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.
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.
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.