When it’s time to take a break from writing

Let’s not get too carried away here. I am not taking a break from writing entirely. I made a decision to take a break from this year’s Blogging from A to Z challenge. What is this writing challenge about? During the month of April, you are blogging through the alphabet starting with the letter A and ending with the letter Z. I recommend this writing adventure, it can kick start your daily practice of writing, but also preparing, planning, and plotting skills. I am a pantser, so this challenge helped me with plotting. I was able to develop these skills over the years to help me organize my writing life a little more. If you look at my writing desk today, that would not be the case. I have piles of sticky notes, journals, and books around me for quick references. But I still take the time to plot.

My first year in 2015, I joined the day before the challenge with no theme, no concepts, no planning. I needed to boost my word count and maintain the practice of writing every day. In my second year, I planned what I would write about but I wrote the blogs on the day. I was stressing myself out with the pressure of making sure I posted every day. For the last three years, I have been planning and writing the blogs in the month of March into the early weeks of April, and felt better about the process. This year I started to think about the challenge in February. What would my theme be and realized I didn’t have the passion to enter the challenge.

My life has changed a lot in the past two years with moving across the country to start a farm, start a new job at a new hotel, then Covid-19 really slapped a whole lot of fun on the situation. Last year I entered the contest to maintain my writing routine and to learn more about microgreens, the focus of our farm life. It was an easy fit. Years past I focused on hotel life which helped me focus on the manuscript of my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers. I was toying with the idea of focsuing on the hotel life for this year’s challenge theme. I am aware I have to focus on finishing my second memoir. I know myself and it’s difficult at times to admit my isms. If I enter this challenge I will make it the excuse of why I didn’t focus on my work in progress. I have been sharing my personal affirmation lately to remind me that I don’t have to to everything to look like I am doing something.

Sometimes you have to let go, to grow.

Honesly, I feel anxious about this decions, but I have made the commitment to focus on my second book and that is not up for negoation. My true self is standing up and taking over. Will I enter the writing challenge again, yes, but for now my focus and passion in on my work in progress.

For everyone who will be participating in the 2021 A o Z blogging challenge. I wish you luck and I will be cheering you on from the sidelines.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Surving a Blogging Challenge During a Pandemic

Blogging Thorugh A to Z Challenge has come and gone for another year. There were times I wondered if I would make it through the month. My intention was to write all twenty-six blogs prior to the month of April. I knew my theme and with the exception of a few letters, I felt prepared. I wrote 15 blogs before April 1st and was feeling pretty confident. When Covid-19 started to unravel quickly and our province went on lock-down on March 19 I still felt like I was prepared. Writing grounds me and I knew if I was writing I wouldn’t take on the natural stress of the world during a pandemic. This novel virus showed up for a reason and I wasn’t about to let it take over my creative life. Until it did at times. I can’t deny or hide in my bubble and say I wasn’t thinking about the impact Covid-19 was having on our lives.

 

During the Blogging Challenge unlike many Canadia, Americans, the plant that was not working due to Covid-19, I was fortunate to keep working. My full-time job as a manager at a hotel was needed after we laid 95% of our employees. I would now be more on the frontlines than ever and I didn’t mind that one bit. No one was traveling so I knew it wasn’t going to be overly busy, but we were still open for essential workers and anyone that needed a place to stay due to everyday circumstances. Right before the state of emergency was announced our hotel was going through some changes. One of them being a new General Manager. I had applied for the position to say I was interested in staying at the hotel no matter the outcome of the position. I wanted to be part of the very unique resort that the hotel is a part of and every experience I’ve had in my hospitality career has brought me to this hotel for a reason.

 

In-between the changes in the hotel and Covid-19 life, I still had blogs to finish. My them was ‘When I’m Not Writing, I’m Cooking’. I was writing about recipes that my hubby and I enjoy from other authors. I was sharing information about microgreens and writing a recipe for each microgreen we produce. My plan with this year’s challenge was to find the recipes that I am going to put together in a series of cookbooks. Simple, quick, and healthy meals for people on the go. Adam and I both work full-time jobs and run our small scale farm focusing on microgreens at the moment (more produce to come as we grow). The saying, ‘my plate is full’ is an understatement for us at the moment, but I swear it doesn’t feel like work at all. I love the hotel life and I love growing food to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits and for others who purchase our microgreens. It is fun! Sure there are times where I complain about being tired or the ego wants to sit on the sofa to watch Netflix, But I get up and move forward. No one else is going to harvest the microgreens or write the blog for me.

The last few weekends of April I sat down and finished the blogs. I did not want to quit halfway through. I do not quit on something that I love. I may shift gears from time to time to make compromises, but I don’t give up. Like any book I’ve started to read, I want to see what happens at the end. I want to uncover what creativity has in store for me.

