Labor Day Weekend

Youghiogheny Dam, Confluence, PA (pronounced “yock-a-gain-ee”, or so we’re told)

Hmm, it’s been quite some time since I posted.  I guess we’ve just been busy.  We did take some time out for a weekend away in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, which I highly recommend.  It’s a great area with activities for the whole family.  It’s also a great place to just rest and relax and enjoy some quiet time (which is what we did).


We stayed at Hartzell House, an incredible B&B in Addison, PA.  Our hosts, Kitty and Dave, are wonderful folks who made our stay comfortable and serene.  The house is beautifully decorated and meticulously maintained, with a lovely garden, sun room, patio, pool table, and plenty of books, games and DVDs to keep you occupied when you want to stay in.  There are lots of lovely spaces to curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Be warned: Kitty and Dave’s breakfasts are to die for… you might just pass out due to excessive bliss.  Also, be prepared to make some great new friends as everything about the B&B just brings out the friendly in its guests.


Hartzell House is located a short driving distance to many activities, outdoors and in, in both Pennsylvania and Maryland.  We had a bit of rain and my husband had a little cold, so we didn’t do too much in the great outdoors.  We did take in quite alot in the way of antiques and arts (stained glass, glass blowing, woodworking, iron working, weaving, pottery, quilting, photography, to name a few).

Glass blowing at Simon Pearce, Mountain Lake Park, MD

There are also some very good restaurants and cafes in the area, including River’s Edge Cafe (also a B&B) which has a good number of vegetarian selections (definitely try the sweet potato fries) and is located, as advertised, right at the edge of the river.


On the way home on Monday, we stopped for lunch at Tari’s, our favorite place in Berkeley Springs, WV, only to find that they had suffered some extensive flood damage earlier in the weekend and were still cleaning up.  Hope you re-open soon!  We spent a weekend in Berkeley Springs a few years ago, and highly recommend it too.


So, I have some overdue recipes to post… coconut quinoa and spicy eggplant, to name a few.  Look out for the those in the coming week.


Watermelon Thai Basil Cooler… Yes, Another One

I suppose it’s been overdone, but I still think it’s a great way to use watermelon and to make inroads into the bushels of Thai basil left over from the mega-pack I bought from my local grocery store.  So, here’s my version:


3/4 cup fresh watermelon

3/4 cup limeade (or 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 tbsp simple syrup, 1/2 cup water)

2 Thai basil leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

1 jigger of rum (optional)


1.  Blend all the ingredients (except rum) together.  I used an immersion blender.

2.  Pour over ice in a tall glass.  (Actually, I didn’t use ice.  My watermelon and limeade were refrigerated, so everything was cold.)  If using, stir in the rum.  Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil.

Ginger Tea

This is my husband’s and my weekend afternoon pick-me-up.  Try it out.  It will put some pep back in your step.


1 cup water

1 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated

1 or 2 cardamom pods, or two pinches of cardamom powder

1 heaping tsp tea*

1 tsp sugar or honey (optional), or to taste

Milk (I use skim)


1.  Combine water, ginger and cardamom in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add tea and continue boiling until the raw tea smell is gone, or about 3-5 minutes.  (Smell it when you first add the tea, and then keep smelling until you notice the change.)

2.  Add the sugar and milk, lower the heat and bring to a low simmer, stirring once or twice.

3.  Strain into your favorite tea cup or mug and enjoy!

*Note: You can use tea bags, but I prefer to use Assam tea from my local Indian grocery store.  This is differently processed leaf tea.  It looks almost like coarse ground coffee.

Keerai Pachadi (Paalak Raita, or Spinach Yogurt Salad)


2 large bunches spinach, roughly chopped (about 5 cups)

1 tsp canola or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp split urad dhal

2 or 3 whole dried red chillies

1 small onion, thinly sliced

7 or 8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 1/2 to 2 cups of non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt

Salt to taste


1.  Place the spinach leaves in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 5 minutes.  If you prefer, steam or wilt in a saucepan.  Do not add water or any other liquid.

2.  While the spinach is cooking, heat the oil in a small frying pan.  Add the mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the urad dhal and dried red chillies.  Saute until the urad dhal just begins to brown.  Add the onions.  Saute until the onions start becoming translucent, but do not allow them to brown.  Add the tomatoes and saute for a just a minute or two.  Remove from heat.

3.  Combine the spinach and the onion/tomato mixture.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir in the yogurt and add salt to taste.

Serve as a side dish to an Indian meal.  Can also be served as a dip as long as you chop all of the vegetables, including the spinach, much smaller.

Aloo Methi (Potato With Fenugreek Leaves)


2 tsp canola or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 to 5 green chillies, diced (according to your heat preference)

3 to 4 large potatoes, 1-inch dice

1/3 cup fenugreek leaves (methi, vendhiya keerai), chopped*

Salt to taste


1.  Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan.  Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.  When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the green chillies, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder.  Saute for a few seconds.

2.  Add the potato, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp salt and stir to combine.  Add 1/4 cup water.  Reduce heat.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked through.  Add water as needed to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

3.  When the potatoes are cooked, stir in the chopped fenugreek leaves.  Add salt if needed.  Heat on low for a few minutes, until the methi has been warmed.  Serve warm as a side dish.

*Note: If you cannot find fresh fenugreek leaves, many Indian grocery stores stock frozen, chopped fenugreek leaves.  Some of them even come in frozen cubes.  I used 2 cubes for this dish.