05 February 2014

Rekindling A Love of Lake Tahoe, and An Unexpected Roasted Vegetable Tart

Rekindling A Love of Lake Tahoe 

Part One 
As a child, I was blessed with parents who went out of their way to take us to fun places…often.  So often infact, that as I look back at pictures and re-live memories, I find it shocking they pulled off taking us to as many places as they did. It seemed my whole childhood was a vacation to one place or another…how ever did we find time for school?  
Growing up in the Bay Area, a frequent destination was Lake Tahoe. We went in summer, and we went in winter. We just about always rented the same place, which, upon arrival, felt familiar, like a second home. Sometimes we had family friends join us. I always had fun, and I have great memories of being in Lake Tahoe.

My parents posing in Lake Tahoe 1980

Part Two  
Fast forward to being a young adult (21), I was on a Tahoe skiing kick. I was living on my own and every weekend, I would drive to Lake Tahoe and ski. My ex-boyfriend Bob (later becoming MY Bob!) who was living in Hawaii then, had been trying to get back with me for about a year and a half. I wasn't entertaining that thought so much. But he was persistent and I agreed to meet up with him in Squaw Valley and ski for a day. He would be visiting his former college roommate Eric, who was another of my former boyfriends…(this is how Bob and I met, I was dating Bob's roommate)...(ah…yeah…that's quite a story in itself). Anyway, he would be up in the Tahoe area, and would I meet him? OKAY... I agreed. Long story short, we all (Bob, Eric and I) skied together, Bob came back to the Bay Area with me, and we married a month later. (24 years ago)

Part Three
Fast forward to the present. We live in Sacramento, and yearn for clean air and living trees, a break from sirens and the urban-ness of the city. As we renewed relationships in the area, we were invited for a dear friend and sisters, 50th birthday party. We rented a cabin (with a hot tub - woohoo!) and packed up the K9 unit and off we went for Tahoe. 

A side note: As many of you know California is in a massive drought and it has not rained/snowed in a long time, as it should be consistently doing this time of year. My husband, knowing I looooooong for the snow and real winter, has been fervently praying for snow while we would be in Tahoe. Sweet man. Well, true to the Scriptures, the fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much. (James 5:16) As in much snow. Yeeeesssss!

So, we are enjoying Lake Tahoe, lots of fresh mountain air, lots of clean beautiful snow, friends, relaxing, a lack of sirens, a lack of noise in general. We love it here. It's quiet and clean. We quickly agreed this is the best 2 hour investment of our time, for a get away from the city. 

Bob and the K9 Unit relaxing in the cabin after a frolic in the snow. 

A great cabin! Yay for snow!

So nice to relax!

We will be back!

Unexpected Roasted Vegetable Tart

(Kathryn, the bee is for you)

When one has to make dinner, and there isn't a plan,
sometimes the best meals come of it. 

This was the meal that came out of - me standing in front of an open fridge looking in, taking mental inventory and having no idea what was going to be our dinner. I took my veggies out, sliced them thin, broiled them for a few minutes, and let them cool…still, having no idea what I was going to do with them. 
"What else do I have?" Nothing of the usual rotation of meals that I really was able to make without a trip to the store. I just thought, well, what about a veggie tart? I have wheat, and can make a crust…may be a bit dry…I have cashews and spinach I can make a sauce with! Viola! It just came together. And I did not realize how delicious this was going to be until too late in the prep. to go back and give step-by-step photos. So, we will have to make due with what we have. I hope the finished shot is enough to encourage you to make it, because it was so stinking good. Bob took one bite and gave the ultimate compliment, which is,
 "Oooooh yeeeeaaah. This one goes on the menu." 
(The Menu is a reference to the one-day vegan cafe we hope to open.) 

