Has anyone been having a crazy hot & sunny week like we’re having in Upstate NY? I’m glad for the sunshine, but doing yard work is more difficult with the heat, as well as the bugs that keep attacking me. My sister also gets a ton of bug bites and calls them “noseeums,” because you really can’t see what the heck is biting you!

Checked the thermometers around 4 o’clock in the afternoon: one on the south side of the house says 95, the one facing west says 105, and another is 120! I felt more sorry for the cats, especially Wolfie, who’s more equipped for cooler weather (see below pic.) I waited until the sun was behind some trees to do some weeding and redo the stones by “the gateway”:

Wolfie, guarding his catnip plants.

Last month we got an unfinished wooden picnic table that started looking pretty yucky after a few days in the rain. It needed some color, even a neutral color would be an improvement. I had the hardest time deciding on a paint color at the store when Fate stepped in (or was her name Karen?) and put a few gallons of “reject” paint on the clearance shelf. A $36 can of exterior paint marked down to $8? Works for me! I painted the picnic table gray, then dry-brushed and damp-sponged it with white. I think it turned out pretty great!

A little neutral color goes a long way

– This also turned out to be a good background for my photos. Here you can see the white over gray brush/spongework:

Peony in silver vase

Peonies in silver vases

I was planning to make some curry for dinner (following the “Flavor of the Week” theme) but it was so incredibly hot, I needed something cool and refreshing. There was some leftover quinoa, veggies, and chicken that needed to be cooked so I made a miso-based sauce with a healthy squirt of fresh lemon juice for this pretty tasty quinoa chicken salad:

A light, refreshing salad that’s also filling: quinoa, tomatoes, water chestnuts, chicken, green onion and a dressing made with miso paste, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and lemon juice.

We also had some kale massaged with salt, lemon juice and sesame oil. Delicious!

What are some of your favorite summertime salads?

There are 18 glass jars of spices sitting on a rack next to my stove, plus another two and a half dozen mismatched bottles I keep with my baking ingredients, and about a half dozen plastic baggies of herbs and spices tucked away in the cabinet. On a weekly basis I use only a handful of these spices and the rest are individual ingredients, when combined, make one of the most fragrant blends on the face of the earth: curry seasoning!

We grew up eating a curry that my mom would make with huge chunks of beef, potatoes, and McCormick curry spice. I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite dish as a kid, but as I grew older I found out there were other kinds of curries besides the one we had at home, and in more colors (and flavors) than green!

There’s Japanese curry, a rich brown gravy that uses beef stock and tastes great with udon (thick rice noodles) or on top of steamed rice. There are the coconut-based Thai curry dishes in red (hot,) green (hot) and, my favorite, yellow (not as hot.) And there are the various herbs and spices that make up Indian curry seasoning (take a whiff, it’s just like aromatherapy!)

A popular and tasty Japanese curry, S&B (image source: http://www.foodpakexpress.com)

My favorite Thai curry, but I cannot find it around here: Mae Ploy yellow curry paste (image source: http://www.amazon.com)

Curry seasoning is so versatile, you can use it in anything from omelets to burgers. Making your own dry seasoning blend isn’t as difficult as it seems, but you will need about ten different herbs and spices, as well as a coffee grinder. Once you make your own curry seasoning, you will find it difficult to go back to the pre-ground, prepackaged blends from the grocery store. And with your ready supply of spices you’ll be able to try new kinds of blends, and maybe even make your own authentic recipe! Check out www.myspicesage.com for a complete selection of seasonings, teas, freebies, recipes, and great prices on spices.

Here’s what we had for dinner: turkey bean burgers! I added a tablespoon of Indian curry powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt to the mix, plenty of flavor packed into these tasty little sliders:

Spice up your sliders with a spoonful of curry seasoning

In addition to the burgers, I also spiced up the burger topping, which can also be a side dish, sandwich filling, or topped with chopped tomato and wrapped in lettuce leaves for an easy meal on the go!

Below is the recipe for the quinoa-sweet potato topping. The quinoa and sweet potato were already cooked so throwing this together is super fast and easy. Got extra sweet potatoes? Try my sweet potato haupia pie recipe, it’s gluten-free and delicious!

Quinoa and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Indian Curry Seasoning


1 roasted sweet potato (poke potato w/fork all around, then bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. Cool, peel off skin and use the mushy insides.)
1 teaspoon Indian seasoning, such as Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa


Mash sweet potato with seasoning and salt, stirring well. Add quinoa, adjusting amount to your liking. Serve as a burger topping, salad topping, sandwich filling, or top with chopped tomato and wrap in lettuce leaves. Enjoy!

Top with chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs for a quick and easy vegan dish.

So what’s YOUR favorite curry dish? Do you prefer it home made or at a restaurant? Do you eat it with rice? Potatoes? Roti? Share your curry experiences here, I’d love to hear from you!

I am working on a little garden area for some herbs, but am having more fun laying out the rock border than figuring out what I’ll be planting. This is one of the sections I’ll be working on:

I get the stones from our little creek not ten yards from our house. My husband suggested making steps going down to the creek, so when we had a gorgeous sunny day over the weekend, I spent a few hours clearing the brush and putting in these stone steps:

I’m pretty happy with it so far, and and am hoping the rain will help the soil settle a bit. Weather permitting, I’ll be working on the area some more this weekend.

In addition to my landscaping projects, I’ve been experimenting on some indoor miniscapes with edible sprouts. I’ve read that sprouted seeds are more nutritious than the regular dried seeds, and even after soaking them for a few hours, the seeds become more easily digestible. I followed Judita Wignall’s easy-to-follow steps on seed sprouting in her Going Raw cookbook. I had some raw sunflower and quinoa seeds which I soaked (separately) overnight in jelly jars covered with cheesecloth secured with rubber bands. Over the next few days, I rinsed them out a couple times a day while they slowly sprouted. I kept some of the sprouts in the fridge for immediate consumption, while the rest were placed in a tray filled with soil. After a few more days they developed roots and sprouted up even more.

Little flax sprouts muscling their way through the soil.

I also sprouted flax seeds, which were a little different. They didn’t germinate as quickly nor as noticeably as the sunflower seeds or quinoa, but instead developed a viscous coating which caused them to clump together in a big, gooey gelatinous mass (just a little gross, I never expected sprouting seeds to be slimy!) I couldn’t rinse them off so decided to leave them be and dumped them in a tray of soil, spreading them out as best as I could. After about a week they grew nice and green and were ready to eat.

Now although this seems pretty cut-and-dry, when sprouting seeds you do have to be careful of bacterial growth, mold, and also be sure that the seeds you wish to sprout are consumable. Here are a few websites that have good, easy-to-follow advice on how to begin and what to look out for when sprouting your seeds:

Here’s a good video explaining the hows of sprouting: http://rawfoodswitch.com/raw-food-equipment-reviews/sprouting-guide-sprout-seeds-bean-sprouts/

More great information from Holistic Jose, a personal trainer: http://holisticjose.com/2012/04/30/i-soak-my-nuts/?year=2012&monthnum=04&day=30&like=1&_wpnonce=f1acfe089f&wpl_rand=bd7786b91a

You’ve sprouted your grains…now what? Check here for some recipes!