Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September's BJP & Indian Food with Recipe

I finally caught up with my monthly Bead Journal Project Goddess Doll Pins. My September one is entitled Rainbow Goddess, which is pretty obvious once you see her below.

I created her with a big smile, as September was a great month. Rainbows, smiles, and spirals. I got a wonderful CAT Scan report - all clear, and I was able to go to the John C. Campbell Folk School and take an Indian Cooking Class for 5 days. 

I really lucked out, as my sister, Karen, was teaching a class on enameling there. Part of her compensation was a free class, which she couldn't take. Soooooooo, she invited me to join her and pick a course to take. There were several, but I've always enjoyed Indian food and I rarely go to an Indian Restaurant, due to my diet. Now, I can create my own dishes with ingredients I want to use and enjoy it all. So, I didn't do the quilting or hooking, rugs you know, and I didn't do the jewelry making with a blacksmith edge to it. Indian cooking caught my eye and there was room in the class. Yes!

The John C. Campbell Folk School is a really special place and space. It's located in SW North Carolina, about 2 hours from Asheville, near the Georgia border, and 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta. Apparently, the easier drive is from Atlanta, even though it's a bit longer. It has 300 acres total land, although only a portion of that is developed, and it's in Brasstown, NC, a population of 170. The buildings make you feel as though you are at Summer camp. Meals were delicious and served family style. I was able to stay with my diet, dairy-free, gluten-free, mostly vegetarian (chicken and fish). They had folks with all types of needs eating there. I didn't stay with my diet the whole time, but mostly. Their breads were all home made and fabulous. Karen tells me that the desserts were really terrific too.

The range of courses is unbelievable! Go check out their web site, as the link is above. Not every category has a class each week, and the school is open year round. So, if you like the cold, it's a winter vacation spot too. Get away for a weekend or week, be creative, and have fun. Everyone there was so warm and friendly.

My class had 9 students, two of them were men who loved to cook. We teamed up and it was amazing, as each pair who cooked together liked the same degree of "hotness," which hadn't been discussed before we paired up. Our first morning, Shan Singh, our wonderful instructor, had us roast both cumin and coriander seeds and grind them in a small electric coffee grinder, and put them into our spice box, which also included turmeric, chili pepper powder (cayenne), salt, mango powder, and black mustard seeds. The next thing we did was get baskets and go out to the gardens, where we picked mint and basil,  peppers, both hot and mild, tomatoes, and flowers for the kitchen. Our first day we made about 6 other items. Each afternoon, we had Indian music playing and we danced around the kitchen, good exercise, so it wasn't only cooking. With Shan was Gary, her husband, who made Chai twice a day for us. I had it the first day, and it was delicious, but I found it difficult to fall asleep that night. I'm guessing it was due to the caffeine in the black tea, as usually I only drink herbal teas; so, I didn't drink it again. Everyone else couldn't wait for the Chai to be made each time.

I'm not going to bore you with the rest of the week. Just know that it was great. Thursday night we had a party, where we could each invite two guests. Shan and Gary had enough Indian style clothes for all of us, and we were able to dress up for the party as well.  Every one had such a deliciously fun time.

This is one of my favorite recipes from Shan Singh ( She doesn't have a written cookbook but I think she is writing one. She does give classes in Atlanta):

Curried Eggplant (Baigan Ka Bhartha)

1 large eggplant
2 medium or 1 large onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (can use ghee or other oil)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or less depending on how hot you want it)
Sea salt
Chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Pierce the eggplant all over  and broil in oven, turning after the first 10 minutes. This can be cooked in a microwave (which I don't use) for 10 min on high OR it can be cooked on a grill.
  2. After the eggplant has cooked and cooled, remove the skin and mash the flesh with a fork.
  3. Heat the oil on medium and saute the onions till golden brown.
  4. Add the dry spices and saute for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 8 minutes.
  6. Add the eggplant and cook uncovered on low heat for 5 minutes, until the entire dish has a nice brown color and the oil starts separating from the vegetable.
  7. Taste to adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
The eggplant can be cooked much earlier in the day to make the preparations faster at dinner time. This can be served over rice, quinoa, or even pasta would work. YUM.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

August BJP, Italian Goddess Pin and a Recipe

I finished my August Bead Journal Project, Italian Goddess Doll Pin, over a week ago, but hadn't had a chance to scan her. She's reminiscent of the rest of our trip to Europe.

I choose her colors of browns and greens for both the olive trees and grapevines, which were everywhere in our travels. Her face is a coconut button for all the palm trees we saw, which surprised me. I used a heart because I really love Italy. It's such a warm and welcoming country. The metal piece at her midline is an earring I found, on a Sunday morning, at a Farmer's Market and flea market in Panzano-in-Chianti, a small village near where we stayed in Montefioralle. 

We stayed for two weeks in the Chianti area of Tuscany, Italy. It was all about medieval towns, olive oils, and wines. Yum!!! The sightseeing was spectacular and the food incredibly fresh and delicious. It was difficult coming back to the States and buying tomatoes, even organic and heritage ones.

Since we've been home, I've been doing more work on my cookbook for cancer survivors and people with celiacs disease. Here's a recipe I developed while in Italy, which will be in the book.

Vegetable Montefioralle

The first night at our rental in Montefioralle, Tuscany, I didn’t know what to make. I had bought lots of vegetables, which were all so gorgeous at the Farmer’s Markets in both Lucca and Panzano. I went through what I had, picked out some things and made this. I served it over quinoa. It made a lot, so we had it for several meals. For another meal, I put it over rice pasta. A winner all around!

Serves 6-8

Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 large leeks, sliced thinly
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 large or 2 med cloves garlic, minced
4 large tomatoes, diced
½ green pepper, diced
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 zucchini, sliced in half, length-wise, and sliced
3 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
Greek Seasoning (the Spice Hunter - http://www.spicehunter.com/)
     or use your favorite spices
Sea Salt
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Vegetable broth
Fresh oregano and basil


1.  Have all the vegetables cut and ready to cook.
2.  Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a deep pan and add the onion, leeks, and shallots.
3.  Saute until starting to brown.
4.  Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
5.  Add the rest of the vegetables and the Greek Seasoning, sea salt, dried basil and oregano to taste.
6.  Add the vegetable broth as needed to keep the vegetables cooking and not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
7.   When the vegetables are tender, add the fresh oregano and basil. Stir a couple of times and serve.

Monday, August 29, 2011

July's Travel/Wedding Goddess Pin

I finally got my July Goddess Pin scanned, although it's not the best scan I've ever done. She is too round to lay the way I wanted her to, with the central beads actually going down her center, from her waist down. Try to picture her that way. She has a lot of significance for my July, a real journaling piece.

I had actually finished her near the end of July, but we were in Europe and I couldn't find the time nor the place to have her scanned.

I picked the fabric due to the colors I wanted to use, red, white, blue, and green. First the red, white & blue for our 4th of July celebration, and those same colors for the few days we were in France. I used the countries' flag colors. The beginning of our European trip was in Switzerland for some sightseeing and a wedding, hence the red & white. Most of our trip was spent in Italy, therefore the red, white, & green.

