Life as I know It

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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One Thing You Can Predict About Mother Nature is...

...that you CAN'T predict Mother Nature.

Last week I woke, sniffed the air, and said, "Autumn is here." "You think so," Jeff asked. "Yes," I answered, "the signs are everywhere. Look at Old Ivory Tail the squirrel; she is fat from eating that hailstorm of acorns that fell last night. All she can do is lounge. Apples are plunking onto the ground, the goldfinches are rallying, calling to their young that it is time to move on. The tidepools in front of the cottage are full of migrating shorebirds. And in the middle of the night, I can hear the distant piping of the warblers and thrushes wending their way through the night skies."

So I decided to clean all my old aqua bottles that I use for bouquets and store them in the cupboard.

Then, I hung our comforters and quilts outdoors to air. Changed the beds to flannel sheets, built a cozy fire (see the glowing eyes in the owl andirons?), and decided to have the last tea of the season on our porch. Late August ALWAYS turns to autumn here.

That was the prediction, but I was WRONG. I did have a tea party on the porch, but on that day, the weather turned from autumn to HOT, HOT, HOT. We're sweltering here and that is why I haven't

The table is set with antique sherbet dishes that were a gift from my friend Linda Blitzer and green luncheon dishes, given to me by my dear friend Ginny Holihan.

Gourmet Magazine's Stone Fruit Tea Cake

Mise en place, I at least TRY to be organized when I cook.

Here it is in use-my Carrara marble mortar and pestle with crushed demarara sugar for the topping.

Stone fruits, blueberries, and cranberries.

Ready to go. This is my beloved pie plate carried home from Apt, France.

Gorgeous! Well, I walked away at the end and left it in about 3 minutes too long, but it was great (if I do say so myself).

Our tea party was to honor my friend Anne Ramsey, who is still, at the young age of 90 plus, a force. She is a conservationist, gardener, and lover of life. We all appreciate her youthful mind and joie.

Enjoy my tea party and DO try my recipe. I tweaked it a bit from one I first saw in our loved but lost GOURMET MAGAZINE. It turned out perfectly, and I'm baking it again tomorrow for a group of friends.

Rustic Stone Fruit Tea Cake

1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temp
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (Gourmet called for 1 tsp)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temp
3 eggs at room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped stone fruit
3/4 cup blueberries (I used fresh, but frozen works fine)
1/4 cup of dried cranberries reconstituted in 1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon of turbinado or demarara sugar 

Preheat your oven to 375 and 
butter your pie plate.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the sugar and butter for 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed (until fluffy). Add eggs one at a time while mixer is on low, scrape sides of bowl as adding eggs, add vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir till smooth. Separate the dough into two equal pieces. Put dough on plastic wrap, and pat it into two 1 inch thick circles, which will fit your pie plate.  Chill in freezer for half an hour. Pat half the dough into the buttered pie plate. Mound the fruit over the dough in the pie plate. Top the fruit with small (50 cent size) pieces of dough. Sprinkle the demarara sugar over the pieces and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes-till golden.

Good Luck! Don't walk away and forget it as I did.

Still putting the finishing touches on Comfort Found, still working on a new book, still enjoying every second of this hot life, but NOT sleeping on flannel sheets.

Oh, and wish us well. We're monitoring the approach of hurricane Earl. Maybe we'll be boarding our windows and moving the old porch rockers indoors.

All joys,



Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

You are in my thoughts. I hope Earl just gives you needed rain and not everything else.

I'm also thinking about the NC coast where we spent such a lovely week in May. Hoping nothing terrible happens to it.

You looked very organized BTW. I am planning my fall veggie garden. Must buy some turnips and kale. xoxo~~Dee

sherry said...

hoping the approaching hurricane does an about-face and turns toward the atlantic!

a few days ago it was 82 degrees where i live. today? 102. this has totally altered my menu plan. recomputing...


The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Over here it´s quite the opposite. Frost the other night and now "only" cold. The sun shines though so the days are quite nice.

That pie looks delicious :-)

I hope Earl will calm down a lot before it might reach you!
Have a great day now!

Marigold Jam said...

