Boysenberry Pie

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Friday afternoon at the farm, Charlotte

and I exchanged dusty handshakes for

boysenberries, the farm dog circling

feet. You must be Rebecca, she

said, the hose shifting

shoulders, reminding

again

 

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this eating breathing living takes a

community to grow soil, berries,

pie.

farmer hands and bee sweat sweet

 

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and summer, tastes.

 

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It takes a community to do it yourself.

 

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Boysenberry Pie

The Recipe Redux requested pie, William favors all the varieties of blackberry, and the first mess of Boysens at Sunbow are melt-in-your-mouth, stain-all-your-fingers sweet. Summer brought them early.

This blackberry filling is our absolute favorite. We’ve made it a number of times with just about every type of blackberry and it never fails to please. My gluten and dairy-free pastry still needs a bit of tinkering as it’s currently more of a shortcrust in texture, so in the meantime, fill your favorite pastry with these berries and enjoy!

1 double-crust pie pastry of choice

6 cups fresh boysenberries (or any type of blackberry)

3/4 cup honey

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. arrowroot starch

1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

  • Gently rinse and drain the berries and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Combine berries, honey, lemon juice, and flours in a large mixing bowl. Pour into a pastry-lined pie pan, add the top crust of your choosing, and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.
  • Carefully remove from the oven and cool until ready to eat.

 


Character Training- A Running Update + My Good Energy Maca “Latte”

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I’m re-reading one of  my favorite books about running right now. It’s Ryan Hall’s Running With Joy, which is his daily journal that he kept in preparation for the 2010 Boston Marathon. I seem to quote Ryan a lot on this blog because he’s my first and favorite elite athlete. Ryan offers a Christian perspective to his training that can be applied to any area of life and it’s one that I relate to and gain perspective from often, both as a runner and in my faith-life.

 

One of the latest little gems that I picked up from Ryan was on character training. …I’m trying to keep a positive attitude but it’s tough, Ryan says. I want to see this as an opportunity for Christ to work in me and develop my character. Character training is harder than any workouts I do. 

 

If you’re a regular reader, you may or may not remember that I went into a running slow-down a few months ago around the turn of the year. I stopped running completely due to a weird foot injury. The whole experience brought about an unearthing of a lot of deep emotional baggage through which I’m still sifting and processing. The short and simple update on the injury is that I’m still working through it. My feet seem to bounce back and forth between one hurting one day or week, and the other the next. I’ve come back up to a few miles a week and people ask me all the time how I’m doing, whether I’m back to running. For the most part, my answer is “no, not really.” I say this even though my garmin and training journal clearly show progress. Some part of the perfectionistic, type-A runner in me does not consider 10-15 easy miles per week running even though it’s clearly what I’ve been doing. To be clear, this outlook only applies to myself. If I had this conversation with any other person, I’d want to smack them on the forehead and affirm, “You’re a runner. You’re running!”

 

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I bought the training journal in the above picture as a gift to self last fall, after a particularly big-for-me accomplishment. I saved it up for the beginning of the year, as I was looking forward to putting it to use to accomplish some big goals. When the injury appeared and I had to stop running completely, I did not want to use it. It made me feel like crap to be logging zero-miles for weeks at a time, even worse to have gone to the gym to cross train and realize I couldn’t do that either. I made a pact with myself that I’d still use it though, choosing to write down where I was at both mentally and physically and provide an accurate recording of the experience. In the past, I haven’t been so good about this and I look back at old training journals and see only a record of miles or times logged. There’s never been much description of where my head has been or how my body has felt. I have had lots of past injuries and none of them have been as mentally traumatic as this one. From the beginning, I have felt there is something significant to learn from this experience.

 

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I find that life often throws messages at me from all angles, bombarding me when there’s something I need to work on. Last week, it was the idea that I do A LOT of negative self-talk. I do it without realizing. I yell fairly violent words at myself for being clumsy, for forgetting, for being less-than-my-best. I bottle up and resent parts of me, I throw angry thoughts at my feet, and then push them as far as I know they can go in running. I will them to feel better, all the while silently berating them for being so broken. It was suggested that I recognize when I’m being negative and simply work on stopping those thoughts at their very beginning, with the idea that illness begins in the mind and can subsequently influence bodily illness. After having multiple professionals look at the physical reasons/weaknesses that might be causing and perpetuating the injury to no avail, I feel even more resolute in this.

