Sunday, August 18, 2013

Golden Possibilities

I haven't been sleeping well for the last while. Actually, I haven't slept well in a very long time. It's not that I go to bed late - I'm generally in bed by 10ish. It's the staying asleep that escapes me. Lately, The Night Shift seems to be in overdrive!

Case in point: a week ago Tuesday. I watched a beautiful sunset from my window and then went to bed around 10. I woke a couple of times but when I woke to a massive hot flash at 3:31AM Wednesday morning. I tried to go back to sleep - but that was not to be. I tossed and turned till 4:40 when I finally gave up.

I had set the alarm for 4:45 that morning, as I wanted to go to Superstore (which opens at 6) to get groceries. I do this early wake up for grocery shopping every couple of weeks - assuming that there is enough items on sale and my pantry/fridge is wanting of enough to make the trip worthwhile.

I  REALLY don't like getting up that early by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like grocery shopping that early. The produce is fresh and the morning staff there know me and are more than willing to help me find items I need.

So, sleepily, I arose at 4:40. I've done this early morning routine so many times, I can pretty much do it on auto-pilot! Given that I'd had so little sleep, the auto-pilot mode was much needed that morning! I did my stretches and had a muffin and juice as I listened to CBC radio 1. It is local as of 5:30 and I wasn't any more alert or happy by then as Marcy said it was only 10C and a bit of light rain falling in the downtown area.

Generally I like the cooler weather - but that morning - ALL I wanted was to crawl back into bed!

Alas, the need for fresh produce won out. I finished getting ready and walked out the door at 6:00.

As I walked to the bus stop, I felt an occasional drop of rain on my jacket's hood. I also noticed that the sky was dark and grey to the west. Even so, there was the beginnings of an orange hue above and reflecting off of the buildings around me.

When I got to the bus stop, I turned to face east...

Oh my! What a sight to behold! The night sky was now alight with the beautiful colours of sunrise!

Why hadn't I brought my camera with me? If I'd have known my bus times better - or been more alert, I probably would have come back for it. As it was, my bus would be there in a couple of minutes so I decided to just admire the beauty of the sunrise.

Near the horizon was a creamy - almost white light as the sun was just beginning to poke the skyline. From there, the colours flowed into the morning sky. The creams blended into shades of yellows, pale orange, peach and amber hues. As the grey clouds from the west met the colourful eastern sky, they too were transformed into shades of orange, amber,  pinks, crimsons and violets!

The little bit of rain we had just received still lingered on the streets, reflecting the multitude of shades from the sky - as if to amplify the spectacular scene even more.

It was breathtaking!

I watched the sky in awe as I rode the bus east and its' quick turn north before it headed west. I transferred at Osborne Station but continued to admire the movie of the sky as it unfolded into a new day.

As the bus turned west onto Grant, I faced the front of the bus and was greeted with a completely different perspective.

I saw more of those dark grey clouds above and to the west, but I also saw another view...

The buildings, trees, vehicles, signposts and even the hydro poles were all glowing in the colourful sunrise that was behind us. The landscape appeared to be a rich tableau, bathed in golden hues! Otherwise ordinary scenery, suddenly appeared rich beyond belief - like something from a fairy tale of a golden land where anything is possible if we'd only believe it could be.

By the time I came out of Superstore, the grey clouds covered most of the sky. The sun had fully risen and was hiding behind some of those grey clouds. To the east, there was a narrow bluish white horizon that met that line of clouds. It was being illuminated by the hiding sun.

Our city and our surroundings aren't really bathed in gold and we often forget the wonders of nature. We forget how fortunate we are to live in a society with freedoms, a land with creative and intelligent beings who strive to make this an even better place to thrive and call home. We forget to see the simple, everyday things as we do our daily commutes and run our errands.

Now, the more cynical among us - and we all know at least one or two of those types - would have only seen the dark grey clouds that covered the western horizon.

Yes, I saw those dark clouds but I didn't allow them to dampen my day. Even though I was sleep deprived, I chose to see the beauty. I chose to see the potential for what could be.

Whether we see the sun or the illumination from it, it is always there. It can be hot, cold, cloudy or sunny and the beauty is always there if we look for it. Even if we have no money in our accounts we are rich in so many ways.

