Here's a little treat for you, dear friends. The images above are some Polaroids outtakes the lovely Jen Altman took for my new book with Roost. They're from a gathering we hosted out here last weekend, highlighting southern cuisine.
I'll give you little glimpses of the book whenever I can. It's an absolute blast working on this project, and Jen has a wonderful ability to capture people and places in a way that showcases the beauty present in everything.
It's going to be an epic adventure. Just. You. Wait.
Happy Friday, friends! I don't know where you live, but it's been raining like the building of arks is in order for three days straight here. Which is just fine by me. The garden needs it, the water tables require it, and this cool-weather-loving-lady adores it.
It's been an amazing week. Busy, but amazing. My sisters just left about 30 minutes ago. I'm always so excited when they come, and so bereft when they leave. I love having people in our home. Playing hostess is one of my greatest joys. And they are so imminently helpful, folding laundry, sweeping floors, changing diapers-all without solicitation. Plus, they play with my hair, and there are few things I love more than having someone play with my hair.
Best of all, though, they got me a super generous gift card to Terrain for my birthday. Oh, yes. As though that wasn't enough, they sent Hubs and I out on a date to see Moonrise Kingdom (So. Good.) last night, our first movie date together since I was pregnant! Oh, sisters. You're simply the best. You always, always bring the awesome.
I don't have a What I'm Digging round-up for you this week, I'm sorry to say. You see, I was too busy doing this week to do much in the way of digging. And that's actually a good thing, to get away from the laptop and be out in the world; that's really quite good for me.
Instead of directing you towards a smattering of my interests this week, I thought I'd mention one specific event, happening tomorrow. National Can-It-Forward Day, sponsored by the good folks at Jarden (the brand behind Ball and Kerr canning equipment and ingredients), takes place all day. Whether you visit in person (out in East Indiana), or watch the variety of how-to canning videos they'll be streaming all day, you're bound to hone your canning chops. Do check it out, or, better yet, host a home canning party of your own!
Yesterday was nothing short of amazing. It was full of love, and laughter, and food, and rain, and fog, and cuddles, and everything I hold dear. If it set the tone for the coming year, it's going to be a very, very good one, friends.
*This book and this book from Hubs (along with a gorgeous, but too large, ring from Nervous System and a stunning, large, low, glazed hand-thrown ceramic plant pot).
*Hearty pancake breakfast at the Pisgah Inn (we were sat at the window, so we could watch the fast-rolling fog move by).
*Fog & rain-clad hike at Graveyard Fields (we powered through it and went all the way to the Upper Falls-so worth the deluge we experienced on the way back to the parking lot).
*Pretzels and cheese picked up at Pisgah Inn's country store for the rainy drive home.
*Gift certificates from family members that enabled me to score these lovely sandals I've had my eye on.
*A hot bath with my boy.
*My sister Devan fishtail braiding my hair.
*A homemade libation consisting of: Firefly mint vodka, Shrub and Co. ginger shrub, Izze's lemon & lime soda, lemon juice and fresh mint (recipe to come, I promise!).
*Local grass-fed beef burgers with homemade pimento cheese (the recipe will be in the new book!), my Persian pickles, and a corn/roasted red pepper/cilantro skillet side, courtesy of chef-extraordinnaire, Hubs.
*This cake, lovingly baked by my sweet, sweet sisters. Have mercy. I ate 3 slices (!!!), and then rolled myself off to bed.
It was simple, sweet, and grand. My idea of a perfect day.
If you want to see more from our hike at Graveyard Fields, gohere.
Just in time for my birthday, folks! 36 years young today!
My editor wrote to give me a head's up on an amazing sale over at Barnes & Noble. If you have hesitated on buying any of the books in my Homemade Living series, hesitate no longer, dear friends of the interwebs! All four titles are now 50% off! Yeehaw!
This is an amazing sale. If you're tired of waiting for one of my books to get returned to the library so you can check it out again, or want a timely gift for a loved one, or just want to finally check out the pages of one of these books for yourself, now's the time to get on it! The sale runs through next Tuesday, July 17th.
Whew. The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind. We threw a big 'ole Southern foods gathering out here this past Saturday evening, as part of my new book. It was amazing-kids, parents, dancing (cake walk!!!), food, bourbon, and heat! Oh. My. Word. It was hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. But it was grand!