Starting with her hair, I used the red flowers as there was an abundance of red flowers in window boxes throughout Switzerland, France, and Italy, and not just in flower boxes. I picked up the white stone I used for her face in Yvoire, France. I'm not sure you can tell, but when I picked it up I saw a face, the nose and two eyes (a bit darker on either side of the nose); she has her face turned slightly to her left. The piece of chain of pearls was left over from the necklace I made for the mother of the bride, one of our very dear friends. I used a heart as I love to travel. Amongst the line of beads from her waist down, there is a big square blue bead; that was a gift from one of the Servas hosts we stayed with who is also a beader. (See more about Servas after the rest of the description of my European/Wedding Travel Goddess.) Towards her bottom, there is a metal piece with a red stone, keeping with my colors. I found this single earring at a flea market in Panzano-in-Chianti, Italy, not far from where we were staying. I think it's the perfect piece to complete her.

Our trip continued into August, so you will see more of my travels soon.

Now to Servas. This is a wonderful organization. Here, in the States, it is US Servas. It a totally international organization started after WWII, as a peace organization, using the concept that one is unlikely to make war with people you break bread.  Once a member, you can stay with people for two nights, where they give you breakfast both mornings and dinner one night. You either take them out for dinner the second night or cook dinner at their home. I love to cook, so I tend to do that. You meet the most interesting people, who also may have time to take you around, or they may not, but they certainly will make suggestions of things to see and do. Some of the highlights of our trips have been because we stayed with Servas Hosts and they suggested we do something we hadn't planned on. After our first trip staying with Servas, we came home and signed up as Hosts. You don't have to be a host in order to be a traveler; there is no commitment to have people in your home. I can only tell you that we have had some really interesting folks stay with us over the years. If it's not convenient for them to stay with you, you can always say no when you receive a request. We usually stay with hosts about half the time we're traveling. If you love to travel, it's a great way to go!

Friday, August 26, 2011

3rd Blog for Europe with Pasta with Truffle Oil Recipe

Before heading to our rental in Montefioralle, in the Chianti area of Tuscany, we were in Lucca, also in Tuscany, for their organic Framer's Market. Here's a photo of what one vendor looked like; actually, it was only a small portion of their produce:

Everything was so fresh and delicious. Some of the best tasting tomatoes were the ones up front in my photo, which were not the pretty-looking ones. I usually buy tomatoes in the States and use them for both cooking and in salads. In Italy, you buy tomatoes for each and don't use the cooking ones for salads; therefore, I bought a lot of tomatoes. After we left the market, we drove to Montefioralle and our home for the next two weeks..

We spent those two enchanting weeks in the Chianti area of Tuscany, which is north of Rome. Tuscany was everything I imagined and more. The narrow roads meandering through the hills and valleys, surrounded by large patches of shades of green between the olive trees and grape vines laden with fruit. It was all interspersed with ages old stone buildings, some houses, stores, and many what they called castles, which were mainly the wine and olive oil tasting vineyard buildings.  I loved the medieval villages with their walking streets. The stores had contemporary merchandise in rooms with stone arches or other Gothic details. ( I wrote this before we returned and we're home now. I went to the Apple store today and now can upload photos. "One day, I will have to share all the fabulous photos I took but still can't seem to upload to my blog. Back to the Apple Store when we get return, for a lesson on how to use iPhoto.")

Here are a few of photos from different hill towns:

We've had so many wonderful experiences but too many to write about now. We'll talk when we get home about the fun things we've done.

We're now in Bologna, having arrived late yesterday afternoon. It's an old large city. I had thought that the streets were also walking streets, but you can drive through most of them. We parked before finding out that you could drive, so we did a lot of walking. The architectural details are fabulous. As you walk the streets, it is easy, as there are arcades on most of them, so you can walk out of the strong sunlight. It was in the mid 90s today. Talk about hot! This is about the hottest it's been since we arrived. Most days have been in the high 80s or as much as 90-91. I think the Spring would be a fabulous time to visit, as there would be fewer tourists. The last time we were in Italy, it was almost 20 years ago and it was November; a bit cool but less traffic and smaller lines, although we haven't had too many lines to stand in, only in a couple of places. Then, we had needed coats, scarves, and an umbrella, which we bought in Florence.

This weekend is the biggest religious holiday weekend of the Summer; it's called Ferragosto, which is Assumption Day. So many stores and restaurants take their vacations during this time. I can't even count how many places had signs up saying they are closed until late August. So, on one hand, it's a great celebration ending with fireworks at the shore, and on the other, it's a bit harder for tourists, although so far all the museums and churches have been opened to the public. They do have signs up saying they will be closed to the public during the festival, which is tomorrow, the 15th. So, we're planning on going to Ravenna and perhaps to Rimini as well to experience Ferragosto.

Ravenna is an amazing city. It's known for its mosaics; there are 8 UNESCO Heritage Sites there, but we only got to see four of them. Each was so different than the others and all are fabulous. It's mind boggling to realize that they have been there for over 1500 years and they mostly look brand new. Of course, there are areas that don't look brand new, but for the most part, they're dazzling. George Fishman, a friend of ours who creates incredible mosaics, gave us friends' names to look up; so, we did. Stephanie and Robert, Americans who have lived in Ravenna for over 15 years, met us for a cup of coffee, or in our case tea. We had lots to talk about. She is a tour guide and will put together a private week or longer tour featuring mosaics or anything else you want to see. The two of them create mosaics as well and do many installations of Art in public places in the States as well as elsewhere. We walked a bit with them and looked at one of the Heritage Sites, a Baptistry, which had mosaics producing transparency of cloth, which is kind of hard to do. Then, we went to see other friends of theirs and George and Nancy's; they're a young Italian couple who give workshops on mosaics and have created some really unusual contemporary themes and pieces. 

We left Ravenna and traveled another hour to see friends of our neighbor, Boni, who live in Rimini and own and run a small hotel there. JJ and Mirella come to the States every November and stay for a few months; they're Italian (he's actually American) snowbirds. We've met them in the past when they've been in. Art also wanted to see the sea, and since it was Ferraugosto, we thought there would be fireworks. However, we didn't see any. We had a lovely time with JJ and Mirella and look forward to seeing them this Fall and Winter. Maybe we left too early before the fireworks started.

Today, we traveled to Ferrara, a bit north of Bologna. It's a beautiful city with lots of pink marble. The Este Castle is incredible, huge, and the history is so interesting. I'm getting tired now, so I'm stopping for the moment. I hope to post this tomorrow after I decide which recipe to write.

Rice Pasta with Truffle Oil Sauce
We ate something like this in a wonderful restaurant in Ferrara.


  • 1 medium yellow onion- chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic- chpped fine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stalk fresh rosemary- chopped
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil-- white or black
  • 1/4 grated fresh good quality hard raw goat cheese
1. Saute onion-garlic and rosemary in olive oil. Make sure onion is golden-and garlic is not burnt.
2. Cook the rice spaghetti according to its package. I use a brand where they suggest it cook for at least 17 minutes and a couple of more minutes doesn't hurt it.
3. When done, drain pasta, toss with onion, garlic, rosemary. Add goat cheese.
4. Toss again and drizzle the truffle oil on top of each individual serving.
5. Garnish with fresh chopped Rosemary--just a pinch.

Delish. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2nd Europe Entry & Easy Recipe

The days are so full and the evenings short, as we’ve been eating at 8:30 or 9pm, rather late for us. Lunches have been around 2:30 or 3:00 due to sightseeing and traveling. All is good. However, after a late dinner, I’m not up to blogging, so I keep putting it off.

