a leafy tale

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sarah.

Sarah loved the outdoors.  She loved to walk.  She loved to run.  She even loved to rake. 

One day, Sarah decided to join the “no-makeup” bandwagon for the day.  Instead of gussying up and going to the mall—as might be expected on a typical Saturday afternoon—Sarah threw on a big ol’, cozy sweatshirt and headed outside.  Rake in hand.

The entire family joined in on the autumn experience.  Hours upon hours flew by, with everyone hard at work. 

(my arms will be very, very sore tomorrow, FYI!!!)

But then, despite the beautiful day, the array of autumn’s colors & smells, and the boundless energy that everyone seemed to have at the very beginning, people began to grow very, very tired.

Sometimes—most times—growing tired is equivalent with being silly.  It kind of just happens.

 

(Let it be known that dad started it.)

Tackle #1

Tackle #2

Leaf jumping.  Leaf catching.  Leaf tackling.  All three are absolutely necessary when raking a yard. 

After raking the yard and countless numbers of tackles, it was time to go in and eat.  Which, by the way, was also absolutely necessary.

Roasted chicken legs.  Brown rice ‘n’ peas.  Heaps upon heaps of roasted butternut squash.  The entire family agreed that this was the perfect meal to refuel on.

Energy input = complete.

The.  End.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Who doesn’t love a hot side of roasted veggies?  The preparation is super simple, and the flavor is sweet and intense.  I always seem to err on the side of being a purist when it comes to roasting veggies, but you could also add in cinnamon and nutmeg, which I think would go lovely with the butternut squash.  This is an easy vegetable side to add with any meal. 😀

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Dice the squash into bite sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop in oven for 10 minutes.  Flip with a spatula.  Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes or until soft, tender and browned.
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Do you regularly do yard work?  What is your favorite/least favorite? 

Tomorrow is *Day 2* of the Breakfast Bonanza.  If you haven’t started yet, that’s okay!  You can jump in any time.  Just let me know what breakfast(s!) you want to include on the breakfast post for next week.

OH, and even trying ONE new breakfast overall is great too.  Just have fun with it! 😀

a greedy indulgence

Guess what I was busy peeling and washing, in anticipation for tonight’s dinner?

Beets.  Lots and lots of beets.  Enough to feed a family of five.  Or, in my case, a family of three.  We like our produce.

I could have canned them.  Really…I should have canned them.  When will I learn to preserve summer’s crops? 

I have received so many useful tips on preserving the produce.  “Freeze your pesto!”  “Bottle your beets!”  Friends have shared with me, all of the genius ways in which they ensure they’ll be eating from-the-garden tomatoes, all year round (salsas, sauces, and soups, oh my!) 

Unfortunetly, I’ve never listened.  Instead, I greedily eat summer’s produce, all at once.  Aside from a handful or two of frozen basil leaves, there’s not an inkling or trace of what once was.  Summer becomes a thing of the past, as I move forward into the months of autumn.  Arms (and mouth) open wide, ready for squash and cabbage and things like kale.

When I see a bunch of basil, I see a toasted, basil hummus sandwich for lunch.   And when I see beets, I see a salad piled high with those beautiful red, roasted roots.  I can’t resist.  I do realize that this is a shame.  A fault, even.  I would love to have produce all winter long.  I would!  I would love to pull out a bottle of zingy tomato salsa, smack dab in the middle of January.  I would love to pull out a batch of pesto in the dead of winter, just as a reminder of what summer tastes like. 

 But tonight, that didn’t really matter.  I savored each bite of the earthy, sweet beets, towering high on a bed of greens.  Dressed in nothing but olive oil.  I know this is a greedy indulgence.  But I just couldn’t help myself. 

As a side note, I am completely addicted to the peanut hummus.  Age really does do wonders for this tangy spread!

As a note to self: “Next summer? Grow a bigger garden.”

Roasted Beets

  • 1 large bunch of fresh beets, trimmed and peeled of any lingering roots or tough exterior
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Chop beets into bite sized peices, and place in single layer on a well sprayed cookie sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes, flip once, and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Do you preserve summer’s produce, or do you eat it right away?  What is your favorite way of preserving the produce?  One of these years, I would like to plant enough tomatoes to make a fresh tomato salsa.  And then open and eat it on the coldest day of the year. 😀

produce of fall

Today was filled to the brim with all things fall.

I drank a soy misto with a pump of toffee mocha.

I sampled hot, local apple cider from whole foods.

