The Drunken Botanist – Eco Read at PGM

ecoreadpgmI’m thrilled…. excited…. overjoyed…. and heel kicking around the kitchen at my excitement over this!  I have a guest post up over at Pure Green Magazine.  An Eco Read all about The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart and even a little cocktail recipe that I whipped up myself!

I have been a huge fan of Pure Green Magazine since they started and am honored that Celine loved my review of this book.  Because of this book, I’ve become quite the cocktail muddler this summer!  😉  See the full post here!  Cheers!

Eco Read - Pure Green Mag

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Cheers!

summer smashWell, happy Friday, friends!  After this crazy weather, it has turned out to be a lovely afternoon and it just so happens to be National Bourbon Day!  How fitting for a Friday!  So I wanted to leave you with a tasty summer drink to please your palate this weekend!  You can even serve one up to Dad on Sunday, as I’m sure he will enjoy as well!

This recipe is courtesy of my crafty sister…. can’t take the credit for the recipe, but I do take credit for consuming a few!  😉

summer smash in the making

cheers

Summer Smash

Makes 2.

In a cocktail shaker (oh how I love my mason shaker from West Elm), muddle 1/2 a peach with 6 basil leaves and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Add a few dashes of rhubarb bitters and then a 1/2 cup of rye whiskey.  Serve over ice and splash with club soda.  Garnish with peach slices and basil.

Celebrate Earth, Celebrate Friends

earth grain salad w/ honey ginger lemonade

I always love the time of year when Earth Day rolls around.  Whether it be the spring blooms that have me fluttering about or the fact that my birthday does indeed fall a few days later or that it’s an excuse to ‘hug a tree’, I love how April brings new growth and freshness to our lives.  It’s a time to enjoy the longer days, breathe in the fresh air, plant seeds in the garden, and sit in the grass while the birds chirp in your ear.

I always want to do something to celebrate this special season.  We used to have an Earth Day party every year, that I SO enjoyed planning….. what better way to celebrate the Earth and its loveliness than in the company of good friends.  (And a good excuse to hug trees, frolic barefoot, and partake in a keg of local beer.)  🙂  Recently though, life sometimes gets the best of you, and I’ve been a bit absent on Turquoise Autumn, much less am I planning an Earth Day party this year.  (My 3.5 year old son was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease…. more on the subject to come in a later post, but the recipes below are definitely reflective of things I have learned along this journey so far.)

earth day lunchSo I was really craving sharing a special meal to celebrate the season with a good friend.  My lovely friend, Lindsey (from Coco Love), was just the one to share this earthy lunch.  Lucky for us, it was gorgeous earlier this week and we were able to play in the kitchen with the windows open, The Shins on repeat, and whip up these simple recipes for a tasty meal.

These recipes just really came about spur of the moment.  I knew I had wanted to make a salad with spelt because 1) I had never used it before and 2) my family recently went grain-free due to my son’s diagnosis, and although spelt is a grain and it does contain the gluten, it is a little easier on the digestive system.  All the ingredients just fell into place after that….. I found local ramps from Happy Cat Farms at the Philly Farm and Food Fest a few days before, then fava beans at Whole Foods, and voila…. this salad was created.  Lindsey and I wanted to keep it simple and fresh and highlight the spring ‘green’ flavors.  (And I think we accomplished what we were after!  🙂 )

earth day lunch

earth day lunch by the garden

Ginger Lemonade with Mint

3 lemons

quarter-size knob of ginger (peeled & grated)

2 tablespoons honey

handful of mint

Juice the lemons and put juice in a glass pitcher.  Add water to fill the pitcher.  We added around 3.5 cups of water.  Sweeten with honey.  Muddle with ginger and mint.

earth day lunch

earth day lunch

Earth Grain Salad

1 cup of spelt

1 bunch of ramps

1 cup fava beans, blanched & shelled

1 avocado

butterhead lettuce or greens of choice

freshly squeezed orange juice of 1/2 orange

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

Soak the spelt berries for 1 hour.  In a large pot with salted water, bring spelt to a boil.  Lower heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until spelt is slightly puffed.  Spelt should be soft and chewy.

Shell the fava beans.  In a pot of boiling water, blanch the beans for 30 seconds.  Immediately put into an ice bath.  The waxy outer shell of the beans should now easily come off.  (For pictures and details, I found this.)

Saute the ramps in a tablespoon of butter or ghee until still bright green, but wilted.  (I’ve been cooking with ghee lately and I have to say, I am really liking it.)  Set aside.

