Our Writings

Yellow-eyed Bean Soup

We like variety in our soups, so I decided to try a different heirloom bean. This one is the yellow-eyed bean and was pretty enough to deserve a before and after picture. I used the same basic prep and cooking steps as I have with my other soups (pressure cooked 35 minutes, paste made from half of resulting mixture, add veggies and seasonings of choices, then slow cook 4 hours). The result was filling and delicious. For this soup, I added yellow peppers, small purple potatoes, carrots, celery, and greens onions. For seasoning, I added garlic, onion, an Italian blend, dried celery, and a pinch of dill. Simple recipe and great for multiple meals. 

High-fiber Bread

If you are seeking more fiber in your meal plan, high-fiber tortilla shells are a great option over the typical bread product. Gently brush each shell (both sides) with EVOO and add your favorite seasoning.  Place shells on a parchment paper-lined baking tray at bake at 350 degrees for roughly five minutes. Check and turn shells frequently to prevent burning.  Once baking is complete, cut into triangles using a pizza cutter.  The shells will be crispy and, if you choose your shell wisely, you will have a lower-carb alternate to bread and a much healthier option over store-bought chips.
 
The example in the image above contains 15 gms carbohydrate and 11 gms fiber.  

In the Backyard Garden

As many of your know, I retired at the end of 2020.  So this spring, we decided to mix it up a bit.  When I was working, John handled all of the cooking.  I have now joined him on the “cooking” front, freeing him to focus more on the garden.  

John loves gardening and the rewards of growing your own food are endless.  Early spring brought kale to our table and we are hopeful that summer will produce a bounty of tomatoes, green beans, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers.

Wild-caught Blueberry Salmon

Moving forward in our healthy eating adventure, we decided to attempt wild salmon.  Pictured above – this was my first attempt with wild Coho salmon, shown here marinaded in blueberry sauce and paired with sauteed asparagus and sweet potato chips.

I created two versions of a blueberry sauce. The thicker sauce was created through reduction – cooking the blueberries down in a small amount of water and then blending them for consistency using a NutriBullet. The second sauce was a lighter dressing using a small amount of the thicker sauce blended with olive oil, golden balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, and Italian seasoning. The lighter dressing was used for the marinade and sautéing. The thicker sauce topped the salmon.

To create the sweet potato chips – dice the potato, lightly toss in EVOO (optional – can skip this step if you don’t use oil), add a seasoning of your choice, and cook in an air fryer. The amount of cook time varies by volume, so check the potatoes every five minutes or so. I used a combination seasoning of onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.

The Coho salmon was broiled. Everything turned out great!  If you decide to give this one a try, let us know how it turns out.  We would love to hear from you.

Enjoy!

Welcome Spring

Nothing speaks to spring quite like tree blossoms. We have several fruit trees in our backyard. The blossoms depicted above and below are from our pear tree, one of our youngest/newest additions. I look forward to blossoms every spring, a reminder that life reemerges every year from the frozen ground. In parallel to life, looks can be deceiving. After the harsh winter, death surrounds us, but life waits beneath the surface.

It has been a difficult year.  I watched the pandemic move across the country and, as a nurse, I knew the road ahead would be treacherous for a while.  I have not been a nurse at the bedside for years and after several weeks, I was released to work from home.  My heart grieved and feared for my colleagues as I watched people I have known and loved perish or become permanently disabled.  

Life as I knew it, looked and felt entirely different.  People and activities I cherished were no longer possible in this new COVID world.  I had taken them for granted, believing they would always be there. It never occurred to me that seeing my family or taking a hike would ever become a risky behavior.  

But here we are, and I must take a lesson from the pear blossom.  I see bits of normalcy emerging from the dust of past months.  Today I am hopeful, and it is this hope that fills my mind and heart this morning.  I hope you are filled with hope as well.

On a side note, I would like to welcome our new subscribers and thank everyone, newcomers as well as those who have been with us over time, for just being here with us.  We appreciate you.  It is nice to know others are out there, even when we cannot “see” them.  Give us a shout-out in a comment; let us know how you are doing.  Tell us what you like about our site and what you would like to hear from us in the future.

May peace and blessing be yours,

Deb

Mushroom Soup

There is an Asian grocery store on Refugee Road, not far from our favorite farmer’s market in Canal Winchester. This small store has a great selection of mushrooms in varieties not found in the larger chains and at a fraction of the cost. Like most of our adventures, we make the trip an all-day affair, stopping at the farmer’s market (if it is summer) and one of our favorite restaurants.

If you are seeking to include more plants in your diet, mushrooms are a great alternative to meat. Mushrooms are rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants, low in calories and sodium.  Nutritionally, mushrooms are known sources of zinc, copper, potassium, and certain B vitamins.  If they are raised with ultraviolet light exposure, they also can be a good source of Vitamin D. 

After each trip, I can always count on mushroom soup.  Each time, the results are a bit different.  This time, John tried a new recipe. Of course, he always gives his creations, his special magic touch. The results are delicious, healthy, and nutritious. 

Note: You can find this recipe at https://www.theawesomegreen.com/vegan-mushroom-soup-for-a-comforting-autumn-dinner/.  Bon appétit!

The Not-So-Great Escape

According to the police report, the entire fiasco could have been avoided.  The day began innocently, a typical family of edamame out for a stroll.  They left the cool comfort of the refrigerator as they had done on countless days, trekking southward through lush green pastures of fresh spinach.  The fatal error occurred when they forgot to bring water.  With temperatures soaring, heatstroke was inevitable.

