Valentine's Day. Sweet, sweet Valentine's Day. A day to tell those most special to you how very much you care about them. This day also stands as a tribute to many, many wives and girlfriends who deserve a major acting award for their response when presented with their Valentine's Day gift.
I am compelled to offer some unsolicited advice to the men-folks out there about what NOT to get your lovely lady for Valentine's Day. Please do not take this the wrong way. I only have the best of intentions, and am sincerely just trying to offer my assistance. Really I am. I am doing this to help you - which in turn will help all my sisters out there who have suffered way too much for way too long.
I guess I will just be direct. Here goes. We don't want a stuffed Teddy Bear for Valentine's Day. Even if it comes with a bud vase and a red rose. Even if that red rose comes with some little white Baby's Breath. Even if. Same goes for a stuffed Bunny, Cat, Dog, Frog, Duck, Heart, Cupid or any other toy that is appropriate for a 7 year old but not a grown damn woman. There you have it. Sorry if that sounded harsh, but I am trying to make a point here. While I am being "direct", we also don't want a heart shaped box of Russell Stover chocolates (most of which are inedible with some kind of spongy orange or pink goo in the middle) from the corner Walgreens. I mean, Really? You can do better than that.... right?
I know how and why it happens. The anxiety builds all week. Subtle (or not so) hints are flying around the room like those scary monkeys on the Wizard of Oz. Pressure! The most important thing is to NOT forget to get her something. You are on your way home from a long day at work and there it is... that big, white tent in the grocery store parking lot. It beckons you like the ghost St. Valentine's himself. With a sigh of relief you pull in with all the other panicked gentlemen in town and then they have you - hook, line and sinker! The rows and rows of bud vases, stuffed animals, heart shaped candy boxes and Mylar balloons is overwhelming so you just grab one of each and head on home.
And then, sweet sir, comes the hard part for us. We love you. Adore you actually, and would rather take a beating than hurt your feelings. You come in, all proud (and relieved) that you didn't forget this year, and present us with a little white teddy bear sporting a plaid jacket and the cutest red bow ever - and he is holding a bud vase with a gorgeous red rose (and the mandatory baby's breath) and there is a big silver heart shaped balloon which tells us how very much you love us. We breathe... we smile... and then hug you and tell you how very sweet you are (which you really are by the way). But...
Even if you show this to your lovely, she will deny that she feels like I do. But she does. You just have to trust me on this. Save the Teddy for you daughter or niece, and get your wife something that speaks to her. Who is she? What does she like to do? What is her personality? Very expensive jewelry? Not necessary. Fancy, elaborate, secret plans? Not necessary. All that is required is to think about who she is and get her something that shows you took that into consideration.. .that you really thought about it and chose something accordingly. You do that and you will have hit a home run! Hero status. Man on Fire.
Speaking of hook... Rosemary's Kitchen has some great ideas for Valentine's Day gifts! Now you are probably suspicious that I just made all that up so I could try to sell you some stuff... but not true! There may not be anything here that would speak to you - or her - but here are some ideas to get you moving in the right direction.
HONEY BEE MINE.......
This is a beautiful product - gorgeous glass jars (topped in wax) with different types of honey. This local honey would make the sweetest gift basket, especially when paired up with a honey dipper.
TEA for TWO.... (Me for You and You for Me)
This lovely pink teapot would make a charming gift for anyone that like to drink hot tea! You could create a gift basket with a variety of tea blends and a unique tea ball infuser!
Here is the same tea pot in red, which would also be a perfect Valentine's Day gift!
HEY HEY GOOD LOOKIN' - WHAT YA GOT COOKIN?
Heart- Shaped Pasta! Wouldn't this be cute in a basket with some cooking gadgets or organic olive oil? Perfect gift for someone that loves to cook! We also have the most gorgeous cutting boards I have ever seen. Come browse the gift shop and see what speaks to you!
ZING WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART!
We have some lovely cocktail mixes like this one for a Cosmopolitan. We also have Bloody Mary Mix and Margarita Mix as well! One of these mixes paired up with a cute wine accessory or glass and some nuts or snacks to munch on... now that would be a great gift! We have some beautiful wine bottle stoppers that would be a lovely addition to a gift of her favorite wine!
MY CUP RUNNETH OVER...
We have a large selection of unique coffee / tea mugs - you are sure to find one with just the perfect saying for someone special, a dear friend, the best teacher ever, or your helpful neighbor. Add in some special flavored coffee beans or special tea blends for a wonderful surprise! You could also fill the mug with candy for a special treat.
