Easy Irish Soda Bread {recipe}

“Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone;  it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  As most folks associate St. Patrick’s Day with green beer and Leprechauns, I am most excited because today is the day before (drumroll please)….my Birthday!! Woohoo!

I have fond, vivid memories of my mom bringing my grade school class St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes to celebrate my birthday, beautifully decorated in emerald green icing and clovers. (But that’s a different blog post!)

Tonight I am invited to my friend’s home for traditional corned beef and cabbage. Yum!! I volunteered to bring the Irish Soda Bread. Easy enough! Since we have some great bakeries in town I will just swing by the bakery, drop a couple bucks and I’m on my way.

Huh?? NONE of the bakeries baked any Irish Soda Bread?? (Or green cupcakes worthy of Mom!) So, I checked my calendar. Yep, I have the date right, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.

Determined and dressed in my green shirt I headed to the grocery store bakery section. Whaatt?? No Irish Soda Bread (and of course no green cupcakes!!) Ugh!

Now I was on a mission!!  I searched the baking aisle for Irish Soda Bread mix. Let’s see… there are mixes for honey wheat, white, multi-grain and even sweet Hawaiian bread. But no Irish Soda Bread mix!

Off to the frozen bread section…Garlic Bread, biscuits, French bread, and dinner rolls. But no Irish Soda Bread. Seriously? (Is today really April Fools Day?)

More determined than ever, I grabbed some buttermilk and Irish butter and headed straight for the checkout.  The cashier accidentally gave me 3 cents extra change. She said, “It must be your lucky day!” Yep! Lucky Lisa!

“Unique to Ireland, Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of a poor country. Made with only the most basic of ingredients: flour, baking soda (used as a leavening agent instead of yeast), soured milk (buttermilk) to moisten and activate the soda, and salt. A cross was cut on the top before baking to ward off the devil and protect the household.”

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Easy Irish Soda Bread

(adapted from Simple Recipes)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: One loaf

Ingredients:

4 to 4 ½ cups flour (I used King Arthur’s All Purpose Flour)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon baking soda

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)

1 cup currants or raisins (I used currants)

1 large farm fresh organic egg, lightly beaten

1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rack in center of oven.

Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the raisins or currants.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until dough is too stiff to stir.

Dust hands with flour, then GENTLY knead dough in the bowl just enough to form a rough ball. (Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.) DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. (Note: dough may be a little sticky, and should resemble a shortcake biscuit dough)

Work dough until it just comes together. Again, DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!

Transfer dough to a baking sheet. Score top with an “X” shape.

Bake in middle rack until bread is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a long wooden skewer into the center. If skewer comes out clean, bread is done.

Remove baking sheet and bread from oven. Allow bread to sit on sheet for 5-10 minutes. Move bread to a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread

 

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Add currants to flour mixture.

 

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Gently knead the dough

 

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Score the top with an “X” – Removes evil spirits and allows the center to bake.

 

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Tada!! How’s that for Luck of the Irish!!?

Do you have a favorite traditional recipe you use for special occasions?

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

15 Reasons Not to Visit the Florida Keys {humor}

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Ah, the Florida Keys… Carefree days filled with fun, sun and fancy umbrella drinks, right? Well, not exactly. I’ve learned that living in The Florida Keys isn’t quite what it seems.

So before you pack your polka dot bikini and fly south for the winter, check out the everyday reality of Life in the Florida Keys:

1. Hold onto to your floppy hat! That cool tropical breeze is actually a Category Five hurricane making its way from Africa, heading directly for Key Largo.

2. Spectacular sunsets feature massive mosquitoes, sucking enough blood from us to buzz all the way back to Miami.

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3. (Cue Jaws soundtrack) Diving excursions turn you into instant shark bait.

4. Those “authentic” Florida Keys conch shells are plastered with Made in China stickers.

5. Modern-day pirates set up souvenir shops to pillage and plunder. “Interested in buying a crappy, overpriced Key West T-shirt, matey?”

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6. Ernest Hemingway’s famous Key West cats are really stuck-up (or maybe they’re just hung over).

7. One visit to the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet blows your chances of squeezing into that teeny weeny bikini.

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8. That fishing trip won’t be so exciting once you realize you’re on the hook for $199 per hour. (Oh, and the fish that got away was not “THAT BIG!”)

9. After basking in the blazing sun all day, you’ll begin to resemble patients in hospital burn units.

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10. Our beach buddy is a twelve-foot alligator, just waiting to join us for a swim.

11. (Cue the Pina Colada song) You’d better really like piña coladas because each frozen concoction is fourteen bucks at the tiki bar!

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12. With the sweltering heat and 99-percent humidity, you’ll probably be stuck inside that “ocean-view” dump you booked online. Although the room reeks of rotten fish and stale smoke, at least it has air conditioning.

13. Coco-Loco! People actually die from falling coconuts (because they aren’t smart enough to realize that coconuts are harder than their heads!)

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14. Observing Key West’s Fantasy Fest makes Girls Gone Wild videos look like Disney flicks.

15. So, “Welcome to The Florida Keys: Come on vacation. Leave on probation.”

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Have you ever had a dream vacation turn into a disappointment? Please share!

18 Sunflower Facts You Never Knew

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 “Bring me the sunflower crazed with the love of the light.” – Eugenion Montale

Here Comes The Sun! From munching on the salted seeds packed in my Barbie lunchbox, to growing the gigantic beauties in my garden, I have always had a love affair with sunflowers. I literally skip when my seeds begin to sprout, anxiously awaiting the bright, canary-colored magical bloom! Check out these interesting facts that I never knew about my favorite flower:

The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus, Helios for sun and Anthos for flower.

Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants, growing up to 12 feet tall within six months.

The tallest sunflower (over 25 feet) was grown in The Netherlands in 1986.

There are more than 60 different kinds of sunflowers, including yellow, orange, red-orange, maroon, tan, peach and striped colors.

The former Soviet Union grows the most sunflowers. The sunflower is the national flower of Russia.

Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed.

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“Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower. He attracts and follows.” – Jean Paul Richter

Sunflowers are thought to have existed 3000-8000 years ago. The Aztecs worshipped sunflowers.

Native American Indians used sunflowers for food, oil, in medical ointments, and as dyes and body paints.

Sunflowers are connected to the zodiac sign, Leo.

Kansas is known as the Sunflower State.

The sunflower’s flowering heads track the sun’s movement, a phenomenon known as heliotropism. In French, the word for sunflower is tournesol, meaning “turn with the sun.”

Mature sunflowers can have up to 40% of their weight in oil, which they store as a source of energy and food. Sunflower seeds are crushed to give us oil for cooking.

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 “The sunflower is mine, in a way.” ― Vincent van Gogh

Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

One sunflower can have up to 2000 seeds.

There are two kinds of sunflower seeds: black and stripe. Oil is made from black seeds; snacks are made from striped seeds.

Sunflowers can also be processed into a peanut butter substitute called Sunbutter. In Germany, sunflower seeds are mixed with rye flour to make a type of bread (Sonnenblumenkernbrot).

According to folklore, it is bad luck to cut down a sunflower.

Another folk legend says that if you sleep with a sunflower under your pillow, you will become wise.

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 “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Resources include:  AmazingandWeird.com and SunflowerPlant.com

Shared with: Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Fiesta Friday, Plant Based PotLuck, Gluten Free Fridays, Real Food Fridays

50 Shades of Tomatoes {recipe}

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Curvaceous. Juicy. Bursting. Plump. Tempting. Exotic. Heavenly. Sinful. 50 Shades. No, this isn’t the sexy Hollywood movie. It’s 50 Shades of Tomatoes.

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My organic heirloom tomatoes are show stopping in spectacular shades, shapes and sizes with exotic names like: Black Tula, Principe Borghese, Large Barred Boar, Brandy Wine, Purple Russian, Big Pink and Green Zebra.

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 “Only two things that money can’t buy,  

that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” Guy Clark


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“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”  – Lewis Grizzard


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 “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”


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 “The tomato offers its gift of fiery color and cool completeness.”

  -Pablo Neruda


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“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.”

-Laurie Colwin


Nothing screams “Summer!!” like just-picked tomatoes, sun-kissed and dripping with juicy ripeness.  To highlight your mouth-watering garden gems, keep it simple. Start by adding fragrant basil…

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“A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.”

– Sir Thomas Moore 


Add soft, fresh mozzarella cheese…

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Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a thick, rich balsamic glaze.

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Now, how sexy is that?


