THE GREEN WITCH by Arin Murphy Hiscock

To be honest, I’ve put off posting about this book wanting to make sure it wasn’t going to be too offensive to anyone – or to myself. I wanted to get far enough into the book to see if it was just too ‘woo-woo’.

⁣Thankfully, it is what I hoped it would be – a celebration of living in partnership with our environment.

There is a craving – similar to pregnancy cravings – that will strike me and I’ll say to Scott, ‘I’ve got to get out in nature.’ When I have been isolated too much, or too busy trying to meet deadlines or too ANYTHING, my therapy is to place myself into nature. Tree bathing. Grounding. Whatever you want to call it, there is a recalibration that happens when I can breath in clean air and notice the magnitude of the natural world around me.

Of course, that’s not always an option, so I try to work with scents and homegrown elements for natural healing and mood enhancement and many many many times, for antioxidants and anti-inflammatory treatments. Whether it’s the sourced food we eat or the natural cleaner made with rosemary from our backyard, I truly believe the further we get from nature, the further we are from the environment in which we were created to live.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am neither vegan nor a purist, but we can all attempt to make changes in some areas of our lives.

THE GREEN WITCH includes ways in which we can use the natural things around us whether it be wood for cabinetry or gardenias for tranquility. There are recipes for Digestive Tea or a homemade balm for colds and headaches. It even includes celebrations you can have for each of the season changes. (Happy Autumnal Equinox on the 22nd!)

As far out there as it seems, it is all really quite logical and simple. I love combining things together for scrubs or oils or to clean my kitchen counters. It makes me feel part gypsy (don’t we all want that??) and part Native American – working with the seasons and the fruit of the land. Farmers determined our school year based on harvest time. Many churches follow the liturgical cycles that correspond with the seasons. There are ways that you participate in these cycles without even realizing it.

After bashing my leg a few days ago (in a super dumb way), tonight is all about grilled salmon with ginger and spinach – natural ways to reduce swelling. Lemon verbena, lavender and grapefruit are my favorite essential oil combinations to slow my mind and my breath. And of course, caring for houseplants and learning from their rhythm and cycles.

Our environment (of which I believe was created for us by God as a gift) is worth preserving. Living within. And voting for.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is the second book I’ve read from Acevedo and I listened to both of them on audio. I believe she is an author that should not only be read, but be heard as well. Her reading is thick with a Dominican accent and her placement of words melt together like a cherished recipe, passed down from generation to generation, but mixed with individual style.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH is about the fictional character, Emoni Santiago, and takes place during her senior year in high school. During her freshman year, she had a baby girl and is balancing all the important parts of her life: school, being a mom, being a granddaughter, work schedules and navigating outside relationships. Her best friend, Angelica, is an encouraging and supportive friend, but Emoni’s soul belongs to cooking. She can feel the needs of a recipe and blends ingredients together so skillfully many people believe it is laced with magic. The word that kept coming to my mind while reading FIRE was vibrant. Vibrant family. Vibrant food. Vibrant friendships. Vibrant love. Vibrant writing. Surrounded by all this support and love, Emoni still struggles with what to do with her life. How does one plan for the future when the consequences of your past are always with you in the present. At her high school graduation she reflects:

And like a map I’ve been following without knowing the exact destination, I know now, I’ve been equipping myself with tools from the journey to help me survive when I arrive.

No matter your age, that is a sentiment that will resonate. Through struggles and hardship and triumphs and setbacks, we are equipping ourselves with the needed tools for our future selves.

The first book I read from Acevedo was THE POET X. I blogged about it last year and how much I enjoyed it. Especially as an audio. She will transport you with the lilt of her voice and place you firmly into the heart of her story. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam champion and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH is listed as a Young Adult read from Harper Teen, but I wouldn’t shy anyone away from enjoying the deep heritage and stories held within Acevedo’s books. They are strong and descriptive and culturally driven. I can’t wait to read her latest book, CLAP WHEN YOU LAND.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH is a celebration of young, single mothers and the role models who help shape them as mamas and as independent female leaders. I highly recommend all three of Acevedo’s books. Having read two of the three, I have no doubt her third book is as engaging as the others.

