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HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • Asheville area folks: Come on over to @forvillagers at 7 pm tonight to hear @gardenbetty talk about her new book,
  • When dinner is served al fresco on the patio, at sunset, in a watermelon bowl, then my heart smiles. || Egg noodles, NC shrimp and pea shoot-arugula-basil pesto topped with nasturtium leaves, sage flowers, and chive blossoms. Nearly summertime and the living is easy.
  • When your afternoon involves chilling inside the Asheville Salt Cave with 7 of your nearest and dearest and your collective 4 kiddos, and your night involves celebrating one of their birthday's with a fajita feast and @glennbenglish's phenomenal spring sangria (with watermelon and strawberries and honeysuckle blooms that I picked), then you know that today has been an extraordinarily good day.
  • Spicy pork dumplings from @ganshanstation, I love you. While everything I've tried here has been seriously stellar, @procain's dumpling situation is worth the visit alone. So, so good!
  • Here's what I did today: hopped in the car, drove about a mile over to Hominy Valley Organic Farm, and got down to strawberry-picking business. I filled a flat for $18 (at $3/pound). If you live in the area and are looking for delicious, organic, U-pick strawberries, come see Farmer Tom Monday-Friday after 2 pm. Tell him I sent ya! Now, on to jam, and Popsicles, and pie, and galette, and pickled strawberries, and more! ??????
  • Pretty much ANY time is a good time for pickles, especially now that I've added @foodinjars delicious Quick Pickled Strawberries to the mix. Sublime!
  • You're in my heart, you're in my soul.
  • A testament to the power of social media: saw @holedoughnuts post an image of their Buttermilk Cardamom Black Pepper donut this morning, ate lunch, and then made the 20 minute drive over to enjoy some in person with @glennbenglish and Huxley!  Completely worth it. So, so good!!!
  • It's not a significant thing, nothing major. Just a walk down the driveway to gather the mail. But when I do it with Huxley, and we stop to say
  • Hominy Creek, doing its spring thang. || View from our mailbox.
  • Attended my first ever handmade/homemade swap yesterday, at a friend's sweet home in Black Mountain. SO much goodness, all thoughtfully and lovingly made. Huxley came with me and ran around with the kiddos while the swap took place. I contributed these little jars of rosemary honey, which @glennbenglish artfully topped with straw-blown watercolorings. Such a great afternoon with like-minded friends and fellow mamas! Thank you so, so much for hosting, Amanda!!!
  • Saturdays are for French toast on the porch with @glennbenglish and Huxley Wild while rain showers wash over the cove. || Used @farmandsparrow's Heritage Corn Bread and @oldworldlevain's Double Raisin & Flax Bread to make cardamom French toast, served alongside butter, maple syrup, and Hominy Valley Organic Farm strawberries, all washed down with hibiscus iced tea (our warm weather cold beverage go-to).

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Weekend Review

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Monday, Monday. Hope yours is off to a good start. Mine has been relatively productive so far. To-do lists are being crossed off, emails are being returned, plans are being made.

This weekend was full of wonderful things, not the least of which was a bit of a revelation about myself. I’ll be 39 in July, and what I’m coming to realize with each rotation around the sun is that it is in the company of those that are equally interested in the natural world and all of its splendor and wonder that I’m most comfortable. The glamorous life is not for me. The wild, slightly disheveled, a bit messy, patina-showing, natural state of things is where I’m most at ease, most myself. At heart, I’m just a hippy. And that’s really, really alright by me.

Saturday started with french toast on the porch, always a good thing. Yesterday Huxley and I headed to my first ever handmade/homemade swap. I brought little jars of rosemary-infused honey, and Glenn made the straw-blown watercolor paintings adorning the lids (we’ll be married 8 years on June 2nd and with each passing year, I love that man more and more). You can read about the swap and see many more images over on Amanda’s blog. We had such a great time. While I’m floored by the wealth of items I brought home (including: an Amish paste tomato plant, body butter, bath salts, cream deodorant, bug spray, two types of lip balm, rose & lemon balm tincture, elderberry tincture, echinacea tincture & a travel tube of all-natural first aid ointment, blueberry relish, and strawberry rhubarb jam), what I equally enjoyed was meeting like-minded ladies and mamas. I like being amongst “my tribe.”

Here’s hoping that the week ahead is filled with health, happiness, and love, from our home, to yours.

What I’m Digging

Huxley hat and sword

Happy Friday, everyone! I think we’re due for some rain this weekend, which would be wonderful. Much as a I love cloudless, blue sky, I really, really love rainy days. The homebody in me revels in the opportunity to hunker down, work on organizing projects I keep meaning to get to, and snack on popcorn while watching movies with my fellas. Or some variation of that.

