End of Spring Poetry June 2018

The earth is alive again thanks to the coming of the solstice. It seems only fitting that I finish my “spring cleaning” and share a few poems that I wrote to de-clutter my mind  over the past few weeks. Since mental health has been a focal topic in the media recently (and an important one, at that), my focus in this short series is just that; but in the true spirit of poetry, I’ll leave the discovery of meaning to you, the reader.

Panic
Memories sting like hornets
swarming my mind
I struggle to breathe
it is a challenge to see through such strife
when with pain, I am so rife
my memories seethe
as I seek to find
a moment to gasp for air and hear the cornets
that play a song of hope which disturb my despair.

Dysmorphia
I look in the mirror to see myself
only to find someone else
shamefully glaring back
with a gaze that could melt a Polar ice shelf
this feeling is hard to unpack
my eyes whip me like belts
punishing me for what I lack
blistering my ego with welts
some days I want to be anyone but my self
because being in my skin is like wearing itchy felts
but sometimes we have to put these feelings on a shelf
and allow ourselves to heal from the dysmorphia which cuts us apart like a razorback.

IMG_20180616_211018_143.jpgFresh Air
I plow through green waves of grain
as the pain
incurred by living the mundane
rolls away from my shoulder blades
like a bird’s wings slick off the rain
as a storm fades
I often wonder how we stay sane
living in concrete caves
as indentured slaves
to the technology we make offerings to and praise
and yet I break the chain
which binds me to a life from others that’s lived both close and far away
–from this place I stray
none of us belong, anyway;
this, I all ponder as the sun wanes
casting golden light onto the ancient grains
as my mind soars over them like the plains
which paint the earth and maintais
its beauty like beautiful stains
which are able to make me humane once more.

 

All material is my own and subject to copyright. When sharing, please place a link to my original blog post, as well as cite my name, to give proper credit. To publish my work, please contact me via my Contact page.

Spring Poetry May 2018

Poetry is one of my favorite ways to express myself on paper, but it’s also a medium that I’d neglected for a large portion of my life–that is, up until about last year. After having a hard time finding the inspiration to sit down and write fiction, I began to focus on trying to write at least one poem a day. That way, even if what I write is rubbish, at least I’m writing something. There are still many days when I forget to write, but there are increasingly more days on which I remember (and write even more than one poem). I’ve become very fond of this practice, and now that my blog is more inclusive of who I am beyond food, I’ve found a place to begin to share it.

Over the next year, I’m hoping to begin to organize my poetry to submit to a publisher or to self-publish a chapbook. If you have any feedback or like what you’re seeing, I’d love to hear from you. These poems are my original work and I reserve all rights, so please contact me before sharing.

I’ve put compiled three of my favorite poems that I’ve written this May below, and look forward to sharing more:

Song Birds
Birds chirp
like tiny bells
ringing in
a new day

my heart swells
as tears well
within
the corners of my eyes

Nature is God’s way of showing us our worth.

 

Wind Chimes
The wind plays chimes
like a bell choir
striking heavenly notes
interrupted by the chortling gloats
of birds on a wire
as I admire
my neighbor’s Columbines
I could never tire
of how one dotes
on how spring and summer coat
the earth with life.

 
Bloom
I bloom to know
reaching upward
attempting to grow
who I am inward.

 

 

French Toast

I have high hopes and expectations for the breakfasts and brunches that I create, but they often fall short when I’m low on time or ingredients. This French Toast recipe is one of my go-to’s in those times, and it came in clutch this morning when I looked in the fridge and saw less than I had hoped to find.

Forunately, I always seem to have eggs and bread-and perhaps you find yourself in a similar predicament, too. Give it a try and this French Toast will have you thankful for the simple things in life.

tmp_25843-img_20170108_103622_319-1375584281

Recipe serves 2-3 (makes 6 pieces total)

French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces Italian bread with sesame seeds (use any white or wheat bread that you like)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp milk or water (optional)
  • Butter for greasing pantmp_25843-img_20170108_102700_4631067401932

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs in as medium sized bowl.
  2. Add in cinnamon, ginger, and milk (optional), making sure to thoroughly incorporate.
  3. Place a medium or large-sized non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  4. Once the pan is warm, place a small pad of butter on the pan to grease.tmp_25843-IMG_20170108_103421_4812087872579.jpg
  5. Dredge bread through the egg mixture, one piece at at a time, making sure that each side is covered, but leaving any excess behind (do not leave it dripping with mixture).
  6. Place on pan. Heat for about 2-6 minutes, or until golden brown, before flipping to cook the other side for 2-6 more minutes.
  7. Once done, remove from heat.
  8. Repeat process with remaining pieces of bread.
  9. Enjoy plain or serve French Toast warm drizzled with pure maple syrup, warm honey, jam, or preserves. Sprinkle with cane sugar, powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, or ginger for extra texture and flavor.
  10. Enjoy!

Lemon Drop Cookies

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of my friends who are celebrating tonight!  I’ve decided to share one of my favorite cookie recipes that I tried this season in order to celebrate!

In my experience, refrigerator cookies always turn out the best.  Thanks to refrigeration strengthening the molecular bonds of the dough before it is introduced to heat in the oven (which alters them yet again by breaking these same bonds, but at a slower rate thanks to refrigeration), they turn out pillowy, yet rich and golden brown.*  For this exact reason, when I came across the recipe that inspired this one, I knew I’d love them.

If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me mention in the past few months that my Grandma bought me the Taste of Home 2016 Christmas Cookbook.  Anything that my Grandma gets for me is precious to me, but this gift was especially precious since Grandma is one of my cooking role models.  In light of this, I promised myself that I’d try some of them (I’ve been notoriously guilty of not trying recipes in the cookbooks that I’m given or buy).  And I’m thankful I did, because that’s exactly where I found the recipe that inspired this one, originally titled “Lemon Slice Sugar Cookies”.

The first time I made it, they were all out of lemon pudding at the store, but I had recently scored some lemon extract on sale, so I thought I’d give vanilla pudding a shot instead.  After trying it both ways, it turns out that I think the vanilla is even better than the lemon—providing it with an extra depth of flavor and sweetness.  Keeping Grandma—who has been diabetic for quite a few years now but still likes to indulge in sweet treats from time to time—in mind, I’ve also slightly reduced the sugar (and you can even swap out the pudding for sugar-free vanilla pudding if you need to, as well).  And, since I’m the queen of substitutions, I’ve included other substitution suggestions as well.

I liked this recipe so much that I included it in my holiday cookie gifts this year.  I hope that you enjoy this citrusy treat as much as me!

*For more on this, http://www.theelevatedkitchen.com/guides/science-proteins is a great, quick read.

 Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies

1 pkg vanilla pudding (could also use lemon; if using lemon, omit lemon extract)

1/3 C granulated sugar (you can increase to ½ C sugar if you’d like a sweeter cookie)

1 ½-2 ½ tsp lemon extract (use less if you want them to be sweeter, more if you want them to be more lemony)

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 ½ C unbleached flour (bleached is fine if that’s all you have)

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Icing

½ C confection sugar

2-4 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (could also use lemon extract if you don’t have any, but use 1tsp extract:2 tsp water in order to dilute; you can also substitute lemon juice for grapefruit juice if you’d like to introduce a more unique citric dimension to the cookie)

lemon-drop-cookies-1

Directions:

Combine vanilla pudding, sugar, lemon extract, and butter in a large bowl by mixing until fluffy.  Add egg and slowly mix in milk until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually incorporate dry mixture into wet mixture.  Mix until combined.

Divide dough in half.  Lay out dough on plastic wrap and shape into a log (no shorter than 5”, no longer than 7”). Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375* F.  Take dough out of refrigerator and cut into 1/2” slices.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease pan (if not non-stick).  Place cookies on pan 2” apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown on the bottom of the cookie.

Remove the cookies from oven and place on cooling rack.

Combine confection sugar and lemon juice in bowl.  Drizzle cookies with icing once cool, leaving them on the rack to dry once more after icing.  Enjoy!

Yields about 2 dozen.

Honey Ginger Snaps

Honey Ginger Snaps

Growing up, baking cookies with my Mom and Grandma was something that I always looked forward to doing each holiday season.   Thinking back, I can still smell all of the sugar and spice, and even feel the sticky dough caught between my fingers and underneath my nail beds (probably one of the reasons my parents called me Messy Jessie growing up).  I always went into a day of baking with excitement, but would quickly grow bored and want to move on to the next task.  Even in the face of my petulant impatience, my mother would lovingly, patiently finish each batch by herself, never complaining that I didn’t help her finish.  Each cookie was and still is baked with love, and this, she has always said, is the secret ingredient—a truth much more profound than I could have ever known as a kid.  It is these kind of memories that I relish in.

Fast forward years later, and I still look forward to it, which is why this year, I decided to come into the season prepared.   After all, there are endless possibilities with cookies, and I wanted to make sure those that I chose to bake were worth it. While I was trialing recipes, I came across this twist on a classic that I won’t exclude from my repertoire again.   Two of my favorite things about this recipe are how easy it is to make and how versatile it is—and for these reasons, I know they’ll become one of your favorites as well. Whether it’s for a holiday cookie gift or not, this cookie is sure to please year-round.  They’re best enjoyed with hot tea (I’d recommend black) or black coffee (I’d recommend a mild, Central or South American coffee.  I’ve been enjoying my batch with some washed Colombian coffee).

