Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Behind the scenes

Check out this behind the scenes video from the Dallas Indie film The Playroom. It's 1975, do you know where your parents are?

Friday, December 24, 2010

In the spirit 2010

As I sit beside the fire with the Christmas aglow I am feeling warm and in the spirit as it were. I have been spending Christmas in Hot Springs, AR for about a decade now and every year I have begun to feel more and more a part of the Veteto/Neff holiday triditons. This year especially I feel as if I am a real partof the ritual. Over the years I have added to the traditions by bringing in a Praline cookie from Caroline Ellick, a homemade eggnog for Christmas eve, and a Cookie Tree that becomes the center piece for the table decor.

The sugar cookie recipe comes from Betty Crocker and while I do use all organic ingredients it's not really a healthy cookie, although it's sweet and delicious.

1-1/2c powder sugar
1c softened butter
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1/2tsp almond flavor
2-1/2c all purpose flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cream of tartar

Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg and flavorings. Mix dry ingredients together and add to the rest. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Divide dough in half and roll out to 1/4 inch and cut into stars of varying sizes. I have a set of star cutters that dcerease in size just for this. Bake for 8-10 minutes until barely golden.
I used powdered sugar, a little milk, melted butter and food coloring to make a green icing. The icing served as a bonding agent to hold the stars together. So I just drizzled the icing between each layer and stacked them up.
After I stacked all the cookies up I then drizzled the reast of the icing over the top and allowed it to drip down and cover the cookies. Then I used colored sprinkles and non-parils to decorate the tree.

The top star I coated in yellow sugar (because I was too lazy to make more icing in yellow) and since Ian wanted snow I lined the base with marshmallows. Viola a holiday center piece that it nice to look at and serves as dessert.

Although I didn't do it, I'm sure you can make this tree with gluten free, dairy free, egg free cookies and toppings.

I just want to end today by sending warm wishes to everyone's hearth. As we move through the winter, having just past the solstice, may you all be warm and well nourished. May the deep winter spirits seep into you and help you gether energy for the coming spring. Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's up with drivers?

Recently I have added a lot of driving into my life. It's to be expected with my son working on a movie being shot in Dallas which is 40 miles away. He's loving being a part of the film and I feel good about that.

Unfortunately all of this driving has done nothing to quell the irritation I already felt about people who drive with reckless abandon. I just don't understand their thought process or rather lack of thought process.

For me, driving my car on the interstate is probably the most dangerous thing I do in my daily life. It's the one activity where one wrong move could end in the untimely death of both my child and myself as well any other motorist.

I do not think it's unreasonable to ask others to recognize the true facts that come with being a driver/commuter. To me the main factor with is driving is that once you enter onto the roadway your actions cannot be considered autonomous anymore. You are now part of a pack as it were. What you do in your vehicle no longer is just of concern to you, your actions can ultimately affect my life and that of others.

So as I maneuver through the aggressive tailgating drivers, the young texting drivers, the "I think I'm a racecar driver weave in and out to cross the finish line" drivers, the "don't you know that HOV means 'drive as fast as you want' lane" drivers, I often find myself bracing for the worst.

Now, I am by no means a perfect driver, and I realize that from time to time we all lose focus for a moment. We may unintentionally hit the gas a little hard, change lanes and not see the car in the blind spot, or just have a brain freeze. But I can't help wish more people would drive safely.

Luckily for me, folks here don't seem to favor the HOV lane (a huge truck for each Texan?) and so I can often cruise on down without too much trouble.

Well, I'm off again to brave the storm of the interstate...peace be with you as you cruise this holiday season and good driving to y'all.

Friday, December 10, 2010

the Playroom Movie

Check out my sweet boy's head shot. He's about to begin work on a new indie film in production called the Playroom. You can see more about the movie if you go to . The cast includes Molly Parker and John Hawkes and is introducing Olivia Harris.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Vegan Mac and Cheese Ever

I tried this recently at a potluck and it was awesome. So today I made it and it is still awesome. It's not my recipe but I found it online and I wanted to share it with all of you!!! Enjoy.

