books

QUENCH

 

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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  • YOU GUYS!!! Our friends @rattiganjael and @daniel.rattigan are rocking the chocolate food scene, yet again. They just moved their fantastic @frenchbroadchocolates to a new larger, even lovelier space, smack dab in the middle of downtown. We stopped in this evening for the soft opening, to see the space and sample offerings both familiar (coconut brownies that dreams are made of!) and new (ice cream! toffee! pretzel caramels!). There's even an entire separate boutique room called
  • Loving this screen capture of our Huxley Wild. It's from a video our friend Ian made, using
  • I adore holiday lights. I also really love @thencarboretum. It's no surprise then that I'm giddily looking forward to the
  • That'll do pig, that'll do.
  • This is his
  • Brunch at Rhubarb-a good idea today, and always. Plancha roasted romaine with @lustymonk vinaigrette, @bentonsbacon, sunny side eggs, and fingerling potatoes. Not seen: a fried apple & cranberry hand pie that made my heart and belly happy. Huxley and @glennbenglish's, too.
  • My
  • The pies @rorris, @jenathan and I helped baking goddess @bakerhands make today will be available for purchase tomorrow at the North Asheville Tailgate Market from 8-1 pm, along with tarts and bread. Trust me, you don't want to miss out. Set your alarm clocks now!
  • When @bakerhands put out a call two days ago asking for a few hours of baking help today, I pounced at the chance to spend some quality time with such a warm, wise lady. When I found out @rorris and @jenathan had offered the same thing, the deal became even sweeter. The four of us gathered at Smoke Signals Bakery in Marshall today to chat, chew, and chop. Three cheers for wonderful people, delicious food, and fostering community. Hip, hip, freaking HOORAY!!! What a stellar day. *I was in charge of apple pie filling prep today. Photo credit to @rorris for capturing my hella serious pie-making game face!!!
  • When your morning looks like this, you know you're off to a good start. Was introduced to the glorious donuts and conviviality at @holedoughnuts today. Mercy! Goodness abounds.
  • Finally, I bring you this
  • This next pie is a pumpkin-meets-tiramisu hybrid, my

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Ashley English Week at Rhubarb!!!

Rhubarb-asheville
If I had to sum up my overarching life mantra in one sentence, it would likely be “Follow the Golden Rule.” That is, treat other people the way you want to be treated. Glenn and I truly believe this and we say it to Huxley all time. Every day, almost, it seems. Let your behavior towards other people reflect the way you ultimately want to be treated. It is why I let other people merge into traffic in front of me, why Glenn and I try to be as generous with our time and resources as we can, and why we both promote businesses and enterprises when neither of us has anything direct to gain from them.

Sometimes, what you put out is returned. What goes around truly comes around. That recently happened for me with Rhubarb. Imagine your favorite restaurant. Your special place, the one you go to for big occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. THE place you turn to, time and again, because the food is sensational, the service is stellar, and the mission is one you’re on board with. That’s Rhubarb for Glenn and I. I’ve mentioned here before how much we love the place. Well, a few weeks ago, I received an email from Rhubarb, turning the love back in my direction.

I cannot begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to announce Rhubarb‘s offer of an “Ashley English Week.” That’s right. Week! It’ll start with a Sunday Supper December 14th featuring recipes from my books (I gifted the restaurant with all 7 of them this past Saturday). I’ll also be doing a book signing that night. Then, on December 18th, R Bar, Rhubarb’s lovely bar situated directly beside the dining rooms, will feature a list of beverages curated by me from Quench. They’ll be offering their “Tot-Tine” that night as well, which is a tater tot version of the famous Canadian dish poutine (essentially fried potatoes, gravy, and cheese).

Come join us, won’t you? I’ll be meeting with chef John Fleer and Ellie Wigodsky at the restaurant next week, to hammer out the menus. In the meantime, go ahead and put it on your planner! Hire a babysitter (or better, yet, bring the little ones with you to Sunday Supper!)! If you’ve been wanting to try out Rhubarb but haven’t, now is the time.

I mean, c’mon. How amazing is this?!!! Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that a restaurant that I adore, that just celebrated its 1-year anniversary, that is being touted in the pages of Southern Living and Garden & Gun, would love me and what I do in exchange. That the recipes that Glenn and I developed and tested and re-tested and tweaked in our home kitchen would be served in a restaurant run by a chef named one of the “Rising Stars of the 21st Century” by the James Beard Foundation and listed as a three-time finalist for the James Beard “Best Chef in the Southeast” award? Who would’ve ever guessed that my patronage of a restaurant so seriously deserving of every accolade would want to celebrate me, too? The Golden Rule, y’all. It’s the only way to fly.

Details
What: Sunday Supper, featuring recipes from my books.
Where: Rhubarb, Asheville, NC.
When: December 14th, 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $26/adults and $13/children under 12 for multiple courses of a shared, passed dish meal.
Reservations: Required, call 828/785-1503.

