Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Summer Yum – Just Liquid July 2, 2014

Keepin it real…

Last week, the hubby had  24 hours of a ‘just liquid’ diet.  This was preparation for a middle-age event the following day.  No more explanation needed for folks over 50. We perused the suggested liquid food options, most of them sweet, and set up a plan for the day…night…middle of the night..  Dinner was a large bowl of turkey broth that had been waiting in the freezer since last thanksgiving.  The hubby declared, “This is so good.  Thank you dear.”  EASIEST meal I’ve made in all our married life.

Keepin it green…

Months ago, we added the Vitamix to our kitchen counter.  It has been a source of great joy and delicious liquids.  The number one liquid Vitamix makes at our house is green smoothies.  The other color smoothies IntaJuice, Jamba Juice , etc make are delicious, but we have grown to love the green fruit/veggie breakfast made in our home.  I will admit, I’m not a fan of the brown smoothie.  It looks like p__p.  If I close my eyes, it tastes fine, but the color turns me off.  Red and purple fruit plus green veggies equal brown smoothie.  No thanks.

We’ve experimented and tested a long list of recipes and suggestions.  Below is our favorite liquid green breakfast (with options!)

Going Green Smoothie (SAVOR recipe book from Vitamix; pg 37)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup green grapes (i keep mine in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (I buy fresh, which is in abundance here, and freeze chunks)
  • 1/2 medium banana (i also freeze these, but fresh works too)
  • 2 cups lightly packed spinach
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

NOTE:  if using frozen pineapple, omit the ice cubes

NOTES from Laura: I use mostly frozen fruit because then it takes seconds to throw together.

  1. Mangoes are overflowing here and I often use in places of the grapes or 1/2 mango, 1/2 pineapple.
  2. I substitute kale for spinach or use 1/2 and 1/2.
  3. Also – to keep it simple, I use the Vitamix to blend my spinach or kale with a bit of water, pour into ice cube trays and use those in my smoothies.
  4. This recipe makes 2 tall glasses.  I drink one, pour the other in a glass and JR takes it the next morning.  Just needs a quick stir and tastes great.
  5. I do often add chia seeds, flax seeds, or a little protein powder on occasion.  But the recipe as is – just perfect!

Let me know if you try this green liquid for the first time!  And feel free to share your favorite summer liquid breakfasts.

 

 

Summer Yum June 30, 2014

We’ve crossed the official starting line of summer.  Though South Florida is close to perpetual summer,  there are still specific summer elements that happen even here.

It’s hotter.

It’s humider.

We get to spend time with Thing 1 and Thing 2 because they are not in school.  Though they are working, so we don’t get ALL summer.

We get to see friends who are on vacation.

We get vacation.

I bought 2 new sundresses.  Well, the dresses are not completely related to summer.  See when you really enter the middle part of your life, there are certain changes your body has decidedly embraced.  Those changes, plus the fact it is perpetual summer here,  have influenced the style of  clothing I find myself choosing.  Shorts are functional for power walking the dog, yoga, cleaning the house.  But with leg skin that could use some ironing, skirts are my new shorts.  On the occasion I go out in public, capris were acceptable options until real summer showed up.  I might as well wrap my legs in Saran – for capris are capable of turning me into one hot drippy momma.  Enter – the Sundress.  Thing One, designated fashion police in our house, went shopping with me and I returned home with properly mid-life-bodystyle-fitting sundresses.

Pool parties.  I do so appreciate the pool in our little neighborhood.  It sits on a wide part of the intracoastal, one mile from the inlet.  It provides a place to swim laps, cool off, boat watch, and enjoy friends – especially friends with kids!  Water makes everyone hungry.   There must be snacks.  In an middle-of-life-eating-change, we are opting for a little less; sugar, fat, meat, junk, amount on our plate.  Food is my love language,  thus making and serving patio party snacks important.  I’m always on the lookout for both yummy and on the good-for-you list recipes.  I found this Spicy Black Bean Hummus (from Maureen Redmond, Easley, SC; in Cooking Light magazine, 2009) when wandering through older magazines a few months ago.  After the first taste – it became a “keeper.”