I’d really love rain, too, for the garden. Now that Natalie lives out here, with her tiny house parked down in what we call our “lower field,” she’s been regularly helping Glenn and I in the garden. For the first time in a loooooong time, so much is already planted, and it’s only mid-May! Currently, we’ve planted: carrots, beets, radishes, peas, potatoes (two kinds), a variety of lettuces, chard, kale, spinach, fennel, chives, Thai basil, beans (several kinds), peppers (several kinds), and tomatoes (many kinds). The perennial beds in the garden are putting out asparagus (mostly done by now), rhubarb, and sorrel. There are also loads of annual and perennial culinary and medicinal herbs up by the house. Strawberries and blueberries are ripening, and the blackberry and raspberry canes are full of blooms. There’s still more to plant, but I feel so good about being this on top of the garden so early in the season. Many hands truly do make for light work!

Here’s a little smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:

*Glenn came home with two lovage plants the other day. I put them into the ground, and as soon as they’re a bit bigger, I’m totally making this.

*I adore magazines. Give me a big ‘ole stack of periodicals and I’m a happy woman. Here are some new ones I’ve been enjoying: Rodale’s Organic Life, Naturally, and Willow & Sage.

*Made a batch of Marisa McClellan’s Quick Pickled Strawberries yesterday from her book Preserving By the Pint. Planning to add them to some salad greens from the garden later today!

*The benefits of my morning cuppa just keep adding up!

*So easy to get lost in Gisella’s gorgeous nature imagery.

Wrapping up early to get over to neighboring Hominy Valley Organic Farm. Farmer Tom is back in business with all kinds of spring veggies, and Fridays are his open farm/market days. His produce is always seriously stellar, and phenomenally well priced. The fact that his farm is about 1/2 mile from our road pretty much seals the deal.

Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!

*I post a photo of Huxley in my “What I’m Digging” round-ups because, truly, he’s what his Papa and I dig the most. He was seriously hamming it up here, asking me to take photos of his “hat” and “sword.” 

 

The Time of the Season

Asparagus 1Asparagus 2

When you work from home like Glenn and I do, things can get a bit loosey goosey, in terms of time and space. There’s no hard and fast schedule, as regards work hours, in our routine. In a sense, we’re always “working,” because so much of what we cook or bake or make or do turns into a recipe or a freelance project or something akin.

Owing to that, that sort of permanent liminal space, wherein life and work and art all merge and meld into one and the same thing chez English, it’s the seasons and their cues and prompts that give me the most tethering to time and place.

I might not put on “work” clothes (hello, comfy p.j.’s!), or keep “work” hours, but I do know that when the multiflora rose blooms and the magnolias are about to bust out, and the irises are showing off, and the rhubarb patch is putting out stalks, and the asparagus is erupting from the soil, then I know it’s spring. And in spring, I work and write and behave differently from how I work and write and behave in winter. Who needs work clothes when you’re got asparagus to be the boss of you?

This recipe, from Handmade Gatherings, makes delicious use of those short-lived green spears. It’s ready in no time at all, and is a perfect compliment to a roast chicken and a crisp bottle of  vinho verde (Casal Garcia makes a mighty fine offering). It’s the time of the season, friends.

 

Pistachio-Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette (from Handmade Gatherings: Recipes and Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations and Potluck Parties, Roost Books, 2014)
Yield: 4-6 servings.

You Will Need:
-2 pounds large asparagus
-1 cup shelled pistachios
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup olive oil
-2 tablespoons feta, crumbled
-1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Vinaigrette:
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup feta, crumbled
-2 teaspoons lemon juice
-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
-1 Tablespoon honey
-Several grinds of black pepper

 

To Make:
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Rinse the asparagus, and cut about an inch off of the stem ends. Pat the asparagus dry.
3) Place the asparagus on a dry baking sheet, and cook it for three minutes to dry off any excess moisture.
4) Remove the sheet from the oven, and toss the asparagus on the sheet with the olive oil.
5) Crush the pistachios in a food processor (or under a towel with a kitchen mallet or hammer) for about 1 minute, until finely ground.
5) Transfer the ground nuts to a small mixing bowl. Using a spoon or clean hands, mix the nuts with the salt.
6) Lay the asparagus out evenly across the baking sheet. Sprinkle them with half of the ground pistachio and salt blend.
7) Turn the spears over, then evenly sprinkle them with the rest of the ground pistachios.
8) Cook 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, and carefully plate the spears onto a platter using tongs.
9) Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a lidded container or a food processor. Shake or blend until smooth.
10) Drizzle the plated asparagus with the vinaigrette.
11) Top with the chopped parsley and feta.
12) Serve at room temperature.

