UCLA extension writers’ program

I spent Feb 9-12th in LA for a craft and courage writing class taught by Barbara Abercombrie at the UCLA extension Writers Program. She and the twelve people in the class took me and “my writing” I will say with confidence,  to another level. I am not shy to say it was for me more about the courage than the craft. Which I might think for many is a major hurdle. We often, undeservedly, call it a hobby.

writer-studio-signBarbara hit the nail on the head for me.”Coin or stamp collecting is a hobby, writing is a calling” And this isn’t to get all dramatic but writing can be almost this secret that you keep to yourself.  I’m not sure where it falls in the realm of passions such as gardening or cooking. Do we call those hobbies? Is meditation a hobby? Do we choose not to validate writing if it doesn’t earn money? Maybe it’s because writing is something we (I) can spend a fair amount of time on and there is no basket of greens and strawberries or a meal on the table as proof of my labors. Writing doesn’t often produce a tangible thing- at least not something you want to share. Maybe writing along with the meditation is increasing my gray matter!

Cue blog. I’m bumping up its priority in my life once again.

This is me before the first day of class. One day soon I will update my profile photo from seven years ago. I treated myself to a little hotel, The Hilgard House in walking distance of the UCLA extension center in Westwood. I don’t look much different- hair has grown out and is up here. Laugh lines have deepened (a good thing).  Maybe a little wider in the middle but my legs and tush are holding up pretty good. Well my tush is starting to head a little south but nothing a tight pair of jeans can’t hold in place.

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I felt a little like this the first day…ohhh noooo

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But after only a day with this wise, funny, honest lady, I was raring to go.  She read quotes and writing prompts each day. We were encouraged but not required to read our work-fiction and non-fiction alike. She read more quotes to us and we talked about craft and writing habits. About making writing a priority and a daily habit. A guest speaker, Monica Holloway, author of “Driving with Dead People” and “Cowboy and Wills” came and shared her inspiring story of her writing life and how it took a new direction after her first class with Barbara.

Thanks Barbara!

barbara

So for the first time, outside of online classes, where I didn’t have to speak out loud and the only reference to my face was an online photo (likely dated), I shared what I wrote. The initial panic, thin voice and sweaty pre-menopausal hands, yielded rather quickly to shoulders relaxed with a hand going up to share first. I almost had to hold back because I actually started to really like it and to appreciate the feedback.

Granted, this was a very open, accepting, non-judgy group. But I’m grateful at this point in life to know that I don’t need to stick around any group of people who are not!

I spent four days in a classroom with windows that looked out on the rooftops of Westwood.

ucla-view

One day on lunch, I strolled through the farmers market. Probably year round in these parts.

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I drank turmeric shots every morning at Pressed Juicery– just around the corner from my hotel and the class.

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Met new friends and ate poke (Hawaiin raw fish) literally everyday. Sweetfin Poke started in Santa Monica. Salmon poke post coming soon…

sarah-poke

And in the evenings, I put my fingers to the keyboard and kept on writing. AND I took part in the writers’ program instagram contest where I WON! I won a free class (can’t wait) and some other goodies coming by post. They are building their following and would love to have you join @writersprogram – you’ll find inspiring quotes as well as info on programs and events.

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Will leave UCLA extension #writersstudio17 with motivation, focus, new writing friends, mentor and a jumpstart on my writing. Own it! @writersprogram#writersstudio  #uclawritingextension#writers #writemore thank you Barbara! @barbaraabercrombie

I would highly recommend this four day studio program and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about my experience there.

Cheers!

wendy

 

#Womensmarch Orcas Island

I started to write a post on spaghetti squash, feta and sausage but had a hard time wrapping my head around food after such a monumental weekend. #womensmarch

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I haven’t done any blog reading the last three days and haven’t taken a pulse of blogs and politics. At least with the food and garden bloggers I follow. I’m sure there are countless political blog posts and I will be honest in saying I don’t follow many… ok – any. I read NYTimes online and I try to stay informed. And a visit to my Dad, who lives in a cabin on our property where MSNBC runs virtually 24/7, provides a strong dose of information.

With an activist for a mother, I sometimes never knew as a child which came first for her.  (mom on right)

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As an adult now, I can say,  it was being a mother… classic 70’s here.

