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Life is Grand. Life is Random. Life Hurts. Life Comforts. Life Gives. Life Takes. Life Loves and You're Not Alone nor Lost

Love The Rambler








6.30.2014

Gyros (From Scratch) No rotisserie required!! & Accompaniments




So I love a show called Restaurant Impossible where a beastly English chef goes in and fixes miserably failing restaurants. I love it but the recipes go by so fast because essentially they just show a quick video collage of him showing the owners and cooks how to add this amazing thing to their menu.  This week he was fixing a terrible Greek restaurant where they were serving something that resembled the carcasses of luncheon meat who had mated with the famous Greek Gyros meat. It was sad really. But chef Awesome to the rescue! So I saw what he did and was shocked it could be done with out the rotisserie or complicated roasty fire spigget thingy!  So while no exact measurements were made I did an experimental run tonight and it was awesome! So here ya go in true Rambler style...uh a recipe-ish:) Supposedly its on his website but in true Rambler style I got impatient looking for it lol

1lb ground lamb
1lb ground 97/3 beef

1/2 minced onion
1 egg

3 T Cardamom
1.5 T Fennel Seed (toast in hot pan a few minutes first)
4 T Salt (I like a lot more but you can always add more, I have issues)
2 T fresh ground pepper
1 T Chimayo Red Chile or similar (For a kick Cayenne could work or even sriracha)
1 T. Smoked Paprika
1. t corriander
2 T dried parsley (if fresh maybe half this)
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c milk
1/2 water-add only as needed when processing

-two sprigs de stemmed/finely chopped
Fresh Tyme
Fresh Oregano

Again if you are really into spices add more, if not add less!

In large bowl hand moosh and squish until VERY incorporated and mixed well.
You have two options for the next step in the action
Option 1- add all into a food processor with about a half cup of water. Pulse until it looks very fined grained (not like hamburger texture more like baby food almost-when you say ew you are there)
Option 2- If you don't have a food processor use a hand immersion blender to pulse in sections with water until the whole area is really smooth (I just did all these steps in the crock pot before I turned it on to save on the dirty dishes issue)
-worst case you could try a traditional blender but you'd have to do it in small batches and unscrew the bottom each time to scrape out the meat since its so thick. So avoid that option. You could also just enjoy it with the hamburger texture too!

Next pat and form into a small meatloaf like shape for the approx size of your pita bread. I did a mound about 6 inches wide, two inches tall and eight inches long.

I used spray oil in the bottom of my crock pot, just a lil works well. Place mound in the center and sprinkle with more salt- if you want it to taste like the restaurants they use LOTS of salt. Do another spraying of oil and with the lid on let it cook on LOW for about 3-4 hours until tender. He baked it in an oven about 300 for 45 minutes

Slice mound in thin slices and fry each slice in a saute pan with a little more oil.  If you are calorie counting this could be done in a non stick pan with almost no oil or a quick spray. If you like the 'restaurant' style then its really fried in oil for that crispy roasted outside texture.

Serve with warm pita (most restaurants use the extra soft fat white ones), dressed salad mix, sriracha and yogurt tzatziki -Easily made as the roll up sandwich or as a salad- I served it with watermelon salad (see below for recipes)

Tzatziki:
1 C. Greek Yogurt (I like Fage 0% fat its the creamiest)
2 T lemon zest
5 sprigs fresh mint sliced
1/4 cup feta
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil
1/4 cucumber chopped
salt & pepper
-uh combine

Dressed Salad
Lettuce shreds
tomato
cucumber
lemon juice
lil Dijon
salt and pepper
olive oil
-uh chop and whisk oil & lemon, then mix and season

Watermelon Salad-
chopped watermelon
feta
fresh parsley
salt / pepper


UPDATE! Here is his link- basically the same with less seasoning- but he recommends frying up a little bit of the meat for a taste test on the seasoning which would be smart for your palate

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/gyro1.html




6.24.2014

An Ode to the Last

It seems there are those who savor the best for last or proactively wait just so they can prolong and extend joy. I know the reason I love dessert is because I wait for that sweet dark chocolate conglomerate madness to be the last thing left on my tongue. I know why I love a glass of a deep Cabernet with that dessert as well, hitting all the deep rich cocoa notes.  It seems these days everyone is in such a rush that little is reveled in yet alone noticed.  I find myself uncovering a little piece of heaven in little seemingly meaningless things around me.  It seems like a world has opened up to me that seems so much bigger and brighter than before. I think that maybe it was here all along, maybe my eyes were looking right over it into a dreamy future oasis,while ignoring that which was right in front of me all along. It seems like I'm getting things right this time and I LIKE IT!