Best Vegan Mac and Cheese in the entire world...seriouslyIngredients (use vegan versions):

1 1/2 pounds pasta of your choice, preferably macaroni

"Cheese" Sauce: 1
1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 (12-ounce) block of firm (not silken) tofu
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon vegesal or in lack of fancy product, just use salt
1 dollop mustard, optional

Directions:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Boil water in a big pot and cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Add all of the "cheese" sauce ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Once pasta is cooked, drain and put it in the baking pan (about the size of a brownie pan). Pour the "cheese" sauce over the pasta.
3. Bake until the top of the pasta looks slightly browned and crispy, about 15 minutes, but not too crispy because that is gross. This is very simple and tastes amazing!I honestly do not know the serving information or nutritional content I can tell you it feeds a heck of a lot of people and if you are cooking for yourself it will last about 5 days if you eat it for all three meals of the day.Serves: a lot;

Preparation time: about 8 minutes; Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Friday, December 3, 2010


So, one of my goals this fall was to have continual frementation going on. I started about a monh ago or so and have been alternating between batched os kimchi and sauerkraut. I have been using the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz as my guide. He is a true genius when it comes to fermented foods and I hope you will check out his website at .

I started with a head of green cabbage from the local store and a few collard and mustard leaves from the garden.

I had about a T of salt. I have sort of taken Sandy's lead and try to just salt by feel.

In the fridge I had saved some finely sliced cauliflower stem and decided to add them to the mix.

After chopping up the cabbage into fine slices, I alternated handfuls of my brassicas with pinches of salt and, using my hands, massaged the salt into greens. Then I tightly packed it into my ceramic fermenting crock.
I just happen to have a small plate that fits perfectly into the crock and so I used that to weight the cabbage down and cause enough pressure to help the salt draw the moisture out of the cabbage.

Finally I coverd the crock and allowed it to set in a nice corner of my kitchen to ferment and turn delicious.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I am thankful for the life I have to lead. For the food I am fortunate enough to eat to nourish my body. For the family that is supportive. For the trees creating air that enable me to breathe. For the greater spirit connecting me to the fabric of the universe.

Friday, November 19, 2010

enjoying visiting with my mom...more on moms and daughters at a later date...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Simple Brown Rice

Looking for a simple way to spice up some brown rice? This is one of my favorite breakfasts believe it or not. Start with 2/3c-1c raw hulled sunflower seeds. Dry roast them in a skillet until lightly browned.

In a pot place 2c water and 1c washed brown rice plus a pich of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook approximately 45 minutes, until rice is plump and cooked through.

Place 1/2c cooked rice in a bowl.

Top with a handful of roasted sunflower seeds, chew well and enjoy!

What I like most about this easy breakfast is the combination of flavors. The roasted seeds remind me of deep earthy nutty goodness and the rice warms my belly with whole grain nutrients. Together their like a little bowl of nutty heaven.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leftover Black bean and squash soup

Looking for an interesting way to use leftover black beans or baked squash? Well, I was last week when I came up with this delicious soup.

I started with some leftover baked butternut squash, and about 2 cups of cooked black beans.

Then I diced up one whole leek, two hatch chili peppers, and about 5 cloves of garlic.

I heated a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a deep cast iron skillet. Then I added the leek, garlic and pepper, and sauteed until soft. Then I added 1/2 a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 1/2c frozen sweet corn kernels, salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Finally I added the beans, the mashed squash and enough water to cover. I simmered until all the flavors were mingled well and seasoned to taste until I loved it.

Viola. A warming, tasty soup for a cool evening.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Feeling Fall

Fall is in full swing here in Texas complete with falling leaves of many colors, cooler mornings and nights, and the decor of Halloween gracing homes and public spaces.

It's true that I love fall. In the past I often found myself visiting western North Carolina around this time of year. Although I am not htere and won't be able to make the journey this time around, I can clearly see the South Toe Valley in all of it's Autumn glory clearly imprinted in my long term memory. As I sit here in NE Texas, I can dial up my favorite fall scene of crossing the Seven Mile Ridge Rd bridge over the South Toe River, trees a myriad of colors with leaves blowing gently on a breeze and landing on the rushing water to be swept away.