I’m sharing this summer yum with others who gather people around pools, lakes, oceans, or  backyard sprinklers and want to feed their hungry swimmers.

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 Tlb fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tlb tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Dash of ground red pepper

Place garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped.  Add lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt, black beans, jalapeño, and crushed red pepper; process until smooth.  Spoon bean mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with ground red pepper.  Serve with pita chips, pretzels, carrots, sliced peppers, sugar snap peas.

(or if you are the owner of a Vitamix, throw all ingredients in and blend!)

Let me know if you and your people like it.  Feel free to pass on your summer snack “keepers!”

 

The Hubby and The Ham Balls May 16, 2014

Filed under: Birthdays,Cats,Creativity,Fear,Food Stories,My husband,Uncategorized,Writing — lauradegroot @ 11:44 pm
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Disclaimer for my vegetarian/vegan friends:  the following contains material of the meat type.  In no way is it meant to offend or gross you out.

The Vitamix earned its keep.  Today it ground up the last of my ham.

I’ve owned this bad boy for approximately 6 weeks.  The majority of its life in the DeGroot household has been spent pulverizing seeds, blending fruit, and smoothie-ing kale and spinach into our breakfast (pictured below).  The Vitamix came with a recipe book which I’ve read more than once.  Most recipes take less than 5 minutes which means a fresh batch of hummus for a snack, lunch, or appetizer is always an option.  Because the hummus is so delicious and simple, garbanzo beans show up on my grocery list all the time.   That is, until I came home with 2 more cans and when I put them away I realized I already had 6.

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“Settle down with the garbanzos now Laura.”  I know I know.  I always want more of a good thing and got a little crazy with chick peas.

The Hubby has had his eye on the Vitamix for some years.  Not a new one, but the one that he could possibly inherit.  Thankfully, the relatives who own said Vitamix are in great health.  No impending inheritance…  So I suggested we save up our “funny money” & birthday money to buy our own.  The Hubby immediately labeled an envelope,  we accumulated the funds, and recently purchased the item our children now can inherit!    (But not for MANY years girls).

I can’t decide if this marvelous machine is a toy or a tool.  Either way it is a creative outlet and helps me live out my love language:  “Love people; Cook them tasty food.”

Back to the ground up ham.  I did a small batch at first.  Used the pulse button on level 5.  I didn’t want to make ham glue.  When I poured…shook…well, kinda poured-shook-scooped the ham out onto a plate I felt like something special happened in my kitchen.  I threw a little into my almost scrambled egg.  I gave Pekoe the cross-eyed kitty a few bits in her bowl.  Calvin ate them.  I gave Pekoe a few more bits in her bowl.  (Rabbit trail…Pekoe will only eat wet food.  All her 11 years of life – no dry, no cat treats, however she loves ham and pancakes.   Cats Are Weird.) I did give Calvin one ham chunk even though he stole Pekoes.  And then I talked to the ham.  “I just don’t know what to do with you yet.”

I might be lonely.  Or just really excited about making my own ground ham.

Grandma Rozie came to mind.  She used to make such good meat.  That may be where my affinity for things made with ground ham started.  Ham salad, like tuna or chicken salad, was pretty common in the midwest, best served on a soft squishy buttered white bun.  Even better was ham loaf, like meat loaf, with BBQ sauce on top.  And then there are the ham balls.  Ummmmmmm.  My mouth is watering right now.  They too are baked with a sweet and sour or BBQ sauce of some type and because of their shape, every bite comes with sauce.

The credit for the idea to use the Vitamix to grind up that ham goes to…….The Hubby!   He suggested it in hope of getting some hamballs.  I debated, I procrastinated, I almost gave up and just sliced it.  So why the emotional drama over meat?

I was afraid it wouldn’t work and I would end up with nasty ham paste, a clogged up Vitamix, and wasted time.  That’s the truth.  Ridiculous fear in this profoundly mundane thing of life.  Truthfully,  fear (ridiculous or not) often has a stronghold in the somewhat and profoundly difficult things of my life too often.  I’m working on a project about fear Knots and fear Nots.  My hope is to discover, then have as my own, tools and truths to fight and conquer fear and anxiety.

