Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Winter Reading List


While none of these books scream "wintertime," there is something about the subjects of all of these reads that do, in fact, scream "wintertime." They all deal with the nebulous characteristics of time travel, re-life and/or choices. Something about winter gives us hope. Perhaps it's the short days, perhaps still it is the darkness and death all around us. As humans we tend to forget that we die or worse yet think we can cheat death. Memento Mori! All of these books, at least tough on the subject of everlasting life on earth and how that can be it's very own imprisonment. 

The Midnight Library is a fascinating book where the heroine try to kill herself but instead is put on each path she could have chosen. It is amazing and so well thought out that when it ends, you wish it hadn't. Matt Haig is an accomplished author and not one of his tomes have I completed and then found a waste of time. Never! He is a talent and this book will not disappoint.

Addie LaRue is another book where everlasting life on Earth takes precedence. Sadly, it is done by an unwitting and naive young girl who simply wants to avoid marrying a man with whom she is not in love. The thing is, is that when you bargain with the devil, hell is what you'll have. Such a great read! Like The Midnight Library, I couldn't put it down.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a book that was so profound to me that I read it several times and suggested it to just about everyone. It is captivating as we see the struggle of good and evil, crossroads of choice, moral flexibility and a story wherein you sympathize with both the protagonist and antagonist at some point. During this time of Covid, I should revisit it again as the topics seem poignant as our lives have been turned upside down.


Once Upon A Kitchen was an accidental treasure! I was looking for an oracle deck for my sister for Christma and came upon this little diamond! The photos are superb and the recipes are super with little stories and film histories accompanying them. I'll have to do a post about the things I have tried from this beautiful book. This is a crossover gift that doubles as a cookbook but also a fun read! And Leslie Bilderbeck is an amazing chef with an outstanding curriculum vitae! It is so worth the splurge.


How to Eat a Peach is an amazing book that was suggested to me by the same friend that suggest Harry August and what a dream cookbook. I love a menu and this book is a cookbook of menus! Fully planned menus that are calculated with panache and sophistication and the photos and food styling are unmatched. And everything is planned by season. Plus, the cover is fuzzy - like a peach!

If you have a book lover or a chef that still needs Christmas gift, Amazon has two day shipping and I bet you have a Barnes and Noble nearby.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Blueberry Scones

Scones are such a treat! But if you only knew how easy they can be, they'd be a real breakfast standard for you, I think. These ones are blueberry but you can make them with raisins, dried apricots, chocolate chips and candied orange peel or just plain old cinnamon and brown sugar. Anyway you slice it these are delicious, easy, fast and most importantly, a crowd pleaser! Instead of those cinnamon rolls you usually make for Christmas morning, why not try these?

The following recipe make four big scones to feed four regular people.

Blueberry Scones-

1.5 Cups Bisquick
1/2 Cup frozen blueberries
1/2 Cup sugar
Milk (roughly 3/4 Cup but no real measurement)

Put Bisquick, blueberries and sugar in a bowl. Mix gently.
Add milk until the consistency of dough is sort of crumbly as oatmeal would be but so it sticks together.
I know this sounds sort of wishy washy but as you may know I love to eyeball stuff.
Drop the scones by a 1/4 measuring cup onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Sprinkle with sanding sugar
Bake at 400 until your kitchen is filled with a delightfully yummy aroma and the tops are golden brown about 10 minutes.

This recipe is SO easy and people will think you worked your butt off to achieve this yumminess.

If you make them, let me know what you think!


Monday, November 22, 2021

Fire Cider - All Natural Immunity Booster for Cold and Flu Season

In mid-October or so, a friend of mine reached out about this stuff called Fire Cider. She asked, "Have you ever made this?" Not only had I never made it, I had never heard of it. But my friend is a bonafide "Earth Mother," so I knew she had a little secret resource that I had never hear of. My friend Jen is a researcher of energy work, a practitioner of natural life enhancements and a discoverer of unusual but helpful health impacts. This Fire Cider is one such health impact, natural life enhancement, that as we move into the "season of sick" you may find really super useful. 

