Thursday, April 30, 2020

National Keep A Poem in Your Pocket Day

Ways to Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day with Social Distancing 
  • Carry a favorite “Poem in Your Pocket” and share it on social media using the hashtags #pocketpoem
  • Mail a poem to a friend
  • Chalk your walk with a favorite poem
Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from "Dream Work" (1986) Mary Oliver

May the poetry of April flow right into your May with just one more poem...

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Candace Simar, Author, Writer and Poet
Candace Simar is a poet and novelist from Pequot Lakes MN. She has received awards from the League of MN Poets, Will Rogers Gold Medallion Awards, Western Fictioneers, Women Writing the West and Western Writers of America. Learn more about Candace and her books at at 

"Lilac Time"
by Candace Simar

Lavender cone heads
fragrantly slurping
from old pickle jars
on every
kitchen table
in town.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins  
Cook's Notes: These muffins are lemonlicious! And just perfection when adding  blueberries to the batter. Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in the batter make a huge difference. Then for all those lemon lovers, the muffins are drizzled with a sweet lemon glaze, enhancing the lemon flavor. The addition of almond extract with vanilla extract prove to be a nice flavor balance. 
Recipe adapted from twopeasandtheirpod and makes 12 muffins.
Cooking Tips: Greek yogurt can be sustituted in this recipe. Best to use small blueberries and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter. I used a small hand strainer for this step. The addition of flour help keep the blueberries from sinking in the batter during the cooking time. 
Do not overmix batter as muffins will become more dense.  
 Muffin Ingredients: 
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (1/3 cup) 
  • 3/4 -1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon each pure vanilla extract and almond extract
  • 1/2 cup butter melted and cooled
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed dried and tossed with 1 tablespoon flour
For the Icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
Muffin Directions: 
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
  • In a large bowl, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of the lemon is strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream or Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, milk and melted butter together until well blended.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir to blend. Don't overmix. Stir in floured blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Fill the batter almost to the top of the paper liners. 
  • Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin. 
  • To ice add a sheet of wax paper under the cooling rack to catch the spills. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Roasted Carrots and Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa, Red and Brown Rice

Thursday April 30th National Keep A Poem in Your Pocket Day
Share a favorite 

"Almost Spring"

His head bald, fringed with gray,
she, daughter-in-law, just past full bloom,
in tandem they bend and rake leaves
and twigs browned by winter,
intent on uncovering the cold soil
of a bed thirsting for sun and seed.
They chat as they gather remains
of last summer and fall.
Here and there they find the nub
of a bulb anxious for air.
They lift and loosen clods of dirt.
His shoulders permanently stooped,
on her cheek a smear
where she chased a wayward curl.
Unseasonably warm, they know
it is too early for seeds,
snow may fall again
before true spring.
It is not yet April.
But this task is about shared hope
and sweat and two whose roots
are entwined, not by birth,
but by seeds and seasons.

Doris Lueth Stengel (Brainerd, Minnesota Poet) 

Reprinted with permission from author
Roasted Carrots and Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa, Brown and Red Rice 
Cook's Notes: A healthy vegetarian dish packed with tons of flavor.  A shortage at the store propelled this dish into the making. I started out wanting plain quinoa (did not have) but did find this package of Seeds of Change
It turned out to be quite the game changer for the recipe. It had great nutritional count making it a really healthy choice. The package was easy to prepare with two choices; microwavable or skillet preparation. I chose the skillet preparation so I could add in the homemade dressing and roasted veggie mixture. It was a filling dish perfect for lunch or supper. The recipe is an Ever Ready Special and serves 3-4. 
Optional adding in 1 drained can of chickpeas, rinsed. 

Cooking Tip:Best to keep carrots and sweet potatoes diced about the same so they roast equally. 
Dressing Ingredients: 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, parsley 
Dressing Directions:
  • Add all ingredients to blender, mix well.
  • Reserve half the dressing for rice dish and other half will be used for roasting veggies. 
  • 1 package quinoa, brown and red rice e.g. Seeds of Change or a similar product 
  • 1-1/2 cups each carrots and sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup each dried cranberries and chopped pecans
Veggie Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Line an rimmed baking sheet with a silicone pad or parchment paper. 
  • In a large bowl add uncooked veggies and 1/2 of the dressing. Mix well. 
  • Spread evenly out on baking sheet. Roast veggies for 18 minutes or until al dente. 
  • Last few minutes of roasting time sprinkle in cranberries and pecans with veggies. 
Quinoa, Red and Brown Rice Directions:
  • Follow skillet directions on package but add in rest of dressing rather than suggested water. 
  • Lastly, add in roasted veggies to rice mixture, top with pecans and serve immediately. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Ham, Cheese, Broccoli and Tomato Galette

Ham Cheese, Broccoli and Tomato Galette 
Cook's Notes:  A galette is a savory rustic tart with hand-folded edges often found in French cuisine. Since the edges are uneven it's much more forgiving than a regular pie crust with fluted edges.  A savory filling makes this a delicious supper served with a mixed green salad. White Chocolate Covered Oreos previously posted.
make for a sweet ending to an evening meal.
Recipe adapted from Food Network April 2020 and serves 4 
Cooking Tip: Prep ingredients ahead for easier preparation.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/3 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 1 cup Black Forest ham, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1 round refrigerated pie dough (half of a 14-ounce package)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese or white cheddar 
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 3/4 cup marianted artichoke hearts,  drained, patted dry and diced 
  • Egg wash and sprinkle of sesame seeds 
  • Line a dinner plate with a paper towel. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine both cheeses. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add diced ham, onions, broccoli florets and artichoke hearts if using in a single layer. Saute 2 minutes and add in diced tomtoes and cook 3 minutes. Place mixture on paper lined plate. 
  • Unroll the pie dough on the prepared pan and gently flatten any curled edges.
  • Spread the mustard on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with half the cheese. then vegetable mixture, then the remaining cheese.
  • Fold in the edges of the dough, pleating as needed.
  • Lightly brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese melts, 18 minutes.

Looking for more galette recipes? Ever Ready has you covered!
Cherry and Peach Galette
Tomato and Sausage Galette
Peach Blueberry Galette with Almonds
Apple Pear Galette
100 recorded today 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

I Spy

When my children were young "I Spy Mystery" series were books that kept their attention going on a scavenger hunt page by page looking for certain objects. 
Recently our yard has become a bit of a scavenger hunt as each hour and/or day some new bloom pops up. With 70 some cacti in pots or in the ground we've finally figured out each one is going to bloom. The mystery lies in when. Two of the latest additons include:

Recently I posted a link in Quarantine Cooking to a recipe White Chocolate Covered Oreo Spring Flowers.
I was intrigued with the idea of a recipe using only 3 ingredients. A fun recipe for kids to make. 
So I decided to try the recipe myself and it's a rare occurance when I actually have all the needed ingredients. 
I made half of the recipe using 1/2 bag of melting white chocolate. Be sure to use high quality chocolate like Wilton or Ghirardelli. I followed the author's suggestion of melting the white chocolate in a coffee mug. Then I stirred until smooth, dipped one cookie in mug at a time before placing on a parchment lined cookie sheet. 
I found using a small tong worked well. Be sure to coat both sides of the cookie well with melting chocolate. Once all cookies were coated, I arranged 6 M & M's on each Oreo cookie for flower design. The baking sheet was placed in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for cookie to set.    
Where I come from Ice Out refers to a lake moment many eagerly await each spring.
There are many annual contests held with prizes to see who can guess when that magical day may occur.   
But here in the Southwest the metrologists talk incessantly about Ice Break. It means that accurate prediction when the first day of a new year the temperature soars to 100 or more.  
It's predicted within the next week. But believe me it feels like today even though thermometer says 98. And don't believe those who say its only a dry heat. 98 is 98 HOT HOT and we'd be lucky in Minnesota to feel that in July. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Laura Hansen, Minnesota Poet, Author and Writer

Laura Hansen is a poet, writer, artist and workshop leader. She lives by the river in Little Falls, MN, a place that inspires her work. Laura is passionate about words and has won many accolades in the literary world. She is a member of the League of Minnesota Poets, a regular contributor to regional magazines and literary journals, participated in poetry exhibitions and has self-published three chapbooks. Her poetry has been featured on Lakeland Public Television and Northern Community Radio. She's the winner of the 2015 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition.
Laura's winning book, "Midnight River" ( N.F.S.P.S. Press), published in 2016 was a book finalist for the 2017 Midwest Book Awards.

Laura's newest book "The Night Journey" (River Place Press) 2020 
features image rich lyrical poems, and stories offering  readers portals into the imagined worlds of myths, nature and human potential. "The Night Journey" gives voice to these stories of landscape and place that have stirred her heart. Through a Five Wings Arts Council Individual Grant Laura was given the opportunity to study in Santa Fe with Travel Writer Santa Fe and MISAWest Santa Fe. Entranced with the architecture and artwork of the area, Laura found many of her explorations ignited stories and poems laying the groundwork for her new book.     
To order a copy 

Read more of Laura's work from her Slow Living Journal Entries at and/or

Enjoy one of Laura's recent poems 
"Do Not Delay This Wakening"

I need right now
for the river
to go storming past
like a bear fresh
from its den,

to see it open
its dark maw
and roar,
releasing all the
pent-up frustrations
of winter
and of home-staying,

to pound its furious
big clawed paws
down on the weakening
ice, to break us free
of winter's stasis,

to trundle away
with this unholy
pandemic riding
on its back.

Laura L. Hansen
March 25, 2020

poem reprinted with permission of the author

Thursday, April 23, 2020

An Explosion of Desert Color

While waiting for the green light to travel safely, an explosion of colors has certainly captured my attention. What a visual feast are these cacti blooms found right in our yard. A word of caution, one does need to be quick for a photo op. These blooms live but only a day or two. We've learned the front yard is fair game for javelinas nighttime grazing. The backyard fares better for lasting being walled and fenced in. Many of the cacti have buds ready to pop.  
Hope these pops of color brighten your day!🌞

Mary O'Neill's " Hailstones and Halibut Bones " is a children's classic of rhyme and verse first published in 1961. This book has been used often in schools as a supplementary tool for teaching poetry. In the book there are 12 vivid poems where O'Neill explores colors using the senses. Not only do the rhythmic lines lend themselves to song but writing one's own color poem.
What I like best about the book is how each page has imaginative verses that explore the meaning of a color. Each page begins What is... and then names a color.

The Colors live
Between black and white
In a land that we
Know best by sight.
But knowing best
Isn't everything,
For colors dance
And colors sing,
And colors laugh
And colors cry-
Turn off the light
And colors die,
And they make you feel;
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
to the fizziest fizz.
And you and I
Know well
Each has a taste
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful
Story to tell...

ending page from "Hailstones and Halibut Bones" by Mary O"Neill

Meet Minnesota Author Barbara Saefke

NAC 2020 AUTHOR VIRTUAL TOUR MEET MINNESOTA AUTHOR BARBARA SAEFKE Barbara E. Saefke author Mystery and Romance Barbara...