6 Tips for Making the Most of Strawberry Season

If there’s anything good that’s come from global climate change, it’s strawberry season starting a few weeks early this year in Georgia. The local markets (and my balcony garden!) are full of perfectly ripe and red berries! Sometimes I get a little too excited and buy more than I can eat in a few days, so I’ve learned tactics for not letting the precious berries going to waste. Y’all should know by now how much I hate food waste! It starts with picking good berries and ends with tons of berries in my freezer to eat when they’re out of season. Plus there are some great recipes for in between. You could always put up jars of strawberry jam, but I wanted to include options that don’t require special equipment.

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Carrot Top Pesto

It’s easy to forget that carrots are actually roots, since we’re so used to seeing them packaged by themselves. But in order to grow, they need their lacy greens to soak up the sun above ground. And like most root vegetables, the greens are also edible.

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Leek + Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is a nostalgic dish for many–maybe a dish that brings back memories of a parent or grandparent lovingly preparing it, maybe a dish that soothed what ailed you. To me, it’s one of the most comforting foods when I’m not feeling well. My mom made it for me as a child, and most recently, a couple of girlfriends helped me prepare it after I got my wisdom teeth removed. It’s an uncomplicated dish that doesn’t require much skill or time in the kitchen.

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“French 28” Lavender + Lemon Champagne Cocktail

For the last three years, I’ve thrown myself a dessert party for my birthday. “I can make my own birthday cake if I want” is generally the idea, and the theme is loosely French: cheese, chocolate, champagne. This year, to keep things simple, I decided to only serve a champagne cocktail and sparkling rose. To keep things French, I decided to play off of the classic French 75 cocktail. I infused the simple syrup with lavender and swapped out some of the lemon juice for more floral tasting Meyer lemon juice. Seeing as it was my 28th birthday, I thought my cocktail would be appropriately named the “French 28.” Nobody can agree on where the “75” comes from anyway.

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Year in Review

In spite of the personal, national, and global turmoil, there was still a lot of good in 2016. It was one hell of a travel year for us, including awe-inspiring hikes, beautiful golf courses, and some incredible meals. We were overwhelmed with love and support from friends and family. I continued to find my way professionally as a photographer, cooking class teacher, and blogger. And I launched this new blog! Those are the parts I want to focus on and remember, so I’ve put together this “year in review” to record some of the highlights. I mostly did this for myself as a practice in gratitude, but I’ll also consider it my Christmas card substitute. Lord knows I don’t have my life together enough to get real ones in the mail.

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Brioche Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Icing

Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (or any morning, for that matter) are a nostalgic endeavor for me. From my childhood through my college years, it was usually a can of store-bought rolls with the little cup of icing. It wasn’t until my young adult years that I discovered the magic of homemade cinnamon rolls.

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

All vanilla extracts are NOT created equally. Once you taste the pure flavor of good vanilla, it’s hard to turn back. Unfortunately, a small bottle of artisanal extract can run upwards of $10. So, make it yourself! It’s as easy as vanilla beans + vodka.

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How to Build a Better Cheese Board

There are few better ways to get a dinner party off to a good start than with a cheese board. Since guests rarely arrive at the same time, it’s nice to have something for guests to eat right away. Fortunately, a beautiful spread of cheese doesn’t take a ton of prep like a lot of bite-sized appetizers do.

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Whole Grain Flatbread Crackers

Sure, you could just buy some, but these flatbreads are totally worth the little bit of extra time. They’ll save you some pennies, and you’ll be *so proud* to tell your friends that they’re homemade.

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Brown Butter + Chocolate Ganache Cake

This election season has been extra tense and vitriolic, so we need to find goodness wherever we can. And brown butter makes pretty much everything better. Can I get an amen?

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Gramma’s Banana Bread with Pecans

Banana bread was one of my very favorite snacks as a child–preferably straight out of the oven with a slathering of cream cheese. I actually thought it was my mom’s recipe until I received a box of recipes as a wedding gift from her mom, my Gramma Tina.

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