Monday, April 28, 2014

Herb Love

Last spring into summer I developed a deep pull towards herbs and their gentle, but powerful healing properties. With this pull came a lot of reading and researching - the fascination ran deep, and still does. 

After soaking up a pile of herb books, serious daydreams of owning a small farm comprised of chickens and herbs started. My poor husband. I'm sure I made him nervous once or twice about quitting the old day job to go into farming. After all, he's had to pull the car over on more than one occasion so I can drool over a gentleman's farm. 

In the midst of all this daydreaming, fate pulled me towards 'Love Potion # 9.' Between my love of herbs and the name and description of this product, it had basically had me at hello. But the goodness didn't stop there. Lauren, the owner of Good Fight Herb Co., and herbalist, is so down to earth, knowledgeable, local and looking for volunteers to help out on the farm. 

And that's exactly how I spent this past Friday. Volunteering, learning, working and soaking in all the herb goodness. I was so excited to go, posting my Friday quote here completely slipped my mind. So instead, I'll leave you with a little Love Potion # 9 to start the week off right. 

'Use this potion to love and support keep your heart open and protected, your spirit held and supported, and your boundaries clear and healthy.' 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Italian Easter Pastries

A couple of years ago I posted about our family's Easter tradition of making Italian Easter pastries or as we call them, Cadulas. It's an old family recipe that my great grandmother brought with her from Sicily when she came to Ellis Island all those years ago. Each year for Easter she would give everyone a Cadula with a little candy and a crisp dollar billed rolled up with some ribbon. It was better, and still is, than any Easter basket. 

It's a tradition that was passed down, but without a formal recipe, since she made them with a little of this and little of that. My mom and some others have been able to develop a recipe that's very similar to my great grandmothers and I'd like to share it with you. 

Growing up we never knew of any of families with this tradition (and I still don't), but this past week I've received multiple requests for the recipe through Lavender Nest and Pinterest with similar stories of grandmothers and great grandmothers from the same region of Italy making these pastries with a little of this and a little of that and no actual recipe to follow. 

It has been wonderful to connect with other women who share this Good Friday tradition or as we call it 'Cadula Day' baking for the family. I never imagined there would be a demand for the recipe and it was an exciting conversation to have with my mom that there are families like us with similar traditions. Without further ado, here is the recipe. 

Cadula Recipe
Italian Easter Baskets

25 boiled and colored eggs (approx)
2-2.5 Cups Milk
3 Cups Shortening
6 Eggs
14 Cups Flour
Dash to 1/2 Tsp. Salt
5 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
Jelly Beans
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1-2 Tsp. Vanilla

Warm the milk and shortening together. Beat the eggs and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Work in eggs. Add semi-cooled milk to mixture and mix well until you can work it with your hands to elastic consistency. Place dough in plastic bag to retain moisture.

To form baskets:
Use dough to make a "meatball" - approximately 1" in diameter. Flatten slightly and place boiled, colored egg in center pressing down. Next roll out two pencil-sized strips long enough to extend from bottom of one side, over the egg to the bottom of the other side forming a cross on top of the egg; pinch ends to base. Next roll out another pencil sized strip long enough to completely encircle the egg at the base, pinching together the ends.

Next, roll out a finger sized strip of dough - approximately 18" long. Fold in half and twist into a loose braid approximately 8" long. Attach one of the twist end under the base of the egg, form a "basket handle" leaving a minimum of 1" space between the handle and the egg and attach the loose end to the back of the base.

Place pastries baskets on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 325-350 degrees. Add 2-3 jelly beans to each pastry when they come out of the oven.

When cooled, brush with confectioner's icing (recipe below) and let dry.

½ Cup Milk
Powdered sugar
Vanilla extract (optional)

Pour milk in a small bowl. Keep adding 1-2 teaspoons of powdered sugar to the mixture and whisking until it reaches a semi-runny consistency. Add vanilla extract for extra flavor if desired.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday's Quote

'Your faith, your love, your beauty, your truth is a hundred times more powerful than doubt. 

Faith is like the sun. Doubt is like a cloud. 
Yes, there are some cloudy days and let them be there. 
The sun will always shine again.' 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Joie de Vivre

Robert Arbor's book, Joie de Vivre, Simple French Style for Everyday Living has been in my hands, on and off, for a good part of the weekend. It's a quick read with an emphasis on the food we consume, how we consume it and the pleasure to be found in these acts. 

In straight to the point French style, he talks about the need for simplicity. Simplicity in the kitchen, the food we cook, how we cook and even how we share it. And it's in this simplicity that we create, where true joy can be found.

Although I didn't stroll from the butcher to the baker for this morning's birthday breakfast brunch for my mom, joy was in the...


the food...

the laughter...

and the moments we shared. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday's Quote

'The ordinary arts we practice at home are of more importance 
to the soul than their simplicity might suggest' 
- Thomas Moore

Monday, April 7, 2014

Creative Play

The plants and flowers may be a mere few weeks away from blooming, but I'm still yearning deeply for the colorful blooms found in the spring and summer months. Walking through parks, estates and running simple day-to-day errands and finding nature's beauty alongside me is what I need. Truly, a need. 

With a heart that couldn't wait any longer, a recent play date of sorts hatched with some dried rose buds and lavender. To connect with what we love, despite the obstacles, is a gift. An hour of play along with a photo session made my heart sing.

And from that hour I gave to myself, I was refueled, to go back out into the world with more energy than I originally had. Energy to pick up where I left off, start a couple of new projects, reach out into the world and plant new seeds that will bloom in due time.