We loved St. Paul de Vence in the mountains above Nice. It’s another medieval city, with all up and down pedestrian streets. We’ve been getting a real workout. We Floridians prefer flat terrains. Oh well, I guess it’s nice for a change. We liked St. Paul even more than Eze. Each has its own flavor and both are charming, but St. Paul had a whole plethora of art galleries with tons of bronzes, each shop showing totally different works, as well as other interesting art. That’s only one of the reasons for our preference.

Our next stop was Cinque Terre, a group of five medieval towns, south of Genoa, nestled into cliffs that go right down to the water. So, we were finally in Italy and were lucky in that the weather was beautiful and the sea relatively calm; so, we were able to travel to the towns by boat. Friends, who were at the wedding, had been to Cinque Terre before joining us in Switzerland, and couldn’t go by boat, due to rough seas; they traveled by train, short hops between the towns. It was great being out on the water. I had thought that we’d ride the train too, on the way back, but the timing was good for boat rides, so that’s what we opted for. It was so picturesque arriving by sea, seeing the buildings getting bigger and bigger with more details visible with each passing moment. Each town was so different as we approached. We took the boat to the furthest town, Riomaggiore and got off there. After walking the town and finding some natural suntan lotion, I had left mine in our room and I really needed some, we walked between  Riomaggiore and Manarola, the next town, along the cliffside on a walk called Via dell’ Amore, Lover's Lane. Going onward to the next town after exploring Manarola and having lunch, we took the ferry to the next town and thereafter.

We stayed near Bonassola, about 10 minutes from Levanto where we caught the ferry, only two nights and then went on to Lucca, the northern part of Tuscany. We loved Lucca, which has a walled medieval city, all on flat ground. Our kind of town. Yeah! We didn’t get the chance to explore as much as we wanted to, as part of our time was taken up working on our communications, phone and internet. We’ve decided to go back so we can browse around some more. That evening, we went to a concert at the greenhouse in the Botanical Gardens within the walled city. The singer sang in English and talked in Italian between songs; it was a bit strange but wonderful. We decided to stay in Lucca so we could get to Greve-in-Chianti, near where we are staying, for the Saturday market which was only open until 1PM. However, plans changed, as Lucca had an organic farmer’s market; so we stayed and went there instead, arriving in Montefiorella closer to 5pm than 1pm. We’re in a charming little one bedroom villa, attached to the owner’s home, a young family with a two year son. Lovely, warm, welcoming people; Simone’s father gave us gifts of small bottle of home made olive oil and gorgeous delicious tomatoes. We are smack in the middle of Tuscany, amongst olive trees and vineyards. I will be downloading my photos soon and hope to post a few so you can share the eye candy we’ve been enjoying.

Today we went to Panzano-in-Chianti, about 9 minutes away, for their farmer’s market, as I still wanted a few items. The produce is gorgeous and delicious. It's another delightful town and has a small triangular town square, where the market was held; the older part of the city is up a steep hill.

We are having difficulties with our internet connections and phones, so we’re off to Sienna tomorrow, Monday, to take care of it all. We don’t have internet service here at the villa, but we had bought an internet key, which was suppose fix that. It hasn’t. Hopefully, by tomorrow night, we will be set with communications the way we want them. Sienna was on our list of places to go, so it’s now first on that list. We plan an early start so we can sightsee too, as it’s an important medieval city to visit.

Did I mention all the wine and olive oil tasting places in each village or town, and in between them as well? I’m olive oiled out. We bought a bottle for cooking, a plain but fruity one for salads, and one with truffles in it for salads as well. All delicious. We could spend a fortune on olive oils! Art has enjoyed all the wine tastings. I’ve had a bit too. 

A fast recipe, originally from Denise, my dear friend (actually from her daughter-in-law, but I got it from Denise). It's perfect here in Italy with all the wonderful olives.

Olive Tapenade
1 jar Kalamata olives (always use good olives)
2-3 cloves garlic (or more to taste)
Olive oil

Put the olives and garlic in a food processor and as you're blending them, slowly add a bit of olive oil to smooth out the mixture. 

It's easy and delicious. I serve it with both gluten-free crackers and with veggies.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Europe Trip (first part), the Wedding, and Recipe

Blog for Switzerland – the Beginning

Switzerland is beautiful, which is no surprise.

Our flight took about 9 hours and was uneventful, the best kind. However, it’s so hard to get the correct information from the airlines. I had called about meals aboard and was told that they would serve breakfast, only breakfast. I thought that odd since it was such a long flight, but go argue. So I made sandwiches, a turkey, brie and avocado on croissant for Art and an organic turkey, cucumber, avocado and tomato wrapped in a collard leaf for me. I brought some fruit and chips as well. Once on board, they told us they’d be serving a apertif and then dinner. The apertif was a bag of small crackers and small pretzels. I had ordered a vegetarian breakfast, so I got a vegetarian dinner. I took two bites and ate my sandwich. Art loved his pasta dish, and I still have his sandwich two day later. Oh well.

We’ve rarely had negative experiences on our travels, so I guess we were due. Our first stop before we even got our rental car, was at the Orange Store which carried sim cards for our phones. That took a while, and when we left we still didn’t have working phones, but we had been told that it would take about an hour more before they would work. The car renting was fine. However, when we got our car, and Art was loading the trunk, which was quite small, a man who are asked if we were finished with our cart (in sign language, no English), came over and insisted on helping us. He showed us how we could put the back seats down and the luggage would fit. And, he promptly walked away, without the cart, which I thought was strange at the time, but quickly forgot about. When we arrived at our Servas hosts’ home in Dietlikon, about 20 minutes from Zurich airport, and Art was unloading the car, he couldn’t find his personal black bag. Aha! We had been taken. Art called the police. Luckily, someone had found his bag with his American passport still in it. Yes! Actually, almost everything was in it except for some very old American Express Travelers Checks, at least 15 year old. Turns out that he would need to have a passport to use them, so I don’t know why he even took them. And our phones still weren’t working, 3 hours later than when we had left the store. So, while at the airport, we went back to the Orange Store and it was an easy fix. These should be the worst things that ever happen to us! Now, they have already happened, so the rest of the trip should be a breeze. And, so far it has been.

We’ve been having a wonderful time with our Servas hosts and exploring near by places. We’re staying with a really warm, fun, and interesting couple who have two sons, 17 and 12. We’re laughing a lot and Miriam is a great cook. I made my Smothered Onion Pasta one night (I’ve written the recipe in a past Blog, but if asked, will be happy to give it again), and then a form of Brian’s Veggie Quinoa another night (which I’ve also written before).

I used different vegetables for the Veggie Quinoa, so this time:
I cooked the Quinoa with just a touch of Olive oil and some sea salt, while I sauted onion, red pepper, and zucchini with fresh basil, fresh oregano, and a bit of sea salt until all the veggies were soft. I stirred the softened mixture into the cooked quinoa.
However, before starting the quinoa to cook, I had cut up vegetables and was roasting them in a 425 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. I used onion, carrots, cauliflower, leek, eggplant, sea salt, and Greek Seasoning from The Spice Hunter (go online to find it). When everything was finished, I served the two together. A lot of yums!

Our first full day here, from Deitlikon, north of Zurich, we went to Stein Am Rhein, a wonderful small village about an hour away. It has a charming cobblestone town square, which is incredibly quaint and colorful. All the buildings have murals painted on their facades, mostly telling in pictures what the stores sell. It’s considered the most beautiful plaza in all of Switzerland.

