Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dinner at The House of Garlic (that's us)

We only have a couple of months in which we can breathe a little more deeply, clean up the house a bit, cook and eat at a normal time instead of 9-10 pm, and also get together with friends.

Last night we had some of our 'young-new' farmer friends over for dinner. (We're also still new, but we're the 'old-new' farmers in town.) It's fun and satisfying to sit down to talk and eat together when we're not all rushed and multi-tasking at the farmers markets, comparing experiences and opinions about our practices, our mistakes, our successes, our hopes, life in general, sleep deprivation, being stuck in the mud, and the rewards that come from what we are all choosing to do. I am sure we only covered 1% of what we would have liked to talk about. I look forward to doing this again and again, with these friends and others, too.

It was a potluck dinner, we had plenty of my husband's home-brewed beer and other locally made micro-brews to drink, but here is what I served:

Skordalia, which I served this time with whole wheat sourdough bread and baby carrots as dippers instead of the more typical roasted beets (traditional Greek dish, which is essentially smashed raw garlic held together by mashed potatoes - oh my, so good!)

Main meal  
Baked salmon with garlic scapes (just put some frozen whole scapes in a baking dish, layer the salmon on top of them, add another layer of scapes, cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 F.)

Salmon and garlic scapes, which are still a little frosty from the freezer, ready to cover with foil and bake in the oven.

Stuffed shells - add some garlic scape pesto to ricotta cheese, add 1 egg, mix well, fill shells, put a layer of your favorite pasta sauce in the dish, add the stuffed shells, cover with a bit more sauce and a sprinkle of shredded cheese

Stuffed shells with garlic scape pesto, ready to bake at 350 F. until hot throughout, 30-40 minutes

Pumpkin souffle - brought by one of my friends (I'll work on getting the recipe) - this was absolutely scrumptious!

Salad - brought by another friend who grows all these amazing baby salad greens in her hoop house to sell at local winter markets 
(no photo, I don't know why I missed it - too bad, I'm sorry - the salad was as beautiful as it was refreshing and delicious)

Assorted cookies including Garlic Cookies (yes, try them!!) with hot hibiscus tea

Garlic Cookies - don't let the mixed messages in your head scare you away from this surprisingly delicious flavor pairing!

Tonight's Food Blessing

The Blessing of God
rest upon all those who have been kind to us,
have cared for us, have worked for us, have served us,
and have shared our bread with us at this table. 
Our merciful God,
reward all of them in your own way.
For yours is the glory and honor forever. 

Saint Cyril (AD 850)

I have recently had two friends hear the horrible, heart-stopping words "You have cancer", which always causes me freeze, breathe, re-group, and then to reflect back on and re-feel my own experiences. It never ceases to cause me both amazement and anguish how those words can seem simultaneously to be both from yesterday and (almost) from a different lifespan. 

However, what I always carry with me, each and every day, even each every minute of every day, are the countless acts of kindness and caring that were shared with me and my family. I do not think we could have endured or even survived those long, long months intact physically, emotionally, or spiritually, either individually or as a family without the arms and hearts of a very extended community. 

Some of these people were long-time friends, some were an acquaintance, and some were total strangers who became dear friends. Each is special in my heart to this day. I have every hope of carrying their kindnesses and care forward to others in need of understanding, care, kindness, listening, hugs, sharing of tears, and so much more. I cannot do as much as I would like to do for each person, but I also have seen enough of life to know that none of us can ever know if our one (so) small act or prayer might be just the one tiny thread that was in the right place, with the right strength, to help hold the entire tapestry together for someone else. 

I believe the quote I used on my very first blog posting back in June 2007 perfectly articulates my thoughts here, so that seems like a fitting place to end tonight:

No one could make a greater mistake than he who
did nothing because he could only do a little.

~~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunrise on the farm

.......with Phoebe in the lead. Our snow melted during a January thaw, but really cold weather is now back with the ground frozen and Phoebe running over the property each morning searching out traces of the night time animal life, all of which she views as intruding into her ordered domain.

I know that the details in this photo are difficult to see, but if you can't initially see our dog Phoebe, she is standing in the driveway leading up to the barn.

She now has so much underfur plus fur between her toes on her feet that I do think she could stay outside all day and all night and does not understand why I feel I must go inside to warm up my hands and feet (tonight it is 4 degrees right now and last night went down to approximately minus 10 degrees in our area - brrrrr, yes, brrrrr, the house has been cool all day today).

