Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Pizza Cake (What? Ew.)

I have a problem.

I lack that important combination essential to production: Focus + Motivation

I have both in spades when it comes to ANYTHING ELSE-cooking amazing food, writing a blog, pinning my face off (wow, that just sounds painful!).

But when it comes to work, no matter how much I INSIST in my morning prayer that I AM GOING TO HAVE A FULL DAY OF PRODUCTIVITY, I always end up feeling like I could have done better.

I make these check lists-which is a good thing, right? But lately, those check lists have been smaller and filled with things that seem BIGGER. Harder. And I end up taking off at least three of those things by the middle of the day because I know I won't get them done.


Plus there's the fact that this week has been wet. Cool, but muggy. NOT crisp like I want fall to be. And rain, rain, RAIN. Today, something in me felt like it was going to break.

But then there are caramelized onions.

And goat cheese.

Fresh tomatoes I grew myself and spinach.

All on a wonderful sandwich I had last night. I have a feeling that like feta cheese, Greek yogurt, and bacon, caramelized onions can make almost anything better.

There are the moments before sleep as I begin to drift of where I can think of my future without restraint, inhibition, or anxiety.

Walks to and from work (on days that aren't rainy).

This bed that I just can't get over (meaning I love it-not "I can't make it over the bed". Just in case you weren't sure.).

And then there is the word pizza.

For years I have been convinced that if you add the word PIE to anything, it makes it better.

Apple, chicken, potato, s'mores, chocolate, peanut butter, cherry, pecan, carrot, sweet potato, cheese, PIZZA.

Now I am ALSO convinced that if you take any food and either add pizza before OR after it, you've got something wonderful. It already works with meals of the day. Breakfast pizza? YUM. Dessert pizza? EVEN BETTER!

Lets experiment with this. I'll start with an easy one.


Apple pizza? YES. I can see it now. A cinnamon crust with apples spread over it then drizzled with caramel. Or something with apple butter and streusel crumbles. YUM!!!!


Cake pizza. Here is what I'm thinking with this. A dense cake crust with icing and sprinkles. NOM.


Dip pizza? No that just sounds weird. Like a pizza with french onion, ranch, and cheese dips spread all over it. Not delicious.

But we can put it BEFORE the word, remember? So you get PIZZA dip! I would eat that with a spoon. Forget dipping anything in it.

Then you have pizza casserole, pizza soup, pizza CAKE-wait, no that one doesn't work either. Pizza flavored cake? Ew.

Lets try another one.

Pizza pancakes. Weird, right? It's a breakfast food, so how can it be pizza? Is it dinner then? Or a weird savory breakfast?

I say it's whatever you WANT. Isn't pizza for breakfast the best thing EVER? And what about breakfast for dinner? To me, pizza pancakes combine BOTH of those amazing events into one. This is no SWEET pancake. It's got Italian seasoning, sausage, mushrooms, cheese, and all topped with the only thing that REALLY makes it pizza-perfectly seasoned tomato sauce. *drool*

Trust me, these are amazing. I know from experience.

Let me toss something else at you.

Pizza muffins.

Yeah. I didn't think I would fine something better than pizza pancakes. But pizza muffins? They take the CAKE. The cake pizza, if you will. Or the PIE. The PIZZA pie. Or the pie PIZZA. No? Yeah, you're right. Pie pizza doesn't really work. Or DOES it? (Might have to ponder that one)

The point is you've got your basic batter (no sugar) and you add freshly chopped herbs from the garden (I'm talkin' rosemary, sage, oregano, and of course BASIL). You add Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Toss in your favorite topping (I went with pepperoni) and baby, you've got yourself a stew going.

They come out of the oven all golden and bubbly hot inside and they taste like pizza MAGIC when you dip them in tomato sauce seasoned once again with fresh herbs.

These happened tonight. And they were EASY.
So easy.

And since today was a bandana wearing, never really dry, forever WET FEET kind of day, coming home and making these was the best thing I could have done.

Then all I had to do is curl up in bed with a hot mug of strawberry chocolate tea and write a blog post and I've just managed to make a seemingly irretrievable day a happy one!

Thank goodness!

You should have seen all the depressing and disheartening junk I had on here BEFORE pizza muffins and strawberry chocolate tea.

Well family, I must leave you now and wander off to sleep in preparation for the magical time I am going to have with children tomorrow (hopefully not in the rain) teaching them about how our own Maine forests are a wealth of edible and medicinal plants!

And then it's the Common Ground Fair this weekend! The crunchiest fair in Maine according to the natives.

That suites me.

And if it rains? Why I'm just going to brave it like I have countless years of Renaissance festivals.

Aw...*sigh* I MISS the Renaissance festival.

Friday, September 16, 2011

On Prefect Moments

I'm into my last two months in Maine.

What does this mean for your truly? It means that I will spend most of my workday at the computer. It means that I will scramble to get the things done that I promised I would finish before I leave.

It means that I dread going to work every single morning.

