Why the blog?

I write as the Spirit moves me. I have prayed about what I'm supposed to do with my life a lot. A lot. Writing. Writing is what I believe God is leading me to do. Whether or not He wants me to write for anyone to read is His business. Much of my writing has been therapy for me so maybe I'm the only one who is supposed to read it. So, why the Blog? As a sounding board, a note pad, a place to keep my ideas and thoughts. A place to share and promote my books, and photography. Written prayers, a place to vent. Possibly, even a place for the unknown reader to learn about the love of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rhubarb. Is it a fruit or a vegetable?

It's colorful, it's tasty, and it makes a great desert.  So, fruit or vegetable?  According to Wikipedia, who knows everything:

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a species of plant in the family Polygonaceae. It is a herbaceous perennial growing from short, thick rhizomes. It produces large leaves that are somewhat triangular, with long fleshy stalks and small flowers grouped in large compound leafy greenish-white to rose-red inflorescences.
In culinary use, fresh raw leaf stalks (petioles) are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Most commonly, the stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. A number of varieties have been domesticated for human consumption, most of which are recognised as Rheum x hybridum by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that, since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits.[1]

But seriously, who cares!?  It's delicious.  The other day my husband informed me that he loves rhubarb pie.  I had never eaten rhubarb in any form or even cooked with it so I didn't give it a second thought.  That is, until I saw it in the freezer section in my grocery store.  I bought two bags, just in case.  He added vanilla ice cream to the cart to make a simple rhubarb smoothie.  
To prove that I'm a good wife (that's a joke, he knows I love him), I did a little digging.  I found a good smoothie recipe (see below) but I also found something better - BROWNIES.  Who knew.  Now you do, too.

1 c raw honey or agave
1/2 c coconut oil, softened
2 eggs or 2 flax eggs (2 TBS ground flax seeds soaked in 1/2 c water)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c cacao powder (not cocoa), raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c finely chopped rhubarb (measure after chopping)
1/2 c dark or semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.  Line an 8x8 or 9x13 or similar pan with parchment paper. 
Mix wet ingredients then add dry.  
Bake for 20 minutes or slightly less if your oven runs hot.  
Chill before cutting and removing from parchment. 

Rhubarb brownies hot out of the oven

Rhubarb brownies

I don't have a photo, but here is a smoothie recipe and variations.

1 c milk
1/2 c frozen strawberries
1/3 c frozen rhubarb
1 TBS ground flax
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp honey

Puree until smooth.  Variations:   Use almond milk or chocolate cashew milk.  Add a banana.  Leave out the flax seeds.  Use agave instead of honey.  If you use a banana may not need the honey.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Carrot and Zucchini Nut Bread

Valentine's Day is right around the corner.  It's a day where tradition and the card companies tell us that we must show people how much we love them by buying cards, flowers, and candy.  An expensive dinner out is usually a plus.  I say, why wait?  Why not tell the people you love every day? Why not show them acts of kindness and give expressions of love as often as possible?  Showing someone love doesn't have to be expensive.  Oftentimes, it's the little things that say I love you so much more than jewelry.  My husband tells me he loves me every day by going to work, coming home, and genuinely wanting to spend time with me.  His greatest act of love was when he married me - a broken, insecure woman who felt worthless and unworthy.  His next greatest act of love was when he made it possible for me to retire from a job that was sucking the life out of me.  I do my best to reciprocate and show my appreciation.  One of the hardest things I did for him was get on an airplane.  I used to be terrified of flying.  I would have anxiety attacks and use all available air-sickness bags.  That being said, it took great courage on my part, and his, to get on a plane for a 13+ hour flight to S. Korea.  He now has me hooked on travel.  (see some of my travel videos on YouTube).  

What has this to do with bread you ask?  I'm getting there.  After writing and publishing 11 books (Amazon.com) I decided to take a break and focus my attention on photography, and baking of course.  I've become a bit of a food mad scientist as you've probably seen with my previous recipes.  It's been fun looking up ingredients and adding them to a bowl to see what happens.  Below are two recipes.  One is Carrot and Zucchini Nut Bread and the other is my gift to my husband - Bacon Chocolate Cheesecake.  Enjoy:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 c ground rolled oats
1 TBS ground flax seed soaked in 2 TBS water
1 TBS chia seeds
2 TBS amaranth
1/4 c ground raw nuts:  almonds, cashews, sunflower, pistachios
1-1/2 c ground carrot (grind or grate before measuring)
1 to 1-1/2 c ground zucchini (grind before measuring)
1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c unsweetened plain almond milk

1.  Put ground flax in water and set aside.  Set oven to 350 F.
2.  Grind oats and nuts.  (I use a Ninja chopper but you can hand chop the nuts or use a food processor)
3.  Grind or grate the carrot and zucchini, very fine.  
4.  In large bowl add all ingredients 1-3 and stir.  Add the soda, powder, and salt.  Next, stir in the almond milk.  Once incorporated, shape into a ball and let sit for 20 minutes.  
5.  Spray a large bread tin with nonstick spray.  Alternatively, you can hand shape and bake on a silicone mat.
6.  Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.  Cover with foil, lower temp to 300 and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Cool  for 10 or so minutes before slicing.  It will be slightly soft in the center.  Best not to over bake or the crust will be too hard.  If you prefer, slice then toast.  

Hot out of the oven, Carrot and Zucchini Nut Bread

Carrot and Zucchini Nut bread ready for eating


Did I mention it's vegan?

Now for the husbands, and other bacon lovers.  Bacon Chocolate Cheesecake.

Step 1:  Bake 4-6 strips of thick bacon in the oven.  Time and temp varies.  350 for 10-12 minutes is what I did.  Bake it crisp and flat.  Pat off the fat and dry on paper towels.
Step 2:  Melt 4 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate and 1/4 tsp coconut oil.  Double this if you want more chocolate.  In a double boiler, melt the chocolate.  
Step 3:  Get your baking pan out.  I used a cupcake tray.  Cut your bacon to the size of the bottom of the tray.  Next, put the bacon into the bowl of chocolate, using a fork to coat well.  Line a flat plate or cookie sheet with plastic wrap or foil.  Using your fork transfer individual pieces of bacon onto the cookie sheet.  Put into freezer or refrigerator to set.  Reserve the remainder of the chocolate for later.
Step 4:  Make the cheesecake.  I used the Philadelphia 3-step cheesecake recipe.  This part is up to you.
   1 package Philadelphia cream cheese
   1/4 c sugar
   1/4 tsp vanilla
   1 egg

   Blend on high until creamy.  Take strips of parchment paper and make an X in the baking pan.  This will help remove the cheesecake.  Put in about 1 inch of batter.  Bake 25 minutes if using cupcake tray.  Remove from oven and allow to cool until warm.  Don't cool all the way.

Step 5: Line cookie sheet with plastic. Place bacon pieces on top of warm cheese cake and immediately invert onto plastic.  The bacon is now your crust.  Drizzle the top of the cheesecake with more chocolate and add an additional piece of bacon, if desired.

Bacon Chocolate Cheesecake

Bacon Chocolate cheesecake

P.S.  I am still in training for my upcoming races.  Saturday and Sunday the 20th and 21st I am running at Disney.  September I'm headed to Montreal for a marathon and finally the TCS NYC Marathon.  I will keep you posted on the fundraising efforts for New York.  I also am loving my new camera zoom lens.  Check out some of my photos for sale Twenty20 and FOAP.

Colleen Wait Edits

Colleen Wait Edits

About Me

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This YouTube channel was created to add video to my blog.  Read it here:  www.colleenwaitwrites.blogspot.com.  I write about my life, my books, my family, my cats and kids, and of course travel.