Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good Morning! It's a gorgeous day here in NC...a perfect day to hit the local market. I know it's November, and pretty close to Thanksgiving, but don't be fooled: there is usually still a LOT of fresh fruit and vegetables at your local produce stand or farmers market.
I would guess everyone thinks about the typical fall crops like winter squashes and root crops, but there's a lot more available, depending on where you live. Here in Eastern NC, apples are at their peak. Also available right now: broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, pumpkins, late tomatoes, pecans, peanuts and sweet potatoes(mmm...fresh sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving!).
If you're in the Northeast states, there's still time to grab beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, tomatoes and turnips.
In the South, apples, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, mushrooms, pumpkins, tomatoes, turnips, pecans, peas, peanuts,spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon and zucchini.
In the Midwest, your local farmers are still producing apples, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, onions, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, squash and sweet potatoes.
In the Rockies, you can still get your hands on apples, carrots, onions and potatoes.
If you're the Pacific Northwest, sharpen your appetite for apples, asian pears, beets, blackberries, blueberries, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, grapes, mushrooms, onions, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, raspberries, rutabagas, spinach and turnips.
Californians, from what I've heard and seen-ya'll can get pretty much anything, pretty much any time. Same for you Floridians.
So see? Even though the weather outside may be getting frightful, the bounty from your local farms and markets is still delightful. There's still so many opportunities to bring fresh fruits and veggies into your daily diet!



Lemony Almond Spinach Pesto Pasta with Tuna



INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb whole-wheat pasta, any shape
  • 3 cups tightly-packed baby spinach (3 oz)
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • Zest and juice 1 large lemon (2 tsp zest, 1⁄3 cup juice), divided
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted toasted almond slivers
  • 1 6-oz can solid white tuna packed in water, no salt added
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced small
  • 1 small zucchini, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (or 1 15-oz can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking further. Set aside.
  2. Put spinach, mint, garlic, cheese and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse to form a chunky paste. Combine lemon juice and oil in a liquid measuring cup. With food processor running (on but not pulsing), add juice-oil mixture through the food chute in a slow drizzle until a thick, smooth pesto forms. Combine pesto with cooked pasta in a large bowl.
  3.  Put almonds in processor and pulse about 10 times, until finely chopped. Stir almonds into pasta. 
  4. Drain tuna and flake it with a fork. Add it to pasta, along with yellow pepper, zucchini and beans. Toss to combine and season with salt and black pepper.  
Nutrients per 2-cup serving: Calories: 450, Total Fat: 11 g, Sat. Fat: 1.5 g, Carbs: 66 g, Fiber: 14 g, Sugars: 6 g, Protein: 28 g, Sodium: 190 mg, Cholesterol: 15 mg

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mixing Bowl Safari

I need new mixing bowls. I've put it off for awhile, but I can't deny the necessity any more. I have only one large mixing bowl left(thank you honey), and with Christmas baking coming up I'm going to need more than one mixing bowl to get everything done. Soooo, with that in mind,  I went bowl and gadget shopping and as usual, I thought I'd share some of my cool findings....you know I can't resist neat kitchen stuff!
The first set I happened on were some awesome recycled melamine nesting bowls by Zak! in bright funky colors. As you can see below, they're not your grandma's melamine bowls! They don't really match my kitchen, but I still like them. I'd love to use them in my crafting room, though...it's the home of all things quirky and funky.


Now if I had the money to spare, I'd get this great copper mixing bowl from ChefTools.com:
Now THAT is a mixing bowl! I want it so bad...maybe I can convince Dale to let me get it? I might have to hold out until my birthday for this one, though, since it's $129.00. I can see myself whipping up egg whites for meringues or raising bread dough in that awesome bowl....
These green ceramic nesting bowls from Emile Henry are much more realistic, and still beautiful. They are available at CSNStores.com. there is just something nice about ceramic. They're heavy and sturdy, and they clean up easily. Plus, they're always in style. I like the green color(hey, it matches the blog!); it would look gorgeous in my kitchen.
Speaking of CSNStores.com, I am completely in love with this cookware and bakeware from Le Creuset:

Isn't that gorgeous? I love that blue color. I know it wouldn't go with anything in my kitchen, but still...a girl can dream, can't she?
I finally settled on the green ceramic bowls. I can't wait to get them! It's almost time to start the holiday baking!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So today I went to the store, and started buying spices for my ornaments(thank you Food Lion Latin Foods section for your 99 cent spices)Each packet of cloves is enough to do one ornament...AND...they had whole allspice and star anise, which is wicked hard to find around here. So now I need to think up a few ornaments to make with those, too. Wow, my tree is gonna be FRAGRANT! and I'm going to make cranberry garlands, too, I think. Add a few "quilt balls", and I think it'll be a pretty cute tree.

I got my inspiration for Christmas tree ornaments from a few different places. Of course, I have to say that my Mopsie had various ornaments made of cloves that I loved as a kid. they always smelled so nice. If you look on the internet, you can find a number of different ideas for making ornaments out of raw spices. It takes some digging, but they're in there. These cute little balls from Grey House Samplers caught my eye immediately. Just what I was looking for. With a few bits of ribbon or raffia, something like this would be perfect for my Christmas tree.
A few other things I saw were here on the right-pomanders made of oranges
and cloves, which are, of course, the origin of these types of ornaments. This
one with ribbon is similar in concept with what I want to do with my clove
balls, although I will probably use raffia or strips of flannel or a more rustic ribbon. It's still cute. I may possibly make a few of the orange pomanders
to set in a bowl on my kitchen counter or dining room table. I like the one without the ribbon, too. Those are made with styrofoam balls, so they'll last longer. I am fairly sure I could do the same thing by hot gluing whole allspice
to a styrofoam ball for a different "pattern". With some matching paint on the styrofoam, I could make some of star anise, too, both for the tree and for the table.
I think they will look and smell extra fabulous. Best part: unlike pretty glass ornaments, my cat won't break them. I LOVE my Stinky Pete. He's the sweetest and most personable cat I've ever met. But he will be murder on my tree. I know. I'd prefer not to have to kill my sweet kitty if at all possible, so it seems to me like unbreakable things are the way to go. When Momma's happy, everybody's happy, dontcha know? Besides, these ornaments will be awesome!

