It’s a stressful time for a lot of people — teachers/school employees, parents and kids, especially. Some people call May “MayCember” because it’s the time of year when there are a million extra activities on top of all the other normal everyday stuff you have to get done. It’s a lot.
So, today, I’m just leaving this beautiful image right here for you to gaze at for five seconds while drinking your morning coffee and contemplating the never ending to-do list. I hope you have some time this weekend to just relax and be still. It might seem frivolous to do nothing. Trust me, it’s essential from time to time. Did you know five seconds of being mindful of your breathing and nothing else counts as meditation?
This summer I am in a CSA share with my good friend Shawn. In case you didn’t know, CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. You buy a seasonal “share” from a local farm and each week you receive a box of produce (or cheese or whatever that farm specializes in). If you want to learn more and find a farm near you, click here. Anyway, we both have families of three so our boxes get split up very evenly and it’s a nice way to try new fruits and veggies. For instance, in yesterday’s box there were a smattering of gooseberries, which I had never tried. That was fun.
Also in yesterday’s box were the most gigantic scallions (also known as green onions) I have ever seen. One of these scallions probably equals four or five store-bought scallions. I got very excited because I adore green onions in any format. In fact, when I was a child, my grandma used to serve them raw on her veggie plate at her annual backyard BBQ and I would gladly gobble them up. I pity the fool who smelled my breath after that.
Onions are a powerful source of antioxidants and are part of the Allium family (along with garlic). They are rich in anti-cancer compounds called phenols and flavanoids. They are also rich in alliinase which is believed to be heart protective. They are anti-inflammatory and overall a very healthy food to add to your regular diet.
I got a little overwhelmed with the size and quantity of the scallions yesterday so I asked on my Cultivate Wellness Facebook page for cooking ideas and got some great ones. I thought that I would compile and share some of them here so you, too, can be empowered in your scallion cooking journey.
Maria says “My favorite way to cook green onions is in a cast iron skillet with olive oil, salt and lemon pepper! I do it on a medium/high ( depending on your stove) you want the onions to break down and get a little char! It’s about a 10 min cooking time.”
Lara suggested adding them to a batch of cold Potato Leek Soup (I can get on board with that! Plus we got potatoes in our box this week, too).
Allison wrote that she was using her CSA scallions to make a Minty Orzo Salad with Grilled Beef. That recipe isn’t available online but here’s one that looks ah-mazing.
Sally used her giant scallions to make Crab Cakes. I do love a crab cake.
Molly likes to make Smitten Kitchen’s Spicy Green Onion Slaw recipe, which looks absolutely delicious. I love a slaw in any form.
How fun that so many people participate in a CSA?! At least a couple of the readers who chimed in with ideas got their giant scallions this week too. I love that.
If you have a favorite scallion/green onion recipe, please leave it in the comments! Happy cooking!
I think the first time I heard about a Pimm’s Cup was reading about the Royal Family in a magazine, probably featuring Prince William and Kate Middleton at Wimbledon. Ever since I found out about this refreshing and less boozy cocktail that is so popular in England, I’ve wanted to try one. Last weekend when I was shopping for a new bottle of bourbon for my husband for Father’s Day, I saw that the liquor store carried Pimm’s. At $18 a bottle, I figured I had nothing to lose and that I could check something off my bucket list.
Pimm’s Cup is made with Pimm’s No. 1, a concoction made out of “gin with herbal botanicals, caramelised orange and delicate spices”. Doesn’t it sound just delightful? It’s got an amber color that looks just beautiful in a glass.
Still, I was dubious. I sent my British friend Sally a text from the store that said “Is this gross?” and she immediately responded that it was delicious and then gave me some tips on how to make it authentic (“cucumber and mint a must, and orange slices rather than lemon or lime”). She also said that she likes hers with ginger ale rather than lemon lime soda. Done (except I also opted to use lemon slices too).
I stopped at the market for fresh oranges and cukes, and some Fever-Tree Ginger Ale. I like Fever Tree because it’s made with real ginger and doesn’t have artificial ingredients. The taste is more nuanced than other ginger ales, but any brand will do. I have fresh mint growing in my backyard and there are always lemons in my refrigerator. I eagerly set off for home so I could finally try the cocktail that has piqued my interest for so long.
