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.
*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.”
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
-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
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.
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!
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.
Happy Friday, friends! It is insanely lovely here today. Gentle breeze, blue skies, right around 80 degrees. Now, if the seasonal allergies I’ve been suffering from over the past two-ish weeks would just move on out, everything would be glorious. So much neti-potting, and grapefruit nasal spray, and Flonase, and Benadryl going on around here lately. I’ll take the hit, though. So worth it to have flowering plants and trees of every possible permutation on view!
In other, non-allergy news, here’s a quick smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this week:
*Need something for mom? Grace included my bath salts in her round-up of easy DIY gifts with mom in mind.
*Really loving the truthfulness and honesty of this post about how “quick and easy” photos are often anything but. The older I get, the more I appreciate candor and full disclosure. And humility, but that merits an entire post to itself. Oh humility, how I love thee so!!!!
*Been looking for a lightweight , organic cotton bath robe at a good price for, quite literally, years (I can take a profoundly long time to buy things). Thinking this might be the winner. Ignore the fella in it-it’s unisex.
*Starting a Feel Good Book Club soon with some lady friends. Our first read is The Language of Flowers. Looks immensely intriguing. Any of you read it?
*Ordered The Art of Hearing Heartbeats at the suggestion of a new friend. Summer reading is about to get all kinds of wonderful!
*I’ve become an increasingly devoted fan of Clarks shoes. They’re durable, have strong arch support (I have really high arches and get shin splints easily), and have a timeless look to them. I also like that they’re not really the least bit dainty, because, well, I like footwear that keeps up with my lifestyle, which is far from precious or delicate. There’s a new Clarks outlet store in Asheville and I picked up a pair of Faraway Charm in black and a pair of Gunn in black suede yesterday. About to order these Dusty Souls in black and then my shoe collection will be pretty much set for several years.
*Speaking of foot wear, Glenn and I both have a pair of Shoe-Ins that we keep outside of the chicken coop. If we’re not wearing our chicken/outdoor boots and need to go into the coop, we just slide these on over our shoes and head on in. They look like enormous clown shoes, but are actually quite easy to put on and to take off. Even better, Shoe-Ins are made here in the states by a worker-owned cooperative.
*University professor discovers the secret life of plants (ALSO-this kind of information jazzes me beyond description; should you ever encounter similar information/books/videos/etc., do feel free to send it my way).
Mother’s Day is a holiday filled with varying degrees of emotion, isn’t it? Excitement, dread, happiness, agony, elation, grief, disappointment. So much wrapped up in our mothers and how they mothered us, and how those of us that are mothers mother our own children. We all have our own expectations and ideas of what constitutes and defines a “mother.” Whatever your own approach, I wish you a lovely weekend, however it may manifest.
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 Glenn and I dig the most. We headed to Biltmore last Saturday, to take in the massive display of azaleas in bloom. Our little monkey found this tree and immediately wanted to both climb and hug it.