Any Given Thursday

The rosemary has finally started to stabilize. It’s been iffy for several years, but after a merciless pruning, we’re finally seeing growth and virility.

I went outside to lie down on the sidewalk and take in the meteor shower. But, I saw my first shooting star before I even got to the bottom of the porch stairs. It seems that’s just how I do.

BOOM first, settle in and steady later.

I can smell that rosemary and the lemon balm that has gone crazy in our tiny garden bed. It’s warm for our standards. The cement walkway is still emanating the heat of the all-day sun-soak. We can only smell the garden herbs on warm nights like tonight.

The traffic on Cherry and 8th streets is barely perceptible when the stars are doing their thing: shooting off streaks like the 4th of July in a town that doesn’t even allow fireworks anymore.

When your day starts with vacation and dear friends, peaks with a perfectly normal EKG and Pokemon in the park and ends with the Olympic Games, stupid sitcoms and a meteor shower, well  I suppose I’ve just defined the charmed life.

BOOM: my heart going.
SETTLE: tuck it in, Sanford. . . we’re cool here.

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The growing things

A mom at Abby’s 4-H sewing group asked me yesterday if I work.
Sigh.
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Yes. This again. I’ve long railed against this question because it seems to place extra value on someone working outside of the home, it assumes that this work somehow defines the person doing the work and, honestly, it’s just not a very interesting question.

I know this woman well enough to understand that what she likely meant was something else entirely but didn’t have a useful question on the tip of her lips.

Instead, perhaps:
What interests you?
What do you like to do?
What inspires you?
What fills your days?
Tell me about yourself, I’d like to know you better.
I’m interested in you and wonder what stories you might have to share.
Tell me something good.
Let me glimpse your heart.
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I answer the question “What do you do?” or “Do you work?” as though one of the other questions have been asked. And thus, I did this last night. I called myself a “Jill of Many Trades” and launched into a laundry list of work and passions and projects and volunteer roles I hold. I tell you what, that list is much longer these days than I realized.

I’ve recently added some very part time (paid!) work to the list.  It’s 8 hours a week, which seems a small addition, but turns out to be a slightly larger pebble to add to the proverbial jar of life than I anticipated.

As I carried on telling this other mother about the various pots I have my fingers in, I felt my shoulders tense, my words tumbled faster, my heart rate raise. Right about this time, Abby came over and we had a very mother-tween exchange that almost sent me spiraling into angry-mom-tone.

Luckily, we only live two blocks from the sewing class and I excused myself to take a break and go water our gardens.
Phew.
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I’m not much of a gardener. I *do* appreciate the perennials that grow beautifully in our yard,  the annuals we planted in pots for the porch and the gorgeous bush-tit nest that has been constructed in the rhododendron just outside our dining room window.
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As I wandered and watered, I felt my grip relax, my eyes soften, my heart ease. Checking in on the apples developing on the tree, placing my whole face into the near-spent lilac bloom, reaching up to smell the honeysuckle, spraying down the bleeding hearts, going nose to nose with the near-bursting peony, spying on the bush-tits. Yes. Thirty minutes in the garden and this jar of life felt somehow larger, more able to accommodate the shifts and changes happening in our family.
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Always intent to be of use. I am a Jill of Many Trades.
I am boundless if I simply keep my heart open, my toes wet and my eyes toward the growing things.

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Foodie Friday:: Cheesy Kale ‘n Pasta

IMG_9629
Well this went over super well at Chez Sanford. I adapted this recipe which is called “Kale Mac ‘n Cheese” but I didn’t call it that because my kiddo would expect something like the boxed stuff and this is soooo much better.

