Summer Bounty

OK, so I know I tell you guys about my farmer’s market outings all the time, but I just can’t help sharing one more.  There is so much color and vibrance in the produce – and the people – and I simply love to photograph the goings on.  Now, in the height of the growing season here in Georgia, there is so much variety in the produce that it makes for a lovely sight.  Enjoy!

Also, if you’ve joined me on Instagram, you know that I have an overabundance of blueberries… Suggestions?

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Hydrangeas

Aren’t those pretty?  I love hydrangeas, and I was so happy when my started blooming this year.  Apparently I don’t have the healthiest soil around since mine vary in color from palest blue to a bright magenta, but hey, I’ll take it.  Thank goodness they bloom profusely or mine would be naked since I keep bringing them indoors.  I hope you all have as lovely a view somewhere in your house or yard.  Which plants can’t you resist bringing inside?

Sweet and Savory Kale

I made this for the second time in 10 days just so I could show it to you.  I mean, that’s just the kind of person I am, you know?  I took this one for the team, but don’t get used to it or anything.  Just kidding, dear readers – I would have made it again with or without you. It was that good.  Actually, I have a confession regarding this one:  I’ve never had kale before this.  I know.  I can’t believe it either.

I know kale is having a moment right now, but I’ve always heard how bitter it is, and you have to cook it just so to enjoy it… and on and on and on.  Aside from all that, though, we already like greens around here.  I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that I could serve only cooked greens to my husband for every meal and he’d be OK with that – we love collards, and spinach, and turnip greens and we eat them regularly, so I never saw the need to pick kale during my shopping.  So what changed, you ask?  Well, I sent Jacob to the store for salad – like spring mix, folks – and he bought me this.  So I really had no choice but to cook it for dinner.  And since I had no reliable recipe to fall back on, I just used the one on the back of the bag.  And guys?  We loved  it.  It’s basically just cooked down with a sort of semi-vinaigrette (I say semi because you use some chicken stock, and I’d never put that in a vinaigrette) and that’s it.  I’ll probably make this one regularly with additions or subtractions as I have the time and/or inclination to play with it, but this one is definitely going to be a staple in our house, and I hope you’ll give it a try too.

 

SWEET AND SAVORY KALE

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion-chopped
3 cloves garlic-minced
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 ¼ cups chicken broth
1 lb bag of kale greens

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion softens stirring often about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, sugar, cider vinegar and chicken stock. Bring to a boil on high heat. Add kale, cover, and cook about 15 minutes stirring often. When liquid is reduced by about half and greens are tender, serve and enjoy.

*The recipe also had the option to add 1/3 cup dried cranberries for the last 10 minutes of cooking and then sprinkle with sliced almonds when served, which I omitted due to the preference of my guest, but I’ll definitely give that a try next time.

Hustle and Bustle

It’s been pretty quiet – on the blog front at least.  I haven’t updated you in a couple of weeks, but trust me when I say it’s not because there hasn’t been anything going on.  It seems like I’ve been running hither, thither, and yon (as my mother says) for the past month.  I have a wonderful pinterest project to share with you, and a couple of recipes that you simply must hear about, as well as some other odds and ends to share, but in the meantime I’ll tease you with some photos of my various goings-on of the past few weeks.

 

There was some more of this:

Lots of this:

And all kinds of this:

 

In a nutshell: motorcycles, dogs chasing things, and lots of plants popping up all over my yard.  More later!

Just a little reminder…

How do you feel about your job?  I love mine.  I work for one of the most well known organizations in the world – you may have heard of the American Red Cross?  Most everyone knows that the Red Cross provides disaster relief services and I’m willing to bet that at some point in your life you’ve been to one of those First Aid/CPR certification classes, or maybe the Lifeguard training, but the main thing that you probably associate with the ARC is the blood donation drives.  I’m just going to step up onto my little soapbox for one moment – I know, I know – no one wants to be preached to over their morning blog browsing – but just indulge me for one teeny tiny second.  I actually work for the ARC’s Biomedical Services – basically, I test blood products for transfusion.  And as the person who takes an order from a hospital and then has to go search for the product that could save someone’s life, I’m begging you to give me something to work with.  During the summer months donations usually drop significantly due to school being out – colleges and high schools hold lots of blood drives – and vacation travels can interfere in regular donor schedules, but for some reason this year we’ve been more affected than usual.  The ARC has many resources – you can find out pretty much anything you need to know about blood here, and here you can see if you’re eligible to donate. Please, please, please if you’ve got some free time (donating usually takes about an hour) stop at a Blood Mobile, or make an appointment to donate.

OK, I’m off the soapbox now – thanks for hearing me out!  I hope you’re all enjoying your summer and not melting in this heat – it’s 90° today where I am, but with the humidity it feels more like 110°.  I found this photo I took back in March when it was lovely and cool outside. Oh for the good old days of spring.

blackberry upside down cake

For such a plain little cake, this was quite delicious.  Not too sweet, not really very cakey…the crumb was very light and the berries perfectly juicy and tangy.  This actually made an awesome breakfast, and if served as a dessert would need a little something to dress it up – like vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

As cakes go it was pretty simple too.  I kept the dirty dishes to a minimum, and it baked up in no time.  You just lay the blackberries out in the bottom of a lined cake pan, and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Then mix up the batter, pour on top, and  bake for about thirty minutes.

I brought this to work for my coworkers, and they sure seemed to like it – I only had one little slice left to bring home to Jacob.  I plan to make this cake several more times, especially once I can start getting fresh picked blackberries – it’s a perfect summer treat since it bakes so quickly.

blackberry upside down cake

from epicurious.  I didn’t change a thing.

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • Accompaniment: vanilla ice cream
  • Special equipment: parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Line bottom of a buttered 8- by 2-inch round cake pan with 2 rounds of parchment paper, then butter parchment. Dust pan with some flour, knocking out excess.

Arrange blackberries in 1 layer in cake pan. Sprinkle berries with 11/2 tablespoons sugar and shake pan to help distribute sugar.

Whisk together 1 cup flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix at low speed until just incorporated. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 batches, mixing at low speed until just incorporated.

Spoon batter evenly over berries, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven until top is golden and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edge of pan, then invert a large plate over pan and, using pot holders to hold plate and pan together tightly, flip cake onto plate. Peel off parchment and serve cake with ice cream.