Land of Fruits and Nuts – Day 8 – Sweet Marmalade

DSC01395I’m still trying to use the oranges that are hanging on – the end of the season’s crop. I’ve got fresh blooms and new fruit starting, but we haven’t harvested all of this year’s crop. Mostly because it is all just a little too overwhelming here on our farm. I mean really, I’m a suburban mom with 2 kids and a full time job. How am I supposed to also be a modern pioneer woman?

In any event, having picked 2 more baskets of oranges in my efforts to tame an unruly orange tree (meaning I was attempting to give it a much needed pruning), I had to figure out what to do with them. My previous marmalade efforts were not much liked by my children or my husband. They didn’t like the bitterness, although I thought the marmalade tasted pretty darn good and very English.

If you didn’t know, marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits. The presence of the fruit peel is what makes it a marmalade, and the white pith and membranes impart the traditional bitter flavor. So, I wanted to make a marmalade with less bitterness than the traditional marmalade – a sweet marmalade.

The problem is that reducing the pith, seeds and membranes means that you are eliminating the parts of the orange that contain pectin – which causes the set (or the gel). You can make up for this by adding store bought pectin. So, I decided to try a sweet marmalade recipe, and found one in 175 Best Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Other Soft Spreads by Linda J. Amendt which seemed pretty easy.

The recipe calls for 12 to 14 medium Valencia oranges. Now, I don’t know what kind of oranges I have. I know I don’t have navel – navels get their name from the fact that the bloom end looks a lot like a human belly button. The book states that you should not use navel oranges for making marmalade because they become tough when cooked and contain an enzyme that will cause the fruit to turn bitter during storage. However, a couple of recipes I found online say that you can use navel oranges.  I don’t know – but I do know I did NOT use navel oranges.  Although I don’t know what kind of oranges we have, I do know that they taste pretty darn good – and the first rule of preserving is to use good fruit to get good preserves.

So I had 14 oranges. First, I prepared the canning jars and lids. The recipe didn’t say how much it would make, so I prepared 6 1/2 pint jars. If you need a refresher on prepping the jars and water bath, read this post. Then I prepped the fruit, which involved removing only the colored portion of the peel from 6 of the oranges. I used a microzester to do it. Once you do that, you peel all of the oranges, removing the outer with pith. You then cut the fruit sections away from the membrane (remember, we don’t want any bitterness) and also remove any seeds. Discard the pitch, membrane and seeds.

Finely chop the fruit and measure 2 and 2/3 cups.

In your jam pot, put in the chopped fruit, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp baking soda. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the orange zest, cover and simmer 3 more minutes.

Slowly add and stir in 5 cups of granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp of unsalted butter (butter is optional – it is supposed to reduce foaming). Increase heat to medium-high and, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in 1 pouch of liquid pectin (3 oz). Return to full rolling boil while stirring constantly, and boil 1 minute.

Remove pot from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Remove any foam if necessary. Ladle into prepped jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Add lids and then screw bands (finger tighten). Place jars in water bath, leaving covered by at least 1 inch of water. Cover and bring to boil. Process 4 or 8 ounce jars for 10 minutes and process 1 pint jars for 15 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and place on wire rack or cloth towel. Let sit without disturbing for 24 hours. Check for a good seal. Remove screw tops and store in cool, dry location.

 

Land of Fruits & Nuts – Day 7 – Taking a Canning Class and More

bigstock-Funny-goat-s-portrait-on-a-gre-41216992Before I get too far along in my adventure here at the Land of Fruits and Nuts, I wanted to share information about a class I took at the Institute of Domestic Technology, rediscovering the future of home economics. I took Foodcrafting 101. We learned a Twenty-One Hour boule recipe (delicious), how to make fresh chevre, handcrafted coarse mustard, and a jam recipe.

The class was held at the historic Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, California. We started by gathering on a lovely screened in porch, munching on handcrafted scones with fresh.

Our leader was Joseph Shuldiner, the Institute Director, LA County Master Food Preserver and author of Pure Vegan.  Every student introduced herself (this particular class was all women) and the groups was quite remarkable. A County Living magazine editor, a modern pioneer woman, 2 professors of physics (one at CalTech, the other at UCLA) and a well known LA food blogger, among other very interesting students.

