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I love Friday. There are many reasons for this other than the obvious one—the weekend! My husband has a terrific career but it entails a great deal of travel so the weekend means a few days of time together. One of our little routines is to have coffee while conversing in the mornings. Lately, for me at least, that ritual has turned back to tea. I love tea as much as I love Friday.

Tea and I go back a long way and the love affair with this warming beverage started early. I have fond memories of being kindergarten-aged and Mom making tea for my little porcelain tea set. I was a mere twelve years old when my Aunt Gladys gave me twenty-five dollars as a Christmas and birthday present. I had saved as much from babysitting as well. You’d expect a child of that age to go out and buy some sort of toy, a new trendy top, a new music release, or the latest Trixie Belden book. Not this pre-teen. I went straight to an expensive gift emporium named Duncan McPhee and purchased a gorgeous teapot with a set of four matching cups. I had been looking at it for several months and waiting until I had enough money. Luck would have it that the particular one I wanted, a pure white pot with a gorgeous pink iris, was on clearance. Then it was off to the mall where I picked up a pot worthy mesh tea ball and some wonderfully blended loosed teas from a shop called The Second Cup. While renowned for coffee they had some lovely teas. This was no child-like tea setup and I was very proud of my find. I was still using this set twenty years later and would have continued if it had not been damaged in our 2001 house fire.

a little collection

part of my collection

I strayed from tea for quite some time. My return started in 2004 when my darling little boy, who was three at the time, pulled up a chair and wanted to have tea with us. Tea time became a special time for family bonding.

Fast forward to this morning. My little boy, now a ten-year old with pre-pubescent attitude, is home from school with a sore throat and general malaise. He dragged his groggy self out of bed and came out to the kitchen. I had just put the kettle on. He asked if he could have some tea. I looked through my cupboard which has two shelves entirely dedicated to this beverage, and pulled out a brand-new package of Organic Peppermint Tea from Fair Trade. It is a fragrant and soothing cup that doesn’t have any caffeine, making it a great choice for a child with the chills. This reminds me so much of Mom making cups of Orange Pekoe for me when I was ill as a child.

My Mom has asked me to source a porcelain tea set for my daughter Kaia to have as a gift. As I look at these miniature little sets I am reminded of the times when I played “tea party” with such wonder. What a special memory and a lovely thing for my Mom to do for my daughter. Kaia is also going to her first real tea party in the Spring. My close friend is getting married and her bridal shower is to be a High Tea.

Me, well, I got busy and am just sipping my cup of Double Bergamot Earl Grey. Finally. It’s from Stash Teas, a brand that is one of my favorites when it comes to bagged teas. Their Meyer Lemon is delicious too.

I’ll post more about tea. Perhaps next time I will share some of my favorite ways to cook with tea.

With my second book well on the way to being on store shelves, life has returned to some sort of normalcy around my kitchen. That said, I use the term “normal” in a very loose way, because my cooking adventures aren’t of the normal or mundane variety (or at least I like to think that they aren’t).

Yesterday, with that in mind, I decided it was time to clean some of the cupboards. If you happen to be someone who has visited my home then you’ll know that cleaning my cupboards or pantry is far from a simple undertaking and this will be something that takes a few hours each weekend over the next three weeks.

You see, after finishing the writing of my vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free cookbook for backpackers in February, I had a lot of ingredients that would likely never get used before going off. I went through, checked expiry dates, manufacturing codes, and the like. My goal for the day was to tackle the cans, the baking ingredients and the pasta/rice/legumes cupboards. Three cupboards plus a big bin of speciality flours would be more than enough for one Saturday.

The whole process took about two hours. I used two boxes, a compost bucket, a garbage bag, and the recycle bin. One box was for what I would give away to a friend who has a child on a gluten-free diet. The second was for what would go back into my larder. The compost bucket was for things like legumes for the composter. The rest is self-explanatory. Next thing I knew I had two full bags of gluten-free baking supplies for my friend, a whole heap of things that were well past their expiration. Crackers from 2005? Unopened? Seriously? Then there was the brand spanking new box of Bisquick. I don’t use the stuff, obviously and have no idea how long it had been there. How wasteful! I’m not sure how the crackers or Bisquick got missed in previous throw-outs but they did. This is surprising to me, because I am a stickler for expiration dates.

