Give Thanks – Give Hope

Give Thanks

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, which I’ll spend at home cooking with my husband for our family and a few good friends. There is so much to be thankful for this time of year, including the lavish meal we will prepare for loved ones.

In my minds-eye, the table is festively set. Family and friends gathered around the table for shared laughter and coveted food dishes. But while I think of planning a special meal, one of my favorite meals of the year, I am humbled by the fact that I know many have little or nothing to eat. That thought echoes like a thud in my heart.

No matter how many cans of pantry food I purchase and donate, in hopes of somehow feeding others, I just can’t imagine what life would be like if we nothing to share. Struggling families cannot afford the holiday traditions that so many of us take for granted, like a holiday meal. For me this is a deep sadness.

If you regularly read my blog you know that I don’t soap box about causes that I support – aside from this cause. To me, this is a day to reflect on all we have and to find a way to give and allow others to have and enjoy what I hold so near and dear to my life — The celebration of life through food.

$49 is the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal. It costs about $2.30 to serve a plate piled high with meat, vegetables, bread, fruit and other nutritious items. I believe I can make a difference. I believe that together we can make a difference. As hunger fades, hearts and minds are opened to possibilities for a different tomorrow.

With the simple click of your mouse, you can be a part of the solution to end childhood hunger and connect hungry children with the food they need to grow, learn and thrive. By making a donation to the No Kid Hungry Thanksgiving campaign today the situation for many can instantly change, not only on this holiday, but for good!

Thank you for reading and wishes for a Happy Holiday Season!

beautiful rustic farm table

Thanksgiving Party Food Survival Plan

Photo By: Stephanie Lynn

Photo By: Stephanie Lynn

With so many festive food gatherings it’s important to have a party survival plan as you head into the holiday season. Food sanity for is at a premium. I am not only talking about what to avoid eating at parties, but more importantly ideas on what to bring. You guessed it, this post is about figuring out some new go-to options to give you some stress relief and put your name emblazoned at the top of next year’s party list for Continue reading ‘Thanksgiving Party Food Survival Plan’

Brussels Sprouts Persimmon & Pomegranate Mustard Salad

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Three years ago I would have sworn to you that yoga was just not my thing. Over the years I had tried a class here or there but the thought of getting me to sit still for extended periods of time seemed impossible. My mind was always racing in a million directions.

At the time we had a young woman living with us from Slovakia, Bara, who was diligent about her yoga. She practiced every day and often went to classes. And while her presence and commitment to yoga didn’t really inspire me to join in the fun, I appreciated her commitment and sense of calm.

That same year, I managed to throw my back out right before Christmas. It was just a small wrong twist as I rolled out of bed that took my breath away. It was painful and shocking. I worked out regularly and believed that somehow this should protect me from such an incident. I was always careful not to lift things that were too heavy or do other things that I was certain would have injured my back. So I was baffled by this unexpected turn of events.

Part of my stubborn personality carries over to my passionate dislike of medications. At this point I had little choice and started taking ibuprofen, because sitting down was impossible. For the following next few weeks I would only be able to stand and lie down.

When the pain began to slightly ease up, Bara suggested that I try a yoga class from this instructor she felt was one of the best she had ever practiced with. She assured me that Vinyasa yoga was filled with movement and that I would not be board. I quickly discovered that this class helped me.

My yoga instructor, Lori, became a treasured friend. I would occasionally pop into other classes here and there to see if I liked different types of yoga, but until this day there is nothing like Lori’s Vinyasa class to take my mind to a far off place, while pushing my physical endurance to the limit. More importantly, yoga has helped me maintain my back.

Even after I had my knife injury. I managed to attend a few yoga classes, which I realize seems impossible if you know how many ‘Downward Dog’ poses can be done in one class; but Lori encouraged me to come, in her kind gentle way. I was hesitant as I was very limited with my injury, but she modified the class to be a handless Vinyasa class. I imagine it is one of the first of its kind because Lori is that category of brilliant!!!

Recently she ended class by asking us to place one hand on our heart, and then asked us to repeat to ourselves “living in love”. Meaning have kindness and love towards oneself first. She then had us place our other hand on our belly, telling ourselves, “with no fear”.

My take away- Life is a journey, filled with so many wonderful (and of course a few not so wonderful) moments. You truly never know where your next bout of inspiration will hit or someone you meet will change the path of your life in some big or little way. But I am learning to be thankful for all of these good little moments and to find meaning in those that are not so good.

I share this with you now as we approach the season of ‘Thanksgiving’. I think it is important to be thankful for all we have, all that we are surrounded by and despite the pressures life puts on us to be kind to ourselves as well. I am sure my husband will read this post and wonder if I am still writing a food blog or having some sort of personal epiphany. The answer to the blog is an astounding YES, and to a personal epiphany likely. But I am embracing my more spiritual side. I have yet to totally define what that means, but stick around and I’ll keep unraveling the layers of this onion of life. ;)

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Now back to my love of food! As Thanksgiving rolls around each year I love to immerse myself in the flavors. This week was an unexpected surprise that happened. I love that moment when flavors start to amalgamate and inspiration hits. I am a recipe junkie and while I’d like to say I read books often, I probably read more articles for work and recipes in my free time. Not every recipe is a success, but I do always hope for some level of yumminess.