She first found the recipe on Homestead and Chill. You can see the recipe here. But the original recipe is from Rosemary Gladstar's book: Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. I tried to follow the recipe exactly but found that up here in the remote Appalachian Mountains it can be difficult to find even the simplest ingredients which can be viewed as "exotic" by us mountain folks. Nevertheless, I did the best I could and so did Jen. 

I also conducted more research. I had heard from my Uncle about the thieves of the plague having doused themselves with some concoction of vinegar and oils that staved off the contracting and eventual death from the Bubonic Plague. I found the Nourished Kitchen in which, Jenny, an herbalist and writer of the information mentions an entire history of this. It's really fascinating! She also has a recipe which she calls "Four Thieves Vinegar."  Although it is different from Fire Cider, I think I'll try it next because it's aim is still to increase our immunity. May as well! It certainly can't hurt. Plus, variety is the spice of life and now I'll have two brews to keep us healthy through the winter!

We began our batches about 2 days apart from each other. I got all the ingredients on a Sunday and she got them a couple days later. You know everything is time dependent and we are both working ladies with families so we do what we can. We chopped, cut, minced, whirred and blended all of the stuff together and let it sit on the counter for a month, maybe a little longer even.

People said the most outlandish things to see this jar of "stuff" on our kitchen counter. My mom called it "mung" and said she would NEVER try it. My uncle said it sounded interesting. My sister-in-law said it stunk like feet. And my husband, God bless him, just hung out waiting for me to be done with it.

The reality is though, that we are headed into cold and flu season, not to mention the nightmare germ is around still so if this stuff can shorten the length of any viral symptoms then load me up with said "mung!"

Young Living has an essential oil called "Thieves." And this acts similarly to that
It was a fun project to do with my friend. It was a reason for us to be in pretty constant communication and our feedback was real; Authentic trials and tribulations of trying something new and natural. 

Following are first my photos and notes, then I have posted Jen's photos and notes. 

I was lucky enough to source fresh herbs from my garden. But fresh horseradish was impossible to find so I used prepared horseradish. Also, the recipe on Homestead and Chill uses Eucalyptus essential oil. I didn't have any so I skipped it.
It looked so pretty in the blender.
This is a photograph I took of the Fire Cider sitting on the counter right after I filled the jar. Everyday I shook the jar to mix it up. While it fermented the last thing we wanted was a mold batch too. Shaking the jar prevents it from growing fungus and instead spurs forth a healthy fermentation.
Here it is on Day 35. I probably could've put in the jars it on Day 30 but I was sidetracked by all kinds of other things so I just let it sit there. This is the pic I took yesterday before I put it into the bottles.
From above too so you can see exactly what it looks like in the jar after the month long fermenting process.
What a gorgeous color!
In the jars and ready to sip!

I tried it out immediately. It is quite a tonic-very heavy on the vinegar and not really spicy enough for my tastes. But drinkable just the same. I hope it is potent. How did we as a society move so far away from natural medicine? It worked for grave robbers during the Black Death!

Below are Jen's pics and notes:

These are Jen's ingredients. She processed her ingredients differently than I did. She cut all her ingredients and layered them in the jars. I whirred everything together in the blender. 

Here is a photo of her batch on her kitchen counter. Gorgeous colors! Mine were not this pretty but hopefully we were both successful in the fermentation of this medicine.

After a month of fermentation, this was Jen's yield. That should last her through the winter. She just tried her tonic today and reported that it was spicy and not too vinegary. She says, "It tastes like Nature's Medicine!"
Jen added the honey after the final fermentation and before she downed it. I added the honey a day before straining and bottling. 

I loved this project, I felt enthusiastic about this adventure the moment Jen reached out to me about it. Naturalist medicinals are just one of the ways Jen and I are soul sisters. We have known each other for years and have often compared notes about bohemian lifestyles, brewing concoctions, boat travel, cooking, crystals and energy work and exercise. We have had numerous adventures together not the least of which was a weekend at the Yoga Farm Ashram (which, if you haven't done, you won't be sorry. Try it!)


