a bucket of flowers.

It doesn’t happen all too often.

But every once in a great while, I get this sudden itch to take out a shovel and dig up some dirt.

I find that the older I get, the more I enjoy the simple things of life.  Like taking my time in selecting just the right flowers for just the right arrangement.  Not caring if something was “right” or “wrong” or what Martha Stewart might think, might do.

None of that.

No primping or prepping (or obsessive Type A planning!)  This afternoon, I plunged my hands into the damp, earthy soil and found myself elbow deep in the most incredibly simplistic joy of flowers.

Of course, you should know, this is a yearly tradition of mine, of dad’s.  Every mother’s day.

We briefly look over the pre-planted buckets of flowers in the florist shops, as if observing our yearly competition.  It doesn’t matter if each and every pot looks beyond perfect (because, you know, they usually do.)  We have other ideas and plans, and we always find ourselves patiently foraging our way through each and every individual plant.

I used to be of the opinion that flowers served no purpose (you can at least, after all, eat a vegetable!)

But then.

Flowers make me smile.

And I have a (not so secret) obsession with quaint little florist shops.

AND, this is the one time I have a good excuse to get my hands dirty.

The secret to putting together your own arrangement is to choose the flowers that make you smile the most.

Throw together a wide selection of flowers with varying colors, sizes and attitude (yes, flowers have attitude!)

And then, as with cooking, just have fun with it.

 

That kind of a day.

It’s been that kind of a day.

…licking up an ice cream cone before it decides to melt…

…smiling & laughing & pretending the day will never ever end…

…getting the hands dirty…

…and watching things grow…

…enjoying the warm, gentle kisses of summer’s mid-morning sun…

…listening to the trees whisper; watching them dance…

…dicing and drizzling and grilling a storm…

…yes…

…it’s been that kind of a day.

QUESTION: What was the highlight of your day (or weekend!)?

a bowl of warm weather soup.

Through the heat of summer, I will eat my weight in leafy salads.  I will also eat my weight in vegetable soups.

Yes.  Soups!

Soups that are served piping hot in the winter are usually versatile enough to be served chilled during the warmer days of summer.

If the idea of chilled soup weirds you out just a little, then I recommend you start with a basic, chunky, minestrone soup.  Filled to the brim with bright, summery vegetables.

(I also recommend that you stock your freezer full of individual servings of this soup, as it will disappear quickly!!)

Since we’re on the topic of recommendations, can I just throw one more out there?

Okay.

I recommend serving this soup with either a grilled cheese sandwich, dunking it into the tomato based broth as you go. Or, serve with sweet potato chips for that delightful, crunchy, sweet factor.  C-R-U-N-C-H.

Yes.  I eat many, many salads in the summer.  I also eat lots and lots of vegetable soups.  Cold, chilly soups that cool me down and fill me up.

It’s like summer.  Summer in a bowl.

Garden Minestrone Soup

(serves 8)

Serve hot in the winter and chilled in the summer!

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 3 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
  • 4 cups chopped tomato, divided
  • 3 (14 oz) cans fat-free, low sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1 (15.5 oz0 can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (6oz) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes or until softened.  Add oregano and garlic, saute 1 minute.  Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot and corn; saute 5 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Remove from heat.
  2. Place 3 cups tomato and 1 can broth in a blender; process until smooth.  Add tomato mixture to pan; return pan to heat.  Stir in remaining 1 cup tomato and remaining 2 cans broth; bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Add barley and beans to pan; cook 10 minutes or until barley is tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in spinach, salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Serve and enjoy!
QUESTION: What are some of your favorite warm weather eats?

What Do I Do: Bok Choy

Thank you so very much for all of the sweet comments regarding the new blog site and look!!  Thank you also to everyone for updating your subscriptions and readers.  I’m excited about all the changes that I have in store, and I can’t wait to share them with you.  Blogging wouldn’t be the same without you!!  

~Sarah

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What Do I Do…

…with Bok Choy?

A few days ago, I found myself standing in the produce isle, face to face with a giant, slightly oblong, very unusual looking globe.  Pearly white at the bottom.  Rich and deeply green at the top.  It struck me that having made the time to get to know this funny vegetable a little bit more, he wasn’t at all as intimidating as I had first made him out to be.

Until today, when I remembered that very same bok choy, and how it was still sitting in my fridge.  Stuffed somewhere between the milk carton, the leftover brown rice and the bottle of Trader Joe’s raspberry jam.

Some girls buy loads and loads of shoes.  

This girl buys loads and loads of vegetables.

They way I see it, vegetables are cheaper than shoes anyway, so I’ve never really tried to cure myself of this problem.

Just like swiss chard, bok choy is a low maintenance kind of vegetable.  Rinse.  Chop.  Saute with salt and vinegar.

I like that about bok choy.  I think we’ll be good friends.

Sauteed Bok Choy

(Serves 1-2)

The white stalks are bright and sweet.  The greens have a slight mustard quality.  Together, they perform the most beautiful symphony of flavors.

  • 1 head bok choy, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • red wine vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Add bok choy.  Cook until beginning to wilt.  Add salt and vinegar, continue to cook until soft and tender.  Enjoy!