Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Sprouted-Lentil Dahl

Lately, I have really gotten into sprouting. Not just making salad sprouts from seeds like alfalfa, sunflower, and the like. But sprouting as many grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds as possible. Sprouting creates an amazingly beneficial transformation in the foods that we eat. It greatly increases the nutritional yield and accessibility found in foods, enables built-in enzymes to aid in digestion, and magically transforms these foods into vegetables. It is a win-win and well worth the effort.

Sprouting is easy, though takes a little forethought. For more information about how to sprout, click HERE, HERE, or HERE. In the least, soaking grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds before eating raw, cooking, or dehydrating is also super beneficial. I will describe my lentil sprouting process below in the recipe.

This recipe is intended to be made with sprouted lentils, but can also be made with non-sprouted lentils. Either way, this recipe is jam-packed with great tastes and nutritional power. Enjoy!

2 cups dry green lentils
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
1 stick burdock root, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/2 inch piece of fresh tumeric, peeled and finely grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbls oil
1 Tbls cumin seeds
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 Tbls coriander seeds, crushed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 heaping Tbls tamarind paste
1 Tbls honey
1 cup basmati rice, soaked for several hours, rinsed, and then cooked as normal

* 3 days or so before preparing this dish, soak the lentils in a bowl with water. Make sure there is a few inches of water above the lentils, as they will absorb a lot of it. Soak for 12 hours+. Drain lentils, rinse, and drain again. Let stand in bowl, non-refrigerated. Rinse the lentils 2-3 times a day, or whenever they appear to be dry, draining well each time. Do not refrigerate. They will start to sprout within a day or so, depending on the weather. Allow the white sprout to grow to about 1/8-1/4 inch in length. At this point, you can eat the lentils raw, (they are tasty on salads or as they are!) or refrigerate until you are ready to cook the dahl.

* Place the sprouted lentils in a soup-pot. Add 2 cups of water, vegetables, garlic, tumeric, ginger, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

* Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet. Add cumin seeds and red chili flakes. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Be advised, air ventilation is highly recommended during this phase! The frying chili flakes can lead to some coughing fits if there isn't good ventilation! Add to lentils, along with other spices, tamarind, and honey. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

* Remove from heat. Blend half of the lentils in blender and return to unblended lentils in pot. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to partially blend all of the lentils. Add water to reach desired consistency. Add more salt if neccessary.

* Serve over rice and enjoy! Serves approximately 4.

The Silver-Woven Lining

For today's update, lets start with my Bottom 5 and Top 5 events of the past week:

1. The car decided to stop starting regularly. Long story short, it has been in the shop for 3 days to get the starter replaced, and we have been stuck in Dunsmuir without a car and without weekend bus service. The up-side of this? We have learned to do without AND we get the car back tomorrow!

2. Everything seems to be taking so long to manifest here. Job opportunities are scarce, if not non-existent. Our work on the house is slow even though we work throughout the day, all day. Unpacking is still incomplete because we lack shelving and finished rooms. The up-side of this? I am learning a new level of patience AND trust that things will fall into place in our lives here.

3. I am seriously missing regular social interaction! I have yet to tap into the community here and build new bridges. The up-side of this? I am spending lots of quality time with my betrothed AND making more of a daily effort to stay in touch with friends and family afar.

4. Psoriasis is popping up in various spots of my body. It is chilly here still, though mostly sunny, so I am not getting the direct sun to skin contact I need to keep these spots away. I have one spot right in the middle of my forehead! The up-side of this? is a reminder that the quality of my life AND the character of my being do not have to do with what my skin looks like.

5. We are still finding signs of black mold lingering in the house. The up-side of this? The persistence required to obliterate the mold from the house is helping us to create a healthy AND safe home environment!

Now that we got that out of the way....

TOP 5:
1. Lucas and I went snowshoeing on Mt. Shasta, before our car officially needed help. It was soooo beautiful and magical to snowshoe among the tall evergreens clumped with snow. The best part about this? We had a good workout AND felt so happy to call this area our home.

2. While snowshoeing on Mt. Shasta, I met THE local midwife. We talked for a few minutes of our shared passion for birth and babies. Tomorrow we are going to meet for tea because she is excited to help me develop my niche of teaching infant massage classes in the area and doing post-partum doula work. The best part about this? I AM developing a social network AND moving forward with finding an income.

3. Even though our car breaking down caused me to cancel a meeting with the members of a collective art studio (who are in search of a ceramic artist to join their crew), they were happy to reschedule. This Wednesday I will be meeting with them, to make sure that I am the right fit for their collective. If all goes well, I will be getting my hands dirty again soon! The best part about this? I AM developing my social network AND moving forward in finding both another source of income AND a much needed creative outlet.

