Manhattan is home to Kansas State University. Since the school colors are royal purple and white, there is no shortage of purple around town. (For more photos see my post Putting on the Purple.) Thank you to Varney’s Bookstore for letting me take the bottom two photos inside the shop.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted in my “Let the Inspiration In” series; but I just had to try Frugal Feeding‘s Cinnamon Dipped Doughnuts recipe. Since I am gluten-sensitive, and couldn’t imagine making donuts and not having one, I used white rice flour instead of wheat flour in the recipe. (My batter looked a little thicker than Frugal Feeding’s appears in his photos.) The only other change that I made was that I needed to double the amount of butter used for dipping the donuts. I served these for breakfast this morning – with roasted turkey and fresh tomato omelettes and dishes of fresh berries – and everyone, including me, agreed that they are delicious. Thank you, Frugal Feeding for the recipe!
Cinnamon Dipped Donuts
1 3/4 c. + 2 T. (250 g.) sifted all-purpose flour or 1 3/4 c. (250 g.) sifted white rice flour for gluten-free
1/3 c. (80 g.) granulated white sugar + 3 T
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
3/4 c. (180 ml.) buttermilk
2 lg. eggs, beaten
4 – 6 T. unsalted butter
1 T. ground cinnamon
(1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a six-mold donut baking pan with oil.
(2) Melt 2 T. of the butter. In a small bowl, beat together butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Set aside.
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1/3 c. sugar, baking powder and nutmeg. Whisk in buttermilk mixture until smooth.
(4) Divide batter between molds. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until they spring back when pressed or until they are firm to the touch (if using rice flour). (I baked my rice flour donuts for 10 minutes.) Let pan cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before turning the donuts out. Meanwhile combine the remaining 3 T. sugar and the cinnamon.
(5) Melt the remaining 2 – 4 T. butter. Dip both sides of donuts in melted butter then in cinnamon sugar. Serve right away.
Thank goodness for Rudbeckia fulgida “Golsturm”, commonly known as Black-eyed Susans. Rudbeckia is one of the few plantings in my garden that doesn’t seem to be struggling with the weather. Despite the fact that we’ve been watering every day, a number of our plants are showing severe signs of heat stress. I suspect that some of them will need to be replaced next Spring. We lost a tree and several shrubs after last summer’s heat. Every now and then I toy with the idea taking the Rudbeckia out of my garden because it is an odd companion for my roses and Asiatic lilies; but then when midsummer heat sets in – and it is extreme again this year – I am so glad that better judgement prevailed and that the sunny faces of my Black-eyed Susans are still out there to cheer everyone who walks by. As I write this at almost 5 pm, our official temperature in Manhattan, Kansas is 109 degrees F. The thermometer in our yard is reading 112. In the last month, we’ve had 24 days with a high of 100 or over and we’re about 8″ behind in rain for the months of June and July. There is a 40% chance of precipitation for tonight, however, so everyone has their fingers crossed for rain this evening and a cooler day tomorrow. It would surely make the garden happy if that were to happen.
Thank you to Bebe and Ridha from Two Little Chefettes for suggesting this month’s cooking challenge. My entry is a Strawberry Watermelon Soup with Blueberries swirled with Blueberry Honey Sauce. (These recipes are from my first cookbook A Taste of Morning after which I named this blog). I serve the soup as a fruit course for special occasions or as a light summer dessert paired with a sweet wine. It is easy to make and very refreshing.
Strawberry Watermelon Soup with Blueberries
Except for the sugar, use chilled ingredients.
3 c. sliced fresh strawberries
2 c. seedless watermelon chunks
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/3 c. granulated white sugar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. fresh blueberries
Blueberry Honey Sauce for garnish (recipe below)
Place strawberries, watermelon, orange juice, sugar, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until fruits are puréed. Divide blueberries between four dessert bowls. Top with soup. Swirl 1 T. Blueberry Honey Sauce through each bowl of soup, being careful not to blend it in.
Blueberry Honey Sauce
2 c. frozen blueberries
1/4 c. cold water
1/3 c. honey
1 t. fresh lemon juice
In a medium non-stick pan, bring blueberries, water and honey to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until blueberries begin to pop. Stir in lemon juice. Push berries and liquid through a sieve to remove skins. Use right away or pour into a glass jar, cover and refrigerate. (Yields about 1 cup.)
So you think Kansas is flat? Okay … most of the state is. But not the Konza Prairie which is located in the northern Flint Hills of eastern-central Kansas. This narrow chain of hills counts as its own ecoregion because it is home to the densest remaining tall grass prairie in North America. Early European settlers, unable to plow the area due to its rocky soil composition, used the region for grazing livestock thus leaving the grasslands intact. Due to dry conditions this summer, the grasses probably will not reach their full height. Nevertheless, this expanse of prairie with its soft, rolling hills is still something to see … and it proves that Kansas isn’t all flat!
The Konza Prairie is co-owned by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University. While much of the area is dedicated for use as a biological research station, fortunately there are several trails open to the public. The trails are frequently used by hikers and joggers, birders, and photographers and other artists out to capture the beauty of this land. If you have been following my blog this week, you’ve probably figured out how much I enjoy photographing this area. (I’ve also done a few paintings of the prairie.) However, my next post will be back to food.
