food, Recipes

Baked Summer Squash Basil Casserole

Baked Summer Squash Basil  Casserole

This was my all time favorite zucchini dish of the summer, (well except maybe for the chocolate cake, which is scheduled to post in a few weeks.) It was savory, and used up a ton of the things I had left over from the summer and our wedding: zucchini, sour cream and cheese.  We grew a wheel barrow full of squash this year, most of it enormous.  We also had literally a 1/2 gallon of left over sour cream, a 1/2 gallon of salsa, and a pan of queso type cheese.  I hate to waste things, so I scrambled to use the ingredients as quickly as I could.

It also fit my bill for a quick fix when I wanted to eat some bread or a sweet, as I try to go flour/refined sugar free. I would have never guessed it would be able to satisfy those cravings, but it was superior to most everything else.   None of these are low fat or low calorie recipes, so use fat free sour cream substitutes, or limit your portions.

Because I used white cheese and nuts, rather than cheddar cheese and bread crumbs, the casserole was not as beautiful as it might have been, but the taste! – Oh So Good! It approved a very high kid approval rating, both my daughter and step son ate it and had seconds! Personally, I ate it for days as my go to snack.  Later,  I blenderized the whole thing and had it again as soup. It was just as good. In fact, it was Soup-er!

 

RECIPE: Baked Summer Squash, with basil

INGREDIENTS:

5 chopped Basil Leaves, and 5 whole leaves, or 2 basil plant budding tops

3 medium or 1 large zucchini or yellow summer squash, skin on, cut into slices (remove seeds if you have gigantic squash, like we do)

1 cup sour cream

½ cup cheese (I used feta and some left over white mexican cheese from our wedding taco bar)

½ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon butter

3 Tablespoons crushed sliced almonds (use bread crumbs, or bread alternatives or nut free recipe)

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons green onion, sliced

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut squash into 1/2 inch slices.  Place the squash and the sprigs of basil in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Drain well. Place the zucchini in a 1 1/2 quart greased casserole dish, mixing in the chopped basil.
  2. Combine the cheese, sour cream, butter, and salt in a small saucepan; stirring constantly, cook over medium-low heat until the cheese melts. Pour the cheese sauce over the squash.
  3. Combine the almonds ( or breadcrumbs), green onion slices, and Parmesan cheese, sprinkle over the casserole.
  4. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, broil lightly 5-10 minutes so casserole is slightly browned.
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Burnout and Stress, food, Food Medicine, Recipes

In the Raw – Spiralized Zucchini 

In the Raw – Spiralized Zucchini

 

My daughter got on an airplane today, kissing me good bye, and leaving me with a gigantic yellow bell pepper of which she’d eaten the end off.  That’s what moms get, I guess, good-byes and half eaten vegetables.

My fiancé (now turned husband) is gone for the next three days working night shift. He left me with two pork chops, an avocado, a wheelbarrow full of zucchini and yellow squash’s, a bag of spiraled zucchini, and a bunch of limes. I’m starving! I don’t want to cook! What am I going to do?!

I did a Google search for spiralized zucchini limes and avocados. Not being one to actually read recipes, I just look at the list of ingredients and decide to make something up.  It’s got to be fast. It’s got to be tasty, and it’s got to not heat up the kitchen!

This is what I came up with. It’s tasty. Fast… That would depend on your internal clock and your belly hunger.

 

RECIPE: Spiralized Zucchini, with Fresh Corn and Pork

Ingredients

4 cups of raw spiralized Zucchini squash (fortunately premade)

One ear of corn fresh or cooked kernels removed from the cob

1/2 avocado cut in quarters, 1/4 for the sauce and 1/4 for the finished meal

Protein of Choice: One Pork chop deboned, ½ cup chicken, shrimp, egg, tofu, seitan…    Cut pork into small bite size pieces.

One very small onion or equivalent, diced

1 to 2 cloves of garlic

Juice of one lime

One bell pepper – slightly nibbled, cut the nibbled bit in away

2 Tablespoons yogurt drained or Greek yogurt

3 basil leaves

1 nice sprig of parsley

5 to 8 Grinds of cracked pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt

And amount of Sirachia appropriate for your pallet

 

Directions

Place Basil leaves and parsley and a small blender and blend. Add yogurt and half the avocado, lime juice, Salt and pepper. Add an appropriately sized squirt of Sirachia. Blenderize all into a dressing. Season to taste. Add the dressing judiciously to the spiralized zucchini (it may make more than you need!)  Add corn. Mix well.

Eat the bell pepper, while cooking. You are starving and can’t wait; eat up.

Add onion and garlic to a hot pan cook until slightly caramelized. Add pork. Heat briefly until warm.

Place the zucchini with dressing and corn on plate, top with pork chop and onions, add remaining half avocado as garnish, add a sprig of parsley, for presentation. Eat up!