Today I'm off to visit this farm on my way north to Burnsville. My sisters, Huxley and I are going to spend some time with family, enjoying the mountain and creek views provided by the swing on my Mom's porch. Oh, yes.
Tomorrow is my birthday, and we're thinking of beginning with breakfast (and more mountain views) here, before going on a hike at either Graveyard Fields or Black Balsam. For dinner, we might hit up Bouchon for their all-you-can-eat mussels night.
In the mean time, I wanted to share this post with you from the amazing Foodie Crush. Heidi Larsen has a real gem of a publication going over there and it was an honor and a delight to share some recipes, pie-dough tips, and general conversation with her. Check it!
Happy Friday, friends! My sisters are here for the week! I! Am! So! Excited!
Hope you had a lovely Independence Day (for those U.S. readers). We laid low at home, and rounded out the day gathered around our big oak dining room table with friends. Nice and easy, that's my style!
Our over-ambitious attitude in the garden this year seems to be paying off. We put in something like 20 cucumber plants and they are some kind of paying it forward, by the bushel!
To that end, I've spent the better part of the last 3 days making my Dill Pickles, Quick Persian Pickles, and Sweet Pickle Relish. Recipes for the former and the latter can be found in my book, while the middle recipe was featured today on Etsy's blog. Thanks for the love, Etsy!
That's a lot of chopping and jarring, and we're only just getting started! I love it, though. Standing in the hot kitchen, with things simmering gently under lids, and colanders full of homegrown cukes, and herbs and spices all around-this is good, good stuff right here.
What about you? Are you in a pickle over anything lately? On a related note, our beloved friends Jen, Jon and their daughter Awynn visiting from Georgia showed up with a 25-pound box of their state's finest-peaches!!! I'll be moving from vinegar to sugar, it appears!
I hate wasting food. I go to great lengths to ensure we use every bit of food we purchase or grow. That's especially true of leftovers.
Sometimes Hubs cooks like there's an army coming over for dinner, instead of just us two and Huxley. I never complain, because his eats are always amazing. That said, we're sometimes staring down the same dish for multiple meals, across several days.
Which is where we get creative. This morning was one such occasion. We'd enjoyed a Bolognese-ish sauce over tortellini a few days ago. It was filled with tomatoes, spinach, herbs, spices and Hickory Nut Gap ground pork. So, so good. We'd had it over three meals, though, and had a bit more that needed to go into a new incarnation.
Enter the frittata. The meal you can always count on, the friend that's always got your back. As simple as simple can be, the frittata never disappoints. Whatever leftovers you've got on hand, they can go into a frittata. Pasta? Put it in a frittata! On-the-edge veggies in the crisper? Put 'em in a frittata! Or, like we did with our Bolognese-esque "we seriously need to mix it up" sauce-frittata to the rescue!
It's low-fi, affordable, fast, and good. And that, friends, is all you really need.
Happy Friday, friends! This weekend promises to be a scorcher. Here in the mountains of western North Carolina we might even hit 100 degrees. Yikes! We plan to hit up the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of a frigid creek or swimming hole to cool our jets in. Or, if we're feeling lazy, just fill up Huxley's baby/toddler pool, and get in it with watermelon slices, cold beer, and a happy, splashing 20 month-old.
We're also conducting a quasi experiment in our air-conditioning-less house. It cools down pretty considerably at night here in the mountains. I left all of the windows open overnight and then shut them up tight this morning. Fans are going in every room, so, we'll see if we can keep our cool (literally and figuratively-this is the one time of year, every year, I tell Hubs we need to move to the Pacific Northwest; I'm a grumpus when I'm hot).
My Small Measure post is up on Design Sponge. I'm sharing a recipe for making Beeswax Insect Repellant Candles. I wrote on the porch the other day with one of these babies going and it most assuredly does the trick!
We're off to Short Street Cakes this evening. Robyn Jasko is doing a book signing and talk from her book Home Sweet Homegrown, which I gave away two copies of, along with a sampling of seed packets, a few weeks ago. I'll be there, providing the jams, as in, spread-it-over-a-slice-of-bread jams.
