Sunday, June 29, 2014

Carrot Mint Smoothie

Instead of fruit, I was ready for a change: this one was fabulous --- still sweet but with a herby note. A smoothie with almond milk, vanilla yogurt, a carrot, a piece of ginger, fresh mint and parsley and cilantro.

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Carrot Mint Smoothie

  • 1 carrot, peeled cut into large chunks
  • 1 stem of mint with about 12 mint leaves
  • a spring of cilantro and parsley each
  • 1 in of a ginger root, fresh, peeled, and cut up
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla flavored yogurt
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • sweetener to taste.

Add all ingredients to a blender, blend and serve!

Mirlo Parasol

These Mirlo umbrellas are simply beautiful reminding me of old world European charme. I know one friend of mine in Switzerland owns one. Not available in the US yet --- unfortunately. Can someone pleeeaaaase import them?? Williams Sonoma? Anthropologie??

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Running in the summer sunset

Yesterday I ran in the evening. I am finally at a stage in my C25K running program where I run entire stretches of 22-30min to increase the overall distance and build up to the 5K. It was a hot day and it was warm in the evening. – I got out my Garmin Forerunner 405 which I had bought back in 2008 when I first started to run outdoors. Fortunately, after some charging it all still work flawlessly.

Foods were summery and included the a flower apple almond salad from the farmers market, and Swiss chard from the garden, with apple, peas, ricotta and pomegranate molasses. And a huge pretzel bagel.
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Silent Saturday

The weather is great, and it feels like we got an early start into the July 4th weekend…. Some photos from the farmers market this morning.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rolling the ball

It is raining here, and it is also raining in Recife. Do you have world cup fever? This is the first world cup game I am actually watching. I am not quite sure where my loyalties should go today – my home country or my adopted home country. It is like two of your children competing against each other. Hmm. Fortunately, a draw will advance both so hopefully good feelings all around, and hopefully a good game of soccer.

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Last day of rain here, then it is back to sunshine and temperatures in the upper 80s. Summer to finally arrive.

Salad: fresh local strawberries, mixed lettuce from the farmers market, chickpeas, blue cheese, almonds and balsamic vinaigrette.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tail in the sunshine

This summer not only has had a late start, but it also seems to never take off. We are back to t-shirt plus a sweater temperatures. Last night on my run I was wearing a long sleeve shirt it was so chilly.

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The sunny days don’t make you sweat, which can be good in many ways, but it also does not feel like summer yet. Last year around this time, the AC was humming for a month already and it was an endless summer, even for Maine terms. This year is a very subdued version of it.

Today, the sky is gray and thundershowers are expected. The farmers market opened its Tuesday portion of the schedule but there is barely lettuce, some early kohlrabi and surprisingly strawberries, questioning everyone “Are they really local?” But they smell good and they taste good and they are definitely on the sour side of things.

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On a practical level, cooler temperatures are pleasant. On the emotional side of things, not so much. Maybe, things pick up next week with July 4th.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A new activity watch in town

Today, Withings, a French company, releases a new fitness tracker, and compared to existing sporty, silicone covered, clunky ones, this one, the Active, marvels in sleek elegance.

Only on second look it can be identified as a fitness tracker --- it has a smaller, secondary dial: over the course of a day, a hand ticks from 0 to 100, showing your progress from 0% to 100% (you can set your personal goals with the app). The Active appears analog, not digital, and it was made in Switzerland. However, the display masks an accelerometer instead of cogs, to track the wearer’s steps taken and hours slept. Settings provided by the user help calculate calories burned, and all of that data is streamed back to the Withings Health Mate app. 

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Not only is the Active elegant and can track your daily activity and nightly sleep, it is also water-proof and can be worn swimming.
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Price tag: US $390.
One can only hope it is hassle-free to set up and reliable. No word on this yet. Available in Fall 2014.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summertime

So, I guess, summer started. The temperatures today give a slight taste of summer heat, tank tops and the need for refreshing water bodies. Time always ticks on. The other day I read that for parents the days are long but the years are short. That is also how it feels for me. How do years go by so fast?

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July and Augusta are, hands-down, my favorite months of the year. The weather is likely very good, there is vacation time built in somewhere, Maine looks its best, bucolic and charming, the days are long and the sunshine plenty.

We are not even 10 minutes into summer, but the clock keeps ticking towards the end of it. Like climbing a mountain and going downhill again. With this year’s late start into the summer, it feels short and precious. But, hey, today is good and let’s make it a summer day to remember.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday afternoon nap

…..someone found a perfect spot for it.

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Ricotta Lemon Bundt Cake

There was a BBQ on a Saturday afternoon for a friends’ get-together, and it required a cake. A ricotta cake seemed like the perfect choice--- dessert-like, moist and rich like a cheesecake, but lighter and easier to handle with simply napkins. This cake came out great, received many compliments and I am sure to make it more often. A new go-to recipe. Unfortunately, the cake was gone before I could take a decent photo of a it at the BBQ.

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Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cake
Regular sized Bundt cake pan
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 Ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 ts lemon extract
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • zest of 1  organic lemon (save juice for glaze)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2  ts baking powder
  • 1/2 ts baking soda
  • 1/2 ts salt

For The Lemon Glaze:
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a regular sized bundt or ring pan.
  2. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta cheese and blend well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Add the extracts and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in several smaller parts, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon as needed.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
    Cool completely.
  8. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and thick.
  9. Drizzle the lemon glaze over the top of the cake.
  10. Let the glaze set for 30 minutes and then cut into wedges and serve.
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to turn golden into pink vinegar?

Kids playing in the streets at 10am? School must be out for summer.

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How to turn golden vinegar into pink one? On Sunday I gathered chives flowers in the garden, snipped off right underneath the flower, and stuffed them in a jar. About 30 of them.

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I filled up the jar with rice wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would be good, too), and let it sit on a window sill for about 4 days. The chive flowers infuse the vinegar with a light oniony flavor, making it a great ingredient for e.g. tomato salad.


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On day 4, I poured the vinegar into another bottle and threw away the chive flowers (don’t squeeze the flowers, just let the vinegar drain). Not only a wonderful oniony flavor, but also…. pink colored vinegar.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fig raspberry Greek yogurt ice cream with honey

It is the time of the year to get out the ice cream maker. After making popsicles the world has moved on to making frozen yogurt with Greek yogurt. It is fairly simple to make --- have quite a bit of fruit, heat it with sugar, cool it down, puree it, and add in the Greek yogurt. Pour into ice cream maker. ---- It is fabulously thick and creamy right out of the ice cream maker, but freezes sold when frozen later on.

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Fig Raspberry Greek Yogurt Ice Cream with Honey
  • 2 cup of frozen raspberries
  • about 5 fresh or frozen figs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 small container of Fage Greek yogurt
  • 2 TB of honey
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
Chill the cooling inset of the ice cream maker at least 24h before making ice cream In the freezer.
Pour the water and sugar into a heavy bottom pot, heat the water and dissolve the sugar. Add the fruit once dissolved, and heat them up, but do not cook the fruit. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.
Pour into blender, and puree smoothly.

Add the honey, vanilla and Greek yogurt, and blend again. Pour the mix into the cooling container, place the rotating blade in it, and get the ice cream maker going. Ice cream should be read in about 20min. Serve immediately, or freeze.

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Languishing

Chanelle says it has been too long since he’s been on the blog. He is beautiful as ever and if you would meet him in person he would be sure to welcome you and rub at your legs, purring.

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My beautiful man, taking a relaxed nap since the temperature are too high and too humid to do anything else for someone with a fur coat.

This is the first year that I plant my raised bed in more than one season. The first season contained an early and fast growing bok choy. It is ready to eat and makes room for the next season of summer squash. Summer squash has a habit to take over any space it is given (and then some). The winter chard is on the heels of the bok choy to replenish the kitchen with home grown greens. I also planted radishes and beets; the beets are likely the last to be harvested. In September, large bags of beets are just $5 at the farmers market.

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Lettuce mixes are some of the first green find on the FM. In a little while they will come in large bags with edible flowers mixed in for only $5, staying fresh and crisp for a week. No flowers yet. 

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Radishes are another early produce. This made for a wonderful salad with yesterday’s lemon tahini dressing.