Then we moved to the kitchen to begin our series of classes, taught by experts. For example, Gloria Putnam taught the cheese module. She has been raising goats and making cheese in Altadena with Mariposa Creamery since 2009. Plus, we got to hear the goats bleating throughout the afternoon and enjoyed their antics through the windows of the kitchen.

We spent the day learning – first doing our bread, then the jam, then the mustard and finally the goat cheese. Along the way we discussed sourcing ingredients and reference books. In between, we had a delicious lunch, made with fresh and local ingredients.

Each crafted item was absolutely delicious. At the end, we nibbled on fresh bread lathered with the leftover fresh goat cheese and the preserves (strawberry rhubarb) at the bottom of the jam pot. I don’t think I have ever had anything more delicious. We were sent home with our bread dough, a jar of our preserves, a take home container of the chevre and a container of mustard.

The Institute has a number of classes, and I plan on taking more. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Day 6 – Loquat Jelly

Three glass mason jars on an isolated backgroundAs I explained in my prior post, I had tons of loquats and wanted to use them for something, anything really. I stumbled across a recipe for loquat jelly, and was determined to make it. The day before (Day 5 if you are keeping track), I made loquat juice by de-seeding the loquats, boiling them in a pot just covered with water, and then straining the pulp and skin out. I ended up with 12 cups of juice.

The approved recipe calls for 4 cups loquat juice and says to “cook juice down until thick and cherry colored” but it isn’t clear whether that 4 cups of juice is before or after cooking it down until it is thick and cherry colored. It does say to cook down and then measure into a saucepot so I have to assume it meant to cook down and then measure 4 cups.  Also, since I didn’t know, I looked at some other recipes available on the web, and they all seemed to call for 4 cups of juice for 4 cups of sugar. Therefore, I tried to cook my juice down until it was thick and cherry colored. I cooked my juice for a long time, and while it got thicker and deeper colored, it never really got thick or cherry colored. I may have just had too much juice, or perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough. I ended up with about 4 and 1/2 cups, so I decided to make the jelly.

The recipe calls for 4 cups loquat juice and 4 cups sugar. You measure juice into a saucepot, add the sugar and still. Boil over high heat until it reaches the gel point, or 200 degrees F.  Of course, make sure your canning jars are ready and your lids are ready.  Pour or ladle jelly into warmed jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put lids and finger tighten screw caps (after wiping rims as needed).  The process time called for is 5 minutes.

Of course, we had to try the jelly right away, and scooped it out of the saucepot upon cooling. My son absolutely loved it. I think it has too much sugar and overwhelms the relatively delicate taste of the loquats. But it was very satisfying to do something with the fruit.

 

 

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Preserving the Harvest – Day 5 – Loquats & Loquat Jelly

bigstock-Loquats-7718853It is May 6, 2013, and loquat trees hang heavy with fruit in Southern California. Driving home from picking up my kids from after school care, we pass 6 or 7 trees in our relatively short drive just covered with fruit – trees that are in the area between a house and the sidewalk. It would be wonderful if all that fruit could be picked and used.

However, I have found that loquats bruise very quickly and spoil – I’ve had loquats spoil overnight. And we’ve got at least 3 loquat trees at the Land of Fruits and Nuts so I really don’t need any more loquats. I hope the birds and other animals enjoy the loquats . . . .

What to do with loquats? They are wonderful eaten fresh, although the season is relatively short.  I like loquats. Ripe loquats are juicy and delicious. The taste is a bit like an apricot, with some citrus zing. We have two types of loquats – small ones, about the size of a large grape, and big ones, about the size of a small apricot. I’m not sure whether these are two different types of loquats or not.

But I could never eat 3 trees worth of loquats before the fruit goes bad.  So, I tried turning the loquats into jelly, having stumbled upon an approved recipe at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I also understand that loquats are used for medicinal purposes, particularly in China. If I have time, I’m going to research making loquat cough drops or a syrup.

The loquat jelly recipe calls for 4 cups of loquat juice. To get the juice, you have to remove the seeds from the fruit and also the blossom end, then boil them in water and strain. Removing seeds from loquats is a time-consuming process. Cutting them is difficult, because there are usually 2 to 3 seeds inside, and you end up wasting a lot of flesh. I found the easiest thing to do was to stick my thumb in the process end and pull the seeds out, discarding the seeds and the blossom end. Then I put the remaining portion in a pot.