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand (and cool!)!
When I first met Hubs, he already owned the house we now live in. It was definitely a bachelor's pad at that point, which was actually kind of great, since it enabled us to set up the space together. As he was giving me a tour of the place, and he showed me the bathroom, I immediately noticed two things: he'd had a large, soaking, "garden" tub installed, and he had lots and lots of candles in there. For himself. A nice tub, and nice candles. "This," I thought to myself, "this right here is my kind of man."
Hubs shares my love of hot baths and candle light. We have an entire cabinet packed with tapers, columns, pillars, votives, tea lights, and every manner of candle-holding vessel imaginable. Every room in our house, aside from Huxley's room, has candles, too. When the power goes out, we're set. When evening rolls around and we're dining on the porch, candles are burning. During dinner parties and cookouts and all sorts of other get-togethers, candles are 'a blazing.
My Small Measures post tomorrow on Design Sponge will offer a tutorial on making all-natural beeswax bug-repelling candles at home. I used Rebecca Ittner's Candlemaking the Natural Way when creating the candles and can't recommend the book enough. It's packed with essential information on handcrafting beeswax, soy, and palm candles, including 31 projects to whip up, whether you're hoping to light up your own space or gift to your nearest and dearest.
Lark has graciously offered one small measure reader a copy of Candlemaking the Natural Way! You're going to love it, I promise. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below detailing your favorite way to use candles, or candlelight memory. For me, it happened two winters ago.
We lost power for 5 days and relied on our candle stash to light up the night. Though it was rough going (the forecast had called for 3-10 inches of snow, not the 17 we ended up with, so we were seriously caught off guard), huddling around the wood stove, listening to NPR play Charlie Brown's Christmas on a battery-powered radio while eating cookies from my recent cookie exchange and sipping on rum-spiked eggnog (we buried coolers in the snow outside and filled them with the contents of the refrigerator and freezer) made the whole ordeal slow, and sweet, and precious in a way I'd never have thought possible.
I'll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Wednesday, July 4th at midnight EST. Per Lark's request, the giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Sorry, international buddies! PLEASE leave a means of contacting you in your reply, either by linking
back to your blog/website (which will need somewhere on there telling me
how to contact you), or by leaving your email address with your comment
(if you'd like to keep your email private, just make a comment with
your name and then send me your email at:
Either way, win or no win, do check out Ittner's book. Candle-making is a serious blast, feeling something like alchemy as you stir the pot, watch the wax melt, and shape-shift it into the candle holder.
We are flush with eggs these days, chez English. More eggs than we can eat each day, which is saying something since we're all crazy about the things. There are so many eggs coming in lately that visions of custards and curds and ice cream move to the forefront of my culinary mind's eye (to reach that last goal, Hubs & Huxley just headed to the West Asheville Tailgate Market to pick up flavoring add-ins-can you say triple berry ice cream?).
However, while I might like nothing more than to slather my palate in sweetened eggy goodness, something more substantive (and savory) seemed in order. And so, we whipped up a batch of egg salad today. Hubs came across a suggestion on local greenhouse Eagledove's Facebook page recently suggesting the inclusion of baking soda when making hard-boiled eggs.
As an egg ages, the albumen in it shrinks, making it easier to separate the white from the shell after boiling. The longer you allow the eggs to age (typically at least one week, two being preferable), the easier they are to peel. Eagledove's suggestion helps to expedite this process. So, if you don't have the time to wait, or older eggs on hand when the urge (dare I say need!) to make egg salad strikes, you can still satisfy your craving without swearing at every bit of egg shell that just won't give up the ghost as you futilely attempt to peel them.
We gave the method a go. While it didn't completely make the shells slip off unencumbered, it definitely did help. We added in sweet relish (I've got a recipe in my book that was destined to go with egg salad), mayonnaise, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice, capers, and my all-time, hands-down favorite herb blend, Herbs de Provence (we grabbed a jar when we were at the Lavender Festival).
Generously dolloped onto toasted wheat bread, crowned with lettuce from the garden (we like chopping lettuce finely and tossing it with a bit of vinaigrette or mayonnaise when we use it in sandwiches) & slivers of dill pickle, and nestled in with some pickled okra (you can find a recipe for that in my book, too), we decided being flush with eggs is not such a bad problem to have. Not bad at all.
