FAITH-FILLED LIVING | SWEET TREASURES | SIMPLE PLEASURES

May 28, 2014

Locavore

Wagner's Farms in Meridian, Idaho | Karen June Miller

I adore the locavore movement because it embraces our local farmers, strengthens sustainability, and focuses on more eco-friendly practices. Yet, I continually meet people who are not familiar with the term locavore. Wikipedia explains it like this...
A locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One often cited, but not universal, definition of "local" food is food grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase or consumption.[1] The locavore movement in the United States and elsewhere was spawned as a result of interest in sustainability and eco-consciousness becoming more prevalent.[2]
I explored some local Idaho resources today. One find was Winchester Beef, a family owned business out of Parma, Idaho that sells farm-raised beef containing no hormones or antibiotics. They have a new customer! 

I also support the mom-and-pop stores. I have passed The Sweet Spot many times while driving Downtown Caldwell. They recently changed their sign and, today, I am certain that it leapt into my passenger seat. Not one to delay discovery, I pulled over.

The Sweet Spot features a happy duet: Kathy's Kakes and Penny's Pies. I had been driving to Nampa to purchase Penny's de-lucious pies, only to find out that she is practically in my backyard! I arrived later in the day when most of the cookies, pies, cupcakes, lemon bars, pink macaroons, and other goodies (I know, torture) had been snatched up. I can only imagine what the bulging display looks like in the morning! Well, the sweets made it home and immediately disappeared. Click HERE to pay them a visit.

In the sweet pie and pie,

May 22, 2014

Summer at the Museum

Idaho City Historical Museum - Karen June Miller
[Click to Enlarge]

Last August, while moving from the Boise National Forest to Idaho's Treasure Valley, I assumed that my curating at the old gold mining museum was over. My new home was 1 hour and 17 minutes away. I could no longer walk to the museum and I lacked a reliable car, so I turned in my apron, keys and said goodbye

As my substitute teaching was concluding here in the valley, I found myself pining for the adventures of mountain life. Members of the Idaho City Historical Foundation were expressing their desire to have me back. A friend had helped us find a trustworthy vehicle. I missed museum work and needed summer employment, so I agreed to return.

The above photograph is meaningful. You see, when those museum doors are open, the world walks in. Our 1863 mining town attracts people from every continent. Day trippers are eager to explore America's Wild West and I love bringing it to life. 

Hence, this will be my 4th museum season. My boss, Ginger Fields, has made significant changes to the exhibits and layout. Ginger is a game changer and I am happily aboard.

If yer up in these here parts, drop in for a spell!

May 14, 2014

An adventure a day...

Virginia City Historic District | Nevada

SEASONS

Seasons come and seasons go. There is no heavy-revvy . . . unless we remind ourselves that seasons are not isolated to weather. Shakespeare wrote,
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
A lifetime is a succession of exits and entrances. Sometimes our passions suffer for it, routines are shaken. We adjust, purge, and reinvent.

IDAHO

My three and a half years in Idaho have involved change, survival, relational disappointments, grief over my children's choices, and residual consequences. Then there have been new jobs, addresses, landscapes, discoveries, friendships, and yes, a new climate.

Blogging has been swept aside by my line of work, ministry involvement, and the sport schedule of my 14-year old son. I have missed eye-dyllic because it is an outlet and a place to harness happenings.

I am still having incredible adventures (like the one pictured.) I just need to write them down.

AN ADVENTURE A DAY...

My summer theme is: An adventure a day... I am aiming at keeping posts snack-like. I will search out new adventures and report the good stuff. Climb aboard!

Seaking adventure,

May 13, 2014

Jerusalem: A Cookbook



I love the movie, West Bank Story! It is a musical spoof of West Side Story and involves 2 fast food restaurants in the West Bank: Kosher King and Hummus Hut. David, an Israeli soldier, and Fatima, a lovely Palestinian cashier, fall in love in the midst of animosity and rivalry. The music is frolicsome and the antics amusing with an underlying message of getting along. It was the 2006 Academy Award Winner for Best Live Action Short Film. I strongly recommend it.

Jersusalem: A Cookbook resonates the movie's themes. Two chefs, coming from a history of ethnic conflict, collaborate on a book, only the love story is about food. Amazon offers this description of the book:
In Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore the vibrant cuisine of their home city—with its diverse Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year—Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This stunning cookbook offers 120 recipes from their unique cross-cultural perspective, from inventive vegetable dishes to sweet, rich desserts. With five bustling restaurants in London and two stellar cookbooks, Ottolenghi is one of the most respected chefs in the world; in Jerusalem, he and Tamimi have collaborated to produce their most personal cookbook yet.
This book provides a brief history of Jerusalem, the factors that developed the region's food culture, and the passions of both chefs. I have gathered great inspiration from it.