Make the dressing.  In a mason jar with lid, mix orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Shake vigorously.  (The orange zest really makes this dressing and brightens all the flavors of the spring goodness in the salad.)

In a large bowl, mix together spelt, ramps, and fava beans.  Cover with dressing.  Save a little bit of dressing to drizzle on top of salad once assembled.

Assemble the salad.  Start with a bed of greens.  Add spelt mixture and top with sliced avocado.  Drizzle with the saved salad dressing.

earth day lunch fixings

ramps

earth grain salad

Plum Tart

For the crust:

3/4 cup almond flour (increase if needed for overall texture)

1 egg

1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon sea salt

cinnamon for sprinkling

Grease mini tart pans with coconut oil.  In a large bowl, mix almond flour, egg, melted coconut oil, and salt.  Press mixture into tart pans and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake tart shells at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

For the filling:

4 plums

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

a pinch of xanthan gum

a pinch of cinnamon

Slice plums and mix with orange juice, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.

Arrange in baked tart shells.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar or cinnamon if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

plum tarts

This lunch was so simple and fresh.  Lindsey and I had the best time chatting in the kitchen while preparing and I was thrilled that I got to be there when Lindsey tried her first ramps!  (I love, love, love ramps!)

We also purposely made the dessert grain-free.  I wanted to have a special treat from our day that the little man could partake in too.  (We’ve cut out all grains from his diet to improve his digestive health, very much along the lines of the GAPS diet.)  But I must say, this tart was so so simple, and the plums, oh the plums, they shine!  Lindsey found these amazing plums, that really ended our meal on such a sweet note!  Thank you to Lindsey for helping prepare and share this lovely little lunch!

I wish everyone sunshine and positive vibes this Earth Day!  I hope you get the chance to enjoy spring’s bounty of green, frolic in the garden, and hug a tree!  Xo!

earth day lunch

“It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little.”  _ Oscar Wilde

(Plates, napkins, tart pans, and Weck jar:  Williams-Sonoma)

Let’s get ‘Fresh’…. hey, it’s Valentine’s!

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A Valentine’s dinner all inspired by Tyler Florence‘s Fresh.

Menu

Roasted Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tartine

Flat Iron Steak w/ Creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic, & Parmesan

Strawberries w/ Honey Whipped Cream, Almond Crisps, & Lavender Sugar

Cocktails

Blood Orange – Satsuma Cocktail Mix and Spiced Rimming Sugar by Williams-Sonoma

(mixed w/ Basil Hayden’s)

Wine

a very special bottle of 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon by Deerfield Winery

** Fresh is a gorgeous book, so it’s bound to result in gorgeous food, right?!?  It did.  Although I didn’t follow a Tyler recipe ingredient by ingredient or step by step, I was most definitely lead down a path of culinary happiness.  Thanks for helping us get ‘Fresh’ on Valentine’s, Tyler!  😉 **

Happy 2013!

After being sick with the flu over Christmas, I wanted to make sure to get 2013 off to a good start.  It has been a lovely day of cooking, reading, mimosas and spending time with my boys.  I made a potato leek tart and drank plenty of mimosas…. ’twas a good day!

IMG_20130101_160412 IMG_20130101_194655I’ve also had on my mind my resolutions for the coming year.  Not that I really write down a “resolution”, but here’s a few things that I “want” (big or small, reasonable or unreasonable) for 2013.

*  I want to make a pie.  Or two.  Or more.  (Help from here.)

*  I want to eat here.  And  here.

*  I want to go here.  Or here.  Or back here.  Or maybe even a quick weekend getaway here.

*  I want to take a photography course, maybe here.

*  I want to read more books.

*  I want to drink one a day.

*  I want more “date” nights with the hubs.

*  I want to take the little man here every day the schedule allows.

*  I want to cook with new ingredients.

*  I want to do more good here.

*  I want (and look forward) to laughing and hugging my fabulous friends and family.

*  I want to be a better (and more organized) gardener.  With inspiration from here and here.

Just to name a few….  🙂

Here’s a quote to start you off for the year… “This bright new year is given to me, to live each day with zest, to daily grow and try to be my highest and my best!”  _ William Arthur Ward

I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2013!

