Fresh and Inspired

Chamomile and crickets: a summer playlist & some quick pickle recipes

Summer is slowly unfolding and each day looks different depending on the weather. The only consistent activities include checking in on the garden and listening to soothing and fun music all day long in the background. If you want the summer playlist we’ve had on, click here for the playlist.

I’ve also begun harvesting chamomile flowers to dry for tea. Frederick and Edith love plucking the flowers with me and they’ve been happily drying out on cheese cloth for the past week. Besides drying chamomile for tea, quick pickling has become a weekly activity this summer.

Quick pickling is becoming one of the most rewarding summer activities. You need a few ingredients to quick pickle and there’s no need to boil jars or spend a lot of time preparing. It’s also easy to prepare a single jar with a handful of ingredients. Here are some of the main things to have in your pantry if you want to quick pickle:

  • Clean glass jars
  • White vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar
  • Black peppercorns
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh dill (if usuing cucumbers)

The two quick pickle recipes below are simple and super delicious. Even if you’ve never pickled, they’re easy to make and you can enjoy the food the day after you make it.

There is a surplus of dill growing in our yard and they sell boxes of small cucumbers for a couple dollars at our local farmer’s market. This recipe for Refrigerator Dill Pickles is a winner and our family easily eats a jar a day of these crunchy, slightly tangy spears.

Our jalepeño plant is overproducing and, after a little research and some trial and error, discovered this Quick Pickle Jalepeño Recipe that makes amazing tasting pepper slices. We’re putting them on top of all the things – eggs, nachos, potatoes, burgers, sausages.

With August around the corner, I’ve been taking every opportunity to spend time outside. Last week after ditching the to-do list for the day, I threw all the beach supplies in the car and headed to the nearest state park. When it rains, pickle veggies. When it’s sunny, go outside. Summer is best spent making the most of the fresh produce and the warm sun. Wishing you a happy August soaking up all the fresh food, blue skies, and summer storms.

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Thrifty and Practical

Making the most of early summer: tastes, sounds, and discoveries

Here in Michigan winter and summer collide. We have a few sporadic spring days sprinkled between winter temperatures and then suddenly the days are long, humid, and green. This seemingly overnight season change is a shock and jolt to the system.

Eating seasonally towards the end of winter and beginning of spring is challenging and when the first summer harvest arrives, my tastebuds are ready for the freshness of greens and strawberries and rhubarb. In this post, I’m sharing some of the seasonal foods we’ve been loving, some things to listen to, and a few recent discoveries that have totally blessed the early days of summer. Scattered throughout are a few photos from a recent Saturday lunch of arugula pizza, mesclun salad, and the most luscious farmers market strawberries.

Tastes of early summer

Spring greens are such a refreshing taste and flavor after months of root vegetables, soups, and stews. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing with our early summer harvest of greens:

Arugula/rocket: this peppery, hardy leaf grows so well it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a few different ways to use it. A few that I love include:

Simple salad: arugula, juice from half a lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper

Pizza: bake your choice of dough/flatbread, cheese (I like mozzarella or goat), and maybe some proscuitto then throw a generous handful of arugula on top after it comes out of the oven

Pesto: whiz together arugula, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese if you like, and salt and pepper until it’s the consistency you like and use as pasta or pizza sauce

Spinach: rich in nutrients, it’s hard to say no to the health benefits of garden fresh spinach. Ways I use it most often:

Frittata: basically a panfried then baked egg dish – I love the combination of spinach, baby potatoes, asparagus, and feta cheese

Scrambled eggs or omelette: sauté spinach with a little onion then added to some eggs with goat cheese served with some whole grain toast makes a delicious meal

Smoothie: throw a banana, frozen blueberries, a handful of spinach with some nut milk and nut butter in a blender for a refreshing snack

Rhubarb: this secret vegetable is one of my late spring, early summer favorites. It’s tangy, fresh flavor remind me of my grandma’s strawberry rhubarb pie. Some ways to use it:

Muffins: there are so many lovely recipes for rhubarb muffins floating around Pinterest. These ones made with applesauce are simple and tasty.

