Happy Saint Paddy’s Day Weekend Special

Éirinn go Brách! Happy Saint Paddy’s Day! Time to celebrate with a jig, a pint of Guinness and a delicious Irish dinner.

Need some help with the menu? Here goes:

Get your green on with tasty appetizers! Give my Artichoke Crostini, Asparagus Crostini with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese or Zucchini Pancakes a try.

Next, a great green salad. For a whole lot of crunch try my Crunchy Salad with Apples & Grapes. For something a little different, there is my Mixed Greens with Roasted Grapes.

For the main course, there is nothing better than a one-pot, no worries, braise in the oven Irish Lamb Stew. Don’t forget to add a freshly baked loaf of Irish Soda Bread.

Now for dessert. Staying with a green theme, a few drops of food coloring in the frosting will turn my Sour Cream Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting Irish. However, I’m thinking an Irish Coffee with a scoop of ice cream is a delicious idea. You’ll love my Affogato with an Irish Accent.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

Get Your Green On & Irish Lamb Stew

So … Friday is Saint Patrick’s Day. The Irish and those that wish they were Irish will celebrate the day. It began as a religious feast day for Ireland’s patron saint. It has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish with parades, dancing, festive foods and a whole lot of green.

Unless you live in Ireland, you’ll still need to report to work as usual. However, the timing isn’t half-bad. It’s nice to know you can sleep in the next morning if you drink one too many green beers. Although my memory is a little hazy, I seem to remember Saint Paddy’s Day pub crawls when I was in college. It’s been a while.

Now, if you aren’t into crawling or you town has few if any pubs, how should you celebrate?

First and foremost, you must wear green. It’s not a problem for me. I like green; I drive a green car and have for years. If you’re not exactly partial to this verdant hue, start digging through your closet. There must be a green sweater or turtleneck in there somewhere. If you can’t find a thing, take a trip to a dollar store and pick up a green bandana. It will have to do.

Now that you’ve got your green on, you should march in a parade. If you like tradition, the first Saint Paddy’s parade took place in 1762. The only problem for those of us in the wilds of New Hampshire, the closest parade is in Manchester. Even then, it’s not until the 26th. There is a parade in South Boston this Sunday. If you can’t wait or want to stay closer to home, make your own parade. With any luck, the weather will be nice. Take a stroll up and down Main Street and show your colors. If you’d like, paint a little green shamrock on each check. Just remember, shamrocks have three leaves not four.

During your stroll, you could search for leprechauns. Then again, leprechaun hunts might be one of those silly things you do after drinking too much green beer. Anyway, I’m not sure I’d really recommend it. The odds of finding a leprechaun and his pot of gold must be what? About even with winning the lottery? Particularly this year! It’s been a blustery month, it wouldn’t surprise me if the little fellows got swept up and blown back to the Emerald Isle.

Next, enjoy an Irish feast. All across the United States, especially in New England, people will be boiling up corned beef and cabbage. However, if you think it is an Irish tradition, you’d be wrong. Historically, you’d be more likely to find pork or lamb than beef on an Irish table. The Irish are famous for their stew. Why not stir up a pot?

End the evening with a jig. It doesn’t matter if you know what you are doing. The point is to have some fun. Find some fiddle music and kick up your heels. Don’t be shy; no one expects you to go all Riverdance. Let go, embrace the music and enjoy the laughter.

Éirinn go Brách, have fun and bon appétit!

Irish Lamb Stew
The epitome of comfort food, a traditional Irish stew is the perfect meal on a blustery March day. Enjoy!
Serves 6
2-3 ounces slab or thick cut bacon, chopped
Flour for dusting the lamb
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
About 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon or to taste dried chili flakes
4-6 carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Guinness or other dark beer
3 cups chicken stock
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 pound new potatoes
5-6 stalks celery cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 leeks, cut in 1-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the bacon in a heavy casserole over medium-low heat until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the lamb cubes with the seasoned flour. Brown the lamb in the bacon fat over medium-high heat a few minutes per side. Remove the lamb and add it to the reserved bacon.

Reduce the heat to medium. If necessary, add a little butter or olive oil to the bacon fat, add the onion, sprinkle with dried chili flakes and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Put the lamb and bacon back into the stew pot. Add the carrot, beer and chicken stock and season with the herbs, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes, celery and leeks, return the pot to the oven and continue cooking, covered, until the vegetables and lamb are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the stew seems dry, add more beer and/or stock.

Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.

Can be made ahead, cooled to room temperature and refrigerated overnight. Reheat in a 350 degree oven until bubbling.