Not getting enough sleep can certainly make it harder to function the next day - and even harder to focus on your surroundings. It is easy to lose perspective and close in on one's self rather than pausing for even a minute to see the bigger picture.

It is all in how we choose to see what surrounds us.

Every day is a new beginning. A fresh chance to face the world. To embrace what life has to offer us.

If our minds and hearts are open, we can always find beauty in our surroundings, in nature and in life. A chance to expand our knowledge and our visions.

There will always be golden possibilities....


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lemon Basil Garlic Hummus and Pita Chips

Today, I'm sharing my recipe for Lemon, Basil and Garlic Hummus. I'm also sharing my homemade Pita Chips recipe!

The first time I made this hummus, I added too much tahini, so it was a bit on the bitter side. The second time, I didn't add enough garlic or the zest of the lemon, which left it tasting a bit bland. Third time was the charm though! The flavours blended beautifully!

I made the Pita Chips for the first time about a month ago and I must say, they are delicious! You just have to be VERY watchful as they bake, since they can burn in a heartbeat! Some recipes, called for the pitas to be brushed with olive oil or a mix of olive oil and herbs. I found that to be a bit messy. It is far easier to spray a pan of pita wedges with Pam and then sprinkle your choice of seasonings on top. Also, some recipes don't have you open and separate the wedges. I found those chips just didn't have the same crispness as the single layer ones so it really is worth it to take those extra few minutes to separate. 

BTW, the chips aren't just for dipping in hummus! They are also great served as a side to a salad or soup.

A few weeks ago, I took my Roasted Red Pepper and CashewHummus and my newly created Pita Chips to a friend's cottage. They loved it! My containers came home empty!

I've since shared more of the chips and some of today's hummus recipe with some more friends and they all agreed - it is REALLY GOOD!

Lemon Basil Garlic Hummus
1 large lemon
2 cups garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained (540ml/19oz can)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves - stems removed and leaves slightly chopped (the dried stuff will not do in this recipe!!)
 1/4 cup olive oil, or more to taste
 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
 3 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly chopped (use more or less garlic depending on taste)
Zest the lemon - you should get about 1 1/2 - 2 Tablespoons. I zest almost to the white pith! Set aside. Juice the lemon and remove the seeds. Pour the lemon juice into a measuring cup. There should be at least 1/4 cup. If necessary, top up with water to make 1/3 cup. Add the zest, lemon juice/water and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds two or three times - just to get things moving then process until smooth - about 1 minute. If it is too thick, you can add a bit more water or olive oil depending on your tastes. Transfer to a serving dish or a container with a lid and keep in fridge till serving.

Makes about 2 cups. Serve with raw veggies, crackers or pita chips.

Note: You can serve this right away, but I prefer to make this a day ahead and allow the flavours to blend together more before I serve it - it just seems to have a more balanced flavour this way.


Pita Chips
Pitas (I use 100% whole wheat)
Cut each pita in half, then cut each half in 4 wedges. Carefully open each wedge and cut/tear apart at the rounded edge so that there is a rough side and a smooth side. Place wedges, rough side up, in single layer on baking sheet. Do NOT overlap! Spray lightly with Pam. Sprinkle with a little seasoning* such as Mediterranean blend, Ranch blend, Italian, garlic herb, etc. Bake in preheated 350F for about 5 - 7 minutes.  WATCH THESE CAREFULLY AS THEY CAN BURN VERY EASILY!!! Serve warm with hummus or allow to cool and store in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

- The pitas that I've been buying, come in packages of 6. I usually do up the whole package into pitas as this is about enough to serve with one recipe of hummus if you aren't serving other dippers with it. There will be enough wedges to almost fill 4 cookie sheets. I use two pans and prepare one as the other is baking. Takes a little under 30 mins. to do the whole package into chips including cutting and baking. 
- As for how much seasoning to add, consider what you will be dipping the chips into. You don't want the seasonings to overpower the hummus - you want to compliment it. A little seasoning goes a long way!

* I use the Johny's Garlic Spread and Seasoning Mix that you can buy at Costco to sprinkle on the chips but you can use whatever herbs you want on the chips.