Crisp: throw some cut up rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon into a baking dish and top with your favorite oat crumble/crisp topping and bake

Jam: this rhubarb chia jam recipe is so simple and healthy

Strawberries: they don’t last longer than a day in our house eaten straight out of the bowl

Sounds of early summer

Rebekah Lyons: Being Free Part 1 and Part 2: few podcasts make me stop everything I’m doing to sit down and just listen. Rebekah’s powerful testimony and speaking ability communicates some of the most foundational truths about who we are in Christ with such grace and heart that I felt challenged and inspired afresh. Take a listen. You won’t be the same after.

Hillsong United’s new album Wonder: full of beautiful songs, this album is breathing life into summer right now. So Will I (100 Billion X) has been on repeat the past few days. It’s one of the best contemporary psalms/hymns I’ve heard in a long time.

The Simple Show: Tsh Oxenreider is so easy to listen to and the most recent episodes about summer travel and hospitality are practical and inspiring.

For some more serious listeningInvisibilia Season 3 recently began and it’s just as phenomenal as seasons 1 and 2. Sorta Awesome episode 99 is one of the best discussions I’ve heard regarding talking to kids of all ages about their bodies, reproduction, and sexuality. This list of books and resources from the podcast is amazing – I’ve checked out all the books for preschoolers from the library and they have been so good.

Early summer discoveries

The Organically Clean Home by Becky Rapinchuck: about a year ago, I began the slow process of using up pre-made cleaning products and then making my own. While I love Pinterest, it feels like a rabbit hole of information that is hard to climb out of. This book is clear, concise, and full of recipes and tips for literally everything. It’s free on Kindle, which is amazing if you have a kindle or even have the kindle app on your phone. I borrowed it from the library and will be adding a physical copy to my own personal library once I return it.

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel: with summer break just around the corner and two preschool aged kids who don’t nap, I’m looking for all the resources about parenting these days. This book is practical and well researched. There is a cheat sheet at the end that is perfect for printing out and sticking on the fridge as a constant reminder of the solid principles found in this book.

With every new season, there is the opportunity to try new things and make a shift in life. Cheers to enjoying these long, warm days and all the lush sights, nature sounds, season fresh tastes, and all the summer sensations!

 

The Grass so little has to do –
A Sphere of simple Green –
With only Butterflies to brood
And Bees to entertain –
And stir all day to pretty Tunes
The Breezes fetch along –
And hold the Sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything –

(Emily Dickinson)

 

Bookshelf

Best reads this summer

Anyone else have a stack of books as your constant bedside table companions? This summer’s pile o’ books is diverse – some self-help, murder mystery, literary, and pure fun. Here’s the round-up!

This is the life and business version of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While Marie Kondo focuses on simplifying the material things that accumulate in our houses, McKeown does this for our days and time. The book is full of catchy phrases and practical advice like “discern more so you can do less” and “our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.” It felt like he has been listening to every conversation I’ve been having with myself and friends about figuring out what to say “yes” to and “no” to in what feels like an ever-speeding up life. Need inspiration to live more intentionally? This is it.

 

The One Thing by Gary Keller

The One Thing felt like the perfect companion to Essentialism. Keller spends the whole book talking about how to figure out your one thing in every area of your life and what to do once you know what it is for: career, family, spiritual, health, relational. It’s a super practical and convicting read. Throughout the book he says things like, “it’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.” The best thing Keller does is provide super practical advice for figuring out what your one thing is in every role you play in life, which feels like half the battle most of the time.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Summer is all about the murder-mystery, read-it-in-a-day type books. Penny strikes the perfect balance between an intriguing plot and interesting characters. If you love solving a case before the detective does and need a diverse cast of suspects, this will keep you reading until the end. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll immediately pick-up the next book in the series because it was such an enjoyable reading experience.

 

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

This book is not for everyone. It is for you if you enjoy beautiful prose and reflective literary writing. It’s a slim volume of a well-written and engaging life story told by the narrator, Lucy Barton. I couldn’t put it down, and because of it’s short page count I was able to finish it in a couple hours on a Saturday. Looking something more substantial than self-help and mystery? Check this one out for sure.

 

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift

Stuck at home this summer but wish you were traveling the world? Specifically traveling to France? Le Road Trip will probably increase as well as satisfy some of that wanderlust. Reading this makes me want to own everything Vivian Swift produces. She is funny, insightful, and easy to read. Plus, the book is full of beautiful watercolor paintings. Visually, this book is stunning. As a reading experience, it’s purely a delight.

 

Here’s to diving into the summer reading!

 

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