books

QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


Instagram

  • Today's porch-side home office has involved lazy dogs, hot tea, and deliciously cool breezes. Bring it, Monday.
  • Amazing night tonight over at Lake Tomahawk in Black Mountain with @entopticon, Huxley, good friends (@robinplemmons @jessicadebettencourt), Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, pizza, chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, waddling duck families, and this crazy gorgeous light.
  • Our little fish is learning how to swim!
  • Local friends! I'm chatting about my book
  • Round and around. The goods tunes don't stop when Huxley's cousins Sam and Zeke are visiting (he calls them his
  • Such a thoughtful birthday gift from @melissaweisspottery. Been using it every morning to get sugar from the sugar bowl out for coffee. Thanks, sweet friend!
  • If you're going to help a friend with wedding planning, then this is totally the view you should have whilst doing so. Lovely afternoon sipping hard cider, eating hush puppies, and helping @shelterprotectsyou plan, with @thecuriouseye @forvillagers @toandfromwithlove and Claire Hummel at the Grove Park Inn.
  • Bonsais, I love you. @thencarboretum
  • Wild berries for breakfast, with French toast. So, so good.
  • Quilts of flowers, from yesterday's @thencarboretum excursion.
  • Misty, magical day for strolling at the N.C. Arboretum.
  • Happy Friday, friends! Got a new

my sponsors

Lucky-Design-7
budha hill natural toysImagine Childhood
Imagine ChildhoodBlissful Belly
Sponsorship Information

blog archive

  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008

Monthly Archives: June 2008

Livin’ In A Foodtopian Paradise


When I go out to eat, or go grocery shopping, or get a muffin on the go, I’m always looking for locally-grown items. It’s become a way of life, something I have worked so deeply into the fabric of my psyche that it happens without much prompting or intense cranial usage. It just happens. It wasn’t always this way, though. Having tried on any number of dietary protocols (macrobiotic, vegan, raw food, vegetarian, and now, pescetarian), I always maintained strict adherence to whatever the guidelines of the diet were, without paying any real attention to where things were sourced from. Climate concerns have changed my approach. Where something comes from and how it is produced is now just as important to me as how it tastes, if not more so. 

Foods locally grown contain higher nutrient counts, as they are allowed to become fully ripe before harvesting. There is therefore a considerably reduced transit distance from farm to consumer, using less petroleum. Then there’s the added benefit of direct interaction with a farmer, either via a farmer’s market or at a restaurant. They provide you with sustenance (I mean, we’ve all got to eat, right? Our single greatest common denominator…) and you provide them with a viable livelihood. It’s a beautiful reciprocity. 
To that end, without intending to, I’ve ended up living in what is being billed as America’s Foodtopian Society. Asheville is hot on the map as a local food destination (check out the foodtopia video). And then there’s the most local food of all, food you grow yourself. My humble starter veggie garden this year includes: four types of peppers, pole beans, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cucumbers, fennel, 4 types of lettuce, carrots, radishes, beets, celeriac, tomatoes and kale. The mustard greens, cabbage and tatsoi aren’t fairing so well, a minor sacrifice to the soil inhabitants. 
There are also tarragon, marjoram, thyme, sage, chocolate mint, peppermint, rosemary, lavendar, winter tarragon, bay, dill, basil, lemon verbena, parsley and cilantro all happily growing outside. On the fruit front, the crabapples are dropping in abundance, the grapevine is scandalously showing its fruit, I’ve harvested several strawberries from the 10 newly planted everbearing strawberry plants, and blueberry hill, our affectionately dubbed knob holding 9 plants, is getting bluer by the day. I also suspect there may be a pear tree down the hill about to bear fruit for the first time in years. So, I know that sounds huge, and maybe it is. I have a tendency to truly throw myself into things I’m passionate about. Anyone can grow a few herbs, though, or find a community garden if you’re living in a city. Even when I lived in D.C. I managed to grow some beans and tomatoes through a skylight. Anywhere you can find a plot of dirt,there’s promise in the soil. 

Not so guilty pleasures


Remember the coffee cake from yesterday? The one that took extra long to bake? Well, I have to say, it was so worth the extra twenty-five minutes. It might just be my Sistine Chapel. In a word, unctuous. Extremely easy to make, as well, I might add. 

I’m a firm believer in making advance preparations for, you know, just in case. Vestiges of Girl Scout-dom. Which is why I always have in my purse, ever at the ready, the following items: pocket dictionary (for rowdy literary disputes), sewing kit, dental floss (because mangoes love dental pockets) and a lint brush (there are 14 animals in my care-’nuf said). Following this logic, I believe in a well-stocked pantry, just in case, in the middle of your morning, when you have many other chores which need tending to, you decide it’s SO time to rouse the ice cream machine from its slumber and crank out some frozen splendor. Or, in this instance, bake up a blueberry & marionberry orange coffee cake. With a well-stocked pantry, you’ll have what you need on hand for when the inspiration strikes. This is also the perfect time of the year to source locally grown fruit for coffee cake, or any other baked good, you can truly feel good about. Good for you, good for the farmer. 

Blueberry & Marionberry Streusel Coffee Cake,
adapted from Coffee Cakes by Lou Seibert Pappas 

Streusel Topping
-2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
-1/3 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
-1 c. pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.

For Streusel topping: In a food processor (or medium bowl if not available), combine butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans. Pulse just until butter is incorporated and nuts are finely minced. If using a bowl, chop nuts in advance and stir in at end after crumbling together other ingredients with a pastry fork or two forks. Set mixture aside.

Coffee cake
-1/2 c. canola oil
-1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
-1/2 c. granulated sugar (I like using Florida Crystals brand; sucanat, a sweetener made from beet juice, also would work well here)
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
-1 c. stone-ground whole wheat flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2 tsp. grated orange peel (from 1 organic orange)
-1 c. buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt (can also use regular milk to which 1 Tbsp. lemon juice is added; allow to sit 10 minutes before use to curdle)
-2 c. fresh or frozen mixture of blueberries and marion berries (other berries may be substituted)
In a large bowl or using an electric mixer, mix oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately withy buttermilk (or yogurt). Beat until just smooth. Stir in orange peel and berries. Pour into  prepared pan and spread streusel on top.  
Bake for 45 minutes,  or until topping is golden brown and cake is done in center (center should not jiggle-a knife poked into the center should determine this). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove sides. Cool completely before serving. 

Sink or Swim


Here it goes. I’m off. You know that creeping sensation when you first step into a cold swimming pool, or the ocean, or a creek, when the water starts to climb ever-so-slowly up your legs, to the bottom of your swimsuit, across your midriff and, tentatively, much too tentatively, creep up your torso? Well, we’ll have none of that here. This is a creep-free work space. Work place? Work? 

I’m more a fan of the quick plunge. Why suffer the agony of the slow merge when full immersion promises such immediate relief? To that end, I’m putting aside formal introductions. No polite “How d’ do’s?” here. The instant, add water and stir relationship is highly preferable. 
The scent of a blueberry-orange coffee cake, which, incidentally, is taking much longer to bake throughout than the recipe indicated, is wafting up to the second floor office, from where I am writing. The new puppy, Dexter (aka Mr. Ferocious, Noodle, Piggers) can be heard insistently trying to bite the ears of Fly, the 3 year old German Shepherd. The garden needs weeding. The blueberry bushes need planting. I really need to empty out the wheelbarrow. And all I seem to be able to truly focus on is what my dress for my younger brother’s wedding should look like. This place holds promise. 
I think the coffee cake is finally done.