Book Club–Edenbrooke

On January 15th, even Chandler, Arizona can be chilly.  It was fun to see everyone in our wintry wear, ready to settle in a cozy room full of friends and chat about this delightful story–Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson.

Kate, me, Essie, Debbie, and Michele.

Fans of the Regency period will be happy to learn that the story is set in 1816 England.  I won’t disclose the plot;  I’d feel dreadful if I cheated someone out of the enchanting experience of uncovering it on her own.

Adrienne, Christy, and Michele… again!  🙂

So, let’s see what goodies we had!

I  had spent several cheery, messy hours in the kitchen, determined to offer healthier treats than I have in the past.  With my apron about me, grinding grains, I felt very 19th century. (My grinder is electric, though. Yea!)

My multi-grain chocolate chip cookies (made with oat groats, brown sweet rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa) probably startled the palate of some of my guests.  I adore them, but I agree that they have a unique flavor.

My spelt bread was more popular.

Choices, choices.  Jam… honey… or just butter to top it off?

Essie, about to try a slice of spelt bread, with women mingling in the background.

And then there was the Fluffy Orange Fruit Dip from my Our Best Bites cookbook. Mmmmmmm……

I hoped the decor would remind my friends of specific book scenes and add an air of early 19th-century England.

The preservation of food in glass jars began in this era with a discovery by Nicolas Appert. He was rewarded for it in 1810.  Major improvements to the system were made in 1858 by John Landis Mason, and in 1915 by Alexander Kerr.

If I’d had a 200-year-old-looking tin can, I would have mentioned more about Peter Durand also.

We didn’t discuss canning at book club; that’s a snippet of historical trivia just for you.

Jennifer and Robyn.

The collection of apples was a nod to the story, not to fruit preservation.  But don’t worry.  No apples were wasted in the making of this vignette.

Colored glass bottles rather like those below were commonly used at the time.  The green bottle’s lightning closure would not be invented til the 1870’s, and the screw cap even later.

I gave this carriage to my mom for Christmas, but she let me borrow it back for a few days. Thanks, Mom!

Now you’ll see where I got really crazy.

Timid at first, but determined, I set out to do a little embroidery.  But then, all it took was the help of Youtube (hooray for that!) and about 10 minutes on the clock, and I knew how to make a couple of easy stitches.

Next, I stamped an image four times on a scrap of muslin. I simply stitched over the design while my family and I caught some t.v. together!

I declare… I only need an Empire dress and a Spencer jacket, and you’ll wonder if I’m an 1800’s book heroine come to life!

As much as I love photography, I really do love people even more.

I want to experience book club, and not be a terrible hostess.  That means I have to make myself put down the camera as we share our favorite story moments or analyze the author’s thought process.

So, I take posy-looking photos before the official start, and just before people return home.

The next morning, with the house streaming in sunlight, I get out my tripod and go hog wild! I can shoot strawberries a hundred times and not one of them will go away. Unless I eat it.

Hey… here’s a candid shot of two women actually talking to each other, as we put coats and scarves back on and said our adieus.

Michele and Jennifer.

One last look at the book cover and two more happy smiles!

Diana and Lynette.

Have a charming day as you enjoy the many inventions of our lovely era.





Banana Bread

I love the tradition of baking treats for family and neighbors at Christmastime. The countertop fills up with all sorts of goodies from friends around the block.  It tends to be the one time a year I make banana bread.

I follow a recipe from Chef Brad.  In fact, I use a lot of his recipes.  If you’d like to discover how many remarkably healthy grains there are and lots of tasty ways to use them, I recommend his cookbooks!

Besides using some unbromated natural white flour, I grind soft white wheat (seen below in Tanner’s hands on the left) and Kamut brand khorasan wheat (in Sydney’s hands).

My kids like to help pour grains into my Nutrimill grinder.  If they’re not in the mood for loudness (they’re really not sometimes), they’ll pour in a bit of grain and then run away when I turn on the loud machine.  I still give them credit for helping to make the bread, especially when they get decked out in their aprons.

We just grind the wheat, and have fresh flour!

Mmmmmmm…… I really should make this more often.

Have a day full of yumminess!


Gorgeous Grains!

My goodness.  What do I want to say about GRAINS?  Well, I love them.

Cook and eat…. or grind into flour, bake, and eat.  Crazy amazey goodness, if you ask me.

Did you know you can even pop some of them?  Of course there’s popped corn.  I’m about to go pop tiny kernels of amaranth for the first time…

Fascinating!  I just popped some about 1/2 teaspoon at a time in a hot dry pot, and immediately poured each bit into a bowl so it wouldn’t burn. Tastes like a Triscuit cracker, I’d say.  “It’s so cute!” Sydney declared. “It sounds like it’s raining,” noticed Tanner, as we listened to the delicate music of it popping.

Popped amaranth. Photo taken with my macro EF 100 lens. It’s rather like a microscope.

I usually grind this grain with others to make my favorite cookies, which I’ll tell you about a couple of posts from now.  But it was so fun to pop it.  With a little practice, maybe I’ll get more kernels to pop before any starts to burn.

Sydney liked the flavor.  She thought having it on her salad was a good idea too.  But when the mixed textures of amaranth and lettuce was “freaky” to her, I inherited her salad.  Okay with me!

Salad topped with popped amaranth.

This morning I cooked some quinoa.  So easy.  Just like preparing oatmeal, but it needs to cook for 20 minutes.  I love melting some chocolate morsels in it for sweetener, then adding milk (which becomes chocolate milk, of course).  Banana and strawberry slices finish off this combination of extreme health food and decadence.

Cooked quinoa–with chocolate morsels, milk, and fruit.

Have a healthy, delicious day!