Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays

Taking a short break to enjoy Christmas with my family.  Be back after the New Year.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season from my family to yours.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kentucky 95 Cocktail

An American twist on the classic French 75 replacing cognac with bourbon.  An easy elegant cocktail to add to your holiday festivities.

I am smiling. I put the glasses together for this photograph and obviously one of us had already began to enjoy the cocktail before I could get a proper photograph.

Kentucky 95 Cocktail
Serves 1
Recipe from Bobby Flay

3/4 ounce good quality bourbon
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
3/4 ounce Simple syrup ( 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved) note* can be stored in the refrigerator in a well sealed container for up to 1 month.
Ice cubes
Champagne or other dry sparkling wine, chilled
Lemon twist, for serving

Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, orange juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with 6 ice cubes.  Shake for 10 seconds before straining into a wine glass and topping with champagne and a lemon twist.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Krista Bjorn

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Fast Weeknight Wonder: Oregano Lemon Chicken

A fast delicious meal does not get any easier than baked chicken with lemon and oregano.

Served up with fresh greens with a light vinaigrette and basmati rice to soak up all the pan juices.

Oregano Lemon Chicken
Serves 6
Recipe from Taste of Home

6 bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano

1.  Place the chicken in a 13-in. x by 9-in. baking dish.  Combine the lemon juice, honey, oil, garlic and oregano; Pour over chicken.

2.  Bake, uncovered at 375F. for 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180F, basting occasionally with pan juices.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Chef Christo Gonzales

Friday, November 29, 2013

Learning to Preserve: Meyer Lemon Jelly with Vanilla

I have just a few short weeks to harvest, preserve and enjoy my Meyer lemons.

This season I am sharing more of the bounty with friends and experimenting with new ideas.  First out of the gate is a Meyer lemon jelly with a hint of vanilla.  This a wonderful out of the ordinary jelly that would be delightful served generously on muffins or scones, or served along side a casual cheeseboard.  

Meyer Lemon with Vanilla Jelly
Makes 4 Half-Pints
Recipe from Butter Yum

15 ounces of Meyer Lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained
3-1/2 cups vanilla sugar (note*-if you do not have vanilla sugar you can substitute 3-1/2 cups of sugar with the seeds from one vanilla bean).
1 pouch liquid pectin

Prepare 4-half pint jars with lids.  In a non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat bring lemon juice and sugar to a boil; continue to boil for 1 full minute (remove any foam that forms).  Stir in liquid pectin and bring to a boil for 1 more minute.  Remove from heat, and ladle hot jelly into prepared jars.  Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Image from Bing

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fix and Freeze Soup-Chicken and Brisket Brunswick Stew

Brunswick stew is a popular dish similar to a thick vegetable soup with meat, and like most soups and stews there are a million variations.

Two places claim to be the origin of Brunswick stew Brunswick County Virginia and Brunswick Georgia-It appears that claiming the origin of this stew is serious business.

In the past this soup did not appeal to me until I saw a friend prepare it for her grandchild's bring to school  "Family Recipe Day" Suddenly I was inspired.  This version is a thick Georgia style stick to your ribs version, and to reflect my state of mind, true to form, it is a batch and freeze kind of soup. Or it is a crowd pleaser on a Sunday afternoon.

This stew is a keeper and during the cooler months this hits the spot.

Chicken and Brisket Brunswick Stew
Serves 8
Recipe from Southern Living

2 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 tablespoon jarred beef soup base
2 lb. skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 (28-oz.) can fire-roared crushed tomatoes
1 (12-oz) package frozen white shoe peg or whole kernel corn
1 (10-oz) package frozen cream-style corn, thawed
1 (9-oz) package frozen baby lima beans
1 (12-oz) bottle chili sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 lb. chopped barbecue beef brisket without the sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Hot sauce (optional)

1.  Sauté onions and garlic in hot oil in a 7.5-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.

2.  Stir together beef soup base and 2 cups water, and add to Dutch oven.  Stir in chicken and next 9 ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 hours.

