Tag Archives: dessert

coffee liqueur, banana + coconut cream poptails in almond-dusted dark chocolate | #popsicleweek

Duuuuuuude. It is so hot this week here in Denver. While it might not be the best week to photograph popsicles, it is definitely the right week to get down on some refreshing, innovative, exciting, frozen treats on sticks. That is just what is happening across the interwebs, thanks to ineffably creative Billy Green of Wit & Vinegar.

It’s officially #POPSICLEWEEK.

The last day of it, in fact. And I’m coming in hot with something insanely delicious. This is the fourth year of Billy’s roundup of frozen pops, and I couldn’t be more excited to share my favorite recipe-of-the-week, along with about 100 other bloggers. Here’s the entire list of popsicle participants. There are enough recipes to satisfy your summery cravings all season long.

And now for some rich, creamy, boozy {and vegan!} popsicles made with St. George Spirits’ NOLA Coffee Liqueur. They’re filled with blended bananas and full-fat coconut milk and drizzled with my favorite condiment-of-the-moment, dark chocolate magic shell. All of my favorite flavors, together in one frozen bite.coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora

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sea salt shortbread cookies with lemon curd | paired with Kracher Auslese 2011

I had every intention of sharing these cookies, along with the lemon curd, even the dessert wine, with my coworkers. I set aside 40 of them to take to work this past Saturday. Between me and Steve, we not only consumed the 15 allocated to the two of us, but we also polished off the portion reserved for the kind and hard-working chefs, servers, and managers at the restaurant. Hmmm. Yeah, sorry. Not sorry!

I just couldn’t stop eating them. I am trying not to think about the fact that, between the two of us, we ingested two sticks of butter over the course of fewer than three days. Somehow, that fact is easier to disregard, when the butter is divided among almost 60 small, heart-shaped, dainty cookies!

There is a lot to cover in this post: a recap on this modification of Emilie’s shortbread recipe over at the Clever Carrot, a how-to on Meyer lemon curd, and a review of the dessert wine that paired magically with these sweet and sour components. I’ll keep my personal update short for sake of space, but I will let you know that, in addition to eating all of these cookies, I am really winning so far this week: I overslept that 5-mile race I had signed up for. I seriously blame these cookies. Somehow, they were the culprit.

I can honestly say that I blame cookies for a lot of things. But that’s an entirely different post.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.”

– Victor Kiam


I had actually made a few jars of lemon curd before reading a recent post by Emilie over at the Clever Carrot. Emilie is a chef, who believes in the concept of “healthy comfort food.” She makes amazing sourdough bread, posts useful tips, writes heartfelt posts, and creates recipes far beyond sweets. And she has a kick-ass Instagram feed. Recently, she and her boys made the cutest batch of shortbread cookies. She made a modification of shortbread that included egg yolks, since traditional shortbread recipes call for simply one part butter, two parts sugar, and three parts flour. Just looking at her post, though, made me want to roll out of bed and bake several pans of these cookies. There is nothing like the combination of lemon curd and shortbread.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

I only slightly modified Emilie’s original recipe and added some of my citrus salt I recently made, along with a little vanilla extract, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a slight tweak of flours. My baking session, however, was a little less eventful from hers. Simply skimming the first 100 or so words of her post will clue you in on her baking adventure. If only my two cats were that exciting.

Another component that really set these shortbread cookies apart was the addition of a little sea salt, sprinkled on top of the cookies before baking them. I used some Canadian sea salt, a gift from my dear friend, Kristy. I didn’t even know that Canada specialized in sea salt. The company, Vancouver Island Salt Co., was started by a chef, and their Fleur de Sel is Canada’s first sea salt.


sea salt shortbread cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted almond flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citrus salt {you may substitute regular salt}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift the flours into a large bowl and add the cubed butter. Using your fingers, break apart the cubes of butter and incorporate the butter into the flour. See the photo above for an example of what kind of texture you’re looking for. You want pea-sized pieces of the mixture. And you can always use a pastry cutter, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, but getting your hands dirty is half the fun!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks well and add the sugar and citrus salt. Stir until incorporated.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using your fingers again, mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Over a piece of parchment paper, roll a portion of the dough to about a 1/4″ thick. Like Emilie, I also sandwich my dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This makes removing the cookies SO much easier. The dough won’t stick to your rolling-pin. I don’t attempt this any other way, and this method works when rolling pie dough, too.
  7. Cut out cookies with the cookie cutter of your choice. I love these little hearts! They also make a lovely pie crust.
  8. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the cookies with coarse sea salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes, just until slightly golden.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on it for 5 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
  10. Let the cookies cool completely and serve alongside a glass of Kracher Auslese and smother them with lemon curd. Better yet, make lemon curd shortbread sandwiches and chill them in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to enjoy them!
  • This recipe yields about 55 smallish cookies, depending upon the size of your cutter.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly chill your dough before cutting the cookies. You can always chill the dough down in the fridge in between batches.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