This takes forever, particularly with a large pile of fruit. I did it while I watched television, but I would recommend having a canning party and inviting some friends over. You will be covered with pieces of pale orange flesh, and the loquats will be jammed under your nails.

After de-seeding and removing the blossom end from the large pile of fruit I had picked, I covered the fruit with water and brought to a simmer on the stove to soften the pulp and flesh. This took about 30 minutes. I then strained, pressing the flesh to get all of the juice.

I found I had 12 cups of juice left. At this point, I was exhausted, this process having taken me almost 3 hours. So, instead of moving on to making the jelly, I refrigerated the juice and cleaned up before going to bed. Day 6 will be about making (and tasting) the loquat jelly.

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Preserving the Harvest – Day 2 – Orange & Whiskey Marmalade

Calamondin Citrus OrangesSo, having successfully made and canned strawberry jam (see my blog post on Day 1), I was ready to move on and try something to preserve the actual harvest. And boy do we have oranges. There are many mature orange trees on the Land of Fruits and Nuts. I don’t know what kind of oranges, but we have tons. And I was told you must remove all the fruit from the tree each spring so I figured I would tackle one tree, harvest the fruit and do some pruning. And then can the harvest.

Well, the harvest netted bags and bags of oranges – most of which were taken by a friend to be donated to a food bank. But I kept some of the oranges to try my hand at making marmalade.

I really wanted to make a whiskey marmalade. I have quite a fondness for whiskey – American whiskey to be frank. My current favorite is Leopold Bros. Georgia Peach Whiskey (YUM!) (although I am also stuck on Apple Pie Moonshine). I wanted to mellow out the marmalade with whiskey but I couldn’t find a recipe designed for whiskey until I hit upon one in Preserve It!.  The recipe was for “Clementine and Whiskey Marmalade” and while I don’t know whether or not I had clementines, I just used the oranges I had picked. I am pretty sure that they were NOT clementines.

It came out okay, but I found the recipe instructions to be a bit confusing and incomplete. For example, if you read the recipe literally, it doesn’t tell you to put the lids on until after you have processed the jars in the water bath. That would be a complete and utter disaster! Also, you are supposed to juice the oranges before cutting the peel, and then use water to cover the orange pieces. Seems to me you should use the juice and I’m going to try that. In any event, here is the recipe:

  • 2 lbs (900 g) organic clementines, scrubbed, rinsed, halved, seeds removed
  • juice of 2 large lemons
  • 4 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbsp whiskey (I used Leopold Bros. Georgia Peach)
  1. Prepare your jars for water bath canning. I made 4 1/2 pint jars with this recipe. The recipe says it makes about 3 medium jars or 2 and 1/4 pounds. If you need help on prepping, see my Day 1 post.
  2. Either juice the clementines and then shred the skins with a sharp knife or put in food processor and chop until shredded but not mush. I started by juicing and making nice slivers with my sharp knife, but quickly gave up and stuck in the food processor.
  3. Place chopped fruit in a preserving pan and add 3 cups of water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook gently until rind has softened (30 minutes or more). Next time I am going to use any juice (assuming I juice first as opposed to using the food processor).
  4. Add lemon juice and sugar. Cook over low heat, continuously stirring, until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Turn the heat up to bring to a boil. Keep at rolling boil, stirring constantly, until gel point is reached. This took my stovetop FOREVER – really, 40 minutes I think.
  6. Take off of heat and stir in whiskey. I added 2 to 3 tbsp, but hey, that’s me!
  7. Place into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Add lids (that have been properly warmed) and screw tops (finger tighten). Place and process in water bath for 5 minutes. Remove and place on towel. Let sit for 24 hours and check seal.

This is a more traditional marmalade as my mom says, with the bitterness of the orange present. I am going to try adding whiskey to a sweet marmalade for my next batch of oranges. I only have 6 more trees at least to depopulate of fruit – lots of opportunities for experimenting.

