Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Chocolate Maple Roll Cake

I was thinking more about A Tale for the Time Being, and how it takes place with Ruth in Canada, and Nao in her diary in Japan. I decided to make some sort of recipe that combined something common in Japan with something common in Canada, and after a few sad experiments with my takoyaki maker I had to give up for a night. However, that was yesterday, and this is today. I thought some more about my fusion experiment, and decided I should make a roll cake!

The first time I ever had a roll cake was in Japan, and I loved how light and subtly sweet it was. So today I asked myself, “What if I made a roll cake that had the airy, softly sweet elements that the ones I tried in Japan had, and somehow incorporated maple into it?” I did a little research, and came up with a recipe that created a lovely cake. I hope you like it!

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Chocolate Maple Roll Cake

Ingredients:

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Chocolate Sponge:

butter, for greasing

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

sugar, for sprinkling

rose from your hot husband (optional)

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Maple Cocoa Whip

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs cocoa

4 Tbs maple syrup

Directions:

IMG_03701. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and grease and line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Use an electric whisk to whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick.

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2. Sift together the flour and cocoa in a separate bowl before folding a little at a time into the whisked egg and sugar mixture.

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3. Once everything had been evenly incorporated, pour into your prepared pan and bake for 8-10 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched. (Be extra careful here–I got a bit distracted and cooked mine slightly too long!)

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4. Once the cake is finished baking, wring a clean dish towel in hot water and spread it on your workspace. Line the towel with wax paper or parchment paper (though wax is probably better! I used parchment and the cake stuck to it a bit). Sprinkle a little sugar along the paper, and then flip your sponge on top. Carefully peel back the parchment that was on the bottom.

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5. Cut off the edges of the cake.

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7. Carefully roll up the cake, “hamburger” style, and set aside with the seam facing down.

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8. Next it’s time to make some fabulous whipped cream! I was so pleased with how mine turned out. Pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl and add the cocoa. Whip until fluffy peaks start to form and the cream gains a whipped consistency.

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9. Next, fold in the maple syrup. Try your best to resist sticking your face in the bowl once everything has been mixed together because the whip. will be. YUMMY.

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10. Carefully unroll the cake and spread ample amounts of the maple cocoa whip inside, leaving a little space at the edges so it doesn’t ooze out too much.

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11. Re-roll the cake, and add more of the maple cocoa whip on the outside.

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12. Drizzle a little bit of maple syrup on top.

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13. Sift a little cocoa powder on for a final touch (I got a little carried away on one end, but who’s going to complain about extra cocoa!?).

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14. And enjoy! My cake was cooked just the teeniest bit too long, so it wasn’t quite as spongy and light as I would have liked, but my maple cocoa whip cream was so heavenly that I didn’t mind at all. Let me know if you try the recipe and how it turns out! 🙂

xx

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters · Tried

Hina Matsuri Dinner

Today it’s Hina Matsuri in Japan, also known as Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day, so I decided to make a Japanese meal to celebrate from Michigan.

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I was really excited to find a simple, pretty-looking recipe for chirashizushi using fresh, sushi-grade tuna. Chad went all over town in search of tuna I could use for the recipe, and finally found some at our local D&W supermarket. Chirashizushi is basically a bowl of sushi rice topped with fresh fish, and–in this case–a colorful salad mixture.

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Yes, I know this picture is blurry, but at least there are cute dolls decorating it.

In addition to the chirashizushi, I also made yudofu (recipe at my old blog, here!) and ichigo daifuku. Yudofu is basically tofu boiled with kombu (dried kalp), and ichigo daifuku is a lovely spring treat consisting of fresh strawberries wrapped in sweet red bean paste and mochi.

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Here you can see my colorful bowl of chirashizushi, as well as the plate of yudofu in the background. I used traditional white sticky rice rather than the brown rice for which the recipe called.

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So bright and cheery!

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Here are some up-close pictures of the ichigo daifuku. I had to do some conversions when using the recipe because everything was in grams and ounces, so I think I’ll be experimenting to make them look prettier in the future. When it comes down to it though, I didn’t care too much about how they looked because they tasted really yummy, and totally brought me back to Japan (they were one of my favorite Japanese sweets! Natsukashii!). You can find the recipe I adapted by clicking here.