What: Tot-Tine and a curated drink menu featuring recipes from Quench.
Where: R Bar, located inside Rhubarb, Asheville, NC.
When: December 18th, beginning at 6 p.m.
Cost: $11 for tot-tine, plus the price of the cocktails (prices will vary).
Reservations: Not required, first come, first served.

 

Wild Child

The wind is barreling through the cove right now like it’s got a bone to pick with the entirety of Hominy Valley, the specific area of Candler in which we live. At the same time, it’s registering right around 68 on the outdoor thermostat. This autumn/winter mash-up is equal parts exhilarating and vexing. I mean, how am I supposed to finalize my Thanksgiving plans when it feels like early spring outside?!

Weather abnormalities aside, I’m pretty pumped about turkey day this year. We’ve decided to borrow a page, as it were, from my book Handmade Gatherings, by turning the meal into a potluck. Today’s count is for 20 adults and 6 kids. Our bungalow is “cozy”, to use the euphemism for small, so it’ll be comfy and close together, to be sure. More conducive to merry-making, right? Right!

In thinking about potlucks and Handmade Gatherings, I remembered a video our friend Ian put together for us. It was a montage of “cutting room floor” bits of Huxley, parts gleaned from all the footage he assembled when filming the book’s trailer. Last year, he and his wife Kristina surprised us with the video, which serves as a visual time capsule of our little guy, from around 20 months to 2 1/2 years old. How fun to see him so wee, frolicking, tottering around, clearly sporting the mullet Glenn insisted he had and I totally denied the existence of. What a beautiful time in all of our lives.

Thank you, Ian! And happy Thanksgiving planning, friends, whether you’re intending to potluck it up with loved ones or pull off the entire feast yourself.

Let’s Raise Glasses Together! Beverage-Making Class!

Homemade Holiday Beverages Class

We are seriously moving into the holiday stretch of days, friends. I know that people have strong feelings about this time of year, many of them negative. As for the English household, though, we are all in. The three of us look forward to the stretch from Halloween to New Year’s Day with giddy anticipation and enthusiasm. From trick-or-treating to turkey carving, from winter solstice walks to cookie-baking, from selecting a tree to swilling eggnog, our household loves the holiday season. Clearly.

Our saving grace, I think, is that we do things simply. Our gifts are humble, our decor all-natural. When the trees drop their leaves, and the riot of color fades from the forested cove surrounding our mountain home, the landscape gets bleak, for months. To stave off a tandem dip in disposition and attitude, we bring nature and merriment indoors. From flickering votives to hot mugs of cocoa, we curl up inside (often in flannel p.j.’s), make things cozy, and get through the frostiest time of year by taking the abundance made manifest outdoors during the three other seasons inside.

Clearly, beverages factor into this time of year for us. I mentioned them twice above, and posted a photo on Instagram over the weekend of a Douglas fir needle, bourbon, lemon peel & juice, sorghum molasses, and nutmeg hot toddy we enjoyed at home Friday evening. We need to consume fluids all year, but during colder weather, when the air is dry and the humidity is low, we need them even more. If you’d like to learn a bit about making homemade holiday beverages, both for entertaining and for gifting, come out to Villagers in west Asheville this Sunday. The details for my class are above. We’ll sip, chat, and smile, together. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, if you let it be!

Bake Your Bundt Off (+ Giveaway!!!!)

Cakebox 2Cakebox 1Cakebox 3
I have been baking since I was about 8 years old. While I can’t remember if it was the limp, thin petit fours or the insipid, under baked brownies that I first proudly baked and served my mother, I do recall with profound clarity that I fell in love with the baking section of mom’s cookbook collection way sooner than any of the other chapters. I have been baking, both personally and professionally, ever since that first fateful foray with flour (say that 5 times fast!).

I like to think that my skills have improved along the way. I’ve learned to really heed the instructions to stop and scrap down the bowl and beaters, chill the dough, or let the butter/cream cheese/eggs come to room temperature whenever a recipe calls for it. I’ve also learned that using the right equipment is one of the largest indicators of a recipe turning out correctly or not.

Until recently, I had a bit of a bundt cake handicap. While I own about 4 pans, from the swirled to the whirled to the traditional round-rumped (what does that even mean??? I totally made that up), most of them have left me crestfallen come turn-out time. Everything seems to be going right and then, dislodging issues arise. Every. Time. Until now.

The beautiful bundt you see above was baked last week for Huxley’s 4th birthday. We reserved his actual birthday for just some family time, since it fell on a Tuesday. Still wanting to acknowledge it in advance of the party slated four days later, on Saturday, I baked him a lemon bundt cake (recipe follows), his favorite flavor. I used the Simax glass bundt pan shown in the middle photo, and it performed perfectly. Finally, bundt success! We then packed it into the Cakebox, and carried it to a nearby park for an afternoon treat.

I was recently contacted by Annie at MightyNest, who I’ve worked with a number of times here before, about doing a giveaway. The four items shown in the last photo are included in their “Bake Your Bundt Off” package. When I saw what the package included, I immediately agreed. A glass bundt pan? This I had to try. And given how wonderfully the Piebox worked, I knew I wanted to give Cakebox a go. Not only did the cake come out with ease, the Cakebox proved to be the perfect means of transporting it from the house to the park.