Curd, curd, curd. Curd’s the word! Okay, I am officially delirious right about now. I think I’m still recovering from the birthday celebrations over the weekend. But, seriously, I did grow up thinking that 50s and 60s rock was the current music of my time, since I only listened to my dad’s “oldies radio” station. I didn’t discover Michael Jackson until I was nearly 13! Thanks, Dad. So, about that lemon curd! And back to being slightly serious. Of course, you can purchase some delicious lemon curd from the store, but making lemon curd is super easy and requires just a short amount of time. And, honestly, sprinkling the shortbread cookie with a little sea salt was a perfect match with the sweet-tart lemon curd.

I actually hadn’t actually tasted lemon curd before experimenting with making it this year during my citrus obsession {shocker!}. I’d even loosely used “lemon curd” as a term for describing certain wines’ characteristics. I assumed it had a creamy, rich texture and a citrus-y, tart kick. I was definitely right about that. Kind of like the California Chardonnay I’m sipping on this very moment. A basic fruit curd recipe calls for egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest. The result is a super rich, custard-like spread that pairs well with anything from scones to waffles to fresh fruit.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


meyer lemon curd


  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1 regular lemon
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Sterilize the jars you will be using for the lemon curd. I used random Mason jars and jars from store-bought relish and jellies. Since you won’t be processing these jars, you can use whichever containers you’d like, as long as you sterilize them properly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the jars carefully inside. Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars inside the pot, until you need them in a few minutes.
  2. Wash and scrub the skins of the lemons well.
  3. Grate the zest from the 3 lemons into a stainless steel bowl. I used a Microplane. Be careful to avoid zesting any of the bitter, white pith. If you don’t have a fine zester, like a Microplane, you can take Ina Garten’s advice and simply peel the skins with a vegetable peeler and pulse it, along with the cane sugar, in a food processor.
  4. Juice all 3 lemons into the same stainless steel bowl.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and set the bowl over the simmering water. This is kind of like a double boiler situation.
  6. Add the sugar, salt, and butter and stir until the butter melts.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Strain the egg mixture through a chinois or sieve into the butter mixture.
  9. Here’s where some elbow grease comes into play. For the next 6 to 8 minutes, whisk the mixture constantly until smooth and thickened to a custard-like texture. Don’t slack!
  10. Pour the lemon curd into the sterilized jars and let the curd cool.
  11. Cover with the lids and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  • This recipe yielded me about 12 ounces. I divided the lemon curd into three 4-ounce jars.
  • Make sure that you use a clean spoon or knife each time you serve the lemon curd. This will keep the curd fresh and lengthen its shelf-life in the refrigerator.
  • If you can’t find seasonally available Meyer lemons, feel free to substitute with regular lemons.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

As you well know, I sing the praises of serving dessert wine after a meal either alone or alongside a sweet treat {case in point, here, here, and here}. I chose an acidic, sweet dessert wine to accompany this shortbread and lemon curd duo. The producer of this sweet, late-harvest wine is Kracher, and they have consistently set the standard for quality, sweet wines from Austria. When I tasted the wine with the shortbread and lemon curd, I knew I had to share this experience with the staff at work. I really did have the best of intentions. I’d like to say that I dropped them on the floor or something, but in all sincerity, Steve and I ate. them. all.

I can say, however, that I’ve managed to remember to run almost every day this week!