We really enjoyed having a Hina Matsuri dinner, and I was so glad everything turned out! Hope you have a lovely Girl’s Day!

P.S. I know I had promised I’d be back last Friday, but something…unexpected came up. On the bright side, I’ve reserved the post I’d been planning to write, and should have it ready for you this Friday instead! 🙂

Food & Cooking

Banana Nut Muffins

Last Saturday was National Banana Bread day, so I decided to whip up some banana bread–muffin style! I brought most of the Banana Nut muffins to work, but I saved a couple to eat up at home, too.

20140226-130420.jpgThe recipe is pretty simple, and only takes about a half an hour. What I especially like is that there are so many options for add-ins. You could choose several different kinds of nuts, or even put in chocolate chips!

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My favorite way to eat banana bread is when it’s been warmed with butter. Mmmmm 🙂

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Find the recipe below (adapted slightly from my mom’s recipe), and enjoy!

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Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/4 c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1-1 1/2 c. mashed banana (depending on your taste!)

1/3 c. butter

2 Tbs. milk

2 eggs

Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts, chocolate chips, etc.)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl (leave out the nuts for now!).

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients before slowly adding them to the dry ingredients. Fold in your choice of nuts.

4. Fill a muffin pan with cupcake liners and spray them with cooking spray before adding a good amount of batter to each one. Or, if you’d prefer to make a loaf of bread, grease a loaf pan and add the batter to that instead.

5. Cook muffins for about 20-25 minutes, or a loaf for 35-45 minutes. Use a toothpick to make sure the batter is cooked all the way through. *Tip: if the muffins or your loaf of bread looks like it’s getting too dark, but the inside hasn’t finished cooking, cover with aluminum foil for the remaining cooking time. Keep checking about every five minutes.

6. Let cool, and serve (or, eat one after a couple minutes with butter, because who can really resist warm muffins out of the oven?).

 

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Happy Lunar New Year

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I got the idea for this cute little paper cut here.

We’re several days into the start of the Lunar New Year, and this year is the year of the wooden horse. Although in Japan they don’t officially celebrate the Lunar New Year anymore, they do still follow the zodiac, so their New Year cards sent out to arrive on January first are almost always decorated with the yearly animal. Obviously we’re not in Japan anymore (stop reminding us!), but we figured we could still get down on some Japanese-Chinese food in honor of the Lunar New Year.

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We got an unexpected extra treat on the day we planned our little celebration: my brother and sister-in-law asked us to go to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We love the Fortune Cookie in Grand Haven, and always indulge in their FABULOUS crab rangoons. Several hours after that awesome meal, it was time to get started making our own.

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Don’t judge me for getting carried away with my deco.

I decided to make Japanese gyoza, often referred to as pot stickers in English. I was SO glad I purchased a little gyoza mold before leaving Japan–it made the whole process much less labor intensive. (I got the recipe for the filling here.)

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Yum! They turned out great!

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Chad decided to make tenshinhan, which is a dish we often ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Japan called Osho. This dish involves rice, crab, egg, green onions and all kinds of other deliciousness you can find in the recipe here. We were so pleased to finally find a recipe for this dish as I had been looking everywhere to no avail. I even asked the staff at Fortune Cookie, to which they replied, “Where did you have this dish?” And I said, “Um…a Chinese restaurant.” They asked, “Where?” I replied, “…Japan.” They didn’t seem to like that very much, and just replied by saying, “That’s not Chinese food.” Anyway, the happy ending to the story is we finally got a recipe, though Chad said he’d like to tweak it in the future (less eggs, more sauce, etc.).

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It was a lot of fun preparing the meal together, and just as much fun digging in. Have you ever tried your hand at making recipes like these?

 

Food & Cooking

Fondue!

Captain America: Well, what about you and Stark? How do I know you two haven’t been fondue-ing?

Agent Carter: You still don’t know a bloody thing about women.

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I’ve been meaning to try fondue for a while now, and this weekend, we finally gave it a go! I borrowed a cute little fondue pot I brought my mom for Christmas from Japan a few years ago, and set to work making a cheese recipe I found on this fondue website.

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We dipped bread, steamed broccoli, red & yellow bell peppers, grilled zucchini and gnocchi into our cheese. I got the idea to use gnocchi from my sister-in-law, who said she had it at a recent fondue dinner party she attended. The meal was SO good, but we ate way too much!