If you decide to go through the food in your cupboards, which you should do from time-to-time, here are a few resources that I found helpful…

“Best Before” dates, “Packaged On” dates, “Expiry” dates…Oh My!

Still Tasty – The Ultimate Shelf Life Guide

Who needs to pay a professional organizer? Not me, that is for sure. Just a little time and some discipline is all that it takes. That and a big lack of cupboard space—small spaces mean that I have to stay on top of the organization or I just run out of room for storage. Next weekend I will tackle the pantry or perhaps I’ll work on the tea cupboard, fridge, and the chef’s cart full of spices, herbs, and oils.

I finished the afternoon off by making a big pot of Peruvian Chicken and Red Quinoa Soup in order to use up an open package of quinoa that I found. It was yummy and I’ll post the recipe (with photos) sometime in the next few days.

In June 2010 our precious daughter, Kaia, was born. Now that a month has passed and I am getting into a routine with the new baby and with her big brother Tobias being home for the summer, it is time to start posting recipes.

I’ll start off with one of my favorite salmon recipes. This recipe appeared in A Fork in the Trail as a more elaborate dish for suited for base camping.  Here is the version I make at home.

citrus mango grilled salmon

makes 4 servings

The citrus salsa and marinade for this dish enhances the flavor of the salmon. It is best served with a salad of mixed baby greens and a light vinaigrette. If you prefer, substitute tuna for the salmon.

4 salmon steaks or single-serving size fillets
1 peach
1 mango
1 red grapefruit
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced

Place the salmon in a ziplock bag.  Dice the peach and mango and place in a bowl. Cut the grapefruit in half and set one half aside. Use a grapefruit knife to remove the segments of fruit from the remaining half. Add the grapefruit chunks to the other fruit in the bowl and then squeeze the juice from the reserved grapefruit half into the bowl.  Add the lime juice, ginger, cilantro, onion, and pepper to the bowl. Pour half of the marinade in with the salmon in the ziplock bag, seal and return the fish to the fridge. Reserve the remaining salsa in a separate container and refrigerate. At dinnertime remove the salmon from the marinade. Discard the marinade.

Grill or pan-fry the salmon until cooked through, about 6 minutes on each side. Place a piece of salmon on a plate, and top it with the reserved salsa.

It is important to oil your grill to keep the salmon from sticking. You can spray it with a nonstick cooking spray or put a little oil in a ziplock bag with a paper towel. Before grilling the fish, remove the paper towel from the bag with tongs and wipe the grill.

It has been a very long time since I posted a recipe or ingredient find here on Craveable.

After a very interesting Fall and a Winter that didn’t seem like Winter at all, I have returned to blogging. I spent most of my time off working on the manuscript for Another Fork in the Trail. Our family had a very big surprise in October as well. We found out that we are expecting and that means I’ll be off the trail and the waterways for 2010 as the little one is due to arrive in June. It also means that the release of Another Fork in the Trail has been put off until early 2011.

When summer arrives I will post more recipes and food finds as time permits… so stay tuned.

sunflower and oats

sunflower and oats

I have always loved Ryvita Whole Grain Rye Crispbread and recently I discovered that they have some great new varieties including one named Pumpkin Seeds and Oats. I’ve been enjoying these with herbed goat cheese for a nice light lunch.

Today, after reading a message on my backpacking recipes blog from oregonhiker, I decided to try them with hummus. I also had some baba ghanouj so I had one crispbread with each of the dips.  The hummus was delicious and had enough flavor that the Ryvita didn’t overpower it. The baba ghanouj was simply amazing — even better than the hummus.

I think I might have a new craveable treat!