Kracher, Auslese Cuvée, Burgenland, Austria, 2011


  • Off the vine – 60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
  • On the eyes  –  very pale yellow
  • On the nose  –  fresh aromas of ripe peaches and apricots, tropical white fruits, with a pronounced citrus blossom note.
  • On the palate  –  medium in body, not too thick on the palate, with lots of honeydew, tangerine, citrus blossom, and lychee notes, with a touch of wildflower honey. This wine has a lingering citrus-y finish and a bright acidity. This dessert wine is sweet but not cloyingly so.
  • On the table  –  perfectly paired with the creamy, rich lemon curd! This Auslese would also complement a slightly spicy Asian dish, fruit-driven desserts, and fresh goat cheese. I’d drizzle the goat cheese with a little honey and serve it along with some toasted pecans.
  • On the shelf  –  around $23 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I splurged and got five new albums from the record store on my birthday this past week. One of my favorite purchases was the latest from Digitalism. I was smitten by their 2007 album, Idealism, and I couldn’t believe I’d missed their latest effort {2011, so new-to-me}, I Love You, Dude. If you haven’t heard of this German duo, give this track a listen, and it will give you a feel for their sound.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & floraIf you’ve been digging dessert wine lately and want to research more about it, here are a few links that will lend you a little more information:

If you make these cookies or attempt a batch of lemon curd, let me know how it all turns out! And if you score a bottle of this moderately priced, delicious dessert wine, let me know what you think. Here’s to a week filled with commitment to goals, not as many cookies, and a lot more green smoothies. At least that’s what I’ll be striving for!

Cheers!

Jayme

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two bowls of sherbet on a cutting board

blood orange + campari sherbet {vegan}

I’ve been in a seasonal slump lately. It’s definitely a product of the cold weather and shorter days. I’m doing all the usual advice, like getting up earlier, going outside for some Vitamin D, lighting candles at night, and listening to cheery music. I’ve also been filling up my kitchen with bowls of lemons, oranges, and limes. I will say that their pungent aromas and punchy colors do pick me up quite a bit. The fact that citrus season falls in mid-winter is kind of like a love letter from nature, letting me know that longer days, warmer weather, and summer are on their way.

My citrus obsession has led to a lot of fun experimenting with different recipes and means of preserving these prime winter fruits. I’ve dabbled with lemon curd, preserved  lemons, and a few versions of citrus salads. I even managed to make a tangy orange marmalade, despite the fact that I let the preserving pot boil over. Cleanup was not fun. Not too proud about that moment. And then I came across a recipe for orange sherbet, via the Brown-Eyed Baker.

Right then, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my last basketful of blood oranges.

And if I accidentally type the word, sherbert, instead of sherbet, please don’t scold. Does anyone else feel the need to add the “r” to the word? I don’t know if it is a southern thing or just an accidental pronunciation that caught on, but I still slip up and add the “r.” I suppose worse things could happen, right?

overhead view of blood orange sherbet with orange slices blood orange sherbet with orange slicesNo, I am not 100% vegan, yet. I do, however, consume copious amount of veggies and eschew products that promote animal cruelty. I have slowly been reducing the amount of dairy in my recipes and meals. Giving up cheese has proven to be a futile effort, since the likes of Manchego, the Drunken Goat, and anything Haystack Mountain permanently reside in my refrigerator. It is always tougher to avoid your favorite foods, if your housemate isn’t on board with you. I blame Steve.

Dirty confession? I have wound up on the floor of my kitchen, at some ungodly hour of the night, either shoveling cheese and crackers into my mouth or cutting to the chase and eating a slab of the stuff, like you would a chocolate bar. It’s my vice, my current addiction. It will be the last animal product to go, if/when I do commit to the vegan lifestyle.

Vegan or not, I swear you’ll go crazy for this sherbet. It has just the right about of creamy texture, fruity sweetness, and tart-y punch. The best part about this recipe? You don’t even need an ice cream maker. David Lebovitz told me so.

