Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Friday, June 29, 2012

Filling up!

See these cute little onesies...

Well, in just a few hours, they will start filling up!!! One today and one in a couple of days! Yes!!! The Grand Ones are coming!!! The Grand Ones are coming!!! I can hardly believe I have lived through the past three months without kissing those sweet, buttery cheeks, nuzzling those soft little necks, nibbling on a toe or two, seeing those smiles that fill up a room and yes, changing diapers. But I have...and a plum of a girl and peach of a boy are on their way!!!

Among all the cuddling and other things, we are going to be cooking up a storm. What will you be doing this weekend?

I saw this recipe Wednesday and thought it was just beautiful looking. For our family, I am going to leave out the anchovies and add in something else for zing. Here is the recipe and picture that caught my eye straight from The New York Times...just a last look before my eyes lock on The Grand Ones! Have a great weekend!!

French Potato and Green Bean Salad

2 pounds medium potatoes, like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig
3 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt
1 tablespoon chopped anchovy (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped capers
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound small French beans, or small romano or wax beans
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons roughly chopped basil
6 to 8 anchovy fillets, optional, for garnish
8 ounces arugula, optional.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, bay leaf and thyme branch. Cook at a brisk simmer until the potatoes are firm but easily pierced with a skewer, about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, anchovy, capers, mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk again before using if the dressing separates.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins with a paring knife and carefully cut into pieces 1/4-inch thick, or slightly thicker. Put the slices in a low bowl, season lightly with salt and pepper and add half the vinaigrette. Using your hands, gently coat the potatoes with the vinaigrette, taking care not to break them. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

Top and tail the beans. Simmer in salted water until firm-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes, then cool under running water and pat dry.

To cook the eggs, bring a medium pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the eggs and cook for 8 minutes for a somewhat soft-centered yolk or 9 minutes for a firmer yolk. Cool the eggs immediately in ice water, then crack and peel. Cut each egg in half and season lightly with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, season the beans with salt and pepper, then dress with the remaining vinaigrette. (Reserve 2 tablespoons vinaigrette for the arugula, if using.)

Combine the dressed beans and potatoes, using hands to toss, and pile onto a platter. Sprinkle with chives, parsley and basil and arrange the eggs over the top. Garnish with anchovy fillets, if desired. Dress the arugula and send it to the table separately.

Serves 4-6 and is lovely with a glass of rose!!
  • Originally published with "A Summer Salad the French Might Recognize".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Visions of Sugarplum

Today is a very special day. It is the day I became a momma for the second time. Such a beautiful, sweet love came into the world! She lights up every day of my life and her kindness, loving spirit and spunk are icing on the cake of life.

Happy, healthy birthday, Sugarplum! oxox

One of the birthday rituals I have is to sing "Happy Birthday to You" to my kiddoes, just like I did moments after they were born. While digging around, I found this vintage card...

Taking the leading question to heart, "Ever wonder about it?", on this Women and Wednesday, I am going to use it as a segue because as well as bountiful happiness, I wish my daughter bountiful "healthiness" today and every day. So that these are not just visions for her life but are realities, that means digging deeper and getting to the root of some more "stuff".

How did we get so "chemicalized", so toxic? When did all this start? Interestingly enough, a lot earlier than I thought. Queen Elizabeth was famous for her white painted face, full of lead and arsenic. Earlier still, while smart in her use of milk for bathing (milk's lactic acid is a fabulous natural exfoliator), Queen Cleopatra also wore lots of lead and copper-laced kohl eyeliner. Beauty products traced back to the Egyptians had heavy metals, animal oils and arsenic. And so, it seems that since ancient times we have been mixing in additives.

Along with celebrating my daughter's birth, this has given me cause today to rebirth some fresh ideas that return to the root of good health and return that good health back to us.

Here is a fabulous recipe...just the berry thing for my birthday girl (the carrots will have to wait...stay tuned!)

Calming Rasp-licious Facial Mask (adapted from Narine Nikogosian)

15 organic raspberries
3 tablespoons organic milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sparkling mineral oil

In a small glass bowl, mash berries and add milk and then olive oil. Add sparkling water and mix again.

Put a thin layer on skin, relax and enjoy for about 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and apply moisturizer. Blow out birthday candles! Eat cake! Oxox

Monday, June 25, 2012

At the End of the Day, a Fairy Tale

The End of the Day Park has become very popular with the locals. So much so that I won't be sitting there for about a week. There is a sweet momma robin there now who has brought her little one to the park to learn all about how to be a robin. She is very intent on privacy and from experience, I have learned robins are very territorial! Once they have found a roost, they mark it with you know what!! And so, for the interim until her Boot Camp is over, I am sitting elsewhere!

See her up there?

As a little girl, like most maybe, I believed in fairy tales...pumpkins that turned into carriages, a castle closet full of fabulous shoes and beautiful dresses, and princes who were always charming. That is why these little wonders caught my eye at the Farmers' Market. The name alone sold me: Fairy Tale Eggplant. And then, the taste...oh my, a real fairy tale if ever there was one! Have you tried them? So creamy and sweet! I think even non-eggplant fans would love them. They were even on the cover of a recent magazine! Look...