 

 

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Preserving the Harvest – Day 1 – Strawberry Jam

bigstock-Breakfast-of-raspberry-jam-on--16477550Well, we’ve finally reached the beginning of the harvest so to speak here at the aptly named Land of Fruits and Nuts. Yep, we’ve named the “farm” the Land of Fruits and Nuts . . . we actually went through a bunch of names, the top runner being 1 Bullet, 2 Squirrels after my sister-in-law’s adventures on her spread, but the reference to guns was too polarizing for our farm (and grand plans of turning it into something). So, the Land of Fruits and Nuts it is, which seems appropriate for an urban farm in Southern California, right?

In any event, I am looking forward to and dreading at the same time the abundance we shall harvest. So I’ve been getting prepared by brushing up on my preserving skills. My mom used to can and dry and bake the harvest, and I remember some of it but not all. So I decided to start by making strawberry jam. And then I realized I should at least blog about it. And then I figured I would blog about the entire adventure. So this is my official day 1, which started on May 2, 2013.

First, this recipe is for strawberry jam, without added pectin, and processed by water bath. If you aren’t familiar with water bath processing, it is used to allow storage without refrigeration to preserve foods.  Boiling water canning is appropriate for most fruits because they have enough acidity to prevent growth of Clostridium bacteria, which can result in botulism.

Second, there are a number of recipes that have been tested to ensure food safety. This recipe is from the Institute of Domestic Technology which adapted it from  Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving by Kevin West. Always make sure you are using a tested recipe to prevent foodborne botulism and that you are following safe preservation techniques.

So, the recipe calls for 3 pounds of prepped fruit. I used strawberries, and I want substance to my strawberries in jam, so I washed them, cut off the tops, and cut them into quarters. I tried to keep the quarters even in size, so the smaller strawberries may have been cut into thirds or halves, depending.

I placed the cut strawberries into a stainless steel bowl and added 3 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of organic lemon juice. I gently combined and let macerate for 30 minutes, covered with a towel.

While the fruit was macerating, I made sure my jars were prepared. This recipe makes 2 and 1/2 pints, or five 1/2 pint jars. To prepare, wash the jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water. You can use a dishwasher, but I usually hand wash. Then place the jars in the rack in the pan you are using for the water bath, and keep at a simmer at medium heat, but don’t boil. Depending on the size of your water bath pot, you may need to start this well before – you are going to have to get it up to a boil eventually, and if it is a lot of water, it may take some time. The water should cover the jars with at least an inch above the tops.

Leave the screw bands near your work area. The lids will need to be in a saucepan and cover with water. You will bring this to just a simmer but not yet – you do this to soften the material on the lid to form a good seal, but you have time.

I then placed the mixture into my jam pot. Now, you can use almost any non-reactive pot – meaning you cannot use pots made from aluminum or untreated cast iron – but hot jam is really  hot, and can splatter, so if you have any interest in canning, I highly recommend a pan designed for canning. I have a Kilner jam pan from Williams and Sonoma because I had a gift card there. I love it, but I absolutely lust after the Mauviel copper pans which just seem, so, well stunning (although to be honest, I’m usually not that into copper . . . ).  But you judge for yourself: Mauviel Copper 15-3/4-Inch Jam Pan

So, put your mixture into the preserving pan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly. Once it reaches a full rolling boil, reduce the heat and stir as it boils, until it reaches the gel point (which is 8 degrees above boiling). Again, this depends on the strength of the heat source and the shape and size of your pan. Sometime before it reaches the full rolling boil, turn on the sauce pan with the lids so they are ready to go.

There are three ways to check the gel point – I prefer to place spoons in the freezer before I get started, and then dip into the mixture and see if the jam drips or sheets off (sheeting means it has reached the gel point). Until you are used to it, you may want to use a thermometer . . . .

Once the gel point is reached, take off the heat and skim if necessary. Put the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Now, to get the jars out of the water bath, a jar lifter is extremely nifty and useful. To measure the headspace until you are used to it, a bubble popper and measurer is useful too – although you can certainly make your own. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp towel if needed, and place the lids on the jars. This is where one of those handy, dandy magnetic wands comes in handy to lift the lids out of the hot water.

Finger tighten the screw tops. Place in the water canning bath and process for 10 minutes, measured from when the last jar is in and the water has reached a boil.

Once the processing time is completed, remove the jars with your jar lifter and place on towel. Let sit for 24 hours without disturbing and check the seals. The tops should be indented (concave) and shouldn’t move when you push on them. Remove the screw bands and store for up to a year in a cool, dry place. Oh, and don’t forget to label.