Vegetable Tart
  • Slice a variety of vegetables medium thin, about 4 Cups worth
    •  (I used broccoli, sweet potato, sweet onion, garlic, carrot, cauliflower)
  • Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle or spray with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil about 5 minutes. Let cool, and season to taste.
  • Make a single pie dough recipe. 
    • The recipe I use is basically this but I use half unbleached and half whole wheat flour, omitting the sugar, and I add flax seeds at rolling time. You know I don't measure things, so I can't give you a recipe on this ~! Sorry! Of course you can use butter if you eat it. OR easily sub with a GF crust. (Whole Foods carries them)
  • Roll out the dough - single pie size, transfer it to your baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed. Fill it with the veggies to about 2-3" from the edges. You can pile it high. I also seasoned mine generously with my have to have spice - Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. It is truly delicious and addictive. Buy some, and use it on everything. 
  • Fold over the edges of the crust. You can spray it with Olive Oil if you wish, up to you.  
So, going into the oven, mine looked like this. 
And at this point, I thought to myself, "This is really going to be good. I better document it."

  • I baked it at 420 for about 30 minutes. Then I let it set 5 minutes while I made this sauce. 
Vegan Spinach Cashew Cream Sauce (to drizzle at plating)

1/2 Cup raw cashews (soaked 3-5 hrs is better)
1/2 Cup Water
1 tsp. bail
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 T. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 tsp. arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 big handful Organic Raw Spinach (about 2 cups)

Blend all together in the blender (Vitamix) well, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Should be warm.
Add water and salt to consistency and taste preference.

Mmmmmm….it was super yummy…. 
We could not wait to eat it and didn't snap a photo of the sauce on it. 

01 January 2014

Festivities, Food, Family, Friends…and a Fracture

Well friends, it has been a few months since my last post.

A lot has happened during that time.

As you may know from previous postings, when there is a lot going on, in my mind, heart and life…it's too much for me and I withdraw. I have been overwhelmed, disheartened and speechless. Astonished at where I have left and where I have been taken to. California is very different from North Carolina.
But God… being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

God has given me encouragement, and sustained me. He has done this in His word, by His Spirit, in the Body of Christ (both far and near) in family and friends who love us, and who we love.


Recently we have enjoyed much feasting, festivities, family and friends.
What a great encouragement and distraction laughing and smiling is!

We have seen faces we have missed. Some for over a decade!

We have been so blessed with both friends and parents visiting. 
Coming to help us work on our house, and to make us feel loved.
 We have seen smiling faces and enjoying people we missed, 
who we did not think we would see for a long, long time. 

An example of this is below. These are two friends (sisters) who grew up across the street from me. Their house was my second home growing up, and we have all been friends since we were 5. Bob and I were just invited to join in on their family vacation for a few days and we jumped at the chance... because we COULD! 
One nice thing about being here, is we are close to many in our hearts, 
who have been many miles away in years past.

This is my second precious Mom (below) Kathy, and her daughter Cori. Sister Kim is above. 
We have all grown up! (that's nicer than saying we got old) 
Their kids are growing, some in college!
It's great to have friends who when you see, it's like no time has passed, and you pick up like you were together yesterday. I love them!

Another wonderful event was the reinstating of a grand tradition for my Mom and I.
Since 1975, my Mom has taken me to the San Francisco Opera House for the ballet of The Nutcracker. 

We have gone every year from 1975 to 2005. 
Due to distance and obligations of the farm, it was sadly put on hold.

Until this year! Woo-hoo!
Thanks Mom for a super day! 

We had a great time!

Another set of dear friends who we love, and have missed since 2004, are Jalyn and Greg. 
We sure love them and were thrilled they made the drive out to spend the day and evening with us, bringing along their two kiddos 
who we had never met!
We were all looking so forward to spending the whole day together. 

God had other set of plans. 

We arrived at the park and the kids began to play. Only 5 minutes later, precious 7 year old Jordan wiped out and broke her wrist!
She was a trooper though and after a few minutes we all decided the day for us to be together, was over.
We were so sad for Jordan, and for her parents who had to watch their sweet girl suffer.

In the midst of the bummers, Bob and I were super blessed. In the few minutes we had together to see Greg and Jalyn in action in a mini-crisis, we saw what a great team they are as parents. They were so loving and tender to Jordan and spoke over her lovingly of their confidence in the Lord being in control of the situation.
Their words and peaceful tone were impressive to us. 
As Greg was trying to get local hospital information, I sneakily snapped a few pix. 

