Butterless Butter Chicken






Butter chicken was Brian’s idea in the first place. I’d never even heard of it. When he was a sophomore at GWU, he described a new Indian dish he’d tried at one of his favorite takeout places. At the time, he was looking for anything quick and low-carb to grab between classes.

The following semester, he had an apartment with a kitchen and asked me to help him figure out how to make his own rendition. He knows his mama, and was confident that setting me this task would not only be successful, but also make me happy. So, I did some research and some cooking. And when Brian came home for break, we tweaked. And I put Butter Chicken on my list of dishes to make for future blog posts.

The opportunity to do just that came up this week when I was texting with Adam about dinner plans. Adam is the son of our dear, cherished friends, Tina and Andy, and the brother of Meg’s BFF, Miriam. They are friends that are in the category of “chosen family.” Adam recently graduated from Cornell and got into medical school at the University of Rochester. Yay, Adam!! We were so proud of him, we wanted to have a meal together and celebrate his accomplishments and our love for him.

It was Adam’s idea to cook together and to make a blog post that he could have to consult when he and his beloved, Linda, are cooking together this fall in their new home upstate. We were texting about all the options and Butter Chicken seemed like the perfect choice. It is savory, filling, easy to prepare, inexpensive, keeps well, and is fairly healthy for busy medical students who are sleep deprived and hungry.

So, Adam came over, and we made Butterless Butter Chicken. As we ate together, we shared news and pictures of recent travels and events. We served Adam’s chicken in the faceted bowl I’d chosen to give him as a graduation gift. And then we all went into the village to join his parents for an outdoor music event starring his talented and beautiful mama, Tina Ross. What a perfect evening!

I bet you’re wondering why this dish is butterless. Traditionally, Butter Chicken is made with both cream and butter. And I’ve made it the traditional way. To my taste, the butter made it a little greasy. The flavor of the spices, tomato, and cream predominate…so I don’t think the butter version tastes especially buttery, anyway. When I use a small amount of oil to sauté the ingredients, I feel that the finished dish tastes rich and creamy, but not overly oily. You have my blessing to use butter if you prefer, but I like it better butterless.

My other modification involves the spices. I don’t like curry blends like garam masala, which include “sweet” spices like cloves and cinnamon. So, I choose the ones I enjoy, which are ginger, turmeric, and cumin. If you like others, by all means, add them!





Butterless Butter Chicken

Serves 6-ish

2 packages boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lbs.)
2 medium or 1 large onion, large dice
2 tbs. neutral oil like peanut or almond
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs. minced candied ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
1 cup canned crushed tomato
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes: chopped toasted almonds, sliced scallion

Heat the oil in a big pot or saute’ pan over high heat. Add the onion and cook for a minute or so. Add the garlic and ginger and the spices and toss everything around for a few seconds. Add the chicken and a good pinch of salt. Let the chicken cook for a few minutes, moving it around so that some parts can brown a little. Now, clear a spot on the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste right to the cleared spot. Kind of mash it around with a wooden spoon so it cooks a little and then mix everything so the chicken gets coated with the spices and the paste.

Cook for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Adjust heat so that the liquid is simmering very slowly and put a lid on the pot. Cook for a half hour or so, until the chicken is completely cooked. Turn off the heat. Shred the chicken. The best way to do this is to take it out of the pot and let it cool and use two forks (this was Adam’s job). But if you’re lazy, you can break it up pretty well while it’s still in the pot. Just be careful! Don’t burn yourself!!!

Now, turn it back up to high and add the cream. Cook for a few minutes to thicken. Taste and correct seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with garnishes. If you eat carbs, rice makes a nice bed for all the flavorful sauce. If not, any green vegetable (like broccoli or brussels sprouts, steamed or roasted) is great! And I love some homemade naan. Stay tuned for a recipe soon!






Posted in braise, chicken, dinner, easy, entertaining, entree, family, gluten free, low carb, main, main course, main courses, main dish, one pot meals, poultry, simple recipes, supper, main courses, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Poke Bowl: The Hawaii Post




I am such a homebody, my mother thinks I’m agoraphobic! My idea of a perfect day is to go for a long run in the woods, come home and dunk in the pool, putter in the kitchen and studio, go for a walk, have a leisurely supper with my sweetie, and then watch a movie in bed.

When I travel, it’s no surprise that I like to do the same things, with a rented space as my base. It is much more fun for me to be away from home if I have a kitchen, however rudimentary. I like the enforced creativity that arises from exploring different tools and ingredients than the ones I have here in my Warwick kitchen.

Last month, Bob and I flew (via San Francisco) to Kauai to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary (our actual anniversary is July 20). This was our 4th time in the archipelago 50th state, second time on Kauai. And if you have never been…yes, it IS paradise!

We stayed at the Hanalei Colony Resort, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It is simple and non-pretentious in a way that allows the natural beauty of the island to predominate. Located on the ocean, it is near the best snorkeling, diving, and swimming beaches on the North Shore, two miles from the famous Napali Coast.



Every morning, we each took a long run, followed by an ocean or pool swim, and a soak in the hot tub. Then, trips to farmer’s market, or hiking, or snorkeling…a walk in the afternoon, more swimming, and a beautiful supper on our lanai overlooking the Pacific.

If you do make the trip to Kauai, I hope you will follow my lead and check out the farm markets; here’s a partial list of some of the amazing produce we bought from local farmers: lychees, mangoes, pineapple, okra, long beans, lima beans, gorgeous lettuces, and goat cheese. The Dolphin Fish Market in Hanalei carries the freshest, most delicious local seafood; we shopped there twice. And the local supermarkets carry incredibly fresh ahi tuna for poke.

Poke is a Hawaiian raw fish salad, typically served as an appetizer. The recipe developed from fisherman, who would season cuts of freshly caught fish and munch on them as a snack. It is sort of a charming, ever-evolving, island cross between salad and sashimi. We love to serve my version with a green salad for a light supper with some crackers or bread. Here, you see (back in Warwick), a salad of local lettuces, pepitas, and goat cheese. The homemade crackers are gluten-free, made with chickpea and corn flours.




Poke Bowl

So…this recipe contains raw fish. From what I read, raw tuna is safer to eat than raw salmon. But, eat this at your own risk. There. Now you can’t sue me! Needless to say, it is delicious; the texture of raw tuna prepared this way, is like silk. I think it’s a risk worth taking, but certainly if you are pregnant or immune compromised, be advised.

Serves 2-4 (4 as an app, 2 generously, as a meal)

1 lb. sushi grade tuna, ahi is traditional, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 small cucumber (I like kirby here), small dice
1 small jalepeno, seeded, small dice
1 small shallot, small dice
½ tsp. sugar (optional)
juice of half a lime
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
drizzle sesame oil
1 ripe avocado, medium dice
coarse sea salt, to taste

In a small bowl, mix the shallot with the vinegar, a pinch of salt, and the sugar (if you like; I like). Let stand for 5 minutes to mellow the shallot. Then drain and save the shallot-infused vinegar for another use.

Mix all the ingredients except the avocado; taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and up to 8 hours to let all the flavors merge and to season and lightly cure the fish.

Add the avocado and toss very gently just before serving.

Serve with extra lime.



Serious Blog Note: It has been said that blogging and social media create the illusion of a perfect life. Those who follow me know that I have fun creating that pretty deception and don’t worry over much about the fact that it is not accurate. But I also know that many of you keep track of me and my life and I have no interest in concealing reality. So, I will pull back the veil for just a minute. Life has its difficult moments, and this is one of them. Both of my parents have been diagnosed with cancer this summer and are undergoing surgery and subsequent treatment. They have good doctors and a wonderful support system of friends and family. I know you join me in wishing them the best.

I am currently battling Lyme disease; will finish my medication later this week and anticipate a full recovery. My beloved tech angel, Mary, is recovering from pneumonia. It has been tricky to maintain a positive focus; continuing to engage in creative endeavors helps me to stay balanced. I am grateful for your kind encouragement!