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I felt guilty wanting her attention when I thought there were so many who needed it more. People with horrible housing conditions and little in the way of human rights or dignity.  I didn’t eat a grape till I was probably 18.

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I appreciate the passion, emotion and burning motivation that moved her to act, to speak out and to march.

mom-marches

I am not an activist, yet I feel things deeply. I cried when Trump was elected and feel pain for the state of our country and the division that has become so apparent. And I have fought the gloom, doom and foreboding momentum since the first week of November. I have often wondered why that strong, activist spirit did not pass through to me in my DNA.

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I want to understand how we each choose to respond to this crisis and others- whether it’s to join a march in the capital, the nearest big city, or how we might find our place in a smaller circle of our smaller community or even in our own garden sending meditation and prayer out into the universe. How do each of us respond in our own way? Or not at all?

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I felt honored to  meet my community members at the park in town and we walked down our side walks sans police escorts or blockades. Some carried signs, many wore pink hats and accessories and I think we all carried the women (and men and sons) out in the world in our thoughts and in our hearts. And I do thank god hundreds of thousands of women, men, sons and daughters did show up all across the world.

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The news will be harder to read each day with the sense of life as we know it unraveling. I want to hold on to my smile, my optimism and stay informed at the same time. This will certainly be a challenge. And who out there coming across this little speck of a blog in a big universe sits on the other side of the fence?

Thank you Orcas Island for giving me a place to show up.

orcas-womens-march(photo by Jay)

Apple and Celeriac salad

This apple and celeriac salad brings a freshness and brightness to your meal while committing to the definition of “seasonal”.   And I say “seasonal” with the utmost respect. I’ve never been ready to give up bananas or avocados, chocolate, olives or other “staples”. Shit did I just do “quotes” again.  And I suppose those items fall under the definition of  “local”.  I can say I am not a proponent of berries, beans, tomatoes or summer squash in winter due to cost and moreover lack of taste. But on to “salad”!

apple and celeriac saladThis awkward root veggie, rather foreboding at face value, grows like a beet or kohlrabi.  With it’s thick roots and roughly a third of the ball in the ground and the rest nestled in the soil, it has a mild, almost sweet taste. See here.

I cut off the ends, then do my best to use a peeler for the exterior so as not to lose as much of the vegetable. You can slice off edges as well.

apple and celeriac salad

This apple and celeriac salad will also give you the opportunity to dust off your mandolin…

apple and celeriac salad..and practice your knife skills.

apple and celeriac saladIt’s a nice addition to soups either pureed or cubed.  And is this french classic standard.

I carefully used a mandolin to slice and then went for matchsticks/strips/small pieces. I’m out of practice. The irregularity in cuts seen here would not have flown in cooking school. But I don’t think any family members or dinner guests will be pulling out a measuring tape… or will they. Be sure to toss in a little lemon juice to prevent browning.

apple and celeriac saladThe apples were halved, cored and also sliced on mandolin followed by cutting. The apple is a little easier to handle and I think my muscle memory was kicking in. Immediately after cutting toss with lemon juice as well.

I used 2 large apples and 2 bulbs of celeriac and tossed with  a vinaigrette consisting of:

  • 6oz container of yogurt
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1-2 T lemon juice
  • 2-3 T orange juice
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • a handful of chives
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • ENOUGH FOR 6 PEOPLE. OR DINNER ONE NIGHT AND ADD TO YOUR LUNCHES IN THE WEEK

I love Bellwether Farms sheep milk yogurt.

apple and celeriac salad

I make up the dressing in a little mason jar and give it a good shake. Please adjust to your liking! apple and celeriac saladI have a patch of wild chives that don’t look like much but I appreciate the fact they seemed to have grown out of nowhere since about 5 years ago or maybe that’s just when I noticed them. Despite our freezing temps they found a patch of ground that gets warmed up quickly by the sun.

Add some chives and/or minced scallion to the salad.

wild-chives

You can call it good at this point but if you want to go creamier…Add a nice BIG dollop of creme fraiche. Also Bellwether Farms.

apple and celeriac salad

This apple and celeriac salad accompanied our Coffelt T-Bones last night. So Local! Try garnishing with pecans or walnuts. I tried a little celery in this batch.

tbone-and-apple-celeriacIt’s a nice first course that can be made a day ahead and holds for several days for lunches as aforementioned.