Special kudos also to the amazingly illustrated book cover by Erick Davila and Erin Fitzsimmons. What a beautiful piece of art for my shelves. Artwork equal to the quality of words that reside within.

Basically I’m Ina.

Pardon me while I become a food blogger… -ha!

Those cupcakes I blogged about the other day? Those are for when family is over or you want to impress your friends with foo-foo desserts.

But after all the guests are gone and your kids are in bed, these are the cupcakes you make just for yourself.

Not only are they decadently full of chocolate, they have a secret ingredient that you really need about right now.

Yep. It’s in the recipe and in the icing.

Quarantine schmorantine.

If you want to tell your spouse about them, that’s up to you. But personally, I suggest disguising a dorm room refrigerator as a shoe storage bin and write down some excuses on the back of your hand as to why you need to keep going into your closet during the family movie marathon tonight.

Irish Cream Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS FOR CUPCAKE

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream Original
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3T Bailey’s Irish Cream Original

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CUPCAKES

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set up cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add milk, Bailey’s, oil, eggs and vanilla to flour mixture – mix on medium speed until well combined.
  4. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water a little at a time – beat on high for 1 minute. The batter will be very thin and runny.
  5. Scoop batter into liners about 3/4 full
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. My oven baked right at 20 minutes, but adjust as needed until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FROSTING

  1. Cream butter and salt until fluffy
  2. Mix in 1C of powdered sugar
  3. Stir in Bailey’s
  4. Mix in remaining powdered sugar until thoroughly combined

I used the star tip to frost these then added some sprinkles for fun. The more cupcakes I taste-tested, the crazier the sprinklers got! 

E N J O Y !!

Loose Leaf Noted

I like the idea of tea.
I like the slow, methodical process of tea-making.
I like the ritual of afternoon tea.

It’s just the tea part I don’t really love about tea.

So I did what any good bookstagrammer would do – I took to Instagram and asked for advice. And man!, did I get responses. You guys are SERIOUS about your tea!

I thought I’d share some of the repeated responses I received in case there’s anyone else out there looking for tea help (and I know there are because many of you commiserated with me about not particularly liking tea.) So maybe some of these hints will help you out too:

  • by far the most common thread was: GET RID OF THOSE TEA BAGS! -ha! I was promised over and over again that loose leaf tea is far superior to any tea bag
  • make sure to use the correct ratio of leaves to water: 1/2 tsp per 8 oz.
  • by high quality tea!
  • if you want to add milk, brew it in water first and then add milk or creamer to it
  • whipping cream is a necessary luxury
  • Earl Grey latte: earl grey tea, honey and frothed cream
  • no need for a fancy frother: brew you tea and cream in a Mason jar, put the lid on and shake it vigorously until frothy
  • (above tip came with the comment that it’s also a great workout at the same time!)
  • use coconut milk in your chai tea
  • advice from the UK (so you know it’s legit!): you can only use milk with black tea and don’t forget to pour boiling water over the tea. Let it stand for 7 minutes before pouring from the teapot.
  • if tea is made in a teapot, pour milk in the cup before pouring in the brewed tea and if brewing in a cup, add the milk into the cup after the tea has brewed.
  • heat your milk but not to a boiling point, stir in the chai powder or syrup – no water used at all.
  • David’s Tea is awesome loose leaf tea
  • loose leaf tea is not as intimidating as it sounds if you have a good tea infuser to make it super easy
  • the best teas to use with milk are ones that contain a nutty, buttery, caramel-like tea which are most black teas and rooibos tea

These are the rules, people! 

I don’t think I’ll ever be beyond the point of adding so much honey and cream to the cup that it really can’t even be called tea anymore. I suppose that’s how young coffee drinkers start out, right?

Do you have any additional tips for us Tea Wannabees? 