I am celebrating my third and last child (as far as I'm concerned thus far;) And I sadly realize the things I may have overlooked with my first and second. Maybe I was so busy and preoccupied with all the hustle and bustle of life that I may have just missed a little bit more than I wish to admit.  There was seemingly more drama and issues to attend to that when I look back I do wish I would of just slowed down a bit to not let a single moment pass me by.  I feel like I am catching up and possible making amends with my new little bundle of joy by reveling in each and every moment. When I feel myself starting to go wharp speed ahead I really snap my self out of it! I have to, I must and I control that. Maybe because I've labeled her the 'last' it has a strong impact on how I perceive these experiences, as the last.

So often in life people live from one complaint to the next gripe and while it may be embedded in our DNA it something that must be battled at every level. There are only going to be so many baby coos, lunch's w/ friends, romantic dinners, family barbecues, kids giggles, teen's bipolar styles, and all the things in life we may just take for granted. We are so often looking and pushing to that next goal accomplished, that next property purchased, the next vacation off somewhere or the next paycheck that we are missing the great here and now. I vow to never live that way again, to never live in such a jailed cage called 'the future'. If always reaching striving and constantly obsessing over the water ahead in the dessert I miss my savored happy moments.

There are and always will be tragedies and issues that raise their evil heads in our lives. I think as I age I am realizing that I am the one that gives them a stage to operate on. I am the one who magnifies, identifies, over estimates and sadly gives them power to control my spirit and my joy. I must take every thought captive and remember who is in control upstairs, who has a plan for me, even through sorrow some day I will look back and see the perspective in which such things happened. Some things may never have an answer or turn out good in general but everything teaches and makes stronger calluses of the will. How oh how did I ever live in such a defensive position awaiting the atrocity that was bound to come my way?

Laughing at a double dating couple at the table next to me makes me smile,  an elderly lady curling her hair at the gym makes me proud of beauty, the bi polar weather of Colorado keeps me on my toes, the smell of fresh baby lotion on squishy cheeks delights my senses, the coffee shared with a friend warms my soul,  the kiss of my loving husband sends a little electricity down my spine and if all the little things in life I have been overlooking all this time can just come front and center to my life, I can gladly say I am grateful and up and until my last breath so shall I be!

6.03.2014

Healthy "Hot Wing" Salad


 I chose Hot Wing Salad as I am always looking for a way to enjoy my favorite flavors responsibly! I want all the comfort and love without all the time paying for my sins at the gym. This recipe is great for a warm summer night and doesn't leave you grease faced and regretful. By grilling the chicken breasts instead of deep frying the fatty wings, down goes the saturated fat clogs.  By soaking the chicken in the hot wing sauce on comes the sloppy spicy bites that feed the ravage wing eater. Sub out the devil's dressing aka Ranch,  with a fat free creamy Greek yogurt variation and you really can't feel bad now. Pair all this up with cool crunchy carrots and celery laden salad and you have a POWER packed winning team! This easily reminds you of any game day of old, minus the guilt. Serve with a half grapefruit juice half beer, for that 'beer & wings' feel. 

4 Lg Grilled Chicken Breast-cubed (can use Rotisserie) 
1/2-3/4 cup of your favorite Buffalo/wing Sauce
1 Cup Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt 
1/2 cup lowfat Buttermilk
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Seasoning
1 Bag Shredded Iceburg Lettuce
1 green onion sliced
4 lg celery stalks sliced
4 lg carrots or 20 small chopped or shredded 
(I prefer chopped for texture) 
*optional
1/4 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles 
1/2 cup Crunchy's (cornflakes crushed, garlic powder, paprika, salt/ pepper, 1 t olive oil stirred in bowl) 

Toss vegetables in large salad bowl, chill.  Soak & chill chicken breast cubes in half of the hot sauce in small bowl. Combine remaining hot sauce, Greek yogurt, and ranch packet in small bowl. Add buttermilk to make your desired 'dressing' consistency.  Salt & Pepper to taste. If you like it spicier add more hot sauce.

