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Monthly Archives: June 2012

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! This weekend promises to be a scorcher. Here in the mountains of western North Carolina we might even hit 100 degrees. Yikes! We plan to hit up the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of a frigid creek or swimming hole to cool our jets in. Or, if we’re feeling lazy, just fill up Huxley’s baby/toddler pool, and get in it with watermelon slices, cold beer, and a happy, splashing 20 month-old.

We’re also conducting a quasi experiment in our air-conditioning-less house. It cools down pretty considerably at night here in the mountains. I left all of the windows open overnight and then shut them up tight this morning. Fans are going in every room, so, we’ll see if we can keep our cool (literally and figuratively-this is the one time of year, every year, I tell Hubs we need to move to the Pacific Northwest; I’m a grumpus when I’m hot).

My Small Measure post is up on Design Sponge. I’m sharing a recipe for making Beeswax Insect Repellant Candles. I wrote on the porch the other day with one of these babies going and it most assuredly does the trick!

Here’s a smattering of this’s and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*I’ll take one of each, please. 
*Three friends have now recommended this book to me, so it’s high time I picked up a copy.
*Three words straight outta heaven: Berry. Buttermilk. Bundt.
*Solar dye kit (via Grace).
*Pineapple gin punch? Don’t mind if I do.
*Been drinking, and loving, this local brew.
*Aspiring bloggers, order this book.
*Garlic scape pesto.
*Our friends opened a chocolate factory (the Lapsong Souchong and Malted Chocolate bars are seriously to die for).
*Make a sun print!

We’re off to Short Street Cakes this evening. Robyn Jasko is doing a book signing and talk from her book Home Sweet Homegrown, which I gave away two copies of, along with a sampling of seed packets, a few weeks ago. I’ll be there, providing the jams, as in, spread-it-over-a-slice-of-bread jams.

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

Candlemaking the Natural Way (+ Giveaway!!!)

When I first met Hubs, he already owned the house we now live in. It was definitely a bachelor’s pad at that point, which was actually kind of great, since it enabled us to set up the space together. As he was giving me a tour of the place, and he showed me the bathroom, I immediately noticed two things: he’d had a large, soaking, “garden” tub installed, and he had lots and lots of candles in there. For himself. A nice tub, and nice candles. “This,” I thought to myself, “this right here is my kind of man.”

Hubs shares my love of hot baths and candle light. We have an entire cabinet packed with tapers, columns, pillars, votives, tea lights, and every manner of candle-holding vessel imaginable. Every room in our house, aside from Huxley’s room, has candles, too. When the power goes out, we’re set. When evening rolls around and we’re dining on the porch, candles are burning. During dinner parties and cookouts and all sorts of other get-togethers, candles are ‘a blazing.

My Small Measures post tomorrow on Design Sponge will offer a tutorial on making all-natural beeswax bug-repelling candles at home. I used Rebecca Ittner’s Candlemaking the Natural Way when creating the candles and can’t recommend the book enough. It’s packed with essential information on handcrafting beeswax, soy, and palm candles, including 31 projects to whip up, whether you’re hoping to light up your own space or gift to your nearest and dearest.

Lark has graciously offered one small measure reader a copy of Candlemaking the Natural Way! You’re going to love it, I promise. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below detailing your favorite way to use candles, or candlelight memory. For me, it happened two winters ago.

We lost power for 5 days and relied on our candle stash to light up the night. Though it was rough going (the forecast had called for 3-10 inches of snow, not the 17 we ended up with, so we were seriously caught off guard), huddling around the wood stove, listening to NPR play Charlie Brown’s Christmas on a battery-powered radio while eating cookies from my recent cookie exchange and sipping on rum-spiked eggnog (we buried coolers in the snow outside and filled them with the contents of the refrigerator and freezer) made the whole ordeal slow, and sweet, and precious in a way I’d never have thought possible.

I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Wednesday, July 4th at midnight EST. Per Lark’s request, the giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Sorry, international buddies! PLEASE leave a means of contacting you in your reply, either by linking back to your blog/website (which will need somewhere on there telling me how to contact you), or by leaving your email address with your comment (if you’d like to keep your email private, just make a comment with your name and then send me your email at: ashleyadamsenglish(at)gmail(dot)com).

Either way, win or no win, do check out Ittner’s book. Candle-making is a serious blast, feeling something like alchemy as you stir the pot, watch the wax melt, and shape-shift it into the candle holder.

When Life Hands You Eggs

 We are flush with eggs these days, chez English. More eggs than we can eat each day, which is saying something since we’re all crazy about the things. There are so many eggs coming in lately that visions of custards and curds and ice cream move to the forefront of my culinary mind’s eye (to reach that last goal, Hubs & Huxley just headed to the West Asheville Tailgate Market to pick up flavoring add-ins-can you say triple berry ice cream?).