 

My New Year’s Resolution was Thankfulness brings Increase, the idea of taking what God has given, no matter the joy or suffering, give thanks for it, and use it for His good. This practice has helped me to feel unbelievably blessed in much of my life, and I’ve been able to recognize there are far more important things than me, my problems, and what I want to do. In the past week too, since the beginning of simply recognizing my personal negativity, it has been curbed dramatically, likely in part because I don’t truly think so little of myself as all the negative thinking might imply.

But–I’m also a pusher. I want to see progress of the physical sort. What was a celebration last week, if not progressing, feels like stagnancy and/or going backwards this week, and on and on. It is character training to not always be moving forward, getting better. I had a thought when I was in the middle of the zero-miles months that this phase is true preparation for the goals that are still waiting for me. I am being prepared mentally in ways I never could have been without this phase, for the time when I’m ready to be tested again physically.

 

I cannot agree more with Ryan’s words. Character training is far harder than any workouts I do or have doneIt is far harder than any physical pain I have endured in this or previous injuries. And for that, today, I am especially thankful, for I see very real progress in character training. :)

 

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Good-Energy Maca “Latte”, makes 1 steamy cuppa

Adapted from Laura, this is my good-energy drink of choice lately. There’s a lot of talk that maca, a root vegetable from the Andes, is an adaptogen, and helps the mind and body positively respond to stress. I’m not really interested in the exact science of it because I feel a genuine lift every time I sip it. The taste of maca reminds me mildly of butterscotch which pairs nicely with the flavors of ginger and turmeric, and the color, too, is cheerful, so there we have it. The pinch of black pepper isn’t necessarily noticeable in taste, but helps the turmeric be more bio-available. Add it if you like.

12 oz. unsweetened almond milk

2 tsp. maca

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground turmeric

a pinch of black pepper

sweetener of choice

In a small saucepan, whisk the maca and spices into the milk over medium heat. Once the mixture nearly begins to simmer, remove from heat, pour into a mug, and add sweetener to taste.

 


Tart Cherry + Fig Granola

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A few weeks ago, I volunteered at a fun run organized by a student association on campus. It was the lowest-key race I’ve helped or taken part in and there were only a handful of runners participating. On the course, I stood amidst a bunch of trees in the park, pointing the way for runners and offering my cheers.

 

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I am the lamest of cheerleaders. I feel inadequate at motivating and lifting up. The words that come easily in print are the hardest to voice.

 

The course was three laps so I watched the runners progress through each mile. Because there were so few participants I got to know each of their fun-running styles, and consequently felt the need to up my cheering game each time they came around, from the first confident runner to the last couple walk/jogging together.

 

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At the end of the evening, one of the runners thanked me for being encouraging. You were really helpful; you motivated me to keep going, she said.

I swiveled around dramatically, making sure there was no one else she could be talking to before answering, Really!?!?

I was astonished.

 

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I spent the better part of winter reading Matthew Kelly’s book. In it he shares about figuring out how best to reach people. At the end of the day, it really is quite simple:  People need to be encouraged, he says.

I had underlined, ear-marked, and post-it noted that section, thinking how I wanted to practice encouragement in the ensuing months.

 

The funny thing about that runner thanking me for my invisible pompoms is that her words were equally encouraging.

Lifting each other up is a little gift that simply keeps on giving.

 

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Tart Cherry + Fig Granola

This granola is a little gift too. I don’t make granola often because I find the sweet flavors and crunchy textures mildly addicting and if I don’t practice some restraint, the whole batch will be eaten in one go. Numerous studies have shown that tart cherries are good for runners because they aid in reducing inflammation and increasing muscle recovery. While the amount of tart cherries in this granola are no where near the amount necessary to show real results, I am firm believer in the “every bit helps” philosophy, plus they taste good. We have a local business just up the road, Oregon Cherry Country, that grows and processes their own cherries and I usually purchase from them. Realistically, all the nuts, seeds, fruit, and even spices can be interchanged here. I really like the balance of the puffed cereal (like arrowhead mills or nature’s path brands, not rice krispies) with the oats, and the seeds, nuts, and fruits showcased here are among my favorites–change them up based on what you like or have! 

