Too long Pineapple clung to the juices she was born with.
Though she tried to hide the seep of syrup from the rot of flesh that cracked her armor.
She knew no magic pill, nor painless shortcut could extend her shelf life any further.
And the only place that she could turn to
was the long road to the lonely field.
Giving up the crown she had held so high upon her head,
she replanted herself in the unknown soils,
and then began to wait …
Slowly slowly she replaced her fibers with those that grew in the nutrient earth.
The veining roots brought green to stems and blossomed the fruit within her core.
Still, she remained, while she rose from the ground — fresh and full of wonder
at the sun and the rain and the stars and their music that echoed the song inside her.
Her skin turned gold with the honeyed dawn — it’s sweetness gave off a newfound fragrance.
And she glowed from within with the light she’d unearthed :
a harvest found buried in darkness.
I am completely AMAZED by pineapples! I had no idea how fascinating they were until I saw an actual pineapple plant for the first time: a miniature version of itself suspended atop a single stem, growing from the ground. How ridiculously adorable and miraculous that such a complex fruit is created this way!
Here are some pineapple facts that have been blowing my mind recently:
One plant produces only one pineapple fruit per season.
Most species of pineapples take 24 months to reach maturity. That’s right, one pineapple from one plant takes two years to grow!
To grow a new pineapple plant you can simply twist off and replant the crown of a mature pineapple fruit.
The pineapple plant flowers with hundreds of little “fruitlets” that fuse together and become one fruit.
Once the pineapple ripens and the fruit is harvested, it stops ripening and its short shelf life begins quickly ticking away. So how you purchase the pineapple from the store is as ripe as it will ever be. It is only rotting at that point.
Although pineapples have become a symbol of Hawaiian agricultural, and Hawai’i is the only US state that grows them, they are not native to the Islands. They were introduced only in 1813.
🙃 I have always loved pineapple upside-down cake and wanted to try making one with fresh pineapple, instead of the traditional canned pineapple, most recipes call for.
This pineapple was grown right down the road from my house at the Maui Tropical Plantation. The fruit itself tasted like heaven, so I knew whatever was made with it would be divine!
This is a recipe I have adapted from many recipes and I am very happy with the outcome. The fresh pineapple caramelizes nicely with no overflow on the topping and the cake is dense and moist. Not only is this cake delicious, but the combination of spices and fresh pineapple makes your home incredibly fragrant when it is baking and after!
Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 5-8 fresh pineapple slices (or 8-10 canned pineapple slices) Maraschino cherries (to decorate with as you wish)
1 and 1/2 cups cake flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt) 1/8 tsp ground cardamom 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 large egg whites at room temperature 1/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt at room temperature 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1/3 cup whole milk (or half and half), at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
Cut and up fresh pineapple into rings.
Pour melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan.
Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
Blot all excess liquid off the fruit with a paper towel and pineapple slices and cherries on top of the brown sugar.
Place pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set while you prepare the cake batter.
Prepare cake batter:
Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and cinnamon together. Set aside.
Mix the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 min. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 min, scraping down the sides as needed.
On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
Slowly our the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix.
Remove topping from the refrigerator. Pour and spread cake batter evenly over topping.
Bake for 43-48 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.
Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.
Over a glass of pineapple wine thoughts of you float to the surface,
sweetly swirling in my mind as hours sip — lick drips from the rim …
and I smile thinking how time is an ineffective metric
So quickly Lemon learned she would never get the lead …
Her role was always supporting with a zest or a squeeze.
She had accepted her career as : “the faintest essence” or “the tasteful garnish.”
In the business of breakfast, lunch and dinner she was always the slice of bitter on the dish.
But then she learned she could be a star
in changing courses to desserts.
As “The Lemon Bar” or “The Lemon Cake”
she found her purpose in life was to celebrate!
I have always had a super soft spot in my heart for lemon. It is, without a doubt, my favorite dessert flavor! 🍋
Although I find excuses to have lemon desserts all year long, with summer now just around the corner, it is the perfect time to bake lemon bars!
This lemon bar recipe is one that I have adapted from my neighbor, Melanie’s, family cookbook. She truly makes the best lemon bars I have eaten in my life, so I didn’t change very much from her original recipe. I even got the beautiful lemons to make these bars from the Meyer Lemon Tree in her backyard.
Time: 55 min. Yield: 12 bars
3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 eggs room temperature 2 tbs all purpose flour 1/4 tsp baking powder Pinch of kosher salt 6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons) 1 tsp lemon zest
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all crust ingredients into mixing bowl
Beat on low speed, scraping sides of bowl, until mixture is crumbly (about 2-3 minutes).