There was a thunderstorm overnight, and the sun struggles to come out today. But soon, it will, and the thermometer will climb again. These days, I languish on my deck, in the shade, working on an article.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tahini Salad Dressing

I lasted about 3 months. 3 months of my cancelled Prime membership at Amazon. Without prime and free 2 day shipping, you no longer see your favorite guy in town (the UPS guy) because the orders you put in can take up to 10 days before they are even shipped and then they are shipped the slowest speed possible, likely arriving by your mailman/woman.  By the time you receive them, you have basically forgotten the things you ordered  (think used book orders). Not having a prime membership definitely helps to beat any shopping addiction. If you imagine you get your new camera in maybe….hmm, 3 weeks? how much fun is that?! On the plus side, I saved a lot of money.

Today I renewed my membership and the new Canon powershot should arrive by Thursday. Life as it should be.

On the other hand, I tried a new salad dressing ---- the last Meyer lemon that I had left on my tree needed a special purposing. There was not much juice left in the lemon but the rind was wonderfully flavorful (and definitely free of any chemicals, just maybe a little lipstick where it got kissed once).  --- Tahini dressing. To add some texture and creaminess I added a handful of chickpeas.

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Meyer Lemon Tahini Dressing
Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup water, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tahini, roasted preferred
  • 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne, to taste

Place all ingredients in a high-speed mixer, and twirl away. Lasts up to one week in fridge.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chickpea salad with chive flower infused vinaigrette

Chickpeas are a great, hearty addition to any summer salad, especially if they come in a salad type combination of their own. These are also the days when chives started to flower. Chives flowers can be added to salads directly, or they can be added to a light vinegar such as champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar to infuse them with an oniony flavor. – Chive infused vinegar is a great base for this vinaigrette.

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Chickpea salad with chive flower infused vinaigrette   (1 portion)

  • 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin stripes with a julienne peeler
  • 1 Persian cucumber, sliced diagonally
  • fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 TB chive infused vinegar (infuse apple cider vinegar with chive flowers for 3-4days)
  • 1 ts agave nectar
  • 1 ts cumin
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 ts olive oil

Mix the vegetables with the herbs. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients (vinegar to olive oil ingredients), and pour over the chickpea salad. Mix, and let marinade for about 10 min. Serve!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Saffron potatoes

Today was a typical Friday the 13th: about everything went wrong, from small to large annoyances. Does this make me superstitious now? Let’s finish this day and get it over with.
At least dinner needed to be more colorful then the rest of the day. ---- Boiling 4 mini potatoes, peeled, in a vegetable broth infused with saffron. Added some broccoli, Brussels sprouts and ramen noodles, simmering for 10 min. – Topped with fresh lemon thyme. At least something went right.

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A sky full of stars

The weekend is near! Two more days of rain predicted but the blue sky and the sun peek through occasionally. The first local foods arrive. Corn is not one of them, but local US nevertheless.

Happy fathers day to all the old, new, to-be, dog, and cat dads out there!

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Denial of sunshine attack

When I wake up and the sun shines, I can’t wait to figure out what highlights to pack into my day: a trip to the coast, a hike, a winery, a new location….. and a little bit of work when I am there.  When I wake up and it rains, I expect no particular highlights (that I could miss out on) and work has a non-competitive stance for the day.

Today, it was not only raining, but the temperatures fell back to the 50s (from the 90s). The cats snuggled their way under the covers, and running along the river became a treadmill activity watching Orange is the new black. The miles seems so much longer on the treadmill.

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Season 2 of Orange is the new black takes until Episode 3 to pick up steam and some hilarious wisecracks. It is more slow paced and tame than Season 1; at least it does not repeat itself nor rides on the jokes that made Season 1 so successful.

The other day I sorted my props by color. Pinks, lots of pinks, blues, and a few stone pastel colors. This would be the time to watch a re-run of the seminar to bring back the ideas. ----

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Today was the second day that feedly was done with a denial of service attack. I felt feedly was holding my blog list hostage, and I could hardly remember all the blogs by name that I actually read. Near panic. Fortunately, I had a backup list on bloglovin from my first rounds of trying to replace Google reader.

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