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Stuffed Grape Leaves



grape leaves



What does the final week of June mean to you? For most of us, it’s a celebration of the true beginning of summer, school is out, the days are warm and long, the fawns are capering with the bunnies, and the baby owls are finding food all on their own. Time for swimming, hiking, and long walks after supper.

This is the week that always prompts me to think about foraging grape leaves. I first learned about stuffed grape leaves in high school, from my friend Gary, whose Greek mother taught him how to make classic dolma. When I was in grad school, I met Arlene, who was taught to make Lebanese style lamb-stuffed leaves from her mother-in-law.

Arlene and I worked at a hospital in New Jersey in the early 1980’s. We decided to go out on the hospital grounds and pick. According to Arlene, the last week of June is THE week to get them because the leaves are big enough to stuff, but are still thin enough to be tender. So, we were out by the parking lot, picking and chatting, and someone in a car stopped to ask what we were doing. We explained, and they warned us about poison ivy (which seems always to grow and flourish in immediate proximity to grape vines). Another person pulled over and warned us about poison ivy. When the fifth car stopped and the driver asked what we were doing, I said, “We’re picking poison ivy.”

There are many different grape leaf traditions and kinds of stuffings. I’ve made them with rice and with meat, and with meat and rice together. I like them all. This week, I find myself in a low carb mood, so I decided to make these riceless. I happened to have some organic, boneless chicken thighs on hand, so I ground them up myself. Ground turkey, beef, or lamb work equally well.

These are really fun to make and so delicious. They are savory, with a pop of sweet from the currants; the compact shape and size makes them perfect finger food for a party. Enjoy them as a snack, appetizer, or the center of a lunch or supper. They are a great focus for a big Mediterranean spread including hummus (or hummole) or baba ganoush, feta or halloumi,. They’d pair wonderfully with Summer Lentil Salad and/or Tahini Sauce with Herbs, Sriracha Lime Sauce, or Tzatziki.







Stuffed Grape Leaves

Makes 15 or so.

These are terrific hot, room temp, or chilled.

2 dozen grape leaves*, plus a few for lining the pot
1 lb. ground chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
½ lemon, sliced
¼ cup minced parsley or dill
3 tbs. pine nuts
3 tbs. currants
drizzle olive oil
salt, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the leaves and lemon. Microwave or pan fry a teaspoonful to check for seasoning.

Line a saucepan with extra or torn grape leaves to prevent sticking.

Use a generous tablespoon of filling (depending on the size of your leaves). Follow my pictures so you see how to orient the leaves and filling. Fold down the top first, then bring in the sides, then roll up, like a burrito. Because this stuffing includes no grains, you can roll them fairly tight. Place them, as you roll them, in the leaf-lined pot. You may stack them once you fill the bottom of the pot.

Once they are all rolled (it went faster than you thought once you got the hang of it, right?), scatter with the lemon slices and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Add ½ cup of water to the pot, cover, and place over high heat. Once the water boils, turn down to simmer. Cook for 8 minutes or so until the rolls feel firm to touch. Feel free to slice one and check for doneness; have a little snack and admire your handiwork! Good job!

*So, you want to forage? Read on! If not, purchase jarred, brined leaves.

Carefully identify grape vines. They grow next to the poison ivy. Choose leaves that are 4-6 inches across. It is best to choose those that are a slightly lighter green; the thinner ones have more light passing through.

When you get them home, cut out the stems with a sharp pairing knife or scissors. Stack 15-20 in a bundle, roll them up like a cigar, and tie with kitchen string. Place the bundles in a pot and add about an inch of water and a good pinch of salt. Cover, and bring to boil. The leaves will turn olive green (see photos). Pull them out of the water with tongs, drain, and cool.

At this point, you may unroll and use them, or wrap in plastic and pop in the fridge for a couple of days, or into the freezer for long term storage. Thaw completely in microwave or salted boiling water before using.




Blog Notes: Pots are selling like hotcakes in our new Etsy Shop. Make sure to check back often as we will be restocking soon!