I love how her non-dramatic motherly instinct is captured here. 
Protective, comforting,  compassionate, tender. 
What a great mom!

As they drove away, she said, "I'll be back for a visit…
without the kids next time. Less chance of drama." 

Lastly, in all these situations, and how the Lord has used each visit and visitor to encourage and strengthen us for our purpose here, my constant best friend and adorable husband 
is the one who makes me laugh, everyday. 
Although we are slowly gaining speed, trying to get back to our happiness in our current surroundings, I thank God we are pulling this yoke together. 
So, here he is on Christmas Day, making me laugh with a new gift. 
It may not make you laugh, but it does me, and so God continues to be the lifter of my head. 

11 September 2013

A Farewell Tea With Friends and Kea's Dynamite Vegan Chocolate Mousse!

This move, as you may have read about in the previous post, is one of unpleasantness for several reasons, though we are looking toward the pleasant family part of it. So, with a month to go, and few free days left, we are trying to "book in" to see friends before we leave. Due to schedule conflicts and our necessary traveling to house-hunt, unfortunately, we will not see all who we desire to.

We were recently invited to friends' home for a 'Farewell Tea and Coffee."

Farewell, because we are moving across the country in a month. 
Friends, because we have a mutual bond and affection for Jesus Christ, each other and many other topics.  Although we have not been friends a long time, we enjoy each others company, and the time passes too quickly when we are together. 

Introducing "Mr. and Mrs. Hostess 2013", well maybe even the 2010-2020 decade. Although they aren't wearing ribbon sashes publicising their great gift of hospitality, they do indeed possess it.  
Working well as a team, they make any guest feel at ease and welcome in their home, and personally, we, also feel quite loved.  They have many names, but we call them Bezalel and Kea. 

Although this is not his given name, we do call Mike "Bezalel." In Exodus 31:1-6 God speaks to Moses about Bezalel, a man in whom God has put "wisdom, understanding, knowledge in all manner of workmanship, for designing artistic works, in metals, in wood and in all manner of workmanship." Yep. That pretty much sums him up.  Once, about 6 months ago, we were upstairs in the kids room and all admiring the crafty way Bezalel had expanded the room and laid a cool new pine plank floor, even made this cool ship of paper mache which hung from the ceiling. I said in amazement with big eyes to Kea, "Wow." To which she simply and confidently replied, "Yea, I come up with the ideas, and he makes them. He just knows how." I bring all this up to say that I wish I had photographed a beautiful new kitchen island Bezalel had just made from a $20 piece of marble Kea picked up at the Habitat for Humanity, and said "Make me an island with shelves please." It was amazing! Bob and I were impressed, again. 

Now it's time to talk about how special they made us feel JUST when we needed it. Coming over to their house, of course I brought something because, no one really knows what to make me. We brought some pretty Star Fruit. BUT I was floored when Kea told me she has fresh fruit and had made vegan low glycemic chocolate mousse! No one I know who is not a "food extremist" (as Bob calls me), goes to the trouble to make something for me like that. I'm still amazed 4 days later. 

What a pretty table was set for us. 

Refreshing fruit and great fellowship. 

What a nice time we had. We spoke of the goodness of God, and His amazing ways of provision, healing and timing. This is something we needed to hear and the time away from our own moving drama, to focus on the big picture. They had a few really amazing stories they shared with us about God's timing and His perfect ways which strengthened our hearts. Much needed. 
There was also a lot of talk about puss. Now for those of you who know me...really know me, you know that was a thrill for me. I love puss. And there were some great stories, really.

So a great time away from our world of stress, decision making, anxiety and work. A respite in the home of friends who refreshed us and cared for us. We loved it. But I feel the most blessed because of what she searched out and made, just for little ole high extremeist me. 

Here is Kea's amazing, delicious and bowl licking good vegan low glycemic chocolate mousse recipe. Really, if I had been friends with them just one month longer, I would have picked up that beautiful fancy glass and licked all that mousse out of the cup. It was THAT good. 