I’ve garnished here with a couple strips of green onion

apple and celeriac saladHere’s a little update of our four-leggers currently on the farmette. And yes, that’s a calf. Meet Else. I’ll have better pics soon.

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Have a lovely week xx

Wendy

Lemon tahini sauce

Are you thinking what? Lemon tahini sauce? Really?

Yes. really. It’s basic and it’s so good. And we all need a reminder sometimes of the basics. I went to look up the recipe online only to find my favorite Mollie Katzen recipe. I searched my shelves at home high and low for my Moosewood Cookbook and Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I’m so sad. I think in an extreme Kon Mari moment I gave them away. I haven’t completely accepted that possibility and am hoping I will stumble across  them.veg-and-lemon-tahini-sauce-7I do add roughly 2 TB olive oil.  And if you like cilantro, throw a little handful of that in as well.

veg-and-lemon-tahini-sauce-4And often I use a little more lemon juice and water because I don’t like it too thick. This is where you have to adjust to your own liking.

veg-and-lemon-tahini-sauce-3I prepped and lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower. Then I sliced and sautéed button and shiitake mushrooms and added sticks of parsnip and carrot. THEN I toss in the lightly steamed cauliflower and broccoli. Please don’t try to cook these veggies altogether- no matter what sort of veggie stir fry you are creating.

veg-and-lemon-tahini-sauce-2I grated a little garlic and ginger, threw in a TB of sesame seeds and seasoned with rice vinegar and a little salt.

veg-and-lemon-tahini-sauce-6Steam up some brown rice in whichever method you prefer. For me it’s the rice cooker if I don’t have time to watch the pot or I’m away from home. Other times, I just cook it in a pot.

Put it together for one of your “meatless Mondays”. Is that still a thing? Rice on the bottom followed by sauce and veggies- garnished here with a few strands of raw purple cabbage for color and crunch. Or add another protein if you like.

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Again to find this basic but awesome recipe check out Mollie Katzen’s recipe page for lemon tahini sauce. And doctor it up with a little olive oil, cilantro and extra lemon.

We just returned from New Orleans and the annual JEN (Jazz Education Network) convention where musicians, players and teachers, of all ages come to play, learn and share jazz. We wanted to connect with people, listen to as much jazz as possible and start talking about the revised educational website we’ll be rolling out in the spring for Jazz Everyone– Authentic Guide to Bebop, that my dad started. New Orleans was a lot of fun too! The final concert, one of the highlights of the convention, was a quartet with Sean Jones on trumpet. They put on a great show AND he imparted some inspiring words. He simply talked about how in this time of division, no matter what personal beliefs held, we all came together under the umbrella of jazz music and the love of it. Granted, I imagine a vast majority of jazz lovers are democrats but music has the ability to cross all lines!

I say find more umbrellas. Food, gardening, volunteering…. What else? What places in our lives do we or can we unite, despite our differences, for the betterment of a collective purpose?

That’s a wrap,

xx wendy

 

The perfect blueberry smoothie

Oh, hello there. Welcome to Wendy’s Place and Happy New Year!

I’ve spent a busy year working, homesteading, cheesemaking, volunteering on another farm, doing lots of yoga, cooking, fermenting and not sharing one bit of it. Which I missed.

I think about how many voices are out there on the web and see it as a chorus in a way, collectively making music. When I sang in the chorus in Germany it brought me joy. It brought others joy. Most of the time my voice blended in with many and once in a while it stood out.  I enjoy the process of writing, cooking, sharing thoughts and photos. So here I am. I’m not here to teach you to cook but I do hope you might pick up a useful tip here and there, be inspired to cook and for sure be inspired to eat whole foods. I hope you might glean a new idea, relate to a musing or find something to chew on figuratively and literally.  And I hope you definitely feel a smile grow as you read.

My daughter, Chloe, turned 18 last July. I feel a need to give her her name back. Thus, I’m trying on Wendy’s Place. I’m entering the first year, after 28 years, of no children to feed, nag and hug goodbye every morning, prepare dinner for or kiss goodnight and all the fun that goes on in between. I haven’t know whether to laugh or cry, so generally it’s been both.  I am looking at life as an individual,  as a partner in a rockin’ marriage and of course, always as a parent… but we are officially empty nesters.

