A Cup of Whimsy

There is something about the coming of March that carries a touch of whimsy.  The air becomes a bit balmy.  The days grow longer and the early evening slant of light create a  fairy-like hue across the end of the day.  I confess I find it a wonderful time to gaze out of the window, sip a delicious cup of coffee and reminisce.  In this atmosphere, my thoughts carry me back to Ireland and the places and experiences that warmed my heart. With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner I thought it would be a grand time to share a route to visit, a treat to eat, and an elixir to enjoy.

If you want to experience the magic of Ireland, The Ring of Kerry will not disappoint you.  The Ring of Kerry is a 179-kilometre-long circular tourist route in County Kerry, south-western Ireland. Clockwise from Killarney it follows the N71 to Kenmare, then the N70 around the Iveragh Peninsula to Killorglin – passing through Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and Glenbeigh – before returning to Killarney via the N72.  An enchanting loop!

It was at a café at the foot of the Ring of Kerry that I experienced the most savory cup of Irish Coffee and here is the recipe for you to enjoy:

Irish Coffee:
Ingredients
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 jigger Irish whiskey (1 1/2 ounces or 3 tablespoons)
Heavy cream, slightly whipped

Fill a footed mug with hot water to preheat it, then empty. Pour piping hot coffee into warmed glass until it is about just passed half full. Add the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Blend in Irish whiskey. Top with a collar of the whipped heavy cream by pouring gently over the back of a spoon. Serve hot.

No doubt along the route you will hit a bakery.  Step in and savor the aroma of Irish Soda Bread baking in the oven.  Order a slice.  It will come splattered with hot butter.  You won’t leave the shop without buying a loaf, and surely you will want to make it at home.

INGREDIENTS
• 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
• 1 Tbsp sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 4 Tbsp butter
• 1 cup caraway seeds
• 1 cup raisins
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1 Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda: Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
2 Work the butter into the flour, caraway seeds and raisins: Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the currants or raisins.
3 Make a well, mix in buttermilk, egg: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.
4 Lightly knead dough and form dough mound: Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead!
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, similar to biscuit.
5 Score with a cross: Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased baking sheet.
Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in a cross. Brush the top of the bread with melted butter.
6 Bake: Transfer to oven and bake at 425°F until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes.
Check by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
7 Let cool a few minutes: Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly.
Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Life is a journey.  It should be traveled far and wide.  It should be filled with people, places and experiences that keep us enriched long after the journey ends.

As we journey into a new season enjoy and…..March on!

India

 

 

You’re the Cream in My Coffee

 

I love February.  Although it’s a month in deep winter, February carries the hope that spring may be just around the corner.  February also carries the hope that love springs eternal, and who can resist such hope?

You’re the Cream in My Coffee is an oldie but goodie song published in 1928, and if you are a music guru you will know that it was sung by a myriad of talents, but the best rendition, I think, is by Nat King Cole.  It was also the theme song for the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries in 2000, proving that the lyrics have staying power, and are a true tribute to unconditional love assuring “You’ll always be my necessity, I’d be lost without you.”

So how are you planning to celebrate love come this February 14th?  Chocolates, roses, a romantic dinner, possibly becoming engaged?  How about perking up the tried and true traditional expressions of love by adding coffee to the repertoire?  Here are a few recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Red Velvet Latte: 1 cup of whole milk, 1 tbsp. sugar, 3 oz. semi sweet chocolate chunks, 1/4 tsp red food coloring, 1/4 tsp Amaretto Liquor, 1/2 cup brewed coffee.  Place milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer until sugar dissolves, stir in chocolate until melted, stir in food color, coffee, and amaretto.  Serve warm.

Sweet Mocha Latte: Fresh brewed espresso – decaf or regular, 1.8 oz. whole milk,1 teaspoon of semi-sweet cocoa powder, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream.  Heat the milk, mix in the coca powder and stir, place 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass and pour the hot, chocolate over the ice cream, place 1 tbsp. of whipped cream on top, serve.

Café Angelina: This is my own variation of the luscious hot chocolate served at Angelina’s Café in Paris.  2 cups hot frothed milk, you can do this in the microwave.  First shake whole milk in a jar, then microwave it for 5 seconds, easy!  1 small brick of semi-sweet chocolate. fresh brewed coffee.  Place the brick of chocolate in a mug, pour in the hot frothed milk, pour in 1/2 cup of fresh brewed coffee.  Enjoy!

Get together with your loved one, set the atmosphere and brew up a cup of warm, savory love.  You won’t be sorry.

Embark on a sacred journey of the heart.

Peace and Love,

India 

 

Savor the Flavor

It was during my first visit to Italy, the Amalfi Coast to be exact, that I discovered the most glorious way to enjoy coffee and I have been drinking it gloriously ever since.  How?  with hot-steamed milk of course!

During this journey, I also discovered a great deal about my own fashion sense.  It is safe to say that I grew up wearing a uniform.  A riding habit to be exact.  Black show coat, buff breeches, white shirt, black boots and a black safety helmet.  My love for the equestrian life saw me through occasions such as, black tie sporting events, cotillons, and hunt dinners, to name a few.  My dress of choice, the little black dress or a black formal, depending on the venue.  I look great in black.  Black suites my complexion.  Black is easy to accessorize, which makes for easy packing when necessary.  What looks better than a black swim suite, a natural straw wide-brimmed hat, black-framed sunglasses, and red lipstick when gracing the beaches of Capri?

I was strolling the streets of Capri when my fashion transformation unbeknown to me began to unfold.  I literally stumbled upon, or rather into the doorway of a small boutique that fashioned one of a kind handbags.  The proprietor offered me her hand to help me to my feet and gently nudged me inside.  She explained to me I could select embossed leather by color for the outside and inside of a handbag that would be made exclusively for me.   “Quanto costa,” I asked.  Her answer was not cost-effective.  However, the lovely and persuasive lady went on to explain that purchasing an exclusive handbag was like purchasing a rare piece of jewelry….it would last forever.  I was mesmerized by her and her stop, and the next thing I knew, I had selected a yellow embossed leather outer skin and a fuchsia napped finished skin for the inside.  The design I selected was a small box-type bag with a single leather-laced closure and short, soft leather handles that would rest on the crux of my arm when being carried.  A demure design she exclaimed.  Somewhat affordable, I thought.  The proprietor showed  me out of the shoppe and directed me to enjoy a cup of café and return in two hours.  I gladly followed her directive. “Bellissimo!” I gasped when I saw the bag.  From that point on without being totally aware, one small colorful purchase after another began to dot my wardrobe.  First a scarf, then a belt, then a blouse and so on, until I realized I had gathered an arrangement of deep, jewel toned clothing items. An adventure indeed!

Recently while sipping a latte and reading, I came across an article that focused on food as fashion inspiration.  I had to laugh because what I was reading was true!  Lobster red coats, artichoke green pumps, eggplant purple silk pants…oh so fun!  My world of style was opening.  I still enjoy wearing black and mostly gravitate to it when selecting clothing items, but now I think twice and experiment with color.

Usually our journey within focuses on deep, emotional need, but I confess, sometimes a journey should focus on a lighthearted issue that results in great fun and makes us laugh and enjoy who we are.  That is what my “savor for flavor” journey did for me.  Why not journey inside to see what magnificent, unturned stone is hiding inside of you?

Guess what?  Orange IS the new black.

Walk on….Peace and Love.

India