Vegan Low Glycemic Chocolate Mousse 

1 can full fat Coconut Milk (Cream)
8 oz. Organic Dates or Figs
1/3 cup Cacao/Cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla
honey (optional to taste)
pinch of salt
(I think the next time I make this I will put in 1 Tbsp chia seeds also)

Place all in a good blender (Vitamix) and blend away until smooth and creamy. Pour into ramekins, fancy glasses or small jelly jars. (Whatever you want to serve it in).
Garnish with mint (a-la Kea) 
Refrigerate 4 hrs or more and serve. 

Please invite me over if you make this. 

31 August 2013

Changes In My Life and What I Doing While I Am Waiting

Part One: Changes In My Life

God in His infinite wisdom is continually changing me. 
He is shaping me and fashioning me into His likeness. 

But the older I get, the more I realize I need to change even more, 
a lot more, to be anything like Him. 

Now the years are rolling by me,
They're rockin' evenly,
I am older than I once was 
and younger than I'll be, that's not unusual.
No it isn't strange, after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.
After changes, we are more or less the same.

~Paul Simon 1968  (ironically the year I was born)

Yes, changes. Kinda big changes. 

Those of you who know me, know what I am referring to. 
It's a frustrating thing to me, dealing with myself. 
God tells you something to do, doesn't really matter what it is does it? ...it's God. 
The response should be "I hear and I obey, gratefully." 
As a child of God, He always has our best in mind, 
this is the best thing for us. 
"Yes! That's what I want! Thank You Lord! No matter what it is!" 

What happens when you, really, in your heart, say, 
"Really? Oh Lord, really?"
"Oh Lord, anywhere but there, or that." 

For those of you who are under the influence, I mean assumption, that I am perfect and rarely sin...wrong! I keep struggling with this one. Why? Because I am looking at MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

How do I quickly snap out of it? I look to Him and remember what He has said to me, 
"I will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on ME, because he trusts ME. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD is everlasting strength."  (Is 26:3-4)

More on this later...........

Part Two: What I Am Doing 
While I Am Waiting

Well, no matter if this above stuff occurs before or not, I continue to live my life waiting for the coming of my King. 
And because of this glorious coming event, the child of God is instructed to do many things....

1. He is to attend the services of the Lord regularly... not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25)
2. He is to observe the Lord's Supper with the rapture in mind. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he comes. (1 Cor 11:26)
3. He is to love believers and all men. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men...to the end that He may establish your hearts, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (1 Thess. 3:12-13)
4. He is to be patient.  Be ye patient; establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth high (Jas. 5:8)
5. He is to live a separated life. ...we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself...(1Jn. 3:2,3)  ...denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13).  And now little children  abide in Him, that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming (1Jn. 2:28)
6. He is to refrain from judging others.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God (1 Cor 4:5)
7. He is to preach the Word.  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word...(2 Tim 4:1-2)
8. He is to comfort the bereaved.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven ... wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:16,18)
9. He is to win souls. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire... (Jude 21-23)
10. He is to be concerned with heaven.  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

Amen and amen

31 July 2013

The Missing Ingredient In My Chai, and The Way I Make Hummus


A Great Memory...while visiting a friend
she suggested a cup of Chai tea.

 I had never had Chai tea before, and what little I knew it was it's a milky-sweet-spicy tea. I was hesitant because I have never been able to drink milk, and therefore milk in tea has always sounded gross to me (almost as gross as putting it on cereal and eating it mushy! blech!). And being one who does not eat sugar, that is two strikes against Chai. 
But Louise really didn't wait for my answer and started making it as she kept talking. 
When I saw she was using Rice milk (she knew I was vegan) and was not going to add sugar, I was up for trying it. She showed me these homemade Chai Tea bags a friend had given her, and we both enjoyed inspecting all the spices. It smelled wonderful as it steeped and I was beginning to be excited to try it. When she poured it out the milk had mysteriously evaporated and there was only enough for one mug and a tiny bit in the second mug. A gracious hostess, she took the tiny portion. But thinking that was quite unfair, (and still unsure if I would like it!) I poured some of mine into her cup. The fragrances were so delightful and so rich to my senses. All it took was one sip. I was a Chai tea fan, and drank it down as we  enjoyed each others company, and continued packing up her life. 
Of course, the next day all I could think of was making a cup of Chai Tea! A few days after this,  Lou and family moved away to Seattle. Boo-hoo! Thanks a lot for getting me hooked on Chai and leaving!!