Caprese Salad

(Shhhh. The secret is the glossy balsamic glaze.) For a more dramatic presentation, vary different shades, colors and shapes of tomatoes.

Serves 8 to 12

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

2 Cups balsamic vinegar

3 ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably organic

12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced

Fresh basil leaves

High-quality olive oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Make the glaze: Pour balsamic vinegar into saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat.

Cook for about 15 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the balsamic has reduced to a thick (but still pourable) glaze. Cool.

Assemble: Cut tomatoes into thick slices and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Alternate tomato slices with mozzarella slices. Tuck whole basil leaves in between the tomato and cheese slices.

Drizzle olive oil in a thin stream over the top. Drizzle balsamic glaze.

Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, to taste.

***

Buon Appetito!

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“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes

What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

– John Denver/Guy Clark

(click on link to sing along to “Homegrown Tomatoes”)

***

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Post shared with:  Fiesta Friday, Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Mix It Up Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday, Full Plate Thursday, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Fridays, Thursday Favorite Things, Link Party Palooza

Do you grow tomatoes? What’s your favorite heirloom tomato?

Mangoritas! {recipe}

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“If life gives you limes, make margaritas.”-Jimmy Buffett

Calypso music. Breathtaking sunset. Sailing away. A Caribbean cruise with my BFF’s. Decked out in my floppy hat and movie star sunglasses, the only thing missing was a drink in my hand.

The bartender (impersonating Isaac from The Love Boat) tempted us with exotic cocktails, “Mango Tangos, ladies?” Of course we indulged, happily sipping the frozen concoction to the beat of the steel drums.

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Yuk! What promised to be a tropical tequila treat was nothing more than an overpriced sad slushie! I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a worthless souvenir glass. Since that day I have longed for the perfect mango libation.

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It’s mango season in Miami, when neighborhood mango stands pop up on every street corner! Look at these gorgeous gems I brought home. (Check out my cool Mango Facts)

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With my ripe beauties on the kitchen counter, I brainstormed how to best use my magnificent mangoes to beat the sweltering South Florida heat.

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Then I recalled that disappointing cruise cocktail…

It was now blender time!

Mangorita22_seedylawyerMinutes later, (steel drum roll, please) ….Mangoritas!!

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Perhaps The Love Boat should hire me to bartend? My mouthwatering Mangoritas are silky smooth, tangy, not too-tequila-y, a bit sweet, refreshing, very creamy, exotic frozen goodness. Guaranteed to make you feel sexier than Tom Jones and dance like Mick Jagger. Whip up a boozy batch for your friends.

After all, it’s 5:00 O’clock somewhere.

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“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.” – George Carlin

Mangoritas

Note: I am lucky enough to live where fresh mangoes are available. If mangoes are not in season or not available where you live, check out the frozen fruit section of your grocery store for frozen mango.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 1/4 oz high quality tequila (You will thank me later!)

1 oz triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier

1 1/2 oz fresh lime or lemon juice (plus extra to squeeze on top)

2 oz simple syrup or sour mix

1 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1 cup ice

lime garnish

sugar or salt for rim of glasses (optional)

Preparation:

Place ingredients into blender in the order listed. Blend until desired consistency. Pour into margarita glasses. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice. Garnish with lime slice and a paper umbrella. Cheers!

*** 

What’s your favorite cocktail?

Shared with Great Idea Thursday, Wordless Wednesday, Full Plate Thursdays, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Friday, Fiesta Friday, Plant Based Potluck, Flashback Friday, Foodie Friends Friday, Link Party Palooza, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, I’m Loving It Party, Creative Mondays, Motivation Monday, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Munching Mondays, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday, Simple Supper Tuesday

Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer and Love Boat.  All rights reserved.

Garden Potato Salad {recipe}

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You know that scary yellow stuff staring back at you from the deli case? Eww! That’s what I always envision when I hear Potato Salad. Well this American classic has undergone a makeover and it’s now bursting with fresh herbs and a tangy vinaigrette.

Memorial Day weekend kicked off the (unofficial) start of summer. Although summer officially begins June 21, it’s not too early to impress your BBQ crowd with mouth-watering side dishes like my Garden Potato Salad.

WARNING: This is not your granny’s potato salad!

Start with, of course, potatoes.

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My organic potato plants

 “I love potatoes – they’re my favorite food!”- Trisha Yearwood

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Drop them like they’re hot!

 “I have these big piano-playing hands. I feel like I should be picking potatoes.”  – Sandra Bullock

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Harvest time!

“A lucky person is someone who plants pebbles and harvests potatoes.” -Greek Proverb

Then add garden herbs.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a member of the celery family.  Leafy dill has a slightly sharp flavor. This aromatic herb can be also used as a digestive tonic to calm an upset stomach. Perfect after stuffing yourself at a weekend cookout!

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Fresh Dill

 “The intense perfumes of the wild herbs as we trod them underfoot made us feel almost drunk.” -Jacqueline du Pre

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are related to onions, yet with a milder flavor. Easy to grow, chives bloom into beautiful purple flowers.

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Garden Chives

Toss the potatoes and herbs into a bowl with some celery.  Whip up a simple vinegar dressing and you’re done! How easy was that?  This tasty Garden Potato Salad is sure to be the Pride of the Picnic! Enjoy!

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“What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” – A.A. Milne

Garden Potato Salad

Serves 6

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites

“Dress the potatoes while they’re hot; that way they are infused with the flavor of the dressing. These are delicious served hot, at room temperature, or chilled.”

Ingredients

5 cubed potatoes (Red-skinned are very attractive; I used white potatoes)

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons salt (plus extra for salting cooking water)

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup celery

½ cup finely chopped scallions or red onions, or freshly snipped chives

¼ cup minced fresh dill (can substitute other fresh herbs)

Preparation

In a soup pot, cover the potatoes with cool salted water. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce to a vigorous simmer. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, in a serving bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Place the celery and scallions/red onions/chives in the bowl.

Once the potatoes are done, drain well. Add them to the serving bowl and toss with the oil and vinegar while still hot. Stir in the dill and season with more salt and pepper, to taste.

***

 

What’s your favorite side dish?

Photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

Shared with Fiesta Friday, Gluten-Free Fridays, Old Fashioned Fridays, Real Food Friday, From The Farm Hop, Plant Based Potluck, Foodie Friends Friday, Link Party Palooza, Simply Natural Saturdays, I’m Loving Linky Party, Simple Saturdays, Creative Mondays, Motivation Monday, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Munching Mondays, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday

Sunday Driver, Yeah

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Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina

 “She was a day tripper

Sunday driver, yeah”

– The Beatles

All dressed up and no place to go. My brunch plans with friends were canceled. It was a chilly Sunday morning and I could have stayed warm under the covers.

Plan B. Get in the car and drive. Take myself to brunch. I decided to try my buddy’s new diner by the old truck stop. Still unfamiliar with all the country roads, it took me forever to find the place. Once I arrived, people were turned away (including me) due to unforeseen plumbing issues. So my brunch plans were also flushed down the toilet.

Plan C. Keep on truckin’. Next stop? The Swag. Since I was in the neighborhood, why not treat myself to a spectacular view and a killer meal? The sunlight kissed me through my sunroof as I headed up the mountain. I drove by old barns, farmland, and rushing creeks. Amazing.

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“Old Black Water, keep on rollin'” – The Doobies

From cows, sheep, chicken, and horses, I felt personally greeted by every animal I passed. I even stopped and talked to the animals a la Dr. Dolittle.

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Getting a kick from the donkey.

 

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B S-ing with the Bull.

After a very steep drive I finally reached the highest peak. With my appetite as grand as the mountain, I was so ready for my long-awaited lunch! The recording at the gate said, “Welcome to The Swag. We are closed until late April.” What?!

Plan D. Around and around she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows. “Time for a drink”, I chuckled, just as I drove by Popcorn Sutton’s home. Coincidence?  I nearly drove off the cliff laughing. Seems as though the sun wasn’t the only thing shinin’!

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I’ll shut up my mug if you fill up my jug with some good ole mountain dew- Gr’pa Jones

Cruisin’ down the mountain and into Maggie Valley I stopped by the Stompin’ Ground. This literally was my old stomping ground, where I learned to clog as a little girl. Oh the memories of me in pigtails hoedowning in my handmade patchwork skirt. Hee haw!! Yep, I still use those dance moves.