I AM NUTS ABOUT YOU
This is the cutest little nutcracker ever! Harry would make a wonderful gift, especially in a basket with a bag of nuts. You have to admit this would make a better gift than a stuffed squirrel, right? Just too cute!
REMEMBER HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU
This cook's string and stainless string holder will come in so handy. I use it for all kinds of things from packages to poultry. You sweetheart will love it, especially if you cut a piece of string, and tie it around her finger and tell her to never forget how much you love her. Awwwww! I am telling you - Home Run!
We also have lots of home made treats (heart shaped chocolate whoopie pies, chocolate dipped pretzels, etc --- MUCH more impressive than the drug store candy boxes.
Just call me if you need any advice! I am sure to help you come up with an idea that will turn you into a Knight in Shining Honor!
I was looking out the window and thinking “what a dreary day”.The sky was gray and looked like the water left in the sink after the soap suds had long since fizzled away. The grass was mostly brown and lifeless, and the bare branches on the elm tree were just standing there, naked, with no shame, just exposing themselves.I felt embarrassed for them somehow.
And then – I can’t tell you why – I decided to turn that around. I decided to not be grumpy. I had already moved away from the window, sulking.I hesitated and then returned to look out the window again.Could nature have transformed itself so rapidly?The sky was still gray, but this time it had a silvery cast.Not shiny and gaudy, but still elegant, like the dull sheen of a favorite piece of tarnished silver jewelry.I didn’t notice the brown grass so much this time, but now saw there were little patches of green all throughout – just poking up here and there in defiance and victory at having done more than just survive.The naked branches were now graceful and poised and seemed proud of their profile against the pewter sky, not ashamed in the least that every scar, every knot, every flake and scab on the crooked branches was exposed to scrutiny.The tree’s cast-off clothes were being thrashed about by a small flock of brown sparrows, rummaging through the piles of leaves like bargain hunters converged on a sale table at the Good Will. There was just so much to see, and as a result, so much to feel.So much to feel good about.So much to celebrate.
This time when I turned away from the window, I was not moping, but rather giddy at this astonishing shift of perspective.I wanted to celebrate winter.I wanted a way to internalize the naked, proud tree. Then it hit me.Soup.I had to make soup. A big bowl of warm, cozy, happy, satisfying soup.Soup for all. Nothing else would do.
I literally skipped to the kitchen to see what was in the larder. (No, I must admit that I have never actually used the word larder in an out-loud conversation.. but, I like the word larder.It must be lonely sometimes – always being shoved to the back and having the words ‘pantry’ or ‘storeroom’ or ‘cupboard’ elbowing their way up front. Greedy little words). OK, here I am, back at the larder.What did I have?Sweet potatoes (although a few had started to open their eyes and were staring at me with little white lids) and onions.Always a good start.What else?I had some carrots in the fridge, and although they seemed a little dry, I had confidence they would perk on up once they jumped in the pool. I went to the other larder (see, it sounded more natural that time, didn’t it?) which is in the next room in the closet (the joys of living in an old house with limited storage). I needed some sort of grain or ….. lentils!I had a bag of red (or brown?)lentils purchased several months back.After checking to make sure that moths (otherwise known as “the evasive little bastards”) hadn’t invaded the bag, I decided on a Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup made with coconut milk and Indian Spices. And I decided to top it with some sautéed apple.
So – I will sum this up to tell you that it was a perfect soup for a perfectly beautiful day.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I hope you enjoy the rest of winter. Find beauty. Find beauty everywhere.
Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
2 T butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp mild curry powder
½ tsp tumeric
1 cup uncooked red lentils – rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1 can coconut milk (regular or light)
Salt / Fresh Pepper to taste
1 T butter
1 apple, chopped
½ tsp cumin
Melt the butter and add the onion and sauté for a few minutes.Add the sweet potato, carrots and thyme and other spices. Heat for a few minutes to wake up the spices.Add the water, coconut milk, lentils, salt and pepper.Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and lentil are soft.
While this is simmering, prepare the topping.Heat butter in a skillet and add apple and cumin and sautee until apples soft but not mushy.
Use an immersion blender to puree it all until thick smooth. Add more water or coconut milk if too thick for your liking. Top with sautéed apple and a little drizzle of olive oil (and few more leaves of thyme if you like).
Do not puree it, but rather leave it a little chunky. I did not have an immersion blender when I made this (because I made this at my home in Stonewall and both my blenders were at the restaurant in Ruston), so I just mashed it up a bit with my potato masher. Either way. Whatever you feel like.
Serve it over rice, esp if you simmered it until thick and did not puree.
