Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Bliss

Ooooh summer! My most favourite time of year (I'm sure you've already realized from my choice of travel destinations). I love everything about it - the sun, the heat, open lakes, fresh garden fruits/veggies, sandals, flowers, green grass, minimal brightly coloured clothing...and yes, even rainy grey days - in fact, I like to dance around in warm rain.
As I write this post, I'm sitting on my dock in complete awe and gratitude as I look around. The lake is brilliantly blue, the trees, all different shades of green, dance in the breeze, and the sun smiles at me with it's light and warmth. To top it off, I'll take a break to do some yoga down here, and then maybe dip into the lake for a swim. This is my paradise - I love it!

I've been a busy gal lately, hence the nonexistence. In addition to my usual work, I recently taught a few raw food classes, have been working on a very special project, and have started my
annual job cooking (yes, cooking)at a summer camp for teen girls. As a result, I only have a few new recipes to share with you - in my past few days off, I've been inspired by my garden to create some yummies.

So far North here, we have a really short and limited growing season, yet there is still plenty of abundance.
I've never been much of a gardener (I'd love to learn more about it though), but a few years ago I started a small outdoor herb garden which I absolutely adore. I'm always
excited to see new growth and how the herbs are doing. I think this has been the best year yet! I've got parsley, basil, chocolate mint, mint, chives, lemon balm, and lavender...and they're all flourishing! Yippee!!

In the mood for a simple, cooling, and tasty salad, I decided to make a parsley pesto dressing with all the fresh basil. It's basically a thinner pesto using walnuts instead of pinenuts, more olive oil, and the addition of parsley. I mixed it with chopped cucumber, red pepper, and tomato.

Parsley Pesto Dressing
2 cups packed basil
2/3 cup packed parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2-3 large cloves garlic
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Mix all ingredients in a blender, leaving some texture, or if desired, until smooth.
Use as a salad dressing or dip for crackers/veggies.

Flowers are another big summer treat for me - I love all the colours and shapes. Lupins are one of my faves in the wild category - the purples and pinks line our road, and fill a section of our yard. To me, they have heaps of character!

Here are a few other flowers growing in our gardens.
For the first time ever, I've tried lemon balm in a recipe. This tangy refreshing ice cream is packed with the lemony tasting, soft, fuzzy green herb. Lemon balm, part of the mint family, has been used throughout the ages to reduce anxiety, stress, pain, and indigestion. So I say, eat up!

Lemon Balm Berry Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups cashews
1 cup water
1 cup packed lemon balm leaves
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup agave
1/3 cup lemon juice
2-3 drops lemon essential oil*

If you'd like little green specs, blend all but the lemon balm until smooth and creamy. Add the balm and blend quickly. Otherwise, blend all ingredients until smooth.
Chill and process through an ice cream machine.
*Substitute lemon zest to taste.

I hope you're enjoying the summer too! What recipes do you make using fresh herbs?