The key to this salad is its temperature. Its so satisfying when served very cold, crisp and fresh!  

If you would like some little 'fried chicken' like crunchy's on top simply pan toast for 1-2 minutes the cornflake mixture until toasty but not burned. 

Assemble by laying down your salad first, tossing your dressing in to the salad (I like to shake in a Tupperware w/ lid to ensure everything is coated and less dressing is used), top with saucy chicken, 1 small spoonful of blue cheese crumbles over the top and 1 small spoonful of crunchy's. Keep the hot sauce handy for extra splats if you want the heat to go up!  NOW DIG IN-with your fork, not your face!   


A Good Idea








The power of a good idea is nearly impossible to quantify.  For me ideas come in and ideas go out. In and out of style and in and out of my ears too.   I am haunted by a new idea as the clock strikes the hour. Every hour.  Its not that there aren't enough ideas, its that there may be too many. It's no shortage of ideas, but maybe really profound ones.  I love looking back on my years and seeing the different seasons I found myself in.  The waves I've ridden of old ideas, new ideas and just relevant ideas ebbing and flowing with the changing of spring to summer and so on.

What constitutes a good idea? What makes it relevant? Why can the same words fall on deaf ears that cause me to weep?  How do I have an "Ah HA!" moment while others stare blankly into nothing?  I suppose we are all in need of a different question being answered. I suppose we are each asking a different question.  We can find ourselves in identical situations yet we all see things from different angles and perspectives.  Coming together to share our best ideas is the place where creating takes place.  Whether we are creating a change in careers, self identity, friendships, big adventures, attitude or the food we eat we are looking. Searching. Longing.

The top ideas I took away from this year's TEDx Mile High event: Women} were the following:
1. You never know why someone needs you to find a way to say yes to them.
2. Cooperation is about working and leading from the bottom up.
3. Poetic expression may seem jumbled but its intent is not to tell you a story, but rather let you receive your own story.
4. When people come together under duress to create beautiful music it heals, it restores.
5. Creating an alternate response from a silent character is just reasonable.
6. Set aside the dissolution of making your life balanced and start making your life integrated.
7. Invite others outside of your comfort zone to sit at your table.
8. Take someone's treasure headed for the trash and pass it on with love and care to another.
9. Weight loss is sexy, you get new clothes and people congratulate you. Weight maintenance isn't sexy, you don't get new clothes, and no one congratulates you for looking the same.
10. Start asking questions that you don't already know the answer to.
11. You can't get a well rounded story if you don't send both a man and a woman to the scene to report on it.

So happy 33rd Birthday to me! I couldn't be in better company, at a more inspiring event, learning more the way I love to learn!  May I wrangle and bridle my ideas into something complete and polished. May I let the good stay awhile and let the bad keep on going. May I come to a still peace that I can NOT do. it . ALL!  And thats ok.  What I have will be good enough and what I dream of will be realized maybe in heaven ;)








5.16.2014

Healthy Egg & "Creamed" Kale Bake

 *Disclaimer: I cook with my heart and am very disobedient to directions! These are my best attempts to get this transferable to others!  Realize this is a guide but use your best cooking intuition to adjust and assess your results! If you have no cooking intuition my 'recipe ish' is probably not for you HA! (Sorry!)

This recipe can be made vegetarian and is already lactose free (any cheese aged over 2 yrs is naturally lactose free so I hear) . If you want to fatten this recipe up use real cream and real bacon...but seriously this version is GOOD! To vegetarianize it use vegi bouillon/broth and either omit or sub meat alternative. It is already gluten free.


This recipe is for the smaller two person serving dish as pictured below, so I'd quadruple if you are making a full casserole dish size. See already I have you doing math lol!

