Tag Archives: ingredient spotlight

The City Girl Falls for the Country

4 Feb

       When I was finishing up my freshman year in high school, my parents gave me some shocking news. We were moving and not just to another neighborhood in Brooklyn but to northeastern Pennsylvania. After talking about moving to NEPA my entire life my parents were making the leap to change what had been our summer home to our permanent residence.  I was not happy about this move. I would be taken away from my best friends and my independence (since there is no public transportation). Not to mention all of the (hushed voice) nature.

       When living in the city you really aren’t exposed to much of what nature has to offer unless you go to one of the parks. When I did go to Prospect Park in Brooklyn well, I just didn’t like it. There were bugs and grass it was just not for me. I was used to concrete sidewalks with potted plants. When we moved to NEPA, however, it was like moving to the Amazon jungle. There were lots of trees, rocks, grass, and worse lots of bugs. Yet I found that as the years went by I started to let nature into my life.

       I began to slow down to watch some fluffy white clouds roll by. I began to watch the bees pass from flower to flower covered in pollen doing their duty. Then it hit me how unnatural growing up being afraid of nature is. From then on I set out to learn all that I could. I learned about the native animals, plants, and then I began gardening. At first I bought potted herbs from the local store but I wanted to grow more than that. So I set off on an internet search to find my perfect supplier. To my delight I found Burgess Seed and Plant Company. They had everything from seeds to trees. From then on I was hooked and have been learning how to grow and care for vegetables, fruits, and trees.

       I fell in love with the miracle of nature. I fell in love with how from one seed I can get a towering heirloom tomato plant. The first year I bought way too much and most of the plants died. Excitement had gotten the best of me. So I chose some vegetable seeds and a dwarf lime tree the following year. I have had this lime tree for three years now and it began to give me limes last summer. Even if you live in the city I suggest you get some seeds you can easily raise a tomato plant indoors and a dwarf lime, lemon, or orange tree would do well as well. Just bring the tree indoors during the winter, and let it get full sun and fresh air during the summer and it will be fine.

So check this site out and explore. Something is bound to catch your eye.


Citrus Collection


This whole winter season I will be posting photos of my NEPA summers to keep the warmth alive 🙂



Brugess Seed and Plant Co. 2012 Catalogue (Photo property of Salt Pepper Brilliant CMY)





Ingredient Spotlight Cinnamon

22 Jan

Ingredient Spotlight: Cinnamon

       Cinnamon has become synonymous with dessert in American cuisine. Adding warmth to a pecan topped sticky bun it both blows my mind and satisfies my sweet tooth. But what do we really know about cinnamon? Yes it is most likely the first thing that people reach for when preparing a luscious dessert; but many cultures around the world turn to the luxurious cinnamon to satisfy the most savory of cravings.

       Complex moles in Mexico take the inner warmth of cinnamon to transform pieces of tough meat into succulent fall off the bone delights. The Vietnamese use the slow releasing qualities of the cinnamon stick to impart the rich beef broth based noodle soup  Pho with a light touch of woodsy allure. Either powdered or whole, cinnamon is one of my favorite spices; it soothes the body and soul to the core.

       However, for my first ingredient spotlight we will not be taking part in creating a complex culinary delight. I will be revisiting the land of my childhood when all I wanted was a good night’s sleep. The inspiration for this post comes from a very tired young girl who hasn’t gotten a full nights rest in quite some time. A twelve year old who can’t seem to get the sand man to come for a sleep over and I was getting worried about her.

       I could barely function on the allotted eight hours of sleep and she was functioning on only four a night. When one evening it hit me, a distant memory that had begun to gather cob webs in my mind had begun to resurface. My grandmother would always give me a warm cup of whole milk and a touch of sugar to soothe the troubled mind. I soon suggested this to my young sister but with one added ingredient, cinnamon.

       I could recall always feeling so relaxed after dining on anything that contained cinnamon. The smell alone triggered visions of warm blankets and soft pillows. This had to help her sleep; at least it couldn’t hurt to try. We warmed up a pot of milk on low heat and added one large cinnamon stick. We then let the milk and the cinnamon infuse until it was just warm enough in temperature. The smell brought a smile of pure happiness to my face. I took my first sip and I knew I was on to something. It was like taking a warm soak after a hard day’s work making all the stress of the day melt away. Only the morning would tell though whether my child hood remedy had succeeded.

       “I slept like a baby”, she says the second she wakes up the next morning. All I can say is that so did I. I felt the tension melt away with every sip giving me the freedom to sleep and dream the night away.  Culinary aficionados these days are so preoccupied with blending complex flavors that they forget how wonderful a singular ingredient can be. So when the sandman stands you up, swirl some cinnamon into warm milk and drift away to dream land.  (P.S Give the sandman a good smack when you see him 😉 —–CMY




Cinnamon (Property of Salt Pepper Brilliant CMY)