First of all, I want to apologize if I haven't been a visitor at your blog. The days just seem so busy and short and I sometimes ask myself at the end of the day, why didn't I get more done? I know you all might think I'm a whirling dervish all the time, I am in fact, quite laid back and slow moving. A real turtle so to speak. It takes me FOREVER to get the simplest of things done. But I will be by soon, pinky promise! And another thing...I'm a hopeless case when it comes to Google+, I've tried to leave emails for some of you that now use this and I just can't find your addresses. Help!
As you can see, I went foraging for Chinese Lanterns this past week. Yes, I had on my camouflage outfit so my neighbor wouldn't see me (although actually, I think that the ones that have grown under the fence into my yard are rightfully mine). I opened up a few of the riper ones and sure enough, there is a little tomatillo inside (please don't eat these until you have researched them), and yes, there are seeds in the tomatillo, just like in a tomato. So I squeezed these out and had them drying on a paper plate and lo and behold, someone tossed them. I guess I need to label my little scientific experiments! Well, there are plenty more. And these, above, I'm drying for fall decorations.
I promised you Rosemary Salt in my last post and that's what you're getting! This was so very easy and if you have a rosemary plant or want to buy some of the fresh stuff from the grocery store, you will love this! I have a large topiary plant that I've shown you before, and it was so ready for a trim to keep it in shape so this was a great time. I filled the bowl pictured above. Now, I tripled the recipe I am giving you so that I could get three bottles which hold about 8 oz. each. To begin, take your sprigs of rosemary and "strip" them of their leaves by holding them at the tip and pinching as you pull down. You will want a half cup of leaves. Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat and let the rosemary sizzle in it for about 1 minute (you'll know the oil is hot enough when you drop a leaf in and it sizzles). Do not let the leaves brown. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel until cool.
As you can see I tripled everything because this stuff will keep for several months and you'll find a number of ways to use it.
Once the rosemary has cooled, chop each half cup up finely and combine it with 1 cup of kosher salt. Mix well. You will see that some of the olive oil mixes in with the salt so you get a really nice flavor throughout.
I stored the salt in 8 oz. bottles that I bought by the case quite inexpensively. And the kosher salt set me back $3.50 for 3 pounds! Now, what can you do with this? Well, I already tried it on homemade french fries and I was in rosemary heaven! And of course it's great on all sorts of roasts, veggies and even sprinkled on a loaf of fresh Italian or French bread, (personally I love pita bread) that has olive oil or butter on it and is ready to be popped under the broiler. I also add a pinch to the oil we use for dipping our bread in.
And speaking of dipping oils, what to do with that fragrant oil I cooked the rosemary in? I added a bit more olive oil to the pot so that I had enough to fill 3 additional 8 oz. bottles and tossed in a few whole sprigs and let that cook for 5 minutes. The sprigs turn brown (ugh) and so you should toss them. I dropped a fresh sprig into three bottles and filled them with the remaining oil. Now again, use your imagination with this oil; incorporate it into salad dressings and basically anything you use oil for. It's a healthy alternative to vegetable oil and rosemary is so versatile for flavoring so many dishes. Have fun!! :)
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet two fantastic bloggers yesterday. First, it just seems that in the 4 years I've been blogging, the number of bloggers in my area, in and around Chicago, has just multiplied. I find that I want to take things one step further as I get to know a blogger of like mindedness. I have a handful of ladies that I carry on "conversations" with through emails, and a lovely, smart and just a treasure of a person to me that I poured my heart out to on the phone recently (you know who you are, sweet friend). And this is so new to me. I've always considered myself shy and socially awkward, (aka, S.A.) Not that I'm a wallflower, I just have to really force myself to be open with strangers. But I never feel that way with the bloggers I meet. Yes, a little nervousness, but then we have that common thread of being in the blogging world and everything else falls to the wayside. That's how I felt when I visited with Kris and Anne at Kris's home. Daughter Emily also came along...she was the navigator as she attended school and received her bachelor's degree in interior design in this area, and I knew she would appreciate seeing Kris's beautifully decorated home and maybe, just maybe, we could entice her into starting a blog!! Anyyyyyway, we were greeted by Kris's cutie pie of a dog, Libby. She is the most beautiful Basset Hound I have ever come across. It was love, for all of us, at first sight!
