Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Thanksgiving miracle in my very own kitchen

It wasn’t the Virgin Mary’s face appearing in my toast. It wasn’t the shape of Abe Lincoln’s profile in a cheese puff. But it was a Thanksgiving miracle in my very own kitchen.

Homemade tortillas made by AdRi:

It was a Thanksgiving miracle: homemade tortillas

Who knew? We’ve been together for years now and this is the first time I’ve discovered her tortilla making talent. Not only were they tasty, but they were beautiful. And she even knows the secret techniques of making her tortillas perfectly round, how to press them by hand when you don’t have a tortilla press (a plastic bag and a heavy saucepan work in a pinch), and I've been enlightened to the goal of The Puffing of the Tortilla.

The puffing of the tortilla

When this occurred, The Puffing of the Tortilla, the loud scream of GGGGOOOOAAAALLLLL could be heard throughout tortilla land. (Tortilla land=our house.)

Ingredients? Masa harina and water. The ratio? No clue. Because she worked so fast I didn’t see it coming. That is the way of the Thanksgiving Miracle.

The Thanksgiving Miracle Worker Works Fast

Simply served with salted butter, hot and fresh from the comal, this was better than bird.

I hope this becomes a Thanksgiving tradition.

Speaking of Thanksgiving traditions, on last week’s Lelo Homemade show I had a really wonderful chat with my mom about Thanksgiving pasts, and I shared all kinds of commenter’s and listeners stories of Thanksgiving. You can listen to it here (episode 28).

We've entered the season of miracles. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Welcome, Thanksgiving

Famous Holiday Cheese Salad
Whoa! The Thanksgiving jello salad keyword searches are bringing plenty of visitors here to Lelo in Nopo. So many last minute recipe searchers find themselves landing on these pages of my blog...my Grandma's jello salad recipes, a few recipes in detail, and even frog-eye salad. Oh the kitsch of it all makes me smile.

But don't be fooled. I won't be making the Famous Holiday Cheese Salad this year. Bonus: photo of salad here. I've come to realize no one eats it. But you can listen to me wax eloquent about Jello salad, listen in on a chat I had with my mom, and I'm sharing some of your Thanksgiving horror stories on Lelo Homemade on Thanksgiving day. It will be airing Thursday, November 25th, 2:30-3pm (Pacific). To listen during that time go here. Otherwise, it will show up over at the iTunes site shortly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time of abundance

on the half shell
It's easy to get caught up in the chaos and commercialism of this season. The Christmas ads began at Halloween and even the news seems to be hyper-focused on reporting shopping opportunities as lead stories. I don't get it. And I remind myself this isn't my life.

It's this time of year I once again become mesmerized with the tiny bits of natural life, and how the little collections in my home become stories of connection...

A trio of stones reminds me of the hot rocks of the Yuba River in Northern California, and as I work them through my hands, I can smell the sage of those dusty, summer hillsides. I dive into a bowl of shells, calling to me the underwater world of snorkeling the Hawaiian islands, hearing my own breathing while watching a sea turtle swim by, and the weightlessness of being in the warm, tropical waters. A stick from the garden, covered in lichen and moss, colors so beautiful and right out my back door reminds me despite this week's call for snow, it's wonderfully alive out there. And I can begin to dream of next year's garden.

Gifts from nature bring memories, reminders and connections to things much more important than the long line of a new chain store opening downtown. I remind myself this time of abundance is what we make it, me and the ones I love, with my family and friends, and with my creativity.

I think this is going to a wonderfully creative week and one of abundance. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apple Roundup at the OK-Corral

Apple 1Apple 2

I used to not like apples. I know, can you believe it?

I should probably clarify that it's the actual biting into the whole, fresh, apple that I've never liked to do.

I mentioned apples to my mom recently and she said the same thing. Now I know where I got it. And you know I can't help but say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


Apple 3Apple 4

But back to apples. I lurve apples now. When you step outside the confines of the typical apples at our typical grocery store, here in the Northwest, at least, you can discover a huge, wide world of apple glory. Varieties large and small, deep red, bright green, and every shade between. And the flavor differences are crazy.

We even have apple festivals and if you didn't make it to an apple weekend in Hood River this year, put it on your calendar for next, because they're a lot of fun. Here's a post with photos from a trip to pick apples in Hood River: so pretty!

The crazy popularity of the apple sampler weekends at Portland Nursery (where I took these apple photos) proves a point that we love apples, and tasting the many different kinds is a passionate sport. Tangy, tart, sweet, crunchy, smooth...apples run the gamut.

Apple 5Apple 6

In fact, apples, some of our favorite things to do with apples, were the topic of a recent Lelo Homemade. Many I talked about were already here on the blog, but if you haven't made applesauce or apple butter in your slow cooker yet, you need to do it and revel in its simplicity. Here's a link to how I do it.

Of course there's apple pie, and I learned recently that mixing your apple types makes for the best kind of apple pie. Here's my KISS Apple Pie recipe.

Thinking apple cake instead? Alanna's Estonian Apple Cake is lovely, super simple, and shows off the apples well.

I also mention in the show that growing up I loved my grandmother's red hot cinnamon apples. I actually made them during my first canning explorations a few years back. My grandmother's will always taste better, but this is what I had tried....Spiced Apple Rings.

Apple 7Apple 8

I cannot believe I haven't had any good, fresh, unpasteurized apple cider yet this season. This must be remedied! This shall be remedied! I'm putting it on my list right now...