Isn't that alaways the way! I bet if you change the warm bedlinen back to cotton it will go cold!! That recipe looks great - must try it out. Hope the hurricane changes direction before it reaches you.


Vicki Boster said...

You are so right dear - fall is in the air and I can feel it as well. Crazy weather 90 today - 70 next week. The leaves are starting to fall - I am not sure I a ready.

Whar a wonderful tea party for a beloved friend - isn't she just so cute!!! Your table was beautiful and your cake looks so wonderful - I must give that a try.

A lovely post Sharon - a beautiful sentiment for your friend - such a kind and gracious thing to do for her.


Unknown said...

Here's hoping that Earl leaves you AND us alone, Sharon. We're right in the line of fire, so to speak, here on the Bay of Fundy, but we'll soldier on like we usually do. I'm mostly worried about the apple crop yet unharvested.

Dawn said...

I'm surrounding Christmas Cove with a bubble of protection.

It's definitely Autumn here in the Austrian countryside. I was so happy to put on boots and a knit sweater. And I ordered a big, fat, feather bed...can't wait.

You'll have to let us know if you, and Jeff, and that chubby squirrel, are OK.

Sending love love love,


Carla said...

I hope Earl keeps a safe distance from you all.

The tea cake looks yummy! I will print out the recipe; peaches and nectarines are in season here too.

Vee said...

Now, Sharon, all true Mainers/Maniacs sleep in flannel sheets year round. In the heat, they are so absorbent. LOL! (Ugh)

Yes, I will try that recipe, but not one day before it's gone under 70F. Isn't this weather nuts?!

From the Kitchen said...

Sharon, I hope that Earl passes you by with nothing more than a cooling off.

I have greatly enjoyed my "visit" with you today. The tart looks lovely (it is from Gourmet so it has to be delicious) and your pink and green table is a favorite of mine.

And a tip of the hat to your friend, Anne Ramsey!

Keep safe.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

HA!!!! are you kidding??? we have all gone to hell in a handbag literally. we will never see cool weather again. i could be wrong though. i have promised to dance in the streets naked if the weather drops below 80. either way...we all lose! hope earl skips right by you and if he pushes our cold front back, i am getting out my guns! i am SO sick of 95 degree weather!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i am glad someone is still able to laugh in this heat! and as if the heat is not bad enough, this part of the country has been invaded by stink bugs. the only good thing about the heat is it keeps the stink bugs outside. the moment i start dancing in the street, the stink bugs will be dancing in my house. so i diligently seek out stink bugs all day long hoping that by some act of god and nature i will kill every one of them before i have to sleep with them. if my husband disappears in the process i can not be held accountable! my absolute goal in life right now is to become a snowman sometime in the near future!

Katiejane said...

Your tea party looks divine, but the fire, not so much. It reached 98 here today, so we're not really into autumn quite yet. I'm ready, though.

Erin | Bygone Living said...

I felt the same exact way! In New York last week, it was in the low 60s!; I took out my heavy quilts, my sweaters... was even ready to start baking pumpkin pies!
And now, this week-- man, it's hot! It hit 95 degrees today, to be exact (yuck!)

Mother Nature is unpredictable, for sure ♥

Jenny said...

Good luck!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Been keeping you in my prayers!

We've had the same crazy weather here the past couple of weeks. It will be very cool and then turn... not warm... but HOT again.

We have a front going through today that should turn us cool again (it is that same front that is hopefully pushing the hurricane to seas).

Then the forecast is for heat to return. Ugh...

Lili said...

Sharon, You have so many delightful touches in that wonderful place of yours. How I adore the color combination of the table set with the depression glass. Your owl andirons, your aqua bottles, your perfectly baked dessert, I simply adore the look that extra 3 minutes gave it! Oh it must have been so hot to cook, you really inspire me. Stay safe, we'll soon be a lot cooler! ~Lili

Susan Freeman said...

Late August and early September weather continues to tease us here in Idaho too. I was thinking about flannel sheets too when suddenly more 90 degree weather came rushing back in. Sunday's high will be back in the 60's! I'm thinking of you and praying that Earl just decides to take a turn away from land and back out to sea!! Take care friend and be safe!