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Oh play me some mountain music like Grandma and Grandpa used to play -Alabama

I kept driving and saw a sign for Cataloochee Ranch. Oh yeah! Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from lunch over yonder! Climbing in my car, I arrived at last. How breathtakingly beautiful! But the signed posted on the door read, “Closed until late April.” Huh?! Okay, where is Alan Funt and his Candid Camera?

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Cataloochee Lodge, Maggie Valley

Alone, I walked around and gazed out onto the majestic scenery that I had all to myself. Starving, I sat on top of the mountain and ate my emergency granola bar from the bottom of my purse. Funny, it was not exactly the culinary experience I had pictured but somehow it now seemed perfect.

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“Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.” – Led Zep

Plan E. Exit, Stage Left! She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes! Since I skipped Sunday Mass for brunch, (don’t tell my Grandma) I decided to swing by my Church to give thanks for this unforgettable day. I parked and walked up the path. The Church was locked! On a Sunday?! Wow, even He has a sense of humor!

So, I bundled up and sat outside on the Church bench and prayed. The sun caressed my face just as the cold wind tossed my hair. A baby blue sky accented the fluffy clouds floating by like angels. The fragrant early spring flowers were blooming beside me. Now I know why the Church was closed.

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This Sunday I had a spectacular time driving and exploring Western North Carolina. You never know where life will lead you if you just laugh and go with the flow. I would never have traded this day to meet my friends for Eggs Benedict. Even for extra Hollandaise sauce!

Do you ever have days that go better than your original plan?

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Shared with Fiesta Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Crafty Spices, Natural Family Friday

50/50: Fifty years of life’s lessons

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Me with Mom in Miami

You’ve come a long way, baby!

This is it!  The Big 5-0! Half of a century. Five decades.

Adios, youth.  Hello, AARP! Egad!

….Cue music: “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” 

Where has all the time gone? I act so silly sometimes that I just can’t believe my age. Well, I’m definitely older and maybe a little bit wiser. I have learned much over the past fifty years. But the lessons I have learned have not all been easy.

As I laugh myself into the next 50 years, I reflect on a few, okay, 50 things that I know for sure from 50 years passed.  Here’s my 50/50 countdown:

50.  You should always talk to strangers.

49. Diamonds Dogs are a girl’s best friend.

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My rescued dog, Dingo

48.  Cherish your family.

47.  Life’s too short to drink cheap wine.

46.  Friends are measured in quality, not quantity.

45.  Eat dessert first.

44. Never talk to Dad during a football game.

43.  I believe in angels!

42. Watching the sunrise can change your whole day.

41. Rainbows make me giddy.

40.  ’70’s and ’80’s music rocks!

39.  I will always be Daddy’s little girl.

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Dad, my first true love.

38.  Bees are beautiful.

37.  Laughter can cure anything.

36.  You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be.

35.  My mother loves me.

34.  I may be a little bit older, but I’m young at heart!

33.  The smell of rain intoxicates me. (Cue music: “Have you ever seen the rain?”)

32.  I smile at strangers. (You should try it!)

31.  My garden fills me with peace.

30.  Me gusta el café cubano.

29.  The ocean calms me. (Cue music: “Well I was born in the sign of water, And it’s there that I feel my best.”)

28.  I love the Autumn breeze blowing my hair.

27.  My 99 year old grandmother is amazing (and she wishes she was my age!)

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“A garden of love grows in a grandmother’s heart.” ~Author Unknown

26.  I could dance for the rest of my life! (Cue music: “I could have danced all night and still have begged for more.“)

25.  It is better to be alone than in bad company.

24.  A smile is a reflection of your soul.

23. No matter how bad life seems, remember: “This, too, shall pass.”

22. I love the smell of a wood-burning fire (and eating smores)!

21. If you have one true friend, you are rich.

20. Snowflakes make me skip!

19.  Mean people stink!

18.  Fall leaves are absolutely spectacular!

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17.  You should really, really listen to people.

16.  Sunsets rock!

15.  I sing along with birds.

14.  Sunshine on my shoulders really makes me happy.

13.  I love watching butterflies visit my flowers.

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12. Music moves me.

11. Trains are really cool!

10. I wish upon stars.

9.  Writing satisfies my soul.

8.  You are responsible for making yourself happy.

7.  A random act of kindness can make all the difference in the world.

6.  God loves me.

5.  A rescued dog rescues you right back.

4.  There’s nothing like a really great joke!

3.  A good, cold craft beer is totally worth the calories.

2. I would rather be in my garden than in the courtroom.

….and the number one thing I know for sure is…(drumroll please)….

1.  50 is the new 39!!!

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I’m excited to see what the next 50 years will teach me!  Stay tuned…

What life’s lessons have you learned?  I would love to hear them!

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Shared with:  Wordless Wednesday, Fiesta Friday, Great Idea Thursday, Natural Family Friday, Farm Hop, Home and Garden Thursday, Foodie Friday, Old Fashioned Friday, Real Food Fridays, Share Your Cup Thursday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Simple Saturdays, Full Plate Thursday, Craft Spices, Busy Monday, Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Mix It Up Monday, Totally Talented Tuesdays, You’re Gonna Love It Tuesday

Winter into Spring: A Gardener’s Dream

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“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” – Victor Hugo

Snow, rain, ice and sleet. The days are dark and dreary. No flowers blooming. No organic veggies in my garden. No signs of life. My dogs are miserable. Even my homemade Kombucha needs a heating pad just to keep warm!

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These boots were made for walking…in my garden!

“In a way winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen, the resurge of nature.” – Edna O’Brien

But today as the snow slowly melted, I spotted a beautiful robin perched in my tree! I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Ecstatic, I rushed towards the singing bird only to scare him away like a big ole scarecrow. So, sadly, the red red robin went bop bop boppin’ along!

Could it be that my fine feathered friend was chirping to say that Spring is just around the corner? Oh Spring, where art thou?? I miss you so. I’ve got The Gardener’s Blues!

My garden is frozen.

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Gives a new meaning to “frozen peas”

 “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet

No partridge (or pears) in my pear tree.

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Winter: Just grin and pear it!

“The color of springtime is in the flowers;

the color of winter is in the imagination.”

– Terri Guillemets

When will my magnificent magnolias replace the frosty snow?

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I’d prefer frozen Margaritas over frozen Magnolias!

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” – Hal Borland

With every bird’s sweet song and each sunbeam peering through the wintry clouds, I am filled with anticipation and excitement of Spring’s arrival. When I dream about Spring, I’m as hopeful as Tony in West Side Story, (cue music) … (Click on link to sing along)

(Something’s Coming)

“Could it be? Yes it could.

Something’s coming, something good, if I can wait.

Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is but it is gonna be great!”

Soon my seeds will begin to sprout and hopefully I will be blessed with a bountiful harvest. My flowers will bloom in every color of the rainbow, attracting buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies. Then I will blissfully watch my dogs chase the butterflies.

Yes, it will be Spring, indeed.

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Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” – Robin Williams

The air is hummin’ and something great is comin’! Like Spring, my birthday is just around the corner. Although I’m not exactly a Spring chicken, this garden girl can receive no better gift than the joy of Springtime. What a way to celebrate!

Perhaps the Rockin’ Robin will sing Happy Birthday to me? Hoppin’ and a- boppin’ and singing my song! I may, however, need a strong Autumn breeze to blow out all the candles on my birthday cake!

Are you ready for Spring? What about Spring excites you?

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

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Shared with Fiesta Friday, Natural Family Friday, Farm Hop, Flashback Friday, Foodie Friday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Simple Saturdays, Motivation Monday, The Clever Chicks, Busy Monday, Creative Mondays, Totally Talented Tuesdays, You’re Gonna Love It, Tasty Tuesday, Mix It Up Monday

Me, Myself and Thai {recipe}

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Smoke quickly filled the kitchen. Although deafened by the earsplitting noise blaring from the smoke detector, I could still hear my dogs howling frantically. I impersonated Michael Jordan jumping to fan the smoke away from the detector with my Grandma’s tattered oven mitt. I threw open the window to clear the room only to be blasted by the arctic air. It was now snowing IN my kitchen!

I knew I should have grilled these darn wings… but obviously grilling was out of the question…

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My BBQ grill. “Honey I don’t think the food is defrosted yet.”

I was all cooped up in my mountain home. Mother Nature blanketed the town in white. Our cooking club was almost canceled because some ladies were unable to maneuver their steep driveways and icy roads.

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Brrrrr… It’s cold!