I was very happy with the result, and can understand why it is so popular. It’s sweet without being cloying, and the delicate bubbles are refreshing. It’s also just a beautiful cocktail to look at. My husband took a sip and promptly said “will you make one for me?” He doesn’t generally like a sweeter cocktail, so I was surprised. I gladly poured him his own Pimm’s Cup and the rest is history.
This cocktail is perfect for your summer BBQ or other gathering, as it is refreshing and light on the booze. It’s celebratory but easy to make. And since it’s British, it feels super fancy.
2oranges, sliced into rounds
2lemons, sliced into rounds
About six slices of cucumber
2cupsPimm’s No. 1
6to 8 large sprigs mint plus more for garnish
In a pitcher, add a layer of orange slices, lemon slices, and cucumber slices. Repeat until gone. Pour in the Pimm’s and ginger ale, and mix with a long-handled spoon, making sure to muddle the fruit a bit to release the flavor. In each individual glass, place a sprig of mint and muddle with the end of a wooden spoon (more or less, depending on how much mint flavor you want). Add ice and fill with cocktail mixture, placing some of the fruit slices into each cup. Garnish with mint.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my summer intentions. You can read that post here. I always put my summer goals on paper so that I have a clear idea of what I want to focus on between June and early September.
In a nutshell, those goals were to: meditate daily, strength train weekly, update the blog more regularly, and stop being the “cruise director”.
So, how am I doing? I’m pleased to say I have meditated the last four days in a row. That’s pretty huge. I’ve noticed a difference, too. Instead of waking up and getting on Twitter (and then throwing my phone across the room in disgust at what I’m reading), I meditate. In fact, I have been waiting until later in the day to log on to Twitter and it’s helping my mood quite a bit. Secondly, I have really done a great job of resisting the urge to plan and coordinate constantly. It has actually freed up a lot of mental space and I am doing a lot more spontaneous things, which has been fun.
The two things I would like to improve upon are strength training more regularly and writing more than one blog post a week. I would also like to add a weekly yoga session. Summer has just gotten started and I’m finding a rhythm, so I feel confident I will feel good about my implantation of my summer intentions when I reflect on them this September. I plan on checking in every few weeks to make sure I am following through.
Do you make any summer goals? If so, please share them with me in the comments!
Do you ever wonder why I title these posts “Friday Cocktails” or “Weekend Cocktails”? It’s funny. Last night I was with a new friend and I mentioned that I really only have a cocktail on the weekends, almost never during the week. He said something to the effect of “I just thought you were this total party person who was having fabulous cocktails all the time”. Honestly that sounds like a dream, but the reason why I don’t is for a few reasons:
They are usually quite high in calories and sugar (unless you opt for the Dirty Martini or something like vodka and club soda).
If I drank them all the time they would be less special. it’s fun to wait all week for that tasty cocktail on Friday nights.
I’m a practicing Health & Wellness Consultant and if I’m going to talk the talk I also need to walk the walk.
So, I like to post new cocktail recipes on Friday or Saturday because that’s when you can usually find me enjoying one!
On that note, this Citrus Rum Punch is an absolutely fantastic new recipe you must try for your next BBQ or gathering. I made it twice last weekend for two different parties, it was that good. It’s adapted from a boozier and more intricate version from Bon Apetit but I fiddled with it to make it more accessible and much less boozy. Trust me, it still packs a wallop so take it easy. Luxardo is one of my favorite liqueurs and I always welcome a new way to use it. It’s a maraschino liqueur from Italy and it’s divine.
CITRUS RUM PUNCH
2 cups spiced rum
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice, strained (or just buy a high quality version from the store)
¾ cup fresh orange juice, strained (same as above. Co ops and Whole Foods sells freshly juiced OJ)
½ cup fresh lemon juice, strained
⅓ cup Luxardo maraschino liqueur
2 cans of all natural grapefruit soda (I bought mine at Whole Foods)
¼ cup simple syrup (easy to make. Click HERE for the recipe. Once I took it off the burner I added a piece of orange and grapefruit rind to infuse it)
1 grapefruit, sliced into rounds
2 blood orange, sliced into rounds
1 lime, sliced into rounds
Combine rums, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon juice, liqueur and simple syrup in a large pitcher.