Kiss the Cook

I don’t want to miss #stacksaturday with some of our favorite cookbooks. ⠀

It seems the cookbook pile in our kitchen changes seasonally, but not purposefully. It just depends on what we’re into at the time. ⠀

I am VERY lucky to have a spouse who loves to cook (he claims it’s therapeutic for him) as I love to read recipes and find new tastes to experience. Also…I love to eat! ☺️⠀

Are you the cook in your household or do you get to experience someone else’s meals?

I love you s’more!

from Scott Sutherland
@ifyougiveamanapan

Melting chocolate and fire-toasted marshmallows are a must around any campfire. Are you a lightly toasted or char that thing BLACK, kind of marshmallow roaster??

However, if a campfire isn’t nearby, this s’more bake in a cast iron skillet is sure to make you start humming 99 Bottles and practicing your knot expertise.

Break out the puzzles and gather the kids around because the whole family is going to love this delicious S’more Bake.

I Love You S'more! Dessert

  • Servings: approx. 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups marshmallows, halved crosswise
  • 2 (4 oz) bars semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • garnish: melted chocolate

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10″ cast iron skillet with cooking spray

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy – approximately 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together oats, flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add oat mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

Firmly press 2/3s of crumble mixture into bottom of prepared skillet. Top with marshmallows and chopped chocolate. Sprinkle with remaining crumble mixture.

Bake until golden brown – approximately 20-24 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.

The only other thing needed? Your very own made-up-on-the-spot ghost story.

E N J O Y!

Green Asparagus, Purple Onions and Red Potatoes

from Scott Sutherland
@ifyougiveamanapan

A delicious and healthy side dish is always good. A colorful one is even better!

Asparagus and Red Potato Side Dish

  • Servings: approx. 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 medium red potatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick and quartered
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trim off tough ends by bending and breaking the bottom off
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, cut in large chunks
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • cracked peppercorns

Directions

Mix all ingredients into a 10″ skillet. Drizzle with olive oil until coated. Season with sea salt and cracked peppercorns as desired.

Cook in oven or grill at 400 degrees, turning potatoes every 10 minutes until browned. Make sure potatoes are soft and cooked through – approximately 30 minutes.

Chicken and Broccoli Skillet Meal

from Scott Sutherland
@ifyougiveamanapan

The weather’s getting cooler and comfort food is calling my name. This evening I made this chicken and broccoli casserole which is always a family favorite and people pleaser.

Chicken and Broccoli Skillet Meal

  • Servings: approx. 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3 cups medium pasta shells, cooked accordinging to package
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to broil.

In a 10″ cast-iron skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon and let drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet.

Add broccoli to skillet. Cook until bright green and heated (approximately 2-3 minutes.) Remove from skillet.

Add butter to skillet and melt over medium heat. Add garlic and flour, whisking to combine. Gradually whisk in milk until thickened. Stir in 1 cup cheese until melted. Stir in cooked pasta, cooked chicken, salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, bacon, and broccoli. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

Broil until cheese begins to brown (approximately 2 minutes.) Sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

A few years ago I found a discarded set of Lodge cast-iron skillets. I imagine they were probably a wedding present and the recipient just wasn’t into cleaning and seasoning the skillets (which admittedly takes some practice.) Thankfully they were thoughtful enough to place the skillets next to the dumpster instead of inside of it, assuming some insane person would actually WANT such a crazy thing. And want it I did! I researched, cleaned and seasoned the skillets thoroughly and we’ve been traveling partners ever since. We’ve made a lot of delicious meals and desserts together over the years but what’s the fun in cooking if not sharing with friends?!

I have started a new Instagram account (@ifyougiveamanapan) to share some of my favorite cast-iron skillet recipes. They might not be fancy, but I promise your family will be coming back for seconds (three or four times.)

E N J O Y!

~ Scott

Family Al Fresco

It’s that time of year. School is finished (or soon to be), the temperature is rising and sleeping in is on every teens agenda. If you have kids at home, a common summertime question is ‘What’s there to eat?’ I might be able to help with that last question with some simple summer meal items.

