Monday, August 19, 2013


from here.

I read the other day that the Chinese have five seasons.  Aside from the regular four, they also count the end of summer as it's very own season.  That suits me just fine, being that the transition from late summer to early fall is my favorite time of the year. 

I wax poetic about it annually, citing the way the light changes and the dip in the temperature that makes wearing a hoodie the norm again.  Late summer seems to have caught us by surprise here in the mountains this year.  The local weather channel reported that there has only been one weekend without rain in our area since April!  I haven't been swimming, nor have I even donned a bathing suit this year.  And I can hardly even remember what the beach looks or feels like.  I haven't seen the ocean in almost five years. 

The last few years of my life have been a mess.  The world seems to be just like this summers weather; dreary with little chance of sunshine.  But I know that's just the pessimist in me talking.  I know the transition is coming.  I know there will be sunshine and beach trips and hopes and dreams fulfilled.  I know there is good in this life.  And so, I will keep trying.  I will soak up any late summer sun that is left.  I will smile at the cool breezes and the turning leaves.  And just like China, I will count this time of year as a season in itself.  Just like nature, I will consider it an invitation to turn inward for the coming winter and cultivate my soul for the time when it will bloom again. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Smart Snacking ~ Chocolate Dipped Apricots

Unlike many people, I do not enjoy cooking.  It is not relaxing to me.  As a matter of fact, I only cook because I like to eat.  Well, that and the fact that I would otherwise probably be kicked out of my family.  That being said, I like simple food.  If a recipe is long and elaborate I won't even give it any consideration. 

I also like to eat healthy.  It just makes me feel better.  Simple as that.  So I thought I would share with you what has become my easy staple snack this summer.  Chocolate dipped dried apricots. 

Dipping apricots in chocolate would have never crossed my mind, but my dad used to be a mail carrier and one of his customers sent some of these home with him one time.  The process is so simple that a kid could do it, but the results are fantastically yummy. 

First, you melt your chocolate in a microwavable bowl in the microwave (of course).  The thought of melting chocolate was always sort of scary to me.  I thought you had to do the whole double-boiler thing and be all careful.  But I'm not that fancy.  The microwave works just fine. 
I prefer Lindt chocolate (70% dark).  It only takes three squares to dip an entire 6 ounce bag of dried apricots.  (I use Sunsweet)  I throw those three squares of Lindt chocolate in my bowl and stick it in the microwave for one minute.  Don't let your chocolate get fully melted in the microwave.  It works best to still have some solid chunks and then just stir it until its all smooth.  That way you don't risk burning it. 

You will need a non-stick surface to put your dipped apricots on.  (I use tin foil.)  Now all you do is swipe those golden nuggets of natural goodness into the chocolate and stick them in the fridge to set. 

Voila!  Now you have a naturally sweet snack waiting in your fridge.  And healthy, too!  Apricots are a good source of Vitamin A and Potassium.  They also aid in digestion and have been reported to help maintain eyesight.  (at least, that's what I've read about them.  I'm not a nutritionist.)  And I don't have to tell you the good news about dark chocolate, right? 

Let me know if you try this snack yourself.  I hope you like them as much as I do.