Compass Plant (Silphilium Laciniatum) is a wild flower native to the prairies of the midwestern US. It also grows in parts of northeast to central US and southeastern Canada. It derives its name from the fact that its leaves align themselves north-south to avoid over-exposure to the parching sun. Despite the abnormally hot, dry conditions that we have been experiencing in Kansas* – the driest in over 50 years, when I photographed them a few days ago these Compass Plants gave all appearances of thriving on the Konza Prairie. I find them to be a fascinating combination of beauty and ruggedness.
This is a photo that I took two years ago during a late afternoon summer storm. I think that it has a dream-like quality. That storm brought down several trees on our block. Though I don’t wish to see that repeated, we could use the moisture. Recently, we’ve been hot and dry here in Kansas. The very thought of rain seems like a dream.
This is my 100th post. Today’s photos are of dawn and sunrise over the Konza Prairie. From my first draft, I had to heavily cut back on the number of photos. Looking at a dozen shots of sunrise all in one post seemed like it was going to be a bit much. One thing that is interesting about being on the Konza at sunrise, is that it seems as though one gets to see the sun come up again and again as one crosses hilltops, goes down into valleys and around bends. I’ll be posting more prairie photos throughout the week.
We just finished the first Morning Star Wellness Retreat. Everyone had a great experience and the time flew by. I did my best to remember to take photos, but I had a tendency to get caught up in the activities and forget all about documenting them. The retreat consisted of three days of healthful gourmet vegetarian food, exercise, enjoying nature, meditation and mindful activities (such as art journaling and wine tasting), and all around engaging our senses. (I will make a point of writing more about mindful activities in another post.) I owe an enormous thanks to the each and every one of the wonderful people who helped out with the retreat by sharing their knowledge, enthusiasm and experience! I am also grateful to the equally wonderful people who came to the retreat because they believed in what we were doing!
The event began on Friday with a welcoming wine reception. Oenophile and biologist Dr. David Rintoul led us through a tasting of three wines. Up for comparison were Lioco Chardonnay 2010 (an unoaked Chardonnay ), Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2010 (an oaked Chardonnay), and Vouvray Chateau de Montfort 2010 (a Chenin Blanc). All three were well liked. The Lioco was clean, crisp, and almost citrusy. The Rodney Strong had a bit deeper flavor and a slight oaky aftertaste. The Vouvray, though, which is almost effervescent and just sweet enough to be served as a dessert wine, was the group’s favorite.
Saturday morning we started out bright and early with tangy Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies, Banana Bran Muffins, and a meandering walk over to the downtown Farmers’ Market to enjoy the sights and to buy vegetables (tomatoes, tomatillos, Japanese eggplants, etc.) for the weekend .
We came back to the B&B, had a light breakfast (Homemade Muesli with Fruit or Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Peppers), were led through gentle yoga exercises by kinesiologist Sara Hillard, and then each person had a personal training session with kinesiologist Lauren Lundberg-Berryhill.
After lunch (Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, zesty Fresh Carrot and Ginger Soup, Zucchini Bread, fruit), I taught tai chi at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
Afterward we went to the Beach Museum where Senior Educator Kathrine Schlageck helped us to practice Visual Thinking and Art Journaling. Katherine led us through the permanent gallery collection and taught us ways to think about art (e.g. Albert Bloch’s “Lighted Windows” and Carol Haerer’s “Lucine”) using a journal. She then led us to the Quiet Symmetry exhibit to contemplate ceramicist Yoshiro Ikeda’s works.
On Sunday, we got up to see sunrise over the Konza Prairie where we were met by naturalist and writer, Dr. Elizabeth Dodd. It was glorious out there at that hour of the morning and Elizabeth generously shared her knowledge of grasses, wildflowers, wildlife and land formations. I took quite a few photos, more of which I will put in my next post.
After spending several hours on the Konza, we had a hearty breakfast (Buttermilk Pancakes, Fruit and Yogurt), then relaxation time and we finished the morning with our second Tai Chi class at the Discovery Center.
After lunch, (Green Salad with Pear and Honey Vinaigrette, Spaghetti with Tomato Crue – raw tomato sauce, fresh baked bread, fruit and cheeses) guests met again met with Lauren for personal training. Then, late afternoon, we enjoyed a class on meditation and mindfulness led by Dr. Matthew Cobb, Executive Director of the Meadowlark Foundation, who helped us appreciate the importance of mindfulness and taught us techniques for practicing it. The session very nicely tied together ideas that we had been working with all weekend. For while mindfulness can be practiced in formal meditation, it can also be incorporated into every part of every day if one pays attention to the here and now, to what is right in front of one , and listens to one’s body. This of course, is what we do when we focus on taste in a wine tasting, when we focus on breathing and movement in yoga and tai chi, when we focus on texture, color, and meaning in looking at art, when we focus on sights, sounds, and smells while walking through nature, and so forth. As Matthew put it, we participate more in life when we are mindful.
Monday was slower-paced. No pre-breakfast activities. We leisurely practiced tai chi then had an early lunch outside (Green Salad with Honey and Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette, Moroccan Chickpea Stew, Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins, Fresh Fruit). In the afternoon, each participant had a massage followed by relaxation time.
I am so pleased to have gotten to know, or gotten to know better, all of the people involved in the retreat. We said our goodbyes (i.e. goodbye-for-now’s), happy for our time together. Now I am excited to plan the next retreat!