Creperie & Cafe

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Greyson Briere just sounds like someone that would be associated with a creperie, right? Briere. Rhymes with “gruyere.” You’re imagining berets and fine wines and lush Provencal landscapes now, aren’t you? A friend of mine for over 20 years, Greyson and her in-laws Ron and Linda Briere, along with a friendly, talented staff, own and operate the lovely Creperie & Cafe in nearby Weaverville, NC. Last week, they invited us over to sample the menu and enjoy the restaurant with their compliments.

Creperie & Cafe is housed at the corner of Hamburg Mountain Rd. and Main St. in charming Weaverville, a town just north of Asheville. I lived there from 2000-2003 and its small town quaintness has really amped up in the ensuing years. We sometimes go to Weaverville just to hit up the Well-Bred Bakery, visit the ducks and playground at Lake Louise, and pick up a plant at Reems Creek Nursery (or more like 10-nurseries are truly my kryptonite). Now that we’ve experienced the Creperie & Cafe, I’ve got another place to add to my Weaverville must-sees.

Whether sweet or savory, coffee or beer, indoors or outdoors, children or dogs, there’s something here for everyone. Of particular note is the fact that the entire establishment is gluten-free (aside from possibly a few bottled beers). I choose the SMOKED TROUT crepe, which came filled with Sunburst Trout Farms smoked trout, spinach, onions, mushrooms, smoked gouda and topped with spicy mayo. Glenn ordered the PULLED BBQ PORK crepe, packed with pulled BBQ pork, onions, and coleslaw and topped with orange raspberry BBQ sauce. Huxley choose a GRILLED CHEESE, filled with Swiss & Cheddar cheeses, from the kid’s menu. I love that it came with a side of vibrant, fresh fruits. For dessert (because it’s written into law somewhere, I believe, that you really can’t go to a creperie and leave without enjoying a sweet crepe) we selected the DREAMSICLE, which came packed with a whipped sweet orange cream cheese filling.

We nibbled from each others plates and were very pleased with everything. It’s all thoughtful and delicious. I’m a big proponent of eating outdoors whenever possible and their spacious patio is beautifully landscaped and decorated, making the meal that much more enjoyable. I highly recommend stopping into the Creperie & Cafe. The Brieres have done a wonderful job since talking over ownership in January (the restaurant has been there for two years). You can view the full menu and like their Facebook page here, as well as find them on Twitter and Instagram. While you’re there, do be sure to pop in to the Home Gear Shop next door. Also owned by the Brieres, the store features repurposed, recycled, and reclaimed antiques and home decor. Home Gear Shop carries a well-curated selection of items in a wide range of styles and prices. These folks are making Weaverville better and better every day!

 

 

 

 

Weekend Review


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Happy Monday, friends! Here’s hoping you had a restorative weekend. We certainly did. And, I don’t want to jinx anything, but it *seems* that my allergy symptoms are finally on the uptake. Off to tackle this week with gusto. From our home to yours, wishing you a healthy, happy, love-filled week ahead!

I could cuddle this wild child all day if he’d let me. // The springtime view of Mt. Pisgah from the top of our road is quite a sight.// Twilight in the garden. // I spent the summer of ’91 working in the dining room at Assembly Inn in Montreat, NC. // Azalea season in the mountains. // Trailhead in Black Mountain makes a seriously fine burger. // Stopped into the Montreat Ten Thousand Villages store to pick up Mother’s Day gifts for my mom and grandmother. It happened to be World Fair Trade Day  on Saturday! // The wonderful ladies at Ten Thousand Villages plied Huxley with free stickers, chocolate, and a Fair Trade book. Also, I know I mentioned that robe on Etsy in my Friday round-up, but this one is awfully tempting, too. // Lake Susan, Montreat, NC. Had many a pivotal conversation with friends whilst walking around this lake at ages 15-16. // The pond at the Greybeard Trailhead, as peaceful and beautiful as always.// Everybody loves waterfalls! // Always, always running. // Picked up a variety of creative, delicious treats from Dobra Tea in Black Mountain (they’re opening a new outpost soon in West Asheville!). // Mother’s Day brunch with my fellas at Rhubarb (Chef Fleer’s fermented pickle plate game is strong!). // Rhubarb Pastry Chef Ashley Capps’ Raspberry Glazed Doughnut filled with Lemon Curd is, without a bit of hyperbole, quite possibly the best doughnut I have ever eaten. // Ramp hash with Benton’s side meat and the prettiest chive blossom flowers. Delicious! // Found this lovely photo of my grandmother, my mother, Huxley, and I at my mom’s house that Jen Altman took 2 1/2 years ago. // My mom taught Huxley how to play tic-tac-toe yesterday on her porch. There was a good deal of *helping* going on.