August 30, 2009
My husband and I, along with 22,000 fans, just attended a fabulous James Taylor concert at Tanglewood, the music festival in the Berkshires which is the summer home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The tickets were Bill’s birthday gift from the kids. The concert opened with JT playing with subtle and tasteful backup from a large band, including sax and trumpet, drums and percussion, and more, as well as 4 and occasionally 5 (his wife, Kim) backup singers. T is such a generous and relaxed performer. He clearly had a wonderful time. He spent the entire intermission signing autographs at the edge of the stage. It was a very blissful and feel good first set and I could have gone home after that totally fulfilled. Second set included several very sweet duets with Yo-Yo Ma accompanying JT. Then, more! with Yo-Yo Ma and both JT and Sheryl Crow who surprised me with her thoughtful song called Wildflower. Although I find her to be a bit of screechy singer, the melodic beauty of the song, accompaniment and the lyrics really has made me an admirer. The end of the concert got a bit loud for me and we left before it was over, listening to the final songs float out over the beautiful Tanglewood grounds and through the fields as we escaped before the crowds for our long drive home. Here is a nice review of the concert on Friday night and another.
Great gift, boys! Next year you come with us!
The post-script is that today I read that he is donating his take for his 5 nights of concerts back to Tanglewood- a whopping $500,000 to support classical music and the music festival. What a guy.
(photo by Hillary Scott, from BerkshireFineArts.com)
August 27, 2009
I have been lucky enough to eat at a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Spain: Akelare. What a treat- an amazing voyage in taste sensations. But even more of a treat was the Gluten-Free and Vegan Tiramisu that Greta made for New Year’s Eve and again for Bill’s birthday party. She has finally revealed her recipe on www.gretaguide.com, thanks, Greta; and here it is:
First we make the “lady fingers”.
Preheat the oven to 350. Measure out all the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder) in a large bowl. Create a small hallowed “bowl” in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients from around the outside of this hollowed bowl, until everything is evenly mixed in. Using a rubber spatula, transfer into a greased (with grapeseed oil) glass baking dish (9 x 13 inches) and place in the middle of the oven on the center rack. Bake for 25 minutes. After baking, place on a cooling rack and loosen the edges. After it has cooled for about 15 minutes flip the cake over onto a cutting board and like a grid cut into one inch by three inch pieces. And you have lady fingers!
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup agave
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1/3 cup apple sauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4- 1 cup soy milk (unsweetened)
For the tofu cream, it is very important that you have either a food processor or blender to make sure it is mixed thoroughly. Drain the tofu and wrapping it in paper towel, squeeze off the excess moisture. Break into chunks and place it in the food processor. Whip until it is perfectly smooth- stopping and scrapping the sides occasionally. Add in almond butter, maple syrup, agave, vanilla, salt and coconut milk. Process again until it is smooth.
In a small sauce pan, dissolve the arrowroot in soy milk and over medium heat bring up in temperature until it begins to coagulate. (note: dissolve the arrowroot completely before putting it over the heat) Whisk the mixture continuously for 3-4 minutes until thick. Scrap into the tofu mixture in the food processor and process for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the tofu cream to a container to store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (overnight is best).
- 4 teaspoons arrowroot
- 6 tablespoons soy milk
- 2 containers of extra firm silken tofu
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 1/3 maple syrup
- 1/3 cup agave
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
Now for the non-alcoholic and non- caffeinated sauce! I concocted a sort of spiced tea to soak the lady fingers in. In a small saucepan over medium heat bring water to a boil with 3 bags of HoneyBush tea, fresh cloves and fresh ground nutmeg. Add in a bit of agave to make it sweeter if you like. Turn down and let simmer for about 15- 20 minutes on a low heat to really release the flavours. Strain through a fine strainer into a wide and shallow bowl. Set aside.
- 3 tea bags of Numi HoneyBush tea
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon whole nutmeg crushed slightly to release the flavour
- 2 1/2 cups water (add more if it evaporates too quickly)
- Cinnamon- you can add in just a dash or two of cinnamon if you like
- 2 teaspoons agave
- coco powder- try to find a dark coco mix that is sugar free (reserve this for the final dusting of the cake!)