During the week at the hotel, I was leading our small team to keep the hotel running. We were waiting for the GM they hired and offered me to be #2 (the title would be either assistant GM, director of operations). I was happy with this scenario. Then we didn’t hear from the new GM. They stopped responding to emails and texts, it was very odd. I worried about them, I reached out to see how they were. Nothing. Then out of the blue, I received a call from the management company that I have been working with. They were providing me with guidance as I was the acting GM until the new manager arrived. I was offered the position of GM of the hotel and I accepted. I couldn’t stop smiling. I know I have told myself and everyone that I didn’t want to be a GM, I didn’t want the level of responsibility, but deep down I knew I was more than capable of doing the job and told the ego to mess off and here I am during a global pandemic wit so many uncertainties, yet, I feel very grounded with where I am right now. I know there will be times when I will feel overwhelmed or second-guessing myself, but I know like any situation those emotions and feelings will pass. I have learned a lot in the last 25 years in my hospitality career. If I have opened every door of opportunity presented for a reason. To be right here and now.

The one area of my life that I will be focusing on is creativity. I will finish my second memoir and self publish it and the next one and the next one. I have so much to share. Creativity has chosen me for a reason. Hospitality has chosen me for a reason. I am grateful for this amazing journey.

It has been less than two months since Covid-19 has closed down our province and our countries. On my days off I will stay in my bubble and keep on writing. Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

To learn more about my Blogging Through A to Z Challenge, please start with the letter A, right HERE. Thank you.

Ziti – The Last Letter of the Alaphabet for A Great Pasta Dish

Ziti is smaller than rigatoni, but larger than mezzani. Ziti may have smooth sides, but the addition of the word rigati denotes lines or ridges on the pasta’s outer surface. Ziti is similar to penne, but often has ends cut in a straight line versus diagonally.

I heard about ziti when I was looking for a new pasta dish to make and I came across baked ziti. I have tried many recipes and recently I stumped on our new favorite way to make the traditional baked pasta dish. I haven’t changed one part of the recipe and I want to thank Feasting at Home for this great go-to recipe.

Baked Ziti with Mushrooms and Spinach (No Boil)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 12–16 ounces mushrooms, sliced (or sub ground meat or sausage)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 3 ounces baby spinach, chopped ( about 2 great big handfuls) or use 1-2 cups frozen spinach
  • 2 cups chicken stock or veggie broth
  • 1 x 24-25 ounce jar marinara sauce- Trader joe’s organic brand is really tasty -see notes
  • 8 ounces dry ziti or penne pasta, or similar
  • 1 cup ricotta, or herbed tofu ricotta
  • ¼–1/2 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan ( optional)
  • 1/2– 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese ( sub vegan cheese)
  • garnish with fresh basil or Italian parsley and optional chili flakes.

What To Do

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Heat oil over medium heat, add onion, garlic and mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper,  cooking and stirring until mushrooms get golden brown, about 10 minutes. Taste and make sure these are flavorful.
  • Add spinach and wilt, then add 2 cups of broth or stock, a jar of marinara sauce and the dry pasta ( about 2 ¾-3 cups dry). Stir, and bring to a simmer. Dot with the dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pecorino. Cover well and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and let the cheese get a little golden for a couple minutes. If there seems to be too much liquid left in the pan, simply simmer uncovered on the stove top  for 1-2 minutes until it evaporates.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs and chili flakes.

 

Yardlong Beans

These beans are actually from the legume family that is closely related to black-eyed peas. Some of the common names include asparagus-bean and string-bean.

Health Benefits of Yard Long Beans
  • The pods contain large quantities of soluble and insoluble fibers. Since the entire green pod is eaten as in green beans, a sufficient amount of dietary fiber is obtained in the diet.
  • Fresh beans contain a good amount of vitamin-C. 100 g yard-long beans provide 31% of vitamin-C.
  • Yard long beans also provide average amounts of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium. The body uses manganese as a cofactor for the important antioxidant enzyme.

Quick Garlic Yard Long Bean Recipe

What You Need

  • 2 cups of Yard Long Beans washed and trimmed to 3″ lengths
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

What To Do

  • Heat up wok, add oil. When shimmering, add minced garlic. Fry just for a few seconds until fragrant. You want to make sure that you don’t wait too long before adding the garlic to the oil, otherwise the oil will be too hot and the garlic will burn. Crunchy burnt garlic is no good.
  • Add your long beans, fry in wok for 30 seconds, tossing the garlicky oil all over the beans.
  • Add water, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Cover the wok. Let the beans steam for 5 minutes on medium heat. Check to see if beans are almost tender, but not too soft. If not, re-cover and steam an additional 1 minute. Uncover, let the rest of the liquid evaporate, about an additional minute.

