I must say, an almost-two week respite in FL does wonders for the body and soul. Just to leave my shovel standing aside my front door and head to the warmth of longer days and expansive views of the bay was rejuvenating. Of course, with the anticipation of mornings by the pool and afternoons by the sea, came the reality that it would be time to break out the bathing suits, shorts, sleeveless shirts. Egad. Could that possibly be the downside of this sunny vacation? Last year when I made the same journey to visit my mother in her winter home, I was smaller than I had been in years, and yet here I was, facing my empty duffle bag and a pile of summer clothes that may or may not fit. And so, I decided not to focus my attentions there, but to rather focus on enjoying the break in weather and routine, regardless of what I was wearing.

As we slipped through the sliding doors of the airport, we could sense the color that we had missed for so long. The greens were verdant, the oranges juicy, the reds blossoming. It was as though our world of black & white film had transformed into a color filled, multi-layered feature.   Everywhere we looked, there was life and movement. I had forgotten how moods and health change when the cold air bites us with each step outdoors and the blanket of white weighs upon us, begging us to stay inside and cozy. Granted, I did get lots of exercise while shoveling my seemingly endless driveway and walkways. I was just as happy, however, to get the same level of exercise while walking back and forth, time and time again, from dune to water’s edge with pails full of water and mud. To get it while chasing my 5 year old who was chasing dolphins. To get it while throwing balls around a tennis court for my little guys to collect and bring back, only to be tossed again. We let the warmth energize us.

And so, as we get back into our groove here in Boston, I want to remember the power of color, to smell it, taste it and feel it around us. Since the snow continues to cover my neighborhood, I have turned to our fruits and vegetables to satisfy part of this need and tropical desire. For years, my sister has made and shared a 7 Spice Mix that is very tasty. Although it is a great addition to many dishes, I especially love it on roasted vegetables. Just this afternoon I cubed a sweet potato and beet, tossed them with a bit of olive oil and the spice mix. I popped them on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a 400* oven and let them cook for just under 30 minutes. A great snack full of color, vitaminsminerals and healthy benefits, it also curbed any cravings that I may have had for something sweet or salty. I have also enjoyed this spice on a combo of summer squash, zucchini, asparagus & bliss potato all cut up and roasted.  Brussel sprouts, eggplant and broccoli.  Really, I haven’t yet met a roasted veggie that doesn’t taste even better with a dash of these flavors. The mix is nice because it doesn’t mask the flavor of the given vegetable, but rather seems to draw it forth and match it.

Since my sister no longer lives locally, she responded to my most recent request with the recipe rather than an already-made batch. I had all of the ingredients in my cabinet and now my stash is full.  According to her, one taste enhancing tip it to use the freshest spices possible.   She taught me to fish.

I hope that if you try it, you’ll like it. Enjoy.

7 Spice Powder

Ingredients                Small                      Large
Garlic Powder              1 – 1 ½ TBS               3 TBS
Ground Cumin             ¾ – 1 TBS                   2 TBS
Ground Coriander      ¾ – 1 TBS                   2 TBS
Herbes de Province    2 TBS                          4 TBS
Celtic Sea Salt                2 tsp                           4 tsp
Black Pepper                 1 – 2 tsp                      3 – 4 tsp
Cayenne *optional     Dash                            Dash