Unfortunately I can find a good picture to post of it right now, but I will keep looking.

As for being here in Texas, life is settling into a routine. Of course it's as fluid as that river I love and can change easily. For instance, today I was set to be at a Harvest Festival all day selling my wares and celebrating fall with life music and fun activities. However, the rain came in strong with gusty wind and tornado warnings. Given that I packed it up and headed home. It was ok, although I was looking forward to the event, I was just as glad to spend the time with my family at home.

I'm finding my way here. I'm appreciating that life is an adventure and that gifts and truth are often hidden in the most unexpected places.

a little snake we found in the backyard

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Riley's cake

This week I had the chance to share in bringing a big smile to a young girl's face.

My friends Lisa and Doug made the cake and the buttercream icing in the morning. Then later on in the afternoon I showed up with Ian for fun and frosting. Ian and Riley played furiously while Will rotated between Curious George and chasing the others.

Lisa and I mixed the colors into the icing and shared in the decorating process. Riley came by and added her touches too and she was so excited.
Here's Lisa spreading on the strawberry buttercream we mixed up for the center layer.

I wasn't able to be at her party, but I was lucky enough to get a piece brought over for me. They did a great job on the strawberry cake. A delicious treat.

Monday, October 4, 2010


here, ian is participating in a nature class about butterflies and moths

So we've been here now for a bit and I finally feel as if I am beginning to be here. Ian and I have been schooling for a number of weeks now and he's is really rockin' it. He's also been playing basbeall with th elocal league and that has been a wonderful outlet for him to socialize with other kids and get some much needed activity. Plus the fact that he loves it and it having a blast is really what matters. During this season hitting has been harder for him but he has made some great plays in the outfield., In the last game he was responsible for getting two outs while playing left field.

here he is taking his turn as catcher, he's getter better at stopping the ball and the throw is really improving

As for me, I've just been keeping busy making new beaded flowers and items for the upcoming holiday market season. I think I'm looking at about 4 or 5 markets so that's plenty to keep me busy. Check out some of my newest works at

And in the interest of being here, last weekend we took a drive to the Dallas arboretum where they display over 40, 000 pumkins and gourds for the fall season. Oh my I have never seen so many cucurbits in one place at one time. I especially loved the landscape paintings they made using different kinds of pumpkins such as the "water fountain" you can see below in the yard of one of the pumpkin houses.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kimchi = yum

After many years of admiring Sandor Katz, I finally got his fantastic book Wild Fermentation.
If you like to ferment foods and you do not have this book, you are completely missing out. It is well worth the price and will provide really good information as well as instruction. If you want to see more of what Sandor is up to you can check out his website

Over the past decade I have been present at many of his fermentation workshops. There have been times when I have made sauerkraut and pickles (although I haven't had the best luck with pickles) as well as kombucha, and I love to eat good fermented foods. For years now I've talked about adding fermenting into my life in a more regular and permanent way. However, life moves along swiftly sometimes and intentions get stuck in brambles on the banks.

Finally last week I felt like it was time to really get going. So I pulled the cabbage and carrots out of the fridge, the garlic and ginger from the shelf, and the wakame and dried peppers (which is all I had) from the cabinet and set to work following in the wise words of Sandor Ellix Katz.

The vegetables soaking in brine.

onion being grated for the spice paste

grated ginger for the spice paste

viola! the finished product packed tight into this wonderful lidded jar we received many years ago from some old friends.

We loved the finished product. It wasn't too spicy, but had a little kick and that was just right for us. In fact we like dit so much that it is now gone and a new batch is in the works. I couldn't believe how easy it was to produce this delicious treat that will surely become a staple of our diet.

side note*** If you like to ferment foods and have to grate things like onions and ginger a lot for pastes, I would highly recommend investing in a Japanese ginger grater. They are very affordable and they do a great job of completely breaking down whatever your grating.