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Another Brilliant Bread Recipe by My Husband - This Time Sourdough


Well, he did it again! If I wasn't already struggling with the COVID19 -- 15lbs, I sure am now with all this delicious sourdough bread! My husband, an avid and accomplished bread baker already, he has been working tirelessly to create his own sourdough bread recipe for our new environment here in the hills. 

Moving from California left us wanting a few things that we took for granted. One of those things was a good crusty sourdough bread! We loved heading into Tartine for a good loaf to bring home and devour. They have several really fantastic books, like this one, this one and this one, too.

My sweetheart, (Bu or Brett for those of you who don't know him, yet), was at a hardware store here in the country and found, of all things,  "Homemade Country Sourdough Bread," which had been made locally but was $10.00 for a small loaf. 

I went home to California in September and was so missing sourdough that I bought three loaves from Acme in San Francisco, because I couldn't reach Tartine without an expensive Uber ride. I shipped them all home where Bu sliced them and froze them.

At the time he was perfecting his recipe and his starter had already been used on two loaves. But, he was struggling with rise and consistency but the flavor was top notch!

I think he was sort of miffed by having to slice the ones I sent home and also was determined to create his own so we wouldn't have to miss the crunch of a freshly toasted and buttered piece of Sourdough bread. 

He's done it! And, he has written it out for me to share with you! If you try the recipe, please let me know how it went! I'll also post the pics on Instagram.

Above and the three following photos are the first successful loaf using his fine tuned recipe. It is his own recipe! 

This one (above and below) is his second successful loaf using the recipe down below. It is no fail recipe although it will take patience. Good Luck!

Oh, it's delicious. A toasty, buttery warm hug in your tummy!

Brett's Sourdough Bread Recipe 

90 grams sourdough starter
552 grams flour (He uses a combination of a  1/2 cup of whole wheat flour plus bread flour).
346 grams of water
2 tsp. salt

Based on all of his trial and error, he has found that measuring by weight is better for the end result than just measuring by cup.

*Mix starter and water together
*add flour
*add salt
*mix all in a mixer with a dough hook for 10 minutes
*cover and let rest for 15 minutes
*use the stretch and fold method for 2 sets of folding and turn it seam side down (autolyzing)
*Cover it and let it rest another 15 minutes
*Stretch it again for another two sets and turn it seam side down again (autolyzing)
*Cover and let rise for 12 hours ( an overnight rise is ideal)
*Stretch and fold two times, again (autolyzing)
*cover to rest for 15 minutes
*Stretch and fold for another 2 sets (final autolyze)
*place the dough on parchment in a bowl and cover it to rise for 2 1/2 hours
*Sprinkle flour over dough after 2.5 hour rise
*heat oven to 500F with the dutch oven in it (this will be your baking vessel)
*Place the parchment/dough in the dutch oven
*Score the dough to your liking (Brett has used several designs - see the photos above for examples)
*Bake in the dutch oven in the 500F degree oven for 25 minutes with the lid on the dutch oven
*remove lid from dutch oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes (Internal temp should be 208 F)
*Remove dutch oven, remove bread from dutch oven and place on cooling rack
*Once cool, slice and eat!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Comforting Homemade Rye Bread Amidst Virus Mayhem

Hi from our house, in what used to be a bustling city. The devastation that SARS-CoV2 has wreaked is unimaginable, worldwide and disturbing. With such insurmountable unknowns and all the whispers around us, we are all looking for a little comfort. 

I find comfort with the calm spirit of my husband, the gratitude that I feel and then record in a little jar, video chatting with friends and developing new skills like bread baking. 

I feel very reluctant though to put this on Facebook or Insta because with the unprecedented unemployment rate, people are struggling with feeding themselves and their families. I guess I feel sort of guilty and that it may be in bad taste? But I have donated both time and money to food banks.  Maybe you could donate to help people who may be going to bed hungry here or here, too?

I am thankful everyday for my job (I love it!) and the means to run around all over Sacramento trying to find the barterable commodity that is yeast. It took 3 weeks and every search possible to finally find yeast so I could learn to make bread. Phew! In my wildest imagination, I never thought yeast would be in shortage.

