Orange Cauliflower Rice

At our recent trip to the Farmer’s Market, we came across an orange cauliflower. I had never seen this variety so golden…so cheesy looking……..I grabbed one up with an idea of cauliflower rice forming in my mind.

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One of my favorite foods is white rice. We have given up this delicacy the past few months while we have focused on healthy eating and portion control. I know if I make up a batch of white rice I will over indulge with mounds of butter or gravy. For now, it is off my list of food choices so the idea of cauliflower rice sounded really good.

I began searching the internet for a recipe. While I did realize that the uniqueness of this orange color would not actually change the flavor of the cauliflower, I could not wait to make my rice. I took a combination of several recipes to create my masterpiece and this is what I came up with.

Orange Cauliflower Rice

Wash cauliflower and break into small flowerets.

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Using a food processor or grater, chop into fine rice-sized pieces. I used a small food chopper and chopped in small batches.

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Sautee onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.

This is optional.

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Add drained cauliflower, stir into pan, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until you reach your desired tenderness. Thommmee and I don’t like our veggies too mushy so about 8 minutes cooking time worked . There were different opinions about adding additional water or oil. I decided to add a small amount of oil as I began cooking to avoid sticking. If your cauliflower is wet, the additional moisture will help steam it. You don’t want it too wet, however.

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It worked perfectly! We both loved this ‘indulgence’ and liked it better than cauliflower mashed potatoes. The consistency was more satisfying and the nice orange color (while not changing the flavor) made the ‘rice’ more visually pleasing . We added a bit of butter, salt, and pepper.

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Dinner is served!

This is a keeper.

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A Saturday Adventure

This past weekend Thommmee and I loaded up our bikes and headed to the beach.

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(Well, he did most of the loading.  I made the coffee and packed the lunch)

Our favorite place to ride is along the oceanfront path in Huntington Beach….

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(also know as Surf City USA)

We parked and unloaded at Sunset Beach which is about 5 miles from the Huntington Beach Pier. Our goal was to reach the pier.

There is always so much to see along the route which makes the ride enjoyable.

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 A volleyball game…..

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(or a nap)

……an exercise class……

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…. and a beach clean-up day.

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We checked out beachfront campers….

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….and stopped to appreciate the surfers.

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We noticed the local wildlife….

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and stopped at one of many pit stops along the way.

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Before we knew it we had arrived at the Huntington Beach Pier.

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And now we had to make the return 5 mile trip.

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We made it back in one piece (whew!) and met up with our daughter and grandkids for a few hours.

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I guess we had not yet worn ourselves out yet so we decided to visit the Irvine Farmers Market. We loaded up the car and off we went.

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(got some wonderful white peaches and fresh tomatoes)

Still full of energy, we decided to move on to our favorite flea market located in Orange. We lucked out since it is only a monthly event.

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After all of that we were sufficiently exhausted and made the 30 minute drive home to collapse.

I think that was enough for one day!

Fabric Origami Bag & tutorial

A friend from church brought in an adorable origami bag that her Red Hat Ladies had made at a recent gathering. I thought it was so cute that I searched the internet until I found a pattern. I found this on the All Free Sewing website (by jembellish.blogspot.com). It is a simple sewing project, does not take much time and would be perfect for beginners, advanced sewers, or even kids for a fun afternoon.

Select two contrasting fabrics and matching ribbon.

