Wednesday, March 30

My favorite springtime recipe

Fresh spring rolls are a delight anytime of the year. When the sun starts to shine and the breeze is summer like warm in the last days of March, I begin to think about outdoor dining, Spring rolls are prefect for outdoor dining.
Throughout the Seattle area there are all sorts of Asian markets. These stores are filled with so many glorious gastronomical treats, and they are were I pick up all of my spring roll supplies.

Goi Coun or spring roll has many different names including, salad roll and summer roll. The ingredient are often either fish, shrimp, pork or beef, rice noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and various herbs. All of these ingredient are rolled into a rice wrapper that resembles the shape of a burrito when finished.
Spring rolls are fresh not fried and are often served with a peanut or fish dipping sauce on the side. The blend of flavors in these rolls combined with the dipping sauces create a fantastic tasting experience.

The following recipe is one of my favorites, if you don't have Asian market in your area many of these items can be found in the foreign foods section of your local grocer.

Dipping Sauce:

2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
1  tablespoon  fish sauce
1  tablespoon  water
1  tablespoon  chile paste with garlic
1  teaspoon  sugar
2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
2  garlic cloves, minced

Combine and set aside.

Spring rolls:

1 teaspoon salt
1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces thin rice vermicelli noodles
1 head lettuce (romaine or butter)
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, removed from stems
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced 
15-20  chives
1 package rice paper (banh trang) about 8.5 inches in diameter

1. Fill a  saucepan half full of water, add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp, reduce heat to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the shrimp with slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

2. Follow package directions and cook rice vermicelli noodles

3. lay shrimp flat and cut lengthwise in half.

4. Fill a medium bowl with warm water and dip a piece of rice paper into water; make sure to wet the entire piece. Lay it the rice paper flat. Place the 2 or three shrimps on the rice paper, followed by a lettuce leaf. Add rice noodles, mint, cucumber, 2 or 3 chives and basil evenly across the rice paper.

5. Roll the rice paper over the filling and tuck it underneath. Continue rolling while keeping tension on the rice paper for a tight roll. The roll will seal itself.

Cut you spring rolls in half on the diagonal, arrange on a plate, serve and enjoy! Don't forget to serve these rolls with the dipping sauce.

Wednesday, March 16

This weeks photos and a lip balm...

I have decided to post a new photo each day this week, which features some of the wonderful products that can be found in my shop.
Today's photo is my lightly scented maraschino cherry lip balm. I really love a lip balm that smells great, is not filled with artificial sweeteners, and leaves my lips feeling wonderful.
So, I created a line of spring lip balms with these very qualities. Currently, my lip balms are available in root beer, banana, watermelon, cotton candy and bubble gum. In the next few day I will be adding fresh grapefruit and a lovely berry scented tube. Spring is here and everything is filled with freshness!

Wednesday, March 9

Lemon Blossoms

Spectacular Fire

I have always been fascinated with geology, and particularly the science that surrounds volcanoes. This week the activity of Kilauea, a volcano in Hawaii's Volcano National Park was in the news. I found the story to be incredibly interesting and I have decided to share it with you.
On Sunday of this week the floor of the Pu'u O'o crater on Kilauea volcano collapsed, the result was an eruption and what followed was the emergence of a new fissure.The new fissure has grown to a length of just under 1.4 miles in the days since it's creation.

The aerial photo above provides an illustration of the size of this fissure. On both sides of this photograph you will notice large patches of forest. The molten rock, lava, pouring into this new fissure has temperatures of up to and possibly exceeding 2000 degrees.

Kilauea's name means spewing or much spreading . Curtains of lava were released from the fissure, some of these molten curtains reached a height of 80 feet ( just under 30 meters) throughout the day. It is understandable to see from this most recent eruption why the volcano earned such a name.
Kilauea is one of Hawaii's most active volcanoes. If you are interested in reading more about Kilauea's activity eruption information can be found at:

Wednesday, March 2

A brief history of the jasmine flower

The Jasmine flower has a long and interesting history. The flower belongs  to a group of shrubs and vines in the  olive family, with nearly 200 species. It  thrives in warm temperate and tropical climates . Jasmine with its creamy white flowers is thought to have originated in the Himalayas. References to its blossoms can be found in ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Persian writings. The name itself, Jasmine has its origins in the  Persian language "Yasmin" meaning " gift of god . This Gift of God  has been cultivated  for its flowers over the centuries.
Jasmine opens only at night when temperatures are lower, allowing the plant to release its beautiful scent. It must be picked early in the morning when the flower is still tightly closed. After the flowers are picked they are stored in a cool place for later use.

The flowers are used for many things. In China, they are used to make jasmine tea. The process requires that tea leaves and  jasmine petals are blended together in machines that control temperature and humidity. After several hours the tea absorbs the flavor and aroma of the blossoms, resulting in a delicious combination. If you have ever dined in a chinese cafe, I'm sure you have tasted this wonderful beverage.

Much to my surprised there exists a  jasmine syrup, widely known in France and used in the United States to flavor scones and marshmallows.

Jasmine essential oil is highly prized because of the sheer number of blossoms required to produce a small amount of oil. Blossoms picked after nightfall are laid out on  cotton clothes soaked in olive oil. This mixture is allowed to rest for several days, extracting the true jasmine scent.  The essential oil is produce in Egypt, China and Morocco.

Jasmine is also culturally significant in many countries, below are just a few examples.

  • It is the national flower of Tunisia and Pakistan, it represents the city of Damascus in Syria.
  • It is the Mother's symbol in Thailand.
  • In the Philippines it is strung on garlands for religious ceremonies  and in Indonesia is an important wedding symbol.
  • Throughout India jasmine is cultivated in gardens and pots, is used in a variety of important ceremonies. The beautiful blossom  is also worn as hair adornments by women.

Soaps, lotions and perfumes are well known for the  irresistible and mysterious scent of jasmine blossom.

With its rich and wonderful history it is easy to understand why the world has been enchanted by jasmine for centuries.