Nothing but rolling hills as far as the eye can see

A country girl at heart, I tend to go a little...stir crazy...when I'm forced to stay in the city during the summer.  Mainly I just feel suffocated by the heat, but when I'm suddenly struck by an overwhelming urge to shove tourists out of my way, and scale the sides of buildings to avoid crowds....it's time to get away.  Probably sensing that I was practically at a psychotic break, Pat (who is also from Vermont) suggested we spend the weekend with his family in Brattleboro. 

Almost a year later, the destruction from tropical storm Irene is still all too apparent in Pat's town.  Store fronts are closed, apartments are boarded up, and a fundraising campaign called "I am Vermont Strong" sells license plates and bumper stickers in almost every store.  One of the best parts about Vermont is the incredible sense of community that has only been strengthened by this crisis.   Vermonters bought local before it was trendy simply because it was the right thing to do.  In this spirit, Pat and I thought there would be no better way to give back to the community than to spend an afternoon perusing mom and pop stores and eating all of their creemee's and fudge.

Ok maybe that was a little a selfish too.......creemee's are just soooooo goooooooood!

Creemee's are much like traditional soft serve ice cream, but with a higher cream content so they taste INFINITELY better.  As far as I know, you can't get them anywhere outside of the state.

The River that runs through Wilmington, Vt.  During Irene, the water level was about 10 ft higher than this picture.

Absolutely amazing Apple and Maple Pumpkin butter made in Brattleboro

Every variety of maple everything you could ever dream of!

* If you're feeling exceptionally generous and would like to donate to the rebuilding effort, donations can be made here


Simple Turkey Avocado Wraps

Working in Cancer research at a major hospital, every day I'm literally smacked in the face with more data to support that almost every chronic disease, to some degree, is preventable.  It is natural then that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding all these horrible conditions, is generally in the forefront of my mind.  I eat well, go to the gym often, and (this is the hardest part when you're in grad school) try to sleep enough every night.  

With summer in mind, my boyfriend Pat and I have decided to kick up our normal routine to a super-healthy-super-human zone in order to wiggle into those beach bodies everyone is so obsessed with.  We're making all of our own food (as opposed to eating Starbucks every morning), which ensures we know exactly what's in there, and can eat more nutritious meals for fewer calories and dollar bills.  This past Sunday we went to the gym early and then did a massive amount of grocery shopping.  By the time we got back to my apartment we were starving.  To start the week off on a good note, I threw together these simple turkey wraps which were summery, tasty, and just right to get us in the spirit of the healthy week ahead.


Kitchen Herbs

Confession: I'm a house plant serial killer.

My mother and my grandmother both have amazing green thumbs, but that gene must have skipped a generation because I'm pretty sure I have never successfully kept a plant alive.  The unfortunate part of such a gifted mother (and lacking all those talents yourself) is that I was absolutely spoiled growing up with an enormous vegetable garden.  Nothing compares to a tomato picked fresh moments before you eat it, or filling your morning cereal with blueberries and strawberries just because you can.  I cringe every time I see a tiny package of lackluster raspberries selling $6, but what really kills me in the grocery store are the fresh herbs.

 Living in the city there's no way I could ever have my own raspberry bush, but most herbs are incredibly easy to grow and would be perfectly happy in a small pot in your kitchen.  After I saw 5 pathetic sprigs of basil for $4 the other day, I decided that THIS summer will be the summer that I grow herbs without killing them.

Never being one to do things half way, I went all out at a local gardening store and bought 3" starter plants (much easier to keep alive than growing from seeds) of mint, basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, chives, and lavender. The whole shebang, including potting soil, ceramic pots, and a little watering can, came to only $25!  If I manage to keep the plants alive, I will be saving money if I make two caprese salads and two batches of pasta sauce! Completely aside from the financial gain, the pots of happily growing organic herbs lining my windowsills make my kitchen feel like a garden oasis from the stress of the city. Cue the Mozart, these babies are gonna LIVE!!!!!


Sloppy Joes

I think we all remember that scene in "It Takes Two" where Mary-Kate shows the world the correct way to eat a sloppy Joe.
...No? Just me? Why aren't you all huge Mary-Kate and Ashley fans?????
Suffice to say, girlfriend knew how it was DONE when she was 9.

Just to be clear, the way it is "done" is pretty much to just smash the sandwich into your face, getting meat and sauce everywhere.  Thoroughly enjoy the sticky, gooey mess and red stained cheeks that result.

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm not big on red meat, so when I started craving the sloppiest possible meal last week I decided to come up with a leaner turkey alternative.  I seriously modified a beef recipe I found on allrecipes.com, and I couldn't be happier with the results!  This sloppy joe is just as it should be: simple, no frills, delicious, comfort food.



Hi Everyone!

Did you all just assume I died in the tough mudder? YE OF LITTLE FAITH!!! I'm so tough! Orange headband and all we crossed that finish line almost an hour faster than my boyfriend and his dad did last time.  I'm so proud of of my team, and I absolutely can't wait to do it again!

Here's the thing about grueling days of physical activity, post facto you eat....like a PIG.  You sit there and shove macaroni and cheese in your mouth like there's no tomorrow because you deserve it, and you 100% do not feel guilty.
Here's the thing about macaroni and cheese, the good stuff is approximately a bajillion calories a bite, and after all that face stuffing you realize....there is a tomorrow.  In that tomorrow, you're middle is.......soft.  Really soft.  And it's bikini season.

I came to this very sad realization about a week ago, and decided something must be done to protect all that hard working out I've been doing for the last three months. So what did I do? I made ratatouille.  Not only is it fun to say, the name of a charming cartoon mouse, and deliciously vegetables-gone-crazy, it's ridiculously easy to make. Eat it as a side dish, or toss it with pasta, either way it's scrum-diddley-umtpious.

And you can sound super fancy when you say it with a french accent.