More Treat Than Trick: Sauternes and Sage Jelly

Growing up in the country and on a farm, it was commonplace to preserve as much of the summer’s harvest as possible. My parents and grandparents worked all spring, summer, and fall planting gardens, picking vegetables, tending fruit trees, picking berries, and then canning, freezing, and storing much of it for future use.  I can still see kitchen counters covered with Mason jars of green beans, tomatoes, and black raspberry jam, and the beauty of the jewel-tone colors as the sun shone through the glass and its hard-earned contents. It’s because of this seasonal tradition that I observed and participated in as a child that I appreciate the work that goes into preserving as well as the delight in enjoying something homemade. That’s why I love using a familiar recipe or even finding a new one each year to preserve something special to share. So, when I was leafing through epicurious cooking magazine recently and discovered a recipe for wine jelly–specifically, Sauternes and sage jelly, I knew I had to try it.  I’ve made fruit jams and jellies, pickles, and even chutney in the past, but I’ve never tried making wine jelly–until now.  The cooking magazine raved about this jelly, describing it as “sophisticated and subtle.”  It also stated that it was a delicious substitute to the green mint jelly that traditionally accompanies lamb. Actually, this sublime jelly is wonderful with any roasted or grilled meat and is a fantastic […]

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Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans

I enjoy salads all year long–mainly, because they’re healthy and don’t take too long to prepare. Salads with roasted vegetables and/or fruit are a favorite.  Roasting adds so much flavor and helps create a more satisfying meal. For this pear salad recipe, carmelizing the pears on top of the stove prevents them from becoming overcooked–as they do when oven-roasted.  The balsamic vinegar is used to make a fruity vinaigrette that accentuates the pears’ flavor.  In addition, a couple of extra tablespoons of the vinegar is stirred into the hot pan while cooking the pears, creating a glazy coating.  For the greens, a mix of crunchy, mild green leaf lettuce works well.  Add salty Parmesan to offset the pears’ natural sweetness and pecans for buttery richness.  And, you have a lovely autumn salad with lots of appeal! Finding a suitable wine pairing for salad can sometimes be challenging, especially when balsamic vinegar is involved.  However, this salad pairs well with sparkling wine or Champagne. Enjoy!   Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans: Serves 6 *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds pears, quartered lengthwise and cored Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 1 small shallot, minced 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 small head green leaf lettuce (4 ounces), torn into 1-inch pieces or loose mixed greens 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted Method: –Toss pears with 1/4 teaspoon […]

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Fall Favorites: Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

With the arrival of fall, thoughts turn to cool, crisp mornings, fields full of pumpkins, the smell of a crackling fire, and the taste of hot apple cider.  This time of year often causes us to reflect on happy times.  I always find it interesting how our senses ignite memories.  Memories that take us back to a single, meaningful experience.  The senses of smell and taste, in particular, tend to evoke the strongest memories for me.  The smells of freshly cut hay and buckets of Dad’s ripened tomatoes, or the taste of Mom’s homemade Thanksgiving dressing.  These smells and tastes take me right back to my childhood. It’s such a visceral experience.  I think that’s one reason we enjoy the seasonal routines of planting gardens, visiting a pumpkin patch, or preparing and eating a holiday feast.  The sights, smells and tastes associated with these activities bring back a familiar comfort. So, here’s the thing.  With the many signs of fall, including pumpkins appearing at the local farmers’ market, I  remembered one of my favorite recipes:  Spiced pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I hope you’ll try this recipe and maybe even add it to your fall favorites.  Enjoy! Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins: *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice 1 tablespoon curry 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt *************** 2 […]

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Georgia Caprese Salad

This is the second recipe I’ve shared from the fantastic cookbook, Southern My Way—Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors by Gena Knox.  However, I have to say, this Georgia Caprese Salad with Lime Vinaigrette is my very favorite.  Not only is it simple and delicious, but it also makes an elegant entree to serve to company. This Southern spin on an Italian classic screams summer.  And, when it’s made with fresh, local peaches, you can’t stop it.   Georgia Caprese Salad with Lime Vinaigrette *Use organic ingredients when possible Prep Time 15 minutes Yields 4 servings Ingredients: Dressing Juice and zest of 1 lime 1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon honey 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup olive oil (Everyday Sommelier’s Bramasole olive oil from Tuscany is perfect) 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint Salad 2 (4-ounce) balls fresh, water-packed mozzarella cheese 4 (room temperature) ripe peaches, unpeeled, each cut into 8 wedges 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves Method: First  To prepare dressing, combine lime juice, zest, vinegar, water, honey, and salt.  Slowly whisk in olive oil and set aside. Next  Cut cheese into 1-inch pieces and gently toss with peaches and basil leaves. Last  Whisk mint into dressing and toss about 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) with salad.  Season with freshly cracked pepper and serve.   The vintage linens and lovely rose print plates belonged to my grandmother, Lois McManaway Rieley.   Also, this peach caprese […]

