The Lady’s Not for Turning

Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady National Portrait Gallery London, England   The beginning of each year brings new goals and aspirations for many of us. Since we’re going into the second week of January, I thought a little Monday motivation may be helpful to remind us to embrace our resolve and “fight on.”   “You turn if you want to. […]

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Winter Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

When I first saw the recipe for this colorful winter salad in the cookbook, Southern My Way–Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors by Gena Knox, I knew I had to make it.  Mainly, because it looked so healthy, but also, because it contained many of my favorite foods and spices—avocados, citrus fruit, basil, and ginger. Plus, it’s nice to enjoy food fare that’s a little lighter, especially after all of the indulgences around the holidays.  This refreshing salad makes a nice starter to a winter meal. And, if you add shrimp or crab, it becomes a light but satisfying lunch (or dinner).   Winter Grapefruit and Avocado Salad *Use organic ingredients when possible Prep Time 10 minutes Serves 4 Ingredients: Salad 2 pink grapefruits or oranges (or one of each) 2 ripe but firm avocados 1/3 cup torn basil leaves 1 head buttercrunch or bibb lettuce, torn into large pieces Dressing (I have to say, this cookbook has the BEST dressings.) 2 tablespoons minced shallots 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon honey 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil Method: First  Peel and segment the grapefruits/ oranges, reserving 4 tablespoons juice. Next  To prepare dressing, whisk together reserved grapefruit/orange juice, shallots, soy, honey, sesame oil, ginger, and olive oil.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper; set aside. Last  Quarter avocados lengthwise and remove pit and peel.  Cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices and place […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Some Things Are Meant to Be

Farmgirl and Lambs Summer 2018   “Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave.” ~Frances Mayes “Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different.” ~Frances Mayes       Green Hill Farm Through the Years     “The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.” –Henry Beston   Green Hill Farm Fall 2014   Happy Tuesday!

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The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing

This recipe for homemade dressing or stuffing has been passed down through the generations of my family:  Great-grandmother Rieley, Great Aunt Florence, Grandma Rieley, Mom, and me.  My family’s recipe for dressing has been modified minimally over the years and continues to be a favorite part of our Thanksgiving dinner.   It’s even better on the second day due to the flavors melding together.  The dressing re-heats easily, or just eat it cold–right out of the refrigerator (with the door still open).  That’s how I enjoy it best! The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing *Use organic ingredients whenever possible Ingredients: 1 loaf white bread (I use gluten-free) 1 stick salted butter 2 cups finely diced celery 2 cups finely diced yellow onion 3/4 bag of best quality seasoned stuffing mix (Mom uses Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing; I use Rudi’s Gluten-Free Savory Herb Stuffing) 2 cups of broth (vegetable, turkey or chicken) Method: Tear bread into small pieces and leave out overnight on a baking sheet, loosely covered with foil.  Next, broil breadcrumbs for approximately 10-15 minutes, keeping a close check so as not to burn them.  Finely dice celery and onion.  Place stick of butter in skillet and sauté celery and onion at 300 degrees F. for five minutes; don’t overcook celery and onion, leaving a bit crunchy as they will continue to cook when baked.  Add broiled bread crumbs, two cups each of sautéed celery and onion, 3/4 bag […]

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Ankida Ridge Vineyard: Where Heaven and Earth Join

Ankida Ridge Vineyards Amherst County, Virginia October 2018   With an elevation of around 1800 ft, a steep southeast aspect, and weathered granite soils over 500,000 million years old, Ankida Ridge’s name is befitting its breathtaking splendor—“Ankida,” an ancient Sumerian word which means where heaven and earth join. It’s definitely one of the most stunning vineyards I’ve visited.  Located in […]

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Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

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Gratitude

Double rainbow on Green Hill Farm “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson     Enjoy your day!

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A World Class Wine from Virginia

    The dream of a world class Virginia wine began with Thomas Jefferson.  Although Jefferson knew that Virginia had the weather and terroir for grape growing and winemaking, he never saw his dream come to fruition. This is, in part, due to Phylloxera—an aphid-like insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines.  However, Virginia grape growers now understand that to successfully grow European grapes, they must first graft the vine onto phylloxera resistant American rootstock.  This was the first major hurdle to realizing the dream of a Virginia wine, the next, proving the viability of grape growing as an agricultural endeavor. Officially, the wine industry in Virginia began in 1976 with the Zonin family, one of Italy’s largest wine producers. They bought Barboursville in Orange, an area near Charlottesville, with the hopes of starting a vineyard.  Underlying this decision was the belief that European grapes could thrive in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  After the purchase of Barboursville, the Zonin family invited Gabriele Rausse, an Italian winemaker, who is currently the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, to assist in making the dream of a Virginia wine a reality. Today, the Commonwealth boasts hundreds of successful wineries and vineyards, many producing award winning wines–including Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia’s first commercial winery.  And, Gabriele Rausse is partially responsible, having consulted on 40 vineyards and 10 wineries in the Commonwealth, including his own.  He is considered the father of modern […]

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So, What Vintage Are You?

September is my birthday month, and thankfully, I’m turning another year older.  I am now firmly into my fourth decade–or as Farmguy corrected–fifth decade, because you count 0 to 10 as your first decade…..okay—whatever!  The bottom line….I am forty-something and well into the journey of my life.  And, with this understanding, I started considering the passing years and what “age” means to me. As someone who’s interested in wine and recently completed the WSET Level III Award in Wines through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust this year, I started thinking about aging in wine and aging in life.  I thought about the grapevine’s journey versus our own journeys.  Young grapevines have vigor and brightness, but it’s the older vines that are the most sought after to make the best wines.  This is partially because the vines take on the nuances of their environment:  herbs, mushrooms, and flowers as well as the minerality of the soil; and, as vines age, they produce a delightful complexity and intensity in their fruit.  These extra years are prized and celebrated, because in viticulture, time is allowed for character to express itself. It’s understood that many vintages will pass before a vineyard will start to show its magic.  From the vineyard to the cellar, respect for the aging process continues.  A particular set of environmental conditions is cultivated to help the wines age:  dark cellars, correct humidity, constant and perfect temperature, and no excessive […]

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Got Merlot?

  Farmgirl in Saint Émilion (right bank of Bordeaux) November 2016   “You had me at hello.” A line made famous by Dorothy Boyd, the love interest in the film “Jerry Maguire.” However, if Dorothy had been a sommelier, she may have said, “You had me at Merlot.”  And, with good reason. Merlot, French for little blackbird because of its very dark fruit, is naturally versatile, acclimating to different climate zones and soil compositions, which, over time and a lot of travel, have made it the second most planted red grape on the planet, behind its brother from Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Merlot can be big and rich, but also fruity and soft, without being overly high in acids or tannins.  These characteristics make Merlot an elegant and easy choice to drink as well as pair with food. If that doesn’t spark your interest in Merlot, maybe this will.  You know all those famous red wines from Bordeaux? Wines that are considered some of the best in the world?  Well, they’re all blended with Merlot.  And, many are mostly Merlot—especially, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux appellation, where it’s the law that Merlot has to be the predominant grape.  Of course, the most famous Merlot wine is undoubtedly Pétrus (100% Merlot) from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux.  This highly collectable wine can fetch several thousand dollars, depending on its vintage. You may not be as familiar with Merlot’s positive […]

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