Thank You!

We wanted to say THANK YOU to those who have served, those currently serving and all the loved ones who died while serving. We appreciate you today and everyday.  Many thanks to those who are fighting for peace, justice and a more humane world in all spheres and workspaces as well.  We need you and we’re grateful for your work.

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This photograph is of our dear friend Nicole’s family during her husband’s promotion to Brigadier General.
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Weekend Recipe Roundup

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Hey there! A few friends are visiting this weekend and I found myself looking up old favorites in the archives of Live Seasoned.  I thought I’d share my picks with you :)

Best snack EVER. Today we made a vegan version with coconut oil, nutritional yeast (instead of parmesan) and garlic.

Lemonade all the way. This lemongrass tea is exceptional too!

We love making these honey and brie crackers as a party snack.

Remember this meal? I grill up those pork skewers all the time.

Quick pickles and spinach dip are my new summer party staples.

I picked up a mixed six pack of Carolina beers and a sixer of Saranac Prism White Ale tonight.

I’ll probably make an adapted batch of these scones tomorrow for my gluten-free, vegan friend.

Oooo and some of these creamy avocado popsicles or maybe these toasted coconut ones.

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend! I’m out!

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Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday! It’s the start of a long weekend, and we hope you’ll find some time to step outside, breath deep, and explore your backyard (whether that’s an actual yard, a forest, a city park, or the salt marsh). Take some time to enjoy nature and give her a bit of thanks. Oh, and the country’s been experiencing some crazy weather these days (caused by us? quite possibly), but don’t let it stand in your way!

These pictures were taken on a little evening hike with my guys yesterday. So glad I took the camera to capture this moment in our life. xoxo

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Walnut Oil Wood Balm

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments! Today we’re finally getting crafty (sort of)!

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All of us have at least a few wooden items in our kitchen, likely a couple of spoons and a cutting board. Maybe you also have a wooden salad bowl? How about some fancy wood-handled serving pieces? All of these items could use some moisture to keep them looking and functioning at their best. If your spoons are looking dull and your cutting board is starting to crack, then this post is for you!

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At a bare minimum, you could rub some olive oil into your wood pieces. I used to do this, but I found that that technique never lasted that long, especially for the cooking spoons and cutting boards that I’m using every day. Then, about four years ago I came across 3191′s post about spoon oil. What is spoon oil? It’s really more of a balm and is made by mixing melted beeswax with a food-safe oil. Once the mixture cools, it turns from a liquid state into the balm.

I used the mineral oil-based spoon oil for years now, and it worked well, but I still felt like my wooden pieces needed it sooner than I would have expected. Well, after a bit of research, I learned why! When applied, the mineral oil keeps the spoon oil in a soft state, which is good and bad. This is great for wooden counter tops and butcher blocks that you wipe down, but don’t wash with soap and water every day. The liquid state of the mineral oil allows the compound to soak deeper into the wood, especially with each new application. But, the soft nature of the mineral oil means that it’s easier to wash off and doesn’t hold up as well on the items that you wash nearly every day.

What’s the solution? Walnut oil!

After walnut oil soaks into the wood, due to a reaction with the air, it hardens, making it more resistant to repeated washings. You could use walnut oil on its own (many people do!), but I like using it in the balm as the beeswax adds another layer of protect to the wood. In addition to adding better protection to your wood, the curing of the walnut oil stops it from turning rancid, which can be an issue with other kitchen oils.

Making the wood balm is super easy. You just follow a 1:4 ratio of beeswax to oil. For example, to make this batch I used 2 ounces of beeswax and 8 ounces of walnut oil. To mix them together you’ll have to warm both in an improvised double boiler that is made by placing a mason jar or a glass measuring cup in a pot of simmering water. Place the beeswax and oil in the glass vessel and allow it to warm until the wax melts. Once it the wax has melted, be sure to give the mixture a good stir and take it off the heat. If you used a glass measuring cup for the double boiler, you’ll want to pour the wood balm into a storage container while it’s still a liquid.  I use a thrifted crock for my balm, adding a new batch without bothering to completely clean out remnants from the previous batch.

**It’s essential to warm both the beeswax and the oil. If you don’t warm the oil, when you mix both together the room temp oil will cause the beeswax to immediately solidify, and they won’t blend together. Of course, if this happens to you, it’s not a problem – just place the whole mixture back in the double boiler and let the wax melt again.