I will reach a mile marker this year – getting half way to one hundred.  Some people when facing this age,  set goals and train for triathlons, conquering high mountains or long bike journeys.  My goal is to live the second half of my life un-afraid.  I’m training for that.  On my desk are notecards with 34 of the 365 verses where Scripture says “do not be afraid/anxious/worried.”  These are some of the tools and truths I hope to understand and use to run my race.

And, like I share the wonder of the Vitamix, I hope to share what I learn about what it takes to live un-afraid.

Back to the ground up ham.  I think I know what I’m going to do with it.  Its time to call mom for a ham-ball recipe.  Hubby, this is your lucky day.

 

 

The Doors Calvin Opened April 25, 2014

Filed under: Adventure,Courage,Dogs,Expectations,new places,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:46 am
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The trademark of an official Floridian is that one will not go in the ocean during the ‘winter months because one thinks the water is too cold.

After 18 months, I am officially not a Floridian.  Though the water is chilly at first some days, if you stay there a wave or five, it is warm enough to enter.   Call me Coloradoan.  There are still many times I sit or walk on the sand and feel like I am on an extended time away from Colorado.  Not vacation exactly, maybe in-between there and somewhere else.

I think I was attached to familiar and would like that status again.  With the exception of a few good restaurants, a church we attend, some great people we hang out with,  and the ocean, South Florida still has an awful lot of unfamiliar.

“Unfamiliar is part of the adventure,” so say’s my confident-self.

“Listen Polly positive, where in the heck am I and what am I supposed to be doing here in this foreign place?, ” replies my cynic-self.

That dialogue needs interrupting, re-writing, a new perspective.  Or I am going to miss out on something.

 

It is dawning on me that walking through new doors, going to new places, meeting new people, trying new things could be done with  wide-eyed expectation.   Too often I respond with fear, defensiveness,  sometimes unwillingness.

As a natural connector, a liaison of resources, being unfamiliar is frustrating.  I am not helpful to people because of what I don’t know.  Instead I really need connectors, liaisons.    I’d rather be needed than needy.  Just being honest…  I’m aware this is a struggle, and I’m trying to let it simmer down.

Recently I  entered a place where familiar doesn’t matter.  I walked through a door that Calvin opened.   My ordinary yellow labrador, who prefers people over retrieving anything,  took me to a place I otherwise would not have gone.  The place was something like neutral territory.

Just over 6 months ago, Calvin and I took the Therapy Dog International (TDI) test.  We trained for 6 weeks and passed, even though he had to repeat the “leave it”  task.  (meaning to walk calmly by a row of bowls filled with temptations; balls, toys – no problem;   dish FULL of dog treats – problem).  Once the paperwork was complete, we just had to find a place to go ‘visiting’.

One day in the park, I met a man with a friendly goldendoodle  who was TDI certified.  He told me to contact a local Assisted Living community where they often went.   Calvin and I have walked through the doors of that place for many weeks now.  Because of my time working for a hospice in Boulder, I am fairly comfortable in the setting.  Staff and residents appreciate dog visits and Calvin is pretty good with the Elders.  He has leaned up against a few, threatening to topple them as they give his head a good scratch, but   we are working on that!  One particular man, who is somewhere between 95 and 100, (the age changes a little each time I am there), calls Calvin the beast.  Yet, when his thick fingers find just the right spot behind the ear, Calvin sits perfectly still, not even tail movement.  It mesmerizes me because this is the only person that makes Calvin goes that still.

A request came through TDI for an organization wanting therapy dogs.  The organization was a women’s drug and alcohol rehab center. This would be a big commitment as  back to back groups of women have about an hour outside having a snack, a smoke, a visit with therapy dogs.  We decided to try it once.  The outdoor setting is a circular space with a concrete half wall, bench all along the inside of the wall, shade tree in the center.  Attached to one side  is a gazebo .  A chair blocks the one way in so the dogs may wander from person to person.  Only one pup likes to play with the ball.   They all enjoy attention.   There is no familiar-unfamiliar.   No one is from there, knows someone there, or thought they would be there one day.   I’m surprised to find myself  there; ordinary me with my ordinary yellow lab.  I’m surprised by the women I hang out with.  They could be my best friend, my daughter, my neighbor, my mother, me.  Being Floridian, Coloradoan, Georgian, Texan, or New Yorkan doesn’t matter.   The neutral space was leveled by common love of dogs, being loved by dogs, and sharing dog stories.  I’m so glad I didn’t miss this.