Susan and Bentley

Pom Pom said...

Hi Sharon!
I love the view out your window. Oh that water looks SO good to this Colorado lady!
Yum! The tea party was lovely, I'm sure. Round desserts always win the day.
We've had a taste of cool temps, too. Yesterday, I took one of my smaller classes on a brisk walk and they appreciated it so much. We often have very hot September days here in Denver, but I'm still going to put the flannel sheets on the bed.
I'm asking for my own copies of your books for Christmas. I'm so glad my local library supplies them so I could discover all that "happy"!
Smell the sea for me.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Sharon, my early morning visit with you is such a pleasure. Love the recipe and I feel so welcome when I visit your surroundings. Your love is similar to mine. Just wish I had installed a wood burning fire place instead of gas logs - but carried wood in for 25 years and just am not up to it now. Flannel sheets will go on in about a month :)
Good luck on your new lodging.
The picture of the chair with all the books piled around it "that's me".
Looks like my area.

Pondside said...

We're watching the storm as well and waiting for updates from family on the east coast.
I love this time between seasons - cool nights and warm days, just right for walking, baking or napping in the sunshine. Thanks for the recipe - with so much fruit on hand it's always nice to have something new to try.

Claus said...

Autumn does not exist in Guatemala, a country with tropical weather. I love tropical weather, and love the mix of sunshine and hot days with periods of rain (which we are having now, in excess I might add), but I would absolutely LOVE to have Autumn. I think there is something magical about the color-changing foliage, and - from pictures - ther is something in the air that makes it special. If I ever go to the USofA, I will go the New England area, during Autumn, to have a one in a life time experience :-)
Never heard of the name "stone fruit" before. I went on to do a little research (aka wikipedia :-D ) and now I now!! I learned something new today. Thank you very much. The cake looks wonderful! and the gifts are lovely.
have a wonderful day!!...hopefully less hot, and more Autumnal? :-)

Kristina said...

I'm afraid to admit that the minute September 1st hit, the feeling and look of autumn hit us here in Nebraska. The goldenrod and sunflowers are in full bloom, it's cooler, and the air has the golden shimmer of fall. Tuck up tight and be careful of that old Earl! Blessings to you!


Unknown said...

Mother Nature loves to keep us on our toes. We are on hold as we wait out " Earl" before returning to the cottage for the long weekend!
fingers crossed that the winds stay off shore! Now, your tea on the other hand looks divine and your nesting rituals warm the heart. even in this unusual heat. I wait for the coziness late summer early autumn brings all year.It's my favorite time. I love the rituals cottage life brings all through the summer and late fall seasons. In our little corner... we have one last beach event.. Kids Games! Picture kids 2-13 doing the old fashioned egg toss, three legged races and crab crawling to the finish line.
Stay snug!

Kay's flowers said...

Oh Sharon, I love your pink dishes! I have those same ones. The tart sounds wonderful and I will have to try it. I hope it cools down for you soon.


Elenka said...

Hi there. Just found your blog. I copied and pasted your recipe in my recipe folder, thank you.
We live in Maine year round and the heat has been mind boggling. Now watching for a hurricane. What's going on? :-)

Donna said...

Sharon, your stone fruit pie looks fantastic! I can see why you made a second one. Thankfully Earl passed by without causing any problems in our area as I had to drive from Boston to Portsmouth, NH and back again this evening!

I just love your owl andirons! They are so unique!

Yes, you'll definitely need to switch out those flannel sheets for a while - it is HOT again!!!

Enjoy the end of summer!


Carol said...

Good Morning Sharon, I hope you have power ... that Earl was kind to you. The heat will be gone now and you can put on those flannel sheets! I love your writings on the changes to autumn ... especially "I can hear the distant piping of the warblers and thrushes wending their way through the night skies." Your pie looks delicious ... what a lovely way to honor your friend Anne. ;>)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Friends,

Thank you for all your wonderful e-mails. We're fine now. Hurricane Earl swept through this area with wind, downpours, and huge waves, but that is all.

Sadly, many people pulled their boats out for the season because of Earl. So this final weekend will be missed by many. But we're all happy to be here and hope that others are not hurt by Earl. I'll have to check on Jodi at Blooming Writer to make sure she is ok.

Thanks again and soon I will have a wonderful announcement and give-away celebration.

Until then,


Anonymous said...

Well Earl missed us thank goodness... not even much rain here. I've collected a little depression glass and love the look of that table setting - all ready to enjoy that yummy looking desert... wow I must try making that. Fruit deserts are the best I think.
Thank you very much for the B day wishes too Sharon, I always love to hear from you and reading your blog is a comfort.

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

We heard tonight on the news that the US was basically spared but Nova Scotia suffered from Hurricane Earl. I enjoyed your thoughts on autumn. Until yesterday we were having record high temperatures but this morning it was barely 15C and very windy. I hope it evens out I have more to do in the garden. Your pie sounds delicious. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I wish I was going to the symposium but no not this year. I will one day I hope.

Esme said...

What a lovely blog-I will be back visiting again-I do love your jars and sherbet glasses.

Thank you for stopping by.

Lori ann said...

Dear Sharon,

coming by here for a visit is like meeting an dear old friend (old as in years not age! heehee)for a cup of tea and a chat.

I love this post and even though Autumn hasn't shown up as expected (still foggy on and off here! worse than heat, enough!)in your part of the world, i see you always make the best of every situation.

Thank you for sharing the yummy recipe and giving us a glimpse of what it's like to live in a little cottage on the lovely coast of Maine.

continue to enjoy your days my friend.

♥ lori

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i didn't mention it on the blog because i assumed everyone heard about it on the news. our temps went into the 40's and i ripped off my clothes and did cartwheels right down the middle of the street. it emptied the city. it is still cool here this morning and i have all the doors and windows open!!! the ketchup ingredients are simmering in the pot and i made 3 huge meat loaves yesterday so later today neighbors will get meatloaf, mashed potatoes and homemade ketchup. i am also making white bread so they can make meatloaf sandwiches tomorrow. this weather turns me into a cooking fool!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

ps....i am still getting rid of stuff. all of the things i've been picking up at thrift stores go to my son. i redo all of the stuff and then he sells it at consignment stores or holds yard sales. it gives him some extra coin. he is a starving artist. except, he isn't even close to starving and he is actually a musician. his allowance is larger than most peoples incomes. i guess it is just a good excuse for me to keep getting stuff.

Dan said...

Hi Sharon
Sounds like you've had a busy time with all that housework. The pie looks delicious! We've had a kind of Indian Summer here in the UK too, though nothing like the temperatures you guys have! Strange when the hedges and trees are beginning to show their Autumn colours, but the sun is still so warm! Best wishes for getting through Earl!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i am not surprised there were no pics with the NYTimes article! that would have taken a brave soul! you can experience the comfort food by seeing it on the blog! i will post it tomorrow! this is our last cool day and then it is back into the 80's.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sharon, what a wonderful post, and your home sounds so cozy. I haven't yet pulled out our fall things - winter lasts sooooo long here, and I'm trying to hang on to as much of summer as I can. :)
Thank you for your sweet visit - I laughed reading about how Thoreau was a wussy when he visited Maine. So funny!
Hugs and happy weekend to you & yours,

Robin Larkspur said...

Just found your blog, you are an least you are ahead of the game in some respects for when autumn really does arrive.I look forward to seeing more recipes, and reading your earlier posts.

Storybook Woods said...

Oh soo true one day it is 90, then next 60. Today is a very fall day. The recipe looks delish, thank you for sharing xoxo Clarice

Prerna said...

Hey Sharon,
You just took my heart with that banner photograph on your blog! It that place for real and do you actually live in that beautiful space?? :-)
I'm so glad you liked what I doing and thak you so much for the follow!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Prerna,

Yep, that little (and I do mean little, it is about 7 x 13) room is my studio in Maine. I feel so blessed and happy whenever I step foot in the door and look out onto the water, the birds, the squirrels, fox, everything. On the 4th of July there was a whale lolling out there too.

Thanks for the visit,