However, while I might like nothing more than to slather my palate in sweetened eggy goodness, something more substantive (and savory) seemed in order. And so, we whipped up a batch of egg salad today. Hubs came across a suggestion on local greenhouse Eagledove’s Facebook page recently suggesting the inclusion of baking soda when making hard-boiled eggs.

As an egg ages, the albumen in it shrinks, making it easier to separate the white from the shell after boiling. The longer you allow the eggs to age (typically at least one week, two being preferable), the easier they are to peel. Eagledove’s suggestion helps to expedite this process. So, if you don’t have the time to wait, or older eggs on hand when the urge (dare I say need!) to make egg salad strikes, you can still satisfy your craving without swearing at every bit of egg shell that just won’t give up the ghost as you futilely attempt to peel them.

We gave the method a go. While it didn’t completely make the shells slip off unencumbered, it definitely did help. We added in sweet relish (I’ve got a recipe in my book that was destined to go with egg salad), mayonnaise, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice, capers, and my all-time, hands-down favorite herb blend, Herbs de Provence (we grabbed a jar when we were at the Lavender Festival).

Generously dolloped onto toasted wheat bread, crowned with lettuce from the garden (we like chopping lettuce finely and tossing it with a bit of vinaigrette or mayonnaise when we use it in sandwiches) & slivers of dill pickle, and nestled in with some pickled okra (you can find a recipe for that in my book, too), we decided being flush with eggs is not such a bad problem to have. Not bad at all.

Best Yet Hard-boiled Eggs
The Goods:
-One dozen eggs

The Deal
1) Place a dozen eggs in a medium-sized pan.
2) Fill with cold water, at least an inch higher than the eggs.
3) Add a pinch of salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda.
4) Heat covered, over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil.
5) Turn the burner off, and set a timer for 13 minutes.
6) About 2 minutes before the timer goes off,  prep an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.
6) When the timer goes off, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and gently place them in the ice water bath.
7) After a few minutes, when they have cooled, take them out of the water.
8) Gently crack each egg before peeling it carefully, submerging the egg in the bowl of ice water as you go, which makes it easier to remove the shell and get the last little bits off.

Herbs de Provence Egg Salad
The Goods:
-1 dozen boiled eggs, diced
-3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
-2-3 Tablespoons sweet relish, to taste
-1 Tablespoon capers
-1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence
-1 Tablespoon lemon juice
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-Several grinds black pepper


The Deal:
1) Combine the ingredients in a medium/large mixing bowl, stirring well to make it a bit creamy.
2) Let it sit for a few minutes before serving to give the flavors a chance to meld.

Weekend Eats: Tortilla Espanola

We munched on this olive, tomato and potato bit of deliciousness just a bit ago. Hubs sliced the potatoes on a mandoline first, then lightly pan fried them in olive oil. Next went a bit of whisked eggs over the potatoes. We let those eggs set up a bit over medium-high heat, then added the remaining bit in the mixing bowl, along with the olives. The whole concoction then spent a wee bit of time in the oven under a low broiler, was cut into wedges, and then covered in chopped tomatoes.

Simple, fresh, delicious. Couldn’t ask for a better way to start a Sunday. Hope your weekend is going swimmingly.

What I’m Digging

Happy Friday, friends! And happy summer, too. The season of sun, and sandals, and sweat, and soil is officially upon us. Oh. Yes.

I just got off the phone with my younger sister, Theo. She, along with my other sister, Devan, will be coming to visit usfor a week in early July. I shared with her my intentions for engaging in three definitively “summer” activities during their visit: a trip to the beach (and kiddie waterpark!!!) at Lake Lure, a berry-picking expedition somewhere in the area, and a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Black Balsam is a perennial favorite). Summertime, and the living is easy, indeed!

Here’s a smattering of this’s and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Truly appreciate Tamar’s approach to the topic of life and death and livestock
*Popsicle round-up, woo hoo!!!
*Show pollinators some love. Here, too.
*I scream, you scream, we all scream for an ice cream & a waffle maker!
*30 ways to get the littles outside this season.
*Bush girls never give up.
*Cardamom Berry Smash? Yes please!
*Rose petal granola.
*Loving Kate‘s “Summer On the Road” mix.
*50 ways to keep your change.
*Homemade maraschino cherries, oh my!

I’ll be catching up on some writing this weekend. I hope to head to a farmer’s market tomorrow, too. I’ve had a hankering for Dave’s flaky, buttery pastries for awhile and it’s high time that aching was satisfied.

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