I have a particular sense when it comes to detecting the arrival of spring. For some, it is the arrival of Spring Break or Easter. For others, it is the spring fashion lines just hitting the department stores. But for me, it all comes down to my nose. Despite what Punxsutawney Phil says about the arrival of longer days and warmer weather, I don’t believe the season has really come until I can smell it in the air. It’s the aroma of jasmine and orange blossoms, with a slight hint of freshness. This is a certain scent that is around only during these few months of year and it makes me long for other spring delights.
For the Taste Buds:
I don’t know about you, but when the weather starts getting warmer, I no longer want rich, heavy foods that fill me up and leave me in a constant food coma for a few hours after consumption. As someone who loves to bake, this time of year can be especially hard. Who wants to turn on the oven when the kitchen is already toasty? Plus, some of these decadent goodies are simply too much for the body to take. The solution: nighttime baking and lighter recipes.
A few weeks ago, I brought Orange Sugar Cookies into work for a potluck and they were a huge hit. Not too sweet and with a hint of citrus, all three dozen were gone before lunchtime. I can’t recommend this recipe enough for potlucks and picnics and it is very easy to modify. If you prefer lemonade to orange juice, swap it out. If you like extra orange flavor, try adding some orange extract or zest to the dough. The possibilities are endless.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1¾ cup sugar (+ more for rolling)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- juice from half an orange (about 3-4 tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 cups flour
- juice from one orange
- powdered sugar
- Cream butter and sugar for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add egg, vanilla, and orange juice, and mix well.
- Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Roll dough into balls, and coat in sugar. Place on baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
- Immediately drop baking sheet on the counter two or three times to allow cookies to deflate and flatten. Remove to a cooling rack.
- Combine juice and powdered sugar, adding sugar a little at a time until it reaches a good consistency for drizzling. Drizzle icing over cooled cookies.
For the Soul:
Everywhere you look, bright and beautiful colors are popping up in the unlikeliest of places. Spring is here and with the warmer temperatures and sunnier days comes vibrant shades of everything under the sun. Fashion moves from the darker gray and burgundy winter choices to palettes of pastels and technicolor. Flowers regain their vitality with bursts of fragrant blooms that seem to be right out of a painting. Open your eyes and start looking for fresh colors in your own world. Add a slice of lemon or kiwi to that boring glass of clear water. Accessorize the work outfit with a brilliant bag or jewel-toned necklace. Take the time to really notice the sky’s transition from day-to-night or vice versa. A little pop of color is bound to make you just a little happier after the dark shades of winter.
For the Body:
With the longer days, it seems like just about everyone is hitting the pavement or trail for some good old-fashioned exercise. Folks are pulling out their dusty running shoes, grabbing a buddy, and exploring the neighborhood. By foot or by bicycle, the roads have become more populated with people taking advantage of Daylight Savings and soaking up every precious moment before the sun sets. Lace up your sneakers, join the crowds, and enjoy the outdoors.