Welcome to A Tranquil Nook Blog

We welcome you to follow along on our crafty adventures. Frank is a farmer by day, jewelry and hand braided cord-maker by night. Jane simply fiddles with fabric and fiber any time she can. We share things about what we make, how we make it, where you can get it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Learning to Dye and Make Nuno felt Scarves

  How many times have you heard the advice “embrace what you fear?”   In May, I took it on threefold:
  •  left Frank home alone, 
  •  drove myself to St Paul
  •  took not 1 but 2 different classes in dying.
 Not dying as in death, dying as in putting color into fabric.  Frank was unhappy yet managed OK, I drove without accident or swear words.

Let me show you what happened in the Nuno Felt Scarf class with teacher Leslie Granbeck

First we dyed silk scarves, then we added pre-dyed wool roving.  Each student came up with a unique and special scarf.

Had a blast at the Sheep and Wool Festival.  Finished two scarves, and brought home a set of eco-friendly dyes.  This summer will be a great time of explorations in dying at A Tranquil Nook.  It may be time to apply for social security, but I am happily still learning and growing in life and in fiber art.

Thanks for sharing time with me today,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kale - leafy green and nutritious

One of the neat things about knowing people is that they ask you questions.  One of the challenging things is you do not always know the answer.  But, you know people, so you ask them the question.  Sometimes they reward you with much more than expected.  That happened this week.

Last Wednesday, a Sports Trainer, into wellness, fitness, nutrition asked me if I have some good recipes using kale.  He wants the nutritional goodness, but would prefer some better tasting dishes, or even better some juicing recipes.

Kale, KALE, we don’t grow kale, have never eaten kale.  It took 30 years to get Frank to even eat spinach in salads.  Extrapolating from spinach experience, figure the age, size and length of time post picking may be an issue.  Indeed he was using large leaves purchased at a local grocery store.  Yay, they at least offer it.

 These days though, the farmers market is open.  Saw some young, small, pretty kale offered there.  Of course suggested he come to market to pick up fresh young kale on Saturday AND talk to those who grow it and eat it.

Cannot stop there of course, shot off an email to a number of growers asking for help.  Amber Lindman, a new vendor to farmers market this year, stepped up to the plate.

Now be prepared to drool and find how kale can rule.

Sautéed Garlic Kale with Poached Eggs (farm fresh of course!)
Photo & Recipe by Amber Lindman

6 cups chopped kale
4 garlic cloves, minced or sliced
salt and fresh ground pepper
4 farm fresh eggs

Bring a wide pot of water to almost a boil (you can see bubbles forming on the bottom) crack eggs carefully into the pan. Make sure the water does not boil.  Cook until desired doneness.

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a saute pan.  Toss in chopped kale, let it begin to wilt.  Season with coarse sale and fresh ground pepper.  Add garlic.  Saute until tender.  This only takes a few minutes.

Photo & Recipe by Amber Lindman
Serve poached eggs over garlic kale.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper and herbs such as basil or parsley if desired.
Serves 2

 Next up:           
 Creamy Garlic Kale Pasta

Photo & Recipe by Amber Lindman
 1 lb. pasta
8 cups kale, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
coarse salt & fresh ground pepper

Bring a pot of water to a  boil, salt generously and add desired pasta.  My favorite for creamy pasta is the large spiral.  Cook until al dente.  Meanwhile in another pan heat olive oil.  Add 8 cups chopped kale, season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.  Cook a few minutes until tender.  When pasta is finished cooking drain but reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.  Return pasta to pot, add kale, chopped garlic, heavy cream or half and half (whichever you desire), and reserved pasta water.  Mix and heat on med/low until sauce thickens.

