It's Good for You!

When I was a child we had either wheat porridge or oatmeal porridge for breakfast most mornings. My parents tried hard to sell us the idea that it was good but although I ate it I never bought the idea that it was good. In fact, in my opinion it was barely 'swallow-able'. I distinctly remember one rebellious morning, sitting at the table for what seemed like hours, hoping that my mother would relent and let me not eat the nasty, gray, cold, congealed lump in my bowl. She didn't and I did eat it. I never learned to like it. Now older, wiser, and grayer myself, I have found a way to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal porridge. No longer do I have a little oatmeal with my brown sugar ... so it is actually good for me. This is the way I make my morning bowlful. Not only is it 'good for you' but in my opinion, it's just plain good!

Oatmeal a la Cher

1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup old fashioned (large flake) rolled oats
pinch of salt (sea salt is best for you)
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp craisins
1/2 Granny Smith apple, chopped

Bring to a slow boil and cook for about 4 minutes. Then turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner. Go read the paper or have a shower or something for about 20 minutes. When you come back add:
1 heaping tbsp milled flaxseed
1 heaping tbsp shelled hemp seed (or hemp hearts)
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey - or to taste

Stir it all together and enjoy. I make this much for 1 person (me!) and feel a little sad when I scrape my bowl - but you gotta know this makes a big bowlful. Keeps me full all morning though! And it is VERY good for you.

I like it anyway. Let me know if you try it and like it too.

p.s. I have made a much larger quantity and saved it in the fridge. It reheats very well in the microwave.

update: I now use coconut milk instead of the plain yogurt. (January 2012)

And.... how does one really take a picture of a bowl of oatmeal?!



Short and sweet - this is the very best skin (lotion, moisturizer, conditioner) stuff ever! You have to try it. Seriously. I only use olive oil as a body lotion and it has made a huge difference to how healthy and comfortable my skin looks and feels. A couple of things to note: do use a light olive oil as the the extra virgin varieties tend to make one smell like .... olive oil! (huh?!) I love olive oil but don't necessarily want to smell like it. Also, the light varieties usually cost significantly less than the EVOO does and although I have been known to spend a bit for the care of my 'touchy' skin I don't think a 50.00 bottle of oil will be any more effective than the 10.00 (or less) bottle I have been using.

Olive oil is also pretty effective in soothing eczema. Works wonders on icky cradle cap. Heals cracked heels nicely. Wonder what else I could try it on? .... besides bread and all that.


Surfeit of Zucchini - a bit late!

Despite the news that this has been one of the hottest summers on record worldwide, here in balmy southern Alberta it has been an incredibly cold, wet summer. Some vegetation has loved it but for other growing things it has been challenging - zucchini for one! I love zucchini and look forward to zucchini on the grill, zucchini bread, zucchini cake, zucchini lasagna...and the list goes on. Most summers the bounty of zucchini growth allows all sorts of creative endeavors but this year I waited patiently (initially), and then sadly as I watched the zucchini plant struggle toward maturity and bearing. Most summers the zucchini plant rules the garden - boldly overtaking anything in its path and climbing over the fence - but this year, not so much. In fact it looked more like a sad tree than a vigorous vine. BUT in the end it did produce! All of a sudden and way too much and way too big. What to do with lots of zucchini and no time or inclination to do anything with it?!? but too stubborn (and excited to finally have zucchini) to throw it into the compost heap? Why make two of the yummiest and simple recipes ever!

Of course, I know that these recipes are in no way original. They have been around forever. Classics in fact. But I share them here precisely because sometimes these classic recipes are hard to find. And I know these two are sure winners.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup soured milk
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients. (And yes, this is exactly what I do - no fancy beating of this and then that and then adding whatever. Although I do mix the dry ingredients together first so there are no nasty surprises.) Mix for about 2 minutes in a stand mixer. Pour batter into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 F. for 45-60 minutes until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.

See? Simple right? And I never frost this cake. Doesn't need it!

Zucchini Bread
(the classic and the best!)

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Same M.O. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into two greased 9x5 loaf pans. Bake at 325 F. for one hour. Turn out of pans onto cooling rack after removing from oven.

If it happens that you, like me, forget to pick the zucchini soon enough and it grows to monster size, you can make both these recipes the same day, bake them together, have the cake for dessert and freeze the loaves (or give them away) for another day when zucchini bounty is a distant memory. And do it all within an hour and a half. Beauty!


Stormy Weather

How to write this....I don't know. My heart is both heavy and full. Heavy for the loss of our beautiful daughter Merin and her husband Mike and full because of the miracle of their tiny daughter Ysa's survival. Full also because of the tremendous (and wholly unanticipated) outpouring of love we have received not only from friends and family but from wonderful, warm-hearted people we have never met. The last two weeks have been .... I don't really know what.... challenging, difficult, painful, frightening, exhausting but also hopeful, supported, enlightening. I am beyond grateful for the love and tender care that has been extended to us. I have learned far more than I should have (why did I not know some of this?) about showing love and concern for others as we have been enveloped in the most generous way.

Somehow, although it has always been a theoretical possibility, it never seemed like a real threat that one of my precious children could be seriously harmed or killed. That a traffic fatality would claim sweet Merin still seems impossible and unreal. I am so glad that my last memory of her is so beautiful. She truly and absolutely glowed - she was so happy and so in love with her husband and baby. The late afternoon was soft and the atmosphere so warm and happy as we celebrated the marriage of her cousin. Family all around, love surrounding us and hope for future joy. It was...just wonderful. In my mind I see her picking her way down a flight of stairs and across the grass (in her pretty high heels) as she joined our family group after feeding little Ysa. She was so beautiful. Of course she was dressed and groomed with her own particular flair - so Merin - but more, there was a peace, a total happiness that radiated from her and was so appealing and beautiful. I am so glad that I have that memory and the recognition that she was blessed and felt blessed in her life.

I love each of my children - overwhelmingly. I am so grateful for the fullness of that mother's love. It brings me intense joy and comfort. In this case the pain of loss is just a hair below what I can bear. Would I change the pain I feel right now? Of course I would but if this is the price I must pay for the joy of being Merin's mother then I will gladly suffer now. I know it sounds perhaps dramatic but there is a huge hole and it really hurts. I am sad even while I recognize my many, many blessings.

I could write for hours about Merin - her life, her qualities, talents - all the things that I want to remember, and I probably will over the next months. Perhaps not here but I will.

As the cleaning lady at the hospital said daily when she came in to sweep Ysa'a room "God is great. God has a plan." I have faith that this is so. I am so grateful for the comfort of the Spirit and the blessings of the Atonement. Again as our faithful cleaning lady said, "Now it is time to praise God." He is indeed good and I am thankful for that.

He is good and I have been blessed with loving children. Their love for each other is another blessing. My husband's tender concern for me - even in his own grief - humbles me. Tiny Ysa's life and health, her new home and the unquestioning love of her new parents is another blessing too great to quantify. The faith and prayers of untold friends employed on our behalf - words fail. And the many, many acts of love and service that speak so sweetly to my heart...

Although this is indeed stormy weather I know that the sun shines. I can feel it and I know that it will shine more brightly as my heart heals and I learn more to trust in my Heavenly Father. I am so eternally grateful for Merin. She was ever a joy to me, my special friend and little helper, almost always with me. I will miss her but we will be together again. I know.