Summers, past & present

I grew up in the deep, deep South. Summers–and most of the year–were filled with thick, suffocatingly hot days and the nights were only marginally cooler, sometimes. I was a kid, I didn’t notice. There was a pool to cool off in or a popsicle or ice cream to eat; and, there was fun to be had. Most of my summer breaks included weeks on end at my grandparents house in a tiny town in Louisiana called Mt. Hermon. My mom had grown up there; my grandparents owned a farm–it was my grandfather’s family dairy farm. The summers were, at least in my 41-year old memory, idyllic. Rolling farm land, big sweeping magnolia trees that provided welcome shade to the swing sets sitting beneath their branches, a pool where all the grandkids would spend hours, and the noise of the ice cream churn in the background. It was wonderful and, I know, it was so very hot, but, I didn’t care. Continue reading

Little bit of cheesy southern love

Living in Louisiana and Alabama, I could always find a decent pimento cheese in any grocery store, big or small. When I made my way to Rhode Island, then all the way across the country to Seattle, it was just about impossible to find. Most people, I’m pretty sure, don’t really have the slightest idea what it is and why you’re asking for it. But, I love the stuff. I used to slather it, quite liberally, between two soft slices of white sandwich bread or just eat it out the container with Ritz crackers. The kind you bought was made with processed American cheese, neon orange and tangy. The stuff you make is much better–I don’t make it too often because it’s not exactly health food and I would eat it everyday, seriously. That would not be the wisest decision; but, every so often, it’s a tasty little treat to make and share.  Continue reading

Hot day, cold drink

Wow, it’s warm in Seattle this week! Now, this doesn’t happen that often, and the Southerner in me laughs at the idea that this is hot but…it’s 92 degrees and we DON’T HAVE AIR-CONDITIONING, only a couple of fans. Yes, it’s not humid and the temperature will cool down late at night, allowing me to sleep. But, while I’m awake, the sun is shining, it is hot. Continue reading

Good for your eyes & appetite

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Summer in Seattle this year has been a little grayer and wetter than the last couple of years–still, on those blue sky-kind of days, it’s one of the loveliest places to be. This week is starting cool and rainy and ending (supposedly) with heat and sun. So, I’ve planned our meals accordingly. Tonight, dinner will be cooked in the oven and towards the end of the week, we’ll have a cold soba salad. The one exception, of course, is pizza Friday…unless we go to one of our favorite pizza places for dinner. Hmm, a plan is forming. Continue reading

Love & Cocktails

Skip and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary last week in Big Sky, Montana. I was there for work and he joined me mid-week to celebrate our anniversary with a visit to Yellowstone and a delicious dinner at the Rainbow Ranch Lodge. This was my first trip to Montana and to Yellowstone; it was warm, sunny, and breathtaking. We only saw a tiny portion, mostly the geyser basin, of the park but it was enough to make me want to go back! The highlight of that visit was, by far, the Grand Prismatic Pools—you need to see these, and please, for the love of God, follow the rules and stay on the walk way. Seriously.

When we got married, we tried to do lots of little things that made our wedding reflective of who we are and what mattered to us. Skip’s ‘best man’ was his close friend, Katy; my ‘maid of honor’ was my man of honor, my oldest nephew, Wes. Our ring bearer was our beloved border collie, Oliver, who even wore a tie to the ceremony. Our wedding favors were cookie versions of a fungus plush toy from Giant Microbes made by my talented friend, Lori Trammel; the actual toy was from our engagement and served as our ring pillow. There’s a whole story behind that little fuzzy fungus that I’ll tell you one day! Our close friend, Chris, performed the ceremony.

Our cake topper comprised two handmade figurines–Oliver with a top hat and bowtie and Cricket, my little calico, wearing a veil and daisies. Cricket, unlike Oliver, was not known for her people skills and would not  have enjoyed being at the party for real but she, of course, needed to be part of it! And, two good friends, Elizabeth Lowry and Nathan Yee, were our photographers. Friends and family from all over the country joined us to laugh (lots of laughter), cry, and celebrate. Oh, it was wonderful!

We had a cocktail hour before (& after, of course) the ceremony so that our wonderful guests would have a cocktail in hand while we said our vows. The bride’s cocktail was a basil gimlet and the groom’s cocktail was a take on a Manhattan—guess this was sort of our version of a ‘wedding cake’ and a ‘groom’s cake’. These cocktails put a smile on my face when I make them and remind of the day I put on a fancy dress, had a crazy fancy party, and married my best friend.

The Bride’s Cocktail: Basil Gimlet
Tools & Extras:
Boston shaker, coupe glass

2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Basil simple syrup*
1 oz. Lime juice
Basil leaf

Details:

  • Add everything but the basil leaf to a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill with ice & shake for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass & garnish with a basil leaf.

*Basil simple syrup: Mix 1 C granulated sugar with 1 C water; boil to dissolve the sugar. Once the the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and lightly crush 10-12 basil leaves and add to the syrup. Steep for 10 minutes; strain into a clean jar and store in the refrigerator for 1 month.

The Groom’s Cocktail: Manhattan, Sort of but not really
Tools & Extras:
Cocktail mixing glass, bar spoon, old fashion glass, ice ball or large chunk of ice 

1.5 oz. Rye Whiskey
1.5 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
Dash Orange bitters
Orange rind & brandied cherry

Details:

  • Add everything but the orange rind & brandied cherry to a cocktail mixing glass.
  • Fill with ice & stir for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled old fashion glass with an ice ball & garnish with a orange rind & cherry.