Yearly Archives: 2008

CHARLEY HARPER’S ABC’S

 

And in reference to actually being able to read…

The new favorite book at our house: ABC’s by Charley Harper

It is a stunningly beautiful book of alphabet and animals seen through the eyes of Charley Harper. We read it each day front to back, back to front and then front to back again.

I am inspired to make a pattern of lady bugs, clover, luck and more.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

 

This is shaping up to be the week for Children and Adults.

While in the doctor’s office, I picked up the May issue of Country Living Magazine to find this lovely piece about buttercream frosting:

This article and a spend-over with friends’ children inspired me to try out the recipe below which I received literally YEARS ago from a friend. I believe that this recipe originally came from Magnolia Bakery in New York City. I used my “Mother’s Day” mixer which made the batter smooth and the clean-up really easy.

The kids said after our cupcake extravaganza was over, “This is just like a party.” To which I replied, “This IS a party.”

While my frosting did not spread to create the lovely formations shown in the Country Living piece, the cupcakes were delicious. Following the “Tips and Tools of the Trade” section of the article, I am buying a pastry bag this week.

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FATHER’S DAY FROM BLAIR

I  love paint chips and the names of colors. I have lived in Cameo, Clementine, Venetian Glass, September Leaf, Cobalt, Aria Ivory, Spice Trader, Rain Mist, and Princess Passion rooms. My husband, John T, and I sleep in a Hickory bedroom trimmed with Sensitive White, and we prepare our family meals within our kitchen’s Walking Path and Butter walls.

For Father’s Day, I surprised John T by painting his study. The room used to be my art room, but we built a beautiful tin-sided studio outside, and that is where I paint now. Finally, John T has his own space in the house, but he was not fond of the feminine Lavender Lane I had painted my old art room.

Jess, our seven-year old son, showed no interest in helping me with the “new room” project, even though the transformation was supposed to be from him. He and I wanted a nice shade of green, but nothing too Golf Course or too Hunter. For a while we settled on Tree House, but we decided that Nature’s Abundance had more to offer.

The golden green walls match what we see from our summer windows—Camellia and Pecan leaves, ferns, ivy, and sunlit grass. John T is happy with his room, and he is filling the bookshelves.

Jess was happy to present his daddy with another gift, a woven rug that’s almost large enough to cover the paint-splattered floor that I couldn’t move out with my art table.

–Blair Hobbs

PETERSON FIELD GUIDES + DANDELION SAUTÉ

Some days I fantasize that I am prepared to forage from our local woods to sustain my family. The blatant truth is that like most folk, I would most likely not know which plant would kill us or sustain us.

For that reason, I love these Peterson field guides. These two books have helped me start learning how to eat from my own backyard:

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Virginia Marie Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson

A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs by James A. Duke, Steven Foster, and Roger Tory Peterson

NATALIE’S DANDELION SAUTÉ

Dandelions grow rampant in our part of the south; but, Angie Mosier reminded me that when picking these greens to eat, we should be careful to pick from a yard that has not been treated with chemicals or fertilizers!

This recipe can be used to cook any type of greens, but because of the dandelion’s strong peppery taste, we like to mix it in with spinach or any other mild green.

Dandelion leaves
Spinach, kale or other mild green
Olive oil
Garlic
1/2 lemon
Sauté garlic in olive oil.

Add greens to your pan, allowing them to wilt. Drizzle with juice from one-half lemon and sesame oil. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

Eat.

GARDENIAS FOR NATALIE

Bless Blair for sending this email just when I thought that there would be no reprieve in my week. We have a potted gardenia in our front garden bed and I have been struggling for one year to decide on its permanent spot. Blair’s post has inspired me to plant it right down by the road that everyone who passes our house on a June morning can revel in its glory.

From Blair:

Hooray for Gardening week! As I was answering my morning email, I heard a mother stroll her jabbering baby down the street. The woman said, “Smell those gardenias! They’re amazing!” So, I had to write this little something for the lady who planted them:

Mrs. Knight, the original owner of our 1940’s home, was known for her bread baking, bridge parties, chain smoking, and Gardenias. What remains of her, along the south side of the house, are her fragrant bushes. The sweet, thick aroma of the twirled-open buds is so dense that every walker, stroller, or jogger who crosses our block is bound to comment on the sugary breeze.

I especially love to watch the gardenias though our evening window. At night, in the dim streetlight’s cast beams, the blossoms look like paper stars clustered across the windowpanes.

I take no credit for these Gardenias. I do give them a little food, and after each bloom, I do cut them back so they won’t grow taller than the house. These flowers belong to Mrs. Knight, and every June, I clutch my breath until they gloriously return.

Illustration of gardenia thunbergia via Wikipedia by Edith Struben (1868-1936)

ROSES LOVE GARLIC

It has been a really busy week. I had intended to post every day about the wonder and beauty of our simple garden. Now it is Thursday and here you have the second post of the week. Perhaps there will be time to elaborate as the weekend approaches.