Sunrise with Phoebe is worth the process rolling out of bed, getting bundled up, even if I am still in my PJ's underneath my down coat and warm boots and hat and gloves and scarf and..., and..., and...  I am SO slow getting ready to head out when Phoebe is already dressed and ready to go! Good thing that I am pretty sure she loves me and is (sort of) patient. :)

Cultivate your life – you are what you grow, inch by inch, row by row, 

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recipe: Garlic Wafers

I'm always looking for recipes that feature garlic, not just with garlic as one of many ingredients. I don't exactly remember how I found the following recipe for Garlic Wafers, which are not crackers, but like chips that are totally made from garlic. The recipe (which I first saw printed in The Washington Post) comes from a very famous restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, which features a fusion of traditional Basque cuisine with a modern presentation. Restaurant Arzak is considered a restaurant worth flying to, but I don't expect that I will ever do that, and now I don't have to do so in order to enjoy one of their popular ingredients/garnish.

'Small is beautiful' here. It takes only a small piece of this Garlic Wafer to wake up a dish or to start a meal as a very small appetizer.  Although I served them as an appetizer topped with just a dab of cream cheese or goat cheese plus another topper, the group actually wanted to taste them completely plain, as a 'chip', and these wafers were also a complete hit just plain and unadorned.

So I encourage you to take the time to make these. Please tell me how you like them and how you use them. This recipe will definitely become a handout at our farmers' market table in 2013. I expect to sell a lot of garlic just to make and enjoy this one recipe!!

Cloves from 2 heads of garlic (about 16 cloves) - peel and carefully trim away the base plate (the end where the root it) and if there are any tiny green shoots inside, trim those out too

Salt - to taste (I used no more than 1/8 teaspoon)

Nutmeg - freshly ground (I used ~1/8 teaspoon)

1). Place the peeled cloves in a sauce pan filled with water (4-5 cups). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cook uncovered ~25 minutes until the garlic cloves are very soft. Drain (save the water to cook rice, risotto, or add to soup stock).

2). Preheat the over to 350 degrees at this point. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

3). Mash the garlic with a potato masher, through a garlic press, or with the back of a spoon into a paste. Add salt and nutmeg.

4). Use a spatula to thinly spread the garlic paste into two swaths about 1" x 10" (very approximate).

5). Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Immediately drop the oven temperature to 200 degrees. Bake until the garlic is dry, about 45-60 minutes. (I used the convection setting for my oven and the garlic was dry at 45 minutes.)

6). Let the garlic cool completely before breaking into small pieces (15-20).

Serve these flavorful wafers as a garnish any place you would use garlic in a recipe, as a vegetable 'chip', crush and use as a topping to a tossed salad or an encrusted topping on fish, as a small appetizer as I served them topped with a dab of goat cheese or cream cheese from Zingerman's (a local company) plus another food for color, texture, and taste where I used red cabbage sauerkraut from another local company The Brinery, thinly sliced black Kalamata olives, or dried wild blueberries (which was the surprise flavor hit).

Here are the photos:

Photo: Garlic cloves simmering (save this broth!)

Photo: Smashing the cooked garlic (I used a potato masher to start and finished the mashing with a garlic press)

Photo: Garlic wafers spread out and ready to bake

Photo: Garlic wafers, baked, cooled, and ready to break into wafers

Photo: Garlic wafers, baked, cooled, and ready to lift off the parchment paper and carefully break into small wafers

Photo: Garlic wafers, broken up into various sizes

Photo: Garlic wafer appetizers

Photo: Garlic wafers with cream cheese topped with red cabbage sauerkraut, kalamata olive slices, and dried wild blueberries

Photo: Garlic wafers with goat cheese topped with red cabbage sauerkraut, kalamata olive slices, and dried wild blueberries

Seriously, these garlic wafers are unique, fun, easy to make, and delicious! They are more effort than kale chips but wowza!! are they tasty. Kale chips (my favorite) pale in comparison flavor-wise. Give them a try.

This recipe will be handed out by me with enthusiasm when our garlic is ready to market in August 2013. Please let me know how you use these garlic wafers so I can include your serving suggestions on my recipe handout! :)

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fighting Cancer - from Apples to Apps!

