In Iowa we’re known for our endless fields of corn and endless creations of all things fried on a stick at the Iowa State Fair (including a deep fat fried stick of butter). I’m more into the sweet corn versus the artery clogging creations from the fair, so I picked some up while it was on sale and set about making some Mexican street corn. That same day I had a craving for a batch of guacamole so I just combined the two instead for some of the best guacamole I’ve ever made! Spicy and hearty with a mix of bell pepper, jalapeño, onion, and tomatillos from the garden. Then I topped it off with crumbled feta, cilantro, and more roasted sweet corn. And bonus… it’s a lot healthier than fried butter! 😉
With gardening season coming to a close I typically spend part of my days off processing the remaining tomatillos, peppers, and tomatoes from the garden into fresh salsa. I couldn’t think of a better complementing drink to all that spicy salsa than an icy cold margarita. I decided to mix in some tasty craft beer and used the Tangerine Express IPA from Stone Brewing. It made for an unexpectedly delicious and refreshing twist to my mixture of freshly squeezed orange juice, lime juice, honey, and of course a hefty splash of tequila. They were sweet and citrusy with the perfect mix of hoppiness and a hint of tangerine. You can use the excuse of spicy salsa to enjoy one of these or just make it because you damn well please. Either way you’ll be glad you did!
I know the official start of fall isn’t for a few weeks, but in my mind it has already started and I’ll be the first to say BYEEEEE SUMMER! Don’t get me wrong, summer has it’s moments, but when you have a vacation planned for the fall, humidity is not your friend, and you’re basically a vampire and fry up like bacon anytime the sun hits your skin.. you kind of can’t wait for summer to get over with. I’m also slightly biased with my birthday being at the end of September, but it’s definitely my favorite month. It just seems to bring about an air of change, reflection, and creativity.
Since I haven’t been able to post a lot lately I wanted to touch base with you all on the blog. I kept toying with this idea of re-branding or relaunching it in hopes that I will be able to create more content or that it would spark something new, but the reality is.. the same amount of time (which is little) would be left to work on it and if anything I’d be creating even more work starting from scratch. So rather than scrap everything and start over, I’m going to return to it’s original purpose. Regardless of name or how often I’m able to post to it, will always be a creative outlet and platform for me to share and connect with you. I’m doing my very best to stockpile some new content to share over the next few weeks!
So speaking of sharing.. I have some really fun news to tell you! This is usually the part where someone announces an engagement or baby.. but for me that baby’s name is Europe! I got my passport in the spring and have slowly been booking flights and arranging hotel/AirBnb stays throughout France and Italy. This is seriously a dream come true for me and I am damn proud of myself for making it happen! My gentleman friend (I hate the word boyfriend) and I will be leaving on the 29th of this month and taking an overnight flight to Paris. I will arrive in the City of Lights on the 30th on my 30th birthday.. and yes I totally planned that.
I’ve already received so many recommendations on what to see and do, but I’m all ears if you have anymore ideas. I don’t do museums.. maybe someday, but I don’t want to spend the majority of my limited time standing in lines for my first visit. I just want to explore different cities, eat amazing food, have great experiences, and see beautiful things. If you have any suggestions that fall under those categories, comment them below!
In the years that I’ve been food blogging I’ve found that being able to adapt, and quickly, is a skill much needed. I had an idea to make a wild berry syrup with the raspberries and mulberries we have growing around the property, but when I went to go collect them, they were shriveled up and dried out from the heat. Not to be discouraged, I decided on a strawberry basil combination instead and I’ll save that wild berry syrup idea for another recipe idea down the road!
The last minute switch ended up working out better than expected and I loved the two flavors together. The cornmeal pancakes have just a little bit of crunch with a hint of that classic cornbread flavor. Smothered in the sweet strawberry basil syrup with bits of fresh strawberries in every bite made for that perfect balance between sweet and savory.
Looking back on the majority of my recipes from the last year I realize I definitely lean towards using what I have on hand from the garden and this pizza is a perfect example of that. I collected squash and pumpkin blossoms, cherry tomatoes, and garlic from the backyard making this a quick, easy, and cheap recipe to put together. The only topping I didn’t grow was the goat cheese, so it looks like I’ll be in the market for a goat soon!
I wanted the flavors of the blossoms and sweet roasted cherry tomatoes to be the heroes, so I opted for olive oil instead of a traditional red sauce. The whole wheat garlic crust and rich tanginess from the crumbled goat cheese pull everything together for a simple and light summer pizza!
Summer seems like a season where you get to kick back, work very little, and live a playful, stress-free life. My summer seems to have missed that memo and has been quite the opposite.
I’m at one of those annoyingly frustrating, emotionally exhausting plateaus in my life. I don’t want to say it’s a downhill point because I’m generally happy, grateful, and optimistic for a lot of things in my life.. I just happen to be hitting a rather hard brick wall in a few other areas.
The biggest obstacle so far has been finding a home. I thought I found one and things were going well until the inspection, which revealed that this home wasn’t going to be a quick, easy, fixer upper as we initially thought. My offer was contingent upon the inspection and appraisal allowing me to respectfully decline and get my earnest money back. Unfortunately the seller seemed to be out to make a quick buck and didn’t want to return my money to me or release me from the contract. My realtor negotiated a deal and I’ll be getting all of my funds back, but he had to take a hit in the pocket book because of them. It was a souring experience with something I’ve been looking forward to and left me leary of looking at/making an offer on any future homes.
In the end I know that things have happened as they should. I was going against my own intuition with buying this home. Everyone tells you that you have to start somewhere and get a “starter home” so I just kind of went for it. I thought it was just the fear of making such a big decision, but I think it was actually my gut saying.. “THIS ISN’T THE ONE!” I’ve been waiting for so long and it’s frustrating to see no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, but I refuse to just settle.
After throwing myself a little pity party over the last few weeks I’m finally feeling strong again and ready to move forward. I’m working really hard to generate more content for the blog, launch an Etsy shop again, and nail down the rest of my reservations for Europe. My home will find it’s way to me in the process, so I’m going to focus on the things I can control in the meantime.
Thank you to everyone that has shared words of encouragement and kind messages over the last few weeks. Most of you didn’t even know what was going on, but somehow knew I needed some love and kindness to get through.
Until the next time..
It’s ridiculously hot and swampy feeling here in Iowa and all I want is to sip cocktails while floating in the pool. The reality is that I’m working not floating and I would fry up like the little vampire I am if I spent all day poolside. I can still enjoy a nice cocktail though and this Habanero Watermelon Cooler is the perfect summer drink! Freshly juiced watermelon, mint, and lime juice make for a refreshing summer mix of flavors while the heat of the habanero vodka creeps in at the end. A good kind of creep. ; ) The addition of a habanero mango salt rim was a last minute decision that I am so glad I made! No matter where you’re at this summer, this is one cocktail you should make time for to enjoy!
At every flea market and home goods store I see these cute rustic home decor signs with quotes or designs painted on them, but I’m always shocked by the ticket price and file it away in my “I can totally make that myself” category. So here I am… making it myself! Not only do I have more than enough materials to make at least 10 more of these, but I have an original piece made for a fraction of the cost. You can customize it to your current home color scheme, favorite team colors, and make this just about any size you want. If you’re not scared of a hand saw, power drill, and a little spray paint, this is an easy DIY you can master in just a few hours.
This year’s garden doesn’t have the jump start that last year’s did, but it’s slowly getting there so I thought I would share a few photos of the new layout and what I’ll be growing this year. Despite the slow pace, I’m still enjoying it every bit as much as I did last year and it’s a constant reminder that patience and determination produces great things.
We started with moving the bench, archway, one of the pallets, and changed the layout a bit to provide more growing space. The next choice was for the walkway. Last year we used large wood slices which made for a fun and creative way to get around the garden, but with sun and rain they would warp and curl up a bit. Pallets are something we have an abundance use of pallets to create a little boardwalk through the garden. My dad, Tracy, is the wizard behind that work and has made my tiny kid-like sketch of a garden and turned it into a reality. He also created a potting station out of pallets next to our rain barrels which makes the perfect spot for storing tools and watering cans, as well as a place to set our harvested produce.
Just a 2 weeks difference.
To see last year’s garden you can check out this post.
This year’s growing list:
Black Krim tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green and purple variety tomatillos, jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, purple bell peppers, cucumbers, kaleidoscope carrots, candy cane beets, sugar pumpkins, ghost pumpkins, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, turnips, Red Russian kale, Tuscan kale, butter leaf lettuce, and a handful of herbs. Phew! It’s a lot, but it will force me to eat a lot better this summer and can a lot for the winter.
I just plucked my first cucumber of the summer and fried up some pumpkin blossoms (find the recipe on Instagram!) so it’s already starting to payoff. There’s also baby pumpkins, tomatoes, and tomatillos growing currently. As long as the critters and pests will stop eating my hard work I’ll be able to provide you guys a lot of new recipes this season!
There is still a ton of things to do like battling all the weeds, finish mulching, completing the walkway, building an archway over the bench, painting new labels for the herb pallets, and adding some more creepy decor to the “pumpkin patch” area of the garden just to name a few! I can’t wait to share more updates when everything else is completed and for more sneak peeks you can follow along on Instagram!
I used to dread the heat and humidity that comes with summer, but having a garden has made the sweltering season grow on me a bit. I’m able to produce a ton of fresh vegetables and herbs for my own consumption and to create new recipes with all season long. To highlight one of my favorite herbs I chose to make this Lemon and Lavender Bread that I thought would make the perfect summer treat. Dense and yet still airy, just a hint of sweetness, a little tartness from fresh lemon zest, and subtle floral notes from the lavender. I topped the whole thing off with a Honey Lemon Glaze made with local Iowa honey and a sprinkling of more lavender. If summer means I can enjoy more recipes like this then I’m definitely on board!