Note: Lelo Homemade is now airing on Thursdays, 2:30pm on Cascadia.fm. You can always subscribe to it in iTunes and listen to it there, along with any of the previous shows as well. And thank you, thank you, thank you, for all of your support and listening! We are so pleased to know you are enjoying the show. Apples to you, dear listeners!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last of the carrots

harvesting the last of the carrots
The carrots are on their last legs, many are getting hairy, so these are most likely the last of the season. How can you even compare homegrown carrots to grocery store carrots? Let alone bagged dry baby carrots vs. the flavor of these juicy tasty carrots? It's like night and day.

I have to admit that Wink's favorite treat is a carrot, and that just the sound of the knife chopping on the chopping board brings her to the kitchen. Can't get her to come downstairs? Get out the chopping board and hit it a few times with the knife. It's like magic! There she is.

The magical power of carrots. Can't wait to grow them again next year.

Bonus: Guess who is getting better and better with her walks in the park? Proof:
Wink likes walks again

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The road less traveled

The road less traveled is always the most interesting...and beautiful.
I've been doing a lot of reflecting, planning (business and personal), and general tending of the house that has nothing to do with literally, tending the house. I've been bringing a focused intention to my actions and realize that as a creative person, it's easy to get off task or daydream into another thought or spend more time on a little thing rather than the larger things that are really most important to me. And through this focused intention, I'm realizing that my own crafting of my life, really, is about taking the road less traveled. Not the common nor the expected. Of this constant listening to myself to know where to go next, to look forward to what's beyond the curve in the road. To ponder pulling over and going off road.

When I took this photo I titled it "The road less traveled is always the most interesting...and beautiful." Even this analogy is one I've used throughout my life. When things like this continue to pop up I listen to them carefully. They are messages from the universe reminding me to listen to them, and to myself.

No big epiphanies here to share with you other than thoughts on the season. For me it's a time of reflection and of the beginning of the dark season of within. Dark is not always bad. It's a reconnecting to self, of listening, of seeing, and of being present on this road less traveled. It's a beautiful time of year. Make sure you are experiencing it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Bringing the outdoors in as a seasonal fall ritual

hydrangea harvest
I have this thing for fall collecting...fallen bits or remnants from a boisterous summer season. It's me preparing for the winter.

I was just thinking this week I needed to make sure I had my fish oil handy to begin again, as well as my extra vitamin D. It's time to get out the light box and start using that in the early morning hours. These things I do to fend off the funk I can develop in Portland's dark, grey winter days that seem so short and hang heavy with darkness. See how I used "dark" twice in that sentence? I'm not overdoing it. This California girl has coping mechanisms for our winters, and they include the things I've listed here, along with making sure I have lots of interactions with good friends and a trip to somewhere warm planned for February.

So back to bringing the outdoors in....that's part of my preparation too. I suppose I'm a little bit like those pesky squirrels scampering about scavenging nuts and stashing them in places to get to during the winter. I need my bits of the garden stashed about my house to remind me there is beauty out there in that wet, cold, drenched landscape.

So here are two projects for you, ones we talk about on the most recent Lelo Homemade, in an episode all about ways to decorate your home for the season, using elements from nature and the bounty of the harvest, with no sign of a giant inflatable cornucopia plugged into your front lawn to be seen.

Putting up for winter doesn't always mean food...
canning hydrangeas
I like to use my jars to also hold dried blooms, and here it's with my all-time garden favorites, hydrangeas. Late in the season my bright Niko Blue hydrangeas begin to turn green, then pink. I like to get them when they're green but maybe holding hints of the blue and edges of the pink yet to come. No fancy arranging needed. They do well simple left in the jar to dry, and if kept out of the way, will last for a good year or so. At the holidays I love weaving little white lights around these jars, bringing out a little sparkle but not too much glitz. The key here is simple repetition. Picking one bloom and using it in lots of repetition.

Using garden cuttings for wreaths...
Bay leaf wreath
Last year we took out a good-sized bay leaf tree to make way for a new back patio and arbor. Alas, it was the wrong tree in the wrong place, but I couldn't stand to see all those beautiful bay leaf branches hauled off to a chipper. I spent an afternoon trimming manageable and pliable branches, then wrapping and wiring them to simple wreath forms using very few tools or materials. Nothing fancy, but lovely elements of nature were dropped off for friends and hung on our wall throughout the winter. And they smelled lovely.

Need some more ideas? Listen in to the latest Lelo Homemade here, and I'd love to hear how you prepare your nest for winter. Love some good moss? Rock collection? Twig fanatic? Let me know....in the meantime, squirrel away my friends. I hear this winter is going to be long and wet.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The most beautiful of days after a rough night.
Fall glows in our garden
Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change.
- Edwin Way Teale

layers of color
The garden marches on and the season shows itself on the most gorgeous of blue sky days. Windows are open, breeze blows, may be the last day of the year like this. Fleeting. Seasonal. Now. Breathing it all in.
the trees begin to turn

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Feliz dia de los muertos

Altar with flower petal carpet

Every year I look at these photos, taken outside of Guadalajara a few years ago when AdRi and I traveled to Mexico for Day of the Dead, among other things. I look at them every year to be reminded of the love and intent it takes to create an altar like this. An altar that is only for a day or two, completely built in remembrance of someone loved and lost.

Installation in Tlaquepaque store....an entire wall was filled with paper flowers.

Art is a powerful thing and something that is a constant thread in my life. Temporary art fascinates me. The hours and work of placing flower petals in shapes and patterns on the floor, using rice, beans and grains to create floor murals, cut paper (papel picado) crafted and hung covering entire walls, and each piece at the altar representative of something loved by the one who has passed away. That is love. That is art.

Installation in Tlaquepaque

And these inspire. Happy Day of the Dead to you. I hope you find some love and inspiration in art and remembrance tonight. Perhaps, at least you can leave a glass of water out for the dead. You see, their journey back to this world is a long one, and they need to drink something. If not water, a nice shot of tequila will do just fine, too.

More inspiration here...