I recently posted on social media about a family meal we had outside (al fresco: in the open air). I was contacted by a few people asking me to post a more detailed explanation. I promised a blog post about some DIY tablescape hacks that made the evening a little easier and the simple summertime recipes we used to make our family meal a success.

My extended family came to visit us in California. The enormous sacrifice they made – financially and most importantly, timing and scheduling – meant a lot to me. Scott and I wanted to have one evening where we all sat down together around a family table and simply relaxed into an evening of conversation and California weather.

For those of you that are fans of the tv series, Parenthood, you’ll understand my desire to have a Parenthood-style dinner together in our backyard, under the lights and California setting sun.

First of all, I needed a long table.

We took our dining room table out to the patio plus used another dining table we have in the garage that Scott uses as a work table. The work table was a few inches shorter than our dining table so we used wooden blocks to prop it up to be an equal height.

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I was tempted to do a charcuterie board down the center of the ‘long table’ but ultimately decided it was too fussy and one more thing for me to plan out. My goal was for all of us to feel comfortable and laid-back so I nixed the cheese board idea.

Instead, Scott cut me a long piece of 2×4 board, sanded all the edges round and stained it. He coated it in coconut oil to seal in the stain.

I cut rosemary from our large rosemary bush and lavender from the three Spanish lavender bushes we bought in the Fall. They were three small bushes when we purchased them but they have grown SO BIG over the past six months! As an aside – I knew the rosemary would last a long time but I wasn’t sure of the lavender. I cut it all just a few hours before our meal. For awhile, it was sitting in the hot afternoon sun. The rosemary held up great but the lavender got a little wilty looking. By the next day it was shriveled. So make sure to cut the lavender fairly close to the event. This served as a nice centerpiece but also held off any flying insects that don’t particularly care for the smell of the rosemary. Win-win! At the last minute, I grabbed some clementines in our kitchen and haphazardly placed them among the rosemary and lavender for a pop of color. I also cut a small sprig of rosemary to place on the napkin at each place setting. Super easy way to put a finishing touch on the appearance of each setting. If you don’t have a rosemary bush in the backyard, rosemary plants are easy to find at grocery stores and gardening centers. (We use ours for cooking all the time!)

I wanted the table to be somewhat minimal in decoration. Casual and welcoming. Here are a few ways I hacked the table decor…

I am a big fan of this set of three candlesticks from IKEA. I have two sets and use them in different spots in our home. Their stark black added just the right amount of drama to the setting without being fussy or overwhelming.

I am a big fan of linen. I love its look and universal appeal. It’s not faddish or decade-specific, which is just the kind of decor I adore! But if we’re all honest, linen can be expensive, right??

A good rule of thumb for just about every decor situation (and more!) is to mix and match real with fake. I went to Harbor Freight and bought two canvas paint dropcloths. They resemble linen and cost about $15 each. Spilled wine? No problem. Dropped food? It will either wash out or, I have a new dropcloth to use! No fuss. No problem.

I even used another dropcloth I had to sew a basketful of coasters for the table (instructions here.) The trick to using dropcloth for your projects is to wash them first. I generally wash them 2-3 times to soften them up and get the distinctive smell out of them. Once they’re softer, the possibilities are limitless.

I mixed the canvas tablecloths with actual linen napkins from World Market. I used 4 different neutral colors to tie everything together without looking too matchy.

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I have really enjoyed my ‘wonky’ dishes from Magnolia. It seems like not that long ago that we lined up outside Target, waiting for the doors to open on the new Magnolia line, Hearth and Hand. I elbowed and crowded in with other Joanna Gaines style followers. I think I grabbed a 4-plate setting the first day and have been picking up more bowls and serving trays ever since. They’re a little harder to find these days but they pair well with a line of dishes from World Market. Again, mixing and matching takes the exactness out of any task (my biggest design hint.) I love the uneven edges of both lines. They look like they’ve just come off a potter’s wheel. Love it.