Last but not least :   

8 eggs
2 c. kale, chopped
1 c. asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 c. chopped sweet onion
3/4 c. half n half
1/2 c. white cheddar or monterey jack cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
fresh herbs such as tarragon, basil, parsley
2 T. olive oil
coarse salt & fresh ground pepper

Heat oven to 350.  Saute kale, onion, and asparagus in 1 T. olive oil until crisp tender.  Meanwhile beat eggs with half and half, add cheeses, herbs, and 1 tsp. coarse sale and 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper.  Put veggies on a plate and add remaining 1 T. olive oil to the pan and heat to med/high.  Let veggies cool just enough to put into egg mixture.  Mix.  Then pour into heated pan.  Let a crust form then put pan in oven and finish cooking for approx. 25-30 minutes, when springy on top and done through.  Cut like pie and serve with crusty bread and greens.
Amber says: They are my own recipes, and the pasta I would have to repeat to perfect the quantities I used.  I fly by the seat of my pants when I cook because I've been taught that way.  I taste and add until it tastes right. Fritatta is my favorite versatile "egg pie"!!!  All of these recipes even my kids ate!
Amber is a local grower with a B.S. in Food and Nutrition.  She has a serious knack for cooking and dreams of opening her own little bistro/wine bar.  She is off to a great start at farmers market.  You can find her at Bemidji's Natural Choice Farmers Market 
on many Saturday mornings this summer.

Amber, thank you so much for providing these awesome recipes.  I'm sure that others besides me will be inspired to try kale in one of these ways.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rainy Days - Yes! time to Launder Reusable shopping bags

A lovely gently rainy day here in Bemidji.  Needed water is reaching the garden and pastures.  A welcome break from weeding too.  Though more weeds will spring up as the planted vegetables grow larger, weeding will be relegated to another day.  A great time to be indoors, catching up and/or getting ahead on laundry. 

Perfect Day to clean reusable bags for food shopping. 

We love seeing customers at farmers market bringing reusable bags and totes. Hurray to you for responsible stewardship of energy and resources.  You shop local to bring fresh and healthy into your home, keeping the bags germ free and safe for hauling food is important too.   

Downloadable from Cleaning Institute
As they say at the Cleaning Institute “When in doubt, wash your bags! If bags are worn and dirty, throw them out!” 

Other online sources with whys and hows of keeping it clean when you go green are available if you really want to dig into the dirt on this subject :

Each article has a little different style, most suggest keeping reusable bags catagorized.  for example One for meats only, not putting meats in a bag that has toted fresh picked veggies from a home garden.  Color code, mark with a tag, et cetera. 

Simply consider how to shop eco-friendly, healthy and wise.

What works best for you to stay green and clean?

Thanks for hanging out with me on this lovely rainy day,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gluten Free Baking for Farmers Market

Begins with thorough Kitchen cleaning to eliminate even minute sources of wheat contamination.

Frank attends to even the screws on the mixer.  For people with extreme gluten intolerance even trace amounts of gluten may trigger gut inflammation and other unpleasant and unwelcome problems.  Our goal is to bake safe gluten free foods for all levels of gluten sensitive and intolerant people. 

Beyond extreme cleaning, removal of wheat and other gluten containing flours from our kitchen during the summer, we use “certified” gluten free flours, grains and have dedicated baking pans, mixing bowls, and tools used only with gluten free baked goods. 

You can read more about Frank’s baking practices on our website in the Baking area of the “How we Make it” page.

Once Frank had the kitchen ready for tomorrow’s baking spree, he was outside weeding and grooming the garden. 
Today that was cleaning the edges along a wall of the high tunnel.

There is always something to do indoors and outdoors.  If you are out and about in Bemidji on Sat. June 15, 2013 between 8:30am and 3pm you can find us at Bemidji's Natural Choice Farmers Market.  In the Union Square Parking Lot near Giovanni's.

Thanks for visiting virtually with us today in kitchen and in garden.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bringing the Outdoors In - Wild Ornamentals

Hurray. Hurrah. Legitimize your yen for collecting bits and bobs on outdoor walks.  display a mix of wild, tame, handcrafted, recycled treasures in a nature table.  Celebrate the season, live in harmony with earth rhythms. Wise, sustainable, natural.
Spring offers a grand opportunity to harvest bare and barely budded branches.  Pussy willow, red barked limbs, plus last year's dried buds, cones, and nuts.  Do no harm by taking those that will fall to the road cleaner's chopper in ditches and berms.
  • Seek and cut branches in early spring
  • Set branches and cones in a cool airy space to cure
  • Arrange in tied bunches or vases in late spring
    As warm nights arrive the top of the wood stove hosts a spring nature table.  Once wild ornamentals are placed, one sees spots for last season's cured tiny gourds.  
    The handcrafted garden gnomes fairly danced into the setting and a wooly bird came to rest.