I used the recipe below for the cheese:

Beer Cheddar Fondue: Welsh Rarebit Fondue Recipe

30 ml (2 Tbsp) Butter
250 ml (1 cup) Beer (Ale)
550 g (1 lb) Aged cheddar cheese, shredded
30 ml (2 Tbsp) Flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) Cayenne pepper
5 ml (1 tsp) Dry mustard
Salt and pepper

1. Melt the butter in the cheese fondue pot.

2. Add beer and warm it up without bringing it to a boil. (We used Honey Badger from Short’s Brewing Company.)

3. Reduce heat. Mix the shredded cheese with flour, and gradually add the cheese/flour mixture.

4. Mix with wooden spoon and let it melt. Keep adding more cheese until all of it is melted.

5. Add remaining ingredients.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

7. If the mixture is too hard, add beer. If the mixture is too soft, add cheese.

8. Dip toast into the melted cheese.

9. Let the toast cool off for a few seconds, then enjoy and repeat but no double-dipping!

(Recipe taken from bestfondue.com)

 

What kinds of fondue have you tried, and what kinds of food did you dip in it?

Food & Cooking

Artichokes and Italy

Roman ForumAt the Roman Forum in Italy, spring 2012

In March 2012, Chad and I were fortunate enough to have an 18-day adventure through France, Italy, Spain and Holland. I gained about 15 pounds on the trip (which I thankfully lost!) because there was delicious food EVERYWHERE. I especially enjoyed engorging myself eating in Rome, where we had the chance to take a cooking class. (Cooking classes are one of my favorite things to try when traveling–you get to meet other travelers from around the world, and you make delicious meals together! I blogged about a cooking class in Thailand here.)

Caitlyn in front of the Colosseum   Colosseum

At the Colosseum

One of my favorite things we learned to make in our cooking class were Roman Style Artichokes. We started out by carving the artichokes, which is a lot harder than you might think!

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artichokes 2After carving the artichokes, we rubbed them with lemon and stuffed them with garlic, Roman mint, salt and pepper. Then we put them in a pot with olive oil and water and cooked them until they were tender.

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artichokes 4   They were delicious!

Believe it or not, before taking the Cooking Class in Rome, I had never tried artichokes (aside from in Spinach Artichoke Dip). I was very excited about trying a new food, and remembered our trip fondly today when I decided to try artichokes in a new way for dinner tonight: I made Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Soup!

IMG_9679The soup has a very unique flavor–the lemon juice and dill gives it some tang, and almost reminds you of spring. Adding a fair amount of Parmesan cheese before eating will add a great deal to the flavor and calm down the citrus if it seems a bit strong. I got the recipe out of a fabulous cookbook called Eating Well Serves Two. I used the cookbook a lot while in Japan and always appreciated the variety and healthfulness of the easy-to-make meals. If you’d like to give this Greek soup a try, find the recipe below.

Creamy Artichoke & Spinach Soup (from Eating Well Serves Two)

2  14-oz cans reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup long-grain white rice, such as basmati (I used whole wheat rice)

4 cups packed baby spinach

1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed

2 large eggs

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (I might only do 2 next time!)

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I might actually go slightly lighter on the dill, too)

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Bring broth and rice to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the rice is very tender, about 15 minutes (since I used whole grain rice, it took about twice as long). Stir in spinach.

2. Place artichoke hearts, eggs and lemon juice in blender; cover and puree. With motor running, ladle about half of the rice mixture into the blender and puree until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids). Return the pureed mixture to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F, reducing the heat as necessary to prevent the soup from boiling. (I didn’t have a thermometer, so I just cooked it for a while until it got frothy while stirring.) Stir in dill and pepper.

Makes 2 servings, 2 1/4 cups each.

Food & Cooking

Fruit Cuties & Blueberry Pie (recipe!)

I was really missing summer today because the weather in Michigan was hideous. As I longed for the warmer season, I decided to look for some pretty pictures I took back in August when I went blueberry picking with my mom and nephew, and to share them with you here!

….Then I remembered I lost nearly all of my pictures from the summer *cries*

Here is the bright side to horrid weather and losing pictures: I had an amazing conversation with a friend who I am very lucky to know today, as well as a day filled with shopping fun. Also, although I don’t have my pretty blueberry picking pictures, I discovered Fruity Cuties!

