Begin With Intention, End With Thanks

During my favorite yoga classes, the instructor asks us to set an intention for our practice. At the end we pause to be thankful for things like the time, money, and ability to be there.

It seems to me that this is the best way to begin and end anything. It could be as small as a dreary Monday, or as all-encompassing as parenthood.

 

I have yoga teacher training one full weekend of every month. This was my weekend. I’m sore from my intercostals to my gluteus minimus.

 

Preparing to do my "homework" - yoga on the patio with a classmate
Preparing to do my “homework” – yoga on the patio with a classmate

My house is dirtier than usual, and my parents took Colby to a soccer tournament (one which I really wanted to see). My intention, though, for this training is to learn and grow; breathe and think. I shrugged off the guilt of neglected domestic duty. I enjoyed my time, I explored the range of my ability, I learned a lot, and I spent time with good, like-minded people.

I also met this little lady:

I think her name is Sunny. All I know is that she made my morning 897% better. And she's soft.
I think her name is Sunny. All I know is that she made my morning 897% better. And she’s soft.

And a few of her doggy friends.

I came home to see one of my own puppies walking around with a beet she fished out of the vegetable crate:

 

Someone likes her veggies.
Someone likes her veggies.

I let her keep it just because she was having so much fun and, well, because she’s cute. Eventually it looked like a mass homicide occurred and I had to take it away. Parts of her muzzle and paws are still pink.

I had a rowdy pizza date with my husband, friends, and their kids.

I came home tonight famished and exhausted, but I had been thinking about supper for approximately two hours prior to arriving. I wanted chard gratin, sweet potatoes, and deviled eggs. It took about an hour to get together, but it was worth the wait.
Here’s the tweaked swiss chard gratin recipe. It’s simpler and much, much better!

A pic of the old recipe, but you get the idea.
A pic of the old recipe, but you get the idea.

If you have a large dutch oven or oven-proof pot you can do this in one pan. Otherwise get out a large pot  and grease a 9×12 pan. All instructions here are for an oven-proof dutch oven.

Ingredients

One to two pounds of swiss chard, cleaned and stalks removed. You can chop it or not. I just throw it all in the pan.

Grated Parmesan

Milk or cream

Salt & Pepper

one tablespoon butter

Flour

whole grain mustard

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a bit of olive oil in the pan or dutch oven. Saute chard until wilted and fragrant. While chard is cooking whisk mustard into milk. Take off heat and swirl a pat or two of butter through the greens. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour over the greens and add milk or cream. I use about one cup of milk to two pounds of chard. It depends on how saucy you want your gratin. Salt, pepper, and stir. Add a bunch of grated parmesan (1/2-1 cup) and stir.

If using an oven-proof dutch oven or pot, place the entire thing in the oven. If not, pour mixture into a greased baking dish. Place in oven for 30-40 minutes. It’s done when it’s bubbly, brown and crisp on the top. At best, this gratin has a crunchy top, deeply roasted flavor, and tender texture. It’s comfort food for grown ups.

 

So I’m ending my practice for today with thanks. Thanks for the opportunity and support to take part in the training, thanks for a still-rockin’ garden to create supper with, and thanks for a day off tomorrow.

 

xoxo

 

 

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Capresé Grilled Cheese, Lake-side

Friends, I’m happy to introduce you to a former classmate and newly-found friend of mine, Catie Joyce of www.theapproximateyogi.com. You will remember her as the person who taught me how to get rid of excess greens in my morning smoothies, and whose writing on Rebelle Society and Elephant Journal I’ve been sharing all summer. I’m so happy to have a guest post from her here. I plan to make this Caprese Grilled Cheese for supper tonight. Enjoy!

Summer in a snapshot!
Summer in a snapshot!

I had this amazing idea for a decadent grilled cheese sandwich the other day. Luckily, I blog, so I had the perfect excuse to indulge. That, and I had a willing accomplice. Hence, the capresé grilled cheese sandwich was born.

So for those unfortunate souls who have never had capresé, I’ll enlighten. It is the perfect summertime appetizer, so fresh, so elegant, and a perfect use of some really great garden ingredients. You start with a base of mozzarella, a nice round thick slice, add a slice of summer-ripe garden tomato, top it with a fresh basil leaf, then drizzle with olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar. Done. Place the whole thing in your mouth, and wait for your taste buds enter into heaven!

Why not put this into a grilled cheese sandwich? I thought. (I think the original inspiration came from trolling Pinterest, looking at other grill cheese spin-offs.) So I did. You really can’t go wrong with grilled cheese anyway, but adding these extra ingredients, heating them up to make that mozzarella just ooze –heaven in a sandwich. Plus, with those fresh garden ingredients it is a little healthier than your average grilled cheese.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

Good Italian bread, sliced

The freshest looking tomato (also really fun to try different colored heirlooms)

Fresh basil

Soft mozzarella

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (splurge on a good one)

Butter

Frying pan

Photo credit to Alison Nason
Photo credit to Alison Nason

Here’s what you’ll do:

Slice everything up –bread, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Butter your bread slices on both sides (or just the outside if you want to reduce the fat). Place in hot frying pan that’s on medium heat. Add mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf. Then carefully drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt if you’d like. Place other buttered bread slice on top of this. Cook for a few minutes, until bread has that lovely brown, toasted, melted-buttery quality, then flip and do the same for the other side.

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Now you’re ready to enjoy. It tastes best if you have the pleasure of sharing it with a good friend, and a view of a lake on a sunny afternoon, as I was fortunate enough to have. However, it will taste great on a rainy day as well.

