The past few days, my cooking and baking has been at a minimum. With all the fresh produce available this time of year, we have been eating lots of salads and raw fruits, because when food is this fresh, it tastes so good in its most natural state. Raspberries, blueberries, and cherries are in season right now, and they are some of the most flavorful fruits! This is the time of year to be outside as much as possible, and to let go of the schedule as much as possible. Sometimes the best recipe is no recipe at all, but just eating raspberries right from the bush, or stopping along the road at a stand that says “washed sweet cherries,” and eating the sweet, juicy cherries right there in the car.
Sometimes the best photo is the one you didn’t take, the one that shimmers in your memory like water in a lake.
Sometimes you just want to laugh a little longer and hug your loved ones a little tighter, stay up a little later, and drink a strong cup of coffee in the morning.
Sometimes the best stories are the ones you cannot possibly put into words, but remain in your heart forever.
I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, and I will be back soon with a recipe to share! I have been working on my favorite pico de gallo recipe, but it still needs some work, much to my son’s and husband’s pleasure in testing each batch.
This light and refreshing soup is a delicious way to use summer vegetables. Packed with nutrients from all the greens and protein from the Greek yogurt, it’s a healthy soup too. Vichyssoise is a French word, and though some sources say this type of soup originated in France, some say it began in the United States. In any case, Vichyssoise is usually served cold, though it can also be served warm. It typically consists of potatoes, leeks or some type of onions, and some kind of creamy ingredient, such as milk, cream, or yogurt. There are countless variations, and it’s fun to experiment with it.
The recipe I am sharing below is based on one I found in my latest (and ever-evolving) cookbook obsession, Cranbrook Reflections: A CulinaryCollection. It features potatoes, green onions, and cucumbers. However, I substituted garden-fresh spinach and Swiss chard for the lettuce, and Greek yogurt for sour cream. Chilled and blended to a creamy smoothness, it is truly delicious and energizing. With the muggy weather we have been having here, it feels good to have a cold soup packed with rejuvenating greens. It keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, and I know I will be enjoying it for the next couple of lunches.
Today, I believe we will finally have a reprieve from the mosquitoes. The air feels less humid, there is a fresh breeze, and the sun is bright. It has been quite a couple of weeks for mosquitoes here. Maybe this afternoon we can pick our black raspberries and work in the garden, without being attacked! The fresh breeze and warm sun of today make me think of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson excerpts: “Inebriate of Air–am I–/And Debauchee of Dew–/Reeling through endless summer days–/From inns of Molten Blue.” Hope you all have a nice end of the week and weekend!
3 and 1/2 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if want to make it vegetarian)
1 teaspoon of salt, or salt to taste
dash of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you prefer)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the potato and green onion and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the cucumber, greens, dill, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow the soup to cool. Stir in the Greek yogurt. Puree the mixture in a blender in batches until smooth. Refrigerate the soup until cold, or you may serve it warm if desired. Garnish with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, or chives. Enjoy!
This luxurious whipped cream is infused with a subtle hint of lavender. It turns a serving of fresh fruit into a wonderfully indulgent treat. Lavender seems to be all the rage this summer, so I have been inspired to make something with it too. We have lots of lavender flourishing in our garden, and I like to pick the flowers and put them in vases to make the house smell good, but I had never used it in food until I made this whipped cream. I am so happy I tried this recipe, because I absolutely love it. Sometimes it feels so good to make something special and delicious, even if (or especially if) it is impractical and not completely necessary. I often get bogged down in the necessary duties of life, and need to be reminded to lighten up! Making this whipped cream did that–it was just for fun and pleasure. I felt like I was stepping back in time a bit to make this, back to when people took the time to soak the lavender flowers in whipping cream overnight, and then whipped the cream by hand until it fluffed up into delicate peaks of sweetness.
The lavender makes this a special whipped cream, and I was happy my making of this coincided with a visit from some special friends I don’t get to see very often. A very dear college friend (and former cross country teammate) and her sister visited our house yesterday. One of them lives in Spain and the other lives in Senegal, so it was such a treat to have them and one of their daughters at our table, taste-testing the whipped cream for me (they liked it a lot). I loved visiting with them, talking about old times, and hearing about the different cultures and food traditions in the countries they now call home.
I stumbled upon this recipe for lavender whipped cream in a wonderful cookbook, called Cranbrook Reflections: A CulinaryCollection. I say stumbled upon because my kids and I happened to be at a library that was having a used book sale, and because I love collecting cookbooks, I gravitated to the cookbook section and found it. In any case, I will be making this whipped cream again, since we have a great supply of lavender and I want to try it with all the upcoming seasonal fruits.
It tasted delicious with watermelon chunks and blueberries, though the watermelon made it a little watery at the bottom of the jar. It also tasted wonderful with just blueberries, and as they are not as full of liquid, there was no water at the bottom. I can imagine it would also be great with raspberries, peaches, and of course strawberries. As long as you plan ahead a few hours to make time for the cream to absorb the flavor of the lavender flowers, this whipped cream is really easy and fun to make. I am sharing this post over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday site with a bunch of inspiring bloggers.
3 tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers, without the stems (or 1 tablespoon of dried lavender flowers)
1 tablespoon of sugar
Pour the cup of heavy cream into a small bowl. Add the lavender flowers. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours so the cream absorbs the flavor of the lavender flowers. Then pour through a wire mesh strainer (or if you don’t have one, you can also use a colander with small holes) to carefully remove the flowers from the cream. Beat the cream in a bowl until it is almost stiff, and then add the sugar gradually. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat. The first couple of times I made whipped cream by hand, I pretty much made butter because I beat it too much. Keep an eye on the texture and stop when the peaks form. Garnish with fresh lavender flowers if you wish. Use this whipped cream to top any kind of fruit. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from Cranbrook Reflections: A Culinary Collection.