Police found the bodies beneath an avalanche of shredded butternut squash topped with tomato salsa.  As a last resort, the edamame family had taken refuge within the hollow of an avocado buried in the rubble.  Perhaps, they thought they would escape, but the fork had other ideas.

Not Your Typical Breakfast

Imagine it is breakfast time. What is on your plate? Is it eggs or sausage? Maybe you are a starch lover and opt for pancakes, grits, oatmeal, or potatoes. On a fancy day, perhaps you throw in a steak. You may decide on a certain food based on health or simply choose what sounds good.  

Many of you know that we (John and I) are plant-based eaters, so we limit the animal-based options in our diet. Many days, I find whole wheat pancakes or steel-cut oats waiting for me at the kitchen table. Typical breakfast food, right?

Yet, on some days, breakfast is a source of amusement. Why? Because, on some days, not only does breakfast surprise me, but my surprise is also surprising.  Yes, I know. There were far too many surprises in the last sentence, but please bear with me.

(John’s Breakfast Cheese Sauce)

I am surprised (and delighted) by the fact that breakfast sometimes challenges my preconceived notions about food choice. Certain foods belong only to specific meals. Take our Monday morning breakfast fare – a colorful assortment of tomatoes, potatoes, salsa, avocado, broccoli, and mushrooms. Add a plant-based cheese sauce and you have all the fixins’ for an omelet without egg or cheese. My brain saw all the lovely vegetables and assumed we were having lunch at 9:30 a.m. 

I bet if you think about it, you probably have few “notions” of your own. Take the typical restaurant menu. If you were the breakfast customer, would you think it odd if the menu listed roast leg of lamb, pasta marinara, and bean burritos, but not omelets or waffles?

Why the nerve of those people!  Where is a good egg when you need one?

The eggs were set aside, of course, in favor of a more adventurous food choice. Breakfast was delicious and I was not arrested by any breakfast police because I broke established food rules. Honestly, it is a lot of fun to challenge these notions, opens a whole new world of culinary possibilities.  Try it!  You might be pleasantly surprised. 

A New Voice Beckons

A new voice beckons me.  She is quite annoying, calling to me in the middle of the night while I try to sleep, yet strangely silent when I ask her to speak.  Without discipline, she lives within storylines, ideas, and thoughts, a parade of possibilities eager for exploration.

I retired at the end of the day on December 31, 2020.  That evening, I asked Alexa to cancel my 4:30 a.m. alarm for the following day.  “Do you want to cancel all 4:30 a.m. alarms?” she asked. 

“Yes,” I replied. I had been looking forward to making that statement all week.

The following Monday, I woke up later than usual and texted my former associates, telling them I would be extremely late for work.  I still have not arrived and have chosen to blame my absence on mountains of snow.

John keeps asking me if I feel retired yet.  I honestly do not have an answer to that question.  I am not sure what retirement is supposed to feel like.

I spent the first week of retirement staring off into space.  Sometimes there was a strange screen in front of me.  I wrapped myself in sweats and watched babbling characters march across this strange screen, immersed in some fictitious event.  The cup of coffee laced with dark powdered cocoa warmed my hands.  Next to me, the poodle had already fallen to sleep. 

That new annoying voice reminded me that I promised not to be the old woman sitting in front of the television set eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas.  I told her to shut up; I was too busy to entertain such thoughts.  John asked me if I was talking to him.  “No,” I said, “I am talking to the poodle. 

In my defense, over the course of weeks, I have learned to pamper myself with hot baths and great books, allowing my mind to wander, ponder and reflect.

“You should do something with those thoughts,” the voice says. 

After six decades of living, what exactly do I want to say?  As I sit in front of the dreaded blank page writers always talk about, I wonder if I need lessons on how to listen.

Frankly, the freedom of retirement is both a blessing and a challenge.  After many years of tight schedules, one is left to build a daily structure from scratch.  I also am left to find my voice, one that is my own, beyond the dictates of my past.  The responsibility can be intimidating, especially if one wants life to matter.  

In the middle of the night, the voice comes to life and reminds me of dreams waiting for life, words yet to be written, art yet to be captured.  When most of the world is silent, the voice in my head is not.  I scribble some notes on the pad next to my bed to guide the coming day.  

“Where do I start?”  I ask.

“Just where you are,” says the voice, “at the beginning.”

IN MY BACKYARD (CREEPING CHARLIE)

I was out in the backyard observing some of the plants I have planted in the last two years. I noticed an evasive plant with a lot of scalloped leaves and pretty blue flowers. The plant seemed to attract bees and smells of strong mint.  When I pick it up, it comes up easily, as it is not a deeply rooted plant. It seems to always grow in clumps around the yard. Usually, this plant is found in the shady parts of the gardens around the base of other plants. It does pull up easily and with the regular pulling of weed plants around the flowerbed, it can be pulled up, but never goes away.  It comes back year after year. 

I looked up the plant in several plant guides and found it to have many names, and seems to be referred to as Ground Ivy most of the time. I kind of liked the one name, Creeping Charlie as this plant can quickly spread to take over any flower bed. Mowing does not stop it from continued growth. 

I like the plant as it is a wonderful green color with interesting leaves.  When it blooms with blue flowers, it is actually very attractive. I just pull some of it up when it starts becoming evasive. 

On the Scientific side of my research, I found this Ground Ivy ( Glechoma hederacea) has quite a history.  Historically, Ground Ivy was used as an herb, eaten in salads, and used to make medicines and tea. It was also used to flavor beer. The plant is very high in iron. Young leaves and sprouts are eaten like spinach. Tasting a leaf produces a very strong minty flavor. 

Although technically a weed, to me, Creeping Charlie is simply another interesting plant in the backyard.