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Once made, using the balm is so easy. Just rub a thin layer over your wooden pieces and let them sit overnight to let some of the excess balm soak into the wood. I just pile up my “sticky” pieces and let them sit until I have the time to polish them.

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When it’s time to polish, I use a basic cloth diaper to wipe of the excess balm and give the pieces a shine. Side note : I’ve never used the cloth diapers for actual diapering, but find them to be so helpful around the house, particularly for cleaning. I keep my polishing cloth with the crock of balm, reusing it multiple times.  The cloth covered with excess balm serves double duty as a polishing cloth for other wooden items in our house (for example, we have a few wooden buddha statues that get a quick wood balm rub once in a while). And that’s that, a super simple, completely safe balm that nourishes your wooden kitchen utensils, the same ones that you use to nourish your family! xo

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Homemade Lemonade

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Happy Wednesday!  Making homemade lemonade is one of those super simple activities that I don’t do nearly enough.  This past Sunday I reaaaaally wanted a treat, but I’m sure you remember that I’m saving up for a travel adventure, which means NO treats! At least no treats that I have to pay for. After gazing longingly into my freezer and still not seeing any ice cream, I spun around and spotted an enormous bowl of lemons on my countertop and that’s how this homemade lemonade recipe was born.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

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For a few years now, we’ve kept a steady supply of the white chocolate macadamia nut Cliff bars in the house. They’re mainly purchased as a quick snack for Calder to take along on bike rides, but honestly, we all love them (even, or especially, Alex) as a quick treat now and then. We also used to pick up more flavors in the past, but over time we finally gave in and admitted that the only flavor we truly loved was the white chocolate macadamia. When I packed one in our bag for the park last weekend, I started to think about how it’s been way too long since I’ve actually had a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, and it was time to put the Cliff bar down and remedy that. This was the result, and it’s delicious!

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While writing this post, I became curious about the history of the white chocolate and macadamia nut pairing, but information was really hard to come by. The cookie doesn’t even have it’s own wikipedia page, rather it’s just listed as a variant of the chocolate chip cookie! When I mentioned this to Calder, his response was “but it’s so much more than that”, and I couldn’t agree more. Somewhere, someone came up with this fantastic flavor pairing, and it’s time to recognize their genius.

One thing that used to stop me from making cookies on a whim was the need to soften the butter. You too? Well I’m here to tell you that you can break all the rules and make these cookies ASAP. Just take the cold butter straight from the fridge, cut it into chunks, put it in your electric mixer and mix it on medium speed for a minute or two before adding the sugar in step one below. I started doing this a few years ago with chocolate chip cookies and ever since then, I’ve noticed that I never have a problem with the cookies spreading too thin while cooking, and instead they hold their shape really well.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (soft or not!)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture and stir slowly to combine.
  4. Stir in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate.
  5. Drop tablespoon sized portions onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the sheet and place on a cool rack as soon as they come out of the oven.
http://liveseasoned.com/white-chocolate-macadamia-nut-cookies/

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The recipe above is a modified version of this recipe. The two main changes I made were to use less sugar and changing the extract recommendation. I reduced the sugar from the original recipe by 1/4 cup, and I think it’s still plenty sweet. The other change I made isn’t necessarily for the better. The original recipe called for 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp almond. I would have loved to used the almond, but didn’t have any on hand. If you do have it, I would recommend using it!

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I think these are perfectly delicious, and the pile is dwindling faster than we would like to admit! The cookies are a touch cakey, which I wouldn’t mind changing, but their flavor doesn’t suffer from the fluffier texture. I think the way to remedy this would be to use less flour, I might try just 2 cups next time. If you experiment, please let us know!  

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How To: Take a Newborn Portrait

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Hey baby mommas and poppas! From time to time I like to share photography tips and bits. Today I’ll show you a simple setup for a newborn photography session.  If you have a DSLR, this tutorial is especially for you!  If you’re working with an iPhone or point and shoot camera, these tips will totally help you out too, but there’s going to be some information that you don’t need so just skim through all that junk.  Like I said, this is a simple setup.  Nothing crazy goin’ on here.  I think it’s best to master the basics first and that’s what we’ll be focusing on in this post.