Press mixture onto the bottom of a 8X8 ungreased pan.
Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 eggs room temperature 2 tbs all purpose flour 1/4 tsp baking powder 6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons) 1 tsp lemon zest
Combine filling ingredients into mixing bowl
Beat on low speed, scraping down sides, until mixed well (1-2 minutes).
Pour over hot crust.
Continue baking for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is set.
Let cool completely.
Sprinkle top with sifted powdered sugar.
Every morning I climb the steepest hill
with the remains of my orchid’s fallen blooms
and those hibiscus that softened with rot in my hair.
Their lives having amounted to only the brevity of my joy.
And I wonder if they did or did not have souls
as I lay them under the lemon tree.
And if they did, but especially if not,
I pray that
now, they may be free.
I feel you in the song of summer :
the buzz of honeybees and hummingbirds fill my chest
in a resonance that lingers long after the guitar strums
and the bashful plucks at blades of grass
under a tree of butterflies and bittersweet fruit
your eyes shine like nectar in the blooms of shade
when I think of your kiss : like sunshine and lemonade.
The moon pulls at the hem of her blue dress and her hands slip away from mine.
She leaves what she can no longer carry on the sand :
The starving sea turtle who ate too many plastic jellyfish.
The poisoned octopus offers me just one of his three landfilled hearts
with his dying wish:
“If you won’t take it who will?”
World Oceans Day became internationally recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been growing in popularity and participation every year since. The day was created to recognize the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public interest in caring for our oceans.
Living near an ocean is new to me, having lived most of my life in landlocked states like Idaho and Colorado. Before, my awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment had always been in the back of my mind, but not something I took daily responsibility for. Now, having the privilege to visit the ocean regularly, this awareness has quickly moved to the front of my mind, as I’m reminded of the immediate and lasting impacts our waste has.
As we all know, this impact is especially true for our single-use plastics (water bottles, plastic straws, styrofoam take-out boxes, etc.) that are only useful to us for an average of 12 minutes, while it takes an estimated 400 years for these plastics to decompose. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a garbage truck worth of these plastics are dumped into the ocean every minute, that is 5-13 million metric tons a year! They estimate that by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean!
The particles from these plastics are unfortunately consumed by marine life, as they mistake the foreign objects for food. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish and end up starving, never knowing they didn’t actually eat a jellyfish. Not to mention the toxins from these plastics are linked to a plethora of health problems for marine life and for us humans, who consume the fish.
This is a very daunting and troubling issue that is not going to be solved by just a few. To make a change we all need to do what we can, starting with just one simple thing in our lives. That could be bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using a reusable water bottle, or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. The World Oceans Day website, as well as many others like Plastic Oceans have plenty of great resources and ideas on how we can do our part!
There is one thing they don’t tell you about singing lessons.
And the one thing is that it’s more than just singing lessons…
It’s soul work.
It’s digging deep into your roots to explore your depths and expose your truths.
And every lesson is a different story …
One day it could be that hands are shaking, heart pounding, desperately aching kind of love story between you and music
and the next day reads as a serene fantasy:
a garden blissfully blooming — breathing as one with the spirit of music.
But never is it ending.
You have to keep working.
Keep showing up.
Tending the garden that is wild and most days messy,
but always promising.
Always yielding discovery, beauty, music, love.
Singing is an incredibly vulnerable activity, requiring the full commitment of your mind, body and soul. The ultimate goal is to find harmony within these (at least for long enough to get through the song you’re singing). You have to cultivate a compassionate space within yourself. Some days it is much harder to get to this space because of all the other stuff you may be experiencing in your life that is cluttering your mind, creating unnecessary tension in your body, and causing negative self-talk that is crushing your soul.
I have been a student of singing for eighteen years and have studied with over a dozen different voice teachers, each with their own skill sets and methods of teaching. As a student I find some lessons to be much more of a struggle than others, and it usually comes down to my mindset and where I am emotionally going into the lesson. In college many of my voice lessons became therapy sessions, as I was regularly in turmoil over my future or feeling completely overwhelmed with schoolwork, social obligations and upcoming performances. Will I be good enough to sing my role in the opera? Will I be good enough to even make it through this day? It was an inner battle I was forced to fight with my anxiety rising in my throat, trying to relax my uptight shoulders and clenched jaw; attempting to also put aside the flash cards in my head for my biology test tomorrow, the seating chart for the wedding I was planning, and the other ten new pieces of music I was learning for the choir tour next week. All these stressors were coming out in my voice while trying to focus on the task at hand: my breath, my technique, my diction, my delivery of the Bellini piece I was currently singing. Many lessons ended in much-needed tears, as it had forced me to really confront all that I was dealing with, realize I could not carry all that weight and I needed to just surrender to the love of music.
