Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A New Chapter: Post Election Empathy Building

Trigger Warning: Election Results and Political Beliefs. I will not be responding to negative comments, these are my opinions and I have tried to state them respectfully and expect the same from everyone else. 

As we enter a new chapter in the United States of America, post election 2016, with the winning of Donald Trump, a man that has publicly bullied, ridiculed, and made a point to state he would like to register Muslims and deport illegal immigrants who he blanketed as rapists, drug dealers, and killers, we have come to a point where we need to come to a reckoning of who we thought we were, who we professed to be, and who we may actually be and then decide who we want to be. 

I think that a big part of this is building empathy for others. I either developed or was born with a highly attuned since of empathy. I tend to feel what others are feeling. Empathy is the ability to actually share in the feelings another has, to react the way they do, and to have a really deep emotional reaction to events that may not effect our own person, but do effect them. Without empathy it is a lot harder to step outside our own situation to understand someone else. This can make it more difficult to see their point of view. 

One thing I think will help us in preventing some of the horrific things some of us have imagined happening (rise in hate crimes, rise in sexism, rise in sexual assault, mirroring of Nazi Germany or even closer to home Japanese Internment Camps or the Red Scare). You can feel free to disagree that these are things President-elect Trump wanted, but his rhetoric, Twitter feed, and reactions to reporters or at his rallies speak stronger to me than anything you can tell me. 

One thing I think I can do is help build empathy and understanding in myself and my children. One area that had been shown to really help in empathy building is reading books that take us outside our own situation. Since books are something I love anyway I feel like trying to choose a book to read to myself and one to read to my children each month is a great way to help us engage in making a difference in the world. By putting these choices out there I am hoping to help spread the empathy buildling beyond our home. I would love to have people discuss the books as well. What did we learn? What were we surprised by? What challenges did the characters face? 

I understand that this is not enough and it is not all I plan to do, but I think it is something all of us can do to create a country where we are more able to have dialogue that is productive and to be able to understand where others are coming from. I truly hope others will join us. 

This month I want to read The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. I heard a great segment on the show On Being with this author which is what inspired me to want to read the book. I suggest listening to the show as well. I suggest looking at a local library for the book or if you have a Kindle or want to purchase the book you can follow this link

The children's book we are reading this month is The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was one of my favorite books as a kid and looks at how sometimes government can have the right intentions, but another view may be needed. 

I hope you will join us in reading these books and will ask others to as well. 

Just an fyi, if you follow these links to Amazon and make a purchase I am an Amazon affiliate and would receive a small amount from Amazon, it does not cost you anything else, but does help me to work on this blog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Quick and Easy Light Dinner

There is a pizza shop in Camas, Washington that has great pizza. One of my favorites is the olive oil base, with arugula, goat cheese, and fig jam. Yum, it is delicious. However, due to picky eaters and trying to stay within budgets we don't go there as much as I like. Well the other day I was really craving this pizza, and wanted to make it, but I know none of the pizza crust recipes have done it justice in the past and I did not really want to wait a couple hours for the entire process of making pizza dough from scratch only to be sadly disappointed when it just didn't live up to the one I had in mind. 

All of these things made me starting thinking about what I could do that would be super fast, and give me at least a bit of the similar textures from that pizza I love at 360 Pizzaria. I decided to grab a rustic loaf of bread from Trader Joe's, slice it thin, drizzle it with olive oil, add dollops of ricotta (because I don't actually like goat cheese), add a bit of salt and pepper and toss it in the oven 425F for 10 minutes until it was warm throughout. 

I topped this with arugula greens and sliced peaches tossed in about a tablespoon of lemon juice and some olive oil and then some Jacobsen Salt and freshly ground pepper. 

It was about 15 minutes to make and satisfied my craving. It was a perfect light meal, the bread was chewy and had a crispy edge, the arugula was peppery and cooling, the ricotta was warm and creamy, and the lemon was bright. I am definitely making this meal throughout the summer with various combinations of cheese and fruit. 

Fast light dinner, mini arugula, peace, pizza.
FYI if you are looking for the perfect pepper and salt grinders I highly recommend these for both salt and pepper. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cranberry Curd Tart With Pecan Cookie Crust Adapted From NY Times Recipe

Every single Thanksgiving I make a pumpkin pie and my families traditional Cranberry pie. Sometimes I add an additional pie to experiment with, but only if there are a lot of people coming. This year a friend posted a recipe from the New York Times that I just could not resist changing things up this year. So I did not make my traditional Cranberry pie and instead went with the Cranberry curd tart!