Oven 350- bout 10 minutes prep, bout 20 min baking (Shortcut available)

MAIN INGREDIENTS:
-7 large green leafs- destem (I like Kale but collards or spinach works too-spinach will cook only 2 min though because its a soft green the others are thicker and require more 'softening')
-4 Slices Smoked Deli Turkey Breast or Turkey Bacon
-1 Cup "SO Delicious" brand unsweetened Coconut Creamer (found next to cream at hippie stores)
-2 Lg Eggs
-4 tomato slices or 8 Cherry tomatoes

INGREDIENTS ANY SELF RESPECTING COOK SHOULD ALREADY HAVE:
-Chopped onion (bout 1/4 onion)
-Garlic Cloves
-1/2 Cup Bouillon (The best are the lil concentrated  jars called Better than Bouillon)
-1/4 cup wine- anykind or wine vinegar is ok too
-2T Olive Oil or similar
-Salt/Pepper
-Fresh Parsley
-2 t Cornstarch dissolved in a lil water
-1 T. Aged Parmesan

Instructions:

  • Start meat, oil, onion in saute pan on med- caramelize about 3 minutes add chopped garlic at last minute. I like to save a lil crispy meat on side for topping final product! 
  • Chiffonade or chop de stemed greens VERY fine, almost like Easter basket grass- this shortens softening time, add to sautee pan
  • Let greens saute about 3-4 minutes- add wine, stir, add bouillon-let simmer until tender about 4-5 minutes if thick green. You may need to add lil more water if it boils away, but you don't want it ending up 'wet', rather the moisture is a creamy consistency- 
  • Add "cream" at last minute with cornstarch mixture- only stir 1 minute to heat. *for shortcut at least make sure it comes to a quick boil so the cornstarch can thicken, otherwise baking will- remove from heat. 
  • Pour mixture into casserole dish and make little dents for eggs to pool in. However eggs you are going to use.  Note: If you aren't going to eat it all I'd save this in the fridge and start with a fresh egg next time you want to eat it- day old eggs suck. 
  • Crack eggs in separate dish and inspect for shells, then drop in dents
  • Layer tomatoes around dish, but not on top of eggs.  
  • Salt & pepper entire dish lightly and sprinkle Parmesan on
  • Bake bout 20 minutes
  • I like a runny egg so usually I broil the top of the dish for the last two minutes
  • *Shortcut is just making your eggs in a pan while you do the kale 'creaming'- this saves you time on the baking if in a rush. I rec this if you are not going to eat it all so your eggs are fresh next time! 
  • To serve top with fresh cut parsley and lil saved crispy meat! 
This can be a great breakfast, brunch or dinner! If you need some carbs with it quinoa is a great option!  



8.20.2013

Elephant In the Room

How do you know if something's living? How do you know if you should keep fighting to keep it alive? How do you kill the already dying? Do you shoot it and put it out of its misery, or do you let it suffer until the inevitable? Do you douse it in potions and formulas?  Do you keep up the charade or do you take off the mask in surrender? You don't have the answers just what you know wasn't the answer?  If its been on the decline for over a decade, did it ever occur the odd shepherd out may of been on to something? Empowerment isn't crippling and its not your job to say no.

There are too many questions and too little answers.  There is too much shock and awe and not enough comforting trust.  There isn't just two sides there is worlds apart.  It isn't an us versus them,  its a we versus we. The conversations swirl and twist diverging though mayhem dipping in and out of truth.  Some things a differ of opinion, while others bold faced lies.  When the world is spinning around you its hard to find your bearings. When the rugs been yanked out from under you its surely a loss in balance, dizzy, sickening, scary.

How do you sleep at night when the facts start to blur?  How do you raise up in the morning when you know what awaits you?  Can you back up your case or is this even a trial?  Are you prosecuting or defending or better yet judging?  Were you part of the in crowd were you leader of the clique? Did you know the secret handshake or the tree house passwords? Were you invited to the sleep over for fun or to get picked on?

There is either growing or dying but little in between.  There is accountability or denial all of which I've seen.  We should move this baby forward full steam engine ahead, or turn off the lights, put the for sale sign up and move on if its already dead.  You can say do this or that but what you model is your proof. There are families, spouses, and friends at odds. There is aching faces from six days of wailing. There is vomit there is trauma.  Was this the modeling Jesus we speak of?

 Dare we mutter the word Community,  if built only to tear down? We should trust and be vulnerable under the admittedly uncertain?   You can say we want this but yet you do that. Its hard to sort out some pure truths and whats fact,  but in the end if its do as I say, not what I do... don't be mad when we don't DO anything and worst trust no one developing spiritual attachment disorder.

