Issaquah Day Reteats, October 2012

two of Cathy’s recipes can be found at the very end of this blog entry….

I really enjoy leading the Crystal Creek One-Day Yoga Retreats in Issaquah, Washington.  The day retreats take place every spring and autumn at Cathy Pierce’s lovely home and yoga studio.  Stepping into Cathy’s home is like entering an enchanted environment.  The house sits on Squak Mountain and is surrounded by forest.  I have this dream that one day Cathy will take us on an art tour of her home and tell us about every piece of art.  I am certain there is a story behind every exquisite piece of art my eyes fall upon.

Autumn at Crystal Springs, Issaquah, WA

We had a full house on both retreat days (October 20 and 21).  Ghosts, pumpkins, and sunflowers greeted us along with Cathy’s welcoming smile.  It was early morning and already delicious smells were coming from the kitchen.  After a cup of tea, the group moved into the yoga studio for a morning of yoga. It is such a treat to have (and for me, to teach!)  long yoga sessions, to be able to warm up slowly, to build up heat and go deeper into the more challenging poses, to journey into vast interior meditative spaces, to experience ourselves as energy, to have time for relaxing restorative poses and time to listen to what our bodies, minds, and spirits are saying.

After the morning yoga session and lunch, we went on a two hour hike on Squak Mountain.  The path is a few steps away from Cathy’s house.  Within moments, we are deep within the forest.  There is nothing like the emerald forests of the great Northwest!  The trees are bearded with moss and the air is divine.  After a morning of yoga, our senses feel heightened and we take in the fresh mountain air that smells of drizzle, moss, leaves, and clouds.  Our footsteps are muffled by great big golden leaves on the path.  Breathe in, breathe out, be present to this incredible unspoiled wild beauty.

Autumn Leaf

We return to the yoga studio, our faces flushed from the hike.  The studio warms our spirits.  The woodstove burns and keeps us toasty warm.  When we balance, our drishti point falls on any one of the number of trees just outside the windows.  We move and breathe, tuning in to the calm quiet world of yoga, redefining the meaning of center, peace, equilibrium, coming to know our deepest self.

Moss covered trees on the hike

Mark your calendars!!  The next day retreats in Issaquah will be on May 4 and May 5, 2013.  Let me know asap if you’d like to sign up!  Already, Sunday, May 5th is almost filled with yesterday’s participants (one spot remaining on Sunday, but Saturday is still very open)

beautiful home and studio, lots of yoga, scrumptious wholesome lunch, hiking Squak Mountain, more yoga, good company, relaxing and rejuvenating day!

Autumn at beautiful Crystal Creek in Issaquah, Washington

Outrageous Brownies  from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: about 30 to 35 minutes
Yield: 20 large or 40 regular-sized brownies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 Tbsp instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups diced walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-13-inch baking pans.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, and cut into squares. Uneaten brownies can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Farro Soup with Kale and Cannellini  from Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup semi-pearled farro, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry cannellini beans, soaked overnight in ample water to cover
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 bunch kale (about 14 ounces)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Set the farro in a large bowl or spouted glass measuring cup and add ample water to cover. Set aside while you cook the beans.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onion is lightly browned, a few minutes more.

Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the pot. Add 8 cups of water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer until the beans are almost tender, 40 to 60 minutes (depending on age and storage conditions).

Drain the farro. Add the farro, tomatoes, and salt. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale: Discard a few inches of the tough root ends. Thinly slice the stems and coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse well by dunking it in a large bowl or sink full of water.  Drain well.

When the farro has simmered for 10 minutes, stir in the kale gradually, adding more as each batch wilts. Cover and continue cooking until the beans, farro, and kale are tender, usually 10 to 20 additional minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the basil, plus salt and pepper to taste.

One Response to “Issaquah Day Reteats, October 2012”

  1. Rick Says:

    That’s wonderful, Frannie! All of it, the retreat, venue, food, nature, yoga, happy faces, photography, writing, all!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: