Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lovejoy's Version of Chaos Theory

After a long, hard day of cooking and entertaining, I stepped into a fairyland as this wonderful night blooming Cereus did its slow dance of opening for me. 

Dear Friends,

We're in full summer regalia here and paddling hard against a current of chaos. The last few days have been filled with family and friends from around the state, country, and France. I learned that the sure way to have total chaos is to have a blend of generations from age 4 to 86 crammed into a small kitchen or terrace and to use cloth napkins, tablecloth, and china for all meals. Yikes. Somehow I made the food and a friend made 4 pounds of pasta pesto. Jeff did hours of clean-up, but the weekend was a success and filled with love and laughter and unforgettable memories.

Won't you join us?

Early morning found us at our local Farmer's Market. Isn't that cauliflower gorgeous? I used it to make Patsy Anderson's warm bean, olive, and cauliflower salad. 

The recipe for Patsy's fabulous salad was in a blog entry entitled "Sweet and Southern Comfort" on March 28th. You have to try this recipe, which gets rave reviews.

Great local tomatoes (mine are all still green) which I sliced, topped with some fresh basil and shallots, and dressed with seasoned rice vinegar and olive oil.

My friends Steve and Heli brought me a load of fresh peaches from their tree; you'll see how I used them a bit later.  Look at this rainbow of baby bell peppers...

...which I drizzled with olive oil, topped with sea salt, and baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Then I stuffed them with a mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, and herbs, dusted them with smoked paprika, baked them for about 8 more minutes, and slipped them under the broiler for a minute. These were a HUGE hit. I made about 100, and they disappeared quickly.

Hmmm, my helpers seem otherwise occupied.

I buttered the casserole and lined it with sliced peaches, then filled it with about a dozen more peaches mixed with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

This topping was the crowning glory-country style.

I baked my crumble in a 9" x 14" Le Creuset (aka heavy as heck) casserole.


14 peaches
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pint raspberries
1 Tbsp. real vanilla
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of small pecan pieces (I've used walnut too and they're great)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

Place Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix the fruit in a large bowl, add vanilla, brown sugar, zest and juice of lemon, and cinnamon. Toss to coat evenly. Pour the mixture into your casserole and set aside.


In a medium bowl, stir the flour, granulated sugar, oats, baking soda, salt, and zest. Add the pieces of butter and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle this evenly over the fruit and bake for one hour. 

I served this hot with a big bowl of freshly whipped heavy cream and let everyone top their own. This was a gigantic hit. Bonus, the house smelled divine.

The big, old farm table out under the grape arbor was where the guests gathered. This gorgeous clam shell Echeveria was tucked among the glass hurricane lanterns.

A few of them toasting happiness for my niece and her new fiance.

This is Hugo from Paris, France. He wouldn't eat corn ("American food") or sample my cobbler because it had cinnamon in it, and he assured me that people in his country don't eat cinnamon. Is that true?

Chris and Jordan just became engaged. We'll love having Chris in our family.

Chris loves children....HURRAH!

This was the last gathering at our home for the season. Next week our sweet caretaker moves in, we pack up, ship boxes to Maine, and get ready for my book tour in a few weeks. Last Wednesday night at 11 p.m.,  Jeff did a final editing of my book, and we sent it off to my editor at Workman Publishing. Now it is her turn.

Please visit my new Lowe's blog posting. I have a simple and fun project, which you can do for your own garden. I think you'll like it.

Thanks a million for your loving comments and letters. I hope to see some of you in Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Wichita, Kansas.

In the meantime, tune in to "Gardening Naturally" with host John Dromgoole on KLBJ-AM 590 (live on the internet or on radio if you're near Austin, Texas) Sunday, July 17. Call in to the show at 512-836-0590. His show airs on Saturdays from 9-11 a.m. and Sundays from 8-10 a.m., Central Time. John is the owner of The Natural Gardener in Austin.



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Short and Sweet-Happy 4th of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

Dear friends,

This will be a short posting because Jeff and I are working on final edits of my manuscript before it goes back to my editor. It doesn't stop there. We will have the manuscript going back and forth between us; we'll talk on the phone for hours as we edit and compose fillers and captions; and then the work really begins. The manuscript goes to a copy editor, then a blind reader (someone unfamiliar with the text) dives into it, then there may be other changes too. The illustrations and text go to the art department, production works on putting things together, and all during the process I'll be getting calls and doing new illustrations and redoing those they don't approve.

Some of the work will be going on when we're on book tour in late July. This is a hectic and overwhelming time in the nascent hours of my bird book. Please keep your fingers crossed for me, oh and for Jeff too; I couldn't do this without his enduring faith and help.

Summer is the time to celebrate traditions, family, friends, and FOOD, of course, and despite the hectic schedule, we're doing just that before we leave California.

The old farm table at our dear friends' ranch always has room for one more.

Out under the pergola, Jeff stops for some peace and the sounds of robins, thrashers, bluebirds feeding their  young, barn swallows, and a covey of quail sounding more like my Grandmother Lovejoy's old percolator than birds.

Our dear pal Ginny unwinds under the grape vine.

The view from the kitchen window into the herb garden, vineyard, and hillsides. Susie and I taught some classes in this fabulous kitchen, and we've been kicking around the idea of doing some more when Jeff and I return from Maine. Some of you out there may remember the fabulous Christmas Class that ended up at the ranch. We feasted on freshly cooked California produce.

Whenever I can find a moment for myself I've been doing some wildcrafting, gathering blossoms and berries and drying them or making old fashioned cordials, syrups, and sugars and teas.

This wonderful old book is the source of my cordial and liqueur recipes.

I am gathering the last of the elderberry flowers... dry on my old raisin racks.

Elderberry flowers

Elderberries-NEVER eat them raw.

I love using these beautiful berries  in antique glass bottles.

I've been a crazy woman with flowers and herbs, tucking bouquets everywhere. I think I just cut the last of our sweet peas. They are so fragrant and give me such a homey-old fashioned feel.

Scented pelargoniums and white roses in an old enamel pitcher that Ginny brought me.

ALWAYS...herbs in the kitchen ready for plucking and adding to our meals.

Fresh picked baby patty pans and squash for quick stir frying with shallots.

Our entire house smells like roses. I've been gathering trays of tight buds for an array of herbal recipes. These little Cécile Brunners are favorites from memories of my Grandmother Lovejoy. She had big climbing Cécile (Cécile was a lady; it is NOT CECIL) Brunners, some of which covered 40 feet of a tree trunk. These peppery little blooms are great added to salad toppings, dried for pot pourri, layered in sugar, and so much more.

Enough rambling. Back to the manuscript for me, but I did want to say hello and thank you for all the comments and e-mails, and even some great real mail letters. 

If you live in Texas, Oklahoma, or Kansas, please check my upcoming appearances at the end of July, and maybe we'll meet in person.

Wish me luck as I sprint (or trudge) toward the finish line.

Pocketful of joys to you and yours and enjoy your Fourth of July!