2 cups thick-rolled oats, gluten-free if necessary

2 cups puffed rice cereal

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/16 tsp. (a large pinch) cardamom

1/16 tsp. (a large pinch) cloves

1/16 tsp. (a large pinch) nutmeg

1/3 cup dried tart cherries

1/3 cup dried figs, chopped

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup maple syrup

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine the dry ingredients, save the fruit, in a large bowl. Pour the liquids over the dry and use your hands to coat them all evenly. Spread the granola mixture on the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon a couple times throughout to prevent the mixture from toasting up too much.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool before adding the dried fruit.

Time, Presence, Onwards, Cake

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I sat at a stop light the other day and observed the car in front of me:  Class of 2014  and the OSU beaver bumper stickers plastered amidst a bunch of others, graduation tassel hanging from the rearview mirror, windows down, speakers bumped up, the car lowered. The contrast between the person sitting in that car ahead and the one in mine made me realize the miles between freshman year in college and where I am now, of how life simply rolls on.

 

I was reminded of the relationships grown and discarded, graduations, funerals, weddings, the first-child pet dogs, cats, trees, and eventually babies that accumulate in my facebook feed and in friend’s lives, the late night “discussions,” the daily-fixings of self and relationship mess-ups, and how through it all we transition through the phases hardly noticing the passing until we stand from a distance years later, astonishing at the change.

 

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Time too is afraid of passing, is riddled with holes
through which time feels itself leaking.
Time sweats in the middle of the night
when all the other dimensions are sleeping.
Time has lost every picture of itself as a child.
Now time is old, leathery and slow.
Can’t sneak up on anyone anymore,
Can’t hide in the grass, can’t run, can’t catch.
Can’t figure out how not to trample
what it means to bless.

-Joy Ladin, Time Passes

 

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I walked down the aisle of St. Patrick Church three years ago today. I clasped hands with the love of my life and said, I do. I said yes to the hurdles, the craters, the euphoric peaks, and all the everyday in-betweens. I didn’t know how demanding it would be. I didn’t know how badly I’d fail. Daily.

 

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I didn’t realize the three years since that church-day, or the nine years separating myself and the college freshman in the car ahead would age me so. I didn’t know that I’d accumulate so much “experience,” that life would knock me down again and again, teaching me to raise my fists faster on each rebound. I didn’t realize how insular I was then and how passing time meant learning to grow vulnerable, inviting in both the challenging times and the victorious moments with the same big wide, open arms.

 

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I didn’t realize that wisdom and scar tissue work hand-in-hand, and if we’re lucky, time gives us the grace to be broken apart and put back together again. Most of all, I didn’t realize how I would battle with time constantly, with soaking up the moment I’m in and being there, all there, with this person that knows and loves me best, with myself, with the lives my life touches, with the becoming of who I will be in the future.

 

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I asked William a few weeks ago if he thought I was the same person he met all those years ago, the happy girl that stopped to breathe in the experiences. I asked the question in desperation, wanting so much to undo the years inbetween and relive them again more fully.

 

I realize now I don’t want to go back. The memories of us then are snapshots that I’ll carry forward, reminding me that I can work on future goals and keep both eyes and feet in the present.

 

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I have much to learn. I want so much to be my best version for this person that loves me even when I am not. I’m infinitely different and wiser than I was nine years ago at the end of freshman year. I have gained much richness in these first three years of married life.

 

I cannot wait to learn more. I will learn more in time and am trying to savor each step of the way daily. Perhaps the learning and applying of this comes only from time’s unstoppable moving onwards.  

 

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One of my most loved memories of our wedding were the cake(s). I’m a bit fanatic about cake, so made sure there were lots of layers and interesting flavor combinations to suit every mood. We had vanilla chiffon with blackberry filling, chocolate blueberry, cardamom carrot with orange cream cheese frosting, orange chiffon with strawberry rhubarb filling, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and {gluten-free and vegan} black and white with fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache and cream cheese frosting. Unfortanately, I had learned of my major allergy restrictions by the wedding day, and so did not try any of the main cake but am still hearing raves about it from those who did. 