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This salad is my take on winter salad that was spotted in Williams of Sonoma some years ago; I’ve remade it to reflect my palate and my love of sweet and savory. The tartness of the vegetables really work well with the sweet flavors and firm textures of the fruits. I think this dish makes a great vegetarian entree if not a unique side salad. My take is that this recipe is food poetry – serve at room-temperature and adorn with the fruits of the harvest season.

Note: While you may not have my latest toy, a spiralizer, have fun making your own unique shapes for this dish.

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Brussels Sprouts Persimmon & Pomegranate Mustard Salad

Sweet Hot Mustard Dressing Ingredients

2 TBS Dijon mustard

1 TBS whole-grain mustard

3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 TBS honey

1 tsp sriracha sauce

Salad Ingredients

2 shallots, sliced into thin rings

3.5 TBS extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into quarters

2 kohlrabi

2 large Fuju Persimmons

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 Gala red apples

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup chopped extra aged gouda cheese or fontina cheese

Directions

To make the sweet hot mustard, mix the following ingredients together in a jar with a lid– both mustards, apple cider vinegar, honey and sriracha sauce. Set aside.

In a large high sided pan, over medium heat, and add in 1 TBS olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the shallots, season with salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes or until lightly caramelized. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Using the same pan, return to medium-high heat and add the final 2 TBS of olive oil. Once heated, add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, for approximately 5 minutes, then add in the kohlrabi, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are just tender and lightly browned. Add shallots back to pan, remove from heat and pour dressing over the mixture and combine well.

Using a large platter, thinly slice the persimmons and arrange on the bottom, next cut and layer the apples. Transfer the brussels sprouts kohlrabi and mustard-shallot mixture over the top and add in the almonds and cheese. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.

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Spinach and Lemon Pesto Poached Eggs with Asparagus

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A few years ago I tried employing a few new techniques to learn how to be comfortable relaxing. Seems absurd to think that one would need TO LEARN how to relax, but it is the truth. In my business career I had to learn to run at an extremely fast cadence. Continue reading ‘Spinach and Lemon Pesto Poached Eggs with Asparagus’

Tropical Pecan Tortilla Sandies

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A number of years ago I was in a little town near my home and stopped into a small shop that looked more like a party store than a catering facility. I’d heard about this place for years, as my mom would always pick up their patented sandwiches for parties. Yes, that is not a typo, they make a special sandwich in a round loaf of rye bread that is patented. The bread is hallowed out and then it is cut amazingly thin Continue reading ‘Tropical Pecan Tortilla Sandies’

Cheesy Pumpkin Kale Lasagna (Lasagne Con Zucca e Cavolo)

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I’ve been racking my brain to find a recipe that felt like fall. The trouble with living in Northern California this time of year is that we are spoiled by our ‘Indian Summer’ weather. With temperatures ranging upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit it is difficult to look at all the amazing fall produce through the same eyes. I am dreaming of stews and lasagna in my mind’s eye and yet Continue reading ‘Cheesy Pumpkin Kale Lasagna (Lasagne Con Zucca e Cavolo)’

Wordless Wednesday – North Carolina

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A nearly Wordless Wednesday post sharing some photo out-takes from my trip to North Carolina. For the full story of ‘Farm to Fork’ and my recipe please read: Swine and Wine Italian Pork Stew Continue reading ‘Wordless Wednesday – North Carolina’

Shiver Me Pickles – The Story of A Pickle Un-Aficionado (Bread & Butter Pickles)

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I’ve never considered myself a pickle aficionado. I have liked them but not necessarily craved them. That was until I tasted my friend Maria’s bread and butter pickles. They were so fresh and crunchy; it was difficult for me to forget them. Continue reading ‘Shiver Me Pickles – The Story of A Pickle Un-Aficionado (Bread & Butter Pickles)’

Spooky Green Spider Deviled Eggs

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This is a spin on my good ‘ole spider egg recipe. It is one of those recipes that hardly feels like a recipe as most of the real work is the time spent just cutting up the olives into the right decorative shapes. With All Hallows’ Eve quickly approaching, parties are bound to pop-up, and this just might be your stand-out dish to bring to share.

In our family, Spider Deviled Eggs have become a Halloween tradition. I would undoubtedly miss seeing these annual ‘spiders’ Continue reading ‘Spooky Green Spider Deviled Eggs’

Swine & Wine Italian Pork Stew (Bourguignon)

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I was recently offered the opportunity to join a group of bloggers as guests of the Animal Agricultural Alliance, to tour three pig farms (Sow Farm on Prestage P12B/McDaniels Complex, Nursery Farm L&W Ammons and Finishing Farm C&C Top Hog)* in North Carolina. At a glance it seemed like an amazing opportunity, they would pay our expenses and we would enjoy the chance to learn something new. But I also knew it was a trip that would come with emotional and psychological risks. Without much hesitation, this part-time vegetarian decided Continue reading ‘Swine & Wine Italian Pork Stew (Bourguignon)’

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