Top with a drizzle of molasses ... or sautéed spinach... or pumpkin seeds... or pomegranate seeds... or whatever little thing comes to your mind.
If you can't find garam masala spice - just add a pinch each of cinnamon, ground coriander, ground clove, ground cardamom. Add more curry if you want. Add hot curry powder or paste or cayenne pepper or dried chili if you want it to have some heat.
This is a vegan soup, but if you wanted, you could use chicken broth instead of some of the water. You could also add shredded cooked chicken if you felt you had to have some meat in it.
I love this soup. Healthy ... Delicious.... and Healthy (did I already say that?) ENJOY!!!
We have lots of traditions in our family around the holidays, as I am sure most families have. Traditional meals and activities at Thanksgiving and Christmas that must be followed lest the world come to a screeching halt! Although not quite as intensely, we still hold on to certain New Years customs as well. I am not a big New Year’s Eve Party girl – usually in bed long before the big ball drops as I am not real interested in hanging out with folks who should have been tucked in hours ago, but there are still some New Year’s rituals that I enjoy.
In addition to food, which we will talk about in a minute – one tradition we have is fresh undies. Yep. Start the New Year off with brand-spankin’ new panties. Go down and buy a pack of underpants! Remember when you had panties with the days of the week on them? It made you smile, right? Get rid of those unmentionables with rips in the sides (or worse) and replace them with some that make you smile! Fresh Undies For All! (even you guys, although I know you don’t want me to call them panties). Have a Pack of Undies waiting for your family at the B’fast table on New Year’s Day. I promise it will make everyone smile – no matter how old they are!
Now – to a more traditional New Year’s Day ritual and that of course is food! The traditional Southern New Year’s Day Menu MUST include certain items. One of those is Black Eyed Peas for luck. This tradition is traced back to a Civil War legend about a town running out of food but being saved by discovering black eyed peas. A lot of southern traditions also stipulate that rice must also be included with the black eyed peas. Most southerners are aware that greens or cabbage should be eaten for prosperity because the green leaves resemble folded money. Most southern New Year’s Day dinners also include Ham or Pork. Apparently this is because pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Pork also signifies wealth and prosperity because of its rich fat content. Check out the recipe below for Pulled Pork Pot Pie. This has it all –pork, greens and black eyed peas with a cornbread topping.
This got me to wondering what other parts of the country and the world like to eat on New Years. An Asian tradition is to eat long noodles as a symbol of a long life. (But don’t break the long noodle before it is all in your mouth!)
Folks in Italy like to eat lentils on the New Year. Because the little legumes resemble coins, they are a symbol of prosperity.
Some Turkish families enjoy pomegranates as a symbol of abundance and fertility – so all of you that are planning on increasing the size of your family in 2014 need to check out the recipe below for Deluxe Waldorf Salad.
Some Asian and European countries have fish on New Year’s as a symbol of prosperity. This is because fish move forward in the water and also because they are often found in abundance in large schools.
Tradition also has it that you should not eat chicken on New Years Day. This is because chickens scratch backwards, which will cause regret or dwelling in the past. Actually, you should not eat any winged fowl on this day, in order to avoid your good luck from flying away!
I have put together an interesting and fun menu for my New Year’s Day Dinner – and included some of the recipes for you to try as well! Whatever you have to eat on New Years --- I hope it brings each of you a happy and prosperous 2014 full of answered prayers, happy endings, and exciting beginnings!
Appetizer: Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup
Salad: Deluxe Waldorf Salad
Entrées: Soba Noodles with Shrimp and Vegetables
Pulled Pork Pot Pie
(I know this is a weird menu and the dishes may not go together, so pick and choose for yourself – but I am going to embrace all the luck I can!)
Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup
(This is pretty filling – so eat is as a main meal, or have only a small cup as an appetizer. This healthy vegetarian soup is full of potassium and fiber!)
1 T EVOO
4 med carrots – chopped
1 small onion – chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can (14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach
In a 4 quart saucepan, heat oil until hot and add carrots and onions. Cook 5 – 10 min until lightly browned and tender. Stir in cumin and cook 1 minute. Add all the rest of the ingredients except spinach. Cook about 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach. Makes about 7 ½ cups.
Options: Add any vegetables you have. This is a great way to use up those odds and ends in the fridge!