167-cartoon-blueberries-jokesI started off looking for images of blueberries and summertime on google, and then I wandered off into a land of cuteness. I found Fruity Cuties, a website with cute games, wallpapers, a shop and even a blog!

asian-pear-wallpaper-preview

radish-santa-xmas-wallpaper-previewAren’t these two wallpaper examples above adorable?

Cute things always make me feel a little better, but sweet things do, too. With all of this talk about blueberries, I thought I’d share our family’s blueberry pie recipe (with permission from my mom, of course!). I’ve always been told that this pie recipe is “the best” because it isn’t runny like many blueberry pie recipes. We luckily had frozen blueberries left from picking back in August, so I felt like I was bringing a little summer out in the midst of the snowy winter when I used the recipe on Thanksgiving 🙂

Too-Too’s Blueberry Pie Filling

1-1/2 cups blueberries
1-1/4 cups water

Boil 1 minute.  Add:

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/8 cup cornstarch stirred into 1/4 cup water until smooth
3/8 tsp salt

Boil until thick.  Add:

1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 cups blueberries

Pour into crust.  Bake at 375° for 35 minutes.  (For two pies, it’s an exact double of all ingredients.)

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Although I didn’t take any pictures of the filling, I did manage to take a picture of a completed pie I made using this recipe on Thanksgiving. What sorts of things cheer you up on gloomy, bad-weather days? Hope this delicious pie filling brings a little cheer, at the very least! 🙂

Uncategorized

Monte Cristo’s!

Well, I’ve had a bit of a rough couple of weeks. But I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, so here I am with my first post in a while. Will perhaps go into some of the not-so-fun parts of my last couple weeks eventually, but right now I’d like to focus on something fabulous: I finally got around to making homemade Monte Cristo’s! (Sorry in advance for the HORRIBLE photos, but sometimes you can’t be a perfect iPhone photographer when delicious sandwiches are in your near future.)

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I decided to use my panini press for the Monte Cristo’s, but I think grilling them would be a delicious option as well. To start, I set out my ingredients: homemade apple butter, homemade honey mustard dressing, an apple, homemade bread swirled with apple butter, turkey, and provolone cheese.

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I cut thin slices of the apple and put them on the bottom half of the sandwich…

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…added turkey slices on top of that…

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Then I added honey mustard dressing on top of the cheese, and apple butter on the top slice of bread. If I made these again, I think I would also add apple butter on the bottom slice before adding any toppings.

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Then, all I did was grill my delicious little sandwiches. I worried at first that the apple slices would be too crunchy, but they were perfect! I was really happy with how the sandwiches turned out, and have been having fun looking at other Monte Cristo variations online. Have you ever made any good ones, or are there any you’d like to try?

20131113-153908.jpgAlso, I know it’s a little late, but I can’t help but post a picture of our cute pumpkins and our front porch on Halloween. I was able to scratch off making pumpkin seeds from my bucket list using this recipe, too!

Hope you’re doing well as we make our way into the colder, darker months, and that you can stay positive with warmth and light.

Food & Cooking · Tried

Easy-to-make apple butter

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After being somewhat settled into our new house (meaning we live here now, but that many boxes are still left unpacked and the walls are pretty much bare!), we were finally able to go apple picking! We went to Crane’s Orchard, and you better believe I was dreaming of those delicious Monte Cristos from Crane’s in the City I wrote about before. (Will be attempting to make my own version ASAP!)

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In preparation for the future Monte Cristos in my life, I got straight to making Apple Butter. I found a really simple Slow Cooker recipe and adapted it slightly for a very delicious, healthy yield.

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First you prepare around 12 peeled, cored and sliced apples. I used an apple peeler/corer combo, and also had the help of my hunk of a husband. (Hunky husbands are optional when making this recipe, though I’ve heard food made with love always turns out better!)

20131013-200158.jpgThen you mix up your spices, which are pretty typical spices for apple-based dishes: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and salt.

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Time to mix everything together in your crock pot before adding 1/4 cup of unrefined sweetener, such as honey or palm sugar. I chose to use Agave, and though the bottle said Agave tends to be sweeter than most sweetening options, I still used a 1/4 of a cup and ended up with just a hint of sweetness. I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla, and then set the slow cooker on low for about 9 hours.