I was the new girl in the cooking club: the rookie, the freshman. This was my big chance to meet more friends in my new town while improving my culinary skills. Two things I love: people and food. It’s a win-win! Our cookbook assignment was Everyday Thai Cooking by Katie Chin. The recipe I chose was Lemongrass Chicken Wings.

I planned on getting dressed while the wings were in the oven. How to dress for my first meeting? Not too city-slickery. Not too “Little House on the Prairie.” Wear just enough makeup but not so much to celebrate Halloween. Let’s see… I will take a shower while I pre-heat the oven. Then as the wings are starting to cook I will get dressed. Then flip the wings, flip my 1980’s hair and I’m off…

Okay, who forget to turn the oven knob to BROIL? Time was ticking and the oven was still cold! I panicked! I can’t poison my new friends with salmonella-packed, undercooked chicken! HmmmMicrowave? Boil? Chicken Soup?? No way!! Determined, I cranked the oven and perhaps placed the delicate wing tips a bit too close to the blazing broiler. Uh oh!!

Miraculously I was able to salvage my culinary delight and the wings were cooked perfectly! Once the soot cleared and I was finally able to breathe again, I inhaled the intoxicating fragrant aroma of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger. Yum!  I actually think the charring enhanced the Thai flavors. Ha! This was truly The Winged Victory.

With no time left to fix my hair (think Phyllis Diller), and smelling like a smoked BBQ brisket, I could still just make it to cooking club which thankfully was only few blocks away. Armed with wings and a prayer, I ran to my car.

Are you kidding??…

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I tossed my scrumptious creation into the front seat and grabbed the shovel and ice scraper. I worked faster than a Nascar pit crew! Now with black mascara running down my cheek and frizzy clown hair, I finally hopped into the car. My hands were numb and frozen as I steered down the mountain. Scared they were heading to my house, I ducked as the fire engine passed me.

I walked thru the doors of my cooking club and smiled. “Hi! I’m Lisa! I made you some Lemongrass Chicken Wings. Enjoy!”

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Lemongrass Chicken Wings

From Everyday Thai Cooking by Katie Chin

Sweet, tangy, salty and infused with exotic Thai spices. Double or triple the recipe for a crowd.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds chicken wings

2 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

Marinade

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced galangal or fresh ginger

2 tablespoons lemongrass, minced

1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar

3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons oil

Preparation

Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Place chicken wings in a large resealable food storage bag. Pour the marinade mixture over the chicken wings. Refrigerate for 2-12 hours. (I refrigerated overnight.)

Pre-heat a broiler. Arrange the wings, top down, on a broiler. Broil the wings for 10-11 minutes, turn over and broil for another 1-11 minutes until golden brown.

Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh coriander leaves. Serve immediately.

***

 

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fresh lemongrass

Do you have leftover lemongrass?  Try my lemongrass ice cream for dessert!

Have you had any similar disasters in your kitchen? Please share your story.

Original photos by SeedyLawyer.  All rights reserved.

Shared with:  Fiesta Friday, Foodie Friday, Full Plate Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Great Idea Thursday, Natural Family Friday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Farm Hop, Flashback Friday, Motivation Monday, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Totally Talented Tuesdays, You’re Gonna Love It Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Share Your Cup Thursday, Old Fashioned Friday, Real Food Fridays, Creative Mondays

 

The Stranger and The Snowflake

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  “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

It was only 6AM and I was already miserable. My pants were uncomfortably snug from overindulging on South Florida cuisine. Dressed for the Florida heat, I knew I was going to freeze my butt off once I landed in North Carolina.

Tired and crabby, I rushed to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. The security check was backed-up. People were pushing. One jerk even PASSED ME in the security line as I was going thru the scanner. (I secretly wished he’d develop motion sickness on his flight!)

Finally boarding my flight, I prayed to be far from screaming kids. No one should dare bother The Grouch. A lady then crawled over me to the window seat. “Don’t worry I won’t bother you,” she said. Jeez, did I look that agitated?  There was just something about her aura that was so inviting. Sure enough, I instantly started up a friendly conversation with the blonde woman sitting next to me.

“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”

Fydor Dostoevsky

By coincidence (or not?), she lives just one block from me in Miami, has rescue dogs, and vacations close to me in The Florida Keys. She was also traveling to her Carolina getaway. With great ease, we giggled, chatted up a storm and found so much in common. Close in age and looks, the mysterious stranger could have easily been the sister I’ve always wanted.

“I do desire we be better strangers.”

William Shakespeare

I couldn’t help but notice her dancing blue eyes and pure spirit. Filled with calmness and confidence, she spoke joyously. Caught up in our conversation, I was no longer drained and bothered. The splendid spirit of this passenger rubbed off on me, plastering a huge smile on my makeup-less face.

“Stranger, if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?”

Walt Whitman

Somewhere in between our discussions about crafting, men, and fabulous food, she serenely mentioned “her surgery.” Oh, you had surgery, for what, may I ask?”

“Brain surgery. I have brain cancer.” She so calmly replied.

What a fool I was for complaining all morning about my tight pants and Miami traffic! How dare I be bothered by other passengers trying to make their flights? Was I actually cursing at my carryon bag for being too heavy? 

I was sitting next to a living angel: a mother of two, facing the unimaginable. Filled with grace, she smiled as she spoke. What a true example. I am so thankful just to know this person. We eventually talked about everything two girls can chat about. We exchanged contact info and hugged as our flight landed.

“There are no strangers here;

only friends you haven’t yet met.”

William Butler Yeats

I was blessed to have met my new friend. Her kind spirit filled me with joy and peace. I floated to my car, and grinned during the entire drive home.

Once home, I skipped into the yard, playing with my dogs. Still in my South Florida clothing, I had somehow forgotten how cold it was. The sun shined down and brightened my face. As I turned towards the sky, I gently closed my eyes and smiled. I paused and listened to my calm breath. This was a great moment indeed.

Suddenly, a strong breeze almost knocked me over. Icy droplets caressed my face. I opened my eyes to big, beautiful, flawless snowflakes! It was snowing! Gigantic snowflakes danced in slow-motion. White butterflies whirling in the wind. The tiny falling stars reminded me of my new friend: Beautiful. Magical. Joyful.

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I joyfully threw up my arms and arched my back. Like a little girl, I opened my mouth to catch the falling white gold.

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Life is good. Life is a flawless-magical-huge-dancing-snowflake kind of good!

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  “A snowflake is one of nature’s most fragile creations but look at what they can do when they stick together!”

– Author Unknown

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Shared with Fiesta Friday, Flashback Friday, Foodie Friday, Simple Saturdays, Natural Family Friday, Motivation Monday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Simply Natural Saturdays

Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer and Pascal Gaudette, Julie FalkChris Dodson and Gen Thul

All rights reserved.

got pecans? Make Turtles!

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“All you need is love.

But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Charles M. Schulz

Spanish Moss dripping from Oak trees. Quaint Southern streets. Welcome to Georgia! This sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.

A roadside sign lures me in for local Georgia Pecans!

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So many pecans, so little time.

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Fresh, crunchy, decadent pecans.

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Loaded up with my stash, I spotted this sign. Got me thinking that I can make my own Pecan Candy!

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My love for Pecan Turtles dates back to when I was young. I rode my pink bike (with pink basket) throughout our neighborhood, selling chocolates as a fundraiser for my brothers JV football team. But, between the hot Miami sun and my girlish appetite, not many turtles survived. Sorry, dear brother.

Turtles get their name from their turtle-like shape.  Sweet, buttery caramel, and silky, smooth chocolate cover crunchy, toasted pecans. Irresistible. Yet so easy to make. You will never buy boxed chocolates again! (Even if a girl is selling them for her brother’s football team!)

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 “Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.”

Bill Copeland

CHOCOLATE PECAN CARAMEL TURTLES

Yields 60 turtles

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds pecan halves (raw or lightly toasted)

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup (Karo)

1 (14oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

One package (24oz) Chocolate Almond Bark (or chocolate chips)

Half package (12 oz) White Chocolate Almond Bark (or white chocolate chips) (optional)

PREPARATION:

Arrange clusters of 4 or 5 pecans on greased cookie sheets. (I used parchment paper.)

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Melt butter, sugar and salt in a heavy pot. Stir until combined. Stir in corn syrup and mix well.

Gradually add condensed milk, stirring constantly.

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Cook to firm candy stage, about 12 to 15 minutes (240 degrees using a candy thermometer).

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Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Carefully spoon caramel sauce over arranged pecans, enough to cover pecans. Let cool.