Here is another cute idea I think I'm going to try also. This one has a number of different pinecones on the ball, with just hints of spice from the cinnamon sticks. But they're so pretty and rustic looking, I can't pass them by. And I like the punch of color from the berries. I was thinking that for myself, I'll go gather pinecones from the trees behind my house...they're small enough, and there are tons of them laying around. I also think that instead of the red berries, I might try and use pyrocantha berries, since we also have a LOT of pyrocantha growing wild around Tarawa Terrace for some reason. The orange berries will add an interesting bit of color to the tree. I like that!
I wave been wondering what I could do with magnolia leaves...we have so many magnolias around here, too, it just seemed natural to want to make some beautiful ornaments out of them to add to the tree. I know they'd make a pretty garland, but I don't have the time or patience to wire them together. I'll have to get on the internet and have a look see for some ideas.
These are pretty neat, too. I had already said I was going to make some cinnamon stick bundles, but when I saw these, I thought they were absolutely perfect! Although, I'm not sure where I would get whole nutmeg, I think I could substitute allspice for the nutmeg...maybe. I don't know. I'll let you know the results.

At any rate, I just thought I would share with you a few of the ideas and inspirations I found for my "Home Spice" Christmas tree this year. If anyone has any other ideas, I'd love to hear them!
What would you put on my Christmas tree?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Autumn Rambles

Hey everyone! As promised, I am back with yet another post. I didn't post yesterday, because Dale and I decided to take the day to go rambling. It was such a gorgeous day that we couldn't resist. The foliage was beautiful and bright....I love Fall! We drove up towards New Bern initially, and from New Bern we drove to Morehead City and Beaufort.
I have always wondered about downtown Beaufort. We drive through the outskirts of town frequently on the way to the Cedar Island Ferry, but we've never gone down there before. I was pleasantly surprised! There are TONS of gorgeous homes(I am a sucker for historic architecture) and shops....hehehe. Antique shops, gift shops, clothing shops, novelty shops. Fabulous stuff. And restaurants for when you get hungry from shopping. Definitely my kind of place. Also just across from the Beaufort waterfront is Carrot Island. We were able to see some of the famous Shackleford Banks wild horses which apparently swim from the Banks to Carrot Island regularly. It was pretty cool.
Here are some of the homes we saw in Beaufort. I didn't have a camera this time, so I just pulled pics off the internet for ya'll:












Gorgeous! I could just drive around all afternoon and look at the houses. I wish I could find pics of the best houses; they had several that had the most amazing gingerbread trim on them. From what I read about the history of the architecture, most of the historic houses in Beaufort were heavily influenced by colonial Caribbean design. The last picture I posted is a prime example of this. It dates from the 1700s.
And the shopping! Ah, shopping! I love to investigate antique stores, little gift shops, novelty stores and such (THEY HAVE A SPICE SHOP AND A GARDEN SHOP! Hehehehe). Now I have to save up some mad money and go wandering up there for an afternoon. Definitely going to investigate when Mom and Dad are here for Thanksgiving. I needed to find another little shopping district to putter around in. Here's a small sampling of the shops in downtown Beaufort:












And that's probably a quarter of what's down there. I could happily spend an entire day down there. There is also a specialty food emporium, a spice shop, a brewery supply store for home brewers, and LaVaughn's Pottery, Coffee and Wine shop...that name just makes me want to spend the whole day in that store.
Also, if you go, don't miss the Coastal Community Market, which offers natural and local foodstuffs, health aids, vegetarian and gluten-free foods, gourmet products and grass-fed meats. Awesome.

For more info on Beaufort and it's shops, see these links:




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Back in the Swing

I AM BACK.
Firstly, I want to apologize for my absence. Herbs N' Spice has been on hiatus due to personal reasons. Now that things have settled down and Fall has arrived, it's time to get back to blogging!
I think I should start out with a confession: I've started listening to Christmas music already. I know, I know...it's not even Thanksgiving...but who cares? I like it. If I had my way and if it was socially acceptable, I'd probably be listening to Christmas music 365 days a year. I love Christmas.
I am planning on making my own ornaments for the tree this year. One thing I'm going to make is kissing balls out of cloves and "log bundles" out of cinnamon sticks. So fragrant! I am also planning on drying some orange slices to hang, too. They'll go great with my "quilt" ornaments. I can't wait to put up my tree!! I will definitely post pics as I go.
Have you ever tried Pumpkin Butter? If you're a pumpkin lover, it's a must. Totally decadent and spicy. I recently put up 8 pints for my own use and for Christmas presents. I don't dare show up to a family gathering without it. If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe:




INGREDIENTS:
1 (29 ounce) can canned
pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg


DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.
2. Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.




I do it in the crockpot, though. Combine everything in the crockpot, stir well, and cook on high for 2 hours. comes out exactly the same. If you want to can it, you can. 


Try it! It's awesome on bran muffins, brown bread, soda bread, nut breads, etc.