Ingredients:

2 C unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

½ C vegetable shortening (I used 1/4 C with the batch pictured, which is why they turned out more round and less flat, but if you’d like a flatter, more rich cookie, use 1/2 C)

¼ C butter, divided

¾ C sugar

¼ cup honey (I used neem honey for a more robust flavor, but any honey will do!)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

honey-gingersnaps-3

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper (I prefer parchment).  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Gradually stir in the sugar until it is blended, increasing the speed to high until light and fluffy.  Beat in honey, egg, and vanilla.  Once fluffy, gradually stir in the flour until it is combined.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand for 5 minutes, and then carefully place cookies on wire rack to cool.  Store in airtight container up to one week.

Yields 3-4 dozen

Cornstick Cheddar Garlic Cornbread

When I make homemade cornbread, it often turns out much less exciting and tasty than I would like.  However, once I got a Lodge cast iron cornstick pan [thanks, St. Nick ;)], everything changed.  The shape of the pan allows the cornbread to get incredibly crispy on the outside, while maintaining its springy, moist texture on the inside.  Lightly browning the butter with garlic before incorporating into the mixture adds depth of flavor, while sharp cheddar adds a subtle dimension of lactic acidity, pairing perfectly with the garlic.   Using coarse ground cornmeal makes these cornsticks even more crunchy, but I’d recommend using regular cornmeal if you’re sensitive to rough textures.  You’re sure to enjoy this cornbread by itself or as a side dish to chili, salads, roasts, or soups!

cornstick_pan

Ingredients:

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (or 1 tsp minced)

½ tsp salt, or to taste

½ C yellow cornmeal (use coarse-ground if you’re looking for a heartier, crunchier texture)

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup buttermilk (make your own by putting 1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice in a 1 C measuring cup, then fill to top with milk, let stand 5 minutes)

1 large egg

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425*F.  Place 7-stick cast-iron cornstick mold in the oven to pre-heat for at least 15 minutes.  (If you have two pans, pre-heat both).  Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat until it foams.  Add the garlic.  Stir frequently.  Cook for about 2 or 3 more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk the buttermilk and egg lightly in a small bowl until combined. Punch a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in all of the wet mixture.  Stir just until combined, making sure not to over mix.  Add the butter and garlic.  Add the cheese.  Stir.

cornstick3

Remove the hot pans from the oven and brush with remaining 1 Tbsp melted butter. Divide the batter among the molds.  Return molds to oven.  Cook 10-13 minutes, or just until golden brown and springy.    Remove from mold and place on rack to cool.  Enjoy!

cornstick2

Yields 14

Daylily Smoothie

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved daylilies. Growing up, my Mom grew them on the side of our house (and still does), and their blossoming became emblematic for the arrival of summer. As an adult, I am lucky enough to have them grow in abundance next to my own garage. Their vibrant, enticing color is hard to ignore and always brightens a room or garden. However, until last week, I had never been aware that they were edible!

I’ve been bringing them into the café that I work at and one of our regular customers recently told me that her friend makes salads and uses them as edible cups. With my curiosity piqued, I did some research, and, sure enough, they are! Not only are daylilies edible, they are also nutritious! The flowers, which which are used in this recipe, contain Vitamin C and Vitamin A, among other key nutrients.

The flavor and aroma of the flowers is complex, yet delicate and is akin to floral baby greens with a very mellow herbal retronasal that comes through on the finish (it’s no wonder that some Asian cultures classify it as an herbal ingredient!). You can also consume the buds and tubers. In order to consume the flowers, first remove and discard the stamens and stem before washing thoroughly. You can eat them with salads or smoothies when they are freshly opened, or in soups once they are wilted. I put them into this delicious smoothie after trying them plain, and will definitely be having it again before my daylilies are out of season!

This recipe serves 1-2.

tmp_9851-2016-07-18 05.42.50-1999405439.jpg

Ingredients:

6 daylily flowers, stamens and stems removed, thoroughly washed

Juice from 1/2 of a lime

3-5 large leafs of kale, center removed (any variety will do)

1/2 C frozen cherries

1/2 C frozen mango

1/2 C raspberry or plain kefir

3/4-1 C water

Directions :

Once you have thoroughly prepared and washed the daylilies and kale, place everything into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Enjoy fresh for best results.

If you try my recipe or any variation of it, let me know what you think!  Find me and share pictures on Instagram @thewisconsinskinny or Twitter @radiantlyjess

#eatgoodfeelgood #thewisconskinny