Life as I know It

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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Infinite Passion of Life

"A tavola non si invecchia."
"At the table, one never grows old."

Thank goodness, because we sure spend lots of time around tables enjoying food, friendship, great conversation, and traditions. I love every minute of our sharing stories and recipes. We try to gather together about once a month. Next time it will be at our house, so I'll have the helping hands of both Jeff and John Gonyer; they say they'll be my sous chefs. I'll need them.

The table holds a bowl of freshly harvested persimmons and pomegranates. Mother Nature creates the best decorations. A line of candles and persimmons parade down the center of the table.

Bonny, Lucy, and Cindy exchange family stories.

Cindy and our ever faithful hostess Susie Bassetti gripe about me taking a photo of them. I want you to know that these women are fantastic, creative, and loving. Susie and I have taught classes together; she once made all the wreaths for Heart's Ease, and she continues on as a beloved friend.

Left to right: Lee, our host Ellis (whose family has owned the ranch over 100 years), Buck Beery, my Jeff, and John Gonyer. The boys huddle outside in the herb garden and watch the food cooking.

This is our friend Bruce Black, who owns The Squibb House Bed and Breakfast and the Shop Next Door, the old barn next to the Squibb House. Bruce keeps the barn filled with antiques, art, and Amish furniture.

I think pot luck suppers are one of the best ways to learn about new foods. What you're seeing here is Ellis holding a glass of his own Bassetti Vineyards wine. They are also famous for their award winning Taggiasca olive oil, which is smooth and buttery. The tray to the right holds freshly picked poblanos stuffed with jack cheese, and grilled. My yellow Le Creuset is filled with wild and basmati rice, crimini mushrooms, which I cooked for an hour in a reduction sauce, and topped with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. We had ham, two chickens roasted in the wood-fired oven, baked pumpkin from the Kendall's Dos Pasos Ranch on Santa Rosa Creek Road, and a big salad of chopped brussel sprouts, kale, and lettuce. It was all divine, but it was just being there with friends that made it taste so great.

I promised Susie that I'd edit her out of this photo. This is our dear friend Virginia, who is also our neighbor in Maine. Ginny has helped me through some difficult times; she is one in a million and irreplaceable to us.

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life."
Federico Fellini

That is how it is...the infinite passion of life. Friends are the glue that mends broken hearts.

May you have many friends and feasts around your table.

Love across the miles,


Recipe for my wild rice and crimini mushroom casserole:

Two cups of wild and basmati rice
Four cups of chicken broth
Tbsp. of butter and Tbsp. of olive oil

Bring to boil in a heavy duty pot. Turn down when it comes to boil. Lid the pot. Cook on low for about 20 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Use a fork to fluff the rice. 

While rice is cooking:

Clean and dry flavorful crimini mushrooms (I used 12 ounces) and slice thinly.
Chop shallots, carrots, and celery into tiny pieces.
Grate 2 cups fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Heat a heavy duty skillet, add Tbsp. of olive oil, Tbsp. of butter, mushrooms, and veggies. Stir constantly, slowly add a few Tbsp. of good balsamic vinegar (see my recipe below), a splash of soy sauce, and simmer it until it is reduced down to what looks like a brown glaze coating mushrooms.

Since I can't justify spending $50.00 on a good, syrupy balsamic, I make my own.

1 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Mix the sugar and vinegar together and cook in a heavy duty saucepan over high heat. Stir and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook (stirring occasionally) until mixture thickens to the consistency of maple syrup. I keep this reduction in a jam jar in the fridge. It will last a few weeks.

Add mushrooms, celery, shallots, and carrots to the cooked rice. Stir in one cup of freshly grated Parmesan. Top casserole with one cup of grated Parmesan. Bake in about a 350 degree oven until the cheese melts. 


Julie Marie said...

Oh Sharon, what a beautiful post... love seeing all of your family and friends and your special times together... also love that you shared your recipe for the rice, I was going to email you and ask for it... how is little Luke? prayers that he is well and now at home... much love to you, xoxo Julie Marie

MandaBurms FarmStay for Cats. said...

Sharon what a beautiful post! So true best friends make ones life so rich.
Lots of love Leanne from New Zealand. XX

Thea said...

you know how most people say it's best to eat to live? in this case, it's definitely aokay to live to eat! tanx for the recipe! xo t

Vee said...