3.  Uncover and shred chicken into large pieces using 2 forks.  Stir in brisket and lemon juice.  Cover and cook 10 minutes.  Serve with hot sauce, if desired.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Dirt Road Iowa

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fix and Freeze Hearty Italian Soup

When I am feeling stressed, tired and overwhelmed that there are not enough hours in the day, week or month,  I start to crave time in my kitchen.  My kitchen is my sanctuary where I retreat to relocate my center of gravity.  I lean towards preparing comfort foods, preserving seasonal bounty or indulge in batch cooking to ease my disorganized meal plan ideas that will surely plague me during the week.

Today, it was all about "Fix and Freeze" soup.  The recipe for this hearty soup was adapted from a recipe found in Southern Living.  I used chorizo instead of mild Italian sausage, kale from the garden instead of spinach, dried navy beans (soaked overnight), and added carrots too.  I had 8-quarts of this soup simmering on the stove on this cloudy Sunday afternoon.  I stored a few containers for the work week lunches and a few quarts for the freezer.

A loaf of crusty bread, and a salad and this would be a great meal. It is hearty and delicious.

Hearty Italian Soup
Serves 8
Recipe adapted from Southern Living

1-lb. chorizo
2tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (48-oz.) chicken stock
2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 ( 14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
3 large carrots, chopped
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 (small bunch kale
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil
Freshly shaved parmesan cheese

1.  Cook sausage in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove sausage from Dutch oven, reserving drippings in Dutch oven.  Sauté onion in hot drippings  3 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.  Cut sausage into 1/4-inch thick slices, and return to Dutch oven.

2.  Stir chicken broth and next 4 ingredients into sausage mixture; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes.

3.  Stir in kale and next two ingredients; cook stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes or until kale is wilted.  Top each serving with Parmesan cheese. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine
"Mountain Top View"

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ginger Fizz Cocktail

Keeping the holidays simple can be a real challenge.  It is easy to get over ambitious with menu planning and entertaining.  While the planning is the fun part, the game day execution can get stressful fast.

Holidays are for making memories and spending time with family and friends.  I realize that I will not be able to avoid holiday stress entirely but, certainly I am going to give it my best effort.

These cocktails are a good start to holiday entertaining.   The Prosecco is spiked with a ginger syrup and served up with a few light bites is a nice way to kick-off the holiday season.

Ginger Fizz Cocktail
Serves 8


Ginger Syrup
Bring one 3" piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup raw or granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Let cool.  Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a small jar or bowl; discard ginger. 

Note: Syrup can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Pour 1/4 oz.  ginger syrup in each coupe glass.  Divide evenly, top off with two 750-ml bottles Prosecco (about 5 oz. per glass) and garnish with a thin slice of clementine or orange slice.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine
Blue Ridge Mountain View

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Supper: Perfect Roast Chicken

 Simple, real food on this Sunday shared with family and friends is what eating is all about....Enjoy!

Perfect Roast Chicken
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Ina Garten

2- 5-6 lb. Roasting Chickens
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head of garlic, cut in half, crosswise
Sprigs of Rosemary
2 lemons quartered
2 medium onions quartered
Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove any excess fat, pin feathers and pat the outside dry.  Generously salt and pepper the inside of the chickens.  Stuff the cavities with sprigs of rosemary, quarters of lemons, onion and garlic.  Brush the outside of the chickens with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper again.

Roast the chickens for approximately 2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh.  Remove the chickens from the roasting pan an cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes.  Slice, serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rock Your Crockpot: A Family Favorite Pot Roast

When I move into crazy ass mode by mid week, or have lost my kitchen groove, and a family meal is still required this is when my slow cooker emerges from the depths of my cabinetry, and makes it way to my counter top.  A slow cooked meal can produce a weeknight/weekend wonder meal.  With two working parents and a teenager on the go, my slow-cooker has been a life saver.

Most of you have your own version of a slow-cooked pot roast  This is mine.  In my opinion, taking a few minutes to season and brown your meat, before placing it in the crockpot makes all the difference.

