I’m a little obsessed with making flavor infused simple syrups (as evidenced by the excessive number of my recipes that include them in some form). The flavor combinations are endless and, in my opinion, it’s one of the easiest and most fun ways to add variety to drinks like iced tea, lemonade, cocktails and of course, coffee.
I used to think I didn’t really like lemonade – until I made it last summer for the first time with actual lemons. I should have started making the real stuff a long time ago, because now I’m completely hooked. There’s simply no substitute for the crisp, tart and sweet flavor of real, homemade lemonade.
I am obsessed with all things citrus. Whether it’s as simple as putting a slice of lime in my water or involves a decadent lemon-basil coffee cake (recipe for that coming soon!), I am officially smitten. My most recent citrus creation is this super easy sea salt scrub. Homemade scrubs take about 5 minutes to make (sometimes even less) and they’re not littered with harsh chemicals or additives found in many store-bought versions. They also make great gifts – although you may want to make two batches so you can keep one for yourself.
Moving from a big rental house to a small third floor apartment has been a bit of an adjustment. In a really good way! For starters, it dawned on me that although I’ve been patting myself on the back for the last 5 years on how responsibly I’ve avoided all manner of hoarding…I am, in fact, a hoarder. With all the extra space in our house rental, I didn’t even realize how much useless STUFF I had been hauling with me. Stuff I wouldn’t even know existed until it was time to move again, and I’d think, ’Awww, someday I’m gonna want that!’ Girl, no. Someday you’re gonna admit that a tattered cardboard box is the only love that thing will ever see. Basically, this little apartment has helped me master the art of tossing boxes without opening them. A major space saver.
Years ago over one of my winter breaks in college, my mom and I spent a week together in New Hampshire. While some of my friends traveled to warmer climates, I opted for snowy mountains. I had the chance to snowboard, my mom and I snowshoed and we soaked in the beauty of the outdoors. To top it all off, we made sure to enjoy incredible food.
While wandering around the local area, we came across a quaint little bakery selling freshly baked muffins, scones and other pastries. The scones they had there remain the best ones I have ever tasted in my life. Maybe it was the beautiful evergreen trees layered with sparkling flakes and the blanket of crunching snow under my feet that made a warm scone and a cup of coffee taste so amazing. Or maybe those flaky, buttery treats were special because they were a culinary discovery I shared with my mom. Whatever it was, that experience turned me into a scone lover.
I don’t mind the cold and snow during the beginning of winter, but around this time of year I start to get antsy. My love for cuddling up with comfort food in front of the fireplace gives way to a desire to eat on a restaurant patio, run along the riverfront path or head over to the neighbor’s for drinks and laughs around their fire pit.
As I’ve been perusing the works of some of my favorite food photographers, one element I’m drawn to is the backdrop. I absolutely love the look of food composed on a rustic farm table. The natural look enhances homey, comfort recipes, contrasts formal dishes to make them really pop and showcases the beauty of simple ingredients.
I haven’t yet found my dream barn wood table that perfectly complements the recipes I’m working on (I know it’s out there somewhere!). Even if I did have that perfect table, the best natural light in my house comes from a particular spot near my family room window. It’s not at all a convenient place to store a table and I’d hate to have to move large furniture to that area every time I want to shoot.