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You can make this bag whatever size you want – the bigger the fabric square you start with, the bigger the bag will be. For this tutorial I selected  pink and polka dot fabric squares of 18 inches each.
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It is important you cut you squares exactly or your bag will not come out evenly.
Stitch the 2 squares right sides together….. 
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…..leaving a small opening so you can turn your square out-ending up with the right sides of your fabric on the outside.
Trim corners to help in making a smooth finish. 
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Turn bag to have the right side of fabric outside. Press. Top stitch on the outside of bag. This will also close the gap you left so make sure you catch this in the top stitching.
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Now you have a nice double-sided fabric square to make your bag
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Lay fabric with the outside facing down. I wanted the black and white dots on the outside so I laid that side down with the inside (pink) facing up. Fold the bottom corner up, then the top corner down.  
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This is where I make most of my mistakes. If your bag is not even it is not possible to make it perfect. I played around with the corners to make it as even as possible. Since you will be using this a drawstring bag, if it is off just a smidge you won’t notice much so don’t stress. Just try to be as even as possible.
Take a ruler and  draw a line or mark with pins down through the centre from point to point. Again, I am not a perfectionist so….
Stich along this line.
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Fold in both side corners.
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Now run a row of stitching on both sides where you just folded.
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This will create the casing where you will run your ribbon though to create the drawstring gather. You can make two rows for a little extra flourish but I usually run one line only. Be sure you allow enough room to thread your ribbon or cord through. I find about 3/4 of an inch from the top is about right. Just try to be even.
Fold the bag in half  so that all the folds are on the inside of the bag. Stich both sides.
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Turn bag inside out so that your pretty and pocketed side is now on the outside.
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Keep turning…..
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…until it is completely turned out.
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Thread the ribbon or cord through you casing using a safety-pin.
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About 12-18 inches or so are good depending on how long you want your ‘handles’.  Thread one piece through both sides from the left, and then the other piece through both sides from the right.
Tie the ends of your ribbon together. I like to place a decorative bead on the ends but this is optional.
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I also like to add a small stitch on the front of the bag (usually adding a button for show) because I find it helps make the outside pockets a little more useable.
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This is strictly optional. The bag is great without these extra embellishments.
 
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Finished bag!
Now you have this cute little bag to use for your cell phone and sun glasses, fill with goodies for a birthday gift, or use to pack your jewelry for your next trip. The possibilities are endless.
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A Moral Story

We attended our granddaughters 8th grade graduation ceremony last week. They had the usual cast of speakers-board members, public officials, a few teachers, and a some students. As is often the case, most of the speakers (expect for the students of course) were long-winded. Since it was a warm afternoon in the sunshine and on hard benches, it was hard for most of us to really enjoy that aspect of the day. One person, however, shared a story that although I had heard it before, thought was a great story and very relevant to the students.  I decided to share it again as I felt it was worth a reminder for people of all ages.

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his  contractor employer of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the pay cheque, but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

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As we build our lives or as we build upon the lives we have already built, we are reminded that each act we take, each brick that we lay in our own lives is relevant.

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Only we have the choice to build a mighty house or to build a life of shoddy substance.

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photo courtesy of

Acclaim Clipart

(http://www.acclaimclipart.com/free_clipart_images/carpenter_at_work_with_hammer_and_hard_hat_0521-1003-2614-5624.html)

 

Strawberry Jam

At the beginning of the strawberry season, I decided to make strawberry jam. Nothing quite like homemade jam! When my kids were growing up, we began making jam because of an apricot tree in our backyard. We could not seem to eat it or give it away fast enough…..and I really hate to waste anything! I became a sort of a self-taught jam maker knowing no one  (at that time) who made jam but plenty of people who liked to eat it! We would make the jam in smallish jars to give as gifts.  Before the internet, I had relied  on the inserts of the pectin packages or a trip to the library for directions. When I  began making jam after a long hiatus, I found that nothing much had changed. I recently made three batches-with some very special helpers!

The first batch was with  my daughter and her young baby. Keeping this little one entertained while we got to the business of making jam required the help of Thommmee-aka-Poppa.

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We gathered our supplies and off we went!

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We were moderately successful. The taste of the jam was fantastic but did not set up as well as expected.  I kept some of it and used it for syrup on pancakes and ice cream. It was delicious.

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I made the second batch with two granddaughters. It turned out perfectly! They were thrilled with their jam and so was I.

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We used the same recipe so I thought I was just a little rusty…right…..? Wrong……

After all of that I did not really have any jam of my own to keep or give away so decided to make another batch. Mine did not set well either. I found out, however,  you can “recook” your jam to get a good set (set meaning to make firm). You simply need to empty all of your jam into a pot, add more pectin and sugar, re-sterilize your jars and lids, and cook it some more. I had never heard of this before but it worked very well.

Here is the recipe from the Ball canning website that I used:

5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs)
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit® Classic Pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

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Directions:

1.) Prepare boiling water canner. I don’t have a canner so I used a big pot.Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
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2.) Combine strawberries and lemon juice in a 6 or 8-quart saucepan.  (If you did not read my post on lemon marmalade, I found out you need to have a stainless steel pot for best results-although I did not see this anywhere on the recipe).
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Gradually stir in pectin (I used powered pectin). Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
3.) Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. (This is where I went wrong-how do you determine exactly when the rolling boil that cannot be stirred down starts?) Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
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4.) Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
5.) Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
I did buy more berries and froze them to try again at a later date. Our strawberry season is about over. I am sorry to say I did not take a picture before I gave away my beautiful jars of jam. I recreated a picture to show you how cute they turned out. We took them on our last road trip and gave them all away.
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 The reviews were good, I am pleased to say!
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A Father’s Day tribute to my Dad

Father’s Day is a bittersweet day for me. Without a father to celebrate with it is just not the same. It does, however, allow me to reflect on the wonderful father that I was so blessed to have.