The table was set with a mixture of items but they all fell into a neutral palette, therefore pulling them all together cohesively. The neutral foundation allowed the colorful food to stand out and shine.

And speaking of the food…

I had to constantly put before myself the goal of the evening: easy, laid-back, casual. I didn’t want Scott and I to have to spend all our time in the kitchen and not sitting with our family enjoying the evening. The following were some of the recipes we used. Many can be put together in advance.

This Avocado Corn salad is de.li.cious. It tastes like summer. It killed Scott a little to have to buy tomatoes since his aren’t ready yet -ha. (All the recipes are at the end of this post.) I’m of the opinion that putting an avocado with just about anything makes it better. You can use fresh corn on the cob but we opted for frozen sweet corn from Trader Joe’s. The very smell of cucumbers makes me want to rush outside. It is such a fresh summer smell.

I’m sure I will receive a lot of crap for this (probably deservedly so), but……..I don’t care for fresh onions. There. I’ve said it. The color of purple onions would round out this salad nicely and 99.9% of the world will put it in.

This Pecan Apple Slaw is a constant in our refrigerator this season. It’s light and easy to keep in the fridge for those quick food cravings. The juicy Craisins make it almost snack-like.

My sweet 21-year-old niece sent me a thank you text after they left to go back to Kansas City. She ended the text with “…and I neeeeeeed that zucchini boat recipe!” -ha! Again, these are easy to make and a great addition to just about any meal. The recipe came from Ina Garten so you know it’s trustworthy! We’ve made them several times and are always happy with the results. Crunchy and salty – my favorite combination.

The main dish was Caprese Chicken. For an easily prepared dish, it packed a lot of flavor. The key is fresh mozzarella and the balsamic glaze.

To be honest, we were introduced to balsamic glaze by a friend just last year. We’ve been ardent fans ever since. There are soooo many things you can use it on! It’s thicker than regular balsamic and adds the perfect tangy-sweet flavor to side dishes as well as many meats.

Maybe it’s just me, but drinks for a dinner can get a little stressful. Do you offer a million options or do you limit it to just a few? My answer for this very flavor-packed meal was to simply serve water. I used some inexpensive water decanters and placed mint leaves in milk white jars on the table. My neighbor gifted me with a starter lemon mint bush and wowzers has it grown! I can’t use enough mint to keep up. So even if it was just decoration and no one used it, it was worth trimming back my container and it added another natural element to the table.

We ended the evening with a HAPPY BIRTHDUATION cake for the people having birthdays and graduating high school. Had it not been for that, I would have gone with a simple Peanut Butter Pie. It’s another easy recipe you make ahead and is always a crowd pleaser.

And because we’re in California, the evenings can get a little chilly if the conversation lingers long enough. I rolled up some favorite throw blankets, put them into a basket and took it outside. When people started getting cool, they grabbed a blanket and the conversation never even paused. No searching for or asking about a blanket – it was right there at the ready when they needed it. (And bonus: it looked cute while it was waiting to serve!)

I hope these suggestions sparked a few ideas of your own. Gathering family and friends together (no dreaded ‘kids table’ separation!) is always my idea of a perfect evening. Multiple conversations interrupted only slightly by the ‘Could you please pass me the…’ requests is pure joy to me.

Before sharing the recipes with you at the bottom, will you indulge me in a few family shots from our Family Al Fresco evening??

Wishing you a season of good food, simple pleasures and all the bent-in-half-ugly-laughing your soul can take!

Corn Tomato Avocado Salad

INGREDIENTS
corn kernels from 1 large steamed corn on the cobb (1 cup)
5 ounces diced avocado from 1 medium avocado
1.5 cup diced Persian cucumbers (about 3 small)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2T diced red onion
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Cranberry Pecan Slaw

INGREDIENTS
2) 11oz bagged cole slaw mix
1 large Gala or Honeycrisp apple – chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecan

Dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream (can substitute with yogurt)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2% honey
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Add slaw mix, apple, cranberries, pecans and onions to a large bowl. Too to mix all ingredients. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, add mayo, sour cream, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk together until smooth. Pour 3/4 of dressing over slaw and toss until mixed well. Add remaining dressing if desired.
3. Serve immediately. Slaw can be stored, covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Toss slightly.