Best Yet Hard-boiled Eggs The Goods:
-One dozen eggs
1) Place a dozen eggs in a medium-sized pan.
2) Fill with cold water, at least an inch higher than the eggs. 3) Add a pinch of salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda.
4) Heat covered, over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil.
5) Turn the burner off, and set a timer for 13 minutes.
6) About 2 minutes before the timer goes off, prep an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. 6) When the timer goes off, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and gently place them in the ice water bath.
7) After a few minutes, when they have cooled, take them out of the water.
8) Gently crack each egg before peeling it carefully, submerging the egg
in the bowl of ice water as you go, which makes it easier to remove the
shell and get the last little bits off.
Herbs de Provence Egg Salad The Goods: -1 dozen boiled eggs, diced -3 Tablespoons mayonnaise -2 Tablespoons olive oil -2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
-2-3 Tablespoons sweet relish, to taste -1 Tablespoon capers -1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence -1 Tablespoon lemon juice -1 teaspoon sea salt -Several grinds black pepper
The Deal: 1) Combine the ingredients in a medium/large mixing bowl, stirring well to make it a bit creamy. 2) Let it sit for a few minutes before serving to give the flavors a chance to meld.
We munched on this olive, tomato and potato bit of deliciousness just a bit ago. Hubs sliced the potatoes on a mandoline first, then lightly pan fried them in olive oil. Next went a bit of whisked eggs over the potatoes. We let those eggs set up a bit over medium-high heat, then added the remaining bit in the mixing bowl, along with the olives. The whole concoction then spent a wee bit of time in the oven under a low broiler, was cut into wedges, and then covered in chopped tomatoes.
Simple, fresh, delicious. Couldn't ask for a better way to start a Sunday. Hope your weekend is going swimmingly.
Happy Friday, friends! And happy summer, too. The season of sun, and sandals, and sweat, and soil is officially upon us. Oh. Yes.
I just got off the phone with my younger sister, Theo. She, along with my other sister, Devan, will be coming to visit usfor a week in early July. I shared with her my intentions for engaging in three definitively "summer" activities during their visit: a trip to the beach (and kiddie waterpark!!!) at Lake Lure, a berry-picking expedition somewhere in the area, and a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Black Balsam is a perennial favorite). Summertime, and the living is easy, indeed!
I'll be catching up on some writing this weekend. I hope to head to a farmer's market tomorrow, too. I've had a hankering for Dave's flaky, buttery pastries for awhile and it's high time that aching was satisfied.
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand.
I have long maintained a love affair with chocolate. The darker, the better. If it's caramel-filled, I'm in heaven. If there are dried fruits involved, I'm swooning. I'll take it hot in a mug, snuggled into a s'more, or even just straight up. When it comes to chocolate, I'm often equal opportunity consumer.
Which is why I was so excited when one of my most beloved chocolate purveyors, Green & Black's, contacted me recently. Well known in the UK, but less so here in the States, Green & Black's is attempting to spread the word about what they do and, wisely, looking to bloggers as a means of doing so. I've actually been a huge Green & Black's fan for years and am thrilled to be able to discuss them here with you today.
Not only is the company's chocolate exquisitely tasty, it's also organically grown. As one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, it's so pleasing to learn of a business that understands, applauds, and employs organic cacao production methods. Green and Black's chocolate is also certified Fair Trade. This means that the farmers, their families, and all of the individuals involved in growing, harvesting and processing the chocolate are provided a fair, living wage, enabling them to thrive in their personal lives and aid their communities in the process.
While flavor of any food is a large motivation for whether or not I'll choose to eat it, growing methods and labor practices of the companies behind them are just as significant in my decision-making process. Green & Black's hits all the right notes for me, from delicious, to sustainable, to ethical. I promote these practices at home and whenever I write about chocolate, including in the Ingredients section in my new book. The more these methods are employed, the more we collectively benefit.
Owing to all of that, I'm super pumped to offer a giveaway of Green & Black's products today! The company has generously offered 3 (!!!) small measure readers a gift package including their Ultimate Recipe Book and Classic Collection, pictured above. That's some good stuff there, folks!