I still have a 'dumb-phone' so I don't know much yet about 'apps', but my dietitian friends at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston are well ahead of me technology-wise. They have developed the content for a free app for an iPhone that provides easy to use information about healthy foods and recipes for people with a cancer diagnosis (and every delicious-sounding recipe I looked at would be great for trying to prevent cancer, too).

Here is the link to information about all the recipes and nutrition information available on this 'app'. I especially like the "Ask the Nutritionist" generated list of questions that were submitted to these oncology dietitians with the answers then shared on the web for all to review. (I started doing this, too, on my website when it first launched in 1998.)

Congratulations to my Dana-Farber colleagues (and friends). Thanks for sharing your collective (and impressive) knowledge about nutrition and cancer with the world. You will help countless people who are sorting through the overwhelming amount of nutrition and cancer information available through the internet to find up-to-date, reliable information that offers the best hope versus hype or even potential harm. On behalf of all those people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I hope you have lots of recipes with garlic and kale!

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Favorite Proverb

I read a short proverb last night that might become my new favorite, at least for the next three months:

"One kind word can warm three winter months." 

~~ Japanese Proverb

I have had time to read our holiday letters from friends while they came in this year, and now I am reading many of them again (there are still a few to come - I know who is late, and I am looking forward to your letter!). There are years and years of kind words and deeds contained in the memories of these friends, both long-distance and here in Ann Arbor, all of which convey a very warm feeling indeed, like being snuggled up in a quilt with each square being the memories of a friend, more than enough warmth to carry me through our winter months where this year it is actually cold and snowy and dark like winter should be in Michigan (yea!).

Almost all of these friends have in some way come into my life or stayed in my life because of my cancer diagnoses, with the help they gave me or due to the the path their support put me on. Every cell in my body feels the warm of that quilt I'm snuggled in, the gratitude I have for where I am today with the opportunities I have to pay these years of kind words and deeds forward.

I hope each of my readers has had this feeling from hearing a kind word and has also been able to share their own warmth with those in need. This hope seems like a thoughtful way to start and share another new year together.  

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

PS - the new photo at the top of my blog shows Phoebe in her orange vest, which hopefully tells everyone that she is not a deer nor a coyote and also helps us keep track of her as we roam our farm in the snow. She is in her glory being outside. Her undercoat of fur has grown in thick and sticks out all over like a wild hairdo. She could stay outside all day and does not understand why we ever have to go inside to warm up my fingers and toes!

PPS - Here is the favorite poem by John O'Donohue I replaced with this Japanese proverb. I like it too, and don't want to lose it.

“Unfinished Poem
I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

Wow - my first time to write '2013'.

Wow - I didn't realize it had been so many weeks since I wrote anything here (December 10).

Wow - it's time to change the photo at the top of my blog, even though there are reports of sandhill cranes still hanging around my county this winter, even with our snow and most ponds and marshes being frozen now.

I re-read some of my posts tonight with the Birds tag, each one being like meeting up with an old and new friend, all at once. I especially liked reading what I wrote last year on New Year's Eve, which was about traveling, journeys ahead, valuing friendship, food, cheer, and song.

Tonight I read a quote by Wendell Berry about journeys to come that seemed an appropriate way of thinking for starting a new year.

"You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out - perhaps a little at a time.' And how long is that going to take?' I don't know. As long as you live, perhaps.' 

That could be a long time.' I will tell you a further mystery,' he said. 'It may take longer." 

~~ Wendell Berry (from his novel Jayber Crow, 2001)

Life is complex for each of us, no matter how long or short, with many questions and situations that may seem unfair and burdensome, for which answers are not clearly obvious or easy. A cancer diagnosis certainly fits that description.........however, there are countless other questions and situations just as unfair, unpleasant, and difficult to understand.

My hope for all my readers is that your journey during 2013 shows answers to your questions while living life to the fullest level that is possible for you, that your journey lets you find hope but also peace and joy. Live your life as deeply as the sky above is wide and high. Look, pay attention, open your heart, have mercy, share joy with someone else, then pay it forward again.

While watching endless commercials last night and today focused on weight reduction (without much of a mention of health), I suspect that most of my readers might be more focused on working toward the health of their soul, their spirit, as beneficial to their over-all health and well being, which sounds like a New Year's resolution I could support!  (I plan to read the novel by Wendell Berry mentioned above during the 3 months I have to read for pleasure. Other suggestions?)

All my best wishes to my readers for 2013!

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row, no matter how long it takes, 

Diana Dyer, MS, RD