Toss Beans Into That Salad!

I’m a podcast addict. They amuse, educate and inspire. Ear buds and cord tethered into my IPhone, my favorite shows get me through housework drudgery, grocery shopping and workout routines.

Last week, NPR’s TED RADIO HOUR “Fountain of Youth” podcast concerned ways in which one could bring their aging process to a grinding halt, or at least slow it down. You know the drill: regular exercise, a plant-based diet, strong social networks, a mellow outlook on life. The formula, thankfully, includes a daily glass of red wine. Fortunate for me that I can  bathe in the size of my wine glasses.

Chickpea and Cabbage Salad

Chickpea and Cabbage Salad

I digress. Back to the podcast, which reminded me to eat more beans.

Beans set up flora so that healthy gut flora can survive. Areas where life expectancy is an extra dozen years compared to others–the highlands of Sardinia, the islands of Okinawa, Japan, the 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California–have a commonality of beans (amongst other things) as being a cornerstone of their diets.

Beans–fresh, canned or dried. It’s easy to insert beans into your diet with summer salads. Here are a few salads integrating beans that  I’ve made over the years:

Quinoa with Corn, Avocado & Black Beans

Quinoa with Corn, Avocado & Black Beans

Quinoa with Black Beans, Avocado and Corn (pictured left),  Black Bean and Mango SaladChicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Lime Dressing, Lemony Quinoa and Chick Pea Salad, Chickpeas with Cabbage

I’ve also begun tossing them into recipes that don’t call for beans, and they’re a great addition: Tomato-Bulgur Salad, Quinoa Tabouli, Roasted Corn and Barley Salad, Jerusalem Tomato-Pita Salad.

Putting Up Tomatoes: The Easy Way

August Tomatoes! Such a treat!

Certainly you don’t need a recipe. Toss a healthy grain–such as cooked bulger, quinoa, barley or farro– into a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

Stir in  your favorite beans, and some of the beautiful summer tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, corn and herbs we’re seeing at the Farmers Market and in neighborhood gardens. Crumbled feta’s always a good addition. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Done.

The Promise Kitchen

  ♥♥♥♥♥

Aside–Three days left to enter the 100-Kindle book giveaway:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30978448-the-promise-kitchen

The Promise Kitchen, in digital, physical & audio formats, will available September 28th; the digital version August, 16.

♥♥♥♥♥

separator image

Lavender Wreath Making Workshop+100 Kindle Books to Giveaway

WEB-Details-MaryTom-34The language of lavender denotes calmness and tranquility. Making wreaths on a lavender farm on the Old Mission Peninsula (Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm) was, therefore, the ideal antidote for combatting pre-wedding stress disorder.

In Northern Michigan, fresh lavender is in season and a couple of days prior to daughter Greta’s marriage to Tom,  I spent the morning with family members making lavender wreaths.

IMG_4426It took five neophyte wreath makers 2 1/2 hours to make 24, 16-inch wreaths. Lavender is most assuredly nature’s version of Prozac. Suffused with this intoxicating bomb of aromatherapy, we were giddy yet mellow after our task was complete. No better way of bonding with my new son-in-law’s mother, Barb, and her sister Mary.

The wreaths were used as centerpieces on the dinner tables (pictured below). A thirty-two inch wreath was hung in the ceremonial alcove (pictured above), and fresh lavender was arranged with other locally grown flowers and herbs into bouquets, flower crowns and flower arrangements.

WEB-Details-MaryTom-28One of the owners of the farm, Sonja, supplied all of the materials we needed to make the wreaths and instructed us on the process. If a wreath-making workshop is something that interests you, shoot her an e-mail, which is listed on her site.

 ♥♥♥

Before I get to the drill, Lake Union Publishing is conducting a Goodreads Giveaway. They’re giving away 100 Kindle versions of “The Promise Kitchen” (to be published August 16). That’s a heck of a lot of e-books to be giving away. Super simple to enter.

Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/195200-simmer-and-smoke-a-southern-tale-of-grit-and-spice

If you’re not familiar with Goodread’s Giveaways, they are, in essence, within your chosen genre, free lotteries that you can enter to win books.

 ♥♥♥

The Drill:

  1. IMG_4442Organize your supplies. Sonja provided us with 12-inch metal wreath bases, floral wire and wire cutters (available at craft stores such as Michael’s or JoAnne Fabrics.)
  2. Gather your desired amount of  fresh or dried lavender stems into bundles. It’s attractive to vary the lavender colors. We pair pale purple bunches with deep purple bunches.The more stems you use per bundle, the thicker your wreath will be. Secure the bundles together with wire at the stem.
  3. IMG_4440With sharp scissors, trim the stems so that the bundles are about 8-10 inches in length. You will need about 7-8 bundles per wreath.
  4. Wrap the wire around the wreath base several times to secure. (Note that you don’t cut the wire, you keep roping it around the lavender stems of the circumference of the wreath.)
  5. Lay one of the lavender bundles onto the wreath frame so that the blossoms extend slightly past the edge of the frame at your preferred angle. Secure the herbs into the frame  by wrapping the wire two or three times around the stem ends of the lavender.
  6. Layer the next lavender bundle so that the flowers completely cover the stems from the first bundle. Again, secure the bundle into place with wire. Continue in this method until your wreath is almost complete. With the last bundle, lift the blossoms from the first bundle up to place the stems of the last bundle underneath. Secure with the wire and then with wire cutters, snip it, tucking the sharp edge back into the wreath.
Tagged: ,
separator image

It’s Raining Cherries! (and Weddings)

Save The Date

Save The Date

I’m one taco short a combination platter. A burnt batch of chicken. Where’s the Betty Ford when I need it?

Last weekend my daughter, Greta, married Tom in Charlevoix, Michigan. I threw two parties: a pig roast on Friday for 75 people, and their wedding, for 200, on Saturday.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than cooking for family and friends, but for these occasions I said “uncle”. All events–soup to nuts– were catered. Last summer we spent many hours sampling the wares of catering venues in our area and chose Pigs Eatin Ribs out of Charlevoix to cater the pig roast, and Catering by Kelly’s (out of Traverse City) to cater the wedding. They lived up to their very fine reputations.

The Flower Girls

The Flower Girls

The only thing this control freak couldn’t control was the weather. The skies were blue yet it rained cherries throughout. We’re in the height of cherry season in Northern, Michigan so much of the party food revolved around cherries. In fact, instead of a traditional wedding cake, cherry pie was served, compliments of Mrs. White.

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries

For the Bridesmaids Luncheon, a Quinoa-Cherry Salad was served with Cherry Chicken Salad. It reminded me of a Cherry Couscous Salad I’ve always enjoyed making when cherries reign supreme.

Here are links to other cherry recipes I’ve penned in the past that you might enjoy at this time of the year:

Fresh Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini  ♥ Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce  ♥ Grilled Duck Breasts with Cherry Sauce ♥ Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit and Cherries

All of the noise deafened the characters I’m writing in “The Welcome Home Diner”, and now the ladies are screaming for attention. I’d best be getting back to work.

IMG_4504

separator image