ahhhjuly

I woke up very early this morning, made my coffee and poured a cup, put a pan of biscuits in the oven, went to the back door and pulled on my flowered boots and out I went with Holly to wander through the garden while throwing out feed for the chickens in their favorite spot under the trees. I turned on the hose and set the whirling sprinkler  on the roses and then decided I would pick a few blackberries to go with my cantaloupe. Amazingly I found a handful of ripe and juicy and deep purpley-blackberries that the birds and deer hadn’t absconded with…but, my real treat this morning will be the biscuits and homemade jam. I really don’t do this biscuit baking very often for obvious reasons but having just looked through my BOUCHON BAKERY book last night and, well, THOMAS KELLER’S biscuit recipe was right there, I just couldn’t resist…Justifying with the thought that Holly would get one, I would have two, save some for dinner and then the chicks would get the rest…or maybe I’ll freeze a few for later in the week! And after all, I did have some buttermilk in the fridge…dscn4435.jpg

Summer’s perfect moments and memories…Now that mid-summer is here, I find myself thinking back to all the summers I spent on my grandparents’ farm during July and August. What joy I had with grandmother when she would put a pound cake in the oven of the old wood stove and say …”We’ve got plenty of time while it’s baking, let’s go pick some berries and make a pie later….”SO, we would go berry picking after chores were done. Whether it was strawberries, blackberries or blueberries in season, I always managed to fill my little straw basket that I had decorated with scraps of ribbon Grandmother had saved from birthday gifts and sewing projects. Back in the kitchen she would have me gather all the ingredients, put them on the huge wooden table covered in blue and white checked oilcloth. We used this table, made from an old walnut tree that had fallen after a violent rain and wind storm years earlier, to prepare foods, roll biscuits, mix batter and eat meals on together…she even used it to set a big wash tub on and bathe my new baby brother… She would show me how to blend the cold, fresh-churned butter into the flour with my fingers and then how to roll it out gently…”You can’t overwork the dough…” she would caution. Oh, the aroma of a fresh fruit pie baking in the oven…

Later in the season, she would always let me climb up into the peach trees to pick enough for a fresh peach pie. This was such a wonderful time which led to many precious memories…the adventure of seeking and picking fresh fruits of the season and the rewards of learning how to make jams, preserves, pies and cobblers…and time spent with my precious white-haired Grandmother.

A favorite find…I always loved cooking on Grandmother’s huge black iron wood stove and years ago when I told Carl how I would love to put one in the kitchen he looked at me and wandered off to the workbench to tie some flies, all the while shaking his head and muttering. So I soon found a beautiful substitute…a French make…Le Cornue!

d28abc6b9baa86231753d6aa80a222b8One of the best stoves in the world…and a bargain at close to $16,000…luxury doesn’t come cheap! The cream de la crème of cooking! No need to describe his reaction and comment on my stove choice, needless to say I settled on a new gas drop-in with a much more acceptable price tag.

SUMMER is SERVED…As to cooking, here are a few summer ideas...Crab filled lettuce eaves, baby spinach salad with cucumber spirals and coconut shrimp, and a new favorite…chunks of grilled chicken and vegetables served in pita bread with a creamy lemon dressing…oh, I could eat these several times a week!!

Well, it wouldn’t be summer without home-made ice cream…On those long summer days on the farm, we often made ice cream. After a trip into town, sitting in the old International Harvester pick up truck, to get ice from the ICE HOUSE, we gathered under the shade of huge pecan and walnut trees where we would pack the old wood ice cream maker with ice and rock salt and watch excitedly as grandmother poured the cream and egg and fruit mixture into the metal cylinder…then came the work! Taking turns, we would turn the crank for what seemed like hours but in reality about a half hour total was spent churning. Nothing can compare to opening the top of the freezing container and pulling out the paddle for the first licks of the lucious mixture inside. Nothing artificial, just cream from our cows, eggs from our chickens and fruit from the garden!   For good health sake try an alternative, fresh made FROZEN YOGURT. A refreshing lime yogurt is simple: I mix a 32 ounce container of organic plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice, and for more lime flavor add zest from 2 organic limes. Pour into the churn container that sits in the freezer just waiting to be used and follow directions on your model. I have a simple Cuisinart ice cream maker that takes a little less than 20 minutes to churn this mixture into frozen yogurt. Refreshing as a summer rain shower!

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Great Garden Idea…This canvas cover, simple to make, can provide a bit of shelter from the hot afternoon sun…get creative!

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Take a break! We all need a break from our daily routines…not necessarily a full-blown holiday…but a day or a place for settling thoughts and calming mind & heart. Of course, my friends, you all know my heart’s desire would be to sit in the lavender fields in Provence…a scented scent of purple!

861096cdd183bc5a7f5186cf67b2df03…but since that won’t be happening any time soon, I’ll just have to be creative here at home in my own heavenly hideaway! I can spend an afternoon in my own garden relaxing under a canvas shelter or beach umbrella…or on terribly hot days, spend time inside working on creative projects. It just becomes a matter of choice at the moment!

Watching dusk fall over the garden, I smell the honeysuckle’s evening scent as I walk out to close up the chicken pen and coop for the evening. Time for brushing Holly and another glass of wine…

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