close-up of spoonful of sherbet overhead view of sherbet and flowered towel


blood orange + campari sherbet {vegan}


  • 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups blood orange juice {about 5 oranges}
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons Campari
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream {see notes}
  1. Wash and zest your blood oranges, until you have a firmly packed tablespoon of zest. I used my new Microplane zester that my mom sent me. It is amazing.
  2. In a food processor, combine zest with sugar and salt. Pulse until the zest is well-distributed and mixture is slightly damp.
  3. In a juicer, juice five or six oranges, until you have 2 cups of liquid. If you don’t have a juicer, you can peel and purée the oranges in a blender and run them through a sieve, if you’d like.
  4. Add the blood orange juice, lemon juice {I used a hand-squeezer for this small amount}, vanilla extract, and Campari to the sugar mix. Process for about a minute or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. In a blender, whip the coconut cream until light and airy. How do you make the coconut cream? This is the best tutorial I’ve found.
  6. Add the coconut cream to the mixture and pulse until incorporated. See bullet below on how to obtain coconut milk needed for the coconut cream.
  7. Pour mixture into a deep baking dish or a large plastic container. I used a Tupperware-like rectangular pan, and it worked out perfectly. Place this in the freezer and set the timer for 45 minutes.
  8. Take the pan out of the freezer and stir or whisk the mixture vigorously or use a stick blender, breaking up any clumps. Place it back in the freezer. Repeat this step every 30 minutes, until the sherbet is frozen. The sherbet will be ready within 3 hours.
  • Freeze it right. Okay. Want to know what I did? Yes, this recipe incorporates David Lebovitz’s suggestions, but I actually didn’t stir the sherbet, after I placed it in the freezer. I wanted to see if it was even necessary. I have found that the texture is improved, when you whisk or blend the sherbet every 3o minutes; however, if this seems a little much for you, feel free to skip it. It still makes a great sherbet anyway!
  • Buy only organic. Always use organic citrus fruits, especially when incorporating zests.
  • Keep the zest! I apply a great tip from Local Kitchen on zesting. Anytime you have to juice or squeeze citrus, always zest your fruit before cutting it. Use any leftover zest and combine it with sea salt to make citrus-infused salts for seasoning. Here is the recipe.
  • Find the right coconut milk. Look for the cans of unprocessed and unsweetened coconut milk. Place a can in the refrigerator overnight, making sure to not disturb it. The next day, invert the can and open the top. The coconut cream will have separated from the water, and you can spoon it straight from the can! The Kitchn has a great breakdown of differences among canned coconut milk, coconut cream, boxed coconut milk, and coconut water.

close-up of sherbet two bowls of sherbet two bowls of blood orange sherbet with thyme sprigone bowl of blood orange sherbet with flowered towel

I have been researching wines for an upcoming series at the Kitchn on dessert wines, so I had a bottle of Moscato already open in the fridge. What a coincidence! It just so happens that sorbet and sherbet pair perfectly with this sweet, bubbly, low alcohol wine. And it’s absolutely perfect for brunch, since the alcohol sits comfortably around 8%. Steve and I have a tradition of starting a vacation off {a day off?} with a bottle of Moscato d’Asti, usually Michele Chiarlo’s “Nivole”. So, every time I open a bottle of this peachy nectar, I am reminded of vacations and taking it easy.

{Big thanks to my helpful wine colleagues, Sam Folsom, Bridget Witzell, and Steve Mason, for always keeping me in the loop, suggesting Mondavi, and keeping me stocked up!}

robert mondavi moscato d'oro


Robert Mondavi, Moscato d’Oro, Napa Valley, 2013


  • On the eyes  –  This lightly sparkling wine is a pale, golden straw color.
  • On the nose  –  You’ll immediately notice bright floral notes, with aromas of ripe peaches, and orange blossom. This wine will transport you to summer in an instant.
  • On the palate  –  It showcases notes of honeyed peach, lychee, and a serious mouthful of orange blossom. The acidity is medium in intensity and provides a refreshing contrast to the sweet style of this wine. Its gentle bubbles also pair well with the sweetness of the Moscato di Canelli grape.
  • On the table  –  I’d pair it with this blood orange sherbet, of course! The Moscato d’Oro would also go perfectly alongside a citrus semifreddo, a fruit tart topped with lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, a lemon olive oil cake, or a bowl of summer berries.
  • On the shelf  –  This bottle sits around $25 for a 375 mL {half-bottle} size.
  • On the ears  –  Of course, I paired it with some music. This album has been out since 2013, but I have recently gotten into it. And by “into it”, I mean playing the album on repeat a few times through. The Stroke’s Comedown Machine has gotten me out of a winter funk on a couple of occasions this year. I would definitely say the personality of this wine and dessert exemplifies the track, “One Way Trigger.”

If you are ever out in Napa Valley, visiting the Robert Mondavi Winery is an absolute must. It is a rite of passage for any wine lover. Mr. Mondavi revolutionized the wine industry in California and brought Napa Valley to worldwide acclaim. Plus, the facilities and property are just plain gorgeous. The barrel room is one of the most pristine examples I’ve seen. And the winery is more than happy to schedule a tasting and tour.

blood orange sherbet with moscato

For a decadent and easy treat, pour moscato over the blood orange sherbet.

