Summer is officially here, which means the farmer’s market is flourishing. Every year I marvel at the bounty of color-yellow & green squash, bright purple eggplants & rosy red tomatoes, just to name a few. My Saturday morning farmers market visits often resemble a kid in a candy store & by mid-week, I realized my fridge is still overflowing with fresh produce. A baker at heart, I found the perfect way to utilize the extra zucchini I have on hand. This particular recipe I discovered years ago, it is the perfect combination of zucchini & chocolate (ironically the creator of this recipe has a blog titled just that, Chocolate & Zucchini).
115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature or ¼ cup olive or canola oil plus ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
150 grams (3/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons strong cooled coffee (optional)
3 large eggs or 4 egg whites and one large egg
350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
160 grams (5 2/3 oz) good-quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy.
4. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.
6. Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
7. Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing.
8. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.
9. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan.
10. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.
Makes 1 cup
1 small watermelon
½ c cider vinegar
1 c sugar
1 cinnamon stick
¼ t fennel seeds
½ t salt
raw bacon slices, cut in ½
1. With vegetable peeler, remove green peel of baby watermelon, cut off white rind, reserve melon for other use.
2. Cut enough white rind into ½”x½”x2″ sticks to make 2 cups.
3. In medium saucepan combine rind, cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds & salt. Simmer on medium 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool.
4. Pack into mason jar & refrigerate. Will keep 3 months, refrigerated.
For Yummy Hors D’oeuvres:
5. Wrap a piece of pickle in bacon, secure with toothpick.
7. Bake in preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes (give or take).
What? Niksen is Dutch for “nothing,” and it appears in this article, The Case for Doing Nothing. Being busy gets confused with being important and it’s causing us all issues, some of them major like burnout (especially for millennials), anxiety disorders, and stress-related diseases.
Daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving…more productive.
Tips to help you stop and be:
- Make time for doing nothing, and do it with purpose
- Be unapologetic that you are doing…nothing
- Sitting still might be uncomfortable at first, practice
- Create the right place – devices out of reach, a perching spot you like (at home, at work, in a park…)
Get busy niksening.
When I first read this Washington Post Wellness article, I admit I scoffed at the very notion of “non-physical exercise.” The author poses the question “could non-physical exercise or “exertion of daily living” offer the same benefits as regular physical exercise?” The current CDC recommendation is 60 minutes a day of physical activity), which sounds daunting to someone who does not enjoy exercise in any form.
Most of us are familiar with the benefits of exercise-lower risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, depression, & obesity to name a few. While I personally find exercise enjoyable, I understand there are many who find exercise punishing. For my clients that do not enjoy any type of physical exercise, we work on finding nontraditional activities that will get their body moving.
Options for non-physical exercise in a nutshell:
- Move more (think of a fidgety second grader)
- Sit less (Americans spend an average of over 40 percent of their working days in a chair)
- Engage in home maintenance activities (housework that involves labor such as making beds, carrying laundry up the stairs, gardening, etc.).
- Schedule walking meetings at work, move trash cans away from your chair, take the stairs.
For more details on non-physical activity, I highly encourage you to read this article. Bottom line, exercise lover or hater, we all benefit from more movement in our day.
“Success doesn’t come from playing to your strengths. It comes from playing your strengths in the right situations.”
This article references a study where co-workers rated their managers in four leadership areas: taking charge, empowering others, creating a vision and executing. They used the Goldilocks question: did the managers do too little, too much, or the right amount of each behavior. More than half were overdoing at least one behavior. Guess which one? Their strength.
Ambitious managers? Overdid decisiveness and underdid empowerment. Sensitive managers? The reverse: they were too encouraging and not assertive enough. Inquisitive managers overemphasized innovation and underemphasized results. And conscientious managers also did the reverse: they were so busy trimming the weeds that they paid too little attention to the big picture.
“Often our greatest weaknesses are the other side of our strengths…if you’re a spellbinding storyteller, you need to ask whether a dinner party is an ideal time to perform!”
More areas to practice self-awareness and self-management. Day by day, we are humbled by all the opportunities to learn, grow and improve.
½ c rice wine vinegar
1 T kosher salt
2 T sugar
7 c cooked sushi rice
2 T mayonnaise
2 t fresh chives, finely chopped
2 T powdered wasabi, mixed with 2 T water
1 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T pickled ginger, fine julienne
3 sheets nori, lightly toasted
⅓ c finely diced vegetables, such as cucumber, carrot, red pepper, radishes OR ⅓ – ½ c favorite recipe tuna poke
1. Combine vinegar, salt & sugar; stir into hot, cooked rice. Let cool.
2. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, chives, 2 t wasabi mixture, lemon juice, s&p, 1 T julienne pickled ginger; let stand 10 min.
3. Place toasted nori sheet, shiny side down, on dry work surface; top with 2½ c rice, cover with plastic wrap, level with rolling pin.
4. Remove plastic, brush with wasabi mixture. repeat with remaining nori, rice & wasabi mixture.
5. Trim edges, transfer to a plate. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
6. Slice cake 6×7, yielding 42 approx. one inch cakes.
7. Top each cake with finely diced vegetables OR tuna poke & remaining 1 T julienne pickled ginger.
6 medium golden beets
2 cinnamon sticks
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced half moons
2 T honey
1/4 c orange juice
zest of one orange
1/2 shallot minced
1/4 c chopped fresh dill
1 t kosher salt
3/4 extra virgin olive oil
1. Coat beets with some olive oil & sprinkle with salt.
2. Place in roasting pan with cinnamon sticks & 2 inches water.
3. Cover & roast at 350°F for two hours, until fork tender.
4. Let cool, people beets & slice into wedges.
5. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
6. Toss beets & sliced radishes in the dressing.
7. Chill & serve.
We have been talking a lot about EQ, lately: self-awareness, self-management, be kind and empathize with others (always).
But, what about PQ or BQ? I’m talking about physical or body intelligence. Recently I found myself saying to someone half my age: keep in mind that your body of tomorrow is a direct result of the choices you make today. And, alas, a day later I saw this article in my news feed: exercise helps you live longer no matter when you start.
The good news continues. It is never too late. This is true of EQ and PQ. If you really want to have better relationships (now and tomorrow), take a step forward… maybe that first step is as simple as asking more questions and listening. If you want to feel better or make an investment in that body of tomorrow, take a step forward… whether it’s getting a move on or kicking a habit that no longer serves you. It is never… too late.
Sunshine and spring have finally made it to Virginia. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Spring brings a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. The farmer’s market is showing signs of spring, inspiring me to break out some of my classic seasonal recipes. This recipe is an old favorite I bring out when the first asparagus comes to harvest in Lynchburg.
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese
· 1-pound asparagus
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan
· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish
· Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on a prepared baking sheet.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated.
4. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.
5. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.
Source: Foraged Dish
2 t salt
1 c fresh or frozen baby peas
4 c penne or cavatappi
3 T olive oil, divided
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, quarted, drained
2 t fresh garlic, minced
1 c feta cheese, crumbled
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1 T lemon zest
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
⅓ c grated parmesan cheese
1. Bring 1 gal water to boil with salt. Blanch peas 1 minute, shock in ice water, drain well.
2. In same pot, cook pasta al dente. Drain, reserve 1 c pasta water. Return pasta to pot.
3. In large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over med heat. Sauté artichoke hearts 3-4 min, add garlic, cook 1 min.
4. Add to pasta, along with peas, feta, parsley, lemon zest & juice, remaining olive oil & pinch of salt. Toss to combine, add pasta water as needed to coat. Heat through, serve parm on side.