Please join me in sending good energy to my mom as she recovers from surgery. Loads of love, Mom!

Posted in appetizer, chicken, dinner, entree, gluten free, low carb, lunch, main, main course, main courses, main dish, paleo, party, picnic, poultry, snack, snacks, supper, supper, main courses, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Berry “Cheesecake” Frozen Yogurt





I promised you a Kauai post. I didn’t make this promise out loud or Tweet it or mention it here on the blog or take a picture and hashtag it on Instagram. I made it in my own head. And now I’m feeling guilty because this is not the Hawaii post I’d planned. I’d planned to tell you all about our trip and my experiments and wonderful successes with poke bowls. But…it’s been an intensely busy, jet laggy week following our return and I didn’t have time to get to the fish store. But I did make a trip to the Farmer’s Market, and there were berries. And berries don’t keep. So…this is a market driven blog post. And I will get to the fish bowl post next week!

Turning my attention to the gorgeous, red berries, I asked Bob if he would prefer tartlets or frozen yogurt. Bob is, as you know, the tester and taster for DebsPotsBlog. And my husband of (in one month) 30 years! I remembered the cream cheese leftover from Father’s Day brunch (my dad loves bagels with smoked fish and cream cheese on a raisin [ack] bagel). Hmmm…could I make a cheesecakey berry yogurt?

The results were terrific-tangy, creamy, intensely berried, with a hint of that kick we associate with cheesecake. And just look at the color!





Berry “Cheesecake” Frozen Yogurt

Use organic, local berries if you can get them. In a pinch, you may use frozen berries.

Makes 1 quart

16 oz. greek yogurt
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar, preferably organic cane
1 cup raspberries, washed and well drained
2 cups strawberries, washed and trimmed
pinch salt

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse to break up the cream cheese. Add ¼ cup of the yogurt and process for 30 seconds or so until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the color is fairly uniform.

Transfer to an ice cream maker and let it do its thing; serve as is (it will be loose, as in the pictures here), or store for longer in a covered container in the freezer.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, or if you don’t want to bother, you can get a slightly less creamy result without one (that’s what I did). Simply place the mixture in a wide bowl and place in the coldest part of the freezer. Stir vigorously every half hour or so, scraping the sides, until frozen. This version will freeze fairly solid overnight. To serve, simply let it stand at room temp for 15 minutes or so before scooping. Or, zap in the microwave for a few seconds until scoopable.

If you want to enhance the cheesecake effect, sprinkle some crumbled graham crackers on top!

And don’t forget to visit the Etsy Shop!!!



Posted in fruit, gluten free, healthy, ice cream, snack, snacks, sweets, treat, treats, Uncategorized, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Magic Meringues


img_1238img_5251img_8109img_8094I’ve never been a huge fan of meringue. A friend used to make a towering lemon meringue pie for dinner parties and everyone clamored for it. I was secretly a little phobic and queasy at the mere thought. Uncooked egg whites give me the willies in any situation, but especially in a dessert!!! And when you eat American meringue, you never know when you’re going to hit a patch of uncooked whipped egg. Ugh!!!

Swiss meringue or thoroughly baked creations are less scary, but still, the association and the eggy thing…I’ve never been a huge fan. Plus, I”m strongly averse to waste. So, unless I have a recipe calling for a quantity of egg yolks, I’m not about to make something calling for a bunch of whites. The only thing I make regularly that calls for a bunch of yolks, is lemon curd. When I make lemon curd, I often make macaroons with the whites. Which reminds me, I need to give you my macaroon recipe. Remind me!

A year or so ago, I became aware of this trend in the food world. It involved whipping the liquid from a can of chick peas or beans. I paid no attention to this at first because I am generally a late adopter owing to a suspicion of new things discovered by other people. But, eventually, when the trend got a catchy (but ridiculous) name, “aquafaba,” I tuned in enough to read about it. And reading about it make me curious and intrigued, though still suspicious. So, I did a halfhearted experiment, which resulted in an epic fail, and I decided it was bunk.