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When I woke up in the morning and saw the above, I was worried that somehow the apples didn’t cook down enough, but after whisking the apple mixture with my blender, it immediately transformed into a lovely texture. The recipe made a little over four 1/2 pint jars, and tasted delicious!

20131013-200227.jpgThings I love about this recipe: It is incredibly easy, the lack of adding water creates a really nice consistency, and the unrefined sugar holds it together well while adding a healthy, subtle sweetness. (Oh yeah, and did I mention I love eating it? It’s actually really good on peanut butter toast!)

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

(Adapted from Skinny Ms.)

Ingredients

  • 12 medium apples (4 each of Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp) peeled, cored, cut into 1″ cubes. *The recipe suggests mixing the apples with tart Granny Smith & sweet apples like Gala & Honeycrisp, or other sweet apples like Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Fuji, Ambrosia and Spartan. I used Jonagold, Jonathan and Northern Spy because I read that those apples are good for both Apple Butter and for pies).
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sweetener, more or less to taste (sucanat or coconut palm sugar or honey) *I used Agave.
  • Optional: 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add apples to the slow-cooker, pour dry ingredients over and toss to coat. Also, pour in sweetener and vanilla and stir, if using. Cover, cook on low 8 – 10 hours until tender and brown. If you prefer chunky apple butter, leave as is. For a creamier, less chunky, butter, whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temperature, and add to 1/2 pint or pint jelly jars, leaving about 1″ head space at the top to allow for expanding. Cover with lid and freeze or refrigerate.

I enjoyed crossing off Apple Picking and making Apple Butter from my Autumn Bucket List. Have you done any fun fall things yet this year?

Food & Cooking · Tried

A Gorgeous Day for a Picnic!

 

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Yesterday I made a little picnic lunch and went to Rosy Mound in Grand Haven. I had never walked there before, and boy was I in for a treat! It was a gorgeous day, and after eating lunch under the shade of the big, beautiful trees, I started my walk. I didn’t get very far before I heard a “thunk, thunk, thunk,” sound and saw hunks of bark falling from a tree beside the path. I looked up, searching for the culprit of the noise and the falling tree bark, and saw two pileated woodpeckers! I was so excited–I don’t remember ever seeing them in real life before. I laughed to myself as I saw them pecking away, reminded of the Woody the Woodpecker cartoons I used to watch as a child. A man came up behind and whispered excitedly, “A pileated woodpecker!” I said, “Yeah, there are two!” He told me that they usually travel in pairs, keeping the same pairs for life. He had seen them in Florida before, but never in Michigan. A nice surprise for both of us.

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Continuing on the trail, I came upon a view of the beach. I always love it when you emerge from a wooded area and catch glimpses of the blue water in contrast to the green and brown of the trees.

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As I continued on the trail, I couldn’t help but smile. I felt so much joy at the breath-taking sight of sunlight on water. Seagulls played together in the sand and in the air, I saw butterflies fluttering about, and I thought of a line from Anne Frank’s diary: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” What an encouragement!

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I sort of ate my share of some Peach Tarts I made before going on my picnic rather than taking them with me, but I’m sure they played a role in my lovely time.  I didn’t have any pecans around, so I used some Hazelnuts instead, and they turned out great!

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Below is the recipe for the tarts, sure to result in a happy mood when combined with a walk outside on a gorgeous day.

Peach Tarts

  • 2 large firm-ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or hazlenuts or walnuts)
  • 4 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

2. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Place a peach half cut-side down on cutting board. Holding it together with one hand, cut 6 to 8 even slices through the stem end, then push gently to fan out. Combine sugar, nutmeg and pecans in a bowl.

3. Place one phyllo sheet on counter with narrow side facing you. Brush bottom half lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar-pecan mixture. Fold top half over bottom half, pressing lightly. Repeat, folding top half over bottom half. Repeat again, this time brushing and sprinkling left half and folding right half over. Repeat once more. You should now have a 3-by-4-inch rectangle. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 phyllo sheets. Place a fanned peach half in center of each phyllo rectangle, brush with remaining butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.

4. Bake until phyllo is golden brown and crisp and peach has softened, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Recipe originally posted here.