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Melt almond bark/chocolate over double boiler.

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Spoon chocolate on top of cooled caramel. Let cool.

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Repeat with melted white chocolate, if desired.

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Allow turtles to cool and set completely (at room temperature or in the refrigerator) before removing and packaging.

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Store refrigerated in airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

***

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Caramel, pecans and chocolate are “so happy together!”  Just like the song says, by, of course … The Turtles! Enjoy!

Happy 2015!!

What is your favorite homemade candy?

Shared with: Mix It Up Monday, Motivation Monday Gluten Free Fridays, Natural Family Friday  Simple Saturdays, Motivation Monday, Clever Chick’s Bloghop, Mix It Up Monday, Home and Garden Thursdays, Recipe Round Up, Great Ideas Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Fiesta Friday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Bites

Original photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Farm to Fido: Sweet Potato Dog Treats

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 “What a dog I got, his favorite bone is my arm.”

– Rodney Dangerfield

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Homemade Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries and applesauce… Oh My, It’s Thanksgiving! My grandma whips up her rutabagas and of course, sweet potatoes topped with melted (sometimes burnt) marshmallows. Dad is in charge of the turkey, while Mom and I love baking pies. It’s amazing how fast the food disappears when it took days to prepare.

Food coma sets in and you hit the couch to watch the football marathon. As you try to digest with your dog on your lap, you catch a glimpse of his huge sad eyes. While you were previously impersonating King Arthur gnawing on a turkey leg, did you forget your loyal companion?

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“Give the dog a bone!”

Don’t leave out Man’s Best Friend on this special holiday (or any day). You can whip up healthy dog treats as quickly as you can say, “Pass the cranberries.” You just need a few kitchen staples and a sweet potato (minus the marshmallows – Sorry, Granny!)

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How Sweet It Is! My homegrown organic sweet potatoes.

   “If there were only turnips and potatoes in the world, someone would complain that plants grow the wrong way.”

– Georg C. Lichtenberg

My rescue dogs literally watched over the organic sweet potatoes growing in my garden. It is only fitting to share this sweetness with them.

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My rescue Lab: The Garden Guard

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

– Josh Billings 

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Can you dig it?

How sweet it is!

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Harvest Time!

You don’t need to grow your own sweet potatoes to bake these tasty biscuits. Here’s how to make scrumptious Scooby Snacks guaranteed to keep tails wagging.

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Sweet Potato Dog Treats

An easy homemade dog treat recipe with healthy ingredients!

adapted from BrownEyedBaker

Yield: 20 small treats

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and diced (or canned sweet potato puree)

1¾ cups organic brown rice flour*

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1 egg, lightly beaten

plus extra beaten egg for brushing treats (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the cut sweet potato in a small saucepan, cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Ensure that the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, then remove from heat, drain and allow to cool.

Puree the sweet potatoes in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.

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In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and flaxseed meal.

Add the sweet potato puree, applesauce and 1 beaten egg to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Dump out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters (bone, heart shapes).

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Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

*Note: You could replace the rice flour with whole wheat flour or other flour.

***

“Here, Fido! Come and get it!”

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LIVE LOVE BARK.

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On Thanksgiving, don’t fur-get to give the dog a bone. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

What special treats do you make for your pet?

This post was featured on:

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Shared with: Fiesta Friday, Real Food Fridays, Motivation Monday, LHITS DIY, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday, Creative Mondays, Natural Family Friday, Foodie Friday, Old Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Farm Hop, Weekend Bites, Flashback Friday, Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesdays With A Twist, Totally Talented Tuesday, You’re Gonna Love It Tuesday, Backyard Farming Connection, Wine’d Down Wednesday, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Great Ideas Thursdays

“Treats” photo courtesy of Sue O’Bryan. Original Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Pumpkin, Sage, Browned-Butter Cakes {recipe}

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Pumpkin, Sage and Browned-Butter Cakes

I would rather sit on a pumpkin,

and have it all to myself,

than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Scoot over, bland Pumpkin Pie! Out of the way, stale Pumpkin Scones! Beat it, boring Pumpkin Biscuits! Make way for Pumpkin Sage Browned-Butter Cakes!

It’s that time of year. Pumpkins are everywhere!

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At the Health Food Markets…

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And the Farmer’s Market…

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And of course, The Pumpkin Patch…

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“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Even little pumpkins hanging out on Main Street….

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In my humble foodie opinion, nothing goes better with pumpkin than sage.  The combination just screams (and smells) “Autumn!!”

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Sage or salvia officinalis has many health benefits and has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. Its Latin root Salvare means “to heal.” It’s a great addition to my home garden. Easy to grow, sage adds a savory and light lemony flavor to dishes.

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Since my sage plant has runneth over, thank goodness there’s pumpkin. There are so many delicious pumpkin/sage combos including stuffing, ravioli and risotto. Oh My! But how about something sweet yet a bit savory?

I’ve got it! Pumpkin, Sage and Browned-Butter Cakes! (Thank you, Martha Stewart!)

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I added a touch of vanilla and topped with pumpkin seeds for texture and color. Browned-butter adds a hint of nuttiness. The pumpkin brings out a beautiful golden, Harvest color. Want some?

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My Pumpkin cakes are:

Oh so fluffy

moist

pumpkiny

not too sweet

I repeat, not too sweet (LOL)

light

crunchy and creamy

savory

spiced so nice

“Autumn in one bite!”

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Pumpkin, Sage and Browned-Butter Cakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Yield Makes 4 mini loaves

Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter*, plus more for pans
    • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
    • 1/4 cup fresh sage, cut into thin strips, plus whole leaves for garnish (optional)
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • ½ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

*Can substitute Earth Balance or Coconut Oil for butter.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 4 mini loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add sage strips; cook until butter turns golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl; let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sage-butter mixture. Add flour mixture; whisk until incorporated.
  3. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Sprinkle top with pumpkins seeds. Place pans on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto rack to cool completely. (Cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature overnight or refrigerated up to 5 days.) Garnish with whole sage leaves before serving, if desired.

***

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Oh Baby! The aroma from the oven fills your home with Autumn goodness!

It’s The Great Pumpkin, indeed, Charlie Brown! Take my sage advice and bake these cakes!  Happy Autumn!

What’s your favorite Pumpkin recipe?

This post was featured on:

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I am sharing my Pumpkin, Sage cakes with the folks at Real Food Fridays, Green Thumb Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Great Idea Thursdays, Fiesta Friday, HomeAcre Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, Plant Based Potluck, Natural Family Friday, Foodie Friday, Old Fashioned Friday, Farm Hop, LHITS DIY, Weekend Bites, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Motivation Monday, Melt In You Mouth Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday, Creative Mondays, Clever Chicks, Tuesdays With a Twist, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Backyard Farming Connection, Tasty Tuesday, You’re Gonna Love It Tuesday , Show and Share Wednesday, Wine’d Down Wednesday

Original photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

30 Cool Things To Compost

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“My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany… the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap.”

– Bette Midler

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Compost your Jack O’Lantern!

What are you doing with your Jack O’Lantern after Halloween? Did you throw out your used coffee grounds this morning? How about that empty toilet paper roll? Don’t toss them; compost them!

It is said that “One man’s trash is another one’s treasure.”  This is true about compost, where nature magically recycles kitchen scraps into “black gold” soil.

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Compost is “black gold” for your garden!

There are many benefits of compost that include increasing the quality of your soil with nutrients, air and texture. “Volunteer plants” often pop up, too. Some of my best producing tomato plants miraculously grew from my compost heap. I even discovered an avocado tree! All for free! (Shhh… it’s our “dirty” little secret!)

If you’re new to composting, check out the basics of composting. I started by simply cleaning out my refrigerator. (Gross, I know!)

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Most people compost kitchen scraps like banana peels and apple cores. Others throw in stale bread and old lettuce leaves.

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You can compost the apple peel AND core!

You probably already compost eggshells.  Toss in the (cut up) cardboard egg carton, too.

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Add eggshells and the egg carton to compost.