The bread baking adventure was spearheaded by Bu who is a very accomplished baker and pizza dough maker. But I wanted to give it a whirl too.

Bulent uses a recipe a friend shared with him (The 21 Hour Bread), but I found one at Jenny Can Cook, that was faster (I struggle with impatience). You can see Jenny baking this bread here. I built on her recipe and my bread turned out pretty good with the tweaks which included Caraway Seeds (usually Rye Bread has Rye flour but I don't have any on hand and didn't really give a hoot anyway). I have also made a walnut loaf with toasted walnut pieces using this same recipe.

Keep reading for the recipe of this delicious, fast bread loaf. You can do it! If you try it, will you comment on the Facebook post that this is attached to? I would love to hear about it!

Fresh from the oven.

The crust was perfection.

It was in the oven for 30 minutes and then another 15 but the subsequent times I have made it, I skip the second bake.

Toasted, with butter - the best way to see if I was successful!

Quick No Knead Rye Bread (4 hours total!)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. yeast (any kind will do!)
  • 1 tsp. salt (for flavor)
  • 2 tsp. Caraway seeds
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  1. Add all dry ingredients to mixing bowl
  2. Add water that has been heated to between 120 and 130 degrees fahrenheit. (You'll talk to yourself here and say it's too dry, but trust me, it's not. In Jenny's recipe (link above) she says 1 1/2 cups water but my dough was WAY too wet and stick which made forming it a real mess and then the bread loaf looked more like a puffy pancake than a loaf of bread.)
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise on the counter for 3 hours.
  4. After the initial rise, flour your work surface - it's time to shape your dough. Put your dough on a freshly floured surface and shape it into a bread round - this will go into the hot dutch oven.
  5. Line a clean bowl with parchment paper and put your shaped dough in the bowl. Cover with a towel.
  6. Heat the oven to 450 fahrenheit. Use an oven safe temperature gauge so you can get it just right. Put a dutch oven in the oven to heat as well. 
  7. Once the oven has reached the baking temperature, put your shaped dough (on the parchment) into the dutch oven. If you're feeling fancy, score the bread dough - there are some really cute designs you can attempt and it dissuades a weird rupture.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Jenny's recipe calls for a second baking uncovered for another 15 minutes, but since I have removed some moisture, this recipe doesn't need the second uncovered baking. 
  9. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Wilted Chard with Citrus Vinaigrette and Roasted Walnuts

It's nearing the end of Chard season here in Northern California, so I thought it only appropriate to do something with some. My mom used to make "Swiss Chard" when we were young and pair it with a roast chicken. I got a great recipe for sausage and bean soup with Chard from a friend when I lived in Italy. And, now, it's a pretty common green (when it's in season) in our house. This recipe, even if you hate greens is really yummy and even though it seems really fancy (pinky up) it's super easy to make. (I really wish my photography skills were a little better - sorry, guys.)


1 bunch any color chard
1/2 cup whole walnuts
1 orange zested and juiced
1 clove garlic crushed
1/2 Cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
pinch sugar
salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste)


Roughly chop chard
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to pan on medium/low heat
Add chard to pan and cook stirring frequently so you don't overcook it
Add walnut halves in second pan, dry roast over medium low heat (watch them closely) and remove when they are brown with some "roasted" black bits - remove from heat
When Chard is wilted (all leaves moistened and stalks a bit tender - cooking chard mellows the flavor of the green) remove from heat and set aside.

Now that both the walnuts and the greens are off the heat, time to assemble the dish
Make the dressing using the rest of the olive oil, the vinegar, the orange juice and the crushed garlic, then add pinch sugar - emulsify
Toss greens with dressing, scant orange zest (reserving the rest for garnish), some walnuts (also reserving the rest) and salt and pepper - plate on serving dish
Grind some red pepper on top
Garnish with the reserved orange zest and walnuts

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cream of Asparagus Soup - Keto!

