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

  • 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).
  • A visit today to farmer Tom Kousky of neighboring Hominy Valley Organic Farm yielded: flats of flowers (geraniums, celosia, and marigolds); starts of pickling cukes, zucchini, and yellow squash; 12 basil plants; two bundles of asparagus; a bunch of spinach; a bunch of radishes; two bunches of beets; and two pints of strawberries. The obvious way to celebrate all of this goodness was to blend up some strawberry milkshakes. Happy weekending, everyone!
  • Happy Friday, friends! New
  • This was work today. Sweet, delicious, patio-consumed work. Shrimp & grits, for the win.
  • It's the time, of the season. || Recipe for my

my sponsors

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

blog archive

  • 2015
  • 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.