There is no fear in dying, that's what we preach.  Just give it to God and watch HIM restore whats lost out of our reach.  But yet we squeeze and squeeze like a toddler ITS ALL MINE and meanwhile we didn't even notice we've sucked out its life. We press down a thumb of control and dictation, the 'accepted as you are if you fit'  puppeteer nation.  We wouldn't want to discuss something so 'common' its secret,  for fear of disrespecting the already disrespected?  We fear loosing the story of old. We fear letting go of the glory days while on top of the world. We fear having to face our inadequacies and yet we continue to squeeze and to squeeze.

So let it just go and lay  it to rest if you won't give it a jump. If there's no paramedics to 3 2 1 CLEAR it back to beating again pump...pump. For with every forest fire comes the burned and the ravaged. But several seasons ahead comes the greenest of grasses and brightest of flowers.  With each seed in the ground it must break to sprout come spring.  There is no fine wine in an uncrushed fresh grape. And with our trials come the testimony of how we should trust.  But for now we repent for the hearts that we have broken by just passing and saying hi. Sometimes we must do the unbearably hard hard thing. And other times we make it harder than it EVER had to be....







7.10.2013

Why I LOVE Weddings!!!


I always say I love weddings because I didn't get one...that's a half true statement.  I didn't get a 'wedding' in the traditional sense. I had more of a vow exchange and dinner with ten people.  It was beautiful, it was lovely it was all I needed at the time.  As I approach ten years my soul has grown with love over the traditional American wedding.  It isn't because I like, rather love cake! It isn't because I love satin dresses, buffet lines and things blue or borrowed.  I love weddings because of the beauty of their healing and unity! I love the representations and sentiments through the arts, music and creativity we hold inside of all of us. 


So often the media portrays the wedding with Bridezillas, lavish money dropped, interpersonal and family drama. Not to say those things aren't present, but at the end of the day, I don't think that's what anyone is left with. I don't think people walk away with wounds of those hiccups in the procession, other than maybe wedding planning pros and control freaks.  At the end of the big day I think people are left with a sense of love, commitment, refreshment, vigor and most importantly a feeling of what really matters in life.

We all know American weddings usually, half the time, end in divorce.  Why the big deal? Why the big waste? If half will fail why go through all the rah rah? Its only a piece of paper isn't it??  My simple answer is faith. Risk. In life we are never certain of tomorrow. The old cliche's say 'live like its your last day, live like you're dying'. The new cliche: YOLO. I mean the numbers and the probabilities are terribly against the price of a wedding, but are they against the VALUE of a wedding? I say those memories and feelings are priceless and thank God for great photos to remind us of that in all the chaos of the day.

 I remember hearing an old boss rave about how it didn't matter that he'd been divorced twice before age 40 but how he was going to propose to his love half way around the world still.  He raved about how he didn't care if he was married five or six times, he was going to love and love to ends of his being no matter what his doubts or heartbreak told him.  I paused.  Perplexed. Looking back on my spiritual beliefs about marriage it caught me off guard.  You get married once, if it fails you don't just jump back in the boiling pot.   But something about his faith stood out.  He wasn't going to let his fears and failures control him.
                                                     

I don't believe in recklessness and blind faith.  I do believe in vetting your mates and making wise decisions. But I also know how marriages of thirty days and thirty years fall apart and how people stay in love and married for over sixty years too. Being married for almost ten years I know the pain and the strife.  I also know its rewards. I know its worth when you fight through.  But what is a wedding? Is it a waste of time? Is it entrapment by the powers that be, telling us how much money to spend and what we are expected to provide? Maybe, but for me I've found renewal in weddings. I've found peace and faith in the things unseen,  that we can't prove with empirical evidence and formulas,  but that we feel with our spirits.

Whether its the bonds created over midnight crafts, the meaning in mother and daughter ironing the same dress,  relief in morning lavender baths, pressure relieved by helpful friends, peace brought by a renewed friendship, memories in old friendships, revival of a family paused by grief, embracing of an outcast family member,  the movie scene perfection of a long lost daughter twirling like a fairy around the bride n groom on the dance floor with her 'real family', or the honest speech debacles of laughter, sorrow and mood recovery,  Weddings represent our humanity through grace and honesty. When all is hectic and out of place, things get pulled together. When people seem apart they work together as a team. When there is uncertainty in how things will work out, they do. When what is close to our hearts manifests in the outward details not just in empty materials.  When people are aching or distant, they are united. When we doubt destiny,  love, healing, God and all that is good in this life, we are REMINDED! 
                                                        
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