Summer Vacation

Lake Mauch Chunk

Lake Mauch Chunk (Camping adventure #2)

You know how, when you were a kid, there was that huge sense of anticipation as the days of the school calendar dwindled down and you looked forward to summer vacation? Maybe your summer was going to be jam packed and busy with camps, friends, odd jobs, and late nights, but it still was something to completely look forward to. Well, since the middle of May, that’s how life has been here—Completely insanely busy, but all with wonderful things! I’ve gone on two camping trips, met with the Mayor of my town, worked on a farm each week, wrapped up the Girl Scout year for the Brownies with the First Aid and Hiking badges, helped run an Amazing Race for the Seniors, plus worked my regular job and made time for my husband and cooked up some tasty food. In the next 10 days, I’ll spend 2 nights in Washington D.C. for the world’s largest Singalong, 2 nights in Philadelphia for a cooperative business conference, attend a court hearing for the jerk who stole my camera, run a local 5k, celebrate Fathers’ Day, and hopefully attend the SouthSide Film Festival.

What am I getting at, here? Well, during summer vacation, there’s no homework—Even if that homework would be on a topic you love. It wouldn’t be vacation, otherwise!

So, From Here Now will be taking a summer vacation until the beginning of July. When I get back, I’ll be refreshed, invigorated, and full of cool things to do in the LV and foods to enjoy from our local sources.

In the mean time, go outside, find a fruit tree in your neighborhood for a free snack (make sure you bring someone who knows what trees are safe!), make garlic scape pesto, pick strawberries, sit on your porch and watch a thunderstorm roll in, read a book, and choose one of your daily tasks to put aside for a short amount of time—make your own summer vacation!

See you in July!

 


Dandelion Green & Potato Soup

It happens to everyone—You get a little too busy too cook after buying a bunch of fresh produce, or you lose a bunch of wonderful greens in the back of the crisper drawer, and by the time you find them, they are not of salad quality. We’re usually pretty good about not letting food get past its prime in our home, but with our ridiculous schedules the past few weeks, we found a couple of items went over the hill. One of the things I was pretty bummed to find wilted in the fridge was a big bunch of dandelion greens that I had been psyched to try. I never had dandelion greens before, although I always wanted to try them (and dandelion wine—Maybe I’ll find a pesticide-free field of blooms soon!). So, I was reluctant to throw the bunch of not-so-pretty greens away. They weren’t slimy or moldy, just a little wilted. In my mind, those are the veggies that are perfect for soup, so I set to work making a soup that used the last of my winter potatoes with the bunch of dandelion greens. The result was delightful! Dandelion greens turn out to be incredibly tasty (not to mention how good for you and inexpensive they are). This soup recipe would also work with any other dark, leafy green, like kale, chard, or spinach.

Dandelion Green & Potato Soup

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 c. stock or broth (I used smoked turkey stock)
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens
  • black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Mince garlic and chop scallions.
  2. Heat olive oil in large soup pot or dutch oven and sauté garlic and scallion for 2-3 minutes.

    Garlic & Scallion

    Garlic & Scallion

  3. Meanwhile, cube potatoes.
  4. Add potatoes to garlic & onion mixture.

    Potatoes

    A hearty yellow potato pairs well in this soup.

  5. Add stock or broth, then add water until liquid covers potatoes by 1-2 inches.

    Simmering Potatoes

    Simmering Potatoes

  6. Bring liquid to boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmering for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
  7. Meanwhile, roughly chop dandelion greens.
  8. After potatoes are tender, add greens and black pepper to pot. Cover, simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

    Dandelion Greens

    Dandelion Greens

  9. Serve hot with crusty bread.
Dandelion Green & Potato Soup

Dandelion Green & Potato Soup


Weekend Hodgepodge—Hidden Falls Edition

I sit here swigging on green tea and Gatorade, recovering after a weekend making sure the little ones in my Girl Scout troops were drinking enough water, yet forgetting to drink enough myself. Despite neglecting to properly hydrate, I had a fantastic weekend at Camp Hidden Falls with 5 Daisies, 5 Brownies, 8 Juniors, and 8 Seniors. It was bright, sunny, and warm, with minimal tears or injuries.

Camp Hidden Falls

Camp Hidden Falls

Girls on Dock

The first night, just the Seniors came along. They quickly found their favorite hangout location on this dock at Sunset Lake.