I don’t take sayings like “it’s good for gluten-free”, etc. to pass as “good enough” when it comes to baked goods. I have high standards especially when it comes to cake, and gluten-free baked goods, if done right, are often better than their gluten-filled counterparts. I like to really challenge my baking skills so this cake is gluten, dairy, egg, and refined-sugar free, practically 100% whole grain, and can even be vegan if you find a suitable substitute for honey. As for me, I’m keeping in the honey because I used really lovely honey gifted from folks at home and its flavor shines through at the end of each bite, marrying well with the delicate taste of the rose water and rhubarb. There were many variations of this that came from our oven before I got the flavors and textures right. Each one was tested by William, who is just as discerning about cake as me, but in a completely opposite way. He prefers light and fluffy “simple” flavors without much fuss. This gained approval by the both of us and for that reason alone, it’s worthy of an anniversary celebration. 

 

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Rhubarb & Rose Cake, makes one 8-inch or two 6-inch layers

2 Tbs. ground flax seed

6 Tbs. warm water

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/3 cup millet flour

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil (soft, not melted)

2 teaspoons rose water

1/2 cup unsweetened nut milk

2 cups diced rhubarb

1 Tbs. dried rose petals

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of the cake pan(s) with parchment paper and then rub a dab of coconut oil up the sides.
  • In a small dish, whisk together the ground flax and the warm water. Set aside to form a thick slurry.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder and set aside.  In another large bowl, combine the honey and coconut oil with a whisk until it’s light and fluffy.  Add the flax slurry, rose water and milk; mix again until it is combined.  Next, a bit at a time, stir in the dry ingredients. Spoon in about half of the rhubarb and stir evenly throughout.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, if using two, and then top with the remaining rhubarb. Sprinkle the dried rose petals evenly over the rhubarb. Bake for 45-50 minutes for a single 8-inch pan or 25-30 minutes for two 6-inch pans.
  • Transfer baked cake to a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes; then remove from the pan(s) and rest until completely cool.

 

Wedding photos were taken by my dear friend Shannon of FotoNovella.


May Notes

A short collection of bits and bobs from the past month.

 

Eating:

Mexican Breakfast Salad (but not necessarily for breakfast)

Dried Plum + Millet Tabbouleh

Marrakesh Salad

Rainbow Salad

Laura’s Falafel (the best falafel!)

Beets, Tahini, Flatbread + Lentils

Rhubarb & Rose Cake (coming soon!)

 

Short Reads:

How to Be a Poet (or just good life advice) by Wendell Barry

Healing and the Practice of Non-Harming

The Long Row (sometimes you have to look at how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go)

5k vs. The Marathon – One of these days I know I’m going to be injury-free long enough to run a marathon. In the meantime, I have a special place in my heart for the 5k, mostly because there’s something absolutely cleansing about pushing to the point of the pain that sears your insides.

& Rebekakah – I have the bestest best friend. I don’t tell her enough how much I appreciate her friendship all these years (20+ but we’re not sure). She shared a little about our friendship on her blog.

Thankfulness Brings Increase – This was my New Year’s Resolution, and oddly enough it was just the resolution I needed this year.

 

Longer Reads:

Lentil Underground by Liz Carlisle: I had the opportunity to listen to Liz and farmer Dave speak to a group of crops and horticulture students, faculty, and community members at OSU a couple months ago. Their talk was on the nitty gritty production-side details of growing lentils and farming sustainably in a wheat-dominant region. The book is far less technical and intended for a more generalist audience. It’s a great read, especially for those who are interested in food systems and production.

 

Listening To:

Pure Green Podcast with Tara O’Brady – Tara has a lot to say about good cooking, making eating well an extension of what you’re already doing, using sensory cues, becoming a cook vs. learning to cook, finding your flavors rather than following trends, and ultimately, “no one is born a great cook. you may have good instincts but it takes time”.

The Ruminant Podcast with Steve Solomon on soil nutrients and intelligent gardening: Jordan is a small market farmer in British Columbia with an excellent farming podcast. In this episode, he had Steve Solomon, the founder of Territorial Seed Company and author to the many-editioned Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, on for a chat. Steve has so much knowledge of soil nutrient and microbe interactions after a lifetime of experimentation, and I always find myself wishing I could take his wisdom and dump it all into my brain.

This playlist, made up of mostly christian artists/songs is the one that I’ve had on repeat the last several months.


Sweet + Tangy Quick Pickled-Radishes

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Currently, I’m smack in the middle of a sweet and tangy quick-pickle phase and thin slices of vinegary vegetables have been going on everything. Seriously, everything. Falafel, rainbow salad, beet and lentil flatbreads, as a taco topping, in lieu of salad dressing, on quick grain and lentil leftover jumbles, and even at a super fancy restaurant meal last week for my birthday.