2017 is starting off with smoothies like this one here. Blueberry, cranberry, banana. Though we’ve been drinking these for years, I’ve never used cranberry till recently when Ollie thought we were out of blueberries and threw in some cranberries. (Correction- he thought they were blueberries!)

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I threw out a cautionary “dude they are so sour what are you doing?” and dug into the back freezer to retrieve the next 6 lb bag of blueberries (I carry a detailed map in my head of our refrigerator and freezers).  Some of the cranberries sunk down to the bottom and remained. I’ll be damned if it didn’t brighten up the whole thing. I thought “duh” – acid. Whenever a dish needs a little hit of something to round it out usually it’s a need for a little acid- a lemon, vinegar, citrus sort of thing.

We have survivor greens in the garden I’m foraging and always a steady supply of  pealed and frozen bananas. And always an extra sac of baby greens in the crisper.

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Fortunately, this isn’t a new year’s resolution- Going to drink more smoothies. It’s like saying we are going to have a sober January. You can’t really expect a pat on the back for something you already do. Right? We like beer and wine, and drink it, but if we didn’t have it for a month I might not notice. This is something I rarely admit to avoid being a social pariah.

This is our alternative milk of choice when we aren’t using our own goat’s milk. Not a paid endorsement. But I like this one and the plain almond- the no carrageenan is good. I couldn’t keep up with making homemade nut milk for daily smoothies.

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And I’m always trying new protein powders. Pea protein is big right now. I prefer the texture, or lack thereof in the whey powder but ultimately like to switch it up. Some of the plant protein blends are a little starchy. I switch between goat and cow whey.

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For 2 smoothies you’re looking at approx-

  • 2 cups milk (substitute a little yogurt if you like)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ c cranberries
  • 3 handfuls of greens – mix it up
  • protein powder of choice.
  • whatever other superfood you like to add- maca, lacuna powder… or just check out Nativa naturals in general- I like their products. Chocolate nibs and raw cocoa for instance.

Our blender of choice is a Vitamix. I researched till my eyes popped. In the end I like solid, old fashioned dials, knobs and switches. I think it’s the last blender we’ll ever own.

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With your greens and blue berries you still come up with a rather dull colored smoothie but it tastes great~

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That’s a wrap.

To love, health, and compassion in 2017…

wendy

ps- I’ve taped this old placemat to every bedroom wall I’ve known since I was 8 years old.

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Chunky Chicken and mushroom soup

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup…

chicken soupWe are working, I hope, through the last of the days on end rain storms where even the worms drown in unforgiving driveway puddles…

IMG_7389 and unplanned driveway streams…

IMG_7390Goats are hanging near the doorway..

IMG_7398As well as the dynamic duo…

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We tried basic ditching to get a little immediate relief. They have a little bridge to cross.

IMG_7396So for days like this, chicken soup is still in order. But I wanted a soup with big chunky vegetables, mushrooms and meat. I started by cooking the chicken whole (and frozen) on a low simmer for about an hour. Next I pulled out the crock pot. I pulled the cooked chicken and strain the bits. Once cooled, I  pulled the meat off and put it in the fridge till day 2. Here comes the crock pot.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.comBones go in along with a couple carrots, celery tops, onion (or scallions if like me that’s all you have in the fridge), @ 4 bay leaves,  a wedge of lemon, peppercorns, and a couple cloves of garlic. Potato bits and mushroom stems are also a nice addition. I use all the liquid from cooking chicken and top off to about 10-12 cups liquid. It will sit on low for about 24 hours and fill your house with a savory, homey scent. It’s gold baby.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-2No dicing or cubing here. I want to know if it is a slice of carrot or piece of celery in my mouth. 1 large onion, 4-5 carrots, 4 stalks of celery.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-3Same goes for the mushrooms- 6-8 larger brown caps (small portobellos) and 8-10 larger shiitakes. Don’t forget how much they shrink.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-5And if you want to give your soup a little more flavor, I strongly encourage sautéing your veggies in olive oil first and seasoning them on their own.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-6And then add the liquid gold to the big pot of veggies and lift up the “suc”- the yummy brown bits on the bottom  (that you hopefully didn’t burn black:) with a spatula or spoon.

I have to admit after nibbling on the chicken for a day, I bought another split breast that I gently simmered in the 24 hour stock for only 30 minutes. So I essentially had 3 big breasts… keep it down folks.