Layer your vegetables, add liquid (water, wine, etc.) and turn your crock pot to low, and walk away.

Rock Your Crockpot: Pot Roast
Serves 4-6

1 (3-4lb) boneless chuck roast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 bay leaves
A sprig of rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 beef bouillon cubes
3-4 large potatoes, cut into chunks
3-4 large carrots, cut into thick slices
1/2 cup white wine 

Combine the sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder into a small bowl.  Rub roast on all sides with seasoning.  

Heat a Dutch oven other skillet over high heat with olive oil, and sear roast on all sides until brown.  Place roast in a slow cooker, and layer potatoes, carrots, bay leaves and crushed bouillon.  Add wine, and enough water to cover the ingredients.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson

Friday, October 18, 2013

Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter

Acorn squash is often harvested in late summer, stores easily for several months, and is often enjoyed during the fall and winter.  This winter squash is not as rich in beta carotene as some of its cousins but is high in fiber and potassium, and delivers a meal or side dish that is satisfying.

I have read that acorn squash is easy to grow and is planted after the last threat of frost.  Next season I am planning to try my hand growing winter squashes (acorn and butternut) along side my summer squashes (zucchini and yellow crooked neck).

This baked acorn squash proves that fresh and simply prepared equals delicious.

Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter
Serves 2
Recipe from Food Network

1 acorn squash cut in half
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Scoop the seeds out of the cavities and discard.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt and pepper, to taste.  Rub the squash cavities and cut sides of squash with butter mixture and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 1-hour until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.  Serve 1 half per person.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Krista Bjorn

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Scenes From My Pantry: Pumpkin Pancakes

I can stare into my pantry in July with my shelves lined with "this and that," and look straight at the can of pumpkin and completely ignore it.  Looking through my pantry in October that same can of pumpkin will immediately capture my attention.  Grocery store shelves are lined with Libby's canned pumpkin all year.  So, why is it only enjoyed in the fall?

My new challenge has been how do I fuel my fifteen year old's body to support his passion for playing soccer.  He arrives home and manages to tear through cabinets for a quick carb fix, this may include an almost entire box of  Pop Tarts (I know bad mom).  I am always on the hunt for quick meals for him when his body is burning everything that it has coming through it-

I searched the pantry and came across the items needed to make a stack of homemade pumpkin pancakes.  This was a quick, more nutritious than a box of Pop Tarts way of giving my son the needed fuel on the soccer field.  Served with a tall glass of whole cold milk made for a decent balance for him.

The pancakes were really good.  A great light texture with a mild flavor of pumpkin laced with warm fall spices of cinnamon, allspice and ginger.  I even made an extra batch of pancakes and placed them in the freezer for later.

Proof that pancakes are not just for breakfast anymore.

Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 12 pancakes
Recipe from Allrecipes.com

1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg , oil and vinegar.  Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a separate bowl.  Stir into pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

2.  Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Leonardo Scarnici

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Life Simplified: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Parmesan

My life mantra is "Keep it simple".....I have repeated this so often to myself, and to others that I almost believe it is possible.  My daily life, I am my own worst enemy.  I always seem to have a "to do" list a mile long, and only feel productive if I am checking off my list, while adding to it.  

When I feed people, I have learned that simple is best. It is not about fancy food, complicated and expensive ingredients, and overtime in the kitchen-  it is about sitting down and sharing a meal with my family and friends.  I rarely complicate it, it is not my style.  Now, if I could feel that comfort level with my daily life, it would rock. Cooking in a simplistic way reminds me that it is possible to make it happen in daily living.  I realize it is probably one of the reasons why I enjoy cooking and feeding people so very much.

 Eggs should not be relegated to weekend cooking only. There are so many healthy and simple ways to  enjoy the "Incredible, edible egg"

Scrambled Eggs With Spinach and Parmesan
Serves 1
Recipe from Bon Appetit

Pull the eggs off the heat when they still look a little loose: carryover cooking will do the rest.

