Florida Freeze!

B2784127-FB09-40F5-8357-06B32E70DA12This morning I wake up to freezing cold! It’s 22 degrees here! You may not think thats a big deal but this is Florida! BRRR! It’s rare that I want to stay inside but after I feed all the animals I am staying inside today. We are kinda spoiled here in Florida. Most of the year we are outside. Even on super hot summers you can usually enjoy the early mornings or evenings. The problem here is we are not used to this kind of cold! Non of us, people, plants, animals. The last few winters here have been pretty mild and all the plants have been thriving. So this cold weather causes a whole lot of extra work, blanketing horses, covering plants, turning on hoses, so the pipes don’t break, uhg. And getting all bundled up to go outside with jackets, and gloves, and scarves, and hats, and boots, makes me feel claustrophobic, like I’m in a straight jacket or something! And then after all that, the next day it can be like 80 degrees out! So you never actually have the time to get used to it. The cold is usually short lived so you have to go and uncover everything plants, animals, etc. Everything turns brown and ugly and they say not to cut back the brown stuff because it can protect the plants the next time a freeze blows through. So now you get to enjoy all the ghastly dead looking plants in your yard until spring!

I’m really not complaining I embrace it all! It is actually quite refreshing as long as you don’t have to stay out in it too long. The dogs love it, they are running around the yard like maniacs, this is Lulu’s first winter. The horses are spunky and spry, snorting and prancing. The frost on the ground looks beautiful shimmering in the morning sun. I am very lucky to be able to stay in my warm cozy house, today I think I will try a new recipe,  Winter Vegetable Soup with Turkish Meatballs*! Sounds delicious and nutritious on this cold winters day.

I’m sure, even with my best efforts, I will lose some plants to the cold. Some trees are too big to cover, sometimes a cover blows off in the middle of the night, sometimes you forget that one little plant hiding in the corner. Nature is amazing and tenacious! I am already catching ” Spring Fever”! I can’t wait to see what pops back up this spring!

This recipe*is from Eating Well magazine, I can’t wait to try it!

 

 

Soups On!

Today I am having trouble sitting here and writing. It is beautiful outside and the weather is calling me. I have had a cold for a couple of days so I am trying to take it easy and give myself a chance to recuperate. I haven’t had a head cold in years and this is really annoying! I have been on a roll, eating healthy, and exercising. Yoga everyday which is definitely helping the mobility in my shoulder. As I said before, I have been taking back some control in my life and getting on with it! I was really feeling wonderful and then this…a head cold! Runny nose, watery eyes, headache, sneezing, sniffling, whining. Yes whining! Why now when I have so much to do? Funny. Is there ever really a good time to have a cold?  All I can say is this needs to hurry up and get on outta here so I can get back to my plans!

This is the time of year for soup. I love soup. It is so warm and comforting. I am going to make a huge pot of French onion soup, one of my favorites. And everyone knows a good hot bowl of soup is good for what ails ya! I just found a recipe that uses five different kinds of onions, scallions, shallots, yellow, red, and leeks. I make my soup with a beef broth and a little pinch of cloves. I remember one time, when I had a cold, I made this soup and when I was chopping all the onions my eyes started watering, my nose started running, loosening up all the congestion in my head. Not a pretty sight but afterwards my cold was gone! Onions have many healing properties. I am hoping this works again! Ta ta for now I have to go get chopping!

Recipe

1 lb mixed onions

¼ cup butter

2 pints beef stock

2 twigs of fennel

1 clove

salt and pepper

1 tsp sugar

provolone for topping

splash of brandy

Slice onions, cook in butter in a large cast iron pan until transparent. Bring stock to boil and pour over the onions. Add fennel, clove and seasoning. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Carmelize sugar in a long handled spoon by holding it over heat until it melts and turns a lovely golden brown, stir into soup. Remove soup from heat. Add brandy. Serve with a nice toasty french bread. If you have oven safe crocks, put the toasted slice of bread in the bowl, ladle in soup, then put a slice of provolone cheese on top. Put the bowls on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for just a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. To your good health, enjoy!!!