Bunks

Our first night’s accommodations were in a nice cabin just past the lake. We slept in these bunks. I got the top bunk, allowing me to feel tall for once in my life! We spent the evening snacking, talking, tie dying, playing games and making crafts- A laid back night before the arrival of the younger girls Saturday morning.

Ferns

Saturday morning, we took a nice hike to the ranger’s station to pick up the young girls as they got dropped off at camp. Ferns are one of my favorite woodland landscape elements.

Turtle

This turtle ducked his head in just as we passed by.

Hidden Falls

While we waited for the rest of the girls to arrive, the punctual scouts visited Hidden Falls, a quaint bridal veil waterfall not far from the camp entrance.

Flower

Near the falls, we saw these dandelion-like flowers with pretty rust colored edges.

Lake View Tent Site

We hauled our gear to the Lake View tent site, where all of the girls would spend Saturday night.

Two-Seater Latrine

The latrines were unlike what I was used to- Behind each large door was two seats with a partial divider wall … Awkward.

Buttermilk Falls

After a quick lunch and a discussion of Leave No Trace principles, we hiked out to Buttermilk Falls, completing a scavenger hunt along the way.

Stream

The girls had a great time exploring the falls, stream, and surrounding woodland.

Millipede

The girls saw lots of critters, including toads, snakes, racoons, and millipedes. Fortunately, despite the presence of bears in camp, we didn’t cross paths with any of them.

Irises

These irises grew along the path back to our unit.

Board Game

After the hike, the girls made Sharpie tie dyed bandana (Sharpie markers & rubbing alcohol) and played this game the Seniors developed. After rolling dice to move along the game board, the girls had to find a corresponding number card hidden in the surrounding area.

Rock Doll

A symbol on the back of the number told the Seniors which task to have the girls perform before moving on. Tasks included creating dolls out of natural objects (pictured here), making toilet paper dresses, solving puzzles, hula hooping, etc.

Columbine

While the girls played their game, I took a moment to check out the lake shore, and discovered these gorgeous Columbine blooms.

Campfire Cooking

After playing games, the girls got to work preparing dinner. The Juniors built the fire and made soup, the Daisies made baked potatoes, the Brownies made salad, and the Seniors made spinach and rice casserole.

Pot of Gold Soup

Pot of Gold Soup was tomato soup, loaded with nuggets of cheese wrapped in biscuit dough.

Spinach Rice Dutch Oven Casserole

The dutch oven casserole contained spinach, mushrooms, rice, cheese, and eggs. It was a big hit!

By the time we finished dinner, the sun had set, so we washed our dishes by flashlight and toasted marshmallows for smores before loading “smelly” items into the bear box and putting the younger girls to bed. Then, once the young ones were sound asleep, myself and another leader took the Seniors to the dock for some midnight stargazing. We saw shooting stars!

Sunset Lake

Sunday morning, the girls had “Jungle Breakfast” (where their bag of cereal and fruit is hidden in the woods), and we said goodbye to the beautiful lake. By 11am, we headed home to check for ticks, shower, nap, rehydrate, and get ready for the week (and another camping trip next weekend!)


Arugula, Hummus & Mozzarella Panini

One of my favorite things to make for dinner on busy days are paninis. Warm and creamy filling in between crisp, hot bread just seems a lot more fulfilling than the cold sandwich alternative when you are tight on time. I’ve learned that the soft cheese or spread, greens, protein, and harder cheese order of filling seems to work pretty well, with the spread and cheese acting as glue to hold the yumminess together. Good, crusty bread is also a must for paninis. If you don’t have good bread, stick with grilled American cheese & tomato soup (actually, even that should have good bread involved).

On these particular paninis, we paired some zesty spring arugula with creamy hummus, earthy mushrooms, bright pesto, and fresh mozzerella. It tastes like it takes a lot longer to make than it does!

Arugula, Hummus & Mozzerella Panini

Ingredients:

Makes 2 paninis

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 T. pesto
  • 4 T. hummus (I used roasted red pepper)
  • 4 white mushrooms
  • 1/4 red onion (or 1 very small red onion)
  • 2 handfuls arugula
  • 4 oz. mozzarella
  • 4 slices wheat bread

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice mushrooms & onion and sauté until onion is translucent.
  2. Spread pesto on two bread slices.

    Pesto on bread

    Pesto on bread

  3. Spread hummus on remaining two bread slices.

    Hummus

    Hummus on other side.

