Friday, December 11, 2015

In my Kitchen ~ December

 Healthy Food Mania continues...  I'm still working on lowering my cholesterol which is hard because there is chocolate everywhere. I'm just kind of rolling with it.

 I'm crazy for overnight oatmeal, a half a cup of steel cut oats, a cup of almond milk, a banana and a glorious mix of whatever else is delicious that I can find. Here I've added raspberries, chia seeds, shredded coconut, pepitas, and a spoonful of cocoa powder. I'll eat half tomorrow and the rest the next day. So easy and I swear it's addicting.

The local farmer's market still has a few berries left. They aren't as sweet as August's but they are still pretty good. I cut them up and keep a bag in the freezer.

I cut up my first butternut squash to make soup. I still have all my fingers too, but just barely. Someone should invent a guillotine for winter squash. It was worth it. The soup was good.

Pears can either be woody and horrible or taste like heaven and all the angels. This one was sweet and juicy.

Still baking sourdough. I always split the loaf with my sister, who is a bread lover.

I tried steaming a packet of veg in parchment paper. It sounded so easy, wrap up the veggies with some water, fold to seal the edges, bake in the oven. Doesn't it look pretty? Look at all those colors. It tasted nasty, like someone raided the plastic food from a daycare play kitchen. I don't know why, maybe I didn't let it bake long enough.

It was a major disappointment because I'm always looking for ways to prep my vegetarian food ahead of time so I get more than a microwaved baked potato for dinner while everyone else is eating roast chicken. Maybe I need more seasoning, swap out the water for white wine, try adding garlic and chili. Suggestions, anyone?

I have been getting good dishes from this cookbook. Tons of veggies, people, I'm not kidding.... you'll feel like Peter Rabbit eating his way through Mister McGregor's garden with this book.


 I've made the Rainbow Chard with apples and onions twice now. So easy, red onion, chard and apples sauteed and finished off with lemon juice and sunflower seeds.

I also learned how to make almond butter. It's fifteen bucks a jar at the market. I made this for less than half that.  

Here's the recipe...
1. Put a bunch of almonds in the food processor.
2. Push the button until it it looks like peanut butter.
3. Put your buttery delicious almond butter in a jar. Lick the spoon and think about how you just made Martha Stewart look like a wuss.
4. Put your jar in the fridge and feel smug and self satisfied.

 Christmas came early here. The hub finished building a Morris chair for the living room.

He also made me a  curly maple tea tray.


After ten years and thousands of cups of tea our old teapot was looking like it had been in a bar fight. So I bought a new one, a "proper" Brown Betty just like the old one.

 The cats have been helping with the festivities by getting out the wrapping paper. 


That's about all that's been going on in my kitchen.  Christmas cookie-less January is right around the corner so I'm enjoying a little of everything chocolate now. Mmmm, chocolate. 

May your days be merry and bright,



PS If you are looking for a nice present for someone special, my new book, A Year In The Secret Garden is on sale on Amazon.

A Year In the Secret Garden

Discover the joys of delving into this timeless children’s literature classic and see the Secret Garden through new eyes and a modern twist! Kids and nature go hand-and-hand while enjoying the bounty that the great outdoors brings is not just a “summer thing.” A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Grab your copy ASAP for the Holiday Book Sale price of $15.00 .


Monday, November 23, 2015


I've been painting a lot this last couple of month. It's soothing and gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I like the buttery feel of the brush and oil paint. I like mixing the colors, even the names are wonderful, Alizarin crimson, Naples Yellow, Payne's Grey, Cobalt, Umber, Cadmium Red, ultramarine... I like them all.

 Here is some of my work from the last couple of months.

3 x 4 Koi falling and flying


 Girl with White Flowers

 A tiny painting that I donated to the Muckenthaller for a fundraiser. I heard that it sold. 

 Warm colors on a cool background. 

 Stormy, the most disappointed cat in the world.

 A Matisse color palette 

Thinking about Edward Hopper.

 A ridiculously Happy Cat

 Monsoon coming to Sedona.

Wishing you a creative week! 



"The world always seems brighter when you've just made 
something that wasn't there before" ~ Neil Gaiman

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In my Kitchen - November

We are all about the manias here at Casa del Aguas. When we get interested in something be it painting, woodworking, modelbuilding or cooking we go all out.