 

Soups On!

It has been a cold blustery week here and I enjoy making soup when the weather is like this. I just love having a pot of warm comfort simmering all day on the stove or in the crock pot! It warms my soul just thinking about it! Oh and if Jerry bakes some of his delicious fresh crusty bread it’s hard to beat! I can imagine sitting by the fire with a heavy earthen bowl of soup, dipping bread into the rich broth, savoring each bite, while reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain!

Ok back to reality!!! I live in Florida, I don’t have a fireplace! It has been cold but today it should be in the 70’s and the sun has just come out. Should be a beautiful day! No doubt I won’t be sitting in the house. However, I do enjoy making soup. I like all kinds of soup but one of my favorites is French Onion Soup. Here is a quick and easy recipe for some really delicious French Onion Soup.

1 lb large onions sliced nice and thin, cook in a large heavy cast iron pan in ¼ cup of butter until translucent, then take 2 pints of beef stock bring it to a boil and pour it carefully over the onions. Next add 2 twigs of fennel or ¼ tsp of fennel seed, a couple cloves, salt and pepper to taste. Bring it all to a gentle simmer. Then in a long handled spoon, hold a teaspoon of sugar, very carefully, over heat until it caramelizes, stir this into the soup. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile place a slice of toasted french bread in each oven safe bowl, top with some grated cheese(gruyere, provolone, or mozzarella) Add a dash of brandy to the soup, ladle it into your bowls over the toast, add more cheese on top and stick bowls under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Enjoy! This soup has turned even my most finicky friends into onion soup lovers!

And if you haven’t read Kitchen Confidential, you must! Anthony Bourdain has a wonderful writing style. He almost makes you feel like you are sitting down with the bad boy of cooking and having a chat! Check it out and let me know what you think.

 

It’s All Good

IMG_0719Wow the beginning of the year, always a whirlwind of activity! There always seems to be so much going on, not to mention all the birthdays and out of town visitors we have at this time of the year. We just got through Christmas and New Years and the energy is high to get the new year kicked off right. So, you just started eating clean, your feeling so much better, fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge yea! Then the birthday cakes and the hot chocolate come, oh just a little won’t hurt! Have a bonfire on these wonderful cool crisp evenings, just one smore! Company comes, decadent food is prepared (you know you want to show off your cooking skills!) it seems like all we are doing is eating!!!I don’t know about you, but I like to eat cozy warming foods when its cold out, a salad just doesn’t seem to have the same appeal to me when it’s 30 degrees outside. The crazy food dance begins! Eat this, not that! Organic, GMO, local, free range, the list goes on and on! You can have a little, no you should NEVER eat that! Every year the information about food and healthy eating gets more and more confusing! Or should I say tiring?

It seems like a distant dream…sitting by a cozy fire with a cup of hot chocolate still in your jammies curled up with the dogs, a good book, and no guilty conscience….YEAH RIGHT! So much to do, often seems overwhelming. Not to mention the crazy weather we have here in Florida, one day its 80 degrees and the next day it is freezing. Cover the plants, uncover the plants, whoops forgot one…it froze! Blanket the horses it’s gonna be cold, uncover the horses their sweating in their blankets! It can be cold enough that you don’t want to go outside but, you still can. I think I have just realized this could be a downside of living in Florida, we never have a down time, a time to hibernate. I think nature wants us to slow down in the winter to reflect, relax, and renew. The earth does, the animals do, everything is asleep but me! I find that I rarely find the time to read a good book, and I love a good read. Note to self…make the time!

I know it is all just silly…I do it to myself! This month I have started a new artist support group at my studio, which had to be cleaned out and whacked into shape, I am experimenting with new forms of art and trying to meet a show deadline. Just started a new batch of Kombucha. I have reconnected with some old friends. Had some inspiring conversations and I am trying to meditate for 20 minutes a day. There are times to be still and times to get a move on! It’s all good!