4. The painting job in our bedroom should be done in the next few days. Also, Lucas and I have made major, though slow, headway in the bathroom. The walls are almost ready to be primed, then painted. And the floor is almost done being re-tiled. Lucas has been working hard! The best part about this? We will be able to sleep in a bedroom on my bed once again, AND leave the living room for sitting and reading, AND the bathroom is well on it's way to being finished.

5. And last but not least, I am feeling so blessed and lucky. Even though we haven't been letting ourselves spend money on eating out until we get jobs (we haven't eaten out at all since being here, now 4 weeks in!), we have been eating many awesome home-cooked meals. Healthy, diverse, and delicious. More recipes from my kitchen to follow soon! Also, we really do have a nice strenuous hike right in our backyard. Today, we hiked a little bit further than before and found a view of Mt. Shasta looming as sacred guardian over the area. It was awesome. The best part about this? I am getting healthier and stonger by eating so well AND by getting back in shape!

Give thanks for all the goodness we are blessed with in our lives, AND for the things that seem hard. Don't they usually have a silver-woven lining too?

What are you thankful for?

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Spiced Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Since so much of my time lately has been spent in the kitchen, I have decided to start to post some of my successful recipes! I hope you will enjoy trying some of these out as I post them.

It has been truly wonderful to once again have a kitchen that is my own to organize, maintain, and cook in. This has brought about a fresh inspiration regarding cooking for me. I have always loved to cook, with experimentation and improvisation. Soups are my favorite thing to cook, and my most successful. Lucas agrees.

The following soup recipe is my latest, a personal rendition of several that I found on the web, combined and altered due to my own personal taste and what I happened to have on hand at the moment. It is relatively fast and easy to make, and results in a rich, warming soup.

Spiced Cauliflower Cheese Soup:
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 1/2 cups chopped potatoes
2 garlic cloves chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. dill
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
4 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese

- In medium-sized soup pot, boil the cauliflower, potatoes, and garlic in water till soft, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.

- To make rue, melt butter in medium-sized saucepan. Add flour and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk to flour mixture while stirring. Return to heat. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. You may need to increase temperature till it starts to boil for it to thicken.

- Add rue to veggies. Add salt, pepper and other spices. Stir well. Return soup pot to heat.

- Add shredded cheese, stirring well till melted.

- Serve with bread.

- Serves 4.

ENJOY! And please leave comments if you have suggestions or other ideas!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Living Room Suite

I have become content living primarily in our new living room and kitchen, not by choice, but by necessity. This house has turned into more of a project than we were anticipating. Yet, it is still feeling more and more like a home every day.

Last week, while Lucas was prepping the walls of our bedroom for me to paint, his hand literally went through the base of the wall. We put two and two together and realized that the shower and toilet on the other side of the wall, both inadequately sealed and leaking, were the cause of water damage to the surrounding walls. Water damage is an understatement - extensive black mold is more accurate. Luckily Lucas is experienced with remodeling. And so it was in his hands to cut out all sections of the walls in the bedroom and bathroom that were moldy and rotting, replace the leaky toilet, reseal the shower, and tear out the linoleum and molding. With new sheet-rock and joint compound now in place, it is almost time for me to start painting the bedroom.

While Lucas has been busy with this hard and unpleasant work, you might wonder what I have been doing. Notice the new color in the living room:

After finishing the paint job in the living room, I did a deeper clean in the kitchen. The stove-top and two ovens were in horrible shape. The first thing I did once they were clean was to bake some bread! The smell of bread baking is enough to make any space feel like home. And feeling like I have the kitchen, where I spend a large amount of my time, finally in a clean and fully functioning state helps me feel even further at home.

It is amazing how easy and natural it is for us to fall into the stereotypical gender roles in the home. I have been filling the domestic role of cleaning, unpacking, decorating, and cooking while Lucas has been focusing on the electric, plumbing, and structural work, not because we feel we "should" have these roles, but because this is where we are comfortable and happy contributing.

But, I admit, I skipped town for 4 days while Lucas was working hard. I honestly had reached my tipping point from living in an unsettled home, using a bucket as my toilet, and feeling like life had put yet another delay in my ability to do what I came here to do. And so, I went to Portland for a visit with dear friends there and to get more of my belongings from storage.

It was an awesome visit. I remember when I was moving from Portland a year ago, several people told me that every time I would come back to visit it would feel as if so much was changing in my own life, but not in anyone else's. But, on this trip, I happily discovered that this is soooo not true! There are so many amazing and new things happening with all of my friends. They are all taking steps to realize their dreams, improve the quality of their lives, learn, grow, and experience the fullness of being human. It is lovely and inspiring to see this movement forward, forward even despite the pain and fear that sometimes needs to be moved through in order to create positive change.