It's fall and therefore it's soup season around here. Bulo came into the kitchen the other day and exclaimed, "It's fall - soup time!" So for our menu's I've added soup to just about every night's meal. All the recipes for Cream of Asparagus that I found online called for a roux. I'd prefer to keep the flour out. So this recipe is senza flour or any grains and it is therefore a great Keto side dish. If you are unfamiliar with the Keto Lifestyle, here is a cool little visual aid to help you better understand. That aside, this recipe, regardless of how you're eating, is warming and delicious especially served with baked salmon.

No flour and only grass fed dairy. Try Natural by Nature Dairy products.

Yield: 4 Side Servings

Cream of Asparagus Soup - Keto!

No flour in this one! But it is hearty and delicious irrespective of the lack of grains or a roux.


Cream of Asparagus Soup - Keto!
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 yellow onion and 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream (grass fed, organic only)
  • 1 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 2 lemons. 1 juiced and zested. Reserve the other.
  • 2 Cups chicken stock (you can make your own bone broth to add to this if you prefer)
  • 4 Tbs. goat cheese (for garnish)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper (use sparingly)


  1. Remove woody part of stem from the asparagus and steam prepared asparagus.
  2. Cook onion in olive oil until translucent.
  3. Add both the asparagus and onion to food processor and process. (Reserve 4 asparagus stalks).
  4. Add onion/asparagus to soup pot. Add the stock and heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
  5. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and seasonings.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with goat cheese, lemon zest and crushed red pepper. Serve with a slice of lemon to squeeze into soup before enjoying.
Created using The Recipes Generator
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Soul Warming - One Pot Tuscany Pumpkin Fusilli - October is National Pasta Month

The star of this show!

Yield: 6 Hearty Servings

One Pot Tuscany Pumpkin Fusilli

This recipe is a heart warming, autumn filled, aromatic, comfort food formula that is a massive crowd pleaser. Plus it's all thrown together in one pot! The star of this show is the Tuscany Pumpkin pasta sauce by Cucina Antica.


One Pot Tuscany Pumpkin Fusilli
  • One jar Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce (plus this jar filled with water)
  • 2 Hot Link Sausages (I prefer the Evergood brand)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced and slices halved
  • 5 Cups (roughly 10 oz.) Fusilli pasta (good substitutes are Radiatori, Rigatoni or Rotini)
  • One generous bunch fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh oregano and thyme for garnish


  1. Add all ingredients to a sturdy large pot. Cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-18 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
Created using The Recipes Generator
Friday, September 22, 2017

Fancy Tarragon Aioli

Yield: 1 Cup

Fancy Tarragon Aioli

This is great on hard cooked eggs (pictured) and roasted artichokes or any type of crudite. My husband likes it on a roast beef sandwich with tomato, onion and Arugula.


  • 1/2 Cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbs dried Tarragon
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  2. Transfer to a fancy serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold (about an hour).
  3. Serve with par cooked carrots, asparagus and broccoli. Or, a boiled and then roasted artichoke.
Created using The Recipes Generator
Friday, August 4, 2017

Crustless Goat Cheese Vegetable Tatin

Before going in to the oven.
This one is not just a pretty face. She packs a wallop of health and tops it with a cherry of exceptional taste.

There are certain vegetables my husband does not like. Summer squash, like Zephyr, Zucchini and Crook Neck are on the "I won't eat them, so do not cook them," list. Unless I fancy them up like in this amazing and super easy crustless "tarte."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patricks Day and a Brand New Soda Bread

Credit: Joan Lamoreau
Yep, I've been really, really lazy. Just so you know, blogging is hard, keeping up with life and then adding said life to blog even harder and then there is the pressure. You see something cool, you want to share something cool and then you realize laundry and groceries trump something cool.

But I'm getting back to it. Who knows how often or when or what or anything. But I'll do my best to get back to chronicling cool stuff. I have a Pin Board that is even called Basic Coolness. I like cool stuff, knowing full well that my cool is not the same as somebody else's cool, but (said with a twinkle in my eye) I know who my tribe is and they know who I am.

With that said, I am going to dedicate this post to my friend Peter. He lost his mother yesterday, and the world is a lesser place without Elaine.