The Week of No Pants

I haven’t worn pants all week. Also, I told my friend’s daughter that the best thing about running shorts was that the underwear are built in, and much more comfy than regular undies. She looked at me like maybe it is not socially acceptable to tell people that. Whoops.

If I were a cartoon character my name would be Ms. Webb No Pants.

It’s no pants week because I said so. In a few days I will be forced to don teacher clothes. They are itchy and pinchy and no fun. My abdomen and thighs are enjoying their last week of freedom.

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A Week in Pictures

I’m sitting in my car, parked outside the music studio where Colby takes drum lessons.

Mother Nature decided I was tired, so she’s watering my garden for me.

It seemed like a good day to spend a paycheck. At Target, on school supplies. The irony.

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I had allergy testing done earlier this week.

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Now I will know what is like to live in Maine and not eat any seafood.

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Matt and I got our marriage license. I kept thinking they were gonna say no, but it turns out as long as we’re not first cousins we’re all set!

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I have painted my kitchen twice in the past two weeks. *facepalm*

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The sea foam green was good in theory. I like the present khaki MUCH better.

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I got a college ID much different from those I’ve had in the past. I think I look better in this one too.

We’ve been canning and freezing in the middle of all of this wedding planning kid carting new (extra) job ruckus. I think I can I think I can . . .

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What’s Cooking?

Head over to the Recipes page to see the newest chard recipe. I know. You could barely wait, couldn’t you?

We ate another version of this last night with parmesan, and it was super satisfying all over again.

On the sweet side, we just picked (I just picked) and pitted about 10 cups of tart cherries from our neighbors’ trees.

a sink full of cherries - if only I knew what to do with them
a sink full of cherries – if only I knew what to do with them

Dear God, I promise I won’t try to make anything with chard and cherries in it. I promise.

Coming up this week:

Cherry Preserves

Swiss Chard Pesto

Yet Another Beet Green Smoothie

What’s cooking in your kitchens, friends? Any suggestions?

Green Smoothie Brown

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Thanks to my friend Catie (of theapproximateyogi.com) who suggested using smoothies as a means to rid one’s refrigerator of excess greens.

I feel like such a brat. Like complaining about my over abundance of nourishing food is comparable to complaining about a new car for super-sweet 16, but I digress.

I had a giant bag of beet greens in the fridge, so here’s what I did:

4 ice cubes, a handful of blueberries, a tbsp of chia seeds, on chopped and very ripe peach, a splash of water, and as many beet greens as I could put in the blender. Blend for a really long time.

It was very beety ( not surprising), but pretty good for something the color of dirt. Next time I may adjust to add sweetness and manage the color, but overall this was a cool and nourishing meal. I drank the whole thing, and I do not believe in eating gross things.

Summerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtime.

I’m not looking to jinx myself, but the living really is pretty easy.

I’m sitting under my $34.99 Christmas Tree Shoppe umbrella and sweating through every stitch of clothing I have on.

This is not a complaint. It’s just fact.

But also, it is so hot and sunny that I have to sit under the umbrella or hide inside with the air conditioner on and the blinds drawn. That, my friends, is a miracle.

Matt and his father are framing out the space for the new barn floor, and it seems like every time they set aside a day to dusk-till-dawn work, it is a bazillion degrees out. I feel badly about this. We should be at camp  (and by this I mean I want to be at camp and I want all of us to pick up and go and I feel the teeniest bit guilty that my tiny work ethic only kicks in only when it is raining or snowing, but really those are good times to lay around and read, too).

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Someone, thankfully, gave the Panther a new home.
Someone, thankfully, gave the Panther a new home.

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My flowers are blooming. Between the frequent appearance of a green John Deere and some helping hands and flowers appearing on my doorstep, it is easy to make the call that we have the best neighbors ever. We get annuals from one side, perennials from the other. As the annuals are blooming now, I’m operating under the assumption that the flowers will not still be in bloom for our September wedding. Oh, well. That’s what supermarket flowers are for. But look at our gardens now:

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I spy . . . four rows of greens. Note to self: next year, diversify.

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I just dropped my baby off at music camp (keep your band camp jokes to yourself, thanks. I can’t handle it!) for his first overnight camp. I realized, with every step I took, that it would be five measly years before I did this, moved him into a college dorm, for real. Holy Holy Holy Shit.

Colby and I did get a good dose of time together today; we waited in an hour’s worth of lines for registration, drove back and forth across campus, moved him into his dorm, met his roommate, had lunch, and sat through the full-group (kids – behave, parents – don’t worry) meeting. We simultaneously realized that we were about halfway through July. And then we didn’t mention it again. Please summer, just stay. Please kid-version of Colby, just stay.

This is what we’ve done so far this summer:

I schedule stuff, drink coffee, and check email. This is how I look 50% of the day.
I schedule stuff, drink coffee, and check email. This is how I look 50% of the day.

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Watching fast cars and funny people.
Watching fast cars and funny people.
We swim with friends. Colby likes babies (understatement of the year).
We swim with friends. Colby likes babies (understatement of the year).

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And we swim elsewhere.
More on this local 'beach' later.
More on this local ‘beach’ later.
United Methodist Strawberry Festival. . I ❤ cheek pinchers. Really, I’m serious!
Chard pie with savory herb crust
Chard pie with savory herb crust
Oriechiette with chard, chickpeas, and smoked gouda
Oriechiette with chard, chickpeas, and smoked gouda
Turkey Lurkey!
Turkey Lurkey!
Swiss Chard Pizza - I'm sensing a theme here.
Swiss Chard Pizza – I’m sensing a theme here.

This week, more of the same. I have recipes for all of the above (up soon). Do any of you have chard/sturdy green recipes for me? I’m running out of ideas.

xoxo