So, the next day I went to Whole Foods and after a Chai conversation with an employee, decided on two. 
One I bought was the Rishi brand Masala Chai. 

It is a loose leaf and is gorgeous- look at this tea!

I also bought some non-dairy milk to use, and made some Chai. Although it was yummy, delish even, the flavors were BOLD, I was disappointed, it wasn't the same as Louise's! I persevered to doctor it to my own tastes. I added some vanilla...more cinnamon...some stevia...it was getting better, but something was missing. 

Next time I made it I used the other brand I bought, Organic India. 
I enjoy several varieties of their tea in my tea drinking repertoire. 

Same results, although this tea was not as "spicy" as the first. 
Something wasn't right... 

 Next time I decided to make it with both brands together. 
Here you can see my cinnamon added, my loose leaf ball and tea bag floating as it warms up. 

Same thing. Good, delish, but not fantastic like Louise made. 
I have since tried MANY times to replicate the taste I first enjoyed...only to fail each time.
Lord, what is missing? 

Then it was revealed. 
The Lord said "the secret ingredient missing...is Louise."

Know how when you have regular food, it becomes extraordinary because of the company and the great time you have enjoying it? This is the case here. The friendship and love of my friend Louise is missing, and all the added flavors, spices and shenanigans are not going to make that tea over the top, because the love and friendship it was made with is missing. 

I recently had a long phone conversation with her, it was great to catch up. I do miss seeing her sweet face and hearing her lovely accent. I also miss the taste of that Chai in her kitchen too!!



For some reason, my hummus is quite popular. 
Of all the things I make, my hummus gets the most fan fare and requests for the recipe. It's really quite straight forward, and I will share how I make it, with you now. 

First of all, when you buy store bought hummus, soybean, canola, or some type of oil is usually one of the first ingredients. It's a cheap filler, and people love the taste of fat.  My hummus is opposite as it has NO oil in it. Oil is 100% fat and a denatured food. I try and stay away from it so there is not more Laura, and eat my fat in it's natural state (in the food it comes from ie: almonds, olives etc..). It's unnecessary in this recipe, but you can add it if you like. Store bought is also like ten times the amount of money vs. making it at home. Store bought hummus often has artificial flavors and preservatives in it for extended shelf life, which by the way, does not preserve YOUR life, quite the opposite in fact.

Here are the must-have's. 

Here are the optional's

(Full recipe and measurements below)

First, I soak my garbanzo beans, overnight. The next day I rinse and cook them by adding about 1-2 inches of water above the beans. I add about a teaspoon of salt and I let them simmer for a long time. How long? 1-2 hours. Until you can smush a bean easily in between your thumb and finger like this...

The longer you cook them, the creamier the hummus will be. This is why I cook them this long. 

Drain the beans reserving the liquid. 
(If you use canned, use the canned liquid but cut down the salt you add)
Then you put the ingredients in the food processor (I use a Vitamix). 
Blend away. 

You can add the cooked bean liquid to make the consistency you want your hummus to be. You can add seasonings to make it how you want it to be. You can add a vast array of ingredients to make it your own delicious creation, such as; artichoke hearts, cilantro, roasted or raw red pepper, chipotle, roasted garlic, lemon and basil, whatever your heart and taste buds desire. 

1 1/2 Cups dried chickpeas (soak and prepare as directed above) or buy and use 2 cans chickpeas
2-3 large cloves raw garlic
1 teaspoon salt (salt to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice (conventional store bought is full of nasty preservatives!) 
(you can add more to taste - we prefer a stronger tahini flavor than lemon)
pepper to taste
cayenne pepper dash

Place all in blender and blend away. Use the garbanzo juice to thin to the consistency you like, as well as other flavors. 
Refrigerate and enjoy! Great dip for veggies, or as a salad dressing, or with pita. We use it also in place of mayo on sandwiches, artichoke dipping etc... 

Great served with Zaatar. (Zaatar is a Lebanese spice mix of thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac, roasted sesame seeds and salt. It is sold at many Mediterranean markets or online)