Whenever you start talking about food, I'm transported. What is this? A syrupy balsamic vinegar? Sounds heavenly and since I'm even more like you than you, I'd like to make my own as well. I'm going to try it. Today. In the meantime, our supper consists of venison made into a crockpot chili. Now doesn't that sound like low food? Yours sounds like food fit for the gods. I really enjoy your thoughts on friendship and hospitality. Simply wonderful!

Debs said...

Thank you for a wonderful peek into your magic world!

Love you!
Debs...still up the creek!

From the Kitchen said...

We love gathering around a table with family and friends. I agree that potluck is a great way to go. After all, I am a child of the south. My European-born husband took a long time to warm up to the idea of bringing (or taking) food for a meal. The recipe sounds delicious.


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Debs honey,

Did you identify your visiting bird???



Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Oh, my!~ This is my kind of a party.

It reminds me of why I developed a love of cooking when I was young... food and fellowship.

My Le'Cruset dutch oven is ancient and red. I love it.

La Table De Nana said...

Lovely post..that warm hug and candlelight say it all.
Happy Holidays to you~

Dawn said...

Hi Sharon!! I've missed you and your posts.
This felt so warm and intimate, just like being there with you all. Wonderful.
Lots of love to's getting cold here, and we had snowfall today.

Terra said...

Love the quotes and the party atmosphere. Friends, food, decor, yum.

Pat said...

Having just spent the better part of today with close quilting friends and I couldn't agree more1
Your post is a testament to the strength and love of family and friends.

And by the way - all that food had me needing a bib to wear as I read!

Lili said...

Coming to catch up and enjoy all of your posts that I have been missing. You are so right always using what Mother Nature gives us for decor, it always inspires me to see how you do that! What a lovely time, I can feel the warmth and love from these photos. xo

Pondside said...

What a wonderful evening it must have been! After an autumn full of travel you must be very happy to be home where you can light a fire, pour wine, cook something delicious and gather good friends. It just doesn't get better than that.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Thanks for sharing your friends and dinner with us.;>) xxoo Nancy

Nellie said...

Sharon, I absolutely love everything about this post! While I am truly happy living in East Tennessee, it must be amazing to be able to have such treasures available as you have in California! Thank you for the recipes and wonderful ideas!

We continue to enjoy the book that came my way from your giveaway! Thank you again.

Sharon Lovejoy said...


So happy you're still enjoying your book, which reminds me that IT IS TIME for me to do another good give-away. I'll do it on my next posting.



Susan said...

First, I appreciate the recipe--sounds wonderful and it will be a lovely addition to brighten our holiday table. I agree that it's heartwarming to have friends to share holidays with, just as well as our family! Love to you across the miles, dear friend, XOXO

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love that last pic of Lee and Lucy - really does capture everything about wonderful times spent around the Bassetti table with friends, something I'm thankful for every day. xo

SandyCarlson said...

Your surname is the spirit of your beautiful blog.

Zuzana said...

Dear Sharon, your posts always speak of so much love, companionship and friendship.;) Love all the quotes through out this post and the images complement your words so eloquently.;)
Have a lovely week ahead,

LindyLouMac said...

That table looks so welcoming. :)

Celestina Marie said...

Hi Sharon, So nice to meet you and visit you lovely blog. I so enjoyed this post of friendships and love around the table. This is how I was raised. We were kitchen people around the table talking, eating and making memories. Thank you for sharing.

I also so enjoyed your post below with the sweet little hummingbird. So precious and so loving. This little one will go on to have a wonderful life.

Thank you for stopping by and your kind comment.
Blessings, Celestina Marie

Vicki Boster said...

Sharon-- you simply cannot place a value on friends and the memories that are made with friends. Your table is a beautiful setting for making lasting memories amongst dear friends-- truly a special place for visits and dinner. Cherish these special times--

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! Had to laugh when I saw your pretty yellow Le Creuset dutch oven. I started married life with a set of these, and my teenage daughter (over 20 years ago) managed to remove all the porcelain from the interior along with some severely burned potatoes. We still laugh. Beth

Sharon Lovejoy said...


I found out the hard way that Le Creuset has a LIFETIME WARRANTY. I had just disposed of a ruined set, (Long story), when I stopped at a Le Creuset outlet up in Northern California. When I mentioned the sad loss of my pots the saleswoman said, "You should have brought them in here. We replace them for free!"

Reminds me of Clark's shoes. They replace them and their purses for free. How can you not love a company that is that dedicated?