Friday, August 31, 2012

Loving the Limelight

Hydrangeas are extremely vigorous, long lived shrubs. 

They offer extravagant blooms from summer into fall.

These are my new babies, photographed in the evening.

Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

She Called for Pie . . .

I made this strawberry rhubarb pie because my good friend Susan at From Beyond My Kitchen Window came to vist us in Maine for a few days, and I know she enjoys my pies.  And good company is the perfect excuse to bake a pie!

We had such a good time touring around Portland, walking around the Old Port, Munjoy Hill, the Western Promenade, visiting a farmer's market, a fish market and a few other sites. 

Would you believe I saw a pie at the farmers market for $20.00 . . . who would pay that?!?!?

We always have lots of laughs! We've been laughing since we met as teenagers (just a few short years ago  . . . )!!!  My husband has a very dry, wicked sense of humor, and he kept us laughing too!  Of course Duke just adores his girlfriend, he loves it when she comes to visit!

So, I'm thinking of entering this pie in a contest, what do you think?  

1 pie crust - home made or store bought

  • 4 cups of rhubarb
  • 2 cups of strawberries
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons flour 
  • 2 pats of butter (broken up and sprinkled around the top)
  • 1 egg

  • Place bottom crust in the pie plate
  • Place fruit in pie plate
  • Mix sugar, cinnamon and flour together and sprinkle over top (I like to give the mix a little stir with a fork after I sprinkle it on top)
  • Add the butter (you don't need the butter, it just makes the juice velvety) 
  • Weave your lattice top, crimp the edges and place strawberry cutouts around the edge.  I used a strawberry cutter.
  • Beat the egg into submission, then give the lattice a light egg wash to get that golden look.

Bake at 400 degrees for 60 minutes in a pre-heated oven!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday & Boeuf Bourguignon

Four favorite Julia cookbooks from my collection
Today would be Julia Child's 100th birthday, she is by far my all time favorite's chef!  She literally wrote the book on cooking ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

One of my signed books from 1996
I am "triple lucky"  - is that possible?  I was lucky enough to meet Julia at a book signing many years ago where she signed my cookbooks, and all I remember is how sweet and how kind she was to me!

A few Julia books in my kitchen bookcase
Below is Julia's most famous recipe, and I have to tell you, it's easy, easy, easy to make!  I've made it several times!  I hope you enjoy it!

Add caption
The ingredients and directions make this recipe look daunting, it's not!

6 ounces of bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef (cut into 2-inch cubes)
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 carrot (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
3 cups full-bodied young red wine (like chianti)
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ teaspoon thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
18 – 24 small white onions (brown-braised in stock) (I buy the frozen pearl and let them defrost)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms (sautéed in butter)
parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon and cut in sticks, 1/4 inch thick. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Sauté the bacon in olive oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown slightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set pot aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels, it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and onion. Pour out the fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the pot and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set pot uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. Remove pot, and turn oven down to 325F.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the pot and set in lover third of oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is sone when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the bee and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Serve immediately.

Two Years Ago
Here's a post I wrote about My favorite cook, Julia! when I first started blogging, what I loved most about going back and reading this post, are all the lovely comments from my friends!  

I continue to appreciate each of you, more than you know, and I look forward to continued friendship!  XO

Monday, August 13, 2012

Life at the Beach

North Atlantic Ocean - Schoodic Point, Arcadia National Park

At the beach, life is different.  Time doesn’t move hour to hour 
but mood to moment. We live by the currents, 
plan by the tides, and follow the sun.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Heavy Heart

Kary's favorite Vermont Farmhouse

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.  Sadly, our friend Kary from My Farmhouse Kitchen passed away on Saturday, July 28th from chemotherapy complications; she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer last Fall.

I've tried to capture the essence of this wonderful woman and our friendship, I know I do not do her justice, I'm not a writer, I'm simply a friend, who misses her friend.

Kary and I became friends just over two years ago.  My very good friend Susan at From Beyond My Kitchen Window recommended that I visit Kary’s blog.  I was new to the blogging world and Susan knew all the best blogs to visit.  When I visited Kary’s blog she had posted First Apple Pie of the Season.  Many of you know how I love to make pies, but when I saw her pie I thought it was stunning! The crust, the latticework, the crimping, the fluting ~ all amazing!  I recall emailing her and telling her about my family’s “Pie Day” tradition and we became fast friends.  By the end of the month with Susan’s encouragement I was blogging!

Kary's Apple Pie
Kary and I continued to email back and forth daily.  We chatted about everyday stuff, current events, and what we were making for dinner!  More often than not, we discovered that our dinner menus were the same, we thought that was so funny.  How I already miss those emails.

We felt like we were kindred spirits, she on the west coast, me on the east coast.  Our names Kary/Mary, both born in June of the same year, me just 24 days older.   Our husbands John/Ron, both born in December.  Our dogs Teddy/Duke a poodle and a cockapoo.  

Much Loved Cookbooks
We shared a love of our families, cooking and cookbooks - the older the better. We loved tried and true family recipes and traditions; we enjoyed gardening, oh how she love planting her corn; we enjoyed baking and loved our pets.  

The Three Amigos, Whisky Sour, Teddy & Dande
Kary also had two lovely kitty’s, Whisky Sour & Dande (Dandelion), in addition to her beloved Teddy.  On Tuesday I began reading Kary's blog on from the beginning, there is so much warmth in her words.  I came to her early post about the rug with the squirrel, I know how much she loved it, and how much she liked squirrels, birds and all animals in general.  She even had a wood stove that was a called a squirrel stove because it had squirrels on the sides!

This past Tuesday night I dreamt about the rug . . . I got up at 5:30 because we had to go to Massachusetts and we wanted to leave Maine early.  I opened the front door to the porch and saw something I never see - a squirrel was walking down the sidewalk, stopped at the top of my walkway, paused, looked at me, and then went on.  All I could think of was Kary, so I said "Hi Kary" my eyes welled up, and then the little squirrel went on it's way . . . 

Kary was genuinely kind, she reached out to many people all over the world.  She corresponded with people in the US, Canada & Europe, and oh how much she loved my beloved New England.  If someone needed an encouraging word, she was there for him or her.  When my own mom passed away last September, Kary sent me a lovely card and would email me to check in with me.  She knew how I felt, her own mom had passed a few years earlier.  It was shortly after that when her problems began.

Little Teddy, her best friend

She thought about writing a post about what was going on with her.  She asked me what I thought, and I suggested that she write about it when it was all behind her . . . she liked that idea, because she didn’t want people feeling bad for her – now my heart and countless other hearts ache because she left us so suddenly. 

I had a bad feeling when I hadn’t heard back from Kary, so I contacted her good friend of 20+ years, Julie Whitmore.  When Julie told me that Kary had passed away the night before I wept.  Julie posted about Kary this past Thursday, if you can, please visit her post Good Night Beloved Friend to leave a comforting comment.  I can’t imagine how Julie feels. 

Kary had this lovely poem on her blog sidebar . . .  I wish we had talked about it.

The Night Will Never Stay
-Eleanor Farjeon

the night will never stay, 
the night will still go by, 
though with a million stars 
you pin it to the sky; 
though you bind it with 
the blowing wind, 
and buckle it with the moon, 
the night will slip away 
like sorrow or a tune.

Kary in Maine
Our friend Kary is survived by her loving husband, her adorable pets, her family and her many, many friends – old and new.  

Rest in Peace my sweet friend.
Mary & Dukeums