Emily took a picture of us...L to R, Kris, Anne, me. We should have gotten a picture of Em, maybe with them or me. She had such a great time and never stopped talking. I'm so in love with her bubbly personality. She doesn't have S.A. whatsoever.
After a tour of Kris's house (and I am being a sly fox by making you go to her blog to see pictures of it and hopefully follow her, she's a doll and you're going to fall in love with her home!), we drove to Tattered Tiques, a shop that specializes in shabby, cottage, farmhouse and industrial decor. These are just a few pics I took. I've never been to a place that carries the much revered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and since I have only painted three pieces of furniture in my life (with three awaiting my magical touch), I just couldn't buy any. Leave it for the talented and curious. I did pick up some of the wax to use and a few other things that I will share later.
Some sort of wheels? I was just intrigued by how they were presented in the carrying case. Everything looked arranged so interestingly!
And the blue mason jars...look no further! They are so popular, I love seeing new uses for them. I have a few but I truly love my clear Ball jars with the original time worn galvanized lids.
Back at Kris's...she spread out a wonderful lunch in her charming dining room. Bacon and broccoli quiche, a bowl of fresh fruit and a basket of blueberry muffins. Everything was delicious and we ate and talked and laughed and talked more. Then she served a delectable fruit tart and afterwards gave us little favor bags she made and decorated with tissue flowers. They were filled with candy, a flowery pen wrapped in ribbon, a mini chalkboard and a few things I know I'm missing! Thanks so much, Kris! And I can't forget to mention that Anne from White Lace Cottage was just such a sweet gal...pretty, talented (visit her blog) and a rising star in the blog world with her shabby chic/vintage sense of style. She's starting a shop soon!
Back to real life. I finally opened up a book the other night after 2 months of reading magazines. Do you do that? Read magazines when you are exhausted and know that you can't give a book the proper attention? And as Claudia (Mockingbird Hill Cottage) and I have ruminated on, sometimes it's hard to let go of an exceptional story line and endearing characters that you want to keep alive for while, and move on to a new story, new people. So I chose to read a book in my library called The Husbands's Secret. This is also on my sidebar for your reference. The overview starts out catchy (much more catchy than the somewhat lame title):
My darling Cecilia, if you're reading this, then I've died...
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter to be opened after his death...the letter contains his deepest darkest secret-something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. And you discover this letter while your husband is very much alive. Three women; Cecilia, Tess and Rachel do not know each other, but they are about to feel the earth shattering repercussions of the husband's secret.
As one well known writer wrote, "In The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarity has created a contemporary Pandora, whose dilemma is spellbinding. Shocking, complex and thought provoking...a knockout!"
I agree with this review totally... there was nothing frivolous or redundant about this novel. I'm excited to read more by this talented Australian author, who is fast becoming popular in the States.
So, that's what I have. I am trying to work on a post for the feature on Susan's blog next Saturday that involves the blogger behind the blog, as in Jane behind Blondie's Journal. What more can I share? Writing comes easily (unlike the problem of the S.A.), so I have been pretty much an open book. At the risk of sounding vain...are there any questions you might have for me? Something you might want to know that I might possibly have never brought up before? Do you want to hear deep dark secrets? I looked at some old pictures that I thought I would scan and I exclaimed to The Husband several times, "These pictures are just not telling the story of my life!" So, if you'd like to give me some prompts, let me know. I have just a few days to write it.
Sorry, sorry, sorry for such a long post. I hope most of you skip over the parts you are not so interested in. When I'm free of S.A., I tend to drone on. Maybe the S.A. is not so bad after all! :)