Smiles,

Feb 5, 2014

Happy World Nutella Day!

WALK SOFTLY
AND CARRY A BIG LICK!

These days, we have so many quirky holidays that almost nothing is left out. I can live without most of them, but I make a grand exception for Nutella! 

My family knows that I periodically hide a jar of this silky elixir as insurance: 1.) to maintain my inventory and 2.) to protect it from double-dippers. I do share, but on my own terms.

Theodore Roosevelt's "walk softly" quote has found new meaning, and it does have to do with foreign policy...

Happy World Nutella Day!


Jan 25, 2014

Chewing

Village Cafe in Bishop, CA.

SPARRING MATCH

Have you ever noticed that changing a habit can become a sparring match! Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying, "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." I personally believe that no habit is invincible, but changing one can feel like pulling a weed, only to find out that it is attached to your neighbor's refrigerator!

PARKED

My previous post, "Mindful Eating," mentioned slowing down meals in order to naturally arrive at satiation. Chewing seemed like a good place to start, so I prepared a splendid breakfast and sat down to eat. My objective was to chew 26 times, hands free of utensils.

I took my first bite and began to chew. I immediately noticed that I was still holding my fork, so I laid it down. I took a second bite and this time my fork was parked. Before arriving at 26 chews, however, I picked up the fork, began reloading, put it back down, and then picked it up again. On the third bite, I ignored my fork, but I began chewing faster in anticipation of my next fork-lift. I even thought of things I needed to do and walked away from my plate several times until my 26 chews were over! I eventually began to focus on the flavor and texture of my meal, but oh what a battle!

ASSEMBLY LINE EATING

I have observed people as they shovel food into their mouths. Their chewing seems obligatory and minimal. They quickly swallow and then reload. Twenty minutes later, they have sometimes eaten the equivalent of 3 or more meals and their appestat is out of a job. 

I am not an assembly line eater, but the mechanics of my own meal glared back at me. Plainly, I was uncomfortable not managing my fork between bites and I recognized that I was robbing myself of pleasure.

SATIATION

While shopping, I often see something I want and give myself full permission to come back the next day IF my desire is still strong. I rarely return. So, I recently tried this with 3 small, spicy chicken sandwiches. I ate one and wanted another. I gave myself permission to indulge again in 15 minutes if I was still hungry. In 15 minutes, I was full. My 8th grade son, Brock, picked up where I left off.

As I introduce more whole, fresh, and seasonal foods into my lifestyle, you might say that my chew-chew train is on track.


P.S. My inspiration comes from Darya Pino Rose, author of Foodist.

Jan 19, 2014

Mindful Eating



POTLUCKS AND DIETS

I look forward to women's ministry potlucks. The food is scrumptious and the conversation entertaining. The topics of religion and politics rarely create problems because we most often agree. I cringe, however, when an enthusiastic dieter uses mealtime to detail their latest diet and weight loss — usually while abstaining from what the rest of us are enjoying. I can sweep my eyes around the table and see people becoming more aware of their plates. And there are plenty of leftovers.

I mentioned this scenario to my husband and his reply was, "You sure don't have this problem at men's retreats."

My internal dialogue does not wish the dieter failure, but I am predicting that the diet will end soon and the weight will return. I am usually right. Being that most diets are unnatural in the first place, they are almost doomed to failure.

PAST

I was a chunky toddler when it was considered healthy to be so. In later years, it was discovered that early weight determines how one will deal with pounds for the rest of their life. For me, that was true. I have always struggled with weight gain; and I am certain that Wonder and Weber's bread were not my friends.

I have tried most popular diets, only to have my success erode as soon as I got bored and let up on the restrictions. In fact, I hate the word "diet" because I enjoy the diversity, culture, and creativity of food too much to abandon an entire food group, eat like a caveman, or pretend to like Chicharrón (fried pork rinds.)

PRESENT

My ultimate desire is to experience real food without deprivation. Yes, life is too short to be fat, but it is also too short not to enjoy the bountiful food choices that God saw fit to stock the planet with.

I have concluded that my healthy pursuit needs to focus on balance and better habits. So, I am not on a diet. I am not following a prescribed meal plan. I am not counting calories or weighing food. I am simply forging a healthier relationship with fresh, in-season, whole, organic, and unprocessed food. I am employing habits that slow down and increase the pleasure-factor of eating, while bringing my body back to a healthy rhythm.

I am grateful to authors Michael Polan (Cooked, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, and In Defense of Food) and Darya Pino Rose (Foodist) for offering common sense and affirmation. Due to their illumination, I am employing the following new habits...

