Sunday, November 09, 2014
This stuff is amazing in tea and I'm sure in a bunch of other things I haven't thought of yet.
Following the pine syrup recipe is the recipe for using it in an Alpine Manhattan. I have not yet made this but it sounds wonderful, and would make a lovely holiday beverage. The pine syrup also be worth a try in gin, perhaps -like a gimlet,only pine instead of lime...
This is from November 2014 Food and Wine Magazine:
Contributed by Shae Whitney
ACTIVE: 5 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 50 MIN Plus cooling
SERVINGS: Makes 1 1/2 cups
Fresh pine or spruce needles are the key to this fragrant syrup from herbalist Shae Whitney.
2 cups fresh pine or spruce needles on the branch
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
Pick the pine needles off the branch. Chop the branch into 1-inch pieces and smash lightly with a rolling pin.
In a medium saucepan, combine the needles, chopped branches and water; bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup, 40 minutes. Stir in the sugar until completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a blender, puree the pine needle mixture for 1 minute. Strain the syrup into a jar and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Make Ahead The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 ounces Pine Syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
Fill a pint glass with ice. Add the bourbon, pine syrup and bitters and stir well. Strain into a chilled coupe (*that's like a martini glass) and garnish with the orange twist.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
All summer - basically early May through now - I work as a landscaper and professional gardener. I don't have to try to get my 10,000 steps in every day - I usually have them by noon - and I lift just plenty of heavy things, so I honestly don't worry about exercise. Sometimes I watch what I eat or go on a week or so of juicing, but mostly I eat (and drink, God help my poor liver) whatever I feel like because it gets used up. I eat a lot of produce because I already paid for my CSA membership. Unless I actively concentrate on salads and water, I lose a pound here, gain a pound there and am too busy and too tired to get ratcheted up about it all. By the end of summer, I usually weigh about the same, but I'm a whole lot more fit, and that is true this year as well.
Now comes the difficult part - without all that activity, I have to shift over to changing the eat-whatever-drink-whatever into paying attention to what I ingest or I'll be totally out of control . I'll reinstate last year's rule (formed when I saw that the bread I like to buy topped $4/loaf) that if I want bread, I have to make it myself. That cuts my carb consumption a whole lot. I have a winter share at the CSA, so I still get lots of good vegetables. I'll cut way back on the drinking, because my liver will thank me, my wallet will thank me, and it uses up too many calories.
I still love my juicer, but it's just too cold up here to really enjoy a nice big glass of juice in the winter. Vegetable juices, particularly the popular kale-based ones, make a nice base for soup, though. (I think that's soup...is that soup?)
Here's the big part of the plan. I have a sunroom off the kitchen that I've been using as a studio, but I still have a room off the kitchen in the other direction (aka "The Back Room) that doesn't get used for much other than stashing things that would otherwise be homeless...like the treadmill, tons of miscellaneous tools and art supplies, that sort of thing. I think what I'm going to do is reorganize things so that all the stuff in the sunroom will fit into either the back room or other places in the house - the study can take the sewing machine, the living room can absorb some of the books (the library is full), stuff like that.
Then I'll lug the treadmill into the sunroom - the stationary bike is already there, as is the hanging-upside-down table (there is no emoticon for this) - disassemble the weight machine/stepper/Weider thing in the attic and bring it down where I hope I can reassemble it . Then all I have to do is round up the various other fitness gadgetry that's all over the house and ta-daaa - home gym!
With the things staring me in the face every time I'm in the kitchen (it's an open plan sort of affair), I'm hoping they'll make me think twice before I do a massive plate of cheese and crackers, and inspire me to work out a regular fitness routine.
And by this time next year, instead of being more or less the same, I'll be .
Thursday, September 04, 2014
I remember years and years ago, my husband and I were going somewhere in the city (Philadelphia), I was driving, and someone cut me off on the Schuylkill Expressway. The fact that the Schuylkill (known locally as the "sure kill") Expressway was moving at all was a miracle. Anyway, he turned to me and said, "Are you going to let him get away with that?" I think I muttered something about, "No, dear, please reach into the back seat and hand me the grenade launcher, will you?" and then he was mad at me for the rest of the afternoon. The point was that a minor traffic discourtesy seemed to escalate to murderous proportions pretty rapidly.
This morning, being up at 5:30 and having nothing better to do for several hours, I decided to go to the grocery. I pulled out onto a main route, seeing that the next car was a good 1/4 mile away, and began going through the gears to get my fifteen year old Betsy (all cars are named Betsy) up to speed. The far-away car immediately appeared in my rear view mirror - meaning he had to be going at least 75 in a 55, because I go this way all the time and know relative speeds and distances - and the driver made a big show of swerving around to pass me, making very rude hand gestures all the while.