I am the oldest of 6 children. We are a very close group!  Although very close to both of our parents, the relationship with our dad (and I am sure I can speak for all of my siblings) was very special. He was the soul of the family, the hugger, the kisser, the listener, the head of the family.

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Dad and I had our share of battles during my teenage years. The issues were nail polish, make up, dating, and all the other rights of passage. My mother (sweet incredible woman that she was) was somewhat old-fashioned in the sense that Dad had the last say on most issues. I am sure she was a quiet force behind the scenes but growing up in the era that we did, the man of the house was…well, the man of the house!   He was most reluctant to allow me to grow into a free-spirited teenager which included me wearing sensible shoes (for good arch support) rather than the styles of the day. Despite all of this I survived-and better for it I like to think.

Dad was a hard worker and a good provider. It must have been hard but we never went without. He did not have a high school diploma having been raised during the depression and was needed to help out on the farm. He was, however, one of the smartest people I have ever met. Not only did he have good common sense, he was self-taught on just about any subject because of his love for reading and hunger for knowledge. He worked 6 days each week, was loved by his co-workers, customers, friends, and most of all by his family. He taught us the value of hard work and the rewards it offers.  Dad would say there was nothing like ending a day tired and knowing a job was well done. Each evening when he arrived home he would embrace our mom in a big hug  to give her a great big kiss! My friends were astonished when they saw this as many of them had never seen their parents show affection to each other. Then in turn, he would kiss each one of us. He taught us to show love and affection.

Dad also instilled into us to be honest. The  value of telling the truth ranked very high with him. Honesty, integrity, and fairness. He was our guide. He was loving but we knew the boundaries.

As adults we still had the great love and respect for him. He was not our friend, he was our dad and as our dad he was one of a kind. We could laugh, talk, argue, or whatever but before we went to bed at night or left for our own homes, he would kiss us good-night and his love was ever faithful.

With his love of reading we became readers. With his love of poetry we learned to love poetry. With his kindness we learned to give kindness. He taught his four daughters to be women and his two sons to be men. He always had a joke to tell and loved talking about life. He loved sitting at the head of the dinner table-to look out over his family and count his blessings.   He always cooked the Thanksgiving turkey, made the stuffing, cooked the roasts throughout the year and when he retired he even learned to bake.

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Our parents were married almost 50 years before he died.  While he was the head of the family, our mom was his heart.

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A few years ago we had our parents laid to rest at  Arlington National Cemetery and his last wish was fulfilled. He was in the Navy during WWII.  He was shown all the respect due each and every one of our servicemen and women.

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Dad, I miss you. I am so thankful that God picked you to be my father. I am sorry I kept you up nights worrying. Thank you for your heart for family. You taught me so much.

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I love you, Dad.

 

 

 

 

Crusty Parmesan Herb Zucchini Bites

I was browsing Facebook and came across another of those interesting recipes. I shared it to my timeline to try at a later date but then decided to cook it right away since it looked too good to pass up! With only a few ingredients required I actually had all the items on hand.  It fit right in with our healthier eating menus which was a real plus. Paired with teriyaki salmon, it made a perfect and healthy meal. Although baked in the oven, I think it might have done well on the outdoor grill which is how we will try it next time.

Ingredients:

4 medium, fresh zucchini, sliced in half
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary & thyme, minced
smidge of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

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I  used a variety of fresh herbs from our garden. I think whatever herbs you prefer would work as well.

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Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350F, lightly brush both sizes of the zucchini with olive oil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

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Mix cheese and herbs together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the zucchini along with salt and pepper to taste.

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Bake for 15 minutes and place under the broiler for the last 3-5 minutes until cheese is crispy and browned.


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Super easy and delicious!

(I have to admit…. the Facebook picture was much prettier but not less yummy!)

From: Viance Nutrition ~ Clean Eating Recipes
www.viance.com/recipes