Whisk 2 large eggs in a small bowl; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.  Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 3 cups baby spinach and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute.  Add eggs; cook, stirring occasionally, until just set, about 1 minute.  Stir in 1-2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan.  Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Leonardo Scarnici

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Original Daiquiri Cocktail

The Daiquri is a classic cocktail which may come as a surprise to many, who have enjoyed the frozen blender variety.  This cocktail was made famous at the El Floridita restaurant in Havana, Cuba early in the 20th century (Hemingway always ordered doubles at El Floridita).

This is a very smooth cocktail.  A nice balance between sharp and sweet.  Once you find the perfect balance of light rum, sharp citrus juice and simple syrup then you want to stick to those measurements.

Last week when the harvest moon was huge in the sky this would have been a beautiful pairing enjoyed side by side with Mother Nature.

Turn on the music, invite a few friends, and shake-up a few of these cocktails.  The world will be a better place for it.

Original Daiquiri Cocktail
Serves 1
Recipe from Cool Cocktails

2 oz. golden rum
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
2 barspoons simple syrup

Measure all the ingredients and pour into an ice-filled shaker.  Shake and strain into a frosted martini glass.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

  Tomatoes on the Vine

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Learning to Preserve: Easy Spicy Habanero Mint Jelly

The summer garden has come to an end.   The abundance of hot peppers is winding down too.  The peppers will continue to produce (albeit at a slower rate) until the first frost in December.  However,  I am finished for the season trying to preserve peppers, and this jelly was a nice end to a great season.

This pepper jelly with a hint of mint is not too sweet or to mild.  It has just enough heat to give you a slight kick in the pants without overwhelming your palate.

I don't think about spreading this pepper jelly on my toast in the morning but this would be amazing to glaze meats, or on top a wheel of soft brie, a block of warm cream cheese, or as an extra layer in your grilled cheese sandwich.

A few jars of homemade pepper jelly stashed in your pantry for use throughout the year is probably a good idea.

Spicy Habanero Mint Jelly
Makes 9 (8-ounce jars)
Recipe from Southern Living

Bring 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, process 1-1/2 pounds red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped; 3 habanero peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped; 1 small onion, coarsely chopped; and 1/2 cup white vinegar in a food processor until finely chopped.  Pour mint mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a large Dutch oven, pressing mint with a wooden spoon to release flavors.  Discard mint.  Add pepper mixture, 7 cups sugar, 1 cup white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice to Dutch oven.  Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring often; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in 2 (3-oz.) packages liquid pectin.  Return to heat, and bring to a boil, stirring often,  Boil, stirring constantly 1 minute; remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes; skim off foam with metal spoon, if necessary.  Pour hot mixture into 9 (8-ounce) hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/4-inch from top.  Seal and process.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Krista Bjorn

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kiwi Fruit Martini Cocktail

Using the juice of ripe tropical fruit muddled into a cocktail shaker with just a hint of simple syrup and good quality vodka makes for the creation of a modern martini.

This martini is delicious, glamorous and proof that simple makes the statement.

Kiwi Martini Cocktail
Serves 1 (easily doubled)
Recipe from Cool Cocktails

2 oz. vodka (or more if you choose)
A dash of simple syrup
1 fresh kiwi

Crush a peeled sliced ripe kiwi in a shaker, using a muddler or flat end of a bar spoon.  Add ice, the measure of vodka and simple syrup to taste.  Shake and strain into a frosted martini glass.  Garnish with a slice of kiwi.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Eliza Schneider-Green

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Learning To Preserve: Mango Chutney

Mango trees growing-up were abundant throughout south Florida.  Neighborhoods were filled with backyard trees that were 35-40-feet tall.  In the summer branches were heavy with hundreds of ripe mangoes.  Companies would often scour the neighborhoods and offer to buy the fruit directly from the tree, and then would bring in equipment to shake the tree loose of its fruit.  It was not uncommon to see a "Sold" sign on the tree before the equipment arrived to indicate to other buyers that the fruit of this tree was taken.