I find that overall the weeks are drab, though swift. The days are difficult and tend to drag. I can barely focus on the tasks at hand. Not when crisp autumn days await me outside this dungeon of an office. But I know that I have work enough to do. More than I think I will be able to finish. And I know that it's ME that controls the outcome of each day. And so I DO what's expected of me. I go through the files, I research the costs of installing interpretive signs, I e-mail potential speakers, I type up the years curriculum, I organize the supplies, I clean the office space.

And in all this time, as I am forcing myself to focus, I ache for something better.

But this post is not about all the things in my life that I want to whine about. It's about finding those perfect little moments in the day.

And so I will take you through THIS day. This Friday. And I will share with you those moments where I remembered to be happy and content.

It began with the morning. 6:00am gets darker and darker as time goes on. It makes it harder and harder to get up. Especially this morning. Because I was wearing fuzzy socks. Because I was under three soft layers of bed covers. Because I had just woken from a dream where a horribly depressed Eric Bana and I were very much in love.

And even though I had to FORCE myself to not hit the snooze ONE MORE TIME, all these things meant something (well, not the weird dream). These things meant Fall. REAL FALL. My favorite time of year, no contest. I savor these days. I live for them. And today is the first day it's really felt like actual AUTUMN. And so I allowed myself little moments in my walk to work. Here, as the sun was rising over Mt. Battie. Or there with the crisp breeze through the slowly changing leaves.

The morning was so beautiful, that I could NOT allow myself to be confined to the basement right away. I made my way, instead, the the children's garden.

There, I was greeted by many welcome friends.

Like these lovely girls. I do not exaggerate when I say that my face broke into a beaming smile when I caught sight of these gloriously happy flowers. Mammoth Sunflowers. I spent a good 15 minutes taking picture of them.

There were also these friends.

Morning Glory's that took over the trellis along with the beans while I was gone in Missouri.

And then there is this little guy.

One of two tiny eggplants. I am pretty sure they won't get big enough to eat before the first frost. I just planted them too late. But it's nice to know they are there.

Alas, this trip into the garden could not last. My days of spending hours in the garden at Merryspring are over.

I got to work and was unhappy with being stuck in the office. I spent my whole morning in there. Doing what I do. But after lunch, I planned my escape. Under the pretense of searching for late summer wildflowers and plotting the course of the interpretive trail, I took to the woods and fields of Merryspring. I often feel obligated to come up with a good reason to "walk the property" and today I could NOT pass up the chance to enjoy the weather. I admit that in my first 15 minutes out there I headed straight for a randomly placed picnic table in the middle of a field, receiving full sunlight. I let myself lay there, soaking it all in for a time.

Get ready for a picture of me.

BAM! There I am. I kind of look like a man. But here I am, un-prettied. You can see the red in my hair (I DESPERATELY want red headed children).

I then hiked in the woods, to my favorite places, and to corners of the property I have rarely seen.

These are a late yellow aster that has been brightening the fields for the past month or so.

WOAH. Crazy plants. I believe THESE are the fruit of a Jack-In-The-Pulpit. This one is actually rather large and took me by surprise.

Walks through the woods can be one of THE most healing experiences. As I made my way along the unfrequented trails of our arboretum, I saw many things.

Green things.

Fallen things.

Orange things.

Paper things.

There were also THESE things.

And THIS thing.

This little friend hitched a ride for who KNOWS how long. But I forgave him, because he was pretty.

Sometimes I don't get a day like this with LOTS of perfect moments. Sometimes the perfect moments are simply in a mug of chamomile tea at 10am, or in a 5 minutes Pinterest break. Every other day or so, I find a perfect moment in picking tomatoes or nibbling on husk cherries in the children's garden. I make it a point to take my lunch to my favorite bench along one of the trails and eat it there. Then lie under the leaves of the large beech shades it. It's quiet and secluded there and I am never disturbed. This is the BEST moment of my day and I find it getting longer and longer as it gets harder and harder to return to that uncomfortable chair and that glaring computer screen.

I usually enjoy my walk home, but today it was particularly wonderful. There was a definite spring in my step that had everything to do with the weather, anticipation of new food creations, and a wonderfully hopeful conversation I'd had with my mother shortly before. AND COLDPLAY. I have been addicted to them lately.

When I DID get home, THIS happened.

Raw kale salad with dried apricots, roasted almonds, a chopped peach tomato (from the children's garden), avocado, and Parmesan cheese, all tossed lightly in a raspberry vinaigrette and garnished with Lemon Gem marigold flowers (they have a peppery, slightly lemony flavor). It was wonderful and I've been anticipating it all week. I also love this bowl of Kathy's that I ate it out of.

Another perfect moment was coming home to Jane Eyre as my new Netflix and a package from Mom and Dad with yummy cookies and a dvd.

Soon, I will curl up with a little dark chocolate, some homemade cinnamon sugar popcorn (popped in a paper bag-supposedly it works!), and a mug of hot tea and watch Jane Eyre. Then I will burrow under the covers and dream of apple cider, pumpkin EVERYTHING, and soup.

Thank goodness today was BRIMMING with perfect moments. If only I could collect them, keep them in a jar, and distrubite them out when I most need them.

I hope YOUR days are filled with perfect moments as well.

And really, it's only 7 more weeks with a wonderful fair, a visit from mom and dad, apple picking, and a spectacular Autumn to break up the monotony.

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