I have to share some of the gems I’ve found from the internets on preserving and preparing blood oranges. At least pinning these recipes and dreaming about them has brightened up my week:

empty bowl of sherbet with spoonsI’ll close with a few Instagrams from the past week. One of my New Year’s goals was to start seriously studying calligraphy and hand-lettering. My foray into calligraphy has proven to be a challenging, yet incredibly fun, process with a very steep learning curve. Learning to ebb and flow with the pressure-release action of a calligrapher’s pen is not a task one perfects within a few months’ time. I have a great respect for letterers, who have mastered this graceful technique.

My original goal was to practice daily throughout the month of January, but I’ll continue to practice an hour a day, since I’ve basically established the habit. I am already seeing progress and have a better feel for the pen. I’ve also been dabbling with the medium of a digital pen to produce some fun hand-lettering pieces. The one below was prompted by a hand-lettering challenge, hosted by Miranti, of the blog and company, Pen and Peplum. Her work rocks, and her once-a-week challenge keeps me focused on my practicing.

What resolutions or intentions have been sticking for you?

Have you used the no-ice-cream-machine method for making sorbet, ice cream, or sherbet?

Do you have a recommendation for a machine?

And please send me a link to whatever citrus projects and recipes that have been inspiring you. As if I needed another excuse to go out and buy a bag of citrus!

Cheers!

Jayme

hand-lettered winter words

cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}

I made these cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops a couple of weeks ago. They disappeared all-too-quickly – within, like, two days! Or so I thought. I was cleaning out my freezer yesterday and, to my delight, found that one had slipped under some frozen blueberries. It was waiting so patiently for me to find it! Needless to say, I went out to the garden, sat down, and tried to savor it slowly. These are some my favorite ice pops to date.

It was almost like I was immediately rewarded for taking the time to clean out my frozen storage department. I have been following along with the Kitchn’s twice-a-year “Kitchen Cure”, a step-by-step revamp of your kitchen over the course of a few weeks. I am not quite up to date with the assignments, but I have the best of intentions to get my kitchen into shape, since our recent remodel. An upcoming {and long-awaited} blog post on the process and the details will definitely happen in the near future. We are awaiting the delivery of our range hood, and then we can complete the final tiling!

Until then, let’s enjoy some cherries!


cherry + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}


  • 9 ounces full-fat coconut milk
  • 12 ounces ripe cherries, pitted and fully blended
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Combine the coconut milk with 1/8 cup of the agave nectar and the vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
  2. Evenly divide the mixture into six ice pop molds and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, purée the pitted cherries and add the remaining 1/8 cup agave nectar and the lemon juice, mixing together thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. Once the 10 minutes have passed, slowly pour and evenly distribute the cherry mixture over the coconut mixture. Freeze for 30 more minutes.
  5. Now you can add the stick and continue freezing for another 3-4 hours.
  6. Wait patiently, and then eat them UP!

We grabbed some cherries from the Pearl Street Farmers’ Market here in Denver and also hand-picked our own sour cherries at Berry Patch Farms in Brighton. Aside from eating them right out of the box and making a couple of batches of ice pops, we have made a summer fruit bake, baked a cherry pie, fixed some brandied cocktail cherries, and mixed up some amazing cherry bourbon smashes.

I’ll close with some shots from a recent trip to Berry Patch Farms. This organic, family-run farm is about 30 minutes north of our house, but the trip is always worth it. We brought home some free-range, fresh eggs, colorful flowers, herbs, and vegetables. This past trip, we picked cherries {first time ever!}, and it was so much fun. We arrived about an hour before they closed, so we hustled and managed to quickly pick about eight pints. It helps to have a 6’4” boyfriend to score the cherries at the top, that no one else had gotten that day!

XO,

Jayme

coconut + raspberry + spring peach freezer pops

Is it possible to still be jet lagged after a week of being back home? If not, I must be the exception to the rule. Last week, at this very moment, I was flying over Kansas, making my way back to Denver from the most memorable and exciting trip I think I have ever had. I spent a week in the Burgundy region of France and made the towns of Dijon and Mâcon my home for much too short of a visit. I ate, drank, photographed, walked, explored, documented, and relished all that France had to offer, during the limited time I was there.