Eating
     26 Chews while Utensils are Parked
     Less Distraction
     Mindful Eating
     Enjoyment
     
Shopping
     Farmers Market
     Whole Foods
     Organic Food Co-ops
     Homegrown
     Frozen when Fresh is Unavailable

Cafe Karen
     Real Food and Seasonal Ingredients
     Minimal Processed Food (especially sugar and flour)
     Batch Cooking
     Advance Preparation
     A High Protein Breakfast
     Meals of 50% Vegetables
     Fruit as Snacks
     Palm Sized Meat, Fish, and Poultry Portions
     Non-Sugared Beverages
     Sweets: Worth-the-splurge

Dining Out
     Dining: Worth-the-Splurge

Movement
     1000 Footsteps (with the aide of a FitBit)
     Strengthening Exercises

Mindfully,

Dec 21, 2013

Ornament Box Poetry



I collect all sorts of interesting ornaments and Hallmark™ has a home in that collection. In the last decade, I have begun to acquire nostalgic and retro ornaments, as well as those that relate to cooking. 

One charming Hallmark™ feature — that can easily be overlooked — are the charming verses printed on the ornament boxes. Just like the keepsake ornaments that they are paired with, they evoke warm Christmas memories. Here are a few of those verses...

MISCHIEVOUS KITTENS
2008 Hallmark™Ornament

Twas the night before Christmas,
and Kitty was stirring,
lapping up milk and happily purring,
when, what to her mischievous eyes did appear,
but Santa himself, who smiled through his beard.
"I believe that's my milk," Santa said with a pat,
"but you're welcome to it—
you've been such a good cat."
SEASON'S TREATINGS
2011 Hallmark™Ornament

Spicy, yummy gingerbread
can warm the coldest day,
And baking it is less like work
than merry treat-filled play!
That's why a cozy ginger-house
and cookies baked to match
Deliver holiday delight—
batch after tasty batch!

SEASON'S TREATINGS
2009 Hallmark™Ornament

In the middle of the Christmas rush,
there's still no better way
to find that sense of wonder
than to designate a day
for old-fashioned Christmas baking
just like Grandma used to do...
make each cookie bright and merry,
and you'll soon be merry, too.

DO YOURSELF A FLAVOR
2007 Hallmark™Ornament

Your cooking might be family-style
or maybe French cuisine—
From amateur to gourmet chef,
the kitchen's just your scene!
There's always some new fancy treat
or down-home dish to savor—
So stir up something magnifique,
and do yourself a flavor!

SUGAR-PLUMPED FAIRY
2009 Hallmark™ Ornament

The Sugar-Plumped Fairy
brings holiday wishes
For taste-tempting treats
that are truly delicious.
She sparkles and shimmers,
and everyone knows
She's sweeter than sweet
from her head to her toes!


Merry Christmas!

Dec 11, 2013

Joy

My Nativity Snow Globe | Taken by Karen June Miller

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:7 (NKJV)

Joyfully,

Nov 11, 2013

Saveur the Season!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart with Gingersnap Crust
Saveur Magazine | Credit: Helen Rosner

SAVEUR is my favorite culinary magazine! In their own words, "It celebrates the cultures and environments in which dishes are created and the people who create them." I so agree! I am continually challenged and inspired.

I am gung-ho for tradition, but shaking things up a bit is very fun! Currently, SAVEUR is featuring 50 Thanksgiving Potluck Recipes to add pizzazz to your feast! Take a look at the preview below and I guarantee something will say HELLO! Also, the how-to for the Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart with Gingersnap Crust follows!

  • Autumn Panzanella Salad
  • Pecan Cheese Wafers
  • Cumin-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
  • Sautéed Green Beans with Pickled Shallots
  • Mashed Yams with Lime and Honey
  • Pecan Cream Cake
  • Roasted Beets with Orange and Crème Fraîche
  • Spinach Madeleine
  • Van Valkenberg Hot Slaw
  • Kale and Sweet Potato Gratin
  • Piquant Corn Bread
  • Green Beans with Lemons and Capers
  • Creamed Onion Gratin
  • Salata Adas (Garlicky Lentil Salad)
  • Brussels Sprouts Gratin
  • Winter Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries and Candied Pecans
  • Broiled Spaghetti Squash with Walnut-Miso Glaze
  • Grizzly Bear Pie
  • Potato and Rutabaga Gratin

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE TART WITH GINGERSNAP CRUST
Serves 8 

Ingredients
4 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (about 60 cookies)
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 lb. cream cheese, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
⅛ tsp. ground allspice
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
¾ cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée
2 eggs
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions
1.) Heat oven to 325°. Mix gingersnaps and butter in a bowl; press crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 10" springform or tart pan. Bake until crust is just set, 8–10 minutes; let cool.

