Kenmare in the Ring of Kerry

Travel Journal: Ireland

The present moment is where all signs, parallel worlds and miracles are to be found.

-Paulo Coehlo.

I love this quote because I believe miracles and magic truly are only found in the present. And that is why I strive to capture everyday moments with my camera. To celebrate the now. By doing so, it forces me to live in the moment, and not get too caught up in what’s next. And nothing forces you to live in the moment quite so much as travel.

Last summer I traveled to Ireland with my husband and his brother and wife. We planned a few things, but mostly, left large chunks of the day to explore and be spontaneous. Here are a few things I learned by truly turning myself over to the present while in the Emerald Isle.

1. Find beauty in the details

…because beauty is everywhere.

Ceiling detail inside Dublin Castle

Ceiling detail inside Dublin Castle

Flowers in Kinsale

Flowers in Kinsale

Bike and door at Trinity College

Bike and door at Trinity College

2. Eating local is always better

…no matter where you happen to be.

Irish Mussels in Dublin

Irish Mussels in Dublin

Guinness pint at the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Guinness pint at the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Olives at the town square market in Kinsale

Olives at the town square market in Kinsale

Wild blueberries growing in the Wicklow Mountains

Wild blueberries growing in the Wicklow Mountains

3. We are all small beneath the large, unending sky

…and so the worries and troubles of today don’t really matter. They are small, too.

Valentia Island sheep

Valentia Island sheep

Charles Fort

Charles Fort

Ross Castle in Ring of Kerry

Ross Castle in Ring of Kerry

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

 

I am trying to keep these things in mind every day. I find when I do, each day can have that vacation feeling, too. Sláinte!

PersimmonBeetPattern-1-12-14_Fix

Food Palette: Daring and Airy – Beets and Persimmons

I’ve written before here how I’m constantly inspired by the color around me, especially food and plants. As Spring approaches, that may seem obvious! But for me, inspiration is not limited to Spring colors. Every season has its own unique palette to explore.

Lately, I’ve been quite taken with wintry beets. One root, both earthy and nearly neon, it is grounded and bold at the same time. Its color is unparalleled – a shining red bastion of the edible plant world. Is there another vegetable so forward with bold saturation?

WinterBeets-1-11-15

I had some fun arranging these sassy beets into a pattern with persimmons, blueberries and pomegranates. The tableau lends itself to a warm, analogous selection of colors, with just a hint of daring. That’s thanks to the persimmons. Their light, orange airiness keep the palette from getting too dramatic. The result: a transitional, bolstering color palette, perfect for the cusp of a change in seasons.

PersimmonBeetColorPalette

Lavendar Granola Ingredients

Recipe: Lavender Cashew Granola

Cold days are for baking up warm granola. The smell of cinnamon and toasted oats just wraps your heart in a hug, no matter what the thermostat says. In honor of February & Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make a granola that was both heartwarming and had that special heart-day touch – flowers. I haven’t done a lot of cooking with flowers, but this lavender granola was so simple, my confidence has begun to unfurl. And after eating the delicious results, I certainly feel ready to take on new floral-culinary adventures.

Making Granola

A few tips, courtesy of Healthy Nibbles & Bits, where I found the original recipe:

  • Check on the granola as it bakes, and scoop out any that starts to get too brown (usually on the sides). Over-toasted oats are not so tasty.
  • Flower shop lavender is not the same as culinary lavender. You never know what kinds of chemicals might be sprayed on the sprigs you get from a florist. I found my culinary lavender buds in the spice section at my local Whole Foods.
  • If you like granola clusters (and I do!), stir in a whisked egg white. If you don’t, omit it.

Blueberry Lavendar Yogurt

To turn this crunchy treat into a complete Valentine snack, I used the granola as the star ingredient in a layered parfait. My little lady is partial to blueberries, so I chose those and blackberries for the fruit. Blueberry Greek yogurt rounds out the components for my parfait assembly.

I loved how the subtle taste of lavender played nicely with the boldness of the blueberries. It created a lovely palette, too. And since it’s all fairly healthy, seconds are easy to say yes to. Just like a Valentine’s Day hug.


Lavender Cashew Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • ⅔ cup unsalted cashews
  • ⅔ cup walnut halves
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (honey works also; add a bit more if you like a sweeter granola)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t dried lavender
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg white

Parfait ingredients

  • 1 and ⅓ cup blueberry Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp dried lavender
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½  cup blackberries

Directions for granola

    • Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat to prevent burning.
    • In a large bowl, mix all the granola ingredients together except for the egg white.
    • In another bowl, whisk egg white with whisk or electric mixer + whisk attachment until egg white becomes become frothy. Pour the egg white on top of the granola and stir gently.
    • Spread out the granola on top of the baking sheet.
    • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the granola is browned, rotating once. Let the granola cool completely before breaking into clusters.

Directions for parfait

    • While the granola is baking, mix the Greek yogurt with ½ teaspoon of lavender. Refrigerate the yogurt for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the lavender flavor to set in.
    • To make the parfait, alternate layers of yogurt, granola, and fruit.
    • Store leftover granola in an airtight container in room temperature.