I wore a plaid, flannel shirt.  😉

I picked the last of the season produce from our vegetable garden.

I’m convinced that cold weather tomatoes are some of the most flavorful.  It’s as if they make up for their lack of good looks with a bright personality. 

And then I roasted an acorn squash. 

My Pepere habitually drives out to local farms every week, in search of the freshest produce.  He returns with potatoes, still clinging to the dirt from which they were plucked.  Bags and bags of onions that instantly bring on visions of fried potatoes and onion soups.

Best of all, he brings home squash.  Lots and lots of squash.

After throwing the seeds into the yard’s compost pile, I sliced this baby up and threw it onto a sprayed baking sheet.  Twenty minutes in a 425 degree oven (with a gentle flip half way through) turned this humble acorn squash into a thing of beauty.  Those crispy, caramelized bites get me every time. 

A drizzle of olive oil enhances the flavors of a simple salad.  In the same way, the sweetness from fresh maple syrup serves to further enhance the natural sweetness of an acorn squash.  A little goes a long way. 

I love soy mistos with toffee mocha.

I love late summer produce and hot apple cider.

I love wearing plaid.

And I really, really, really love roasted acorn squash.

Roasted Maple Acorn Squash

  • 1 acorn squash, deseeded and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • sea salt
  • fresh (real) maple syrup
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Add squash to sheet in a single layer, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 10 minutes. 
  3. Flip squash over and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Question: What is your favorite thing about the fall?

gone green

Oh how I love new beginnings, new days, new mornings, new months.  September is going to be wonderful, I can just feel it. :mrgreen:

I was up at 5:45 again this morning.  This wasn’t nearly as hard as it was yesterday morning—no need for an alarm clock!  Imagine how easy it will be once I learn to actually go to bed earlier. 😉

Breakfast was eaten slow-food-style again this morning!  I so love, love, love having the extra time to relax before the rest of the day gets busy. 😀

I spent my second day of food service in the high school, meeting some more people (including the vice president of the school), and spending a lot of time working on writing out job descriptions for the employee positions.  I wish I would have thought to talk with the employees about this, just to hear firsthand what they think their job entails and whether the description is accurate or not.  I’ll have to remember to do that tomorrow when I bring them in for my preceptor’s approval. 😀

Lunch came at normal noon time today!  No grumbling, growling, cranky stomachs in sight (or hearing). 😉

Leftover Sausage and Broccoli Penne topped with feta cheese, from yesterday’s meal.

And lots of other snacky goodies.

  • raw veggies—carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, green bell peppers
  • fresh fruit—orange and apple slices
  • almonds

Fun. Lunch. 😀

I came home around 2:30’ish, which gave me ample time to finish up the job description materials.  Going through half of them took me most of the afternoon, into the evening.  I felt like I was on a roll by that point, but I’d rather hold off and make sure that my preceptor is feeling okay with the way that they’re turning out.  I’d hate to find out that I’m doing them all wrong!

Afternoon Snack: cottage cheese, Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal (which—by the way—is the only high fiber cereal that I actually enjoy), and a scoop of peanut butter

One of Augusts’ many goals was to become more green. 

I think I’m finally progressing in a positive direction.  My ‘problem’ with wasting trash bags and paper towels has decreased considerably. 

And as far as food goes?  Well, it doesn’t get much more green then eating a green salad filled with local (as in home-grown) vegetables.  Green.  In every sense of the word. 😀

  • beet greens
  • tomatoes
  • celery and carrot (which were not from the garden, unfortunately!)
  • last of the homemade basil hummus
  • olive oil and sea salt

With some kashis on the side for some c-r-u-n-c-h action.

I loved hearing about all the ways you guys &  gals unwind after a busy day.  I could relate to many of them, and found myself nodding in agreement.

Tonight, I unwound with a 3-mile run and a 1-mile walk (to break up the run.)  It took some motivation to get myself out the front door, but I was so happy to be trotting along once I actually got movin’.  Happy.  So, so happy. 

A run truly does slow things down.

Question: Do you have any goals, plans, ideas, thoughts, or expectations for September? 

weekend post: summer & salads

You know how some parents joke that they want to put a brick on their kids’ heads in order to stop them from growing?  I was kind of thinking.  Is it possible to do this with summer?