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Katie here :

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Our week has been pretty lazy with just a touch of cabin fever. We’ve been overwhelmed by the cloudy and rainy days here (and the forecast for another week of rain ahead, ugg). While we would love spend more time outside than in, we’ve been looking for creative ways to spend our time inside; we’ve painted, played with blocks, and trains, but there’s only so many times you can do those things before even little A starts to go crazy. We still got outside, we just ended up cold and wet! As a result, we had plenty of time to watch the bird feeders this week. As you might have seen on Instagram, we had a flock of evening grosbeaks visit and we had a broad tailed hummingbird fighting with our black chinned hummer fighting for a place at the feeder. So that’s our wet week, how was yours?

Sarah here:

While Kate’s been bird watching, I’ve been dog wrangling.  I’m pup-sitting two other dogs this week, which means dogs currently outnumber the humans in this tiny apartment.  It’s pretty cozy around here besides the lack of a dog door that the two visitor pups are used to. Yes, they’ve taken turns pooping on the living room floor while K and I were asleep.  After night two, I decided to just sleep at the dogs’ house so they have access to their doggy door because I heard you can’t teach an old dog new house training rules anyway…

North Carolina made the switch from Spring to Summer this past week too. It is HOT and soon time to shut the windows and turn on the AC, bummer! The mosquitoes, spiders and ants are out in full force too.  Looks like I’m going to have to learn some ant remedies fast because there is a colony taking over my kitchen counter as I type this post.  There’s also a dog under my desk, one laying behind my chair and another sitting on my lap!  Looks like I have enough creatures to keep me company this weekend :)

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Hazelnut Liqueur

Nuts are our ingredient of the season.  Dips, cookies, and snack bars, are just a sampling of our many nutty posts. Today, we’re finally combining them with alcohol!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had Frangelico or any other hazelnut liqueur, but with nuts as our featured ingredient, it was high time that I tried making my own! While doing some research for this project, I came across a Serious Eats article that encourages anyone interested to make their own rather than buy, and I couldn’t agree more. The pure hazelnut flavor really shines through, and I really appreciate being able to taylor the sweetness to my liking, which is often less than store-bought liqueurs.

After liking what Serious Eats’ encouragement to make the liqueur, I clicked through to their recipe and also liked the simplicity of that, so I used it and that’s what you see reprinted below. Making this liqueur couldn’t be easier, it’s the waiting that’s hard. While I want to say it “only” involves three to four weeks of wait-time, that’s three (or four) too many, and I think you’ll agree once you see my new favorite treat below. I say four weeks, because I was supposed to go on to steps 2 and 3 while our family was in town, and I completely forgot! As a result, I had about an extra week of the hazelnuts steeping in the alcohol, but the flavor is that delicious and strong that I have no regrets… although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wait that long the second time I make this.

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Everyman’s Guide to Ecological Living: General Rules to Live By

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I’m currently reading a great book called Everyman’s Guide to Ecological Living by Greg Cailliet, Paulette Setzer and Milton Love. I wanted to share their general rules to live by because they resonate so deeply within me.  This book was published in 1971 and only cost $.95 at the time!  It’s pretty short with a little more than a hundred pages.  It is written in a really straightforward and simple manner and while some aspects are outdated (because this was one of the first resources of its kind and the internet wasn’t around yet) the ecological principles hold up.  It’s actually pretty quaint to read things like, “Support manufacturers that sell deposit bottles. Write them and express your satisfaction with this policy.”  So while some of those suggestions don’t make sense today, the ideas behind the actions the authors want you to take are still important and shouldn’t be forgotten.

I think Everyman’s Guide to Ecological Living is a great text if you haven’t really given ecological living much thought.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this on Seasoned yet, but I have dreams of living far away from “the real world” on my own little plot of land.  Self-sustainability and off-the-grid living is an attractive fantasy and one day I hope it’s an attainable goal.  Not many of these principles are new to me, instead I find myself shaking my head ‘yes’ while I read page after page.  For me, this book is a nice affirmation that living simply should and is valued by many, even if I don’t come across those folks every day.  I also love the simplistic nature in which all these principles are laid out for the viewer.  This text would actually be great required reading for middle school kids.  Each page has suggestions for living a more ecologically-sound life; we could all do a little bit better, yes?

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Here’s how the book begins:

General Rules to Live By:

Be Constantly Aware of the Interdependence of Man and Nature.

  • Everything we do has an effect somewhere.
  • Be alert to the ultimate fate of items you use.
  • Before using, ask, “What will it do to the state of the environment?”

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