Sunday, March 15, 2009

Herbed Sugar or Salt

Today truly feels like spring here in my little corner of the Wild Wood. The surrounding hills are green, every tree has leaf buds if it isn't in full leaf, and the birds are singing for all they are worth. Even the breeze seems gentler.

My thoughts are turning back to the garden and finding the right herbs, vegetables, and fruit to grow this year. One thing that I am looking forward to is making more infused sugar and perhaps even salt from herbs that I grow. It is quite a simple thing that can make a huge difference in the end product. I simply take a reasonable handful of herb, for example a bunch of about four or five stems of rosemary about five or six inches long from my spring trimming, put it in a jar with enough sugar to cover, and shake occasionally to distribute. As the rosemary dries the leaves will fall off of the stems and I can sift the sugar or not as the recipe dictates. I currently have rosemary, lavender, and vanilla sugar; but am thinking about adding a citrusy herb to the collection - perhaps lemon balm or lemon verbena, or even lemon thyme.

The process for infusing salt is the same, simply chuck in whatever herb or blend you want to flavor with and cover with salt. As the sugar or salt is used up simply add more to the container. If you find the flavor fading add more herbs. It really is quite a simple way to add to your own signature to the dishes you prepare.

Either the sugar or salt you infuse can be substituted in any recipe for the unflavored kind. I especially enjoy making shortbread or pound cake with an herbal sugar - often not even sifted - which really creates a suprising note of difference to something incredibly simple. My favorites so far are shortbread with lavender sugar and a little lemon zest and a dense pound cake style loaf with rosemary sugar. Little packages of sugar with a packet of tea makes a delightful personal gift, as would a jar of either sugar for a baker or salt for someone who loves to cook savory foods. Include directions for replenishing as it is used up and you have given a useful gift that will continue to give for many years.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Moving On

When we fall, as we always do, we pick ourselves up and start again. And when our trust is betrayed the only response that is not destructive is to trust again. Not stupidly, you understand, but fully aware of the facts, we still have to trust.
- Dr. Austin in The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle

I would think that I've had enough people betray my trust in serious ways that I would learn to cope. To reach for the grace that will allow me to move on and not wallow in the hurt. Somehow I still haven't learned that not moving on will hurt me more in the end than the original betrayal of trust.

Perhaps it is something in me that is susceptible to that wallowing in abject hurt, that does not allow me to remember how to laugh in the face of what, in the end, was not meant as anything personal. I extended the trust, I felt the hurt, I will pick myself up and not trust quite the same way again. The sun still shines on us all, and I very much doubt that the other person even realizes that a trust has been broken.

Today I learned to move on yet again. I let the wind play with my hair and laughed as it skittered around me. I let the sun warm my face and the flowers just starting to peek out bring a smile. I made the choice to not let this disillusionment destroy anything but my illusions.

It feels good to laugh.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Storm Clouds

Have you ever had someone do something that broke your trust in them? I'm sure all of us have. Lately I've been grieving the loss of trust in someone, and realizing that I am of a sensitive enough nature that it takes more time than some for me to "get over it". I keep wondering what I could have done differently, said differently, to have made the betrayal not happen. In reality there is nothing that I personally could have done differently, but it doesn't take the sting away.

Perhaps my brooding comes from a deeply feeling nature that has always been a peacemaker. I would much rather sit down with someone over a pot of tea and repair a relationship than let it go. Unfortunately I have learned that sometimes that makes things worse. The second betrayal always cuts deeper, somehow.

So I brew my own pot of tea, perhaps a nice healing infusion of chamomile, lavender, rose, and lemon balm, and set out to nurture my own heart. Time with my journal and a good book, perhaps a nice long, soaky, hot bath, and maybe even some baking, and I'll be back to my usual peaceable self soon.