Today I wore a light hoodie and a pair of jeans.  “Hoodie weather” (i.e., roughly 70 degrees) is incredibly comforting and cozy.  On a numerical scale, such a day would receive a 10 out of 10, with 10 being the most ideal, perfect, and delicious of days.  But at the same time, I’m not ready for summer to be over.  Not yet.  I know there will still be plenty of warm days around the corner, but I want summer to last.  And last.  And last.

It’s not just the warm weather that I want to hold on to.  It’s the fresh garden tomatoes—tiny, yellow tear drops falling from the flowering plants.  It’s the freshly canned beets, boasting their deep, summery colors.  It’s the fresh basil hummus that I made in the morning, after snipping away in the herb garden.

Summer.

If only placing a brick on a kid’s head would stop him from growing.  If only I could hold on to summer forever.

If only.

But then, there wouldn’t be any apple picking, would there?  Or snowshoeing.  Or baking cranberry nut breads and roasting acorn squash.  Or dethawing by a warm woodstove after coming in from the frigid weather.  Or being handed a hot cocoa two weeks before Christmas, while decorating the tree.  Or witnessing the magic of winter’s first snowfall.

I guess this is why I will always call myself a true New Englander. 

Question: If you had the choice, would you make summer last forever or do you enjoy the other seasons as well?

how convenient

Two busy bumblebees.

One rainbow.

One leaf falling.

Four birds flying.

Let’s just say that looking up at the sky while in a side plank position is way more exciting when done outdoors versus looking up at the ceiling of my basement.  Tack it on to the ever growing list of why I love summer so much.

Followed by my morning workout which included fifteen minutes of arms and fifteen minutes of legs, I set out to make a hot, steamy bowl of oatbran.  Leave it to me to crave such a breakfast on one of the hottest days of the year (although, I know for a fact that I’m not alone in this 😉 ).

  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1/4 c. wheatbran
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 c. fresh strawberries
  • toppings: 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 T. Galaxy Granola, 1 scoop of peanut butter

It made for one delicious breakfast.

Morning Snack: a juicy orange

By noon today, it was 85 degrees and humid—I had one thing on the brain: salads.  I can not get enough of these big bowls of produce.  And for one reason or another, this bowl of green was particularly interesting today. 

Full of f-r-e-s-h. 

Full of c-r-u-n-c-h. 

Full of carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, mushrooms, sliced bell peppers and white beans. 

I’m really into simple dressings lately.  This salad was drizzled with a small amount of olive oil (about 1 tsp) and followed with a bit of sea salt.  So simple.  So delicious. 

+ kashis and a slice of swiss

+ some after-lunch sweetness in the form of my favorite kind of berry

 Afternoon Snack: 6-oz. plain yogurt + 2 T. crushed flax + 2 T. Galaxy Granola Hint of Honey

When it comes to dinner, who doesn’t like a bit of convenience now and then?  I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes when life gets hectic, dinner needs to be simple.  And quick.

I was tempted to pick up a box of veggie burgers for tonight’s dinner, even though it wasn’t on my shopping list (okay, $4 wouldn’t exactly break the bank, but I’m trying to be good here.)  I sighed and placed them back into the freezer as I scrambled to think of something that would be just as quick and easy.  Then it occurred to me…duh!  I could make my own!

I had successfully made homemade black bean burgers in the past (using KERF for inspiration!,) and I also happened to remember that they were super easy to prepare.  Cheap and convenient?  Sign me up!

Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 T. worcestershire sauce
  • lots of garlic powder (lots, lots, lots)
  • cayenne to taste (remember that this stuff is hot)
  1. Just mash everything together really well.  It takes some good strong effort.  Don’t be afraid to show those beans who’s the boss!
  2. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or longer.
  3. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, heat to medium and cook 4 patties until browned on one side.  Flip over and cook until browned to preference.  About 10-12 minutes total.

The first time I made these, I undercooked them.  This time I remained patient and let them crisp and brown up nicely.

Served with side salads, sweet potato fries, a whole wheat bun and some Trader Joe’s catsup.  They were just as delicious as I remembered them to be.  Yum!

Off to make a snack and read some of Eat, Pray, Love.  I’d like to finish the book before the movie comes out. 😀

Question: It’s late.  You’re hungry.  Food needs to be placed on the table as quickly as possible.  What do you do/make/buy?  First I grab a carrot stick or a handful of almonds to prevent myself from chewing off my arm.  And some of the easiest meals that I’ve made in a hurry include sweet potatoes with black beans&salsa, or scrambled veggie omelets.  In a pinch, cereal isn’t such a bad option either.  😉