We continue to visit there.

Maybe familiar isn’t all I need.  Maybe being Floridian isn’t the goal.  Maybe the struggle will give way to expectancy.   Maybe Calvin will open another door.

If he does…I’m going in.

 

Calvin and a few of his fellow visitors…

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This Is Dangerous April 8, 2014

Filed under: Cookbooks,Cooking,Dessert,Food Stories,Mother Mary,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:47 am
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Frankly I’m disappointed with the publicized Foodie world.

They made my favorite food a bad 4 letter word (“carb”); they send mixed messages about what To Eat and what Not To Eat.  They make talented cooks/bakers/chefs cry on television when they are kicked off-let go-voted away from the kitchen because what they made was not good enough.  They claim: sugar – bad; salt – bad; fat – bad = Flavor – bad.  They tipped the food pyramid upside down.  They hail the praises of a food or beverage and the next thing you know, that very item lands on  the questionable or “bad” list.

Last night we had a local college student for dinner.   He is a storytelling foodie and appreciates home-made.  When he inquired about dessert, I realized I had none.  That didn’t sit well with the love language part of my being.  So, while I was talking on the phone I pulled out Mother Mary’s Cookie Book and landed on ‘Brownies From Heaven’.  From start to completion – 30 min.  Topped those hot  chocolate babies with some home-made hot fudge.  I was not going to send that boy home without dessert.

So today here is what is setting on my counter .
20140407_153851“This is dangerous.”  I spoke that out loud after cutting one, then two, then 3 small…really pretty small…like bite-size small, well maybe two-bite size small pieces.  The knife is sitting on top of the pan of uncut gooey goodness.  Hot fudge stands by…dangerous right?  My Grandma Rozie probably never ever said those words looking at the same food.  I’ll bet she would have said: “This looks Delicious.  There sure are an awful lot of brownies for Grandpa Rozie and I.  Who could I share them with?”

The bad thought about something so good startled me.  Food is not our enemy.  Food is not out to harm.  Food actually isn’t confusing.  Those brownies are Good.  Nothing bad at all about them.  The only bad thing would be for me to act on the temptation to eat the rest of the pan, one bite-size piece at a time, in one sitting.  I’ve let too much bad publicity influence my food thinking.

Yesterday I was invited to a cooking class in a friend’s home.  She had a chef come over and teach us to make paella.  A number of firsts happened during that class:  first time seeing and using a paella pan; first time seeing a whole squid beheaded, de-tentacled, relieved from its fins and cellophane backbone, then cut in rings.  I am proud to say, I didn’t look away, though near to gagging.  While de-veining shrimp I heard it repeatedly called the ‘poopsac’.  That was a first, and the last time I will let a vein stay in my shrimp. First time using real saffron threads, spanish bomba rice and spanish paprika.  Not the first time I’ve seen a chef with their own knife bag with professional tools, but it was the first time I was allowed to use one of those knives.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve eaten authentic spanish paella with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, calamari, and mussels.  First time I’ve participated in its preparation.   Yes, I ate the tender squid and the mussels too.  If I ever make it for you – I might leave those ingredients out unless I find out you love squid and mussels.   Then I would put them in for sure.

First time I’ve had someone tell and show how to “layer the flavors”.  It takes time.  And that time is worth it.

People, Food Is Good.  Learning about it, looking at it, preparing it, shopping for it, eating it.   Let’s not be bamboozled by the negative food PR.  I decided to listen Grandma Rozies voice in my head and share the brownie love with a friend who has twins on the way and a house full of kids and company.   Don’t worry hubby – I’m gonna leave you a big-bite-size one.

Eat all things in moderation.  Enjoy food.  Even brownies.  They really aren’t dangerous.