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One Year Ago – Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary
Two Years Ago – Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin
Three Years Ago – Zucchini Pancakes
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Three Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Six Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Eight Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? Now that the seasons are changing, how will you spend time outside? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Saint Patrick’s Day & Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary

pint_of_guinnessThursday is Saint Patrick’s Day. From green beer and pub crawls to parades and toe-tapping music, it is a day to celebrate all things Irish. Or at least all the things that we think of as Irish. More than thirty-four million Americans claim ties to the Emerald Isle. That’s a whole lot more than you’ll find in Ireland these days where the population is about four and a half million.

The potato famine drove hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants to the US in the mid 1800’s. With these great numbers, the Irish both changed the country and were changed by it. Poor farmers in Ireland, they came to cities and towns, destitute with little or no education. They took whatever work they could find and became a considerable force in American life.

Conditions in nineteenth century factories and mines were abhorrent. Many Irish immigrants supported and became leaders in the labor movement. Born in Cork, immigrant Mary Harris, later known as Mother Jones, committed more than fifty years of her life to unionizing workers.

Able organizers, the Irish soon conquered politics. In 1893, John Hopkins became the first of nine Irish American mayors to rule Chicago. Jimmy Walker served in the State Assembly and Senate before becoming mayor of New York in 1926. Walker was part of the infamous Tammany Hall. With strong support from Irish immigrants, the powerful society controlled much of the city’s politics from the mid-nineteenth century to the early 1930’s.

Irish politicians didn’t end with Tammany Hall. Countless judges, representatives, senators and governors have ancestral roots in Ireland. James Byrnes from South Carolina enjoyed a political career that spanned more than forty years and all three branches of government. New Englanders know well the powerful impact the Kennedy family has had on American politics. Today, our Vice President, Secretary of State and even the President have roots in Ireland.

Journalists Nellie Bly and Jimmy Breslin followed politics and more. Nellie’s 1887 exposé of the horrible conditions at the Blackwell’s Island insane asylum gained her acclaim and sparked wide-scale reform. A self-described street reporter, Breslin covered crime in scrappy, colloquial style. He became part of the Son of Sam story when David Berkowitz wrote him a taunting letter stating, “I appreciate your interest in those recent and horrendous .44 killings. I also want to tell you that I read your column daily and find it quite informative.”

Along with journalism, Ireland has a rich literary tradition. Irish Americans F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, Flannery O’Connor, Frank McCourt and Alice McDermott continued that tradition on this side of the Atlantic. Not just letters, talented Irish Americans have enriched our world in many ways. Famed trombonist and bandleader Tommy Dorsey filled the air with swing and jazz. The innovative work of painter Georgia O’Keefe continues to intrigue and beguile us.

Finally, or finally for now, let’s not forget the Hollywood heartthrobs. Tyrone Power, Gregory Peck and George Clooney are just a few to make grown women sigh. Plus, we don’t want to overlook the gorgeous Grace Kelly, multitalented Judy Garland, or George’s aunt, Rosemary Clooney.

The list goes on. So this Saint Patrick’s Day, raise a glass of fine whisky or a pint of Guinness to the Irish and Irish Americans who have unraveled the truth, governed and enriched our lives. The catalog of Irish toasts is long but I offer this one: May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and bon appétit!

Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary
Look for spring-harvested parsnips in your local farmers market. A winter underground produces a sweeter and somewhat spicier parsnip. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 3 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the parsnips on baking sheets in a single layer. Using a 2-to-1 ratio, drizzle with just enough olive oil and cider vinegar to lightly coat and toss. Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper and toss again. Re-spread the vegetables in a single layer.

Roast uncovered at 375 degrees, stirring once or twice, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are browned and tender. Immediately sprinkle with the rosemary and toss to combine. Let sit for a minute or two, toss again and serve.

Can be made ahead. Cool to room temperature, cover and store in the refrigerator. Transfer to a baking dish and reheat at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

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One Year Ago – Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin
Two Years Ago – Zucchini Pancakes
Three Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Four Three Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Five Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Six Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Seven Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have any special plans for a Saint Patrick’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

How to Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day & Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin

Guinness_01For those of us in northern New England, Saint Patrick’s Day is a bright spot in a long winter. It is an excellent excuse for merriment or brooding reflection. How will you spend the day? Are you a merrymaker, a brooder or something in between? Just in case you have not figured out how to spend the day, here are a few suggestions.

Put on a green sweater and go on a pub-crawl. It’s probably been years, even decades, since you have enjoyed this collegiate tradition. At my college in northern New York, there were nineteen, yes nineteen, pub stops in the small town so the crawl took several hours. I’m again living in a college town but it has less than a handful of pubs. Still, if you don’t walk it like you did at twenty-one, draw straws for a designated driver.