If you are buying equipment, I don’t recommend many of the canning accessory kits because the funnels are usually plastic. If you want a wide mouth canning funnel, get a stainless steel one so you don’t have to worry about plastic stuff leaching into your food or the plastic melting or staining. You can get a jar lifter and a magnetic wand separately from the kits.

 

Wild Edibles – Foraging for Dinner

SAMSUNGSo the other night I didn’t have any veggies or greens to add to our dinner. I had fruit and I had potatoes, but nothing green and bright. So I did a quick foraging expedition in our backyard – choosing both some so called weeds and some components from the garden. And I thought I would share what I found in early April in Los Angeles near the coast.

First, I found tons and tons of Tropaeolum, commonly known as Nasturtium, a flowering plant. It is a “weed” in our yard - that is, it is growing everywhere and I didn’t cultivate it.  

The genus Tropaeolum contains several popular garden plants, including T. majus, T. peregrinum and T. speciosum.  I specifically found T. majus, which is also known as garden nasturtium, Indian cress or monks cress.   For T. majus, the leaves and flowers can be eaten.  Even the fruit is edible and is used as a caper substitute by some. 

I’ve eaten the flower petals and the young leaves.  The flowers and young leaves have peppery taste with a very faint bitter note at the end. I haven’t collected the fruit ~ but this year, I am going to try. T. majus is growing rampant in my yard – it really is like kudzu.

In any event, the flower petals added a nice peppery note to the salad. It seems the most common use of T. majus is to use them to add color and some peppery notes to a salad.  But if you want to try a nice recipe with it, I found this recipe for Nasturtium Leaf Pesto at RootSimple (I met one of the authors this weekend ~ more to come).  Also, Miche Barcher has a very interesting recipe for Nasturtium Goat Cheese Ice Cream in her book Cooking with Flowers I am going to try tomorrow.

I also collected dandelion greens, some blueberries from our blueberry plants, a handful of French sorrel and a leaf from my tree collard.  The French sorrel added a lemony note.  Dandelion greens taste different depending on when you harvest them. I’ve always been told to harvest the greens before the plant blooms – if you wait too long, they are bitter. To be honest, I still find the young greens have a bitter note – but if you shred/tear into a salad with other components, the bitterness is welcome.  So, I took the greens and the fruit and rinsed, shredded as appropriate, added a dash of sea salt and served with Blood Orange Olive Oil and Georgia Peach Balsamic Vinegar, it was delicious.

Edible Landscaping – Scented Geraniums

Geranium Flower EssenceI got to plant some of my scented geraniums this weekend. Whoot! I love scented geraniums. They are so deliciously fragrant! You just brush against them and breathe in the wonderful scent. Crush a leaf or two and your hands will smell divine!

There are so many different species and hence scents. There are apple scented, nutmeg scented, lemon scented, etc. My favorite – mostly because it makes a divine syrup – is Attar of Roses. It has rose scented leaves and pink flowers. Rober’s Lemon Rose is also wonderful.

Scented geraniums are pretty easy to grow – you can grow them indoors or outdoors. I had several that did exceptionally well in containers in my rooftop garden. Now, I’ve moved them to in ground and they seem to be doing well. Because it gets so hot where I am, I do keep them shaded from the afternoon sun.

You may be familiar with scented geraniums and not even know it. Many species are important in the perfume industry. In fact, scented geranium oil is often used to supplement (or adulterate) expensive rose oils.

The best thing about scented geraniums is that the leaves and flowers are edible. They can be used to flavor jellies, cakes, butters, ice creams, iced tea, sugar and more. I prefer the rose scented for culinary uses, but the lime and some of the others are nice too.

Scented geraniums aren’t really geraniums – they belong to Genus pelargonium (although they are still members of the family Geraniaceae). So don’t think that you can use the geraniums that may be in your yard already – you need to make sure you are using scented geraniums.

Certain of the scented geraniums have also been used for various medicinal purposes. Scented geraniums have been used for intestinal problems, wounds, respiratory ailments, fevers, kidney complaints and respiratory/cold remedies. The essential oil is used to balance the hormonal system.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, Sunflower Farms in Gardena, California has a fantastic selection of scented geraniums. I have also found Attar of Roses at Armstrong this year, but that was the only type. There are several mail order sources. Or, if you have a friend, you can take cuttings. Make sure you take at least 6 to 7 nodes or lobes in your cutting, and root in soil-less media. Most recommend to treat the cuttings with rooting hormone.

