Beauty in a New England Heat Wave

Sphinx moth on our butterfly bushes at twilight
Sphinx moth on our butterfly bushes at twilight
the butterfly bushes were VERY popular this evening
the butterfly bushes were VERY popular this evening

IMG_1659

vegan stuffed pig ;)
vegan stuffed pig ;)
Best chicken run ever.
Best chicken run ever.
Gorgeous succulents. I love the one in the back with the pinks and sage green.
Gorgeous succulents. I love the one in the back with the pinks and sage green.
BIG mushroom in Shakepeare's Garden.
BIG mushroom in Shakepeare’s Garden.

 

Bird Nest Mushrooms, Before Opening -- so-called because inside they have tiny spores that look like eggs/
Bird Nest Mushrooms, Before Opening — so-called because inside they have tiny spores that look like eggs/
Starting to open...
Starting to open…
And there's more of them!
And there’s more of them!
Toddler Engineering, 101
Toddler Engineering, 101

Enchanted Realms

Wow, it’s been a busy winter! Just weeks after my last post, I decided to jump in with both feet and open up a new store. I opened the doors to Enchanted on November 17th, on RT 202 in New Milford, CT and have really been enjoying having a physical shop again. The store carries locally handmade soaps, candles and jewelry (including Foxraven, of course), New Age books and crystals, and fairy tale themed toys — think dragons, fairies, unicorns, tutus and swords. Come on by for a visit, check us out on facebook or visit us online at www.enchanterealmz.com.

You could live here

Love this guy’s basic idea — live in a large, simple greenhouse, with nice tent inside. Of course, being a girly artist, mine would be a bit more beautified on the inside. It’s an awesome idea — instructables link below!

 

http://www.instructables.com/id/Live-in-a-Greenhouse/

 

Juicefest

Summer has been a smorgasborg of garden bounty. I’ve also found a wonderful place to get quality, US-grown produce at good prices. In celebration, my juicer has left the cupboard and found a new home on the counter. I’m not crazy about any sort of extreme diet or cleansing, I’m juicing once or twice a day along with my regular whole grain, whole food meals. Once for breakfast, and sometimes again with lunch or at tea-time. I love juicing, it always feels (and TASTES!!) so great.

Some key things to remember:

Use quality produce with as few pesticides as possible.
Mix your veggies and fruits for a well-rounded juicing plan.
Drink water, too, throughout the day to help process all those yummy nutrients!

Juicing has a lot of benefits. It is reputed to lower calorie intake, help you eat less (if you need to), cleanse the colon, kidneys and liver, reduce stress, improve skin tone, boost energy and metabolism,and yes, even fight cancer.

Indentured Servitude

Over the last several decades a conspiracy has been afoot. It’s been quiet, insidious, and well-planned. Many, many people have had their hand in it. Almost every American is guilty, if not compromised through direct action, then by their complacency. We have all allowed it to happen. We are all accessories to this crime.

It’s quite simple really: over the last 4 decades the median income of most men in America has not changed. It is the same (or lower) today than it was in 1974, the year I was born. It should have risen as it followed inflation, as it always did in the past. Instead, the cost of consumer goods has risen steadily, while most American do not make more money to buy the goods. Yet marketing, too has increased. Ads have more airtime on TV than each decade before, we have targeted advertising on the internet, on our phones. Even our reading is being interrupted now by advertisements on the our kindles and nooks. So we are being manipulated to want more than ever before, while our expendable incomes have not increased.

But credit cards are ubiqutous in this day and age — you can’t get a mortgage if you don’t have at a few of them. Interest rates on most cards are much higher than they used to be, but our nation has now become addicted to consumption, so we use our cards, again and again, we use our cards.

So now the same man whose income matches that of his father’s when he was born, he carries a debt several times that of father’s, too. He has a mortgage to pay (if he still has a home), and a family to feed, and remains underemployed. And we wonder why this nation is struggling to emerge from the last recession? Are we really going to let politicians (who have allowed corporate interest to lobby them and helped create this situation) tell regular voters, like you and me, “to get a job” when we ask for little things like a living wage increase or health care?

Welcome to the era that may well be remembered for the silent enslavement of the American people.

 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/bill-young-minimum-wage-get-a-job_n_1651809.html

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/thirty-troubling-years/

 

Baked Fennel, Breakfast Bars and Pizza Dough for the Masses

Yesterday was a big cooking day at our house, we made a couple items which help make the days go by easier. It is hotter than Hades outside this week, so I’ve been shying away from anything that requires heat. Last night I bit the bullet — but if I was going to heat up the kitchen to make one thing, I figured I might as well make some others!

At the end of an hour we had Baked Fennel with Gruyere Cheese, enough Apricot Hazelnut Breakfast Bars to last a couple weeks, and 6 pizza dough bases for 9×13″ pizzas.

The first thing I baked was the Fennel. This was delicious and so simple. You just need a hunk of Gruyere Cheese (I used about 4 oz..), a big bulb of Fennel, and Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs. Preheat the oven to 350F, oil your baking pan (mine was a round 13″ pan), spread out the fennel in one thick layer, Grate the cheese and put it over the fennel, and sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of Breadcrumbs. Bake at 350F for about 1/2 hour and serve. Serves 4 as a nice side.

Then I got to work on the simplest, most wonderful breakfast bars. I found the original recipe in a Nigella Bites cookbook. These bars store wonderfully at room temperature in a container, and work great anytime you need a nutritious snack or quick meal for around 250 calories.Nigella uses cranberries and peanuts — which tastes equally good! Last night I used hazelnuts, goji berries, apricot pieces, cranberries and flax seeds. Really, the possibilities are pretty endless.

What you need:

2.5 cups of plain oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind)
1 cup of seeds (ie: sesame, sunflower, hemp, flax)
1 cup of nuts (ie: almond slivers, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts)
1 cup of dried fruit (ie: cranberries, raisins, dates)
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
A dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 250F and grease a 9×13″ pan with oil or butter (I like to use my glass baking pan, oiled with coconut oil.) Gently heat the condensed milk over low heat on the stove. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the warm milk until it is well mixed. Spread mixture in pan and press down evenly throughout the whole pan. Bake at 250 for one hour, remove and let cool about 15 minutes, slice into 16 pieces and let cool completely before removing from pan. Store in an airtight container.

While the breakfast bars were cooking I mixed together the only pizza dough which has ever worked for me (well, the only one I made myself… storebought doughs always work!) The recipe is below and it is SO easy and totally awesome. I use 5 cups of the regular white bread flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour instead of the 00 tipo flour Jamie recommends (this is the best flour for pizzas, but I’ve never seen it ┬álocally). Otherwise I follow the recipe exactly. At the end of the rising time I divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and store each one individually in plastic baggies with the air pressed out. I freeze these and use them as needed, removing them from the freezer a few hours before I plan to use them. I make my pizzas on large cookie trays, I think they measure about 10×14 inches. This dough also works great to make baked empanadas, breadsticks or calzones.

What you need:

7 cups of white bread flour
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
5 tsp active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix together with your hands and knead until you have a soft, pliable, smooth consistency. lightly flour the bowl and the ball, cover with a cloth and let rise for one hour until dough is doubled. Punch the dough down and knead it a little, then divide into 6 equal pieces (Or more or fewer depending upon your baking plans). Wrap in plastic wrap or a baggie and store in the fridge or freezer.

I love this recipe, since now I make pizza once a week — and I don’t have to make or buy dough for 6 weeks! That’s six dinners, solved. All I have to do is defrost the dough, preheat the oven, roll it out, top it, and bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Easy peasy.

Enjoy!