There is a scene in the movie No Strings Attached when Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman are eating breakfast together. He is watching her with incredulous eyes and he says, "You eat like a baby dinosaur."
That is kind of how I eat. As a little girl, I would get my meal over my entire person. My Grandpa Earl used to watch me eat the whole time he was over for dinner. I guess it was really entertaining.
And it is really important to me that pancakes be fresh. But I don't like waste. So I had to learn how to make just one pancake. I'm not going to lie, it was a challenge. This kind of precision has not been seen since the stones on the pyramids of Giza were fitted together.
One Buttermilk Pancake
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
two pinches of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk + 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (this is your buttermilk)
1 teaspoon melted butter
Sunflower oil, for cooking
Butter and Boysenberry syrup, for serving
Mix your dry ingredients, then swirl you wet ones together. Add the wet to the dry, and barely barely mix (I have a reeeeally hard time with this, since mixing is so fun). Turn a cast iron skillet on to medium heat and coat with the sunflower oil (a very light, clean oil). Use a fun mold to cook the pancake. Trust me, it tastes better.
Why do we love certain houses, and why do they seem to love us? It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings. ~T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings
To start off with a family anecdote, I'll share a story about my niece, Lauren. We were celebrating her baptism, I believe, at Tia Rosas. She was 8. At the end of the meal, she starts looking around, noting the decoration, the music, and the food. Suddenly she turns to me, and with inquisitive eyes she asks,
"Is this a Mexican place?"
Today is a day of domestic bliss and grammar. This is because I filled up my house with yummy smells. And I finally learned how to correctly spell the word "zucchini".
Seriously, who ever thought to put zucchini in bread? (Still wanting to spell it wrong.) I would like to give them a little curtsey. Especially after enjoying some fresh out of the oven today. It was jump-up-and-down good. (I think I actually did.) The chocolate chips didn't hurt. I have entitled my bread "Baby Mexican Zucchini Bread" because of the cinnamon and Mexican vanilla used, both so reminiscent of warmth and richness and exotic vacations.
I started out with a version created by the chefs at Cook's Illustrated, but the recipe evolved so much that I really think I must call it mine. Be sure and use the freshest zucchini available- now is the time, as it blooms in spring.
For extra good karma, share with your neighbors.
Baby Mexican Zucchini Bread
1 small zucchini
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 T butter, melted & cooled
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon cream
1/2 tablespoon Mexican vanilla
1/4 cup toasted pecans
1. Mix up your dry ingredients with the pecans and chocolate chips.
2. Shred your zucchini.
3. Whip up your egg, yolk, sour cream, cream, butter, and vanilla. I do this by hand.
4. Fold your wet ingredients into your dry, then fold in your zucchini.
5. Spray two baby loaf pans. Plop the batter in with a wooden spoon.
6. Let your batter rest and hydrate while you warm up your oven to 350 degrees. Clean up the mess you have so artistically created. When your oven beeps its readiness, place your baby loaves in the middle and cook for 35 minutes. You will know it is ready by the way it springs back to a very gentle touch.
7. Baby loaves cool fast. I turned mine out of the pan, let it blow off steam for about 5 minutes, then sliced and buttered and jumped up and down as I ate.
Note to Fastidious Cooks:
There has been some debate over whether to squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini before it goes in the batter. This is madness! The bread really benefits from the extra moisture the zucchini brings to it. Zucchini cakes, I must add, are a different story. You will end up with floppy, soggy, highly unsatisfactory zucchini cakes if you do not take a towel to them and wring them thoroughly.
Got any favorite ideas on how to prepare delicious zucchini? Please share.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ― Margaret Atwood
“Whatever you are physically...male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy--all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”
A long time ago, in 1897, a man named Francis P. Church was in a fragile position. A little girl named Virginia had written into his paper, The Sun, earnestly seeking the truthful answer to a question which presses upon the mind of every honest little eight-year-old. Is Santa Claus real?
Mr. Church must have grappled with what to do, for everyone knows that little girls must grow up at some point. Should he really encourage her fantasies about things that don't exist, or should he welcome her to the real world and prepare her for the harsh realities she would have to face?
He made a choice that day, and that was to give Virginia the following answer:
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be grown up's or children's are little.
Yes, Virgina, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor grown ups can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's not proof that they are not there.
You tear apart a baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest grown up that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view the beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else so real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Here is my little Pan-cake. Now I know why they call those things made with string "Cat's Cradle". She did this all by herself!
Last year I made a doll supposedly for my niece and kept her for myself. Which was a really super Grinch-like thing to do. This year my nieces requested dolls and are not going to let me keep them. Here is the preliminary sketch of the mermaid doll.
The preliminary sketch of the ballet doll. I've tried to make things before without doing sketches, but it is just no good. I have a theory for why this might be. Basically, you get to know the spirit of the thing before you create it when you are sketching. For me, the spirit has to come before the body. The personality has to come before the person. The education has to come before the action.
Okay, you get what I'm saying.
Then I loop up some muslin so I can embroider. This little mermaid has a fancy beaded tail. Beading is a lot of work, but the process is very pleasurable. When the hands are busy, the mind can rest. So beading gives my poor overloaded mind a chance to take a break.
I love this quote in the movie Chocolat, and it is so applicable during the holidays.
Père Henri :
I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do - by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.
I used to be so adventurous with at-home remedies. Then I started getting lazy and falling into the all-too-common belief that it has to come packaged, in a bottle to be good. But at-home beauty treatments are SO MUCH BETTER! Nothing is better than fresh. So rattle your own cage, and try something new.