The trip was thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting, life-changing…what else can I add to this train of hyphenated descriptors? Joking aside, I did come back changed. And not just circumstantially changed, as if change were a byproduct of my experiences. I was intentionally and purposefully changed. If you let it, travel can open your eyes to compelling sights, contrasting cultures, and different means of thought. It can also focus and open your eyes upon yourself: how you think in a completely different context, why you act the way you do, how you react when out of your element, who you truly want to be, and why you care so much about what people think. And why you deem others’ opinions so important.

As I sit here this late afternoon, poring over my notes and tweaking hundreds of photos, while the rain pitter-patters outside my window, I am reminding myself of how free I felt overseas. How alive and observant I became. How intensely focused upon my senses I was. Why do we so frequently become complacent in our daily lives and routines? Why is it that we so often need a big change or slap in the face to make us see things differently?

I didn’t speak French, save the seven or so pertinent phrases I taught myself on the flight over {thank you, SpeakEasy French app!}. Despite the language barrier, I let myself open up to chance, meeting interesting people along the way, finding myself in unfamiliar circumstances, and forcing myself to react the way I wanted to. I slowed my pace, I listened more, I tasted with intention, and, eventually, I sighed deeper than I’d sighed in months. I wanted to take this feeling home with me and perpetuate it. Live it.

Greeted with a severe case of exhaustion from a delayed flight, a lengthy layover and an immediate reentry to my job, I quickly, but temporarily, lost my post-vacation buzz. I am finally feeling more refreshed today. Memorial Day was filled with bustle for us. We visited the garden center and purchased replacement plants for our garden. A recent hail storm decimated most of our newly planted seedlings. We pouted for a short moment, dealt with our sense of no control, and chose to replant, even if it costs us a bit more money. What more can you do? The trip to the garden center revived our excitement, and we came home ready to fill the backyard with veggies and herbs.

All of that hard work made us thirsty for something sweet and refreshing. A quick peek on Instagram at Fork Knife Swoon‘s photo of creamy coconut and blood orange ice pops propelled me to the grocery to grab some fruit and make my own. These turned out pretty darned delicious and were super easy to create. Another lesson on taking the time to make and enjoy something beautiful and satisfying. Thank you, France, for the much-needed tutorial on those subjects.


Coconut + Raspberry + Spring Peach Freezer Pops


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 1 heaping cup raspberries
  • 1/8 cup agave nectar {sweeten to taste}

In a mixing bowl, whisk coconut milk, vanilla, and agave nectar until incorporated and creamy. Set aside. In a blender {I used my trusty Vitamix}, purée the sliced and pitted peaches until smooth. There is no need to remove the skins. Set the peach mixture aside. Separately purée the raspberries until smooth and set aside. I had to add a little water to the berries to get the action going. You may also use frozen fruit, if you do not have fresh fruit at your fingertips.

For a creamy freezer pop, as Laura suggests, combine all of the ingredients until incorporated and divide evenly into six molds. I chose to layer my three components for a striking presentation, but I think I will combine them all next time, for a smoother and less icy consistency. Evenly pour the coconut milk into the molds and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Slowly pour the peach mixture next, followed by the raspberry mixture. I used a chopstick to drag some of the color down to the bottom of the mold, where the coconut milk was resting. Freeze for another 30 minutes and then add the stick or top of the mold. After 4 more hours of freezing, my 6 pops were ready.

These fruity freezer pops turned out to be the most delicious part of our day, along with reviving our vegetable and herb garden. We eventually graduated to a more adult form of celebration and drove down to my favorite wine shop, Divino. We found a couple of gems, and cracked a bottle of Richard Betts’ newest wine, “My Essential” Rosé. Refreshing, crisp, and satisfying. It was an essential component to a very memorable Memorial Day.


Richard Betts’ “My Essential” Rosé, Grenache, Provence, France 2013


  • On the eyes – a delicate kiss of pale salmon.
  • On the nose – floral, freshly picked red berries.
  • On the palate – dry, crisp, lean, with racy acidity and balanced fruit.
  • On the table – enjoy alone or with a friend, in the garden or on the porch, with some chèvre or simply solo.
  • On the shelf – about $13.
  • On the ears – paired with Empire of the Sun’s “Alive” from their album, Ice on the Dune. This song seriously makes me happy and makes me feel, aptly, more alive. “Loving every minute, ’cause you make me feel so alive. Alive.” That’s pretty much how Memorial Day went down this year, with so much gratitude.