Assembly! I never said this was an easy dessert to make- but it is so worth all of your loving energy! Use the same glass baking dish to create your tiramisu. Dip the lady fingers into the sweet tea sauce and let it soak up the moisture for a couple of seconds. Layer these in the bottom of the dish until the entire base is covered. Take your tofu cream, and using a rubber spatula spread the mixture evenly over the lady finger base. Next use that fine strainer to tap and shake coco powder over the top- completely covering it with a 1/4 inch layer.
There you have it- the most delicious healthy dessert you have ever made! You can garnish with fresh pansies in the summer to make it a little special.
August 22, 2009
It is hot and humid and I am sleep-challenged in weather like this. I have looked all through the internet to find out the biological connections and have not come up with many reasons for my wakefulness except I can’t sleep when it’s hot. Even on my Nikken sleep system.
According to Dr. Jonathan Fleming, co-director of the sleep program at University of B.C. Hospital, controlling your environment is crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. In an article in The Province, Fleming goes on to say that even those who sleep well will not get optimal rest in the heat. People have less Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is associated with memory and cognition. They also experience more unconscious awakenings, he said. Unconscious awakenings? What the heck are those? I can’t find anything in that category anywhere on the internet- I have to assume that means when we wake up but aren’t really aware of it – like when we change positions, roll over, fluff the pillow, whatever and do not remember doing so.
But Fleming added that people shouldn’t be too concerned about lost sleep during the heat wave. Temperature-related wakefulness only accounts for half an hour of lost sleep per night. Then why did I toss and turn ALL NIGHT- finally falling unconscious when the sun came up?
There are only a few nights in the summer when I find it hard to sleep. We do not use air conditioners in our bedroom- it usually cools down at night in the foothills of the Berkshires. But we have just purchased a “swamp cooler”- a fan that blows air over a reservoir of cold water- will let you know if it helps- But some other helpful things to do to cool down at bed time include taking a cool shower, putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan, opening windows at night to cool down the house and closing the house, pulling shades in the morning to keep the cool air in. Try putting a damp towel in the freezer for a few minutes and wearing on your head or around your neck for awhile, having a spritzer bottle of water to spray over the bed every once in awhile. Any other suggestions besides checking into a motel for a few nights, let me know.
August 17, 2009
This is the sweetest thing. Maybe you’ve seen this video along with over 12,892,000 others. Worth seeing again.
Love makes the world go ’round.
August 7, 2009
August 6, 2009
I am sweet, mosquitos love me. This year is especially challenging- I am covered with bites and I am sensitive to them so I scratch and I have scabs and scars–ick. It feels bothersome to put on smelly bug dope to run up to the garden to grab some greens for dinner, but I come back bitten. We have a “mosquito magnet” machine- doesn’t seem to help. I know that the local bat population is crippled by some disease, so they aren’t helping by feasting on the mosquitos and it has been very rainy and wet- an environment for mosquitos to breed in. I don’t like using chemicals like DEET on my skin so as suggested in the GreenerTrends.com blog: I am trying greener bug spray like EcoSmart and Bite Blocker Insect Repellent. They are made from plant oils that are natural repellents for mosquitoes. I am going to make my own: Trying theses recipes from Bellaonline.com.
INSECT REPELLENT SPRITZER
lemon peels and/or orange peels
mint leaves and/or pennyroyal leaves and/or sage leaves
rubbing alcohol or witch hazel
(Note Do Not use penny royal if you are pregnant or wish to become so.)
Make a strong tea with the peels and the mint leaves. You can use each ingredient separately if you like or combine them to suit your sense of smell. Its best to soak the ingredients over night in a covered pan. The next day strain. Mix the strong herbal tea half and half with either witch hazel or rubbing alcohol and put in a spray bottle. Spray your self down before going outside in the evening.
INSECT REPELLENT OIL
Salad oil of any kind (but olive is preferred)
lemon peels and/or orange peels
mint leaves and/or pennyroyal leaves and/or sage leaves
glass jar sterilized
pan to heal oil
(Note Do Not use pennyroyal if you are pregnant or wish to become so.)
Place torn leaves and peels packed in a sterilized glass jar. Heat oil to 160 degrees F. Pour over herbal mixture in the jar to completely cover. Place top on, and let sit in a dark place for at least a week. A month is better. Rub this oil on before hikes or out side activities where one might sweat off a spritzer.