  4. Divide sautéed mushrooms & onions over hummus.

    Mushrooms & Onions

    Mushrooms & Onions

  5. Place handful of arugula on top of mushrooms & onions.

    Arugula

    Arugula

  6. Slice mozzarella and place on top of arugula.

    Mozzarella

    Mozzarella

  7. Top with pesto-spread slice of bread.
  8. Grill in preheated panini press for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted, or in skillet for 3 minutes per side.
  9. Serve hot with pesto roasted radishes and salad.
Arugula, Hummus & Mozzarella Panini

Compared to the mellower flavors of winter, this really shows of the variety of flavors for warmer months!


Weekend Hodgepodge

Whoo … I am wiped out from this weekend. It was three days of straight celebration between Commencement where I work and Mothers’ Day. There are much worse ways to spend a weekend than celebrating, but non-stop for three days gets to be tiring!

Greek Festival

I’m starting this Weekend Hodgepodge post with lunch break on Friday—The Greek Food Festival at St. Nicholas’ in Bethlehem! Twice a year, this church pulls out all the stops and cooks up Greek specialties en masse. For $10, I got two meals worth of stuffed peppers, green beans, orzo, salad, and bread. [Secret: If you go the last day, in the last 15 minutes, everything is half price]

MTS Senior Banquet

Friday night, Moravian Seminary Commencement activities began, and I attended to carry out my responsibilities as event photographer and wish the students well. Just after work, the whole MTS community gathered for a communion service, followed by a banquet.

Billy Bob Zinzendorf

Esteemed banquet guest Billy Bob Zinzendorf made his annual appearance at the banquet, providing a humorous review of the year. (For those concerned, Billy Bob DID sign a photo release, haha.)

After grazing at the banquet, I ducked out to pick up Kevin and head to a friends’ home for dinner function #2—Takeout from Prince Palace Dumpling House! I forgot to take a picture of the spread, but it was delicious and seemingly endless.

Running Shoes

Saturday morning I woke up with the determination to run a solid 4 miles for the first time. I ended up walking a portion of the last mile (why, oh why, did I put the Elizabeth Avenue hill at the end of my route???), but I did it!

Tober Laying on His Back

This is my cat doing a pretty accurate imitation of how I looked when I got back from the run.

Moravian Theological Seminary Commencement

After chugging some water and chowing down on some kohlrabi, I traded my running shoes for heels and dove back into Commencement activities. My co-workers and I set up a reception, then dashed downtown to take part in the ceremony. Academia is so funny …

Reception

After the ceremony, our building flooded with people (One student had a CHARTER BUS of supporters. How cool!) for a reception.

Lasagna

I kept my nibbling at the reception to a minimum because I knew that Kevin was at home preparing homemade lasagna with freshly made ricotta and his own pasta.

Ice Cream

For dessert, we pigged out on these ice cream sundaes. Yes, that is artificially colored mint chip ice cream and whipped cream from a can. It was utterly disappointing. However, the chocolate raw milk with whipped cream vodka was NOT disappointing.

Flowers

Sunday morning, I woke up early enough to snap this photo of the pretty flowers I planted before our slew of rabbits ate the blossoms off again.

Salmon Pizza

Two of my sisters and I took our mother to Sette Luna (review coming soon!) in Easton for brunch. After a bit of a wait, despite our reservation, the food was well worth it! I enjoyed this pizza topped with smoked salmon, ricotta, red onion, capers, and lemon. As my father noticed, “It’s like a twist on lox on a bagel!”

Yin & Yang Fondue

For my mother- and grandmother-in-law, we picked up some take out Mexican from Fiesta Olé (a favorite of my mother-in-law), then went out for dessert at the Melting Pot, where we enjoyed this Yin & Yang fondue and Flaming Turtle fondue.

After arriving back home, I popped a chicken in the oven to roast for dinners this week and set out to catch up on some of my work backlog. Now, I think it’s time to hit the hay.


Spring Brunch Pizza

Just in time for Mother’s Day brunch, I bring you this recipe for a tasty spring pizza. Garlicky pesto, earthy potatoes, creamy fromage blanc, rich eggs, and zesty arugula are piled on a crispy crust to make this hearty pizza pie. My mother-in-law had shared some duck eggs with us, and, having never tasted them before, I thought they deserved a bit more of a special treatment than the chicken eggs I normally have. According to my mother-in-law, the duck eggs have more than twice the nutrients than a chicken egg, but also twice the cholesterol. This makes sense, as the yolks looked larger and richer than chicken eggs. If you can’t find duck eggs, though, chicken eggs would work just fine in this recipe.