Months went by in which I felt vaguely guilty every time I poured chickpea liquid down the drain. So, I decided to freeze it instead, though I was still not planning to use it. And then, the other day, I made a chick pea salad, and decided it was time for a committed attempt to understand how this works.

My first attempt looked promising, but was, in fact, another epic fail. The liquid whipped up beautifully and looked perfect, but my little meringues fell and spread in the oven, and while tasty, were not blog-worthy. But now, I was determined. So, I did a little more reading, and defrosted my freezer stash, and tried again. This time, they turned out beautifully. They are sweet, light, crunchy, and slightly chewy, with that tooth-sticky quality that is so appealing about meringues. Bob loved them even though the whole idea made him suspicious. So, if you, like me, are interested in finding out what all this bean liquid fuss is about, stick with me, and I’ll tell you how it’s done.




Magic Meringues

Makes 20-40 meringues, depending on how big you make them.

1 can chick peas, drained, chick peas reserved for another use
2/3 cup cane or white sugar
½ tsp. vanilla or almond extract

Preheat the oven to 250°. Line two baking sheets with parchment and spray with cooking spray.

Place the chick pea liquid in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until firm peaks form. This may take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar, 1 tsp at a time until the mixture is shiny and the peaks are very firm.

Form meringues using a spoon or piping bag. Or use a gallon size freezer bag and cut off a corner (my method). You may make them any size you like.

Bake for 90-120 minutes until they are firm and dry to touch. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for several days.

Tips and Tricks:

*Don’t try adding stuff like cocoa or other flavorings. It might seem like a great idea, but it makes them sag in the oven.
*Make sure the peaks are really stiff. That seems to be the secret to keeping them from deflating while they bake.
*You can freeze and thaw the aquafaba and it will still whip up fine. So save that bean liquid.
*Don’t worry if it smells beany when raw, it will taste like real meringue (but not gross and eggy) when baked. I can’t explain this, but who really cares?




Please visit the Etsy Shop!!! We’d love your feedback. And DebsPots make great Father’s Day gifts!

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Roasted Beet Salad






Suddenly, summer has arrived, just in time for the long holiday weekend. The sun is hot, the air is thick and steamy. The owlets have found their wings and moved deeper into the woods. We can hear, but no longer see them. I’m hoping they are safe and comfortable in their new leafy canopy.

My herbs are happy, except the basil, which suffered from a chill one night last week. And the wild garlic is fat and juicy. I couldn’t resist pulling some on my rainy 5 mile run the other day. I carried the long stalks for 3 miles; it was worth the trouble!

The Warwick Valley Farmer’s Market is in full swing. I was busy being dr deb this weekend, giving a talk at the library for Family Central about Parenting, Teens, and Sex. Bob offered to do the market run and I accepted graciously. He bought a beautiful bunch of beets. We adore beets! I decided to roast them and make this wonderful herby salad for you. I think you’ll love it!

Have you ever tried roasted beets? My method results in tender, sweet, jewel-like morsels of deliciousness. They are easy to peel, and a true treat. Try this salad with all of the different varieties of beets you find at the market.

And, just in case you need a serving dish for your Roasted Beet Salad, the Etsy Store is now open! I’d love it if you’d take a look and let me know what you think! Just follow the Shop link in the Menu bar above.





Roasted Beet Salad

This should serve 4 as a first course or side dish. It is vegan, paleo, and gluten free.

1 bunch beets (3 large, or 4 medium), trimmed and scrubbed
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. balsamic glaze or syrup*
¼ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup minced herbs (dill, chives, tarragon, verbena, parsley, basil…)**
salt and pepper, to taste

optional: 2 fat cloves garlic, or 2 bulbs wild garlic (shown here)

*I buy balsamic syrup. If you can’t find any, boil balsamic vinegar until reduced and the consistency of maple syrup.

**I used tarragon, lemon verbena, garlic chives, and parsley here.

Preheat oven to 425. Place two sheets of aluminum foil in a shallow bowl and arrange the beets and garlic, if using, on the foil. Drizzle with 1 tbs. of the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place the foil package in a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour or until you can feel that the beets have softened. Remove from oven, carefully open the foil, and let the beets cool until you can handle them.