Here’s a bit about what’s included in the giveaway:

*Simax Glass Bundt Pan: Instead of baking in teflon coated in PFOA, the Simax glass bundt pan offers a safe alternative as well as a gorgeous glass pan. Plus, the Simax glass bundt pan is made of borosilicate glass and can withstand temps up to 572 degrees F, whereas tempered glass can go to 425 degrees. And it’s easy to clean! Not that you’ll be baking your bundt to crazy high temps but you know for sure that the glass won’t shatter in the oven.

*Wooden Cakebox: Longtime readers might recall when I did a giveaway with MightyNest two years ago of a Piebox set. The same concept holds true with Cakebox, which, as you can easily guess, is a beautiful, handmade pine box for transporting cakes or cupcakes (of which it will hold 18).

*Tea Towel: One color (black) non-toxic water based ink printed on a 28″ x 29″ eco-friendly unbleached (natural colored) organic cotton flour sack tea towel. The folded size is approximately 7″ w x 14″ h. The artwork measures approximately just over 12″ long by approximately 6″ wide.

*Stainless Steel Serving Spatula: The RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Spatula is an attractive spatula which is precisely the right size and shape for serving up decadent brownie squares and portions of sheet cake. The high grade 18/8 stainless steel spatula is right at home at the dinner table or buffet. Small in size, it is the perfect size.

How great is that package? So good. Best of all, though, is what MightyNest will do for a school of your choosing: give them $100! And why would they do that? Because MightyNest believes in engendering healthy, positive school environments right alongside home environments. They’re an online retailer with a positive mission: providing the natural, organic, and non-toxic products that parents seek for their home while also giving back to schools. Everything they sell is selected with the highest standards for safety and quality. Glass and stainless baking gear and food storage. Green cleaning supplies. Natural bath products, and other home essentials. And everything is selected to be free from known toxic ingredients such as: BPA, PVC, Phthalates, Lead, Formaldehyde, flame retardants, Parabens and more.

Anytime you order from MightyNest, they’ll give 15% back to the school of your choice. It’s a great way to be healthier and support your local school. And with this particular giveaway, they’ll give $100 to the school of your choice. Such a great business to get behind!

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is click thru the widget below. It runs through November 15th, so go ahead and enter and encourage your loved ones to do so as well!:

Even if you don’t win, do pop over to MightyNest and check out their wonderful offerings, including those detailed here. A company with a bottom line that gives back to schools is one I can absolutely get behind. And here’s wishing you much baking success!

Also, here’s the recipe for the Lemon Bundt Cake, from Martha Stewart (for what it’s worth, I omitted the Lemon Syrup called for in the recipe and it turned out delicious):

Lemon Bundt Cake
Ingredients
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
-3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
-2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-6 large eggs
-1 cup sour cream
-Lemon Syrup (recipe follows)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture, sour cream, and lemon juice, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean; 55 to 60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (To store, wrap cake in plastic and keep at room temperature up to 3 days.) Poke holes all over the cooled cake, and brush with lemon syrup. If the cake does not absorb all the syrup at once, allow to sit about 20 minutes before continuing to brush with any remaining syrup.

 

Lemon Syrup
Ingredients
-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
-1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.

Quench! Huxley! So many good things!!!

Quench CoverHuxley Log
Ah, friends! I disappeared from this space for a little bit, didn’t I? In the last few weeks, I: turned in my picnic book manuscript, taught a class at Doe Bay on Orcas Island and participated in the workshops of others, held two book events (one on Orcas and one in Seattle), wrangled a toddler cross-country in tandem with Glenn, returned to photo shoots on the picnic book (17 down, 3 to go, including one tomorrow, one Sunday, and the last one once there’s snow on the ground!), and found myself more inspired than I’ve been in some time. I haven’t been here, but I’ve been regularly posting on Instagram, so you can see where I’ve been and what I’ve seen and what I’ve been up to in the column here on the lower left side. Feeling good, folks. Feeling good.

A bigger, longer, more intimate post is forthcoming, but I wanted to stop in quickly to tell you that two big things are happening today. Firstly, my sweet boy turned 4. I can hardly believe it’s been four years since this wild child came into our lives. Without question, my life is better because of him. Secondly, Quench officially publishes today. So, a book and baby birthday, all in one day. What more could I possibly hope for? Double rainbows, all the way across the sky? I shouldn’t ask for so much.

We’ve already had chocolate pancakes and assembled two Lego projects (So. Many. Tiny. Parts!), and, per his request, we’re now heading out to play at Montreat park, eat hot dogs, and enjoy a homemade lemon bundt cake. Today is just for the three of us. Saturday will be the big party, with a TMNT theme because, well, we’re the kinds of parents that are in it to win it. Plus, ninjas + turtles + zen koans and ancient wisdom interspersed throughout=total awesome.

Hoping the upcoming week for you and yours is equally wonderful.