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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Crown Point, IN

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February 2, 2023

Colorful Cauliflower and Fresher Berries

Interesting what shows up in conversation when a bunch of friends gather. Most recently, this is what happened. “So, have you ever wondered how caul

January 25, 2023

5 Ways to Stop Playing the Comparison Game

We all do it. As human beings, it’s part of our nature. We compare for points of reference. But we don’t have to play the game anymore. If you fin

January 19, 2023

Dining Out Made Simple

We know that home cooking is the healthiest. For starters, we’re not loading our meals with ingredients that we can’t pronounce and preservatives

January 11, 2023

Look for the Bright Spots

It’s been almost 2 weeks since we’ve celebrated the newness of another year. Perhaps you’ve set up some small action steps that lead to a positi

January 5, 2023

5 Ways to Stay Committed to Your Goals

We’re into another year in what seems like a flash. Even if I didn’t look at a calendar, I’d know this. How, you ask? BECAUSE MY PARKING SPOT IS

December 29, 2022

Wishing You a Happy, Healthy 2023

It’s that time of year when we think about starting something new. Perhaps even a resolution. Or three. Here’s a tip: decide on a small daily acti

December 22, 2022

Hachiya, Winter and the Movie

Curiosity got the best of me. This week I tried the heart-shaped Hachiya persimmon fruit.  I allowed it to sit for several days to ensure that it wa

December 15, 2022

Persimmon, Christmas Movies and Compassion

Intrigued by seeing persimmon fruit in the produce section of the grocery store, I decided to be adventurous. The Fuyu variety that I found are about

December 8, 2022

5 Tips to Help Calm Holiday Overwhelm

In conversation, I’m hearing the sentiment of overwhelm from just about everyone. Too much. Too many. Not enough time. Decorations, parties, gift wr

December 7, 2022

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

Makes about 6 servings    Ingredients 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (or other ground meat) 1 medi

3-Ingredient Brownies

3-INGREDIENT BROWNIES (Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)

3 medium, overripe bananas (approximately 1 cup or so)
1/2 cup smooth almond butter (or any smooth nut butter)
2 T – 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder (more = richer taste)
You may like to add a small amount of coconut oil to make these a bit moister.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small cake pan or loaf pan and set aside.

In a small glass bowl (for microwave) or in a pan (for stovetop) melt your nut butter. In a large mixing bowl, add the banana, nut butter and cocoa powder and mix very well. If you prefer a smoother texture to your brownies, use a mixer or blender.

Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing into pieces.

These are best refrigerated–or frozen, my favorite–and they keep longer too. They may spoil rather quickly if kept at room temperature.

Two Steps Forward

The title of today’s blog is also the title of a book I finished reading last month. Two Steps Forward, is the second book in 3-book series by Sharon Garlough Brown. The stories revolve around the very different lives of four women as they are drawn into a spiritual formation journey at a retreat center. They all hit various roadblocks along the way and form the Sensible Shoes Club. To find out more, you’ll have to read the books.

So, of course, I am relating this to another aspect of life: food. Since our spiritual souls live in physical bodies, food is A REALLY BIG DEAL. As much as we may try (in vain, I might add) to not think about it, life is much about food.

Friends get together for breakfast, lunch, and meet up for dinner. I wonder how many business lunches happen across the country on any given day. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and his pals were always meeting at Tom’s Restaurant. Friends cast found themselves at Central Perk. Jesus frequently ate with tax collectors and other colorful characters.

Life and food are inseparable; which is why I often say, “It’s all about the food.” Translation: “This is life.”

When we are practicing making better choices, the task of eating healthy may seem a bit daunting. We have every good intention of consuming LOTS of vegetables, minimizing sugar and red meat, getting to the gym. Then, life happens and we are involved in a food frenzy that seems to take us off course. When your friends suggest meeting for pizza on Friday night, your family celebrates the September birthdays on Saturday, and you have an anniversary brunch on Sunday at 11:00AM, well, two steps forward, one step back. Life, food, life.

What to do? Take it in stride by practicing the 80 (healthy foods)/20 (not ideal foods) rule. Remember portion control, adequate water intake, scheduled workout routines, and my favorite: only eat it if it’s AMAZING.

I love discovering food combinations that satisfy the need for comfort, sugar, chocolate, carbs, etc., yet do not make me feel as though I took one step back. You may call it cheating. I call it REAL.