Add citrus slices and stir.
Just before serving, add the grapefruit soda and gently stir to combine.
Do Ahead: Punch can be mixed 3 hours ahead. Chill.
If a less sweet or less boozy version is desired, add a bit of club soda to each glass.
Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, it’s a new cocktail recipe! But first, if I asked you what the significance of Cinco de Mayo was, would you be able to answer? If you said “Mexican Independence Day” you’d be…not right. Mexican independence is actually celebrated Sept.16. Instead, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. It has really become more of an American holiday excuse to drink margaritas.
Today I would like to introduce you to the Agua Fresca, which is a traditional Mexican drink that when translated means “fresh water”. Aguas Frescas are designed to beat the heat of summer and are refreshing and delicious. They are typically made of fresh fruit, water, and optional sugar. If you want to know more about aguas frescas, click here.
This delicious recipe would be perfect for a BBQ, and I guarantee the kids would love it. To make it “adult”, add a shot of vodka or gin to each serving.
Not for nothing, but watermelon is full of lycopene (actually it has the most lycopene per serving than any fruit or veggie) which is a powerful antioxidant. The lime juice has a good deal of vitamin c and mint is great for soothing the digestive system, which is perfect if you’ve overindulged at the BBQ. If you add just a bit of sugar it makes for a yummy treat that doesn’t include artificial colors, flavors or other additives.
This recipe, adapted from Epicurious, serves about 6.
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
5 cups peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped watermelon (from about a 2 1/2-pound watermelon). Make it easy on yourself and buy pre-chopped watermelon if you desire.
1/4 cup fresh lime juice. I( also like prepared lime juice such as this one. I do this about 50% of the time)
Mint sprigs for serving
Combine mint leaves, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Transfer mixture to a heatproof container and chill, uncovered, until cool, about 30 minutes.
Strain mint syrup into a blender; discard mint leaves. Add watermelon and lime juice and blend until very smooth. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a pitcher; discard solids. Add 2 cups water and stir well to combine. Serve with mint sprigs. If bubbles are desired, top off with a splash of soda water.
Aqua fresca can be stored in an airtight container and chilled for up to 1 day.
I am back in the kitchen this week and it feels great. I usually cook less in summer because our schedules are so weird and unstructured. Also because it’s Minnesota Minnesnowta and when the weather is warm we tend to want to be outside all. The. Time. I’d much rather be drinking a rosé and watching my daughter splash around at the pool with friends than be home in the kitchen. You know?
But this week I felt a pull to the kitchen, and so I went. Luckily we had one day that experienced torrential downpours so I had nothing but inside time to spare. My generous and kind friend Shawn gave me her CSA box when she went out of town and her loss was definitely my gain. It was full of tomatoes that were so sweet we couldn’t help but eat the entire amount in a day. Aren’t these beautiful?
The box also contained two heads of kale, which I added to that night’s pasta primavera.
Then there were many cucumbers. So many cucumbers. And dill. So obviously I made refrigerator pickles. Super easy and totally delicious, anyone could make these including a child just learning to cook. Here’s the recipe:
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 cups cucumber slices
2-4 cloves garlic, smashed
Handful of fresh dill (add or subtract your amount depending on how much you love dill)
OPTIONAL: A pinch of red pepper flakes for spice
Stir the water, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt together in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and cool completely.
Combine cucumber slices, smashed garlic cloves, and fresh dill in a large glass or plastic container. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over cucumbers. Seal container and refrigerate for at least 3 days.
Look at this!
I’m going to experiment with spicy squash pickles next, because of course the CSA box came with squash. And I really don’t like squash, but I love pickles, so maybe this just might work.
Watermelon is in season right now, so I think it makes sense to try a cold, icy, refreshing cocktail made out of summer’s most famous fruit. Add the “wine of summer” (I literally just coined this term so I should probably TM it or something) and you have yourself a cocktail that will please just about everyone. Recently, on vacation with extended family, we made this recipe. It was really refreshing and perfect after a long day on the beach.