I have been a teacher of singing for four years and have found the job to be incredibly rewarding because I get to essentially help guide my students to this more compassionate space for themselves. It is a challenging process because every student is different, some with many more layers to get through than others. My goal is to create a welcoming and loving environment where students can learn to make big mistakes and sing silly voice warm-ups freely, learning to accept themselves at their very raw core. Some beginning adult students will not make it through many lessons because the peeling back of these layers they have built up through the years can be unbearably uncomfortable, stirring up too much, and that is completely fine. Those students might get more enjoyment out of learning a different skill that is less immediately demanding on the vulnerability of the soul, such as singing in a choir. For others, the love of music or their sheer determination to thrive as a solo singer will conquer self doubt and they will learn to enjoy the turbulence and nakedness of using their voice in new ways in front of others.
If you are interested and want more information about voice lessons, take a look at my lesson page or feel free to contact me! I just started teaching online lessons via Skype and Zoom. I will be accepting new students starting July 1st. 😊
Then rolled and shaped with care in my palms, I coat them in butter and dip them in sugar.
Arranging my verses on lined cookie sheets
I kiss them with chocolate and bake them to eat!
1. Devour the days when kisses give you toothaches and love’s the sweetest bake.
2. When following dreams aprons may get dirty, but results turn out sweet!
I love baking for my friends, family and music students! I wanted to incorporate a bit of this creative passion of mine into my blog.
The first recipe I will share with you has become my go-to for the classic chocolate chip cookie! After trying dozens of recipes, I truly believe this one to be the best (based how I prefer my cookies to be, of course.) Everyone has their favorite cookie texture and way to enjoy them. If you like your chocolate chip cookies to be super soft, fluffy and a little fudgy, you are going to LOVE these!
What makes these cookies so special is the use of cornstarch as a thickening agent. I originally learned about this addition from one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. It truly does make them extra thick and soft.
Chill your dough!
Chilling the prepared dough for at least an hour will create the thickest and most fluffy texture. You don’t want to skip this step.
Room temperature ingredients …
Eggs and butter mix more evenly at room temperature and give you the best textural results. It will take some thinking ahead. I try to leave my eggs and butter out of the fridge for a couple hours before starting to prepare the dough. If you don’t have that time, you can also place the egg in a bowl of room temperature water and and warm up the butter in small increments of time in the microwave (I’m talking 8 seconds at a time max. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally melted the butter and had to start over with a new stick. Yes, I’m that serious about the outcome of these cookies ha!)
Salt your sweets!
1 tsp may seem like a lot of salt for a dessert, but believe me when I say the salt takes these cookies to a new level and amplifies the flavors. Of course, feel free to do less than this. I have tried it with 1/2 – 1 tsp and just prefer the more pronounced sweet & salty flavor.
Choose and vary your sugars wisely.
Brown sugar increases softness while white sugar helps cookies spread while baking. If you want thicker, doughier, chewier cookies, go for brown sugar. If you want more biscuit-like cookies, go for white sugar. This recipe uses a bit of both.
¾ c. Room temperature butter (aprox. 65 degrees Fahrenheit) ¾ c. Dark brown sugar, packed ¼ c. Granulated sugar 1 lg. Egg, room temperature 2 tsp Pure vanilla extract 2 c. All-purpose flour 2 tsp Cornstarch 1 tsp Baking soda 1 tsp Kosher Salt (if you don’t have kosher salt substitute with 1/4 tsp table salt) 1 ¼ c. Chocolate chips
Mix butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. At least 2 minutes with mixer. Then, beat in egg and vanilla until combined.
In separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly combine dry mix into wet ingredients, while stirring, until dough forms. Add chocolate chips last.
REFRIGERATE AT LEAST 1 HOUR. Covered in bowl.
Remove dough from fridge. Allow to thaw on counter for 10 min. Before forming cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 F. (I recommend lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner for most even bake.)
Roll dough into balls (about 1.5 tbs at a time).
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until color on top/sides just starts to change.
Optional: add extra chocolate chips on top of cookies right out of the oven. Just press them in.
Another cookie poem …
Sugar, butter mixed & whipped
sift the flour eggs are whisked
baking powder chill the dough
It only takes a taste to know
if it’s good
there’s no resisting
chewy, gooey, cakey or crispy
When ovens ding those angels sing
and I have to try a fresh baked cookie!
I swear this is my last corny cookie poem (for now) ...
When I was little it seemed so silly that story, I mean, about the mouse and the cookie.
But now I see there are certain cookies that will always leave you wishing for more more more!