I have tried and tried to copy my photo of the Plaza here. Unfortunately, I can't seem to manage that right now. Will send photo later. This should be easy to do, as I've done it in the past, but.... what can I say. Easy for some, not so easy for others.

We had a lovely lunch of Rosti (I was off my diet), a Naitonal dish of shredded potatoes made into a large pancake, and ours was topped with sliced tomatoes and a mild cheese, and a salad. They were delicious and very filling.

So, it’s been almost two weeks since we were in Stein-am-Rhein, and we’re now in the South of France in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. We’ve had so many wonderful and exciting experiences during this time. We went to the Wedding of our dear friends, Barbara and Don’s daughter, in Verey, which was so very special it would take another several pages to tell all about it, so I’ll keep it short and sweet, if I can, as I’d really like to share it with you.

The day after we arrived in Vevey, Switzerland, we went as a group of 11 to Les Bains Lavey, hot water springs in pools, with jets and other fun things. One area had such heavy duty jets that it circulated you around – you had to move in the one direction. It was set up as a donut, with a center of quiet water you could get to thru a spiral from the fast moving water. This doesn’t sound clear, so I guess you had to be there. They also had an indoor pool and once every half hour, if you laid on your back with your ears underwater, you could hear either classical music or whale sounds – they alternated them. They had saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs, and a cold plunge after the sauna if you so wished. I didn’t! We spent the evening with our Servas hosts, wonderful people, Amy, who is American and has lived in Switzerland for the past 16 years, and her significant other, Ghislain. I had cooked my lemon chicken the first night we were there (a previous recipe in  my blog). Ghislain loves to cook, so he cooked the night of the baths, a delicious dish of onions, spinach, and shrimp over brown rice. I’m going to work on that recipe and publish it when I do; it was terrific and I hope I can duplicate it. He didn’t used measurements, so it’s up to me.

The next day was free, no group activity planned for during the day. Art and I took the ferry from Lausanne, about 20 minutes from Vevey, across Lake Geneva to Yvoire, a charming medieval village, where you could only walk through the town; this is true of all the medieval towns as the streets are so narrow. The ferry ride was about 40 minutes, making two stops, one in Evian (the water, you know). It rained most of the day, but we had an umbrella and it wasn’t a problem. They had lovely boutiques throughout the town, cobblestone streets, a castle, which wasn’t open to the public, lots of hanging flowers, and lots of restaurants. We had a delicious meal of perch, a nice white fish from the lake, considered a speciality in the whole area. Half the lake is in Switzerland, Lake Geneva, and half is in France, Lake Leman. Makes life interesting, I would think. The ferry ride back was longer as we had to transfer to a second ferry. We landed in Lausanne a few minutes late, drove back to Vevey, quickly changed, and made it to the rehearsal dinner only 15 minutes late, but we were really early, as most arrived after we did.

Wow – talk about a gourmet dinner. It was fantastic. It’s now several days later so I hope I remember the whole meal. It started out with a cold cantaloupe soup, with three small scoops of watermelon in it, served with a piece of toasted baguette topped with diced parma ham. The next course was a tartare of salmon, on salad greens, with three different types of tomato going down the side of the plate, one was a 1 - 1½” round of tomato aspic, next a stuffed grape tomato with goat cheese, and the third was chopped tomato molded in the shape of a heart (it was a wedding, you know). The third course was a poached white fish in a delicious exotic mushroom sauce (can’t remember what else was on the plate). Two more course to go! The next was a cheese platter. The last was dessert – three types of chocolate: white chocolate mousse over soft dark chocolate, two meringues surrounding a home made sorbet, and believe it or not, I can’t remember the third, but they were all delicious! We ate into the late hours of the night; no early meal here.

We rested the day of the wedding until we had to leave for the ceremony. It was in St. Shaphorin, only about 15 minutes away from Vevey, up the hill from the coast road, in a quaint little town. The church was lovely. Danielle, the bride, was so beautiful and Ben, her groom so handsome, almost like a fairytale in feeling. The ceremony wasn’t too long, Ben’s sister sang, and afterwards, a procession of cars was formed, and we drove through the small neighboring towns and vineyards, periodically blowing our horns ( a tradition here), on our way to Domaine Wannaz, in Cheneaux, where the dinner and dancing was held. The owner of the winery, who was also the chef, insisted on creating the menu, so the whole wedding party had no idea what was to be served. Need I say how gourmet this dinner was too. The previous nights’ was going to be hard to follow, but the wedding dinner was spectacular. This from a woman who has been following a rather restrictive diet and just took it all in, literally. I’m so stuffed just thinking about it. Quickly, 1st course, two colored tomato soup (hot red tomato soup on outside with a cold orange tomato soup placed in the center of the hot) with a pesto drizzle. 2nd course, was noodles made of kohlrabi, blanched, with a multi-colored pepper sauce. 3rd course had roasted boned quail with browned small potatoes halves on a skewer. 4th course served was a round of goat cheese, a warm potato (delish with the goat cheese spread on a slice of it), over a salad (there was more to it, but I didn’t write it down, so I don’t remember and I really want to get this blog out). Next (5th course) was four slices of baked apple over cream surrounded with sprinkled nuts, with some golden raisins and passion fruit seeds over the apple slices. We left around midnight, before the wedding cake was served. We were lucky to get a slice of that the next day at the brunch, which was also fantastic. Both the rehearsal dinner and brunch were at Ben’s folks home, where they had put up a huge tent to accommodate everyone invited. Danielle is a very lucky woman to now have two such warm and wonderful families. It seems like we never stopped eating. However, with all that eating went a lot of talking and laughter. It was all magical. A really special event in our lives; we’re so fortunate to have been able to be there.

Now, we’re in France for a few days. Today we went to Eze, another medieval town between Beaulieu and Monaco. It was different than Yvoire, even though they were both medieval, so they had similarities as well. After visiting there, we went to St Jean-Cap-Ferrat, walked around the marina and then visited the Villa and Gardens Ephrussi de Rothchild. What an incredible villa and gardens; there were nine of them. The main pool in the largest part of the garden had a water show every twenty minutes featuring classical music. We loved the Japanese Garden. What a great place to visit! Definitely put it on your list of things to do when visiting the south of France.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bead Journal Project and Recipe

I finished my BJP Spirit Doll a week ago, but Google had made a transition and split my two accounts. I'm still not sure why. It took me a while, since I'm technologically impaired, to work out how to fix what needed to be fixed. Google IS NOT customer friendly, for those of you who don't know that by now. I have visions of moving but will not now; maybe eventually. This is an "Oh well!"

My June Spirit Doll, shown here, holds a lot of symbolism for me.

She is loaded with happiness. I had a clear CAT Scan and am very happy. Her peachy fabric says it all - life is peachy. I love roses and other flowers, so I picked a real rose under acrylic to use for her face. Making jewelry makes me happy, so I gave her a bracelet and necklace. I love suns and spirals. The large yellow flower was suppose to be the center of a sun with rays emanating from it, and it is but it's so much more, as I turned it into the center of a spiral as well. Her colors make me smile, as they are all about a sunny day and warmth; they even remind me of candy. I created a necklace years ago using these colors and called it "eye candy."