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A Summer Classic

When I think of summertime, there are a few things that always come to mind—mostly, because I grew up in the rural South.  But, there’s just nothing like the sound of cicadas singing in the trees on a warm summer evening, a night sky so dark that you can see the Milky Way and almost every constellation. And, of course, fresh tomatoes picked right out of the garden—sliced and enjoyed between two pieces of bread with a bit of butter, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper…the classic tomato sandwich. My first memories of this iconic Southern treat were made while visiting my grandma. As a child, I would spend a week with Grandma and Grandaddy Dooley every summer. Grandma was a Sunday School teacher for many years, and she taught Bible School during the week I visited. I still remember the experience so clearly: riding the church bus around curvy, back country roads to Mt. Zion Baptist Church; listening to Grandma tell us a Bible story about Jesus and making a special craft in her classroom; singing “This Little Light of Mine” during choir practice; and, running around the old church cemetery as the sun set chasing lightening bugs with the other children. Anyway, it was during one of my week long summertime visits that I encountered the tomato sandwich. Most everybody in this rural area had a garden, and Grandaddy Dooley took pride in his tomatoes.  So, there were plenty 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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Berry and Red Wine Sorbet

A wonderful combination of berries and red wine, this easy and elegant sorbet has aromas and flavors of blackberry cobbler and strawberry preserves.  So refreshing, it’s the perfect light ending to any holiday meal. Plus, it’s a great way to use up leftover wine. 😉   Berry and Red Wine Sorbet: *Use organic ingredients whenever possible. Makes: 12 Servings Makes: […]

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A Summer Classic

When I think of summertime, there are a few things that always come to mind.  I guess this is partially because I grew up in the rural South.  But, there’s just nothing like the sound of cicadas singing in the trees on a warm summer evening, a night sky so dark that you can see the Milky Way and almost every constellation, especially the Big Dipper.  And, of course, fresh tomatoes picked right out of the garden, sliced, and enjoyed between two slices of bread with a bit of butter, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper—the classic tomato sandwich. My first memories of this iconic Southern treat were made while visiting Grandma Dooley. As a child, I lived nearby to both sets of grandparents, visiting with them often.  Every summer, I would spend a week with Grandma. She was a Sunday School teacher for many years and also taught Bible School.  While at Grandma’s, I attended Bible School with my cousin, Kim.  I still remember the experience so clearly:  riding the church bus around curvy, back country roads to Mt. Zion Baptist Church; listening to Grandma tell us a Bible story about Jesus and making a special craft in her classroom; singing “This Little Light of Mine” during choir practice; and running around the church cemetery with the other children—after having the customary refreshments of Oreo cookies and Kool-Aid.  But, I’ve gone off on a tangent. 😉 Anyway, it was during one […]

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Georgia Caprese Salad

This is the second recipe I’ve shared from the fantastic cookbook, Southern My Way—Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors by Gena Knox.  However, I have to say, this Georgia Caprese Salad with Lime Vinaigrette is my very favorite.  Not only is it simple and delicious, but it also makes an elegant entree to serve to company.  I’ve already made it twice this summer:  a few weeks ago when I invited a friend to have lunch, and tonight for a simple weekday dinner. This Southern spin on an Italian classic screams summer.  And, when it’s made with fresh, local peaches, you can’t stop it.   Georgia Caprese Salad with Lime Vinaigrette *Use organic ingredients when possible Prep Time 15 minutes Yields 4 servings Ingredients: Dressing Juice and zest of 1 lime 1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon honey 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint Salad 2 (4-ounce) balls fresh, water-packed mozzarella cheese 4 (room temperature) ripe peaches, unpeeled, each cut into 8 wedges 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves Method: First  To prepare dressing, combine lime juice, zest, vinegar, water, honey, and salt.  Slowly whisk in olive oil and set aside. Next  Cut cheese into 1-inch pieces and gently toss with peaches and basil leaves. Last  Whisk mint into dressing and toss about 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) with salad.  Season with freshly cracked pepper and serve.   The vintage linens […]

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