Yet again, my pictures of this journey are few. But the weekend's highlights include: dinner with Christine in her new home, being a guest at Megan and Todd's house and having special QT with them, being the surprise guest at Lily's She-Ra themed birthday party and seeing Willa and Esti there too, a super fun dance party where I reunited with many good friends, discovering a fabulous new coffeeshop: Barista, Sunday morning breakfast out (a Portland tradition) at Helser's, tea with Sarah and her new kitten, an afternoon playdate with amazing Charlotte, a special dinner with Ursala, a visit with my wedding dress maker Lindsay, and a reunion with more of my stuff!

I returned to Dunsmuir revitalized and content living in an unfinished house, and found a functioning toilet, and a hard-working man who I am lucky to have as my valentine. And I have done what I can in the current situation to feel more settled - the unpacked boxes are organized, the laundry is being done, and my clothes now hang in the closet for the first time in a year rather than stacked in suitcases. My resume is updated and ready to be delivered. We have found a kitty we are hoping to adopt, a collective art studio in need of a ceramicist, and a potential worktrade job at a yoga studio. It feels as though things are just about to start falling into place. Meanwhile, all day snow has been falling all around us, constantly and wonderfully transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland.

We are warm and happy in our living room suite, soon to be expanding. And I have to say that, my goodness, I feel SO lucky! My family and friends are amazing people. I have a warm home in a beautiful location. I am eating delicious healthy home-cooked meals. I am going to marry the man I love. I may not have a lot of money in the bank. But I have the elements of life that are worth more than any amount of gold.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On the New Frontier

A week and a half ago, the journey to a new home in the Northwest began. With our car filled to the gills and beyond, Lucas and I left behind the amazing Mexican food, the rivers, the good peeps, and the enticing wildlife of Texas.

Our trip took us through some 2000 plus miles in 5 days. We stayed our first night on the road in Deming, New Mexico with my Uncle Gerry and Aunt Norma. It was lovely to spend time with both of them after so many years, and to have a warm and cozy place to stay in an otherwise barren desert landscape. The next day took us through Tucson - where Lucas stopped on the highway to cut down several stalks of agave to send to our new home for future didj making - on the way to Solana Beach in SoCa. Here we stayed with Lucas' brother and sister-in-law, Neil and Jamie, at their landlords lovely house while their's was being worked on. The vibrant flora colors of the coast was such a delight to see after the endless deserts of the days before. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast with the siblings at Naked Cafe in the sunny warm morning before we headed further up the coast.

We next stayed for 2 nights with Lucas' Uncle Joe and his lady Sabina in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara. This is an incredibly beautiful area! If it wasn't for the high cost of living, I would have decided to change all plans and move here instead of the mountains north! The weather was beautiful, the ocean inviting, the homemade meals delicious, and the long bike ride fulfilling. We spent one afteroon biking to and along the beach to an overwintering site of the migrating monarchs. It was an amazing site to see....large clumps of hundreds of butterflys hanging from the branches of eucalyptus trees. Sadly, I realized at this point in the journey that my camera battery wasn't charged and I had no pictures of our trip. Also, it was disappointing to learn that the monarch population at this site has gone from 270,000 to 6,000 in the past 30 years!

And then, the last day of our journey took us to our new home in Dunsmuir, Cali, just south of Mt. Shasta.

Here have bought a very interesting mobile home in this town that claims to have the best water in the world. But, that is just icing on the cake in a town surrounded by endless beauty. Mt. Shasta is pictured here on the left with Black Butte on the right:

And it gets better: Literally 5 feet behind our house is a forested mountain. A hike partway up gives us this wonderful view of The Crags, which are also visible through the trees from our kitchen table:

We were able to buy this home at a really really good rate...buying it outright is costing us less than it would to have rented a house for a year! It is basically in good condition for it's age, but definitly has some work that needs to be done on it. We like it enough to want to be here while we look for the space to build our dream green home. As you can see, the paint choices of the previous owner of this mobile were a little odd:

We have now been here for a solid week - ok, minus the swift 2 days we spent going to Portland and back to retrieve some of my belongings in storage there, not nearly enough time to visit with many people. On the homefront we have have been very productive....winterizing the windows and doors, washing the carpets, priming the walls, cleaning cleaning cleaning, dealing with the kerosene heater that was spewing exhaust into the house and the fan that fell out of the ceiling as Lucas was cleaning it, finding good deals at garage sales on much needed furniture, drinking the water straight from the headwaters of the Sacramento River, and enjoying little jaunts into the surrounding areas. It is still quite chaotic in the house. Our things are not organized as we shuffle them to clean and paint.

It has been a year now since I left my home in the northwest, only to have returned to create a new home with the one I originally left to be with. And yes, we are starting to feel at home. I am personally overjoyed to be reunited with so many of my things that have been in storage all year. It feels so good to once again be surrounded by me-ness, AND to feel the unity created by mingling my things with Lucas' things. This is OUR house, we are creating a life together, and wonderfully working as a team to do what needs to be done. This house is being built on support, love, and endless potential. And it is gratefully surrounded by so many other reasons to enjoy a rich and meaningful life!