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Our Tuesday Spotlight is on our Tea Tree Eucalyptus soap. The clean, fresh scent is a gentle eye opener. My family often uses this soap during cold and flu season. Not only is the scent great for opening sinuses', but tea tree oil is also believed to be naturally anti-bacterial. Our Tea Tree Eucalyptus soap does not have that aggressive biting scent. Our soap is clean, gentle, and very fresh.


As always, our Tuesday Spotlight is half-off on the website for the week. There is no promo code needed, and savings will be applied at checkout. Stay safe, be smart, enjoy the savings, and keep washing your hands.

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Yesterday marked sixteen years since my dad passed. I never believed I would live this long without hearing his chuckle, seeing those twinkly blue eyes, and hearing that voice that said things to make me laugh or feel better. But indeed, sixteen years have passed, and time keeps moving forward, moving us through various phases of our lives.


It’s strange how when you lose someone, your world stops for a while, but the world outside your world keeps moving forward. When my grief was raw and fresh, I didn’t know how I would go on without my dad. I couldn’t imagine a life without his guidance, comfort, and love. However, here I am sixteen years later, and like it or not, life has gone on without him. He now has a thirteen-year-old granddaughter he has never met. A child that, although not a blood connection, feels the importance of continuing his legacy and honoring him.


Sometimes I sit and reflect on how odd it is that when we pass, the world that was ours, the people we love, and the things we hold dear continue to move forward without us. The impact of our life continues to live on in those we love and those who love us. Lives are never the same once the loss has occurred. The world shifts and changes but continues to go on without us.


I believe that somewhere, my dad continues to watch over me. I believe that my dad and Eric’s dad had an active role in sending my daughter to us. I also believe that although he is not here physically, he is with me in spirit when times are tough and when times are good. Somewhere, he continues to root for me to succeed and celebrate when things go well. Although time keeps moving forward, not a day goes by that I don’t wish he were here to give me that raised eyebrow look of annoyance when I screw up or give my hand that squeeze when I need him most.


Sixteen years feels like a lifetime. On this first day of August, stay safe, be smart, keep moving forward, and keep washing your hands.

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It is always a challenge for me to accomplish everything I want, even in the kitchen. I try to eat foods that are in season because it helps us eat locally, fresher and more nutritious foods, and it’s fun to eat what is available for a limited time. I love to eat local strawberries because, let us be honest, strawberries from the grocery store don’t taste anything like a strawberry picked warm from a local berry patch. Walmart tomatoes don’t taste like fresh tomatoes from the garden or the farmer’s market. Herbs are better freshly picked or bought at the farmer’s market rather than the plastic-encased wilted fronds you buy in the grocery store’s produce section. However, I struggle to create or find quick, easy, nutritious, and seasonal recipes. I find I often get into a rut with my menus. I will cook the same fifteen meals and not venture out of my comfort zone.


In searching for easy, seasonal recipes, I have discovered my crew enjoys grilled cheese sandwiches. However, slapping a slice of Kraft Singles between two pieces of Wonder Bread and calling it good wears a little thin after a while. I have gotten creative with grilled cheese sandwiches, and I have found that I can incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables to make them delicious and nutritious. I will share the recipe for pesto, tomato, and fresh mozzarella grilled cheese with a hearty minestrone soup. Although it is a soup, The Bean enjoys the heartiness of the beans. This is a great summer meal that is quick and simple.


Let’s begin with a recipe for simple, fresh pesto. Our neighbors at The Ligonier Market, People’s Farm, generously gift us any herbs or vegetables they don’t sell. In return, we hook them up with soaps and moisturizers. “The Boys,” as we refer to them, gave us a large bunch of fresh basil. It was gorgeous and fragrant, and I couldn’t allow it to go to waste, so I made pesto. My method of making pesto is not exact. I find it is more of a texture thing that you know when you know. So, here we go.



Fresh Pesto


Ingredients:

1 Large Bunch of Fresh Basil

High-Quality Olive Oil (I use lemon-infused olive oil from Liokareas Olive Oils at The Ligonier Country Market)

2-3 Cloves of Garlic

2-3 Tablespoons of Pine Nuts


Directions:

Place all ingredients but the olive oil in a food processor. Use two to four pulses to chop all ingredients. Slowly add the olive oil in small amounts, pulse, and assess the texture. Add olive oil in small increments until you have achieved a thick but spreadable paste. Pesto should be thick enough not to run but thin enough to spread easily.





Pesto, Tomato, and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese


Ingredients:

Large Ripe Tomato (I buy my tomatoes at Yarnick’s Produce in Indiana, Pa, and also at The Ligonier Country Market)

Pizza Cheese ( I use the fresh Pizza Cheese from Lone Oak Farm)

Fresh Crusty Italian Bread

Fresh Pesto

Butter (Also from Lone Oak Farm)


Directions:

Slice tomato and cheese into thin slices. Spread Pesto on one side of bread. Layer cheese and tomato onto bread slices, placing cheese on the piece of bread without the pesto. This helps the bread not to become soggy from the tomato. Butter both outer sides of the sandwich and place on a hot skillet until the bread is golden, turning to grill both sides, and the cheese is melted.


Summer Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Medium Onion, Chopped

2 Medium Carrots, Peeled and Chopped

1 Celery Stalk, Chopped

4 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Quart Chicken Stock

1 Pound of Fresh Tomatoes, Peeled, Seeded, and Chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) Can of Chopped Tomatoes with Liquid

1 Medium Zucchini, Diced

1 Medium Yellow Squash Diced

1 (15-ounce) Can of Cannellini, Drained and Rinsed

1 (15-ounce) Can of Red Kidney Beans, Drained and Rinsed

1 cup Elbow Macaroni, Small Shells, or Ditalini Pasta

Freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Basil

¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Thyme

¼ Cup Fresh Italian Parsley

Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese for Garnish


Directions:

In a heavy stock pot, sautee carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in olive oil until they soften.


Add tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and herbs. Simmer for ten to fifteen minutes until the mixture becomes fragrant. Then add the chicken stock, cannellini beans, and kidney beans. Turn to low heat, cover, and simmer for thirty to forty minutes.


While the soup is simmering, in a separate pan, following package directions, cook pasta until firm. Drain and rinse in cold water.


Add cooked pasta to soup, stir and simmer for an additional ten minutes.


Serve hot, garnishing with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.


Leftovers store well in the refrigerator for up to a week. The soup becomes more flavorful as it sits.


I hope, dear reader, you enjoy my simple, easy, seasonal soup and sandwich recipe. Many of the recipes’ ingredients can be found fresh from your local farmer’s market. I can’t emphasize enough the good you do for your family, neighbors, and community by buying fresh, local ingredients.


As always, stay safe, be smart, enjoy the season’s bounty, and keep washing your hands, especially while cooking. Have a wonderful weekend.




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