Sip Irish whiskey and read Yeats. If a pub-crawl is not your style maybe you’d like to hunker down in front of the fire. Settle into your coziest armchair with a book and a tot. If you have no real need for solitude, organize a poetry reading with likeminded tot-ters.

Go on a road trip and love a parade. You’ve already missed the parade in South Boston; it was Sunday. If you hurry, you might make it to New York in time to march. Don’t forget your fisherman knit sweater and comfortable shoes.

Dance a gig. Put on your dancing shoes and have at it. Don’t know the steps? Intimidated by the Irish step dancers’ fancy footwork? Stop worrying and just wing it! After a few green beers, no one will know the difference.

Listen to music. If you insist that dancing is not your thing, you can still enjoy Irish music. Rummage around and find that collection of traditional Irish music. Hopefully, it’s not old enough to be on cassette tape. Otherwise, try a marathon of U2 hits.

???????????????????????????????Build a Leprechaun Trap. If there is a child in your house or you can borrow one from next door, build a Leprechaun Trap. Legend has it that if you catch one, he’s obligated to take you to his pot of gold.

Bake up some green goodies. Yes, we can all go a bit coo-coo with green on Saint Patrick’s Day. What the heck, throw a little food coloring into the cupcake frosting and have some fun. Although far from an even swap for his gold, share your treats with the leprechaun you captured. Alternatively, they will create a sweet ending to the about to be mentioned party.

Boil up some beef and cabbage. This one is for diehard Irish-Americans. Although it’s been a while, I’ve tried a boiled dinner and am not in a hurry to have another. Besides, it’s not really Irish. Yes, the quintessential Saint Patrick’s Day dinner is a New York invention. Irish immigrants favored potatoes and pork but switched to the cheaper cabbage and corned beef in their new home. Alternatively, you can whip up an Irish stew or braise some short ribs or lamb shanks in Guinness. Saint Paddy’s Day is a wonderful excuse for a party.

May the luck of the Irish be with you and bon appétit!

Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin
Okay, I’ve taken some liberties here. I like to think of this recipe as the baby born from an Irish Colcannon and a French Gratin. (Hopefully,) you’ll find it a delicious alternative to both. Enjoy!
Serves 8

3 or more tablespoons butter
4-6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1-2 leeks, chopped
1/2-1 onion, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 pounds red skinned potatoes, peeled (optional) and cut in large chunks
1-1 1/2 cups sour cream or crème fraîche
About 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large baking dish with 2 tablespoons butter.

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain.

Drain most of the bacon fat from the skillet, leaving just enough to lightly coat the pan. Add the leek and onion, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Stir in the thyme and nutmeg and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes and 1 tablespoon butter in a large pot and add enough cold, salted water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the potatoes to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the bacon and vegetables (and more butter if you like) and toss to combine. Add the sour cream, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss again. If you like, give the potatoes a rough smash with a potato masher.

Transfer half of the potatoes to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Can be made ahead to this point, cool to room temperature, cover and store in the refrigerator. Remove the potatoes from the refrigerator about an hour before you want to bake them.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the potatoes are piping hot and the top is golden.

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One Year Ago – Zucchini Pancakes
Two Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Three Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Four Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Five Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Six Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate Saint Paddy’s Day? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Holiday Special – Saint Paddy’s Day Celebration

shamrocksSaint Paddy’s Day is tomorrow! Will you be bringing friends and family together for an evening of good food and tall tales of leprechauns and pots of gold? Throw on your favorite green sweater, stock up on Bushmills and Guinness and practice your toasts. It’s time to celebrate!

While corned beef and cabbage may be the go-to Saint Patrick’s Day dinner in North America, you won’t find it on too may Irish tables. Irish-American yes, Irish-Irish no. So here’s what I’m thinking …

Think greens to start! A fresh green salad that is! Crunchy Salad with Apples & Grapes or Mixed Greens with Gorgonzola & Walnuts sound pretty good!

The Main Event: It’s personal I know but, boiled and dinner just doesn’t do it for me. My Guinness Braised Lamb Shanks or Beer Braised Beef & Onions are perfect for Saint Paddy’s Day. Serve either with Roasted Carrots and Pearl Onions or Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions with Bacon & Walnuts and Smashed Spuds.

Something Sweet: How about a lovely little cupcake!?! Try my Death by Chocolate Cupcakes. To make them very special, top them with a green frosting! Add a few drops of food coloring to my White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting and enjoy!

May you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead. Sláinte and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Weekend Special – Saint Paddy’s Day Celebration

shamrocksSaint Paddy’s Day is Sunday! Will you be bringing friends and family together for an evening of good food and stories? Drag out that old green sweater, chill the Guinness (but not too cold) and practice your toasts. It’s time to celebrate!