My list of things to compost seems endless. Did you know that can compost:

  1. Counting Sheep: old woolen socks (cut into small pieces)
  2. On Cloud Nine: 100% cotton balls; cotton from vitamin bottle; cotton swabs with wooden middle
  3. Cheers: wine cork (real cork)… and stale or old wine and beer
  4. Veggie Delight: cooled water from steaming veggies
  5. Sprout It Out: growing sprouts in a jar? compost the rinse water
  6. Hair of the Dog: pet hair (human hair, too! – untreated)
  7. Go Fish: dirty water and dirt from aquarium; fish food
  8. Plain White T’s: old 100% cotton t-shirt (cut up into pieces)
  9. Crab Shack: crab and shrimp shells; seaweed
  10. Bag It: contents from vacuum cleaner bag
  11. Pumpkin Patch: Jack o’ Lantern/pumpkin (cut into smaller pieces)
  12. Dirty Laundry: dryer lint
  13. Good to the Last Drop: coffee grinds and used coffee filters
  14. Perfect Match: used matches
  15. Chop, Chop: chopsticks (broken into pieces)
  16. You’re Fired: fireplace ashes (cooled!)
  17. Lots of Pastabilities: cold pasta noodles (no sauce)
  18. All Cracked Up: stale crackers
  19. Tea for Two: tea bags/loose tea leafs
  20. Pulp Fiction: pulp from the juicer
  21. Eggcellent: egg shells (rinsed) and cardboard egg cartons (cut into pieces)
  22. Pickin’ and Grinnin’: toothpicks
  23. Mikey Likes It: old cereal and cereal boxes (shredded)
  24. The Nutty Professor: shells from nuts and seeds (no salt)
  25. Featherweight: real feathers
  26. Totally Tubular: cardboard tubes from toilet paper, paper towels and gift wrap
  27. Prom Night: dried out corsages, bouquets and flower arrangements
  28. Brown Paper Packages: ask for paper bags at grocery store; cut into pieces
  29. Pick Up Sticks: popsicle sticks  
  30. Tis The Season: Christmas tree and natural holiday wreaths (chopped up).  Don’t forget to remove decorations first! (HaHa)
Compostrs_seedylawyer

Check out my “black gold!”

Imagine the huge reduction in landfills if we all composted. Plus, we’d have the healthiest plants in town! It can’t hurt to make dirt!

So, before you toss something in the trash, think to yourself, “Can I compost this?” The answer may just surprise you! Can’t you just dig it?!

I am sharing The Dirt with Busy Monday, Fiesta Friday, Tuesday Garden Party, Natural Living Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Motivation Monday, Tuesdays With A Twist, Totally Talented Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Great Idea Thursdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, HomeAcre Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, Plant Based Potluck, Meet and Greet, Simple Lives Thursday, Old Fashioned Friday, Real Food Fridays, Weekend Bites, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Fridays, I’m Lovin It, Farm Hop, LHITS DIY, Farm Girl Friday, Backyard Farming Connection, Natural Family Friday, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturday, Creative Style Link Up, Creative Mondays

Do you compost? What items do you add to your compost pile?

Photos courtesy of Kirsty Hall, Normanack, Net_efekt, Michael Gil  and Seedy Lawyer.

All rights reserved.

This post was featured on:

RealFoodFridays

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Brewing Booch {Homemade Kombucha}

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Tart. Sweet. Fermented. Fizzy. Tasty. Tangy. Fun to make and good for you, too. Hello, Kombucha!

My cool friend who shared her Lemongrass and Tumeric plants with me, also introduced me to Kombucha. I watched in disbelief as she brewed up a batch of “Booch.” Staring at the flying saucer (SCOBY)  floating in dark tea, I wondered if she was kidding.

I was hesitant to taste her science project. I suddenly had horrible flashbacks of my childhood days, ingesting cod liver oil and brussels sprouts. Yuk! Acting like the same little brat, I cringed, kicked and held my nose as I reluctantly choked down my first sip of this mysterious potion….

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Homemade Kombucha with SCOBY

Wowzie!! Love at first sip! It was like the moment that everything turned from black and white into color on The Wizard of Oz. No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to the wonderful world of Kombucha!

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So long, sugar-packed bottled juice. See ya later, crappy soda. Buh-bye, boring tea.  There’s a new drink in town. It’s Booch, baby, and I’m hooked!

Kombucha (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) is a sparkling sensation packed with probiotics, live enzymes, B vitamins, polyphenols (fights free radicals), glucuronic acid (a powerful detoxifier), and tons of other purported health benefits.  Simply put, Kombucha is good for your gut, builds immunity and helps to detoxify.

“Booch” is made by fermenting sweetened tea with a pancake-like “SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). SCOOBY DOO?!

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Not this Scooby….

 

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This SCOBY!

Basically, the SCOBY gobbles up the sugar and magically transforms the tea into a low calorie, low-sugar (low alcohol) fermented fizzy goodness.

If you have never tried Kombucha, do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle at the health food store. It comes in all flavors. I will even bet you a Scooby Snack that you will be instantly hooked. And once you’re hooked, you too will brew!  Why pay up to 5 bucks at the store when you can make your own for just pennies?  Here’s how:

Homemade Kombucha

yields 3 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ quarts filtered/distilled water
  • 9 black tea bags
  • 1 cup sugar, preferably organic
  • 1 SCOBY (from a friend or purchase online here)
  • 2 cups starter kombucha (use either the liquid that comes with your SCOBY or store-bought raw/unpasteurized/unflavored kombucha)
  • large wide-mouth one-gallon glass jar (not plastic)
  • tea towel or paper towels
  • large rubber band
  • a bit of patience

Preparation:

In a large stockpot, heat the water. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the tea bags. Reduce heat. Steep for about 5-10 minutes and remove the bags. (Do not use metal utensils).

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Remove tea bags with non-metal utensil.

Remove from heat. Allow tea to cool completely. Pour the cooled, sweetened tea into the clean glass jar. (Rinse jar first with white vinegar, not dish soap which kills the SCOBY.) Add 2 cups of starter kombucha.

With clean/sterile hands (rinse hands in white vinegar), carefully place the SCOBY into the jar (SCOBY should float on top, but it’s OK if SCOBY sinks to bottom or goes sideways).

Place a tea towel or double layer of paper towels on top of jar and secure tightly with a rubber band. You want it to breathe, but you also need to keep bugs and dust away.

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Place jar in a warm, dark place where it will not be disturbed. Mark date. Keep out of direct sunlight.

Let the mixture sit for 7 to 10 days. To test the Kombucha, simply slip a straw into the liquid (underneath the clear film/SCOBY on top) and put your finger over the top of straw so you can taste it. DO NOT PLACE USED STRAW INTO KOMBUCHA AGAIN.

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Brew, baby, brew!

NOTE: It’s normal for brown strings to float below the SCOBY. You may also see sediment collecting at the bottom of the jar and bubbles collecting around the SCOBY.  These are all signs of healthy fermentation

The Kombucha should taste slightly sour, tangy, sweet and be a little fizzy. If the Kombucha is too sweet, let it sit a little longer. It could take up to 14 days depending on fermenting conditions. (If it tastes off at all, start over.)

Once the taste is to your liking, with clean hands carefully remove the SCOBY and reserve two cups of the kombucha. Set these aside and use to start another batch.

(The Kombucha will have produced a second SCOBY. Use this for other batches, store it as a backup SCOBY or share with a friend.)

Pour Kombucha into a glass (not plastic) jar or pitcher with a tight fitting plastic (not metal) lid. Store in your refrigerator. (You can strain Kombucha before bottling using a non-metal strainer.)

If your SCOBY develops holes, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use.  However, any sign of mold or a foul smell, discard and start over. (Remember, it should be FIZZY, not FUZZY!)

***

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You can drink your Kombucha plain or add flavors. The possibilities are endless!  My favorite combo is Ginger, Raspberry and Rosemary, straight from my garden. Simply pour the Kombucha in a jar (I used a quart mason) and infuse with your favorite fruit, fruit juice, herbs and spices.  Cover with a paper towel/cheesecloth and let sit for 24 to 48 hours.  Strain, then refrigerate.

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Raspberry Ginger Kombucha

So, will you be hooked after only one sip of this fizzy, fun drink? You bet your sweet Boocha!

Sharing my delicious Kombucha with Natural Living Monday, Busy Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Motivation Monday, Home and Garden Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Green Thumb Thursdays, Share Your Cup Thursday, Fiesta Friday, HomeAcre Hop, Real Food Fridays, GlutenFree Fridays, Great Idea Thursdays, Simple Saturday Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Farm Girl Friday, Link Party Palooza, LHITS DIY Linky, Weekend Bites, Creative Style Linkup, Old Fashioned Friday, Healthy Vegan Friday, Creative Mondays, Mouthwatering Mondays, Tuesdays With a Twist, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Tuesday Garden Party, Wellness Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Plant Based Potluck

This post was featured on:

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Photo of Scooby Doo courtesy of Yumingsu.com

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER: Information on SEEDYLAWYER.COM is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be a substitute for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk.  (After all, I’m just a Lawyer, not a Doctor.) As always, it is recommended to seek advice from your healthcare professional.