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-7About 4 cups largely shredded chicken in the end- mostly white meat. And of course these pieces still fit in your mouth. I don’t want to have to cut my soup into smaller pieces for god’s sake. Not that big!… Throw the meat in the pot.

And lastly, I added about ½ cup chopped parsley and seasoned the soup with salt, pepper and lemon. I wanted a simple, clean flavor and skipped any other herbs (rosemary, marjoram and thyme would be on another batch)

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-4

We are all ready for a break of sunshine.

IMG_7392And dry soils…

IMG_7393But until then how about another bowl of chunky chicken and mushroom soup!

RECAP: Portions – About 8-10. One dinner and lunch for 2. Then dinner for 4 at the neighbors…. and still a little left for the freezer.

  • Simmer one  3-4# chicken (skin on for me) in water till cooked- about 1 hour. Fill water to about ½  up way around chicken.
  • Pull chicken and let cool. Strain liquid and place in crockpot. Add enough water to make approx 10-12 cups liquid.
  • Remove meat from the bones and place all bones in the crockpot.  Put meat in the fridge till day 2.
  • Add to crockpot- 2 medium carrots, 2 celery middle stalks w/ leaves, ½ onion, peppercorns (8-12 if you must count), 4 bay leaves (less if you want-  won’t make or break your stock), couple cloves of garlic. Anything else you feel moved to add to create flavor- mushroom and potato bits, parsley stems.
  • Cook on low for up to 24 hours for a dark, rich, healthy chicken stock. Pull a little cup out and add a pinch of salt to just enjoy on its own. Strain liquid. (Cook up another breast for more meat if you ate a bunch waiting for your stock! and for a heartier soup)
  • Cut up 3-4 carrots, 4 stalks of celery, 1 onion
  • Slice 6-8 large cap mushrooms, 8-10 large shiitake mushrooms
  • Sauté veggies in your big soup pot with a little olive oil and season to taste. Add 24 hour stock. 
  • Take your chicken meat and pull apart/shred into larger but mouth fitting pieces. Add to soup pot.
  • Chop ½ cup parsley and add to soup pot.
  • Season to taste with salt, white pepper and lemon 

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup@ wendyellenthomas.com-8Cheers,

WT

 

 

Cuban Ceviche

You know the feeling when you haven’t talked to an old friend or relative for ages? Maybe even one you are pretty close to and that you really like and care about? And you keep waiting for that perfect afternoon when you are carefree and ready to cozy up in your favorite chair or kick back on the couch and just dive into a conversation for hours with your 100% undivided attention? But then days go by and months and you have fleeting glimpses of perfect moments that slip through your fingers.  And you’re like hell- just pick up the damn phone and call- RIGHT NOW.

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

And really whether it’s been months or over a year- you can just start right where you left off with this person- some smiles, some laughs, maybe a little sorrow- but you are just fully present. Can you see my point here?  I don’t have to spell it out in anymore detail right? I’m picking up the damn phone and don’t have anything glorious to share here or really even the time to share it if it were. But we just got back from Florida and we had some killer ceviche in Miami and I was like BAM- get some pics of this stuff and let people know you haven’t let go of this blog thing!

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

The last 8 months were very full and this sharing space made itself comfortable on a back burner with no flame- We had a wonderful year at the store and at the end of it I decided to take another break from retail. I’m on about a 3-4 year cycle. I’m rolling one thing out as I simultaneously roll something in. My latest venture is Real Estate. It’s a far cry from creative but I like people, I like property and I like selling. And a slow 2015 Winter gave me ample time to study and get my license. And being on this island for over 20 years doesn’t hurt in that job.

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

And then there’s those silly goats. They are keeping us plenty busy- especially since we never found new homes for our 2 kids, Jane and Rocky. We are still open to seeing them relocate but only for pets and milk- not the freezer thank you very much. ALTHOUGH having said that- we have our 3 does knocked up and I’m already mentally preparing myself for the fact these offspring may not reside here long term. We just don’t have the capacity. Ok- I may keep our Lagerian kids from Dinah- but they (LaMancha/Nigerian cross) will be small and hardly count.

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

We also built a studio for O man (my husband for those of you who forgot because it’s been EIGHT MONTHS of not hearing a peep from me). And did I mention the real estate thing- last year I was basically working 2 jobs and it was tricky. Then there’s the garden and yada yada yada… I still cook practically everyday from scratch. That’s just a given.

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

We spent only a week off the farm. And we got that time because we were so fortunate to have folks move into our cabin who love to farm sit. A little shout out to Coffelt Farm because that’s where one of them works:) We visited family near Vero Beach and we hiked down to Miami for just one night to visit our dear friends Teri and Jochen who moved there from Hamburg. One laughter filled, food filled evening spent with them on Ocean Drive at Lario’s on the Beach followed by chatting as we walked the boardwalk and ended with a stroll down Lincoln Road Mall. Loveliness.

Here’s a shot of the fresh snapper we had that night.Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com-5-2

Avocado salad

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And the ceviche and plantain chips that have been making me want to eat ceviche non-stop!

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com-3-2

Ceviche and steak might be the two things I’d eat all day everyday. A Cuban ceviche is often shrimp or scallops but it got a northwest spin because I have a fair amount of halibut in the freezer. Of course I’d recommend fresh but we do what we have to. I also saw a little note here….. that Cuban ceviche will have a dash of allspice. I didn’t see much other differentiation (except um for fish they tend to use scallops and shrimp). Sometimes a little tomato. But they are God awful right now in the Pacific Northwest so I skipped that. This link gave a little breakdown of ceviches and allspice seemed to be the little somethin’ somethin’ here. I pulverized whole allspice berries due to lack of ground allspice- but the whole berries actually proved more aromatic. So maybe this post should just say Ceviche with nutmeg…

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

What I am missing from my very large repertoire of  dish/glass ware and general accessories is martini glasses- which is a lovely way to feature ceviche. Now of course I might have to pick up a few just for my raw fish cravings. And my mom likes a very dirty martini- so there you have it. I should get some martini glasses.

Cuban Ceviche@ wendyellenthomas.com

~”Cuban” ceviche recipe~  now anybody who is actually from Cuba who might want to set me straight – I’m all ears!

  • 1# fish – I’m fairly flexible here. Halibut, ling cod, snapper of course,scallops, parboiled shrimp. But I like it to be a white fish
  • 1 sweet red pepper – or go for rainbow with yellow and orange if  available- I like that too
  • ½ bunch of cilantro- approx. ½-¾ cup
  • ½ cup red onion
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper (seeds removed)
  • 1 cup citrus juice- 3 limes, 1-2 lemons, 1 orange
  • zest from 1 organic lime
  • ½ tsp salt
  • good pinch of ground nutmeg (then taste it and see if you want more!)
  • garnish with green onion

When eating it for a light meal I didn’t mind serving it up on shredded romaine tossed with olive oil and lemon. You’ll find a little jalapeño,red pepper, red onion, lime, lemon and orange. And a little side of mango and avocado.

I even tried frying up some plantains. They weren’t deep fried so not as crispy as what we ate in Florida but yummy none the less.

So having prepped you in the first paragraph you’ll see this post come to an end- it’s not going to be a novel and I’d like to think you’ll hear from me again sooner than later.

Cheers,

WT

zucchini pasta, kalamatas, sun dried tomatoes,basil and more

Here’s another summer dish that’s fitting for dinner and a great one to take to a potluck… How many of you go to potlucks? It’s a regular thing here on Orcas Island. We don’t have a lot of entertainment.I think this zucchini pasta loaded with kalamatas, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and red onion should peak the interest of the paleo and plant based eaters alike! And anyone in-between for that matter.

wendyellenthomas.comI got this handy dandy spiralizer that I’m sure I mentioned last summer. or did I?

zucchini pasta, kalamatas, sundried tomato and basilThis thing rocks. I’m watching my zucchini plants blossom and literally can’t wait to harvest the first few baby zuchs. I cherish this anticipation and basically block out what happens after about the 100th green or yellow fruit. That’s when the livestock start doing the squash dance. Here are summer squash plants-

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See those little yellow guys?

