Friday, September 9, 2011

Nature's Magic

Grass blades illuminated with remnants of rainfall

To trace the history of a river, or a raindrop, 
as John Muir would have done,
 is also to trace the history of the soul, 
the history of the mind descending and arising in the body.
In both we constantly seek and stumble on divinity, 
which, like the cornice feeding the lake and the spring becoming a waterfall, 
feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself 
over and over again.

~  Gretel Ehrlich,  Sisters of the Earth

Thursday, September 8, 2011

'tis the season to be baking...

Okay, so I know it's not yet October, 
but the excitement is building, & I just can't help my anticipation...

In honor of the season, I've begun to bake bread, but not just any bread... 
Pumpkin Bread!  

Yes, this is by far the most delectable of all seasonal breads 
(just my opinion, of course)!

Always in an effort to bake in the healthiest manner...

 Please note there are a few ingredients that you may not be accustomed to, 
but may find that it does not compromise the taste in any way...

So, here it goes...

3 cups Demerara sugar

1 cup grapeseed oil

2 'Egg Beaters' cups 
(sold in packs of three, each one is equivalent to 2 eggs)

16 oz canned unsweetened pumpkin

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt
(please throw over left shoulder should you spill any!)

1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves

2/3 cup water

pumpkin divider Pictures, Images and Photos

How to Make...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease (w/ Olive Oil) & flour loaf pan. 
Stir together Demerara sugar and grapeseed oil. 
Add in eggs and pumpkin.
 Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. 
Blend dry ingredients and water into wet mixture, alternating. 
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. 
Let stand 15 minutes. 
Remove from pans and cool.

Mini Muffins!

Should you have the proper 'gear', these muffins make for a most delicious & healthy snack...
Simply use the same recipe above, but lessen the time in the oven.
Oh, mini muffin pan required, of course!

Don't be afraid to be creative & try your own variation...  
I prefer to spicen it up a bit by crushing glazed walnuts & sprinkling atop prior to baking.

~ Phoebe

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Take Some More Tea"...

On Saturday, we celebrated the birthday of 
Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, 
who founded the custom of "Afternoon Tea"

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour 
dedicated to the ceremony known as an afternoon tea."
~ Henry James

Anna, Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting, 
had a "sinking feeling" every afternoon... sound familiar?

 Early 1840's... 

Noble classes only ate two meals per day, breakfast and a late dinner.  

Was this enough for the duchess?  Not hardly!

Each afternoon, she had begun the habit of 
taking her tea and petite-sized cakes...
the perfect balance! 

The Duchess found taking an afternoon snack 
to be a delightful refreshment,
 and soon began inviting friends to join her. 

friends come for tea in the afternoon

The afternoon tea gathering caught on, 
becoming not only a favorite pastime of ladies of leisure, 
but an integral part of the culture of the Victorian era as well.  

The menu:

 small cakes,

bread and butter sandwiches, 

assorted sweets,

and, of course... 


 Afternoon tea was especially popular in the summertime.

The Duchess brought her afternoon tea ritual with her to London, 
sending cards to her friends to join her for "tea and a 'walking the fields'". 

Served in the mid-afternoon & served on low tables.

...a ladies' social occasion. 

Afternoon Tea 

also known as "low tea"

...manners, lace, and dainty foods.

"Take some more tea"

The beauty of tea carries with it many enjoyable aspects, 
allowing one to add an individualized flair to the afternoon tea party 
(take note of the Hatter in Alice in Wonderland!).  

Whether you celebrate in the traditional sense, or in your own style, 
either way is a wonderful opportunity to have a gathering of friends ~

"A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, 
which is one you forget about afterwards."  
~A.A. Milne

Let us enjoy tea!

~ Phoebe

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a welcome visitor...

In my herb garden for some clippings this evening,  
I spotted this beautiful caterpillar.

How soft a Caterpillar steps
I found one on my Hand
From such a velvet world it comes
Such plushes at command
Its soundless travels just arrest 
My slow terrestrial eye
Intent upon its own career
What use has it for me

~ Emily Dickinson

Time of Harvest...

This is a great time of year for harvesting and drying herbs, 
& one of my favorite ways to prepare for the upcoming season!

Some tips I find to be the most helpful...

  • Harvest before they flower!
  • Late morning cut... Allow the morning dew to dry

  • Trim.  Gently cut healthy branches from plants, & remove leaves at the bottom.
  • Bundle!  Usually, 4 to 6 branches seem to be best when tied together.
  • Twine... using an organic twine string, carefully tie the bundle.
  • Hang upside down in a location that is drywell ventilated, & preferably away from sunlight.

Happy Harvesting!

~ Phoebe
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