What to do with scented geraniums? Making rose scented syrup is my fave – and it is delicious added to lemonade or an afternoon cocktail (hmmmm).

Rose Syrup:

2 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup or so of rose-scented geranium leaves

Place water and sugar in deep saucepan and place on stove over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let reach boil and boil gently 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, add rose geranium leaves, cover and let steep at least 10 minutes. I usually let it steep 20 or so. Strain into clean pan and boil 30 more seconds. Add to sterilized jars. If you want, you can add red food coloring after the last boil but before adding to the sterilized jars but I don’t.

 

Moving on up . . ..

bigstock-Orange-tree-13699937With a brand new year comes a new adventure. We’ve moved. We’ve left our house on the bluffs in San Pedro and moved to a just shy of 6 acre spread.

The first day was a bit trying. It was freezing (well, not really, but it felt cold for Southern California at 46 degrees) and our furnace didn’t work (and still doesn’t). Both toilets ran constantly. The house needs a lot of work and it was depressing coming from a basically “done” house.

But, it is still almost 6 acres. There is a lot of room. We’ve got avocado trees, lemons, oranges, and more. Yesterday, instead of unpacking as I was supposed to do, I spent time figuring out where my fruit trees from my rooftop garden will go. And then I decided where my raised beds for my new garden will go. I plotted what I will plant with so much room. It is a bit overwhelming to say the least. But exciting.

I also am debating getting chickens. My kids want goats. I also researched recipes to use up the bounty on this land. So this year this blog will be more about our adventures in remodeling our house, setting up a chicken coop and more. Stay tuned for the adventure.

Last night I cooked for the first time in our new house. Well, cooking sounds a lot more grand than what I did. The oven doesn’t work at all, so I am limited to an electric cooktop. Also I haven’t been grocery shopping so I only had some pantry items and minimal freezer and refrigerator staples. I had to toss a lot with the move.

But, I made do and this is my Moving Pantry Surprise recipe that turned out surprisingly good:

Moving Pantry Surprise

Ingredients:

  • 1 box pasta (Farfalle or similar)
  • 1/2 small bag frozen petite broccoli florets (spinach would work too)
  • 1 to 1 and 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • Garlic salt
  • Dried basil
  • Cream cheese (whipped)
  • Butter
  • Oil (for browning turkey)
  • Parmesan cheese (grated) (or similar)

Cook 1 box of pasta following directions – I used Farfalle noodles. Add 1/2 bag of frozen organic petite broccoli florets to pasta and water at correct time to cook the broccoli according to its instructions. When done, drain and return to pot.

At same time pasta is cooking, brown some ground turkey. I used 1 and 1/4 pounds of organic ground turkey. I browned it in about 2 tablespoons of avocado oil because that was what I had. Season ground turkey with garlic salt and dried basil. I think turkey needs quite a bit of seasoning so be liberal. Also some fresh ground pepper.

Add ground turkey to the pasta pot and stir in to the pasta and broccoli. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese, a little butter, and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese. Voila!

 

Back to School – Desktop Diffuse the Blahs! Salt

I use aromatherapy a lot around the house ~ to energize in the shower, to perk up my cleaning, to relax in the evening – but I never really thought about using it for back to school. I got an email from AuraCacia recommending just that and had a “D’oh” moment. Why not use aromatherapy for back to school? I keep an energizing spray at my desktop to revive myself in the afternoon (and pass on an afternoon snack) so why shouldn’t my kids benefit too?

So, I thought I would share AuraCacia’s recipe for Diffuse the Blahs! Salt.

You’ll need the following:

 

  • 2 tablespoons coarse grain sea salt
  • 15 drops bergamot oil
  • 5 drops peppermint oil
  • a tin (2 oz tin with lid)

It is that simple – just place the salt in the tin. Sprinkle with the oils. When needed, shake and inhale.

Now, if you don’t have a tin or sea salts, you can sprinkle the two oils on a natural fiber fabric square, and tuck in your child’s backpack. And, for the record, I tend to use and order my oils from Mountain Rose Herbs (see the box over on the right).