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I turned about 5 medium green and yellow fruits into ringlets.  It’s a good idea to salt your zucchini (about ½ tsp) and give it 20 minutes to sweat then strain it. Worst case you don’t, and you end up with some liquid to make dressing with. Chop up one can of drained artichoke hearts…

zucchini pasta, kalamatas, sundried tomato and basil-2

and about a half a jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. Slice onions…

zucchini pasta, kalamatas, sundried tomato and basil-4

And chop/slice roughly ¾ of a cup of pitted kalamata olives. I try to get artichoke hearts, tomatoes and olives by the case as it almost makes them affordable when you buy in bulk. Any one of these ingredients crank up just about anything a couple notches.

Lastly, a handful of fresh basil leaves…

wendyellenthomas.comSimply toss it all together and dress with a ⅓ cup of olive oil, half a fresh lemon and a splash of white wine vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste-

Recipe:

  • 5 medium zuchinni spiralized, cut on a mandolin or try using a julienne peeler
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 drained can artichoke hearts chopped
  • ½ packed cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • ½-¾ cup kalamata olives chopped
  • ¼-½ sliced medium red onion
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon (throw a little zest in there too if you’d like)
  • splash of white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional- 1 clove pressed garlic

This really doesn’t need a printed recipe, trust me- save the paper. Just have a go at it and plus or minus the ingredients you like. Make it your own.

Simple,fresh, healthy and full of flavor.

zucchini pasta, kalamatas, sundried tomato and basil-5And here is the farm in early June- the garlic is outrageous. I’m hoping the soil wasn’t too fertile. We’ve got some hefty stalks.

garden 6-4-15Ollie wanted potatoes this year… and potatoes he shall have. We gave up a lot of real estate for 4 ROWS! Usually I plant 2 sides of 1 row but this year decided to give them lots of room. German butterball, Yukon gold, Pontiac red, and 2 varieties of fingerlings

garden 6-4-15-6Greens are doing great, weeded and mulched…

garden 6-4-15-8But wanted to throw this in so you see all parts of the garden… kind of like me. You think you are looking at a bed of weeds and that’s partly true. But there are soon to be sweet strawberries in there. My theory was the birds won’t find the berries in all those weeds. Really this bed will be turned over this fall. It’s just too full of buttercup but due to lack of time I thought I’d try out my rationalized theory:)

garden 6-4-15-9See what’s hiding in there- don’t tell the birds

garden 6-4-15-10Here’s a couple favorite roses in the landscape. A little thorny tea rose…

garden 6-4-15-16I focus up on them to avoid looking down at the weeds that need attention… This massive wild rose is breathtaking every year.
garden 6-4-15-3

 

And the kids are growing…

garden 6-4-15-11 garden 6-4-15-2

oh this sweet face…

garden 6-4-15-13Have a lovely beginning of summer

Grilled veggies, millet, greens, cocoa chili dressing

Grilled red peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and pork shoulder chops on a bed of greens and millet is topped with a dressing concocted of olive oil, grilled red pepper, cocoa powder,worcester sauce, honey and a dash of lemon. You can add as much heat as desired. This recipe is based on the one I found in the June issue of Yoga Journal (a favorite of mine) and I think it’s a great one for this holiday weekend.

summer veggies, cocoa chili dressing-6I think it would be just as lovely as it was written in Yoga Journal with grilled corn, black beans and a mesclun mix. But I opted for pork (just bought a LOT of local pork) and our garden greens which at the moment are tender young kale and spinach. I made the millet the night before and warmed it up with some broth- a little water and salt would do just fine.

summer veggies, cocoa chili dressing-3These shoulder chops are big and meaty so I only grilled two and cut them in strips to cut down on the meat portion (sorry Ollie). I used this very flavorful Mesquite smoked salt, from Saltworks in Seattle, that I love and yes do sell at Chez Chloe. It’s not online at my store yet so call if you want some and I’ll hook you up!

