Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In My Backyard

I do enjoy the birds in the garden and I love that we can enjoy them through all the seasons. It's especially nice to see them in the winter when the rest of the garden is just twigs and bare branches and snow.  This year, along with the sparrows and occasional visit by a cardinal or bluejay I've been enjoying juncos.  Maybe they've always been around and I haven't paid enough attention to realize what they were but I've never really noticed them before.  In fact, I'd never even heard of the name junco before even though they are quite common. These little ones often come in groups and share the seeds that have fallen to the ground.  I love them with their dark grey body and puffy white belly.  They are pretty camera shy though so any time I try to snap a picture they are long gone.  Today I had a bit of luck while some perched in our tree.

As I was watching these guys a friendly visitor came by and I couldn't help but wonder, could this be one of the Mourning Dove babies from the spring?  I hope so. I like to think they will always think of our backyard as home.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Smart Cookie

There have been two things I've wanted to try out since Christmas.  My new Kitchen Aid Mixer and a cookbook I gave to my husband - Quinoa 365.  We 'discovered' quinoa in the summer at Costco. So I guess it had probably been discovered a long time ago but for us it was new!  It can be found in 'grain' (seed) form or flour in any of our local grocery stores (sometimes in the organic section). 

What excited us about quinoa is that it is not only packed with nutrients but it's protein rich.  It's easy to make as well. It virtually cooks like rice and takes about the same time.  We often make it and mix in roasted vegetables with a little olive olive and and maybe a sprinkle of cheese.  Presto it's dinner!

Today I made the Healthy Cookies from Quinoa 365, written by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

Healthy Cookies
2/3 cups water
1/3 quinoa
1 cup butter, softened
1  1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1  1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1  1/4 quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup flax (ground or whole seeds)
1/3 sesame seeds

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 10 min. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for 6 min. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.  (I made extra so that I could use it for our dinner tonight).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl.  Add the oats, cooked quinoa, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax and sesame seeds to the flour mixture and stir until well mixed.  Combine with the butter mixture.

Roll the dough in 1 1/2" balls.  Place 2" apart on a baking sheet. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake on centre rack for 8-10 min. until bottoms are light brown.  Allow cookies to completely cool on the baking sheet.

Makes 5 dozen.  Store the cookies in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Chewy, much like an oatmeal cookies but with a little more interest. You would never guess that there is cooked quinoa in these.   Not too sweet and a little nutty.  Perfect with an afternoon tea.   

Now my only criticism would be the name. When the girls came home they were excited to see I had been baking but their excitement was a little quashed when they heard what it was. Healthy?  Oh, that doesn't sound too tasty (even though they really are).   I think Smart Cookies might suit them better.

This recipe is definitely Family Approved .

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's a New Year. It's a New Look.

Well, it was definitely time and long overdue. My old blog design was getting a bit dull and I wanted to brighten  it up and have something that was more a reflection of me (or at least the me I want to be on some days). 

Positive thinking, happy, thankful and making each day matter. (Don't worry I'm not going to go all "Oprah" on you.)  One can't change completely overnight - and that's probably a good thing but I guess with the new year comes a sense of a new beginning.

In the past while, I've been struggling with things to post (hence my very few postings).  What could really be interesting enough to write about let alone have someone else want to read?  I'm still not really sure but I thought I'll just share the things that interest designs, the ups and downs of owning your own business, cooking, recipes, photography, home decor, travel and of course my family.

So in the spirit of new beginnings, I know a good breakfast is the best start to the day (one of my new year's resolutions), but after that it's definitely a fresh, hot cup of coffee for me.  As my computer opens to a new day I pour some into one of my favourite mugs.  I imagine you might even do the same as we share a moment.  The house is quiet for a few hours now and I can organize my day.  A new day.

Coffee's on...welcome to a little bit of my life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011