Here's a sweet happiness-making recipe for a delicious dessert I call:

Raw Nut and Fruit Cream
This is a recipe that I concocted one day for a potluck dinner. I wanted something creamy and fruity for dessert. You can use almost any mixture of fruit. I happened to have mangoes, blueberries and raspberries in my refrigerator. I'm making it for a party on July 3rd; however, I plan on using blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries as the party has a red, white, and blue motif. I'll be doubling it.

 Serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups of Brazil nuts
1/2 cup of water

3 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 packets Stevia (equals 4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon of Agave nectar
1 tablespoon of organic vanilla

1/4 teaspoon of Celtic salt
3 mangoes, peeled and chunked
2 cups blueberries, washed
½ pint raspberries, washed

  1. Put all ingredients together, except fruit, in a blender or food processor until very smooth and creamy. Since I used Brazil nuts, there will be tiny flakes of dark brown from their skins; it adds to the visual impact.
  2. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before adding the cut up fruit.
  3. Serve in a large bowl or individual containers. Can use a sprig of mint on top.
Enjoy!!! Happy 4th of July.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last of Hawaii, Bead Journal, and Turkey Meat Loaf

We're home. The trip was fantastic. Miracles continued; however, I don't know what happened to my last blog, which talked about miracles in general and the miracles we experienced while in Hawaii. Some people got to read my blog and after several days it was gone, so those who waited to read it, haven't. I wish I could recreate it exactly but I've decided not to at this point.

Our last tour while on Kauai was called the Jungle Adventure, and it was. We wanted to experience several different activites and this was perfect. We had another miracle. We were scheduled to go on Thursday and it was raining very hard. We called to see if they were going to go, and they were, rain or shine. We chose to postpone it until the Friday, our last full day on Kauai, taking the chance that it wouldn't be raining as hard as it was on Thursday, as the prediction was for rain as well. 

Friday dawned overcast but dry. We headed out at the designated time and signed in with it slightly drizzling. They drove us to a field, where we started hiking to the kayaks. We'd never gone kayaking before; it was really fun and done on a mostly calm river. We had to ford one area to get to the kayaks, and the water was calf deep. Cool but not cold. We arrived at the spot to start our hike to the zip lines and it was drizzling a bit harder but not heavily. The hike was a bit strenuous but very doable. We loved the zip lines; we did only two on this trip; we could have done a different trip with had 7-9 zip lines, but wanted only a taste. We definitely would go zip lining and kayaking again. 

After the zips, we hiked down to a small lagoon with a waterfall, where we went swimming and had lunch before hiking back to the kayaks to go home. It was a great trip!

The next day, we flew to Honolulu and stayed with friends, who had done a house swap with a woman form Kailua, near Honolulu. We had a wonderful dim sum lunch the next day and walked around their Chinatown, but most shops were closed on Sundays, so we didn't really get the best flavor. Fun, in any case.

Some of you may have seen my April Bead Journal Project Goddess Doll pin, but I'm showing it again for those who did have the chance. Naturally, it's all about Hawaii.

I used this specific fabric as, to me, it showed the colors of Maui and the big island. The brown and orange were for the volcanoes and active lava, while the black hair was for the black lava rocks surrounding the big island. I made the grass skirt in honor of the Miss Aloha Hula Competition we attended while on Hawaii, and the lei necklace of flowers for the many beautiful leis we saw all over all the islands. The turtle at the bottom is for long life and the many turtles abounding in the islands. I really enjoyed making her!

This next one is for May, while we were on Kauai.

The red feather hair was for the beautiful red-crested cardinals we saw on the property where we stayed. The shells in her hair and on her lower right side are indicative of the mini-shells from Nii Hau, a small island off of Kauai, which is the only place to find them. Her green sea glass face was found on Sea Glass Beach on Kauai. Pearls abound, hence her bracelet. The green fabric leaves are for all the green there, as it's so rainy, and there is one point on the island that has the most amount of rain any where in the world. The glass flowers represent all the wonderful tropical flowers found throughout the Islands. I'm having such fun journalling in beads!

Turkey Meat Loaf
Serves 4

I got this one from my sister, Karen, who is an excellent cook. This is also good cold in a sandwich, either on bread or on a collard leaf, used as a wrap.

1 pound ground turkey, dark meat if possible
8 ounce can organic tomato sauce
1/4 cup gluten-free cracker crumbs (Sami's Bakery - samisbakery.com) or bread crumbs if you're not gluten-free
1-2 lemons
2 teaspoon agave

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine meat, crumbs, and 1/3 can tomato sauce. Form into a loaf and put into a baking pan. Put a dent into the top to help hold the sauce.
3. Combine the remaining tomato sauce with enough lemon juice and agave so it tastes sweet and tangy. Pour over loaf.
4. Bake for apx one hour. Baste every 15 minutes. The sauce will bake into the meat.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Big Island + Curried Vegetable Soup

Monday morning we had an early flight to Hilo, Hawaii, the big island. I haven't quite figured out why they call all the islands Hawaii and that's also the name of one of the islands, not even the capital, which is on Oahu, another of the islands.

I had made our flight plans before figuring out where we were going to stay. It would have been closer to our place if we'd flown into Kona, on the other side of the island from Hilo. Oh well. Our drive to Hawi, where we're staying was lovely, although it took a bit over two hours to get here. I guess it easy to say that it's the journey, not necessarily the destination, that's important. I again found a studio cottage on an organic farm, called Lokahi Garden Sanctuary. The grounds are beautiful and there are grapefruit and Meyer lemon trees outside our door. Their garden is incredible. I had no idea how kale or collards grew; the plants are beautiful. They're also growing edible flowers and lots of other veggies and spices, including tumeric, basil, mint, and lemon grass. They have a whole load of chickens, free-range, so they sell eggs as well. No roosters, so no crowing in the early AM, a good thing. I didn't get to see their sheep, as they keep them well away from their garden, in a far part of their 10 acres.

While there,  I was still having ear problems. The acupuncturist I saw, suggest no raw salads and to use Indian spices, such as cumin, coriander, and tumeric, which are warming. I had those spices with me. This was the result of that suggestion.

Curried Vegetable Soup Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot or 2 smaller ones, diced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thickly, so the pieces can be removed from pot when finished cooking
Lemon Grass, optional
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Coriander
1 tablespoon Tumeric
1 tablespoon Bragg’s amino acids
1 quart organic vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can organic Coconut Milk
½ bunch Dino Kale, sliced crosswise
½ bunch Collards, stems removed and sliced crosswise
1 large or 2 small Baby Bok Choy, sliced crosswise
½ bag of Kelp Noodles (or you can use rice noodles), well rinsed and cut into 3 inch lengths

  1. Have all of the vegetables cut and ready to put into the pot.
  2. Put oil into a large pot and add onions. Saute until they start to brown.
  3. Add the carrots and seasonings, including Braggs, and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and coconut milk and stir well.
  5. Add the greens and cook for 15 minutes
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning
  7. Add the kelp noodles for 5 minutes more, stir well.
This can be served immediately or left to sit a while before reheating. It’s even better the second day, if any is left over.

Our first night in Hawi, we had dinner at a restaurant called Sushi Rock; I was totally off my diet and had a fabulous dinner; the owner/manager, Peter, is from New York, LA, and now Hawi for the last 20 years. My favorite was a roll called Tropical Treat - ahi, seasonal fruit (Mango), mac-nuts, & cucumber.We highly recommend this place for its ambience as well as the food, a real treat. ............................. ..........
Yesterday, we walked around Hawi, a small and charming town with some excellent restaurants, several galleries, and a bead store. I bought a small carved turtle for my April BJP goddess pin; look for the turtle slightly under her hula skirt.  Finally finished it and here it is:

The scan isn't the best, so I'll redo it when we get home. The owner of the bead store on Maui showed me how to make the hula skirt.

Hawi resonates for both of us.We liked Hana but it's too remote, however Hawi is a place we could return to and spend some time.

That evening, we drove down to listen to John Keawe, a native Hawaiian and local celebrity, who was playing from six to seven at the King Shops, close to Kona. We enjoyed his music enough to buy a couple of his albums; it's been great driving around listening to him play and sing.

We're now on the southeastern part of the big island, down in Kehae, in the Puna district. We're in a 1-bedroom cottage, and our hosts, Mark and Richard are terrific! We spent last evening at the Kilauea Iki Crater in the Hawaiian Volcano National Park. We saw the most beautiful sunset of our trip, and it was even more special as it had been totally overcast and rainy for the whole afternoon until about a half hour before sunset. Thank you Mother Nature.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our trip to Hana + recipe

Thursday, the day before we left for Hana, after visiting the new offices of Energy Arts, Bruce's, our Chi Gung teacher's, business, we drove around the north-west part of Maui. It's a drive that takes at least two hours, as there are lots of windy roads and beautiful scenery, much of it the Pacific and bays. Bruce moved his whole operation and his home to Maui, a place he's been visiting for twenty years and obviously loves. A bit after stopping by the offices, Mountain called us and invited us to dinner. He and his wife, Jen, were having a few friends over, all involved with Energy Arts. It was a lovely evening in spite of my not really being able to hear the conversations, except for whomever was seated next to me. I'm still dealing with my ears. Today, Saturday, I had a small breakthrough, as my right ear popped a bit, so I'm hearing a little better with that one but still am completely clogged with the left; so, I'm headed in the right direction, although slowly, very slowly.

We decided to spend the night in Hana instead of going there and back in one day. We left our condo relatively early on Friday, as Paia is about 30 minutes from where we're staying, and Hana is a two hour trip, with no stops, from Paia. We stopped at Mana Market in Paia to see if anything appealed to us. I had already cut up a salad and brought along some goat cheese and crackers for lunch. At Mana's, I found an eggless egg salad made with macadamia nuts to help fill out our lunch menu.

I looked online and found this recipe which sounds like it could be the one we had. I'll try it at some point and let you know how I liked it. If you try it, please let me know the results!

Thanks to RAWvolution cookbook
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt or sea salt
1 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
2 or 3 scallions
2 or 3 stalks of celery
1/2 bell pepper (any color – I used red)
1. First, chop the scallions, celery, and bell pepper until you have at least a cup of chopped veggies.

2. Then, blend the water, lemon juice, turmeric, garlic, salt and nuts until smooth.
3. When this nut blend is done, it looks a lot like the inside of a deviled egg. Pour this mixture over the chopped vegetables.
4. Stir well. Done. The whole process takes less than half an hour, including chopping time. The final product looks very much like egg salad.
This eggless egg salad is shown here on cut pieces of Ezekiel bread with a sprinkling of paprika. It’s delicious and fun to eat like this, but it’s also good on celery or lettuce leaves. My guests last week liked it plain, and ate it with a fork from a bowl like potato salad. Anyway, no matter how you eat it, it’s quite filling, so even though macadamia nuts are currently one of the more expensive nuts, it’s worth it because this recipe will go a long way.

We started the trip to Hana, knowing that it would take us about 4 to 5 hours to get there. The road trip passes many waterfalls, State Parks, bays, and stands of one sort or another, many selling fresh vegetables and banana bread. It also is an extremely curving road with many one lane bridges. Art loves to drive curvy roads as he learned to drive while in college in KY; hairpin curves are a favorite, and we got to experience several of those, of course in each direction. The pace was slow, which was perfect, so one can stop to admire the scenery. We had purchased a tape, which included a map of the road to Hana. The tape has songs/music in between each piece of information about each suggested stop. It was very entertaining, informative, and fun to listen to. 

One of our favorite stops was half way to Hana. We drove down a narrow road to the small town, only a few buildings but included a ball field. FYI, there were great public bathrooms there. They had stands selling banana bread, a big item here, and mango bread. Art opted for the mango bread for breakfast. The scenery was spectacular, wonderful lava rocks on the waters edge with fabulous wave action, almost like blow holes, as wave after wave hit the rocks and spewed up many feet into the air. Art took lots of photos but hasn't downloaded any of them yet.

We arrived in Hana after about 4 1/2 hours of driving and stopping. Online, I had found a studio in the Hana Maui Botanical Gardens. The grounds were beautiful;  the studio was named the Marine Studio and was decorated with a marine motif. What a surprise? It was more than adequate, as it had a lovely kitchen space. However, they had a leak in the toilet, which we couldn't fix. So, every time we went to use the bathroom, we got wet feet. I get up 2 to 3 times during the night, and it was very uncomfortable having wet feet. I left a towel outside the bathroom, so I could dry them before going back to bed, but.....

After we settled in, we drove over to the Seven Sacred Pools, even though we weren't going to go to them then, just so we'd know where we were going the next morning. It was a lovely drive, with more beautiful waterfalls along the way. The next morning, after Art had his mango bread and me my green shake, we headed off again, driving around Hana, going down to the bay and some side streets, exploring; then onward. Once there, we changed into bathing suits and walked to the pools. They're on several levels, mainly surrounded by lava rocks, supplied with water from waterfalls. We climbed over the rocks, transversed one of the pools by walking through the water, to get to the one closest to the waterfalls. Art swam over to the falls, but I was still nursing my ears and didn't want to get any water in either. So, I dunked and walked in the water a bit, and sat on the lava rocks and talked to other swimmers, some tourists and some natives. It was so peaceful there. Great energy.

After our water play, we had a picnic lunch on the grounds. They had some picnic tables in various places, all in the shade. Really thoughtful of them. By the time we finished lunch and got changed into our clothes, it was almost three PM. Time to start back to Kihei. Again, we stopped at waterfalls we had missed on the way down, including a place called Twin Falls. Love those waterfalls! We stopped in Paia to have a bite of dinner, and then went back to our condo. It had been a great trip. A must do if you ever visit Maui.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Still Maui + Recipe

We've been in Maui for several days now. It's a lusciously green island with much tropical flora, most of which I'm familiar, but not all. Have you ever heard of an apple banana? I hadn't. I haven't tasted one, but I'm told that it's hard to go back to the typical bananas after eating one.

Both of us are still under the weather, so we've been taking it slow and easy with the sightseeing. On Friday, we were getting our sea legs, so to speak. We had lunch at a nice restaurant and then walked on the beach nearby. The beach was beautiful fine sand, with large black lava rocks dotting it. We walked above the water line in one direction and then along the water's edge/in the water on the way back. We stopped at a small health food store in Kihei, near where we're staying, to see what they had. Not a bad selection at all for so small a place.

Saturday had us up relatively early and out by 7:45am. We had contact a friend of a friend and he sold his produce, avocados, flowers, and eggs, at this Farmer's Market. I described Art, beard, moustache, pony tail, glasses, and a hat; Craig said, "That's me." So, he was easy to find and it was a small market but the produce was nice. We hope to get together with Craig again. After we left the market, we went to visit the Surfing Goat Dairy, where they make goat cheese and truffles stuffed with goat cheese. It was a fun place to be and the "kids" were adorable. They loved to be petted. The actual location was decorated with surf boards, whole ones and some in half, which were used at the end of each parking space. It was so colorful. We went to the tasting they had, and their cheeses were delicious and unusual. One was flavored with horseradish and another with sun-dried tomatoes, while another had key lime juice in it. Unfortunately, none were raw, as it's not legal in Hawaii to have unpasturized cheeses. Next we were going to go to the Lavender Farm and then their one Winery. However, we decided not to do either and we turned around and headed for Paia for lunch. Paia is on the east coast and on the road to Hana; it is an old Plantation town, very charming. After a lunch of grilled harpooned swordfish, we walked around the town. They have a great health food store, called Mana. We do spend a lot of time shopping for food, but it's not all about food; it's about enjoying life and food is an important part of that enjoyment.

On Sunday, we drove to Lahaina, as they had a craft's fair in the town square, where their famous banyon tree is located. It was nice but not great; the jewelry artists were disappointing and there weren't any potters. Lahaina was the first capital of Hawaii. The architecture is charming and it was fun to walk around and window shop. I almost bought a t-shirt colored with the red dirt they have; they were called red dirt t-shirts; however, it wasn't comfortable, very stiff, and too long, with a tight neckline. Oh well.

On Monday, Art decided that he really needed to be checked by a doctor, as he wasn't feeling better but worse. I thought my seeing another doc was a good idea too, as I was almost finished with my antibiotic and I still felt like I was under water. Luckily, Art doesn't have strep and with the prescription he got, he's feeling much better today.

On the other hand, turns out I'm not so smart. You know how when your ears are clogged it usually works to hold your nose and blow; so, that's what I've been doing daily. However, since both eardrums had been ruptured, by holding my nose and blowing I was continuing to keep the perforations open and not letting them heal. Clever, huh? Anyway, I now have three new medicines and my hearing should improve within the next few days. I have my fingers crossed.

Today, we went on a Whale Watching Tour. It was wonderful. We followed a calf, mother, and escort (a male whale, not usually the father) for about 45 minutes. The calf kept pounding his fluke (tail) on the water, and the mother and escort were following him as he moved around. Then, we went on and saw several other whales. This is the end of the whale season; most have left already for Alaska but there are still many who are gearing up and teaching their calves what to do during the migration north. Apparently, Maui is a favorite birthing place of the humpback whales. Lucky us. There are loads more around during January through March. By the middle of May, they'll all be gone for this year, only to return next.

So, we've been doing a little each day and enjoying it all.

As for a recipe, one night I made this dish:

Squash and Greens

We were in a condo in Kihei, HI, and I wanted to make an easy dinner. I had been able to go to the Whole Foods in Kahului from the airport before driving to Kihei and our condo. A few of the supplies I had picked up were a Kabosha squash, Maui onions, and a head of tatsoi, a wonderful green I had been using in salads at home. I’d also bought a few spices and coconut milk, so I was ready to go.

Serves 4

1 onion
½ of a kabocha squash, cut into chunks
1 head tatsoi, cleaned and cut into pieces (or other greens such as collards, mustard greens, or kale)
2 tablespoons olive oilsquash
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 can organic coconut milk

1.  Peel the onion, cut it in half, and then slice each half
2.  Put the olive oil in a medium to large sauce pan and add the onions. Saute for about 10 minutes until they start to brown.
3.  Add the squash and all the seasonings. Mix well.
4. Add the coconut milk, stir, and cover the pan.
5.  Cook on a medium heat for about 15 minutes.
6.  Stir and then add the tatsoi or other greens and stir again.
7.  Cook for 10 minutes. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
8.  Can be served over quinoa or brown rice.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finally MAUI + recipe

Tomorrow morning early, we're finally leaving LA for Maui. We were suppose to leave on Monday morning, but last week I developed laryngitis and had no voice for three days - no pain at that time but it all developed over the next few days, sore throat, pain in both ears, drippy nose, and cough. On Sunday, we were having a few friends of Brian's over for brunch. We've been staying with our kids, Brian and Grace, who have been wonderfully supportive. I'was concerned that we had overstayed our welcome, but we were assured we hadn't. Unfortunately, Grace has developed some of the same symptoms.

It's now Friday. Brian also started to develop some symptoms before we had left. Grace had the great intelligence to go see her doctor immediately for an antibiotic, so by yesterday she was feeling a bit better if not 100%. Hopefully Brian will too. It was so wonderful staying with them. Art is feeling under the weather too. I haven't been good to those I love.

MAUI, we're here. We had to get up around 5am yesterday to get the car back and be two hours early for our flight. We had a quick bite at the airport. I had called American a couple of days before to see if they were serving any food. l was told they were and I ordered a Vegan meal, closest to what I usually do. However, once on board, we were told that they would have snacks for sale. I hadn't brought any food as I had ordered some, so it was a bit difficult. The airlines are really something these days - what a a difference from when we traveled in the 70s: free baggage, pillows and blankets in coach, meals served and could be ordered, to name just a few changes. I love to travel, so I need to just accept the changes, which I do. I usually bring my own meals with me, but due to the misinformation, I hadn't this time. It was very disappointing.

We arrived safely with only a somewhat bumpy ride to remember. Any safe arrival is a good trip! My ears were fine but are still clogggd. Hopefully, they'll both clear by the next flight on the 18th. Our first stop after picking up our car was a Whole Foods, directly across the street from the car rental. We were both tired, so it was a short shopping, just stuff for breakfast and lunch for the next day/days.

Our rental condo is cute, a one bedroom with full kitchen. However, I went to make my morning green shake, had all the ingredients in the blender, and the blender didn't work!!! Luckily, there was a couple across the way who were sitting on their balcony. I walked over with my unblended shake and was able to use theirs. I called my contact for the condo, and we should have a new blender by this afternoon.  Since I use it almost every day, this is a very good thing.

We have a few people to contact, friends of friends and also our Chi Gung Teacher, Bruce K. Frantzis has recently moved here. I hope we get to see them all. We're also looking forward to seeing some of the people who work with Bruce who also moved.

There is so much to see and do on Maui. Since we want to relax a bit and recuperate, we'll need to pace ourselves.

I'm reading a really good book, the third in a trilogy, Sunrunner's Fire, by Melanie Rawn. I really like her fantasy novels, which include dragons and a type of magic. I brought beading with me. When I complete my April BJP (Bead Journal Project) I will post it here for you to see. The shape has to be the same for for each month. I chose a goddess doll pin, and she's small. I've really been enjoying creating them. Here's January's doll, just to give you an idea of what I'm doing:

A fast recipe:

We had roasted veggies at Brian's one night, served over quinoa.
The Quinoa -
Brian added grated lemon and orange rind, some mint and cilantro, and a touch of olive oil, sea salt and fresh pepper, all after the quinoa was cooked. (A 1-2 combination of quinoa to water). It was delicious.

The veggies -
whatever amounts you choose
brussel sprouts
sun chokes (I'd never used them before and can't imagine why not)
fresh garlic cloves
touch of olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and basil
Roasted at 425 for 1/2 hour.

So, that's it for now. Hope you are all enjoying your day whatever you are doing.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Life's an Adventure 2011 with a couple of recipes

Okay, so I haven't exactly kept up with my blogging, but I'm determined that will change, starting now.

I have a three month window before my next CAT Scan is due. It's not easy living in three month increments, but that's the way it is for right now. Luckily, we can take advantage of the time for travel, one of my favorite things, and it nurtures me. I had another surgery this past October and I've healed well, but it has taken more out me than the previous ones did. My stamina is not as great as it had been and will be again, so I find that I need to rest most afternoons. This trip to Hawaii will provide that. We're renting condos or small cottages on the different islands, where we can take our time with sightseeing and still get plenty of rest. That's the premise for this trip, as verses our one to New Zealand last year, where we were always on the go, two nights in one place and three or just one in another. Not this time.

03/24/11 I'm in San Francisco at the moment, ensconced in a warm bed (cool outside of it) in a wonderful craftsman type house on Mississippi St in the Potrero section of the city. I love being a member of both ATC (Affordable Travel Club) and USServas, two organizations which enable us to do this at a low or no cost. We've been a member of USServas since the early 90s, when we traveled to Italy. We came home from that trip and signed up as hosts; so, we're both hosts and travelers, but you don't have to be one in order to be the other in Servas. As a member of ATC, you need to be both; however you can say "no" to a request if the timing isn't good for you. We've met people from around the world who have stayed with us and vice versa. I have lots of those stories I could share, but that's for another time.

Going back to 03/22/11 -
I flew into San Francisco on Virgin America to meet up with Art, my husband, who had already been there for five days for a workshop with our Chi Gung teacher, Bruce Frantzis. Art had a hiatus of 3 nights before his next weekend workshop. I really like Virgin America. Not only do they fly out of Ft. Lauderdale instead of the madhouse of Miami, but the seats have more leg room and the rates are usually really good for flying to the west coast. We've flown them a few times and it's always been a pleasure.

However, I bought my own dinner, as my diet has remained restricted, self-restricted. My doctor told me that I should continue doing what I'm doing, as it's working. Yes, I've had four surgeries, but they have all been for localized and encapsulated tumors. The type of cancer I had is called MMMT (malignant mixed mullerian tumor) or carsinosarcoma. By any name, it's not pretty - it's a rare and aggressive type. My doctor told me, at my last visit, that with this type of cancer, the prognosis is one to two years; my original diagnosis was over three years ago and I'm still here! So, yes I have a self-imposed diet that isn't always easy when we eat out at restaurants or friends' homes, but it seems to be working for me. We're all individuals and as such each case is so totally different.

For this dinner, I made myself a delicious big salad of mixed greens, shredded carrot, jicama, clover sprouts, cucumber, radish, a hard boiled organic egg, and some home make roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with a dressing I've recently worked on. Here is the dressing recipe:

Yummy Dressing for 3 - 4
1/4 cup Flax Seed Oil
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Bragg's Amino Acids
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon Umboshe Plum Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Agave
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Any other herbs can be added. I've used Greek Seasoning Blend (The Spice Hunter), and at another time fresh basil or oregano.
Mix all together and serve. It keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

I arrived after 11:30PM and we stayed at the Hotel Whitcomb, an older hotel, nicely located with a very comfortable bed. Of course, by the time we got into the bed, it was after 4:00AM Florida time and I was exhausted. Not a good thing but easily remedied with sleep.

03/23/11 -
We slept late, had brunch at the hotel, and then walked to a Farmer's Market close to the hotel. We had stopped to buy an umbrella first, as it was drizzling and looked as though it would get worse, which it did. The market was small but nice. I bought some veggies for my morning shakes for the next couple of days and discovered a new fruit, Shingli, something like a Chinese Pear but a bit sweeter, We had a taste each but didn't buy any then. Hopefully, we'll see them again. Always great to find something new.
After the market, we went to the Asian Museum right near by, and saw their Bali exhibit. By that time, I was feeling tired again, so we headed off to our ATC host's home. Once there, we both took a nap. Art had had a vigorous several days at the workshop, not to mention the time we went to sleep the night before, so he was a bit tired too. Out host recommended a local organic restaurant called Aperto. The food was delicious; I had the plank-roasted salmon with steamed greens, delish, and Art had one of their specials, a Quail dish. I can't believe all the restaurants near our host's home, many of them either vegetarian, vegan, and/or organic. There's even a Japanese organic one. Why can't we have more vegetarian, vegan, and organic restaurants in our area of SE Florida? Why???????

I made myself a vegetable smoothy for breakfast. Jo, our host, made breakfast for Art, as that's part of the ATC deal - accommodations and breakfast for $20.00/night. Not bad. My Shake:

Green Breakfast Shake for 1
12 ounces filtered water
1 teaspoon phION Super Greens (or any powdered greens)
1 gourmet cucumber, cut into large chunks (you can use just part of a larger cucumber)
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
bunch of sprouts
1/2 avocado
some sort of greens - bok choy, collards, dino kale, and spinach are greens that I've used alone or in combinations - whatever you have on hand
Put all in a blender and blend. Chew your shake as you drink it.

A bit after breakfast, we ran a few mundane errands, such as dropping Art's dirty clothes off at a local laundromat and a stop at Whole Foods for filtered and alkaline water. Then we headed off for lunch (I know it sounds as though we ate lunch directly after breakfast, but it was a good 3-4 hours later) to Yank Sing, the best gourmet Dim Sum restaurant I've even been to in the States. I've had better but only in China. They are a bit expensive but well worth  the splurge, especially since I was almost totally off my diet. I didn't have pork, beef, or dairy, but lots of wheat in the dim sum skins and a bit of sugar in some of the sauces. Taking a break from restrictiveness for a special meal is all part of the plan.

After lunch we went to the CA Academy of Sciences. It was wonderful. I think it's mainly for kids, but aren't we all kids at heart. It had a rainforest inside a huge bubble and you walked to the top on a spiral stairway abound the perimeter. Butterflies and birds flew freely. As a matter of fact, they checked you for errant butterflies before you were able to leave the enclosure. Then we toured their aquarium showing both the local and foreign coral reef eco-systems. The museum closed at 5:00PM and we went back to our host's home for a late rest before dinner.

Dinner was great at Herbavore on Valencia St, not too far from where we were. They were so accommodating it was wonderful. I ended up have a vegan grilled vegetable basil pesto pasta using rice noodles. I'm hoping to get the recipe, although I was told they didn't give them out, and I'll add it to the cookbook. Yummy, yum, yum!!!

I'm sitting in the San Francisco airport, waiting for my flight to Los Angeles and the kids. Art left for his workshop which will start around 6:30Pm tonight and go through Sunday evening. It's been a nice day so far. More or less leisurely breakfast and we met a friend and her 8 month old son at his swimming lesson, called Le petit baleen, the little whale. He loves the water and it was such fun seeing Dorothy and Evan. Another friend from our Chi Gung group who is doing the weekend workshop too, is out staying with Dorothy. Once Dorothy and Evan had to go home for lunch and a nap, we drove Craig to pick up his rental car and then we three went to lunch. Again, to a vegetarian restaurant near our original hotel. We had seen this place on our way back after the Farmer's Market but hadn't been hungry. I had hoped we'd have time to try it and it's funny how things work out. Craig's car rental place was only about 3 or 4 blocks from the restaurant. So, we had a lovely walk over. I had steamed veggies (perfectly done) over brown rice with a tahini lemon sauce. I hope to get that recipe as well. It was light and lovely.

So, this brings me up to date. See you soon.