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I drizzled a little olive oil onto the chops and sprinkled with the El Dorado, the mesquite smoked salt, on both sides. I grilled the chops at about 400° on our gas grill. The veggies were tossed as well with a little olive oil and Saltworks fine Himalayan pink salt.
summer veggies, cocoa chili dressing I work hard at temp control and ideally go for marks without scorching. Who doesn’t right?summer veggies, cocoa chili dressing-2The dressing (check out link to Yoga Journal) is a blend of a little water,  ½ cup of skinned, just roasted red pepper, honey, worcester sauce, unsweetened cocoa powder, mild pepper and cayenne if desired… I used ½ dried chili pepper from last year’s garden. What I felt the dressing needed was a little pick me up. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice brightened it up with a dash of salt. My dried pepper was also one spicy little bitch. Enough that when I took the top off it in the afternoon and proceeded to touch my lips, they burned for a good while. It took me about a half hour to put two and two together. Like the after burn of stinging nettles.
summer veggies, cocoa chili dressing-6
I piled on the greens and dressed them with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon. Topped it with seasoned millet, added the veggies and pork, topped with the chili dressing and garnished with a little cilantro that happened to be in the fridge. Avocado would be a nice addition as well.
So while I do think it is a wee bit early in this neck of the woods here in Western WA to be pulling summer vegetables from your own garden, they are pretty readily available and I think it would be a great dish for this holiday weekend. Hence, my haste in actually writing two posts in one week:)
 Have a lovely long weekend and be sure to share time and good food with great friends!

got GOATS!

Hi campers! How was your spring? We are busy little monkeys around here. I took an unspoken blogging “break”… lots of real time action for us has meant putting my photos and writing on the back burner.

We had a couple of kids last month! Basically from November 20th when our Nubian doe, Shirley had her “encounter” with Jimmy Mac until about 2 weeks before Shirley gave birth- I wasn’t 100% sure the deed was done. After all, the moment consisted of little foreplay and lasted about as long as the time it took Ollie to unscrew his coffee cup to check how hot it was. We had anticipated a little kickback time and literally it was done as he screwed the cap back on. But then Rocky and Jane happened April 22nd…

goats 5-15-2

goats 5-15-4Earth Day presents and Ollie’s birthday… so birthday lunch was postponed and we pretty much stayed close to home all day.

goatsI of course have spent loads of time reading and watching videos on goat births. We even spent a couple days with our friends at Mountain Lodge Farm near Tacoma. They birthed about 200 kids this year. We witnessed 5:)

goats 5-15-5I had the birthing kit ready. Only thing I didn’t get was the rubber gloves and K-Y Jelly. And in our little town I missed hearing the nervous chuckle that would have likely ensued at the checkout of our one and only pharmacy.

goats 5-15-12I looked out that morning from our porch like always and saw everyone but Shirley hanging out like they  do… waiting for the gate to open and us to appear. The difference was, I swear, they were all staring into the shed.. The sheep, Helen and Irene, and the other goats, Dinah and Nena looked in there like some kind of cruel and unusual punishment had just happened. I threw on some boots and yelled out to Ollie- IT HAPPENED!

goats 5-15-3And sure enough after 5 months and looking like this at the end-

shirley April 17

There were 2 little goat babies in the shed surrounded by a lot of goo…. Not in the nice, sanitary, freshly hayed “birthing suite” I had prepared in our barn that is really more of a shop- so I had moved work benches around to to create. With the buckling almost dry and the doeling still damp, we did get them into the barn and I started reading my printed materials on newborn kids.

wendyellenthomas.com

They were slow to walk- was this normal? Now I think I could say yes. Jane seemed to be born second and was a little weaker. We actually milked a little colostrum, the liquid gold, and pumped it in her mouth to get her going. Then I held them up to her to start. After just a few days of me not interfering, or of wondering if they were getting enough milk, or if they were nursing out of both sides… once I let nature actually do its thing… there was a lot of this going on-

We decided to have these kids be “dam raised” meaning they will stick with their mom to nurse and learn the way of the goat. We spend a lot of time handling them and playing and they are not shy to come to us- especially for morning and evening snuggles. Yes- I know what you are thinking but you would so do the same. And trust me- if you had one in your arms you would be swaying it like a baby stomach down… You don’ t even realize it.

goats 5-15-11Janegoats 5-15-7Rocky

goats 5-15-6They have already learned the joys of rough cut siding.

goats 5-15-9And who has been the most patient with these little creatures? Dinah. She’s getting her rub on too- It’s a thing with goats. Well hell- we all like it. Right?

goats 5-15-10Ollie did get his annual ultimate strawberry shortcake  birthday cake that night.

wendyellenthomas.comBut it had a little less fussing around than this one- This pic has been like a blog hit royalty check on Pinterest!

Strawberry cake-12So we’ll say good bye now and try to check in at least a few times this summer! Enjoy:)

wendyellenthomas.com

 

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