“One Of These Mornings You’re Gonna Rise Up Singing”*

I haven’t been writing much for the past two months for reasons I hope to blog about soon. Basically, life has gotten in the way. This is a post from a couple of years ago that still makes sense. I’m surprised by how consistent I am. I edited a little and the photos are new.

WE ARE RACING TOWARD SUMMER, AREN’T WE?

It’s feels to me, after such a long and difficult winter, that spring lasted no time at all. April seemed to go by in the blink of an eye and incredibly, we celebrated the unofficial start to summer last weekend with Memorial Day.

When I realized we were quickly coming to summer’s front door, I initially had an anxiety attack thinking of all the springtime activities and chores I haven’t yet gotten done. (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a list maker.) But then I relaxed and allowed myself to think about the things I have enjoyed this spring, which is a much healthier exercise.

I was fortunate enough to watch the progression of buds to blooms to leaves on the trees and the pushing up of flowering plants from inside the ground to up  toward the sun.

I put the first of this year’s tomato plants and herbs into the garden. While planting the herbs, I held some aside to make some air fresheners, teas and lotions. I naturally have more energy come spring so I’ve been walking in the nature preserve to bird watch and I got to see goslings make their initial appearance at the pond’s edge.  Also, after talking about it ALL winter, I finally got to take the little people to the playground for a game of Hide ‘n Peek Seek. I engaged in each of those activities and enjoyed them completely in the moment as they happened. So if it seems that the springtime flew by, it is only in retrospect.

I hope you enjoyed your spring and that summer will be an equally wonderful set of precious moments for you. I hope you’ll find the recipes below useful. And lastly, I hope you had a great Memorial Day and thanks so much for reading.

*Lyric from “Summertime” by DuBose Heyward from Porgy and Bess

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Baking Soda Air Fresheners

Mason jars
Baking soda
Essential oils, I use lavender, rosemary or lemon
Dried herbs (optional)
Fill the jars to 3/4 with baking soda, leaving a little room on top. Add about 5 or more drops essential oils and stir. Sprinkle on top about a tablespoon of matching herbs to whichever oil you’ve used. (Some people punch holes in the jar lids and screw them on. I never bother, preferring to leave the jars topless.) Shake gently occasionally to reactivate the oils. The lingering aroma will be subtle but fabulously fragrant.

 

DIY Lotion

2 oz Shea Butter
2 oz Vitamin E oil
1 oz Jojoba oil
1 oz Lanolin
1/2 tsp essential oil
All of these measurements are approximate. I find its good to play with the proportions so you get just the right mixture for your skin type. Also, I cut the amount of Lanolin from the original recipe because I don’t care for the smell.

Before We Continue……

IMG_2047Brrr…..It’s finally starting to get cold here in Virginia. As happens every year, the increasing cold weather has caused my body to crave food that will bulk me up for the winter. It’s a occurrence that proves my primal link to nature. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, as a result I’ve been cooking like a fiend and putting up delights for colder days. I froze the last of the season peaches and pears in homemade syrup. And I preserved a wonderful jam thanks to the recipe Marrow (Squash) & Ginger Jam by WordPress blogger Random Thoughts. Since I had some ingredients left over from making the jam, I made some Squash and Apple soup  as well. This time a year I spend lots of time making soup. As is well documented, soup is a soul nurturer and spirit lifter.

I’m not a domestic goddess by any means but I buy into the idea that taking time for the preparation of fresh, basic foods is important for good health. I used to have a Recipe Page on this blog but it got lost in my redesign. I’ve decided that I do want to share some of them, so here are two cold weather recipes from past posts.