Bravo, Avocado! {raw recipe}

Homegrown Florida Avocados

My avocado-loving Dad always wanted his own tree. So a few years ago he hired a landscaper to plant a big, bad avocado tree in his South Florida yard. Like an impatient kid, my Dad waited for his new budding, guacamole-producing tree. He was soon to be the envy of all the neighbors!

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My Dad loves avocados!

The garden guy brought a huge back hoe (fancy, huh? – yeah, so was his bill!).  He and his crew dug a hole in my Pop’s yard big enough to land a Lear Jet. Oh, just the thought of endless avocados

The time came for the unveiling of the terrific tree. Filled with bursting anticipation, Dad skipped into his backyard. There it was… All three feet of it. The Charlie Brown Christmas Avocado Tree: A sad, lifeless, twig with one brown leaf. Heartbroken, my poor Dad hung his head in disbelief. Good Grief, Charlie Brown Dad. Sadly, at 80 years old, my father knew he would never pick his own avocados.

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Oh, but Darling Mother Nature must have had a crush on my adorable Dad. Just a few guacamole-less football seasons later, things began to change…

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Bloom, baby, bloom!

Voila! May I present my father’s tree featuring ginormous avocados! Ta-da! 

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Pop is so proud of his green goodies! If the Miami Dolphins ever run out of footballs, maybe they can use one of these! Oh, yeah, baby!

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Known to my Miami friends as La Avocado Abogada*, I quickly got my hands on some of Dad’s treasures!

(*Translation: The Avocado Attorney)

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One of Dad’s avocados (Persea americana) even had a huge root wrapped around the pit. I planted it and now my tree is bigger than Dad’s original tree! Ha!

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Avocado Tree I grew from Dad’s Avocado pit!

I love raw food recipes. Years ago, I bought Carol Alt’s Raw Food book. A recipe for a raw Chocolate Banana Shake made with avocado seemed too good to be true. A delicious (milkless) milkshake that’s actually good for you? Get out! No way! So I had to try it for myself…

OMG!! Move over Haagen-Dazs! This shake is:

Thick

Rich

Oh so Creamy

Chocolatey

Mouth-watering

A bit Banana-y

Frozen goodness

A blenderful of bliss

This fake shake is so darn good that I tricked all my friends and family into thinking it’s the calorie-packed, sinful, get-your-butt-to-the-gym, ice-cream shop real deal. I challenge you to do the same!

The results will make you yell,Bravo, Avocado!”

 

Raw Chocolate Banana Shake

Adapted from The Raw 50 by Carol Alt

Ingredients:

¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for about 2 hours, drained

¼ to ½ ripe pitted and peeled avocado

2 ripe bananas, sliced (preferably frozen)

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt

1 tablespoon raw agave nectar or raw honey

2 tablespoons raw cacao

½ cup non-dairy milk (I used chocolate almond milk; can use regular almond milk, flax milk, etc)

2 cup crushed ice

Preparation:

Blend first 7 ingredients in blender for 60 seconds.  Add ice and blend until reaching a thick milkshake-like consistency.  Add enough milk to reach desired consistency.  Blend.  Pour into glass and enjoy!

***

 

A nutrient-packed raw milkshake without the guilt! Cheers!

What is your favorite Avocado recipe?

I am sharing my ripe avocados with:  Green Idea Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Green Thumb Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Fiesta Friday, Home Acre Blog Hop, Real Food Fridays, Farm Girl Friday, Simple Meals Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Savoring Saturdays, Strut Your Stuff, The Party Brunch, Link Party Palooza, Little House Friday DIY Linky, Weekend Bites, Creative Style, Motivation Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday

Charlie Brown Photo by Charles Schultz Courtesy of  Anthony Peoples

Original photos by The Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

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White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream!

 “Never trust a skinny ice cream man.” Ben Cohen

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Homegrown Organic Raspberries

So you drop a small fortune on a tiny basket of raspberries at the store only to find the berries are smashed, rotten or moldy! Eww! I gave up on buying raspberries a long time ago. No more playing a fool for bad berries.

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Red, red raspberries!

But, then I found an organic red raspberry plant at the Farmer’s Market. I quickly learned that growing your own raspberries is easy!

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The Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is originally from Asia and is a member of the Rose Family. The most popular are red and black, but there are also purple and golden raspberries. Wow, delicious and beautiful colors, too. Take a look at my red beauties!

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Ohh-La-La!  Look what I grew!

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Tart, sweet and tasty, this delicate fruit is great in smoothies, jam and many baked goods. I made a mouth-watering puree to swirl into my homemade vanilla bean, white chocolate ice cream. Are you drooling yet?

The best part of this dessert is there are no calories! Okay, maybe just a few. But believe me, this sinful ice cream is worth every minute at the gym! Heck, I chomped on a cone while walking on the treadmill!

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“Life is like an ice-cream cone,

you have to lick it one day at a time.”

Charles M. Schulz 

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“Swirl, baby, swirl!”

 

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

A very rich, decadent ice cream made with a custard base and swirled with raspberry puree.

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Serves 12

Ingredients:

For Raspberry Puree:

2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

¼ cup sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

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Making Raspberry Puree

For Custard:

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup white sugar

1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped

1 pinch salt

5 large egg yolks

1 (8 ounce) package white chocolate chips

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Custard

 Preparation:

  1. Heat raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until raspberries begin to fall apart, 7 to 10 minutes. Press raspberries through a sieve over a bowl to remove the seeds; discard seeds. (Do not skip straining; it’s well worth the time.) Chill.
  2. Heat milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk egg yolks and about 1 cup warm milk mixture in a bowl; stir egg mixture into saucepan. Continue to cook and stir until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove vanilla bean (I strained custard into a bowl and returned to saucepan to remove all bits of vanilla bean.)
  4. Stir white chocolate chips into custard until melted. Pour custard into a large bowl and stir in heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions until it reaches “soft-serve” consistency.
  6. Gently swirl raspberries into the soft ice cream creating ribbons of raspberries. Transfer ice cream to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, ice cream should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.
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Swirl raspberry puree into custard.

Grab a (big) spoon and dive in!

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 ***

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“I scream, you scream, we all scream for

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream!

The Raspberry has been known to be a symbol for kindness. So be kind and share this ice cream with your friends! I am sharing my swirled deliciousness with my friends at Fiesta Friday #36.

Also shared on Green Thumb ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, HomeAcre Hop, Real Food Fridays, Motivational Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Homestead Barn Hop

In a “Berry” mood? Check out my posts on Wild Blueberries and Blackberries. Berry good!

Looking for an exotic ice cream? Why not try Lisa’s Lemongrass Ice Cream? Yum!

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

 

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Hot Mulled Cider! [recipe]

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“Give me juicy autumnal fruit,

ripe and red from the orchard.”

Walt Whitman, The Complete Poems

A gentle breeze blew my hair as I picked the summer’s last tomato. Ahhhhh-tumn! It’s that time! A comfy jacket in the morning. A warm scarf in the eve.  Ahhhh, yes, it’s Fall.

Soon the leaves will showcase a brilliant yellow, burnt orange and fire red. They shall dance with the wind just before painting the ground. Before long, my dogs will be leaping into the piles of fallen gold.

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

 Albert Camus

So long, summer tomatoes. Welcome, Fall apples! Cozy up with a steaming mug of Hot Mulled Cider.

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 “Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than any other seasons.”

Jim Bishop

Breathe in the bouquet of exotic spices with each magical sip of Hot Mulled CiderCheers to Autumn! 

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Hot Mulled Cider

Serves 10

Adapted from cooks.com

Ingredients:

2 quarts apple cider or pure apple juice

3 cinnamon sticks, plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon whole cloves

Ginger root (approx. 2 inch section), peeled and cut into 6 pieces

1/3 cup brown sugar

fresh grated nutmeg (to  serve)

Preparation:

In a saucepan combine apple cider, cinnamon sticks and ginger pieces. Wrap allspice and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth, and add to pot. Stir in brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into mugs. Top with fresh grated nutmeg. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.  Serve hot.

***

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Let’s celebrate National Hot Mulled Cider Day on September 30th. But I plan on sipping this cup of love every day of the season! Yum!