2.) Pass grated ginger through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on and discarding solids; set ginger extract aside. Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cloves in a bowl until combined. Beat in reserved ginger extract and pumpkin until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour filling into crust and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until lightly browned on top and center of filling is just set, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.

Have a SNAPPY day!

Nov 3, 2013

Millies Savory Teas

Millies Savory Teas

I was recently introduced to Millies Savory Teas through an outreach called Love with Food. I was delighted! Millies (no apostrophe) has created green tea infused sipping broths that come in 5 flavors: Spicy Tortilla, Tomato Basil, Thai Lemongrass, Indian Spice, and Smoky Facon — all of which are natural and vegan. The teas are satisfying and a great way to curb cravings. To learn more, click HERE.

Love with Food is a monthly sampling of healthful snacks, delivered by US mail. Each purchase provides 1 meal to a hungry child. It is a wonderful way to explore wholesome options while nourishing others. To visit their site, click HERE.

Happy sipping,

Oct 27, 2013

Segue

Please do not use without permission.
Old Downtown Caldwell — By Karen June Miller

My blog hiatus was due, in part, to a move from the Boise National Forest to Idaho's Treasure Valley. I am now a flatlander, living in a newer subdivision, surrounded by rural countryside. This is one step closer to owning a home. Our desire is to be planted firmly amongst the farmers, but that will take a year or two.

I embrace new adventure, but I do miss mountain life. I was intrigued with small town idiosyncrasies. I enjoyed living in the woods, gazing at a glittered night sky, watching snowfall frost the forest, and encountering wildlife on mountain roads. My 3 seasons at the Boise Basin Museum introduced me to people from all over the world, affirming my deep love for culture and history. I made many friends and memories. It is only 90 minutes away, but I am now a visitor.

Please do not use without permission.
Nampa Countryside — Taken by Karen June Miller

Presently, instead of photographing old mining town relics and forestal scenes, I am capturing farms, vineyards, livestock, rural decay, vintage homes, farm stands, and charming old downtown districts. The brilliant colors of Fall have begun to form paled piles of leaves; however, my photos ensure their memory.

A drive through Downtown Caldwell reminds me of where my grandparents, Sam and Jane Drummy, resided in North Platte, Nebraska. Two-story homes, with basements and large front porches, line Blaine Street. Both of my grandparents retired from the Union Pacific Railroad and those trains rumble through Caldwell, sounding their tri-toned whistles around the clock.

I already have much to report as I continue to explore and take ownership of my new romping grounds. Perhaps this is why I was not posting on my blog. I was busy gathering new material.

Autumnally yours,

Jul 20, 2013

Civil War Reenactment

Our Idaho City Frontier Days featured a Civil War Reenactment group. I was not only thrilled to pick their brains, but I had an incredible photo opportunity! I used my iPhone's Hipstamatic camera app. It has a retro feel and the virtual camera cases, lenses, and film can be mixed and matched to achieve high resolution photos. Here I used the Libatique73 lens and DTypePlate film, reminicent of the old Daguerreotype plates used during Civil War times.

Civil War Camp Canteen and Garments
Civil War Camp Half Shelter
Civil War Camp Tent and Equipment Rack
Civil War Woman and Soldier
Civil War Free Time
Civil War Soldier and Canon
Civil War Woman and Embroidery

Special thanks goes out to the Idaho Civil War Volunteers for posing authentically for these shots. They can be followed on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Smiles,
NOTE: Please do not use these photos for personal use without my permission. They have been documented as my original work on Instagram and Ogle.

Jun 20, 2013

Seasonal Adjustments

Wintered Leaf

I am out of the loop due to seasonal jobs. While subbing, I was able to use a computer during breaks and prep hours, so my blog and networking were well attended to. Here at the Boise Basin Museum, we don't have the ability to take credit cards let alone use the Internet. 

I return home to email, messages, notifications, and a neglected To-Do List. The only game that I play is Words with Friends, which suits my love of words, but even that requires some catching up. After walking up the hot and dusty mountain road toward home each afternoon, I don't always feel like doing much. 

"W. Days" is an iPhone app that provides the tablet for my exploits. I can easily write posts, email them to myself later, and then transfer them to my blog. This fills time if the museum becomes slow.

NOTE: The photo was taken using Hipstamatic's Salvador84 lens and Robusta film. The lens is Dali-esque and interprets a photo by mirroring, layering, and shadowing. The leaf survived winter in an old ore tram. 

Tootles,