This dish is great on its own or served as a side dish – I like to serve this on the side with a lentil loaf and mashed cauliflower.

Let me know if you get a chance to make this dish, have you cooked yard long beans? Any favorite recipes? I love trying new recipes!

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

Thank you Nutrition and You for the quick tips!

Xnipec – One Hot Pepper

Xnipec – a Yucatan hot pepper that translated to dog nose pepper because when you eat the pepper your nose sweats like a wet dog nose.  You may know its common name: habanero pepper.

A Few Health Benefits of This Little Hot Pepper
  • The habanero pepper is high in Vitamin C and Potassium.
  • Also high in capsaicin content. A phytonutrient, capsaicin is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help treat arthritis and headaches.

Xnipec Salsa

What You Need

  • 1 Medium-sized tomato or 2 small plum tomatoes cored and diced.
  • 1/3 Cup of red onion finely chopped
  • 2 Habanero peppers – deseed them and mince
  • 3 Tbsp. Cilantro finely chopped.
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Salt to taste

What to Do

  • Add tomatoes and onion together in a medium-sized bowl.
  •  Stir in peppers
  • Add orange and lime juice.
  • Add salt to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or as a side for tacos, burritos, or any dish that requires a little extra kick.

Do you cook with habanero peppers? What is your favorite way to prepare them? Send me your recipes, I love trying out new ways to cook these hot little peppers.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

Thank you Livingstrong for the quick tips on Haberno peppers.

Vermicelli Noodles

A few years ago I was trying to cut out the amount of pasta in our diet (I know why would one want to do that? Carbs my friends. It all comes down to carbs and I like beer so there is a carb dance around the house from time-to-time). I did some research and then took a recommendation from a friend to try out rice vermicelli noodles.

These noodles are thin and simply made from rice or mung bean or rice starch. It was a great alternative to the regular noodles we were using in our stir-frys.

Ginger-Sesame Veggie Vermicelli Noodle Stir-Fry

What you Need

  • 100 g of dried rice noodles (cooked as directed)
  • 1 carrot julienned thinly
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas (or snow peas will do nicely as well)
  • 1/2 cup of julienned zucchini
  • 1/2 cup of julienned red pepper
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
  • You can use your favorite veggies – sometimes we put cauliflower or broccoli.

The Sauce

  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons quality peanut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of sriracha

What to Do

  • Put all the sauce ingredients together in a mason jar and shake well together. Set aside.
  • Heat pan or wok on medium heat.
  • Add a teaspoon of olive oil and then add all veggies and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Fold in the rice noodles with veggies.
  • Add the sauce and mix well, make sure all the noodles and veggies are coated with the sauce.
  • Plate and garnish with cilantro
  • Enjoy!

Let me know if you try out this recipe. Does it make in in the cookbook? Do you have a vermicelli recipe that we can try out? I love hearing from you.

Until Monday, Keep on Typing…

 

What Foods Start With the Letter U?

There are not too many foods starting with letter U. I have used Ungai in past Blogging Thorugh A to Z challenges and now I am stumped. This post is going to be short and sweet.

Some ideas I had:

  • Unsalted nuts
  • Udon
  • Upside down cake (I know it is a stretch)
  • Umbrella Fruit – this is intriguing so I looked it up.

The Umbrella Fruit comes from a tropical tree and is a citrus fruit with a fibrous pit. It is juicy with a hint of tart acidity. I imagine it tastes like a tangerine.

The umbrella fruit helps boost immunity with its high levels of vitamin C. It helps with suppressing a cough and improving vision as the fruit contains a good amount of vitamin A that helps with vision. Who knew this little fruit could do so much and taste even better! I looked where I could find some umbrella fruit in New Brunswick and when I go for our weekly groceries I will be happy to find this new to me fruit in our local grocery store.

How many foods can you name that start with the letter U? Help, please.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

 

Turmeric – The Natural Anti-Inflammatory Spice

 

Turmeric spice comes from the rhizome of a plant which is part of the family that includes ginger and galangal. It is best known for its bright yellow, indelible stain, but good turmeric also gives a rich, earthy flavor. It is the spice that gives curry dishes that vibrant yellow color.

A Few Health Benefits of Turmeric & Curcumin

  • Curcumin (compounds found in turmeric) is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
  • Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound, it makes sense that it may help with arthritis.
  • There has been some research on turmeric and curcumin to assist with depression.
  • If curcumin can really help prevent heart disease, brain activity and Alzheimer’s, it would have obvious benefits for longevity.

We like to use turmeric in many of our meals. I like roasting veggies with turmeric and adding the veggies to a couscous salad.

Turmeric Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Zucchini

What you Need

  • 1 large sweet potato sliced into 1-inch rounds and halved.
  • 1 small zucchini sliced into 1-inch rounds.
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tbsp of ground dry turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika

What to Do

  • Pre-heat over at 400 degrees
  • line a baking sheet with tin foil
  • Toss sweet potatoes and zucchini with olive oil, spices, salt, and pepper. Make sure all the veggies are coated in oil, we don’t want them sticking to the pan.
  • Baked for 20 minutes, flipping the veggies halfway.
  • Serve on own or use for a side dish.

Do you use turmeric? How do you use it in your meals? I would love to try a new recipe. Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you The Food Coach and Healthline for your quick information about turmeric.

Sunflower ~ The Fertility Flower

One way to enjoy the nutritional beenfits of sunflowers is by eating sunflower microgreens. They are rich in stress-busting vitamin B and hormone-balancing zinc. Their sweet taste and hearty texture make a great addition to any salad.

A Few Fun Facts about Sunflower Sprouts

  • They help boost your fertility with sunflower seeds and sprouts. Both seeds and their sprouts contain high amounts of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that is essential for the development of sperm, which is why it is especially important for men.
  • Sunflower sprouts are a great source of protein. They are high in protein and that is a good thing to help repair muscles and bone development.
  •  They help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. When I put a handful of sunflower sprouts in my morning smoothie I notice my sugar cravings are less than when I eat more microgreens.

Like most microgreens, we incorporate the sunflower greens into a lot of our meals. A handful in tacos provides that crunch and sweet flavor. Instead of spinach or lettuce on our veggie burgers, we top them with sunflower greens. As we enter into the Spring and Summer seasons we will be eating more salads. We love sunflower shoots in any of our salads.

 

Simply Sunflower Salad

What You Need:

  • 1 cup Organic Sunflower Sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cup Spring Mix Salad Greens
  • 1 Carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup of jicama cubed (optional)
  • Sliced radish (optional)
  • Avocado, cubed (optional)
  • 1 whole Lemon, Juice

What to Do

  • Gently toss everything together and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salad if needed.
  • Enjoy!

This is a great salad on its own or a small side dish for any meal. Let me know if you try this salad. Do you use sunflower microgreens? How do you prepare them?

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

Red Russian Kale

Adam and I recently added a new microgreen to our product list. Red Russian Kale.  Before Covid-19 when we were selling at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, we had a few inquires about kale. We would share the benefits of the microgreens we were offering and everyone seemed to be happy with the alternative options. However, we wanted to try the micro kale for our own consumption to see if it was anything like its adult form. For me, full-grown kale is bitter to my taste buds and I would sometimes have a reaction such as a rash around my jawline when I consumed too much kale. Yes, you can eat too much kale, and the body rejects the high amount of Vitamin K. How I love our bodies and how they tell us a story of what is good and not so good for us.

Red Russian Kale microgreens have the nutritional punch of mature Kale but without the bitterness. They are mildly sweet and have a similar taste like mustard greens, only less spicy and nuttier. They are high in Vitamin A, C, and K, iron, and copper.

We have used the kale microgreens in many of our meals for over a month now. They are great as a garnish on top of tacos – the slight peppery taste gives the salsa another flavor.

I don’t have my own version of a recipe to offer at this time, but I found a few on-line and looking forward to trying out a few. The one that is on the menu board this week. Thank you Farm Fresh Feasts!

Red Russian Kale & Sausage Pasta

This recipe calls for a turkey sausage but I will substitute with a vegan chipotle sausage. As I reviewed this recipe, I know I will make some changes, for example, I won’t use heavy cream, I will use a like cream and add vegetable broth to half of the recommended portion.

What You Need

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Vegan sausage (we like the chipotle flavor, but you can use your favorite)
¾ cup spring onions, chopped white and tender green parts only
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic or 2-3 cloves fresh or roasted
1 quart crushed tomatoes, or a 28 ounce can of peeled tomatoes
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chopped Red Russian kale (stems to the compost)
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 pound rotini pasta
grated cheese for serving

What to Do

  1. Fill a pot with water and set it over high heat to come to a boil.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat, add oil, and cook sausage links until browned on all sides. Remove from skillet and slice into sausage coins, then set aside.
  3. Add onion to the skillet and cook for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, seasonings and sausage coins, stir to combine.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from boiling water (keep the water going and start the pasta) and add the kale to the skillet.
  5. Stir the kale into the sausage-tomato mixture, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions.
  7. When the sauce has finished simmering, remove from heat and stir in cream.
  8. Add drained rotini to the skillet and toss to coat with sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I will let you know how it goes. Have you tried Red Russian Kale microgreens? How do you use them? Any favourite recipes you can share? I love hearing from you.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…