To make this dream come true and be edible, here is what I did...

Fairy Tales on the Grill

Wash 2 little Fairy Tale Eggplants per person and slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Place on parchment paper lined foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and herbs of choice. Place packet on grill and smoke for about 20 minutes or until tender. Do not seal packet...leave open so smoke can flavor the eggplant. I use real wood charcoal and applewood smoking chips. Just fabulous. A smoky-sweet and creamy fairy tale come true!

Any fairy tales in your world? Did any of you try the apple cider vinegar as a mosquito repellent? Really worked for me. Have a great start on the week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poor baby

One of my pups has a tummy ache today and has been up since 5 a.m. Poor baby. Just pathetic when he is not feeling well. He can't cuddle close enough to Mom...glued right here by my side. Poor little fella.

All our pups are getting older and it is hard to watch at times. We have had quite a joyful collection over the years...all strays that luckily stumbled into our arms except one precious little guy we bought when we lived in Mexico. Just gems, absolute gems that filled and kept pieces of my heart...all of them. Kitties were gems, too. Grand-cat Roger is sooo sweet.

And so, here is a thought...maybe foraging this weekend you will find a pup and find a place in your heart and home for a new little one. If you do, you will find your life so well nourished!! Life with pets is a rich one indeed!

Here is a great article, "Recycled Dogs", about adopting a greyhound pup and a recipe from Natural Home for healthy pup treats. Our little ones are all mixed breeds, lots of terrier-ish genes with some chihuahua and including our Grand-dog, Allie, pit bull/bulldog thrown in. All do love a good treat.

Think I will wait on making those, though, until tummies are better. Along with Stubug who can't have anything to eat, I am also fasting due to an appointment with a new doctor (what a story that is!! Sheez!) and so food is not on my mind at all until later today. I will be using the link at the bottom of the post for my weekend food foraging...check it out and have a happy weekend!

Here is the link for bringing home the best this weekend, the eight "must buy" foods from the farmers' market: 8 to be great
Rodale also has some great and farm fresh for sure!

Wait until you see what I am doing with those carrots!! Delicious fun! Ox

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crowd Control

While The End of the Day Bench (and now Park) is my new fave place to go and lift myself up over the hurdles of the day (given that I am miles and miles away from my beloved sea), I sense things could get a little crowded. Crowded with others itching to take over my space. No, not people, whom I would welcome...skeeters, that I don't! Lots of them and those darned "no see 'ems". Oh, they itch and hurt. Maybe I am just super sensitive to mosquitoes et al but they gotta go.

One of the fun finds in the 20 Year Wall of Stuff in my garage was this great magazine, Natural Home. I sense it was a little ahead of the green curve because it merged with another and still exists but under a different name. This issue from July/August 1999 is a treasure. Full of great articles on natural paint, all kinds of helpful info for greening up your home and wonder I had squirreled it away!

On this Women and Wednesday, I am going to put into practice their ideas for natural mosquito control. Natural Home suggests: a shaker filled with apple cider vinegar to sprinkle on arms and feet, eating garlic (yum!), citronella candles and peppermint oil, again to rub on arms and feet. I am going to try those out! You may want to try those, too, as safe, non-toxic alternatives to those nasty sprays, especially if you have little ones! Anyone else have a natural repellent to share?

Happy, non-itchy Women and Wednesday!

For more information, here is a great article to read...

Or look here: pesticide information for the article.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

At the end of the day

Yesterday was a day...not an especially bad one but not a great one either. There is a spot in our yard that we have rebirthed and it was just the place for me to reclaim the day. I needed to sit for awhile and decide whether to let things end as is or make them better. There is a little bench there that I have dubbed The End of the Day Bench. I sat there, musing.

After an hour or so, I faced the reality that I still had dinner to make and whether it was a sympathetic reaction or coincidence, my 'fridge was in the same sort of state. Lots of half eaten bunches of this and that, a lone squash and fairy tale eggplant, an ear of corn, a bunch of basil...the "end of the day" for much of what I had gotten at the farmers market. Do I let it all fester or make it into something better? Hmmm...

Given my personality, I set to work on the "better" and here is what I came up with...a nice, soothing summer pasta that eased the day into a peaceful night.

End of the Day Pasta

Take a peek inside your 'fridge for your own combo of goodies. I had a mix of mushrooms, corn, zucchini, pattypan squash, and little fairy tale eggplants that I sautéed in olive oil and lots of garlic and seasoned with Herbs de Provence, a little sea salt and fresh black pepper. Right before serving, I added in Swiss chard and fresh basil sliced into thin ribbons and cooked all until tender. I served this veggie ragu over spinach linguine and garnished with some goat cheese and lots of fresh basil. Then, as the perfect ending to the day, a nice dollop of fresh pesto.