For the last couple of months I've been obsessed with vegan cooking. I've been a vegetarian for a long time so I never worried too much about my cholesterol or anything like that. But I guess my love of cheese and pasta caught up with me because at my last checkup the doc told me I need to lower my numbers or I'd have to start taking meds.  I'm rubbish at taking pills so I decided to try to clean up my diet big time. I have to go back in December for another blood test but so far I've lost 21 pounds by eating lots of veggies.

My new Staub grill pan works a treat on peppers and mushrooms. It's great for asparagus too.

 I finally found a Crockpot that works, only twelve bucks at Target. One of the challenges of being a herbivore is that by the time I cooked everyone's carnivore food I was left with a microwaved potato. So now I set this up in the morning, so by suppertime I have something delicious too.

 I've also started prepping a lot of food for the week on Sundays. This is a broccoli, bean and corn salad that will keep all week. So easy, just blanch the greens and add a can of beans and some frozen corn. Dress the salad in lime juice, balsamic and a bit of maple syrup. Nummers!

It helps to have sharp knives.

 Here's yesterday's haul from Grower's Ranch, a local family market. Baked sweet potato fries are great!

This morning I made these banana, berry, oat breakfast bars. I'm not going to lie, they're no fudge brownie, but for a quick breakfast in the morning, they are perfect.


 My favorite breakfast is an almond milk smoothie with spinach and ginger. I keep the freezer stocked with Ziplock bags of frozen bananas, berries and mangoes.

Crockpot veggie chili... warm and satisfying.
 I also prep for the week by roasting a few taters. I recommend these small waxy ones.

The last couple of sourdough loaves that I baked came out like hockey pucks. I was saved from bread baking despair by an actual phone call from Australia from my mate, Celia, aka the Bread Whisperer. It was so good to hear her voice. She figured out that the humidity here in California was making the dough too moist. I increased the amount of flour and I was back in business! The loaf on the left is from before, the one on the right was after.

If you aren't following Celia's amazing blog, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, then you should. It is the tastiest, loveliest place on the internet. 

So that's what I've been up to... what's in your kitchen?

Best thoughts,


"Happiness, not in another place but in this place...not for another hour but for this hour." ~ Walt Whitman.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bad Paintings

 Some time ago, maybe seventeen years or so, I took an art class where every week a different model would pose and we furiously painted portraits in oils. I then hid the paintings in the garage and promptly forgot about them.

The teacher painted in a photorealistic style and described my paintings as "decorative", which was pretty derogatory at the time. After a couple of months I realized that I didn't really like painting portraits that much and quit. But looking at these made me feel like perhaps I might like to paint people again.

It also made me realize that it is okay to experiment and fail, as long as you get back to it and keep trying.


 This model worked at Medieval Times and had long hair. The words around the edges are from a poem by John Donne, "At The Earth's Imagined Corners" and talks about angels blowing their trumpets to raise souls from death.

“The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”
~ Robert Henri

Thursday, June 4, 2015

In My Kitchen for June

This last month was busy with birthdays and Mother's Day.

Victoria Sponge Cake with Chocolate Ganache frosting for Mother's Day. 

I had never made a ganache frosting before and it was surprisingly easy. I used very dark 80% chocolate and it bordered on bitter. Next time I'll be a bit more generous with the sugar. The fresh strawberries made it juicy and sweet.

 I love broccoli and picked up a bunch of broccolini from the farmer's market. I used it in a stir fry with seitan, bell peppers and sesame seeds.

Also for Mother's Day I made a tropical fruit salad with apples, oranges, raspberries and strips of mango.

Breadmania continued... 

I finished my "Twenty Hour Challenge" of bread baking. I learned a lot. I like the routine of it, and there is something to be about a process that billions of cooks have done for centuries. I'm not sure what my next kitchen challenge will be.

For my birthday my hub bought me a glorious Le Creuset sauce pan. For it's maiden voyage I made a Bearnaise sauce. Mostly I've been using it to flash boil veg. It's just the right size for peas, green beans or broccoli.

 The rest of Mother's Day was pretty quiet so I made some pasta. I don't make pasta from scratch very often but I bought a bag of good semolina flour and thought I'd try it out.

The paper toy for the month of April was tiny books, which you can find here...

Finally, I've been posting a dragon's hoard of jewelry in my Etsy shop, lots of shiny happy things.

What's been happening in your kitchen?

Wishing you a creative week,



 Don't be afraid to attempt something new.

 Remember, it was amateurs who built the ark.

 It was professionals who built the Titanic.