The crust for this pizza was made without yeast, as I couldn’t find any in the house. It was a slightly denser texture than some crusts, but still quite good with a nice, crisp bottom. Best of all, it was sooo quick and easy to mix up.

Spring Brunch Pizza

Crust Ingredients:

Crust Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. olive oil (I used mushroom-sage flavor)
  • 3/4 c. water

Topping Ingredients:

Topping Ingredients

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 T. pesto
  • 1 medium potato (I used a yellow one)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 3 bulbs wild garlic or green onions, with green tops
  • 2 duck eggs, or 3 chicken eggs
  • 2 c. arugula or chopped spinach
  • 8 oz. fromage blanc or ricotta cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix dry crust ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Add water and oil. Mix until dough forms soft, not sticky, ball (add up to 1/4 c. more flour, if necessary).

    Pizza Dough

    Pizza Dough

  4. Knead on floured surface for 3 minutes.
  5. Spread on greased pizza pan and brush edges of crust with olive oil.

    Crust in pan

    Crust in pan

  6. Spread pesto over crust.

    Pesto on Crust

    Pesto on Crust

  7. Slice the potato as thin as you can (use a mandolin if you have one). Layer potato slices on top of pesto and sprinkle with black pepper.

    Potato Layer

    The thinly sliced potatoes look pretty over the pesto.

  8. Chop white and green portions of wild garlic or green onions and sprinkle over potato layer.

    Scallions

    Scallions scattered over potatoes

  9. Bake pizza for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, scramble eggs.
  10. When pizza comes out of oven, scatter scrambled eggs over crust.

    Eggs

    The colors look like spring!

  11. Spread arugula leaves over eggs.

    Arugula

    Arugula layer

  12. Drop fromage blanc or ricotta over arugula by spoonful.
  13. Bake for 10 additional minutes, or until greens are wilted and crust is lightly browned. Allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing.
Spring Brunch Pizza

The flavors of spring appear in all different elements of this pizza. You can serve it for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner!


Weekend Hodgepodge

After a ridiculously busy (planned) and pretty wretched (not planned) week, I was really looking forward to a fun weekend. Highlights of last week included my car being subject to a hit-and-run while it was parked at work, my camera being stolen, and my ice cream sandwich disappearing from the work freezer. On a positive note, I found out my co-chair and I were awarded scholarships to the CCMA conference for cooperative businesses in Philadelphia this June!

Friday night, I darted to Best Buy after work (where I was surprised to receive really poor customer service- usually they jump on you right as you walk in the door, but this crew didn’t want to even be bothered to make a sale) to purchase a new camera. While it charged overnight, I went to my co-leader’s house for a Girl Scout sleepover (although I didn’t stay the night) with the high school troop. They had a good time making jewelry and eating brownies.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early, anticipating the highlight of the whole weekend- The Dirty Girl Mud Run!

The Fembots Team

I ran the 5K obstacle course (in the mud) with my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and friend. Since the event was to benefit breast cancer research, we thought an appropriate team name would be “The Fembots,” a la Austin Powers.

Mud Pit

Walking into the race area, we got a preview of the last obstacle- An enormous mud pit! Other obstacles included a 10ft wall climb, 20-30ft cargo net climb, mud up to my waist, rappelling down hillsides, and crawling through muddy tunnels.

Starting Line

Every 15 minutes, a wave began, totaling 8000 women running.

Shoe Pile

After an exhilarating run through the course, we tossed our mud caked sneakers into the donation pile and headed to the hose-off tent.

Team Fembots After

We were covered in mud and in high spirits after the run. We celebrated with a group fist pump before cashing in our free beer tickets.

Anne Retirement Party

After dashing back to Bethlehem, I jumped in the shower and went to catch the end of my professor and mentor’s Cinco De Mayo retirement party. I rushed in just in time to hear the toasts.

Anne's Stuff

Sunday morning, I picked up some Jumbars breakfast to go and went to my old stomping grounds in Moravian’s art department to help my former professor pack and sort her old office items. An artist’s office is always full of the most fascinating objects.

Dandelion & Potato Soup

Sunday afternoon, I set to work preparing some quick to reheat meals for dinners this week, including this dandelion & potato soup.

Spinach, mushroom & ham quiche ingredients

I also made a spinach, ham, and mushroom quiche.