All you need to do to enter the giveaway is tell me your favorite ways of eating chocolate (or, if you can't choose, one of your favorite!). I mentioned several of mine above, but I'll also add partnered with peanut butter to my roster. What about you?
I'll run the giveaway through next Wednesday, June 27th, ending at midnight EST. PLEASE leave a means of contacting you in your reply, either by linking back to your blog/website (which will need somewhere on there telling me how to contact you), or by leaving your email address with your comment (if you'd like to keep your email private, just make a comment with your name and then send me your email at: ashleyadamsenglish(at)gmail(dot)com).
Even if you don't win, do check out Green & Black's. They're a wonderful company with an even better mission. Now, if you'll pardon me, I've got a bar of Peanut & Sea Salt (I! KNOW!) that needs nibbling....
*Please note the following disclosure, provided by Green & Black's: Kraft Foods is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me.
This program is not administered or sponsored by Kraft Foods or its
affiliates, but solely by Small Measure.
This past winter, Hubs and I set out to get our crafty on. While mine never quite materialized as I'd hoped (turns out I'm not a learn-in-a-group-setting type of knitter; I really just need someone to sit beside me, regularly, and tell me what I'm doing wrong), Hubs' certainly did.
Shown above are several of his creations. Oh, the shapes! The colors! The glazes! I just love these little "pinching bowls" he made, as he calls them. His intention in creating them, it turns out, is for me to use in photos, here on small measure and for other writing I do. He's one of the keepers, this man of mine!
For Father's Day, I purchased him an intermediate ceramics studio lab, beginning mid-July. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. I'm starting to think there's really nothing he can't do!
Happy Friday, friends! Huxley's follow-up visit yesterday revealed that his wound is healing up swimmingly. The doctor said that, in time, it should heal over completely, permitted we keep it out of sunlight for the next 6 months. So, it'll be a summer of hats, sunscreen and bandages for the tiny Englishman!
We've got a fun weekend planned. Our beloved friends Jen, Jon and their daughter Awynn (aka "Sweet P" or just "P") are in town. They bought a yome and are putting it up this weekend down in the smaller of our two lower fields. It's their little "yome away from home", as they live in Atlanta where they both teach art at private schools.
Sunday, for Father's Day, we're making ourannual pilgrimage to Mountain Farm's Lavender Festival. I LOVE that event, with its stunning mountain-top and waterfall views, baby goats, lavender-infused foods, and general pervasive fragrant goodness. To all you fathers out there, here's wishing you a wonderful day, filled with love, from your nearest and dearest. Thank you for all you do.
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!
It's seriously go time in the garden, friends. I recently mentioned that Hubs was whipping up a deck and pergola for us to enjoy out there. And, boy, did he ever! Never one to make something just so-so, or expected, or conventional, he fashioned a pergola to beat them all, full of whimsy and nuance and, well, "him."
We held our first photo shoot for the new book out there. Broke it in, so to speak. It's festooned with lovely hanging flower baskets right now. In time, though, we intend to grow food on it. Grapes, most likely. Muscadines and Scuppernogs (both native to the area), specifically.
I just adore it. Being out there, with a cold, frosty beer on a warm summer evening, or in the morning with a cup of hot coffee in hand and my lap top in front of me as the little guy plays next to me in the sandbox-not much beats it.
In the video below, Hubs himself walks you through a tour of our garden. Enjoy it (and his low, handsome voice; 'twas one of the first things that attracted me to him!)!!!
Making an attempt to craft a good life with my husband and young son in a small mountain community. I find pleasure in the light at dusk, atlases, hard cider, cat antics, dog breath, baby giggles, homemade ice cream and snorty laughter.
Author of the "Homemade Living" book series (Lark Books) which showcases topics related to small-scale homesteading and some of the diverse ways people are reconnecting with their food and food communities and taking up sustainable food practices.
I also host a bi-monthly column every Friday on Design*Sponge:http://www.designspongeonline.com/category/small-measures.
E-mail me directly at: ashleyadamsenglish(at)gmail.com.
"The Big Problem is nothing more or less than the sum total of countless little everyday choices, most of them made by us and most of the rest of them made in the name of our needs and desires and preferences."-Michael Pollan