If you want some health reasons to drink this, just remember that watermelon is full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It also has a very high water content so it will help rehydrate you (just remember alcohol is dehydrating and toxic in large quantities so please don’t think you can go drinking a gallon of this or anything). Moderate wine drinkers (no more than two glasses a day) have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers according to this article. It also tells us we have lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and brain decline. So, you know, enjoy this drink! I love that this recipe has no added sugar. Watermelon is sweet enough. And wine, while labels aren’t required to list added sugar , almost always has at least a little.
The thing about using wine in a cocktail recipe is that you can use a less expensive bottle and no one will be the wiser. So grab that $7 bottle of rosé from Trader Joe’s and let’s get started.
INGREDIENTS: (makes 2 cocktails)
4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
10 oz rosé
Juice of one lime
Cube the watermelon (or if you’re feeling really luxurious, buy it already cubed).
Spread the watermelon evenly on a jelly roll pan. Place in freezer for an hour or more, until solidly frozen.
Place the watermelon, rosé and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with lime wedges and sprigs of mint.
Last Thursday was the last day of school for Reese, and on Friday we booked it up north for a couple of days of R&R in a 100+ year old lodge where we binge watched Anne With An E and puttered around looking at pretty stuff and eating banana splits and blueberry pie. So today starts the first full week of summer break. It was also the first day of my Summer Fitness Plan®. You see, a few weeks ago I approached my next door neighbor and good friend Catherine and asked if she’d like to work out with me three times a week in the wee hours of the morning before our kids were awake. She immediately said yes, and we both agreed that it was going to be amazing and awesome.
Fast forward to this morning when I woke up at 4:00, 4:50, and 5:00 (excitement) and then for real at 6:00 to begin our Summer Fitness Plan®. This is the gist: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we will meet in our shared driveway at 6:15 and run/walk a couple of miles. Then we will use the Aaptiv app I’ve told you about before to do a strength workout. This morning we did our workout at the park in the wet grass while being feasted on by our state bird, the mosquito. There was also a for real boot camp happening and I felt like we were acting out that scene in Bridesmaids. We decided next time we will throw down yoga mats in the driveway instead.
Catherine proclaimed that by the end of the summer we will be bosses in every sense of the word (she didn’t really say it this way but it’s what I inferred so…). The first day was a success, in my book.
A couple of notes: I was worried that I would bonk if I didn’t eat anything beforehand, so I choked down a half of a banana. It’s almost two hours later and I’m still not hungry, so maybe working out on an empty stomach will work for me. Read about the research here. Also, next time I will spritz myself with bug spray. Thirdly, I have to say that if I’m awake everyday at 6:00 anyway, I might as well be exercising instead of laying in bed reading Twitter and stressing about the state of affairs. Who needs all that cortisol? I’m still 100% going to read the news, but an hour away from it isn’t a bad thing. Lastly, I will also be playing golf quite a bit, walking the dog, and doing some yoga and/or barre, but I think the bulk of my actual structured exercise will be from this plan.
What are your fitness plans for the summer? Please comment and tell me!
I came into the May Bee challenge feeling energized and excited about the opportunity to blog every day most days in May. I had felt like I had been slacking on my posts, letting other things edge out my time spent at the computer writing. So I really relished the idea of doing this challenge. And I’m so glad I did! Not only did I learn a lot about the topics I’m interested in, but I also got to share that love with you. So, thanks for coming along on the ride. Maybe I’ll do it again next year.
For my last May Bee post, I want to talk about one of my favorite things in the world — a cup of coffee. If you know me at all you know I relish my coffee with gusto. So I was excited to read this article in The New York Times about how drinking coffee seems to reduce your overall risk of dying. Yay for no dying! As the article states “Coffee drinking was linked to a reduced risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological diseases and suicide, although not from cancer.” I don’t need any health reasons to drink my two to three cups of coffee a day, but I’m glad to know I don’t have to feel guilty about my habit.
And with that, I bid a fond farewell to May 2017 as I welcome what I hope to be a really fabulous summer for me, and for you. Maybe it’ll be the best one yet.