What is in this hair treatment? Here's the line up:
2 fresh avocados
1 shot glass of olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 dollop of Greek yogurt
10 drops peppermint essential oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
I used to put this in a bowl, and make a big mess trying to get my hand down in there to mash it all up. It is much easier to use a wooden cutting board. This one is bamboo. In case you were wondering. If you mash quickly, the ingredients will not run. And you will feel cool, like those people at Cold Stone Creamery who work the ice cream on the flat marble surface. At least, that was how I felt.
A word of warning: You might get so excited about your home remedy that you start injuring yourself. I hit my head so hard on the fridge that I thought I might have an open wound. And then it would not be very fun to put fresh lime juice on my scalp. I also ran into a door frame gathering up materials. But there was no blood. (Knock on wood) Now for the benefits! Avocado: Promotes hair growth, nourishes the hair and scalp. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/avocado-oil-for-hair.html
Once you have your head and hair covered in the avocado treatment, give your scalp a good massage. This will stimulate your cells, and activate the ingredients. Wrap your hair up in plastic. You will need at least two strips. Grab an old, beloved towel, and wrap it over the plastic. The heat will seal up the oils and all the good action happening.
Now, sit back, relax, and allow Mother Nature's miraculous power to take place. Your scalp will tingle and feel sooo nice. You will have good hair days for like a month.
“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert
I recognize that perhaps Rattle the Cages needs a little juice. So I thought I'd share about my date in Hawaii!
I had so many adventures in Hawaii this summer, it would take a book to chronicle them. I went over with my mom and my niece, Justine. The first place me & Justine went swimming was a beach in Waikiki. While we were splashing about, this guy on a floating device started throwing up right into the water. Right next to us.
We got out. Then we headed up the east side of the island to the North Shore, where we were happy to find the beaches were almost deserted, and no one was throwing up in the water. In fact, the water was so clean and clear that you can see the bottom of the ocean from all the way up in the air. I went up in a helicopter. And then it was almost me that was doing the throwing up! Or "throwing my stomach on the ground" as my niece Maya would say. Fortunately, I was able to keep my breakfast down, and save the other passengers from a super unpleasant ride. Plus, my breakfast that day had been really good, from a place called Ted's Bakery, where they have the most superb doughnuts I've ever, ever tasted.
One of the things my hotel offered was surf lessons. I had no idea how cute the instructors were, or I would have signed up way before I did. But I really just wanted to try it. I was kind of nervous about it, though. What if I failed? What if my particular brand of sunscreen was attractive to sharks? Okay, sharks were probably the main concern, but failing to get up on my board was a close second.
And then I am out on the water, lying belly-down, bum-up on this board. While we are watching for waves, this tall guy with red hair keeps splashing me. At first it was fun, but then I was like, Okay, that kind of hurts. I mean, before you get used to it and all, the salt water really stings, especially when someone is splashing it directly into your face. I had kind of forgotten as well that this is male behavior for flirting.
So, anyways, I get up on my board, and everyone is cheering, and I could just stay out there all day, and all night too. Except for maybe the whole shark thing and dark water and stuff. And not being able to see what waves are good. And being shaky all over from the terror and beauty of doing something I've never done before while all of these people- there are stands by the bay- including some exceptionally cute boys- are watching. So maybe it was good that the surf lesson had a time limit. By that time, I had made some friends out in the water. One, named Gunnar, was about ten years old, and when ever we found ourselves surfing in sync, he would give me the "Hang Loose" sign with both hands, and I would give it back. Another girl, Annie, who was black and had the coolest hair ever, would say, "Hey girlfriend!" whenever she saw me. And my surf instructor would periodically say, "Hey look a turtle!" And then flip my board over and completely dunk me, and I would fall for it every time.
So then I am back at the hotel, pulling off my rash guard, and the guy who was splashing me is asking for my number. There are like ten people standing around, so of course I just give it to him. Fast forward to Tuesday night, the night before we leave, and I am riding with him in this jeep that is just full of sand. That wasn't the only thing in the jeep, though. When he opens the back, there are all of these coconuts. He tells me he climbs the trees to pick them, and drinks four a day. Having witnessed one of the locals climbing a coconut tree, I completely believe him.
Then he pulls out this machete, and I admit I am a tad nervous. But he hacks open one of the coconuts with great skill, and offers me the first drink. That so never happens on a date in Arizona. Unlike those bottled coconut waters, which I find repellent, this is wonderful: light, clean, just a hint of sweet. Of course I am wearing some impractical heels, so he offers me his flip flops, which are twice the size of my feet. He walks barefoot, like a true jungle man. We walk along the beach, and soon I take the shoes off. I stub my toe really hard on some coral, but then I learn to watch out for that.
Sometimes, when you are walking on a beach in O'ahu with someone you don't really know, and he is holding your hand, and you are miles and miles from home, you kind of wonder what you are doing. But then I look up at the stars and the moon, and I know exactly why I am there. I've never seen such stars, never even imagined they could look like that. The moon is hanging low, a red crescent, and waves just keep coming and coming. I think to myself, I am exactly where I should be. And all of my experiences have led me here, to this beach, under these stars, on this night. And I could not be anywhere other than where I am on this night.
Which is a good feeling. Especially when you've been doing a bit of wandering. Because as JRR Tolkien once said, Not all who wander are lost.