the modern world, what would they be? Author Steven Johnson did that in his book “How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World” and for the accompanying PBS television series. He interviewed last year with SFGate to discuss how he “traveled the globe to tell the little-known stories of men and women who came up with revolutionary innovations of modern civilization.” Read about how he crawled through the sewers in San Francisco and learn more about some of the innovations he researched here.

#5 – Creativity
“Creativity is not a talent or ability. It is the fruit of a person’s decision to matter.”
Eric Maisel

Now go and spread joy!

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Teacup Floral Centerpiece When looking for ways to decorate your home, look no further than your own collections. Whether your collections consist of books, copper molds, or vintage dolls, try incorporating them into your seasonal decorating. Two years ago, I wrote a post on Decorating With Egg Cups. Placing tiny sprigs of greenery and petite flowers into some of my favorite egg cups always brings a feeling of springtime into my home. Egg Cups As Mini Vases Having collected a lovely assortment of teacups, too, I decided to show them off by using some of them to create a floral centerpiece for my dining room table. My dining room table is long and wide, so I designed a centerpiece that is a little over 5-feet-long and about 18 inches at its widest point. After selecting a complementary assortment of teacups and a teapot to use as a center focal point, I went to a nearby nursery and looked for appropriate plants. Specimens grown for use in terrariums fit the bill; they come in many different plant varieties and are grown in small plastic pots that fit very nicely into teacups. Plus, at $2.95 each, they were relatively inexpensive. After tucking a little green moss here and there to hide the plastic pots, my easy teacup centerpiece provides a light and cheerful counterpoint to an otherwise formal room.

SUPPLIES
Teacup Centerpiece Table runner or piece of fabric
Small box
Assortment of teacups
Terrarium-sized plants, as many as the number of teacups you will be using
Bag of green moss
Teapot for focal point

DIRECTIONS
1. Arrange the fabric down the center of the table. I used a sheer fabric and made it appear billowy by tucking the edges under and creating soft folds. I tapered the ends of the fabric to within 13 inches of each end of the table.

2. Place a small box under the fabric in the center of the arrangement. Place teapot on top of fabric-draped box for height.

3. Do a preliminary arrangement of teacups and saucers, evenly distributing colors, shapes, and heights. I fashioned an alternating right-left-right or zigzag pattern.

4. Temporarily place the plants, while still in their containers, in the teacups, evenly distributing colors, textures, and heights.

5. Once the arrangement is to your liking, take the teacups (leave saucers behind as place markers) to an area for assembling.

6. Stick whole potted plant in teacup (do not remove the plant from its plastic pot). Do the same to the other plants.

7. Arrange moss in between the plastic pot and the teacup and also above the plastic pot to hide it. Do this with all the other potted plants in teacups. Teacup Floral Centerpiece

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used 14 sets of teacups and saucers; seven on each side of the teapot.

2. Please note that because I want to reuse the teacups for their original purpose, I did not permanently plant the plants in the cups.

3. Working with moss is messy. You can cover your dining room table with paper, if you want to work with it there. I found it easier to assemble the pots near my kitchen sink, where I could wipe any dirt, moss bits, and twigs into the sink.

4. Don’t forget to water the plants. Because they are potted in small containers, they will dry out quickly.

5. When the time comes to dismantle this centerpiece, I will plant the plants in a terrarium.

Teacup Centerpiece

Enjoy your springtime centerpiece!

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March 13, 2015 Edition A sunny high-rise home with an ocean view and plenty of fresh air ventilation sounds like a perfect place to rest a spell and, perhaps, even raise a family. That’s what this seagull thought as it sat on a comfy nest on top of a roof. Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder once philosophized, “Home is where the heart is.” What is your heart telling you?

#1 – Unusual Homes For Sale
12 Strange and Unusual Homes for Sale For $1.1 million dollars the Mushroom House in New York can be yours. Check out photos of this unique home and eleven other homes in 12 Strange and Unusual Homes for Sale.

#2 – Going the Distance
Top Ten Amazing Migrations Did you know that the Arctic Tern has the longest migration of any animal? Read how far it travels and learn more about other animals who “go the distance” in the Top Ten Most Amazing Migrations.

#3 – Crafty Gift Ideas
35 Easy to Make DIY Gift Ideas Homesthetics presents a nice variety of ideas in its post 35 Easy to Make DIY Gift Ideas That You Would Actually Like to Receive. From bath and body products to photo pendants to stepping stones and more, you’ll feel creatively inspired to try out one of these ideas.

#4 – Helping Homeless Pets
Helping Homeless Pets Meet Duke, a part Corgi, part Dachshund, and part Jack Russell bundle of love. Duke is a rescue dog whose owners recently surrendered him, because they are expecting a baby. That action gives Duke two strikes on his rap sheet, not to mention a few behavioral issues born from insecurity. He is currently being fostered by my oldest son, until someone steps ups to love and adopt him. To learn of ways you can help Duke and other animals in his situation, read 10 Ways to Help Homeless Pets, Even If You Can’t Adopt.

#5 – Home
“It’s not the size of your house that makes a home . . . it’s the size of your heart!”
Jane Lee Logan

Now go and spread joy!

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Butterscotch Drop Scones The sweet smell of Butterscotch Scones baking in the oven is enough to wake up the sleepy leprechauns in my household. Who can resist the crunchy exteriors and the tender crumb interiors of these scones; not to mention the added treat of butterscotch chips tucked away here and there? Top of the morning to you!

Butterscotch Drop Scones
Recipe from Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 cup butterscotch chips (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup (or more) chilled whipping cream
1 large egg

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Sift all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl.
3. Add chilled butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms.
4. Mix in chips.
5. Whisk 1/2 cup cream and egg in small bowl to blend.
6. Gradually add cream mixture to dry ingredients, tossing with fork until dough comes together in moist clumps. Add more cream by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry.
7. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto large rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart.
8. Bake scones until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: Makes about 14

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Depending on how true to temperature your oven runs, 20 minutes in a hot oven can be too long. Keep an eye on these while they bake. I set my timer for 10 minutes and checked them. I set the timer for another 3 minutes and they were cooked. Had I let them bake for 20 minutes, they would have turned out dark brown.

2. I got 10 large scones out of this recipe.

Enjoy!

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