Deluxe Waldorf Salad
1 med lemon
½ cup light mayo (or the full fat version is fine too)
¼ tsp celery salt
¼ tsp ground cardamom
2 large apples
2 large pears
½ pound seedless greed or red grapes
2 cups chopped celery
2/3 cup crumbled cheese (feta, Stilton, or Gorgonzola)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 pomegranate, seeds only
Squeeze juice of the lemon into a large bowl and stir in mayo, salt and cardamom. Cut unpeeled apples and pears into chunks and cut each grape in half. Chop celery. Add apples, grapes, grapes and celery to dressing and stir. Refrigerate.
Line plates with baby spinach, watercress or lettuce leaves. Stir cheese and walnuts into salad and spoon over green leaves on plate. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Soba Noodles with Shrimp, Snow Peas and Carrots
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp peeled grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
¼ - ½ tsp cayenne pepper sauce
1 package – 8 oz – soba noodles (100% buckwheat)
½ bag (10 oz) shredded or matchstick carrots (about 1 ½ cups)
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 ounces of snow peas, strings removed
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped – plus more for garnish
Combine peanut butter, ginger, soy, vinegar, sesame oil and cayenne pepper sauce. Set aside.
Heat large saucepot of water with 1 tsp salt to boiling. Add noodles and cook 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook 1 minute. Add shrimp and snow peas and cook 2 more minutes. Save ½ cup pasta cooking water and drain the rest into large colander. Transfer noodle mixture to large bowl.
Wisk cooking water into peanut butter mixture until well blended. Add mixture and cilantro to noodles and toss until evenly coated. To serve, spoon into 4 large bowls and garnish with cilantro sprig.
Options: Substitute broccoli or other vegetable for the snow peas.
Pulled Pork Pot Pie
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped collard greens (or any cooked greens you have)
1 box (8 ½ oz) corn muffin mix (or your own cornbread batter)
1 container (18-20 oz) refrigerated barbecue sauce with shredded pork (or your favorite BBQ pork)
1 can (15-16 oz) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (or your homemade black eyed peas)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove frozen collard greens from package and microwave in small bowl until mostly thawed but still cool enough to handle (about 2-3 minutes). Squeeze greens to remove excess water. Prepare corn muffin mix as directed on label – do not bake. Spread sauce with pork in bottom of 1 ½ quart glass or ceramic baking dish and top with black eyed peas and collard greens. (Or you can use individual oven-safe bowls for individual pot pies). Spoon cornbread batter evenly over greens. Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until filling is hot and cornbread is well-browned.
There you have it! All the requirements fulfilled in one dish!
2014 – It’s here – almost.It really is almost here.In a few days.Maybe if I keep saying it over and over it will sink in, but so far, it still seems unreal.I have always loved the thought of a New Year!I love the idea of a fresh start… new beginning… clean slate.You would think that over all the years and years of making long lists of resolutions in which most, if not all, went unfulfilled and were soon forgotten, that I would feel discouraged.You would think that when I find the crumpled list in the bottom of the kitchen junk drawer or folded neatly underneath the scarf that hasn’t been worn since last winter that I would be disheartened.But that has never happened.That is the beauty of January 1st.Success lies ahead – crouched in the mist – there within sight but yet just slightly out of reach.Maybe this year – 2014 – I will fulfill these lofty and all-encompassing goals of being a healthier, better human being. I usually start writing out my thoughts in the beginning of December, so that by the 31st my long list of resolutions had been honed and sharpened into a concise, lean, meaningful and organized directory of all the ways I will improve myself and my life in the New Year.Not so this year. Yes, I have jotted down a few thoughts here and there but nothing like the focused and intense inventory of determined decrees from the past.Time has gotten away from me this year.Of course, I know that time has plodded along, untouched by my frantic schedule, and is I who have not used time wisely.Maybe that should be my first resolution – to take personal and full accountability for, well – everything.Maybe if I just had that one resolution, all the rest would fall into place?But, it is just so easy to attribute all my short-comings to lack of a consistent schedule, working several jobs, traveling back and forth.But – those are just excuses.I spend too much time in front of the TV and not enough time reading.I eat too much unhealthy foods and not enough natural, unprocessed food.I don’t seek out opportunities for physical activity and exercise.I don’t take – or make – the time to call or visit friends and family.So – maybe the fact that I did not get around to making a long and detailed list of resolutions is for the best.Maybe my only resolution needs to be a simple and all-encompassing decree:Stop making excuses and just do what needs to be done.One little action at a time.One small choice at a time.When you get to be my age, it is not a knowledge deficit… just a determination deficit.Resolve.I think that will be my mantra for 2014.Resolve to BE.Not to do… but first to be who I want to be and then the doing will follow.It’s worth a shot, right?