Zucchini Boats

INGREDIENTS
3-4 smallish zucchini
2T fresh parsley
2T fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
3/4 cup panko
3.5T olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut the ends off the zucchini
2. Cut in half lengthwise
3. Scoop out center seeds (this is what makes it watery)
4. Put on a sheet pan and brush with oil and salt
5. Turn them over (scooped side down)
6. Cook at 425 degrees for 12 minutes
7. Turn them back over
8. Fill the cavity with panko mixture
9. Put them back in the oven for 8-10 minutes until browned and crisp

Chicken Caprese

INGREDIENTS

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
4 thick slices of ripe tomato
4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
2T balsamic glaze
2T thinly sliced basil

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat a grill over medium heat
2. Drizzle 1T of olive oil over chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper
3. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the chicken
4. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until done. Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts
5. When chicken is done, top with a slice of cheese and cook for one more minute
6. Remove from heat and place chicken on a plate. Top each breast with a slice of tomato, thinly sliced basil and salt and pepper to taste
7. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve

Peanut Butter Pie

INSTRUCTIONS
1 graham cracker crust
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1.5 cup creamy PB (or crunchy PB for more crunch)

DIRECTIONS

1. Soften ice cream enough to swirl in PB completely (considerably soft)
2. Mix in PB as evenly as possible
3. Pour into crust and freeze
4. Remove a few minutes before serving for easier cutting

Rosemary and Time

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When we first moved into our California house, there was a VERY overgrown bush tucked in between the oleander and a yet-to-be-determined hedge. It was overgrown and dead in places and clearly hadn’t been manicured or tended to for quite some time.

It was on the backlist of things to get around to.

Any yet, one day as we were clearing out another area of the yard, I wandered over and dug a little closer. As soon as I touched it’s branches I knew it was rosemary. Not the little rosemary we grew in clay pots back in the midwest, but a huge bush of an herb. And ohhhh, did it smell heavenly.

Scott got out his big hedge clippers and we went at it. I hesitated, thinking I should probably google when the best time was to trim back a rosemary bush, but it was in such bad shape we thought ‘what the heck’ – what could we possibly do that’s worse than how it looked now?!

As he cut and discarded, trimmed back and tossed out, I grabbed a few sprigs for myself.

And then I grabbed a few more…

An armload of the rosemary went to a new friend in California and the rest I took into the garage to let dry.

Instead of trimming it all the way down to the ground, we left a little of it to stretch out and breathe some fresh air, now that it was newly free to grow and spread with all the room we’d given it.

One evening we found ourselves in front of the tv to watch a christmas movie so I plopped down on the floor with the dried rosemary stems and stripped the herbs from each stem (insert an achy back but fingers that tingled with the aroma of fresh rosemary oils.)

I made the following recipes I want to share with you. We used our backyard rosemary but you could also use the fresh rosemary you buy at the grocery store or garden center.

  1. Lavender Rosemary Bath Salts (we even used dried lavender from the lavender bushes we planted earlier in the fall)
  2. Lemon and Rosemary Sugar Scrub
  3. Lemon Rosemary Bath Salts
  4. Williams-Sonoma Potpourri
  5. and even though I haven’t made it yet, I’m sharing a recipe for extracting rosemary oil to make essential oils and
  6. Infused-oil Rosemary

Our kitchen has been smelling fab.u.lous lately, I’ll tell you that!

First, this Lemon and Rosemary Sugar Scrub. Oh my! It smells unbelievable! Winter brings dry skin. Elbows, heels, arms and legs. They all suffer from the lack of moisture in the air. The defoliating properties in this sugar scrub are both healthy for your skin as well as a healthy aroma in the shower.