The best way to peel roasted beets is by rubbing them with a paper towel. The skin should slide right off. Cut each peeled beet in eighths and place in a serving bowl. If you roasted garlic, squeeze the now soft cloves out over the beets. Drizzle with the balsamic, remaining 1 tbs. oil, herbs, and nuts, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Serve warm, room temp, or cold.

Variations: Add cheese. Parm ribbons, crumbled blue, goat, or feta are great. Some chunks of mozzarella or sharp cheddar are also great. You may use pistachios, pepitas, or almonds instead of the walnuts. If you like a little extra sweetness, a drizzle of honey, agave, or Herb Infused Syrup is welcome, especially if you’ve included cheese in your salad.




This post is dedicated to my beautiful mother, Judith Bernstein. Please join me in wishing her all the love in the world today, her 80th birthday!

Posted in appetizer, easy, entertaining, gluten free, healthy, paleo, roasted, salad, side, side dish, side dishes, simple recipes, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Herb Infused Syrups




Last night at dinner Bob asked me if there was sausage in the stew and I said “no, it must be the spruce tips.” I gotta give him credit, he didn’t laugh at me. Or maybe he did and I didn’t hear him because I ran outside at that moment to try to locate the owl babies. I’d heard them begging all day, which I assumed to mean they’d fledged and I could tell they were very close to the house. And there they were in the walnut tree looking down to see what I was doing with the camera!!

Just now I went out to check on them and got worried because it seemed one of the three was missing. I searched and searched. Then I saw another pair in a second tree. And then mama showed up to feed everyone. So, at noon, Bob and I stood in our driveway and talked to five owls! All this foraging and bird watching made me miss Megan, who is just as much of a nature lover as her mama. So, I decided to share the bounty of the season here in Warwick and make her some presents. I think I’ve told you that she is a bartender at a wonderful place called Baltimore Cultured. She loves to create new cocktails involving interesting spirits and herbs. You must go and check it out if you are ever in Baltimore! I made her four different herb infused syrups, labelled them with photos of the ingredients, and shipped them off; cross your fingers that they arrive safely!

I’ve added a new plant to my foraging repertoire: Lovage. It’s an prolific wild herb with a celerylike flavor and appearance. I’ve been using it in soups, stews, and salads, and thought it might make an interesting syrup.

You might also remember the amazing patch of mint up near my friend Joan’s house. I used to grow mint, but it doesn’t do well here in the woods. The patch up the hill is healthy and strong in spite of the fact that ditch digging road crews attack it at least twice a year. What does grow well here in the woods is lemon balm; I planted some soon after I moved here and it pops up everywhere no matter how often I yank it out by the armload. So, I also made mint and lemon balm syrups.

And, last, but far from least, the aforementioned spruce tips. I’ve been munching them on my walks and and slipping them into all sorts of cooked and raw recipes. The resulting syrup is complex, both lemony and slightly piney. Mary came over to help me test out the batches. We mixed them with club soda and a few garnishes, and both of us liked the spruce tips best.




Herb Infused Syrups

I used lovage, mint, lemon balm, and spruce tips.

2 cups herbs, single or combined
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Place the herbs and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Let steep for a half hour or so. Strain. Mix in the sugar and bring back to boil until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into clean jars. Refrigerate for up to a month.

Other herbs to try: lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, basil, tarragon, thyme, chamomile…

Use these syrups in cocktails, iced tea, hot tea, sangria, or mix with seltzer for homemade sodas. They are a wonderful addition to salad dressings, or an unusual topping for ice cream or sorbet. Drizzle some over strawberries, blueberries, melon, or fruit salad.

I’m hoping Megan will keep track of the cocktails she creates with her syrups and will do a post over on Chickpea and Rutabaga and tell us all about her experiments!

And, I hope that if you try them, you’ll leave a comment and tell us, too, we’d love to know what you create!





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