This is the first year that I really concentrated on companion planting. What seems a complicated subject matter to me is demystified by Louise Riotte in her two books:

Roses Love Garlic & Carrots Love Tomatoes

I love how my blooming garlic mingles with an old rose bush that was a part of my house the day I moved in. Maggie and I have enjoyed watching the garlic blooms pop their little ‘hats’ as the blossoms open from their little paper shell.

I have to admit that I have not been able to wait until the fall harvest and have been sampling our garlic since the stems emerged last autumn.

I recently came across an article with recipes for young garlic in a magazine which I simply cannot recall this morning. However, a simple Google search provides scores of young garlic recipes from Shrimp Stir Fry to soup.

And be sure to watch Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers by Les Blank.

Enjoy!

THIS WEEK IS GARDEN WEEK

I am inspired by my garden. These small beds that run around and behind my little house will feed my family this summer.

Thanks to our compost, we are pleasantly surprised by all of the volunteer tomato plants that have sprung up in every spot that we spread this luscious soil.

Maggie and I watch as flowers mingle with the rogue tomatoes, sunflowers and cantaloupes willy-nilly.

Our backyard composter and worm bin, the Biostack:

http://www.composters.com/compost-bins/bio-stack-bin_91_1.php

FALLING FOR MY HUSBAND

We had more than one request for Blair’s pea-themed love poem to her husband. She willingly plays along and makes me smile that big kind of smile that makes your ears hurt.

Falling For My Husband
by Blair Hobbs

Beanstalk skinny, I cared more about not eating
than stirring my dormant tastebuds.
Most flavors left me cold,
but peas, cooked to an institutional drab,
downright offended my fallow tongue.
In heaps, peas showed up on school cafeteria trays
and in my great aunt’s “Crowder Pleaser Salad,” a water-logged
mayonnaise and relish mishap she concocted
for her nursing home’s special occasions.

Alone, uncooked,
a pea was a stone
or the period at the end of a boring sentence.

My thin smile appealed to a man whose tongue was a meadow.
For courtship, I wore size zero silk dresses, high heels
and peony-pink lipstick. He took me
dancing and we twirled and shook.
We laughed and baptized ourselves with spilled Zinfandel.

He dined me and tried seducing my love-dumb senses
into surrendering to field pea risotto with white truffles,
Texas caviar, and blackberry-glazed quail
on a bed of pink-eyed pea salad.
Although I dismissed his razzle-dazzled legumes with a “yuck,”
he kissed me anyway. Little did I know
that those night-time words he whispered into the hull of my ear–
Whippoorwill, glory, snow, butterfly, sweet, and (later) zipper–
were all names of peas!

One noon, full of buttery sunlight,
this man offered me lunch, sage leaves and lady peas.
Perhaps brainwashed, I took the warm bowl.
Before I knew it, my mouth eased open
above the question mark of steam. I lifted the spoon,
chewed and felt the tender pearls dissolve
across my peppered tongue. First lips and throat,
then the whole rest of my body sighed awake.

Here is what Blair says today about her wedding picture:

This photo is of a LONG time ago. I think I’d gone up to a size 2 by the time of our wedding. My, how things have changed!

YANCEY CHAPEL

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being able to visit the Yancey Chapel in Sawyerville, Alabama. A part of the works from Rural Studio, this chapel has been closed to the public for some time.

The work and life of Samuel Mockbee is a yardstick for us to hold up to our lives each and every day to take measure of the road that we walk on this planet. Learn more about Samuel, his life and legacy here:

Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee

Rural Studio

Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency

GIRLFRIENDS – FROM BLAIR HOBBS

The other day, I received a voice message from my sweet friend, Lisa. “Blair, I was just at the farmer’s market and saw Lady Peas, and I always think of you when I see Lady Peas, so I left you a bag on your front porch bench.”

When I thanked Lisa, I forgot to ask why she thinks of me whenever she sees Lady Peas. Perhaps it’s because I once wrote a pea-themed love poem for my husband, but more likely it’s because I once created a Lady Pea bruschetta for her birthday party. About a dozen of us, dressed-up with tall cocktails in hand, huddled around the dining table’s full platter. The crisp bread rounds, smeared with gobs of olive oil and puree, were garnished with the remaining peas. The appetizers were tasty, but as soon as we bit into the toasts, the peas flew–like buckshot–all over floor. Everyone got a pass on manners that evening, and we had an extra good time.

Also left on the porch bench (that very day) were some old cookbooks a neighbor found in her mother’s belongings. She left them for my husband, whose work is the study and writing of food culture. Spiral bound, the pages of the old cookbooks present a tightly knit community of women. Each recipe, in the lower right-hand side–like an artist’s signature–is signed with the proud contributor’s name.

Blair’s Lady Pea Bruschetta

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