The recipe from the New York Times is a Cranberry Curd (think lemon curd) Tart with a hazelnut crust which I should probably be really enamored with being from Oregon and having lived on a hazelnut tree homestead for the first few years of my life. Alas, I have never fallen for the coveted Oregon nut so I decided from the get go to use pecans as an alternative which in my mind also makes up for the lack of a pecan pie.

My next dilemma was my lack of rice flour which is called for in the crust, rather than making the crust with a gluten flour I decided to substitute quinoa flour in place of the rice flour, which technically is a seed and qualifies it as a non grain, although I am sure some paleo diet followers would argue with that. Using the quinoa kept the recipe gluten free at the very least. 

What I ended up with really tasted a lot like a peanut butter cookie with a pecan flavor. It worked really well with the Cranberry curd. To find the original recipe go to: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017817-cranberry-curd-tart?smid=pi-nytfood&smtyp=cur&crlt.pid=camp.71ov4KQngoCZ

All you do to create the pecan crust is substitute pecans for hazelnuts and quinoa for the rice flour.
I will definitely makes this recipe again I really liked it and I think it provided a new spark to the traditional meal.

If you are looking for quinoa flour for gluten free cooking Bob's Red Mill is great:

A couple notes, 1) I don't have a tart pan so I used a spring form pan and it worked just fine, but did not provide the pretty edge a tart pan does 2) I used a mini food processor with success so if you don't have the space for a full sized one, or don't want to pull the big one out the small version is fine, and 3) I somehow ended up with a bit runny curd, it tasted great, but I think I should have made sure my eggs were the size the recipe recommended and thickened it a bit longer on the stove.

These are the spring form pans I use:

and this is the little food processor I have:


Let me know if you try it and what you think.
What are you family holiday traditions? Do you have a special dessert you make every year or do you try something new each year?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Homeschool: Arctic Fox Report

We recently started learning about endangered species as a part of my son's third grand homeschooling. I had him pick out an endangered species to learn more about. We went to the library and checked out virtually all the books we could find on the animal he chose, which was an Arctic fox.

Next I had him write down some questions he wanted answered during his reading and when he found an answer he was to write it down under the question. Once all his questions were answered we started to write an outline going over the introduction, adaptions, etc.

Once he finished the outline we worked on a rough and then final draft of at report. He then chose to do a power-point presentation and record his voice over it as his presentation. Here is the result:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning Through Games

As I have written in previous posts I think games are a really great route  to learning new information. We have recently decided to start homeschooling our son who is in third grade. In doing this I really want to make learning fun for both our sakes, but also because I think fun learning is absorbed better.

So my first step was a search on Pinter eat of course, but my next two steps were a trip to Powell's Book store, the Learning Palace, and the library to search for books to help with creating a curriculum. I am not going to get into the too much more right now,  but I was really excited about one book I found at the library so I thought I would share that, because it is all about games to play to get your kids thinking and learning. I am excited to use this book and think it would be a great addition to any family library of games.


There are games for many levels, and subjects including reading, writing, math, memory games, and they how many of the games are great for developing other strategies for thinks like sequencing historical events.

I really like the descriptions of the skills developed and that they include a section they describe as including your older children, but looks more like helping your kids not be at eachothers throats the entire time to me, otherwise known as cooperation.

I am definitely adding this book to my Christmas list as I think it would make a great addition to our learning library.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Photographs for Sale Starting Now

I have been working for years on figuring out where to go with my photography. I have done portraits, events, and more as an exploration of this. I always have enjoyed it and will continue to do so, but in an effort to add to my families income I have finally made the jump into selling my photographs.

My passion for photography really centers around finding some peaceful time for myself to enjoy nature, so the photographs that I will be selling will be landscapes, macro-photographs, flowers, animals, and will be everything from more traditional looks at landscapes to abstract close up looks at flowers.

I am starting small with a collection of 5 photographs of a peacock that I just adore. The color in peacocks are some of my absolute favorite colors and I adore how this collection of photographs can work all together and all the way down to just one of them. For now I am going through Fine Art America to provide access to prints, framing, and even decorative pillows, iPhone cases, bags, and more.