This week, I am celebrating life with this simple recipe for brownies. Thank you, Shaina, for bringing these to my attention. The secret is to only eat one or two small brownies and savor every bite. Folks who are non-compliant (yes, like my husband) will not be fighting you for the last crumb, so relax and enjoy. Two steps forward, two steps forward. Victory!

3-INGREDIENT BROWNIES (Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)

3 medium, overripe bananas (approximately 1 cup or so)
1/2 cup smooth almond butter (or any smooth nut butter)
2 T – 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder (more = richer taste)
You may like to add a small amount of coconut oil to make these a bit moister.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small cake pan or loaf pan and set aside.

In a small glass bowl (for microwave) or in a pan (for stovetop) melt your nut butter. In a large mixing bowl, add the banana, nut butter and cocoa powder and mix very well. If you prefer a smoother texture to your brownies, use a mixer or blender.

Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing into pieces.

These are best refrigerated and they keep longer too.

 “Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.”—Julia Cameron

Michigan Peaches and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Delightful summer days and lots of kids are back in school. When I heard from one of my favorite moms that she sent her daughters to school the first day and forgot to send their lunches along–oops– the memories of car pooling, parent-teacher conferences and peanut butter sandwiches reminded me of how life used to be– and how quickly time passes.

To you moms out there with some newfound freedom, do something special at least once a week that is a treat for YOU! It may even be a much-needed, well-deserved afternoon nap.

Today, I am feeling immense gratitude for Michigan peaches. This is their time to steal the show and they have won the Grand Champion ribbon. They are so juicy and sweet, you need 3 napkins to wipe your face after eating one. If you haven’t yet enjoyed your seasonal peach, find a market today and indulge. Peach season, like life, is short.

In honor of back to school and nostalgia, I baked our favorite chocolate chip cookies. My husband, fondly referred to as Mr. Non-Compliant, is pleased. He has been asking for his Newman-O’s (like Oreos only “healthier”—they’re organic) daily and I have neglected to buy more. One package lasts him about 4 days and I’ve been busy eating peaches.

It’s not only back to school for the kids. I have something special for you adults who are interested in learning something new. Introducing “Carol’s Kitchen Coaching 101.” September’s topic is “Fun with Vegetables.” This is small group coaching that takes place in my kitchen. The coaching session will last approximately 3 hours and is limited to 8 people.

My plan is to coach on a variety of topics in the coming months. For details and to sign up, click here Carol’s Kitchen Coaching Event

Best wishes for a fantastic school year. And remember, when you eat the cookie, make sure it’s amazing!

“Sometimes me think, ‘What is friend?’ and then me say, ‘Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.’” —Cookie Monster

Tomato Pie

Now is the time to make tomato pie. I am of the opinion that homegrown tomatoes are a slice of heaven, here and now. If you’ve never experienced tomato pie with homegrown tomatoes, you have not yet fully lived.

I first learned about tomato pie from Laurie Colwin. Laurie was a novelist and short story writer who wrote some great books about food. I love to read books about food, so she became my buddy and mentor, even though I never had the pleasure of meeting her.  

For those of you who have dietary restrictions, you may alter this recipe in any way that suits you, with one exception—you must include tomatoes. I made it with a gluten-free crust and it was delicious. I have even made it with…canned tomatoes, when one very cold winter, I was in desperate need of a summer fix. Making (and eating) this brings me great joy, along with an abundance of happy memories.

I am sharing Laurie’s recipe so that you may experience a bit more of summer abundance– and a slice of heaven.

TOMATO PIE

The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Approximately 3/4 cup milk

Blend by hand or food processor. I like to use a pastry blender, since I once over- processed my pie dough and had to start over. Roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it.  

Pie ingredients:

  • 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes or 2×28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained
  • Basil, chives, or scallions, depending on availability and your mood
  • 1 and ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Slice the tomatoes thin and lay the slices over the crust. Scatter them with your chosen seasoning and sprinkle one cup of the cheese on top of the tomatoes. Over this, drizzle the mayonnaise that has been thinned with the lemon juice. Top this with the rest of the grated cheese. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several steam vents in the top crust and bake the pie at 400 degrees F. for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly and the crust is golden. The secret of this pie is to reheat it before serving, which among other things ensures that the cheese is soft and gooey. It can be made early in the morning, then reheated in the evening at 350 degrees F. until hot.

Taken from  More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen.  

“It is hard to describe how delicious this is, especially on a hot day with a glass of magnificent iced tea in a beautiful setting, but it would doubtless be just as scrumptious on a cold day in your warm kitchen with a cup of coffee.” – Laurie Colwin