A Morning of Holiday Recipes and Treats

The holiday vibe is definitely becoming abundant in my household!  (Yes, I’m that person that starts playing Christmas music a few days before Halloween)!  I so so soooo love this time of year.  I want to curl up by the fire with my stack of November or December issues from my favorite food magazines, have a hot spiked toddy, all while dreams of sugarplums dance in my head!  😉

I was really looking forward to this morning when my lovely friend, Alexis, of Teaspoons and Petals, came to visit.  It was a bit blustery after a Nor’easter that blew through (with some snow!), but we decided to brave the chill and take our gathering outside.

Alexis shares my love of the holidays, my love of cookbooks, my love of Williams-Sonoma, my love of tea…. oh, the list can go on…. so we took the morning to visit… making tea-infused hot chocolate, pumpkin chai chocolate chip bread, and dishing all about our favorite holiday recipes.

If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of Baked (I love Matt & Renato…. who visit our King of Prussia Williams-Sonoma often) and one of my favorite holiday treats to make is the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf from their first book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.  Here Alexis and I wanted to infuse a chai flavor is some way, so I adapted Baked‘s recipe using David Rio Masala Chai Powder.  See the recipe below and sorry for the weird measurements, but the bread turned out divine!

Pumpkin Chai Chocolate Chip Bread

1 1/2 + 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons David Rio Masala Chai Powder (available at Williams-Sonoma)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup of pumpkin puree

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Chatfield’s Double Dark Semi-Sweet Chips)

1/3 cup room temperature water

Preheat oven at 350.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, chai powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin and oil.  Add sugar and whisk.  Mix in eggs one at a time, then vanilla and water, and then using a spatula fold in the chocolate chips.  Fold wet ingredients into the dry and mix together thoroughly.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for an hour and 15 minutes.

Enjoy with tea, hot chocolate, or mulled cider!

For Alexis‘s recipe of infusing hot chocolate with tea, visit her blog here.  We used… what I think is the best hot chocolate on earth… from Williams-Sonoma of course, along with their mini vanilla marshmallows, and Steven Smith Teamaker’s Lord Bergamot black tea.  It, too, was divine!  Just what we needed to keep us warm while chatting turkey recipes!

** Most goodies available at Williams-Sonoma.  Teapot from Anthropologie.  Tea cups and napkins are vintage.**

Pick Fest 2012

This weekend we went to Frecon Farms Pick Fest in Boyertown, PA.  It’s about an hour drive from where we are in Ambler, but a Saturday well spent.  It’s a few of my favorite things…. pumpkins, apples, bluegrass, and the turning of the leaves.  We were lucky the weather held out and made for a fantastic day!  Picture the scene…. bluegrass bands play from an old school red flatbed truck right in the middle of an apple orchard.  Pumpkin patches surround and apple trees as far as the eye can see!  Hay bales and straw are scattered about so those who want to rest with some local hard cider can sit and enjoy the banjo and fiddle tunes.  Apples are on a grill nearby for a sweet snack.  For those who want to wander and return home with a harvest, there are plenty of apples and pumpkins of every kind to “pick-your-own”.  It’s a beautiful day all around!  Here are some of my photos from the day.  Oh, and next year, you should go!

So what will I be doing with some of the apples we picked?!?  I’ll be juicing some, baking some, but I also found this tasty recipe for Smoked Apple Puree from Williams-Sonoma that I can’t wait to try.  I have a small smoker box, but I also really love the idea of using the *eek, can I say it* bacon fat!  I mean, how tasty!  Heel kicks for fall!!!

Monday mornings and quinoa cakes

Howdy and happy Monday morning to ya!

It’s a nice sunny morning today and I’m sitting in my kitchen nook trying to get myself organized for the week.  I took a little “me” time and had my tea with the new issue of Kinfolk magazine (volume three which is available to pre-order.  A perk of my working at Williams Sonoma, I was able to grab one yesterday!), made my to-do list for the week, planned out some meals, and now I’m ready to get the week started!

It’s quite satisfying to take some time on a Monday morning to reflect on the weekend’s fun, to prioritize the week ahead, and plan. Any Monday morning rituals you do?

While wondering what would be on this week’s menu, I remembered these quinoa cakes that I made a few weeks back. I’ve really been loving anything with curry these days and these were inspired by the tasty couscous patties Terrain used to have one their menu.  Here’s my creation.

Quinoa Cakes

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature (I used a rainbow blend)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1 teaspoon curry

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup bread crumbs (I used whole grain)

Preheat oven at 400.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and form into patties.  Oil a baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, flip, and bake for another 5 minutes.

Makes 4 patties.

I served over butterhead lettuce and drizzled with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  A nice, light tasty lunch!

Have a great week!