Photography Prints

The above photograph is just one of the photographs in this collection of 5 I have featured right now. These particular photographs I think would work really well with the current trends in home decor and would make a great gift for the holidays. I really hope that you will check them out and share it around to help support this adventure and let your friends know you have found something unique, from a small business, that they may love.

Look for more to come, I plan on making additions to the gallery, or possibly some changes by making this a collection of things that could expand to include notebooks, jewelry charms, and other such things. I would love to hear what you might be interested in.

Thank you for your support and come follow me on Instagram, let me know you found me here and I will make sure to check you out too. https://instagram.com/livelovecreatebehappy/
Also come follow me on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/emiliabrasierphotography/

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse Parfait With Ginger Cookie Crumble and Ginger Chocolate Ganache

My lovely mother had her birthday last week in the midst of a really crazy week for me. We decided we would celebrate her birthday this weekend instead due to my other obligations. So today I took some time to create a dessert to take down to her tomorrow, lemon cheesecake mousse, with ginger cookie crumble, and ginger chocolate ganache was what I settled on.

I started out thinking I really wanted to make something that has ginger, lemon, and chocolate and thought a lemon cheesecake with a ginger Graham cracker crust and a layer of dark chocolate would be great, but this seemed a little too heavy for the hot August says we have been having in Oregon and Washington.

In my searches for cheesecake recipes I found a recipe for a lemon cheesecake mousse that seemed easy and decided I would create something with that. From there I was inspired by the crispy ginger cookies at Trader Joe's to create a crumble that mimicked a Graham cracker crust. I then added in a bit of chocolate ganache which I added a bit of fresh ginger to while hearing the cream and layered them all together.

The end product was a parfait with the punch of tart lemon, the slight spice of ginger, and just a hint of rich bitter chocolate. Over all it was a success.

The lemon mousse was a recipe I found on pinterest, I used the lemon curd from Trader Joe's for the lemon curd in my dessert. My Kitchenaide mixer did the trick of whooping the cream cheese until is was nice and smooth and making the whipped cream. The ginger cookies were also from Trader Joe's.

                                                          Interested in a kitchenaide?

The ganache was a recipe I found on pinterest as well, but I added in fresh ground ginger which I just freeze so it is ready when I need it. I find freezing it makes it easier to grate on my micro plane.
Everything is all set to drive down for celebrating my mom's birthday, including the special scarf I made her using one of my photographs.
Go visit my pinterest account at the recipes to try board to find the lemon mousse and chocolate ganache recipes, and here is the cookie crumble recipe and lemon cheesecake mousse parfait assembly inductions.

Ginger Cookie Crust Crumble:
1/2 box og Trader Joe's Ginger Cookie Thins Crumbled
1/2 Stick Butter Melted
1/4 c. Almond meal
Preheat oven to 275° F. While the over is heating line a cookie sheet with a slight edge with a nonstick cooking mat. Place the 1/2 box (one sleeve) ginger cookies on a cutting board in a plastic bag and roll over with a rolling pin until there are just bread crumb sized pieces. Alternatively use a food processor and pulse to create bread crumb size pieces. Place the bread crumbs with 1/4 c. Almond meal and the memories butter in a bowl and mix until it is all combined. Spread out in a thin layer on the cookie sheet and then bake for 20 minutes, stirring after the first ten minutes and then every five minutes after.
This should create a crispy crumble that you can layer with the mousse.

To Create the Parfait:
Find 8 tall thin glasses and add 1 tablespoon of ginger cookie crumple top the bottom of the glass. Next layer a thin layer of the chocolate ganache, I put the ganache in a plastic zip lock and cut a small corner off and then pipped it over the cookie crumble.
Next add about an inch and a half of the lemon cheesecake mousse, filled by about 1/2 a tablespoon to a tablespoon of cookie crumble. Add another inch and a half, or fill to almost the top of the cup with more lemon mousse, finish with another 1/2 tablespoon of ginger cookie crumble.
Serve chilled. 
I freeze my ginger and the pull it out when I need to use some and just grate it on my microplane. :)

I love my silicone mat, it really is non-stick.

Here are some little plastic champagne flutes I found if you want to recreate this the same way: