tea

Noticing Life

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The other day on a podcast I heard that the host, as part of her daily routine went outside to sit and enjoy nature with her first cup of coffee in the morning. She just sat and noticed things and took some time to meditate on nature. This sounded so glorious and so peaceful. So, the last couple of mornings I have done this. I have decided that every morning possible I will go out with my tea and just sit and observe nature in my backyard garden space. If the weather is rainy, I will pull my chair up to the window where I can still sit and meditate on nature and notice.

Today as I sat noticing I saw that the light comes through the bottom of the fence at a particular time of morning. I noticed that beautiful sunshine comes through the small gaps in the fence boards. I noticed that a very large bird sat on the top branches of a very large tree, the bird looked like the star on a Christmas tree. It had a very loud call as well. As if it were saying “Good morning! I am here!”

I noticed a squirrel running along the narrow top edge of our fence, then it was joined by another squirrel and they chased each other from the fence to a tree, to another tree. What fun they seemed to have as they effortlessly hopped from branch to branch, playing a fun game.

I noticed all of the different sounds the birds made. Everything from a loud squawk, to a morning dove call, to light flute-like twittering from small birds. They all were in a morning concert together, greeting the light of the day, starting their morning with a song.

I noticed the branches with buds of flowers or leaves about to burst into life. I noticed the color contrast of the beautiful trees against the bright blue sky. I noticed the wind rustling the branches and leaves gently in the breeze. Their swishing sounds adding to the morning song.

When was the last time you sat and just noticed? It seemed to me this morning that there is almost a second world out there that we are not always aware of. I second kingdom of animals and nature that we only see in passing out of the corner of our eyes. But it is so very magical when we sit and notice.

Have you noticed life today?

Irish Tea and Fruit Muffins

gluten free and dairy free Irish Tea and Fruit Muffins

This muffin brings back fond memories of many Saturday mornings serving up fresh baked goods at the farmer's market. For 4 years I had a baking business that I ran alongside my mom and my sister in law. For about 6 months out of the year we would bake all day each Friday and be at the market most of the day selling our goodies. 

Irish tea bread mini-loaves was one of the things that we sold, especially because we were called "Farmer's Tea." We brought a lovely tea party spread to the market with our baked goods and fresh, hot organic tea that we served along with the treats. 

This delectable tea bread which I have now turned into muffins and converted to a gluten free recipe will always be one of my favorites. I hope that you will enjoy it soon with a steaming hot cup of tea on a cold, rainy day. 

Irish Tea and Fruit Muffins: 

Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, apricots, plums, pears, peaches, pineapple, cherries, dates, etc.) chopped small- to about the size of raisins

1 cup boiling black tea

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

4 teaspoons fresh grated orange rind

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups gluten free flour mix**

**GLUTEN FREE FLOUR MIX: 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour) 

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum 

--12 paper muffin liners

--12 small pieces of dried pineapple to garnish tops of muffins

1. The night before making the muffins: In a medium bowl, soak the chopped dried fruit in the hot tea. Soak overnight. 

2. Mix together the gluten free flour mix. You will use 2 cups of the mix. Store the rest in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. 

2. In the morning add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. The mixture will seem dry at first and is very thick, but after stirring a minute or two the mixture will absorb the liquid in the tea, egg and honey. 

3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place paper liners in the cups of a muffin tin.

4. Evenly distribute the muffin batter between the 12 holes in the muffin tin. Bake for about 15 minutes, then place the dried pineapple slices on top of the muffins and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown and checked for doneness with a toothpick in the middle of the muffin.  

I hope you enjoyed this delicious muffin recipe! If you did, pass it on to a fruit & tea loving friend! 

A Cooking Garden & Herbed Meatball Recipe

Fresh Herb and Garbanzo Bean Meatballs

This spring I have made a new commitment to my backyard garden. In years past when I was busy with my baking businesses I had not allowed as much time in the garden as I would have liked. However, now I am making it a daily and weekly priority and it has brought so much joy to my life. I love how spring has brought with it so many beautiful gifts from the earth and so many delicious things to eat! 

I am so amazed at the variety of things I am growing in my garden this year and how some extra care and attention has brought forth more wonderful produce that I can bring into the kitchen. In this post I will share with you what I am currently growing as well as a meatball recipe that includes many of the herbs I am growing in my garden this year. This season I am going all out and growing all of the herbs that I have wanted to grow for a long time to add freshness and vitality to my dishes. What are you growing in your garden today? What has you most excited? I would love to know! 

Very soon I will be featured on the wonderful Organic Gardening Podcast & I wanted to make sure you learned about it. Here is the podcast website. I hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as I do and learn lots about growing a sustainable and wonderful garden this year! 

http://organicgardenerpodcast.com/

Here is a run-down on the current state of my garden. I would love to hear what you are growing and what your favorite plants are to cook in the kitchen. Feel free to comment below or send me an email about your garden! :)

Strawberries, Huckleberries, Mint, Blueberries and Tea in the Garden

Things that I currently grow in my garden: 

Herbs: 

Mint, Sage, Tarragon, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Rosemary,Thyme, Pineapple Sage, Sage, Parsely

Berries: 

Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries and Huckleberries

Vegetables: 

Lettuce, Artichokes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Spinach, Peas

Other Edible Plants: 

Roses (I use the petals in desserts), Tea plants to make green tea from, Rhubarb

Now on to a delicious and simple recipe to put to use some of the variety of herbs in the garden: 

Fresh Herb and Garbanzo Bean Meatballs: 

Makes 15-20 meatballs depending on the size you make them. 

I like to serve this with oven roasted potatoes and oven roasted asparagus

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley)

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped canned garbanzo beans

1 pound organic grass fed beef

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

olive oil for frying meatballs

1. Mix all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a medium bowl. Mix together well with your hands. Form into small meatballs. 

2. Heat up olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, or in an electric skillet set to about 350F. 

3. Add the meatballs and fry them on all sides until golden brown. 

4. Serve with oven roasted potato wedges and oven roasted asparagus or your favorite veggies from the garden. 

Enjoy and happy gardening & cooking!!