 

 

 

Where Did I Go? April 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 7:43 am

It it time to answer this question:

“Where did you go?”

Geographically, I went 9.3 miles North and East of where I previously picked up my mail.  We bought our place in November, spent 3 1/2 weeks remodeling, moved in December and 2 days later our girls came home.

We celebrated Christmas as a family.

The college girls returned to school.

We unpacked boxes, hung things on the walls, gave more furniture and stuff away.

Then, wonderful people kept showing up – in the kitchen, on the deck; coming for dinner; staying over.

We unpacked the storage spaces and under the beds where we just “put things for now.”

Still more giving away, loaning out, a little storing.

In the leaving of one place and coming to another my desk/space disappeared.  I got a portable computer – but somehow the lack of location has become a new obstacle  of sitting down to write.  And I had been on such a roll.  Why in the world is it so hard to get started…again?

I still have no desk.  I’m sitting on the patio, looking at the boats, the water, listening to the neighbors chatter. (BTW – sound travels loudly over water).  And I am starting again with this messy little note, explaining where I’ve gone.

Sometimes it’s helpful to go back to the basics when beginning again, so I will copy here what this blog, Crema, is meant to be. (From my website:  Lauradegroot.com)

espresso: a strong coffee brewed by forcing steam under pressure through darkly roasted, powdered coffee beans.

crema: the tan-colored foam that forms on the top of espresso–the simple, yet joyful evidence of coffee done well.

Crema is a place for writing about the simple yet joyful evidence of life done well. Not perfect mind you – not the writing nor the life, but observations of lessons learned, beauty noted, insight grasped. It is a space for stories about my favorite things, current events, and the activity of God.

Crema – the foam – is a part of the espresso beverage. It is the visual lure of espresso, the aroma, the mouthfeel, the flavor, the aftertaste of espresso.

Crema – the writing – is a part of life. It is in telling the story I share awareness of the sensation of Life, the flavor, color, commotion, the sentiment.

I most often enjoy crema, the beverage, in conversation with others. I am hoping that will happen here in Crema, the blog, as well.

I hope not to be gone so long this time.

 

 

 

Cleaning Day! November 14, 2013

I have never in all of my life been excited about cleaning.  When the cleaning is complete,  the calm, orderly, put-back-in-place, sometimes even shiny space I live in, makes me happy.  But excited about the cleaning itself – never.

Until tonight.

Next to my desk is the stairway down to the front door of our apartment.  As I write, on the floor between my desk and the stairs is a line up of things ready to go.  Swiffer heads up the troupes.   Next in line is blue bucket with Swiffer refills, Mr. Clean magic eraser, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day All Purpose, 409, and Windex.  Behind them stands white container with rags, then blue container with band aids, Advil, and sponges.  Red Niwot Market canvas bag pulls up the rear carrying paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, kleenex, soap, shampoo, conditioner.  Dawn, Bar Keepers Friend, shelf paper, and toilet bowl brushes are already in the car.

Tomorrow is Cleaning Day!  I am so excited, and that is not an exaggeration or me being dramatic.  Tomorrow morning, Calvin (my labrador pal) and I are heading  to Boynton Beach to clean.  It’s official, we now own a little townhouse by the sea.  It is in need of good ol fashioned Dutch cleaning and fresh paint, a bit of carpet and a bathroom redo.  Thankfully we’ve got a few weeks before we move all our stuff in.  For now, we have all the furniture we need there (bought it with the place), in the spot we imagine spending the most time.  The patio is the part of the townhouse that sold us immediately.

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We are tremendously thankful.

I am thankful for a husband that stewards our money well so we can own a place and live within our means.  We are thankful for Michele H and Laurie S for driving us from Lighthouse Point to Boynton Beach and towns in between,  looking…looking…looking;  for all the people who helped bring the mountains of paperwork to the table; for God who led us to this place we otherwise would not have found; and for those who supported us during this long year of waiting, disappointment, searching, and adventure.

I’m relieved the closing is complete and now… I am ready to clean!

p.s.  I heard that its a 2 mile walk or a 4 minute drive to the beach from this place…

 

 

 
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wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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