*************************************************************************

The idea of raw zucchini was not appealing to me when I first read about it.  Due to this, the first time around, I cook the zucchini. Don’t do this. It heats up the kitchen and it’s a waste of time, and leaves you with limp “noodles,” that really don’t justify the noodle title.  I tried it again with raw zucchini.  That mistake slowed the speed with which I got it to my belly, but was well worth it. The spiralized raw zucchini is not disgusting, to my surprise. It’s really nice, actually.

It’s took me 30 minutes to make, because I was busy making mistakes. With spiralized zucchini on hand and cooked pork chops, it goes very quickly, if you have an idea of what you’re going to actually do, (which I did not.) The recipe also uses very little heat and keeps your kitchen more cool in the summer.

I think it might taste really good with some apple!

Now please take about 17 squash home with you!

 

by Tama Cathers

 

 

 

 

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

The End of Our Trip

The End of Our Trip

It is our last day before heading home. Today we are sleeping in. This seems like the most important thing to do in London today. It won out over Windsor Palace, Harrod’s, Harry Potter, and the markets. It even beats going to Dover; the last stop on our tentative itinerary. Given the fact that we got up at 3 am yesterday, it makes sense. I think however, it is more than that.

We spent yesterday doing laundry, and eating. That is really all we had on our plates.

That …. is unusual. What I notice is that my life no longer has these gaps of time in which ‘nothing’ is planned. The time in which one might grab a book and read, or rest.

At home, I get to get over jet lag. This time we won’t have done any work to avoid jet lag, as we did on the way over.  A day after I return, I am getting married. (Yay!)  Somehow, I must unpack, write vows, and stay awake past 5 pm! (That will be the hardest part.) I do need to spend some time with my new husband-to-be. Then it will be off on a honeymoon.

In that upcoming trip,  hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my newly wed husband, those down times are required. Of necessity, there are days that one has the important tasks of eating, laundry, and resting. How will it feel, to limit myself, to revisit these times of recharging. I realize I have lost those times. Will I rage against them when imposed upon me? Will they be temporary? Will I bring them back into my daily life?

Through the thin walls of our cottage, I can hear the family next door, with several little children. They have the opposite problem. Days upon days of nothing but eating, laundry and naps. That too is extremely challenging. What does life mean without some sense of ‘doing” something? The question is how do we find, and maintain, that balance point, even through our career development and family emergence? I know many of us struggle with this.

It is interesting for me to experience the extremes of this dichotomy, within such a short period of time. I have gone from not a moment unscheduled, to an extended break from paid work, as well as my hobbies and vocations. I can really feel the challenges in both sides of this: Too Busy/Not Enough challenge.

We have not even dived into the deeper questions of why we do this to ourselves, and why we feel what we do when in these times. Why is it hard to acknowledge that living a good life is no longer enough? Why is it not enough to make it through the day, or through our life, without becoming famous (or at least having someone outside ourselves acknowledged us/our work?)

We use busy-ness to keep us from feeling empty, to keep us distanced from others. The contact might make us feel. Or think. Why is that so uncomfortable? What happens in the stillness / what arises? What is so scary?

See I am doing it now. Here I am blogging on vacation.

In doing so, I am also experiencing, revisiting, some things that were lost and I miss. I am seeing some things that pinch and noting that I would like to change. Inside, I am changing. This is all what I wanted: to change my life, to slow down, to BE more.

It is uncomfortable. I think, however, I am on the right track. I will continue on.

Soon, I will write about food and herbs and yoga adventures. Who knows what else might happen before then! It’s so exciting!

Life!

 

by Tama Cathers

Note below:

img_5706.jpgThis is my favorite art detail.  I can feel the warm slow lick of the comforting dog on the foot of this child, I can hear the thoughts of the dog, and feel the sun, tongue and breeze on the foot.  It makes me laugh and feel warm all at the same time!Details of a Statue

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Travel

The Near the End of Our Trip to England and Paris – I feel like a healthier person

The Near the End of Our Trip,  I must say, that the trip has not been without it’s good moments – and a few bad ones. I have loved holding my daughter’s hand while we traveled through the cities. I loved watching her be a child, and watching her practice being adult-ishness. She is still in charge of much of the navigation, but also the playing. Bubbles, straws and drinks or a few rocks still provide an hour of entertainment. I am in charge of…well, everything else, including seeing so many famous works of art, landmarks, and architecture. Seeing these things has changed our understanding of history.

Overseas travel has gotten easier in the last 10 years. There seems to be no need to change much money, debit cards work everywhere except for artists, tips, and alms. The internet helps to navigate your almost every step. I semi-successfully used Uber, as well as Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Oddly enough, the trip has gone entirely according to plan. Even the parts ‘without plans’ went according to plan: adventures were had!

Other than those difficult incidents (or 1 notable day), it has been a good trip. About a week too long, but good. The trip itself has been one of the hardest travel experiences I’ve had; from planning, to travel, driving on the other side of the road, traveling alone with a child, going so many placee – all were challenging.  I feel that I have worked out my leadership and responsibility muscles, more than I am used to in my previous day-to-day life. That is okay. I need to develop these qualities to tolerate more extended periods of leadership.