Rosemary oils are an antiseptic. They protect skin cells and are very good for your skin and hair.

Lemon and Rosemary Sugar Scrub

1C extra fine granulated sugar
1/2C grapeseed oil
2T dried rosemary leaves
1 tsp lemon essential oil
1/2 tsp rosemary essential oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Combine all ingredients together. If it’s too thick, add more grapeseed oil. Too thin, add more sugar.

Store in an airtight container.

Use within one month.

Williams-Sonoma Potpourri

2C water in a pot

Slice up one lemon – put in pot and bring to a boil

Add a few sprigs of rosemary

1/2 tsp vanilla

Simmer – adding water as needed

Lavender Rosemary Bath Salts

1C Himalayan sea salt
1C Epsom salt
1/2C coarse Kosher salt
10-20 drops lavender essential oil
2T crushed, dried rosemary (pulse in the food processor a few times)
2-3T dried lavender buds

Combine the salts, lavender buds and crushed rosemary

Add the essential oil and mix thoroughly

(You can add purple food coloring…I didn’t.)

Store in an airtight container.

Lavender is a go-to essential oil. It’s a stress reducer (perfect for bathtime, no?) and has anti-inflammatory properties. I usually go through my lavender oil more quickly than others because I use it a lot at night for relaxation and sleep. (Funny sidenote: Scott read somewhere that it causes men to lactate so that’s usually an ongoing joke at night too!) 

And speaking of Scott.

Another ongoing ‘joke’ between us since we first met is our ‘role reversal’ when it comes to bathing. Scott is a hard-core bath taker. (As are his parents before him.) He relaxes and enjoys it and I……well, I…….hate baths. (please don’t hate me!)

I know! I know! Everyone loves to take a bath, right? No. Not me. They make me impatient and the thought of sitting in non-moving water kind of grosses me out. Needless to say, they are NOT relaxing for me.

However! I do really really love soaking my feet in warm water with good stuff dissolved inside. Now THAT is very relaxing and rejuvenating. Plus it’s a good activity while bingeing on Mrs. Maisel.

So we will use these bath salts in different ways – but each enjoying our own version of healthy, indulgent self-care.

Lemon and Rosemary Bath Salts

By the way…we used rosemary and lavender buds from our backyard and (fingers crossed!) eventually we will be able to use the lemons off our lemon trees.)

2C Epsom salts
1/2C baking soda
2-3T fresh dried rosemary, finely chopped
8 drops lemon essential oil
2-3T lemon zest

Combine Epsom salt and baking soda

Add half the essential oil drops, mix, then add the remaining drops

Mix in chopped rosemary and lemon zest.

Store in an airtight container.

The next two rosemary recipes I plan to make next…

Rosemary Essential Oil

Fill a pot with water. Put a bowl (or use a double boiler) on top of the pot of water with 2-3 ounces of dried rosemary leaves.

Cover the leaves with 2C of grapeseed oil

Simmer on low heat for 3 hours

Seal and store in a cool, dark place

Infused Rosemary Oil

1 pint jar

Clean and dry your rosemary – make sure there’s no water on the rosemary

Warm the olive oil on low heat for a few minutes. Make sure you don’t get it hot – that destroys the healthy properties.

Put some rosemary sprigs in the pint jar.

Pour the warm olive oil over the rosemary and fill the jar. The warm oil begins the infusion process with the rosemary. Set aside to cool.

Once cooled, seal the jar and store in a dry, cool, dark place for one week to complete the infusion process. After the week, you can strain out the rosemary or leave it in until you’re ready to cook with it.

The Kitchn has a great recipe for freezing the extra herbs to use later on in cooking and other DIY rosemary projects.

I hope these give you some ideas on how to use fresh rosemary in a variety of ways. I’d love to hear how you use rosemary – or other herbs – and let me know if you use one of these recipes and how it turned out. No time to make the recipes right now? Well by all means – pin it for later, right?!

I love simple DIY projects that merely take – a little rosemary and time…
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