You could get a large paper grocery bag filled to the rim with fresh shaken from the tree mangoes for a couple of bucks.  They were everywhere during the season.   If only I had the appreciation then like I do now for fresh mangoes.

A good sale on mangoes this past week provided the motivation needed to tackle the task of preserving mangoes by learning how to make chutney.

To this day, I peel mangoes in a terrible way..........

But, in a pot you can't tell.  

I plan on showing off the flavors of my freshly prepared mango chutney by using it in a special chicken dish, as a condiment on a cheese board with a good bottle of wine, and mixing a few tablespoons with softened butter, cilantro and a pinch of cayenne for an enjoyable mango fruit butter.

The ideas are endless.

Mango Chutney
Makes 5 cups
Recipe from Epicurious

3 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1-1/2 cups (375 mL.) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL.) finely chopped onion
1/2 cup (125 mL.) golden raisins
1/2 cup ( 125 mL.) white vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL.) finely chopped ginger root
1 tablespoon (15 mL.) lemon juice
2 teaspoons (10 mL.) curry powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL.) each: ground nutmeg, cinnamon and salt

1.  Combine apples, mangoes, red pepper, sugar, onion, raisins, vinegar, and ginger root in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for 20 minutes or until fruit is tender and mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.  Add lemon juice, curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt: boil gently for 5 minutes.

2.   Remove hot jars from canner and ladle chutney into jars to within 1/2-inch (1 cm) of rim (head space).  Process 10 minutes for half-pint (250 mL.) jars and 15 minutes for pint (500 mL.) jars as directed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Lisa LazarusBrown
Apalachee Beekeepers Association

Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer Vegetable "Ceviche"

I am visual by nature.  If I can visualize it,  I can usually grasp it.  Which is why salad appeals to my food nature with its potentially vivid colors, flavors and textures.  Salad can be bold and really make a statement or it can be bland with little color or vitality.  Taking pride in preparing a salad that invites your eyes and appetite into the journey is a salad worthy of your palate and time.

Look at the bounty of colors, flavors and textures in this summer "ceviche" salad.

Fresh summer bounty of fruits and vegetables marinated in a classic ceviche of lime juice, olive oil and cilantro.

Summer Vegetable "Ceviche"
Serves 8
Recipe from Food and Wine

1 cup fresh baby Lima beans or other shelling bean
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Sea salt
1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

1.  In a small saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the Lima beans until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño and shallot; season  the dressing with salt.  Gently fold in the Lima beans, corns, nectarines, avocado, orange pepper and tomatoes.  Refrigerate the "ceviche" for at least 2 hours.  Fold in the cilantro just before serving and serve the "ceviche" chilled.

The salad can refrigerated for up to 8 hours.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Ton Vanvliet

Friday, August 23, 2013

Part II: The Inspiration of an Unintended Beekeeper

Beekeeping is more than just loving honey, it requires that you be prepared to learn new life lessons taught to you by your bees or be reinforced from the perspective of bees.

Bees are one nature's most fascinating insects, they are the only insects to make honey and are depended upon for 80% of the pollination needed for the world's fruits, nuts and vegetables.  You may want to think about that next time you bite into a summer peach, take a handful of nuts and put them in your mouth, or are trying to figure out how to make your grandmother's squash casserole recipe.

About 4 weeks after the hive was set up and the queen introduced to her new workers, it was time to check the health of the hive.  This means it is time to open up the hive and take a close look at the activity inside your bees new home, and with any luck you will see the queen or at least be able to identify that she is indeed working.

The bees here doing something that is called bearding-it means that the bees are hot and they have stepped on the front porch to cool off and have a beer.  A lesson here is you are clearly out numbered and the bees may not take kindly to the hive being disturbed.  Moral of the story? Just like everyday life, timing is critical.

It takes a certain amount of bravery or lack of experience to smoke a hive on a cloudy day.  My son was brave and he had no experience which meant he was willing to take the risk.  