Cheesy Kale ‘n Pasta

  • 1 pound pasta (penne, elbow macaroni or shells)
  • 1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In large pot, boil water and cook pasta to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the same pot on medium heat, melt butter and add onion. Saute onions until soft, then add flour. Stir the flour quickly to combine the flour and onion roux mixture. Add milk and chicken broth and keep stirring.
  3. Allow mixture to come to a gentle boil as the sauce thickens. Return heat to low and add cheeses. Continue stirring cheese is melted.
  4. Add the kale and pasta to the pot. Stir together until the pasta is heated through and kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Foodie Friday:: Chez Sanford Power Noodle Bowl

**Originally written for publication in 7/12/15 Peninsula Daily News**IMG_9373 Goodness this HEAT! Add in that stint of wildfire smoke wafting down from Canada and I, for one, have not been interested in cooking much. The snap peas and bok choi from our CSA share last week as well as some left over bits and bobs from the fridge inspired me to try my hand at a homemade Buddha Bowl (or Sushi Bowl or Asian Bowl or Power Bowl or whatever you want to call it.) Essentially just a salad bar with a noodle base, Power Bowls offer plenty of options for each diner to customize their meal and not too much time cooking over a hot stove or oven. The possibilities are pretty limitless with this idea, just chop up a bunch of goodies, heat some noodles, and make a sauce. Done. I set it all up in a row on the counter in the kitchen and let each dinner guest build their own bowl. My ten year old was happy with just noodles, chicken and mango. My bowl included all of the options AND the spicy hoisin sauce. Everyone was happy, especially this mama-chef who avoided hot ovens and too much time in the kitchen. Stay cool out there, friends!

Chez Sanford Power Noodle Bowl aka: Buddha Bowl, Sushi Bowl, Asian Bowl
Our version of a Power Bowl includes what we normally put in a fresh spring roll, but without the added hassle of trying to roll it all up.

Sauté
 garlic (scapes if you have any or just chopped cloves), chopped onion and your protein of choice (we used chicken, but anything would be great in this). Add greens when the protein is nearly done (bok choi, chard, spinach, or kale are all good choices) and cook until the protein is cooked through and greens are just wilted.

Meanwhile, soak bean threads in boiling water following the directions on the package (we get ours at McPhee’s on 8th and Race in Port Angeles).

Chop
up piles of raw ingredients. Ideas include: grated carrot, cilantro sprigs, mung bean sprouts, fresh pea pods sliced, mango chunks, avocado.

Make your bowl
: Pile some noodles in, top with hot protein and greens, top with your raw ingredients and drizzle sauce (recipe below) on top. Yum!

Spicy Hoisin Sauce 1 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon apple juice (I omit and add extra water) 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup vegetable stock 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon sesame oil Mix in a bowl! Incidentally, if you add 2 tsp of corn starch to this and heat it up, it is a wonderful stir-fry sauce.

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Foodie Friday:: Roasted Radishes and Pan Seared Greens

If you’re looking for something a little different to do with your radishes and greens, check out two options below. The pan searing method would be great with any of your greens.

Radishes

Roasted Radish & Radish Greens
Pan-Seared Radish Greens

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Foodie Friday:: Chard and Egg on Toast

Sometimes it’s the simplest meals that hit the spot. It was late, I was hungry and boom. This was done in less than 20 minutes and in my belly faster than you can imagine.
Chard and Egg Bake

Simple Chard and Egg on Toast
In a cast iron skillet, sauté chopped garlic scapes and chard leaves. Mix in red sauce (I used my favorite jarred marinara), sprinkle a wack of feta on top, crack some eggs on top and bake at 350* until eggs are done. Serve on toast with salt and pepper. Quick, fresh, local and Delish!

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Foodie Friday:: Kale Chips

Kale Chips

Throwback to September 2012. Brain food. She ate that WHOLE bowl!

I’ve shared lots of ways to cook kale before, but thought I’d update the whole kale chip idea. Here’s a recipe I shared in a recent cropsheet for the CSA. I like the seasoning in it, but I find I have better luck by roasting my kale low and slow.

Basic Kale Chips
Preheat the oven to 300*
Make sure your kale is clean and DRY.
Tear into bite sized pieces
Toss with a very little amount of olive oil (a whole head of kale should only need 1-2 Tablespoons of oil)
Add flavoring (I like salt and nutritional yeast)
Put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat (don’t skip this)
Do NOT crowd or overlap the kale. Use more than one baking sheet if you need to.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake an additional 10 minutes, checking.

The oil will make it look like they are still moist, so take one out and eat it to see if it’s crispy. If you need to, pull the done chips out and let the others keep cooking. Soggy kale chips and burned kale chips are equally icky!

That’s it!

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