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 “Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”

William Cullen Bryant

What’s your favorite Cider recipe? How do you plan on celebrating Autumn?

I’m bringing my warm mug of Cider over to the party at Fiesta Friday #35, Melt in Your Mouth Monday Blog Hop #185, Natural Living Monday, Tuesdays With a Twist,  Fresh Foods Wednesday and  Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop # 172.  Join us!

Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

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Spice, Spice Baby!

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“But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity,

I shall remain till I collect as much as possible,

and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.”

– Christopher Columbus

Centuries ago spices were rare, exotic and extremely expensive. Luckily, today you don’t have to travel the world like Columbus in search of spices. A wide variety awaits you at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. You can even grow your own! Spices are economical, too. A little goes a long way.

And the good news is that you don’t have to be a Food Show Host or an amazing chef to “wow” your company with flavorful food.  You can spice up any dish.

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Cinnamon

“I really don’t think I need buns of steel.

I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon.”

– Ellen Degeneres

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) Cinnamon is the dried bark derived from either the cassia cinnamon plant, or the Ceylon cinnamon plant. Full of health benefits, it may also “decrease insulin resistance and improve blood sugar metabolism.” Cinnamon can even keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Sprinkle this fragrant spice on toast or oatmeal. Stir some into coffee, tea and hot cocoa. I add a pinch to my chili and stews for deeper flavor. Mix Cinnamon into cookies, pies and cakes. Sugar and Spice makes everything nice!


Ginger_SeedyLawyer

Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Ginger can be used fresh, powdered or dried. It is used as a spice and also for its therapeutic qualities. Ginger aids digestion, helps with nausea and is “nature’s anti-inflammatory.”

I love ginger ale and ginger tea, and even brew my own ginger beer!  I add raw ginger when juicing. It’s a great little kick to my smoothies. (Hint: keep pieces of fresh ginger in the freezer).  Add a dash of powdered ginger to your pie recipes.

I grow my own ginger. You can easily grow ginger in a container or your garden using a start from the grocery store. (Growing Ginger at Home)


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Tumeric

Turmeric  (Curcuma longa) A cousin of ginger, tumeric adds a vibrant yellow color and spice to many dishes including curries. I add turmeric to my vegetable stir fry.

Tumeric is known as one of the most powerful healers! It supports the digestive system and has many other important health benefits. “Turmeric is a liver cleanser and blood purifier, helping control cholesterol, as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen, and anti-bacterial”.

I also grow turmeric at home. (How to easily grow turmeric.)


Pepper_SeedyLawyer

Pepper

Pepper (Piper nigrum)  Today, pepper is one of the most common ingredients in recipes. It’s hard to believe that pepper was once so valuable that it was used as currency.  Packed with capsaicin, pepper has tons of  health benefits.

Fennel, cumin, hot pepper and turmeric can help keep you cool during the hot summer months. For an extra zip, add cracked pepper to marinades and grilled meats. Pep it up!


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Nutmeg

Nutmeg (Myristica) Actually a seed from a tree, Nutmeg is related to mace. Once thought to ward off the plague, Nutmeg was highly valuable. A bloody war was even waged by the Dutch in the 1600’s to control Nutmeg production!

Nutmeg is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It adds a great accent to spinach and greens. Autumn is fast approaching and my mulled cider, mulled wine and eggnog recipes all call for fresh nutmeg. I keep whole nutmeg in the freezer and grate it when needed.  I love fresh nutmeg!


Paprika_SeedyLawyer

Paprika (Capsicum annum) Made from ground dried roots of the chili pepper, Paprika adds a smoked, earthy flavor to dishes. Paprika releases its flavor and color when heated, adding a deep red to stews and rice.


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Vanilla

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) One of the world’s most fragrant and sought after spices, vanilla is harvested in pods from exotic orchids.  Vanilla has an interesting history.

Add paste from vanilla beans to homemade ice cream or a splash of vanilla extract to whipped cream. I always add vanilla when making French toast for Sunday brunch. (Make sure to use real vanilla not the imitation stuff!) Make your own vanilla extract with vanilla beans!


”This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.”

Julia Child

Julia was right! Spice is Nice: Try experimenting with common and exotic spices. Be a bit daring in your choices. Have fun! Remember, variety is the spice of life!

I am bringing my spice cabinet over to the party at Fiesta Friday #34!

Check out my recent post on: Healthy Herbs!

What is your favorite spice?  Do you grow any spices?

Photos courtesy of MommyKnows, Wiccked, Peddhapati and Roberta

Other photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

Blackberry Bourbon Blast [cocktail recipe]

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Blackberry Bourbon Blast

Like Little Red Riding Hood, I skipped along the NC mountains. Carrying my little white pail, I searched for the juiciest blackberries. The only problem was that my big brothers were in search of ME! You see, my mom sent us out every summer day to harvest the wild berries. When we returned home, we had time to play.

So of course my brothers quickly figured out a short cut: Steal their little sister’s blackberries! Oblivious to the Big Brother Bad Wolves, my pigtails and I would bounce down the mountain, happily plucking berries for Mom’s jam.

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Picking Blackberries in NC with my brother.

But once I filled my bucket, I would be pounced on, trampled and left in a puddle of mountain mud. No, it wasn’t a black bear. Worse, it was my Brat Brothers! Defeated, I would stomp back home covered in red clay, with thorns sticking out of my pigtails. I itched all over from being tossed into Poison Ivy. Every day!

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I may have been little, but Boy, was I tough! Never a quitter, I tried outsmarting my Stealing Siblings. I took off every morning just after the rooster’s first crow. I carved out secret mountain paths and hid behind huge trees. But they would ALWAYS find me AND my blackberries! I couldn’t escape the Blackberry Thieves. So I vowed to one day grow my own blackberries!

(Fast forward a few decades) Upon my return to NC, I bought a blackberry plant at the Farmer’s Market.  I held onto my new plant like a mother cradles her newborn.

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Me and my Blackberry Plant at The Farmers Market.

Planting my baby blackberry bush in my garden, I smiled, and waited…

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 And waited….

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Wait for it..

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Almost there…

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Alas!

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My very first blackberry!

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Harvest time! With my hair in a braid (I outgrew pigtails a few years ago), and equipped with my little white pail, I carefully picked my juicy gems. If only my brothers could see me now! Ha!

It was the perfect Summer day, cooled by the mountain breeze with the sun spot-lighting my blackberries.  In slow motion, berry-by-perfect-berry, I proudly filled my small bucket. My lips turned purple from kissing each sweet, succulent berry.

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Then suddenly I heard footsteps! Fast, galloping footsteps, coming closer and closer! No way! Not again! Impossible that my Berry-thief Brothers found me! My heart stopped, I dropped my bucket and frantically turned around…

It was only my rescue Lab chasing a butterfly behind me.  Phew! I exhaled, chuckled, and celebrated MY beautiful blackberries with a well-deserved drink:

BLACKBERRY BOURBON BLAST!

My cocktail is:

Remarkably Refreshing

Tastes like Summer!

Sangria-like (You get to eat all the fruit afterwards!)

A tad spicy

Sexier than a Chris Isaak music video

Crisp and sparkling

Tickles your throat

Full of health benefits!

Earthy with bits of fresh basil

Subtly sweet from mountain honey and the sugared rim

Smooooothh!

A drink I will not be sharing with my brothers! LOL

Worthy of George Thorogood

Berri-licious! 

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Blackberry Bourbon Blast

Blackberry Bourbon Blast

Serves 1

Adapted from Self Magazine

Ginger Beer adds a spicy kick. Dark honey sweetens tart blackberries. Basil adds a floral and earthy flavor and texture. And the bourbon, well… Bam!

Ingredients:

6 fresh basil leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

12 fresh blackberries, divided

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon dark honey or pure maple syrup

¼ cup ginger beer, chilled (non-alcoholic, available in supermarkets or health food stores)

2 Tablespoons Bourbon (optional – yeah, right!)

Raw sugar for rim

Ice

Preparation:

Lightly wet the rim of a rocks glass and dip into raw sugar to coat rim. In glass, gentle muddle basil and 9 blackberries with lemon juice and honey.  Fill glass with ice.  Add bourbon, stir. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with basil and remaining blackberries. Serve immediately. Cheers!

***

blackberryandginger_seedylawyer

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – George Thorogood (Click on link for song)

I am bringing my concoction over to the party at Fiesta Friday #33.

Do you have Summer vacation memories? What’s your favorite Blackberry recipe?

All original Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.