While I feel tired (my feet hurt from so much travel by foot), and fatigued (from not enough sleep), and drained (from being the tour guide, decision maker, cook, laundress, chauffeur, cheerleader, counselor, parent and disciplinarian), I do not feel anxious in the way I did before I left. I no longer feel my worth is tied to other specific people’s opinion of me. I am getting a slightly tougher parental and personal skin (I hope.) I am not so scared of what comes next in my life, and who I will be, and if I will like myself in my next portion of life.

I feel like I have really had a break from my old life. I no longer feel like a XYorZ Professional. I feel like a person. I feel calmer. I feel healthier, in my soul. I think that is a great spot from which to start the next stage of my life.

Uncategorized

A ramble about traveling with my teen through Europe

A ramble about traveling with my teen through Europe in  July:

I really haven’t been able to  write about anything during my trip, as I’ve been too busy being a tourist. Just making sure that we get to the right places at the right time has engaged my entire being. However, I am traveling with my teenage daughter. That should engage my whole being as well. And it does.

Right now I’m sitting at the top of a 30 foot high henge (read ‘mound’) looking across the large ditch that is part of the henge. Across the ditch, under a raised stone, my daughter lies in the grass, building her own miniature Stonehenge.

It’s beautiful. The whole thing is beauty.

 

Not the miniature Stonehenge, that’s fairly average, but that she is putting a ton of work into it. It’s beautiful that my daughter is engaged in play and engaged in the natural world. She still picks up stones and holds them in my pockets for later use, just like when she was seven, and five, and three…

From my vantage point here on the hill, it’s amazing to look at the next generation kneeling in front of work done by generations that existed 6000 years ago. The thing that has impressed me with my visit to Stonehenge and the Roman baths and Bath, is the worldliness of people at those days and ages. In Great Britain at those sites, at those times, there were people from around the known world, including Africa, Syria and the Mediterranean

As I sit here on the hillside in the hot sun, our schedule goes out the window. Playing with rocks, building your own Stonehenge, sitting in the grass, enjoying England – all those take precedent! That’s what we’re here for. That and the tea.

 

But,  I was going to write about traveling with my teenager.

As we’ve traveled together, we become more of a team. She’s learned how to travel together with me – through the underground of London. She’s the boss about where we go on the under ground. Now I’ve had to learn how to be a team for car travel. Where she is the navigator. And I’m the driver who needs a lot of soothing.

I keep getting reminders that she’s becoming a complete, competent person. In many ways she already is – particularly the ones that she reminds me about..

 

She holds my hand when we walk through the city.

I feel so proud.  That she does this is a boon, I believe.

For both of us.

 

It may be the very best part of the trip!

 

Art and Blog by Tama Cathers

 

 

 

Parenting, Poetry

Cannibal

Cannibal

 

Tender lamb,

veal,

suckling pig:

we eat our babies –

for youth’s the best to have.

Skin stretched fully with the fat of life, her skin glistens

translucent and new, full of tender succulence.

Over years and decades, the fatty fullness is used, depleted,

opacity, crinkles and wrinkles appear.

But for now – she is succulent, a nursling at my breast.

 

This is why we eat that suckling pig, the spring lamb, the new potato

so soft, so tender

This is why we say…

“I want to eat you up”

“I am going to nibble your toes”

“You’re so cute I could eat you”

“Aaarrr, I’m coming to get you”

Oxtail soup, pork bellies, headcheese

I munch, munch, munch her

little neck, belly and ears..

 

Gleefully she screams in mock horror, and wild abandon.

I look at my daughters cheeks,

life and goodness inside,

so fat and round.

She is two. Juicy, squealing, happy two.

You can just see the yummy youth filling out her corners

and understand why most of our little love words are about edibles:

sweet potato, pumpkin pie,

dumpling, honey, apple of my eye….

 

She kicks and shrieks as I eat her up

and when I stop,

she says

DO IT AGAIN!

 

 

by Tama Cathers

 

copywrite

 

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Summer is over – Not so with my Stories!

The Summer is Over – All that is left is Zucchini.

All of my travels are finished, much like our garden. All the growing is done, most of the picking and processing has happened. There is still a lot happening out there, and we are cleaning up and tying up the loose ends. The only thing left is the endless zucchini. Its season seems to keep going on and on.

Like the zucchini, I have left the stories of my summer mostly unfinished, they have not been told and packed away.

This blog is part wisdom I have gained. It is also the story of my remaking. To me it is more important that the stories are told in order, more than in season.

I have to go back in time to get forward to today. In that way, I can keep at least the story in one continuous stream. I hope you will bear with me if you are here solely for the recipes. (Sometimes they won’t even be WISE recipes! Ha!) I hope you will continue to follow me if you are here for the soul.

So, I will leave you a few recipes, which may be out of season, and a few stories. First, I believe I mentioned a poem about eating the early fruit on the vine….