One More Reason to Love Italy

In May, Scott and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in Tuscany, specifically Cortona and Florence.  We chose Italy, because it’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited, and the people are lovely and welcoming.  From the breathtaking views of the Tuscan countryside to the art, culture, and history of its towns and cities, Italy offers so much.  And, […]

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A Summer Fling

I’d like to start with the fact that I don’t normally get emotionally involved or gush over dessert.  Yes.  I enjoy decadent treats in moderation: a piece of Victoria sponge or chocolate cake on occasion.  I don’t, however, just lose my mind over sweet things…….until last week. It started out innocently enough.  My dad is a fine gardener and always has a bounty of vegetables to share with friends and family.  Every summer, he sends my in-laws squash, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, etc. from his garden; and, in an act of reciprocity, my mother-in-law bakes bread or makes a special treat for my parents.  About a week ago, after receiving an installment of vegetables from Dad, my mother-in-law sent my parents fresh berries with a homemade “cream” topping.  Bless her heart, she even sent some for us. Of course, Farmguy and I had no inkling this wasn’t any normal berry and cream combination.  After dinner, we dished out some berries and dollaped the “cream” on top and proceeded to enjoy our desserts.  After one bite, I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh–This. Is. SO. Good!!  It’s not like any cream I’ve ever had! We’ve got to get the recipe from your mother!”  The next day, I called Farmguy’s mom to thank her for this unexpected treat and to get the recipe.  I went on and on about how much we enjoyed it, and how it was the best thing EVER.  The memory is blurry now, […]

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Something Refreshing

I’m not much of a mixed drink connoisseur.  I usually find that I enjoy wine more:  sparkling, white Burgundy, and Bordeaux styles. However, a few years ago, while visiting with friends in Yorkshire, England, I discovered a cocktail that I enjoyed so much that I asked the bartender for the recipe. It’s called a Hendrick’s Collins.  This cocktail is delicious and refreshing—perfect for a summer afternoon in the garden. Hendrick’s Collins *Slightly modified Ingredients: One 12 ounce Collins glass One shot of Hendrick’s Gin (distilled Scottish gin infused with rose & cucumber) 3/4 shot of St. Germain elderflower liqueur Dash of lemon 3 Cucumber slices Ice cubes Soda Water Cucumber and lemon wedge to garnish *Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Presse *Special Note:  This is a sparkling beverage that’s handmade in the U.K. and mixes well with gin.  I originally had it in England; however, I have purchased it at The Fresh Market grocery store in my area.  It can also be ordered online at amazon.com.  My preference is to use half soda water and half Belvoir Elderflower Presse in this cocktail. Preparation: Fill the Collins glasses with ice.  Full size ice cubes will melt more slowly and dilute the drink more slowly. Add the gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, and cucumber slices into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice.  Cover and shake for several seconds.  Strain into a Collins glass and top with soda water (and Elderflower sparkling beverage […]

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Fresh, Sweet Corn

Sex is good but not as good as fresh, sweet corn. ~Garrison Keillor Fresh, sweet corn is one of those treats you look forward to in the summertime, especially if you’re a gardener.  There’s nothing quite like it!  And, at the risk of sounding like “fifty shades of farmgirl,” I just had to include Garrison Keillor’s quote emphasizing how spectacularly good it really is. 😉 In honor of fresh, sweet corn, I’m sharing one of my favorite corn recipes—corn spoon pudding.  I love it, because it’s super easy and amazingly delicious!  It’s from a wonderful cookbook titled, Potluck at Midnight Farm-–celebrating food, family, and friends on Martha’s Vineyard, by Tamara Weiss.  Corn spoon pudding is a recipe that was contributed to the cookbook by actress, Mary Steenburgen.  Steenburgen writes, “this is a recipe that I grew up with in Arkansas and have made for many kinds of people.  Also, it’s so wildly popular that folks take one bite and instantly want the recipe.” Well, I have to agree with her.  I always keep extra copies of this recipe on hand to share, because it’s a guaranteed smash hit.  It’s the best cornbread you’ll ever eat! Corn Spoon Pudding Serves 12 *Use organic, non-GMO ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1  (8 1/2-ounce) box corn muffin mix 7 1/2-ounces of freshly cooked whole kernel corn or canned corn 7 1/2-ounces of creamed corn or canned creamed corn 1 cup sour cream  (use sour cream […]

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Creative Cuisine, Cool Cocktails, and Chickens…Could There Be a Better Combination?

A while ago, friend and fellow blogger, Melody of Meals With Mel visited Virginia and Green Hill Farm with her husband, Doug.  Melody is a fantastic cook with a flair for Southwestern cuisine.  And, she recently showcased a number of healthy and delicious salads that are perfect for dining al fresco this summer.  If you’re wondering what to cook for dinner this evening, be sure to visit Mel for lots of wonderful ideas! During our visit, Melody told me about a fun and whimsical blog called, Drinking with Chickens.  I knew I would love it based on the name alone.  Drinking With Chickens features cool cocktails using fresh herbs and flowers from the author’s lovely and inspiring garden….and, of course, there are lots of cute and curious chickens running around everywhere.  This blog has beautiful photography and wonderful, creative cocktail recipes—plus a good dose of chicken humor. So, with summer almost here, you may want to check out these two very original blogs before your next cocktail or dinner party.  Happy Blogging! 🙂  

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Heirloom Recipe: Colonial Queen Cakes

  I found this recipe for tea cakes in a cookbook called Southern Cakes.  It features some of the most delightful and delicious desserts associated with Southern baking:  everything from sweet potato pound cake to red velvet cake.  Reading this cookbook and admiring the lovely photographs of beautifully baked cakes so reminded me of Grandma Rieley.  My grandma was a wonderful Southern cook, and she loved to bake.  She also appreciated a well-baked cake.  I can still hear her saying what to do or not do for a cake to turn out just right–not too dry, but perfectly moist with good texture. Watching and helping Grandma Rieley bake was one of my fondest memories.  I think she would have approved of these small, elegant tea cakes. According to Southern Cakes, Colonial Queen Cakes were enjoyed in Virginia homes during Colonial times.  Popular long before baking soda and baking powder debuted in the kitchens of the mid-nineteenth century, queen cakes depend on well-beaten eggs to make them rise, just as pound cakes do.  Their texture is dense, closer to a delicate corn bread than to today’s muffins and cupcakes.  This tea time treat is scrumptious and simple to make.  So, go ahead and put on the kettle, they’ll be ready before you know it! Colonial Queen Cakes: This recipe is from Southern Cakes. * Use organic ingredients when possible. Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg […]

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Peanut Butter Spice Cookies

I. LOVE. Peanut butter.  So, it makes sense that I would also love peanut butter cookies; however, it’s not just the taste that endears me to this special treat.  It’s also the memories.  When I was a girl, peanut butter cookies were always the cookie I wanted to make with Mom.  I so enjoyed rolling the little balls of dough […]

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