I'm usually a pretty easy going person (ignore reports to the contrary) but this time the devil that sits on my left shoulder said, "This clown wants to play? Let's play!" so I came up behind him, only slightly closer than one would normally (and nowhere near as close as he was to the driver ahead of him.) He started frantically making rude gestures and - this is the interesting part, to me - raised a half-filled water bottle out of his sun roof. I didn't even understand the threat - you're heading to the OK Corral armed with...half a water bottle? "I'll get you wet!!!" Oooookay. It made me laugh, and unfortunately he saw that, which made him all the madder. He gestured rudely with *both hands* - leaving him steering with....his knees? He took the top off his weapon on choice... and poured water all over his own car and probably his passenger and himself. I guess that showed me!
When we arrived at the grocery, I put on my turn signal in plenty of time for him to see that I was turning off and going about my business. He briefly turned on his signal as well, but then I suppose decided not to get into it with this obvious lunatic and went on to work, or wherever else one goes at 7:00 a.m.
Sure, I guess he could have thrown his water bottle at me and maybe, *maybe* broken my windshield, but I had his car description and his license number, so that wouldn't have ended well for him.
The part that bothered me was the idea that so many people have so much fury built up inside them that having an innocent middle-aged woman pull out in front of them, forcing them to slow from 75 to 55 mph, is sufficient cause for over-the-top anger and aggression. Really? Was it my impudence, his inchoate rage, his passenger saying, "Are you going to let her get away with that?"
I guess I think that life, no matter how long it may last, is too short to get so wound up about nothing. I did the man no damage, didn't even slow his progress to wherever his destination may have been. All I did was inadvertently raise his blood pressure to the exploding point. I honestly feel a little sorry for anyone who is so miserable, that such a teensy, unintentional gaffe instantly escalates to a potentially life-threatening incident.
What's wrong with us, as a society, that this is considered normal and acceptable behavior? No one holds doors anymore (not just for women, but for a man with arms full as well), no one happily waits in a line. Everyone seems to be so all-encompassingly self-oriented that when others fail to notice around whom the Universe obviously revolves, they are immediately ready to throw down the gauntlet.
I'm not longing for days gone by. Just read my summer's worth of Jane Austen, and people were forever throwing down gauntlets, real and imagined. I just wish we'd all simmer down little and be more willing to overlook things. We're not exactly perfect ourselves, you know? (And for the one person who might respond "Speak for yourself, missy!", I sincerely salute you.)
(NB: if someone ever does follow you in a threatening manner, do not go home or anywhere else. Drive directly to the nearest police station, laying on the horn. I guarantee your pursuer will get a well-deserved welcome there.)
Monday, September 01, 2014
I ran away from SP in the spring when I inexplicably gained weight. I've since learned that that's a silly thing. The next week I'd lost it again, whether by whim of weight or scale. We weigh what we weigh - it has as much to do with our overall happiness as our specific gravity.
So...lessons learned...friends aren't necessarily those that you've had the longest. I "broke up" with a friend of nearly 40 years because when I asked something of her, for another person in serious peril, she refused, and I realized that if we met today, we'd be acquaintances at best. I miss her daily, but I don't see the point going back.
After a five - maybe six - year break from landscaping, I discovered that I can still do the work. Not as fast as I could ten years ago, but every bit as well. And when some 30 year old boy said that I didn't do as much of the "heavy work" as others, I had the sense to call him on it - what kind of 30 year old man says a woman old enough to be his mother, maybe his grandmother, doesn't do the heavy lifting as well as he? I can still do it, just not as fast, and the only reason that lad has a job is because I know this.
I've also realized that I am...humbled to admit it...I am turning 60 this year (2015). None of the other "milestone" birthdays hit me this hard. I want to book a trip to Mexico or the Bahamas or someplace where my daughters and I can celebrate my croning, rather than being alone in my snow-belt home. At first I thought this was frivolous, but the more I think about it,the more appealing it becomes.
Ive considered remarrying, but realize that, for me, marriage, like childbearing and rearing, is a part of my life that I loved wholeheartedly, but that is over. If I remarry, it'll be for money, and that'll be upfront.
I've decided that rather than take some stupid minimum wage job, I'm going to spend the winter writing my book - or finishing one of the half-dozen I've started - and give it a decent chance to succeed. APPLEPIEAPPLE, I can't tell you how much joy your comment brought to me.
I've sold off a hunk of my farm in order to pay for insulating my house. Last winter I literally cried - and if you know me, you know that I'm not a weepy sort - when I was cold to the bone day after day after day. The dog's water bowl froze over in the dining room. I swore I wouldn't do it again, and I won't. If I decide to move in the spring, so be it, but I won't be chased away.
I guess the most important thing that I've finally learned is that *everyone's* life is full of trials - that's the point, or the commonality, of being human.
I've tried to reach out to family that was estranged when i didn't hold a "proper" funeral for my husband. I've also realized that if they don't accept the olive branch, it's not my story, but theirs.
Other than learning the difference between a cistern well and a "dug"well, I guess that's my summer.
I hope yours was lovely.
Please, bring me up to speed on my cherished (truly) friends here on SP.
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