 

I began this phase by pickling a batch of onions but have had radishes in the vegetable bin non-stop since March. Radishes are one of the quickest, easiest, and earliest of spring vegetables to grow and their vibrant parade of reds, pinks, and neon purples have had me purchasing a bunch each week when waiting for my own to grow. I had been tossing them into just about everything and threw a few thin slices into the quick-pickle jar one day. If I ever had enough beets around for long enough, I’d quick-pickle them as well and am planning to hop on over to pickling creamy spring turnips next because all the spring root vegetables and a jar of slightly sweetly spiced vinegar is a quick and definite thing!

 

Have I convinced you yet?  If not, come on over and I’ll hand you a jar and fork and change your mind forever. But please, don’t even think about smelling my breath–It’s vinegary!

 

The Recipe Redux challenged us to a DIY recipe this month and I’m especilly excited about these quick-pickles because William has gotten on board and he is was not a pickled-anything fan. They are super easy to make and can liven up almost any sort of dish (I’m making fava burgers next–you better believe these are going all up on them!) If you’ve got a few minutes, some sort of vegetable (of the root variety preferred) and vinegar, you’ve got yourself quick-pickles.

 

Okay, I’ll stop chattering now. But only because I’ve got another batch of these to make.

 

For a whole host of other DIY recipes like pizza/pasta sauce version I or version II, an assortment of flavorful dressings, infused oil, vinegar (!), and a must-try pot of creamy black beans, etc., check out the recipe page–I’ve updated it.

 

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Quick-Pickled Radishes

1 1/2 cups apple cider or rice vinegar

3 Tbs. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1-2 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

4 black peppercorns

1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

  • Pour  all the ingredients save the radishes into a medium-size pot and stir to dissolve salt and sugar while bringing to a boil.
  • Once the liquid boils, remove from heat and toss in the radish slices.
  • Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a jar and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you are ready to eat. They should last for up to a week, if not used right away.

 


Dried Plum + Millet Tabbouleh

 

 

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Disclosure:  I received free samples of California Dried Plums mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time. 

 

For me, the spring season means a whole host of grain salads. I tend to eat gluten-free whole grains like millet, brown or black rice, quinoa and buckwheat as the center of many meals year-round, but in the spring, fresh, raw greens and herbs start to take more of the center stage. Inevitably, I end up adding sweet things into these meals, often in the way of fresh or dried fruits.

 

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May happens to be National Osteoporosis Month, and the California Dried Plum Board is hosting a No Bones About It Recipe Redux challenge. As a child with first a dairy allergy and then an extreme dislike for the taste of milk, I was often prompted to drink milk to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Interestingly, it wasn’t until last year that I learned about the many other vitamins and minerals that are also important to bone health like phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins K and D.

 

Dried plums are one of the foods that can help support healthy bones. Emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 8- 10 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. At Experimental Biology, March 28- April 1, 2015, a current study presented as a poster, examined whether 50 grams (one serving; about 4-5 dried plums) would be as effective as the larger dose. The results indicated that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. There are also natural elements in dried plums which help heighten the flavors of other ingredients in a recipe. They can be used as a flavor enhancer, both in savory and sweet dishes.

 

My grandparents must have had a plum tree because for years, every time they visited, they brought us bags of dried plums. My parents still have a ton of dried plums in their freezer and whenever I visit, I take a package or two, as I love experimenting with less-used ingredients and flavors.

 

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This salad hosts both dried plums and a whole bevy of nutrients essential to bone health. More importantly, with flavors inspired by middle eastern cuisine, it tastes delicious.

 

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It’s definitely making its way to the top of my favorite spring grain salads.

 

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Dried Plum + Millet Tabbouleh, serves 4-6

3/4 cup dry millet

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup dried plums, diced

2 large bunches parsley, finely diced

1/2 large bunch mint, finely diced

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

black pepper to taste

1 orange, finely diced (optional, but not at all necessary)

  • In a medium saucepan, add dry millet, water, diced dried plums, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low heat, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, and then remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, dice the herbs and onion and add them to a large serving bowl.
  • Toss the millet and plum mixture with the vegetables and stir in the spices and vinegar. Adjust the seasonings to taste and then serve at room temperature.


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