If you are like me and don’t know a lot (i.e. close to nothing) about Irish cooking, you’ll need to wing it. Here are a few suggestions:

Think green to start! Although it has nothing to do with Ireland or Saint Patrick, Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp but they’ll add a touch of green to your party so give them a try. Artichokes are in the market and they make a delicious spring appetizer. To complete the scene, set out small bowls of bring green Castelvetrano olives and pistachios and relax.

Guinness_01The Main Event: It’s personal I know but, boiled and dinner just doesn’t make it with me. On the other hand, I love lamb and it’s a popular dish on the Emerald Isle. My Guinness Braised Lamb Shanks are a great choice for a Saint Patrick’s Day dinner. Serve them with a slice of warm Soda Bread and Roasted Carrots and Pearl Onions.

Something Sweet: Top off your feast with something homey. Try my Blueberry Crisp or Apple Bread Pudding.

          May you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead.

Sláinte and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2013

Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with Stories & Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Guinness_01Saint Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland but his day, March 17th, is celebrated far and wide. It is a day for parades, fiddling and dancing, green beer and feasting. Will you hop a plane to Dublin and take part in their Saint Patrick’s festival? Maybe you’ll head to New York for the world’s oldest and largest Saint Paddy’s Day parade. Once there, you can join the hundreds of thousands of marchers, fifers and drummers or the millions of spectators lining the route. Maybe you’ll stay closer to home and spend the evening in your favorite pub.

Intercontinental airfare not in your budget? Crowds not your thing? Not into green beer? Forget these typical Saint Paddy’s Day festivities. How about letting one of Ireland’s great traditions help you take your celebration in a different direction? Let the ancient art of Irish storytellers inspire you. Invite your friends around for a cozy evening. While you enjoy a wonderful meal together, invite everyone to share a special story or two. Yes, stories. Before radio, television and the internet, long, cold winter evenings were often filled with legends and tall tales. Everyone has at least one story to tell.

Now, some of your friends may be intimidated by the idea. You yourself might be wondering if it’s a good idea. What to tell? How to start? Okay, take a deep breath. Now remember you probably tell stories all the time. (No, I don’t mean the tall tale you told your boss about having the flu last week. Instead of bed, you spent the day enjoying fresh powder on the ski slopes!)

Let your mind wander. Before you know it, a special memory will take hold and a story will unfold. It could be your first kiss, favorite summer vacation or learning to ski. Don’t worry, it will come. Need some focus? It might help you and your guests to know that most Irish tales fall into a few categories. So consider the following when you ponder the possibilities:

Tales of adventures and voyages. Don’t worry; your escapades do not have to be epic to be interesting. As long as they are told from the heart, your adventures will easily charm your audience. Think back to your first day of school or summer camp. Or that special day you spent with a favorite uncle or grandchild hiking up Mount Kearsarge or sailing on Lake Sunapee.

Stories of romance, courtship and tragedy. What about that first kiss? Perhaps you were the instigator and planted a big smooch on an unsuspecting classmate during recess. And your high school crush; did you woo her and win her or tragically lose her to a handsome senior? You remember him; he was not very bright but drove a Mustang convertible, played lacrosse and didn’t have pimples.

Sagas of battles and heroics. So you aren’t a knight. You have no armor. How about food fights in the school cafeteria or week long battles of Capture the Flag. These skirmishes may lack the epic grandeur of a medieval legend but they will remind your listeners of good times gone by.Ouija_Board_02

Magical visions of leprechauns, fairies and ghosts. You may be hard-pressed to find a leprechaun in your garden but maybe you have an eerie story to share. Perhaps you experienced a strange evening around the Ouija board back in the fourth grade or honeymooned in a haunted castle in county Clare.

A final word when preparing your tales. Remember that your goal is to entertain. Concentrate on the stories that make you smile, even laugh. Unless you can tell the saga of your divorce with razor sharp wit and wry humor, leave it for another day. Think festive feast; not group therapy. Have a wonderful evening, filled with tall tales and good fun.

Bon appétit!

Irish_Soda_Bread_02Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish Soda Bread is not made with butter, currents, eggs and seeds. These fancy extras are Irish-American inventions. Enjoy the simplicity of this country bread!
Makes 1 large

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
About 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Put the flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl and whisk to combine.

Stir in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until it just holds together, about 1 minute.

Irish_Soda_Bread_03Shape the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high. Put the loaf onto the prepared baking sheet. Cut a 1-inch deep X across the top of the dough, extending almost to edge.

Bake the bread at 425 degrees until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer the bread to a rack to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

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One Year Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Two Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Three Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Four Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013