An angry bee stung him in the arm.  His body overreacted to the venom and his arm swelled, it took a week or more to eliminate the swelling.  Lesson here...it may be time to buy a bee suit because it is going to become clear quickly that his body does not respond well to bee stings.

By the way it rained for 34 days here in Tallahassee and there seemed there was no end to our cloudy days, which made for some wild and crazy bees.

The hive is opened and the young bees are doing fine.

Wait, Wait, look the there is the queen! Look closely she has a painted red dot.

Bee fact: The queen lays about 2000 eggs per day and will select the gender of the larvae.  Most will be female. The only males in the hives are the drones which sole purpose is to service the queen.  The drones have no stinger.  Typically in the fall the Drones are led out of the hive by the female worker bees as the drones usefulness to the queen has expired.

Let's admit it takes a leap of faith and courage to hang out with the honey bees.  The life lesson here there is always risk when the return is worthy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Chef Christo Gonzalez

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lemony Frozen-Yogurt Terrine with Blueberries and Mango

This is a genius idea...Why not take homemade frozen yogurt with fresh lemon juice, and layer it in a loaf pan with summer fruits like mangoes and blueberries....then take it to another level and add a handful of pistachios.

What you have is a creative and beautifully presented dessert that is light, healthy and fabulous.

Lemony Frozen-Yogurt Terrine with Blueberries and Mango
Serves 8
Recipe from Food and Wine

1 quart plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 cup turbinado sugar, preferably light golden
1-1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 mangoes-peeled, cut off the pit and coarsely chopped (3 cups)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 pint blueberries (1 cup)
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios

1.  Line an 8-by 4 inch metal or glass loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a few inches of over hang all around.  In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and whisk until smooth.  Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions; the yogurt should be frozen but still spreadable.

2.  Meanwhile,in a food processor, combine the mangoes, honey and cream and puree until smooth.  Transfer half of the mango puree to a bowl and refrigerate.

3.  Working quickly, spread one-third of the frozen yogurt in the prepared loaf pan in 1/2-inch layer.  gently spread half of the unrefrigerated mango puree on top and scatter with some of the blueberries and pistachios; gently push them into the puree.  Repeat with another third of frozen yogurt and the remaining mango puree, blueberries and pistachios.  Spread the remaining frozen yogurt on top.  Cover and freeze the terrine until firm, at least 8 hours or up to 5 days.

4.  Carefully unmold the terrine onto a platter; peel off the plastic wrap.  Cut the terrine into 1/2-inch-thick slices, rinsing the knife under hot water and drying it between cuts.  Serve with the chilled mango puree.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Andi at Green Basket

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Part I: The Inspiration of an Unintended Beekeeper

Life surprises me in ways that are not earth shattering or life changing but are in response to unique extraordinary events that are outside of my ordinary experiences.  These moments often provide me with clarity in this journey we call life.  The inspiration from our son the beekeeper was one of those experiences.

If you told me that my young adult son would be inspired by his uncle who raises bees as a hobby and he would spend almost a year learning everything he could about bees...and that inspiration would lead to a real live bee hive, I would have squinted my eyes, twisted the corners of my mouth, shook my head in both directions and said "Probably not"...Well, what do I know, and this is proof that obviously, I don't know much.

His passage into the foray of beekeeping was inspiring.  The inspiration that I was experiencing was the joy of sharing these moments with my son.  Each time I recognized more sharply that our son was  defining his own journey.  His interests are clearly expressed in his own style, and they are 100% owned by him.  This is the part where parents bump their fists, smile and make note that we are officially spectators now, and the journey belongs to him.

 The arrival of his Italian Honey Bees

Checking on his queen who will be introduced into the hive in her marshmallow cage (yes, you read that right...her marshmallow cage)

His focus was razor sharp and his calmness with handling the bees was impressive

His younger brother who was in the background whispered "My brother the Bee whisperer"

The release of the bees were a success. 

The journey begins here. Beekeeping is well into its third month. The bees are active and healthy.