Fresh Finds with Alisa Murray Spring 2017

Springtime is upon us and although we have had a rather warm winter we had best get ourselves geared up for a HOT summer! I love springtime because it is when I get everything in my life in it’s best form. The mind-body-balance that I planned for back in January has by the spring been given adequate time to have become a habit. The garden gets as much attention as the treadmill and by the summer it’s producing nicely for salads poolside and gives us corn for roasting and eggplants for parmesan. Springtime is also a wonderful time to revamp your beauty routine. I like making my own scrubs.They are easy to prepare and necessary to clean our skin and get ready for sunshine and swimsuits that are right around the corner! 
From my Garden… my experience has been that the success of early seedlings and plants are  dependent on placement and nutrition. Certain plants do well here while others have given me a run for sure and I am still learning what works and what does not. Each year I get more wisdom about gardening and the more you do the more successful you will become. It’s not hard to have a garden if the garden starts off right! In your garden you’ll want to plant all your basic herbs for cooking. Whether you plant from seed or from plants marigolds should be planted around them to encourage friendly bugs and to deter  others that like dinning there as well! The basic herbs needed for most households are basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro, sage, dill, mint and rosemary. These can be planted in a section of your garden and even in a flowerbed! At my home there are lot’s of interesting creatures running about. We have deer, wild boar, large snakes, coyotes and cougars! All of my garden has been adapted from the flowerbeds adjacent to the pool that get the most sun daily and more important are contained within the fence. This has been a challenge for space but having done this now for five years it has evolved like anything else. One must know not to plant cucumbers near watermelons or else you’ll make fruit that might look great in a Guinness Book of World Records but it will be inedible having cross pollinated. You’ll also need to know that jalapeños and habaneros can not be planted near other vegetables lest the entire garden will be very spicy, so plant those over on the other side away from tomatoes and green peppers and the squash. All of your vegetables; tomatoes, squash, egg plant, cucumbers, lettuces including spinach should be planted with some sort of organization and care. Mostly I plant mine from seed and add in compost to make sure there is enough vitamins and minerals in the soil to give the seeds nutrients necessary for production. The heirloom tomatoes purchased at the grocer are gutted for there seeds and dried and then planted in tiny starter pods that then transfer to the garden. Once you have set everything up with a little care your garden will be giving you food daily that is sustainable from your yard to your table. 
From my Kitchen….I love that I can walk outside and feed my family. We are big beef eaters here mainly because I am allergic to chicken, but vegetables are a main player in my plates. One of my favorite vegetables that spills over from winter into spring nicely here anyway is the collard. I write often about the collard because it is such a versatile vegetable and grows so well and produces so much that you can create endless recipes from it’s leaves! I love coming up with things that are unique but also similar to other dishes that my family loves. I make a Smoked Pork with Poblano Pepper Enchilada that uses collards blanched as the casing instead of corn or flour tortillas. I like using a pork shoulder and I do a dry rub that I have made from scratch. It consists of garlic, onion, sriracha , cilantro, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder and turmeric. I roast @200 the pork for about 10 hours or until the bone  falls off and can be pulled through the pork. The pork is then shredded and chopped and placed in a bowl. Take cooked white rice, large can of red enchilada sauce, chopped shallots, garlic, small can of green chiles, finely chopped poblano pepper, and the shredded pork and make a mixture and set aside. Go to the garden and pull at least 20 leaves and place them for a few seconds in boiling water to blanche them. Take the leaves and in your palm place about three tablespoons of the mixture onto the leaf and then tuck and roll up like an enchilada. Continue to do this and place in a pan. Pour another red enchilada sauce can over the leaves then pour avocado cream and cover with the Mexican cheese blend. Bake at 350 for 30 mins until all is gooey and armed throughout. 
Bringing into your home beautiful flowers is a way to enjoy fragrance naturally and once you have finished enjoying the petals most often they can be dried and used in bath fizzles and scrubs. Rarely does anything get tossed because even in a different form out still has another purposeful usage. Forcing bulbs is fun for the children to do with you in the winter months such as Lilly’s but in  early spring I like to take Hyacinth bulbs and place them in large mouthed glass jars. My mother planted hyacinth’s down the driveway and I remember each spring those blooming and making their scents along my big wheeled paths! Scents for me are big memory makers with food and flowers really making me go back to a time gone by.  I like to fill my jars with water, placing the bulb on top but not letting it touch the water, cover it with a piece of jute and place in a cool dark place such as the floor of your pantry. Wait until the roots shoot into the water and then you can pull a beginning to shoot bulb out into the kitchen or your porch to fully blossom. 
For the Bath…Did you know that coffee apparently can help with cellulite? Well….they do! This scrub is as easy as it gets for getting your skin bathing suit ready too. Take a cup of coconut oil and blend into it coffee grinds that have been allowed to dry. Make a paste and then take a handful and apply it to all your rough spots and the spots that have potential for cellulite too. Allow to stay on the skin for a few minutes because the coconut oil is a fabulous moisturizer and then rinse. You will want to do this each week at least once to see full benefits. 
Springtime gives us all so many ways to enrich our lives through fresh and fabulous finds! The garden, the flowers, the bath and so much more. The garden planted properly today will reap for you fresh foods all summer long and as we can them (which I will share next time) we can enjoy them all year long!  Check out alisamurrayslivingthesweetlife.com for more recipes on scrubs and from the garden! Wishing you all the best with your gardening and a very Happy Spring! 
(use my signature) 
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