Spring Brunch Pizza

I also made this spring pizza for our Sunday dinner, topped with pesto, potatoes, duck eggs, wild garlic, arugula, and fromage blanc. It was delightful! The recipe will be posted this week, just in time for Mother’s Day brunch!

So, all in all, the weekend made up for a lousy preceding week. Here’s to better weekdays to come!


It’s a CRRRAAAZZZY Week!

You know how there are some weeks where you barely have a moment to breathe, let alone process what you just did before moving on to the next commitment? That is how this week is for me! I have so many tasty recipes to post and lots of fun pictures (last weekend was spent at the North Side Cleanup & Earth Day celebration, then making Fembot t-shirts for a mud run next weekend), BUT, I think these posts are going to have to wait a few days.

Between some freelance design work (fun stuff, plus, it pays the bills!), training for my first 5k (the Dirty Girl Mud Run on Saturday), planning a science round-robin for my Brownie troop, working on the marketing plan for the food co-op, some big projects at work, and some other random events coming up, something’s gotta give! So, I am taking a brief hiatus this week.

cluttered desk

This is a pretty accurate depiction of how my office looks right now. (from Void Magazine Online)

I hope this isn’t a huge faux pax in the world of blogging—But if it is, oh well, I’ve got sh*t to do, haha! I’ll be back with a ton of juicy posts on Monday.

In the mean time, go outside! And when you are done being outside, submit a recipe to the Bethlehem Food Co-Op Cookbook! We’re putting together a rad collection of seasonal recipes as a fundraiser. You can find a ton more information here. We need 150 recipes, so get busy—I expect to see submissions rolling in while I am bustling about this week.

See you all next week!


Birthday Cake Martinis

A couple of weekends ago, I pulled out my spray-paint can cocktail shaker (thanks, Liz!) and mixed up a batch of birthday cake martinis for Kevin’s birthday. The recipe was so simple,  I hadn’t planned on posting it here. But, since I put the picture in that weekend hodgepodge, numerous people have written to ask for a post about it. So, here it is! Be aware, this drink packs a punch. You also may want to experiment with adding some white chocolate liquor or using vanilla vodka instead of whipped cream. Definitely don’t forgo the frosting- It’s the icing on the cake! (har har har)

Birthday Cake Martini
makes 1 martini, but easy to scale

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. whipped cream vodka
  • 2 oz. creme de cacao a la vanille
  • 1 oz. amaretto
  • 1 oz. heavy cream
  • frosting
  • nonpareil sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Spread thin layer of frosting on small plate. Pour sprinkles into shallow bowl.
  2. Dip martini glass rim into frosting, then sprinkles.
  3. Add liquors, cream and ice to cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into sprinkle-rimmed martini glasses.
  4. Serve immediately.
Birthday Celebration

Cupcakes & Birthday Cake Martinis


Slow Cooked Soy-Ginger Chicken

Chicken isn’t something we have too often, mainly because it’s one of the more expensive things to buy from the farm (costs more than vegetables, anyway!). but it’s a meat we enjoy on occasion. Chicken legs are one of the more economical cuts to purchase, and they are so incredibly easy to prepare, especially when you toss them in a slow cooker. This recipe has a rich flavor with salty soy sauce, fresh ginger, nutty sesame oil, spicy chili powder, and sweet honey. Served with some kale sautéed in a touch of sesame oil and chili powder, this dish is a crowd pleaser!

Slow Cooked Soy-Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Yes, that is grocery store purchased chicken in this picture! I think it's the only meat we've purchased from a market in over a year. We had a gift card to Trader Joe's and decided to give their product a try. I've got to say, it was odd to have meat in a Styrofoam tray with a bar code sticker ...

  • 1 onion
  • 6-8 chicken legs
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2″ chunk ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1.5 T. sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Peel and cut onion into 1/4″ slices. Place onion slices in bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken legs on top of onion slices.

    Chicken and Onion

    Layer chicken legs on top of onion slices.

  3. Peel garlic cloves & crush them. Add to slow cooker.
  4. Peel ginger and cut into 1/8″ slivers. Add to slow cooker.
  5. Sprinkle chili powder and black pepper over chicken. Add bay leaf.

    Ginger, Garlic, Bay Leaf

    Flavorful ginger, garlic & bay leaf

  6. Whisk together soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil. Pour over chicken.

    Soy Sauce Mixture

    Soy Sauce Mixture

  7. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  8. Remove bay leaf and serve over rice with sauteed greens.
Soy Ginger Chicken

Soy Ginger Chicken with Sauteed Kale


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