Healing Super Broth

This is a recipe is based on one that I first discovered on the CarePages website (I made it for my husband while he was battling cancer.) but I’ve seen variations on other websites including drhyman.com and doctoroz.com. I use it as the base for most of the broth soups I make. You can also drink the broth alone. For every three quarts of water add:
1 large onion
2 chopped carrots
1 cup of winter squash cut into large cubes
1 cup of root vegetables (I use parsnips) for sweetness
2 cups of chopped greens (I use kale, collard greens or chard)
2 celery stalks,
including tops
½ cup of sea weed
½ cup of cabbage
4 ½-inch slices of fresh ginger
2 cloves of whole garlic (not chopped or crushed)
Salt, to taste
Add all the ingredients at once and bring to a low boil (remember that boiling reduces the vitamins) then simmer for approximately 60 minutes. It may take a little longer. Simply continue to simmer to taste. Cool, strain (throw out the cooked vegetables), and store in a large, tightly-sealed glass container in the fridge. Makes: 2 quarts

IMG_1160Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Pancetta

This is another winter soup recipe to warm the body and soul. I got this recipe from the Hannaford Supermarket flyer 6 or 7 years ago. They billed it as “naturally thick and creamy without the addition of cream or butter.” Let’s face it the pancetta is what gives it the flavor. Bacon (even turkey) will work too but honestly, not as well. The original recipe called for thyme but I use rosemary instead because I think it compliments the pancetta.
1 ½ tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ lb pancetta, sliced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cord and cut into chunks
1 cup Vegetable broth
½ cup water
In a large pot, heat first amount of oil over moderate heat. Add the pancetta and cook about 4 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel. 
Add remaining oil to the pot. Add the onions and cook 8 to 10 minutes over moderate heat until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the squash, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook; stirring for 5 minutes. Add the apples, vegetable broth (or chicken), and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. 
Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until squash and apples are tender. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth in a blender or food processor. 
Add the mixture back to the pot and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Crumble the pancetta and add half to the soup; taste for seasoning. 
Serve piping hot with the remaining pancetta sprinkled on top. Serves 6

Bon appetit and stay warm!!

 

I Can Get There From Here

Things got out of hand in February
Things got out of hand in February

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I didn’t mean for it to be so long. I’d been doing so well too. I’d been reading and writing everyday. I’d gotten up to going three days a week to my library “office”. I was going to my writers group meetings regularly and loving it. I’d even started taking on the WP daily prompts, not to publish but just as an exercise. The last one I wrote was the 2/22  “Seconds….describe your most satisfying meal”. I wrote the description with a sharpened literary sensibility and developed a grandiose plan for pairing it with a recipe for the soup I described.

But then the weight of February fell on me and stopped me in my tracks for a while. The photo is real. Things got out of hand in February. I had to get the tax papers together. I use the word “together” loosely. (On April 16th of every year I erase all memory of how much work goes into tax preparation so I’m always surprised and inadequately organized the following year.)

And the vacuum broke. Like most appliances made these days, my vacuum’s too cheap to take to be  repaired. (Take it where?) I can’t afford another cheap one so I took mine apart and put it back together. It was time consuming and I don’t know which one of the many parts was the problem but it works now.

And of course I had to make the choice between writing and the mounting number of projects related to  the imminent appearance of our newest family member.  I have to keep the phone on even in the library so I don’t miss The Call. That decision was a no-brainer since the little person and I have been waiting for this baby for months. (There’s been talk of forming a girl group.)

And I can’t find my pants.

This kind of complexity and confusion in everyday details used to frustrate me. In the past I’d give up on trying to write everyday if I missed a few days and blame myself for lack of organization. We all know that life throws curve balls.  The challenge for me has always been accepting when the curve balls don’t roll down my straight path of plans. I still make plans but I don’t set them in stone anymore. These days I’m confident  I can successfully make my way on my journey because I don’t feel as though I have to take any particular route. I just need to pick the right one for the right time. I finally get that it’s great to be efficient but it’s also great to be attentive, appreciative and active in the right now.  It’s March now and I’m going to post that recipe today even though it feels like it’s a month late. I’m going to add the beautiful description with it too… And I’m ready to go when I get The Call, but I’ll have to wear a skirt.

Please go to the Heaven’s Menu page for my Pasta Fagioli Soup recipe.