Anything you do to reclaim the goodness of a day?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day

While rarely a day goes by that I don't think about my dad, today my thoughts also include a deep sigh of gratitude for all who fathered everything from an idea to a country, taken the lead, been the mentor who made a difference, taken in a lonely little pup or two.

With special hugs to all the "dads" in my life and especially for my husband and newest dad, my son, who has lead his little one into the world with such love. Have a great day, guys! Oxox

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Will Hunting

No, this is not about the movie of the same name, although it is one of my favorites. It is about the give and take of Goodwill, literally.

After cleaning up the garage and finding goods I had been hunting for (my dresser had been in the garage 15 years...don't even ask!!), it was apparent I had fallen out of love with a lot of stuff. I am very sentimental and it is hard for me to part with things. I dearly love the stories and memories but it was clearly time to part ways with some goods. I called Goodwill and we are delivering a load tomorrow. Here's hoping my stuff will bring joy to others.

Meanwhile, I "rebirthed" some things and they have an exciting new life ahead. I think the pc word is "repurposed".

Once it has gone through a major rejuvenation process, my great aunt's bedroom set will find new use in a bedroom upstairs and my, it sure looks good to me and will look even better after being spruced up. Can't wait!! I will take pictures of the process...should be fun!!

I also visited our local Goodwill store and found a dandy chair for the kitchen. There is a picture below complete with my little sous chef checking it out!

This Women and Wednesday, I am going to be thinking about give and take and how I am consuming and using my things. There is nothing greener than sharing! And, bringing beautiful worn things to a new life. Anything you have "rebirthed" recently?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bee hive

No, this is not a post about honey... but about the garage bee in my bonnet that wouldn't go away. After abandoning the sale idea, I got this "brilliant plan" in the middle of the night. Ever had one of those? By morning, I had convinced myself it was super brilliant and required immediate action. What was this plan of plans your curiosity asks? Clean the garage! And so we did.

For the first hour or so, it was fun. I had visions of the room upstairs I was going to convert into this dreamland bedroom. All I needed was some of the furniture nestled in the back corner of the garage. Oh, I could just see it happening!! That is, until we hit the wall...about 20 years of accumulated "stuff". From then on, the day dragged and dragged. Hours later, the deed was done and the prize furniture located and moved front and center.

This morning, I can hardly move. All my cells ache. I need a long tall cool one and found this in a delightful new cookbook. Tonight, I am going to turn off the dream machine. How about you...ever had a great idea in the middle of the night? How did that turn out for you? Ox

Here is the off the press!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Love being Rattled!

What a crazy week. First my computer issues then a bee in my bonnet that I was going to have a garage sale. Five friends talking-me-out-of-it later, I've given up. Maybe in the fall. And so, it is happily back to "foraging" this weekend!

My gal pals and I love going to our neighborhood farmers' market and I have a special fondness for the lovely organic produce at Rattle's Garden. It is beautiful and all nestled in between gorgeous bouquets of fresh flowers. So pretty...everything looks luscious. The green beans (now history) were a taste trip, so velvety and tender. Now the palate pleasers are squashes of all kinds, the first tomatoes and lots of other de-lish early summer veggies. Seriously, even their business card looks good enough to eat!

Here are some more pictures of Tara's lovely summer pickings and a super simple (just the way I like it!) recipe from her for squash. Thank you Rattle's Garden for all your hard work and delicious produce!

Have a great weekend...where are you off to foraging for weekend goodies?

Tara's Summer Squash

Tara wrote in an email that she has two favorite ways to prepare her beautiful squash. I am especially fond of her patty pan varieties! Look how pretty they are front and center in the above picture.

The first way is just to slice and sauté with a little garlic and olive oil in a skillet until done. The second way is to slice into 3/8 inch strips, brush with olive oil, season with a little sea salt and pepper and grill until those lovely grill marks appear and the squash is tender. Of course, squash lends itself to lots of tasty seasonings and so experiment with the fresh herbs that are also in the markets!

Hope to see you at Tara's! She is at the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturdays and Bernice Garden Farmers Market on Sundays. For more on her farm and family, go to here: Rattle's Garden. Who are some of your favorite farmers?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bouncing back

Last Wednesday my trusty laptop crashed, almost the same day that I did. The hard drive just quit. I was beyond sad as so much of the past six or so years are on that computer and I felt like I had lost a dear pal. Just think of the miles and miles I have traveled with that computer tucked under my arm!! While I complained about how heavy it was, it was a constant companion.

Fortunately the tech wizards at Staples retrieved my most precious info and I had backed up a lot, too. And so, this Women and Wednesdays is a head's up...whether your body is crashing or your computer is...try to have some back-up ready! Oxox

I also saw this lovely body scrub that sounds very soothing...and appropriate. Part of my face is still berry red. It is healing, although a little sore. One thing I have learned is I bounce quite well!!

Strawberry Body Scrub

Mash about 10-12 fresh unsprayed, organic strawberries with 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil. Add a teaspoon of sea salt or sugar and use in the shower. Heavenly!

P.S. I am typing this with my phone! Here's hoping!!!