I will be checking in with you from time to time and hopefully writing about my progress and small victories in my journey towards personal health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.I also am resolved to write more blogs and include more recipes for you to try.2013 was an exciting year – but I believe with all my heart that 2014 will be nothing short of amazing!
Today I made Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling. Lord Have Mercy! These are the happiest little things in my world right now! No wonder they are named "Whoopie" Pies - cause the only other name could have been "Holy Mother these are Good" but that's not such a great name for a cookie. Although....
I have been thinking of of Maine and Autumn and fall foliage and crisp weather along with the bluest of skies. I am so very ready for this summer to be over. I don't mean to complain, because it really hasn't been all that terrible until August came around... but I am ready.
What made me want to make these Whoopie Pies was a sweet memory. A few years ago, my Better Half and I took a vacation to Maine. What a gorgeous place! We took long rides through the countryside. We would be driving down these back roads - all by ourselves (there didn't seem to be very many people in Maine), and the air was cool and the leaves were absolutely stunning - and we cme across a little road side stand that was selling pies. This stand was completely self service - there was no one around at all! We just selected what we wanted and dropped our money in a little lock box. There were all kinds of pies, cookies and little cakes - and some of the stands even had jellies. We came across several of these little shrines to faith in human nature and monuments to simple joys and they made me so incredibly happy. At one little shrine in the middle of nowhere we got a pumpkin whoopie pie. It was Autumn in a little cake and I have never forgotten it.
I haven't had a Whoopie Pie since - but that memory made we want to have one again. So -- I gave it my best shot - and I have to say ---- It would make a Mainer (is that what they are called?) proud I think. These are soft little cakes with all the wonderful Fall spices like cinnamon, ginger and a little clove - and in betwixt the little cakes is a cream cheese maple filling - Oh My Glory! When Sara tried one, she actually slapped me (Get it? It is so good it makes you want to slap yo' Mama?)
Maybe - just maybe - if we all have a Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with Maple Cream Cheese Filling it will make Autumn get here a little faster !!! Or at least it will make us remember that soon - real soon - we will be in the Glory that is Fall once again!
Hello to all of our faithful customers... Just a note to sayTHANKS for your continued support during these summer months! Just a couple more months to go (just think - October is in less than 70 days - how can that be true?) and then we will see some cooler Autumn weather!
SomeNEW and EXCITING events coming your way in August and September!
Starting the first full week in August, we will be introducing a special promotion called MID-WEEK MEAL DEAL. Those of you who stop by after work to pick up will love this program. This would also be great for someone with a new baby, someone recovering from an illness or death of a loved one, or anyone (including you!) who needs a little break!
Mid-Week Meal Deals will be pre-ordered (by Monday afternoon) and can be picked up anytime on Wednesday or Thursday of that week. The Large Meal Deal consists of an entrée, side or salad, dessert and bread and feeds 4 - 6. The Mini Meal Deal feeds 2. Two choices for entrée, salad, and dessert will be available every week. Pick up a flyer this week at the shop or click on the mid-week meal deal tab at the top of the page.
We are also excited about a new line of deli-meats! Starting next week we will be switching our current Turkey and Ham lunch meat to the Metro Deli line. Unlike most lunch meats, these exceptional products are minimally processed and contain NO artificial ingredients, NO preservatives, and NO binders or fillers! Look for nutritional information coming soon on these products.
We hope that all of you have been having a wonderful summer thus far! August is upon us, which is sometimes the hardest month of all, so just remember cooler weather will be here before you know it!
Remember that as a small business, we depend on you and your feedback to continually improve. Want to see us make a special dish or have an old family recipe you want us to make ? Need a special order for an event? Just give us a call and we will try our hardest to make it happen for you!
PS - Don't forget to check out the gift shop when you come by for lunch...we have lots of new cute gifts and specialty items available New things arrive ALL the time!
VERY cool handmade wooden crafts!
Copper Wall pockets w/ beautiful patina! These are DEFINATELY one of a kind pieces!
UNIQUE rooting vases!
LOTS of choices for tea ball infusers! and ONLY $5.00!
EVEN more choices for TEA!!$4
DELICIOUS Dill Crackers! $6
Beer Batter Bread mix makes a GREAT gift for any occasion! Try it with a flavored or dark beer for a tasty twist! $5
We have MANY choices for spice, dip & dressing mixes! These are GREAT to have on hand for gifts or to use in your OWN kitchen! $4
POPCORN RICE!! Smells Amazing and taste even better! And grown RIGHT here in LOUISIANA!! Large Bag $8 and small $5
And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter for daily special, sales and other tidbits of information! :)