Saturday, July 21, 2018

Worth heating up the kitchen. . . . . . . . .

Baking days continue as Bob is still buying far too many blueberries. . . . . .
and they just don't keep long in this hot weather!

Good thing is muffins freeze so well. . . . . . . . and the neighbors love them too!
This week's batch were jumbo size, eight instead of twelve. I prefer these
because they seem more moist, and of course you get to eat more healthy
 blueberries. . . . . . . .and one is so filling you're not tempted to nick a second
 one and feel guilty!!!

Results from this never fail recipe I've shared before in posts HERE back in 2014
 and HERE  in 2016.

This post from a blog post waaaaay back in 2012 actually has the recipe
 if you want to try these yummy muffins. I now usually make one change, using
 half whole wheat flour rather than all white, they are delicious and less
 crumbly this way.  

Muffins are so easy to make and quick to bake.
Great for breakfast, lunch, even afternoon tea.

After carrot and raisin - my all-time favorite - these blues are next, then
 perhaps cranberry-orange, plus of course lemon-zucchini. . . . . . and
 I should be baking them soon with the usual summertime glut of zucchini

Do you have a favorite muffin?
Any muffin recipes to share?

Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Baking with fresh fruits. . . . . . . . .

Baked this easy galette yesterday as I needed to use up a remaining piecrust 
taking up space in the refrigerator.  Picked up a box of California plumcots------not
 pluots which are quite different------at LIDL, and found they did the job nicely in place
of traditional plums which were not available. 

As we all know by now, making a rustic, free form galette is a lot easier 
and more fun than a traditional pie. I've learned that baking on a sheet of 
parchment paper is best - with fruit it's almost impossible not to have
 juices leak out making it difficult to remove the pie which becomes stuck
to the baking sheet. This way just lift the galette with the parchment and
plonk it on a serving plate! I used my deep vintage pie pan which I love.

Here's a link to Plumcots interesting history. 
BTW, this is not a newfangled genetically engineered fruit which is good news!

Have you tried plumcots? 
Pass the crème frâiche, whipped cream or ice cream!
Do you enjoy baking, and of course eating, fresh fruit pies, tarts, galettes?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thanks to Italian kitchens. . . . . . . . . . .

No, not from my kitchen this time!
Sometimes you just want someone else to prep, cook and clean up, don't you?

A recent hot evening drew us out of the house. Our a/c was still on the
 blink upstairs and it was Hades in reverse with the temp. reading 90F.
 So, a quick drive over to Midtown where we allowed Mia Francesca's
 chefs to cook for us, and the great staff wait on us.
Loved every moment, and even came home with enough of my
 Pizza Napoletano for another day!

Bob of course had a chance to eat meat which he rarely gets at home!  
Must admit the bowl of spaghetti and meatballs looked fabulous. . . . . .he said
 it was, and gobbled the whole plateful. Fortunately we don't eat lunch!

Photos via iPhone

Monday, July 16, 2018

Not all is perfection. . . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . . in the summertime garden!

Still have some sunflowers blooming, mostly the smaller ones - this spray
 of flowers is actually on one main stem and is beautiful. . . . . . and still
intact today!

Deer enjoyed a late night dinner out on Saturday!  
Sunday morning brought a few choice words from me when I found they had
 attacked the sunflowers and left a trail of petals, seeds and broken heads 
around the front garden! You can see how thick and tough those large stems are,
  however something chewed right through them to get the flower heads to fall to
 the ground, where 'it' (or perhaps 'they') had a real feast.

I stuck the larger heads into the bench seat. . . . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . and noticed this young male cardinal enjoying breakfast today!

Note: only one of the two heads remaining - wonder if the deer returned in the 
night and dragged the other one away.

On another subject, the squirrels are busy and hungry in the heat and I saw this little
one yesterday scuffling around for seeds under the bird feeder. Couldn't get a good photo, 
but noticed it has a deformed left front paw - it's there but turned backward. The little one
 still manages to dig, eat, and jumped up on the birdbath for water, thankfully.

FYI:  The green leaves are also sunflowers - growing naturally from the seeds
 dropped by birds!

Another member of the family who enjoy our garden looks really healthy
and loves the suet feeder.  We try to use mostly non-melt suet cakes at this 
time of year - the regular ones are so messy to deal with in this intense heat.

As for this year's fig crop, not sure what's happening. Hundreds of little 
green fruits fell to the ground while we were up north, perhaps from lack
of water. Now they seem to be hanging on and perhaps there will be
some to pick later. . . . . . . but none are ripe yet.

As for chores such as weeding, sometimes a weed comes up in just the perfect place. 
Another thing to ponder upon for lack of anything more pressing in the heat of the
midday sun! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer Saturday. . . . . . . . . . .

Early this morning was perfect with almost cool temperatures. 
Now and then a tiny breeze rustled the outdoor flag but wasn't enough
 to play the wind chimes. 
Almost zero humidity is so special here in the south during the
 summertime and this morning we were gifted.
We enjoyed our coffee on the front porch, reading the newspaper, knowing 
how it will get hot later and we will be inside keeping busy until the evening.

I need to bake blueberry muffins - Bob bought far too many - and I'll
perhaps make a veggie pizza and cook on the grill as the sun goes down.
We do plan a quick shop at our local LIDL to pick up the veggies as I
also want to make that wonderful oven-roasted ratatouille recipe this 
weekend. I shared it with you last year and will do so again later.
Tiny new potatoes are hopefully still available as I love the looks of 
this easy peasy dish - from UK Country Living.

We don't have one of these!  Lucky you if you do.
I took this photo at our hotel recently and think it looks so cool!!!

Have a great time this weekend whatever you are doing.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The history of 'the Picnic'. . . . . . . .

'Picnic'. A word shrouded in mystery.
'Picnic' has also changed in meaning over the years.

Originally it was a group feast to which each member brought along a share
 of the food and drink. . . . . and it's doubtful they were held outdoors. 

Although the association of outdoor eating and the picnic is not yet 200 years old, 
records of meals eaten outside go back centuries. In those days al fresco eating
 wasn't necessarily organized with pleasure in mind. The majority of cases were
 travelers wending their way over rough roads and dirt tracks, carrying provisions
 with them, and there was no choice but to eat out in all types of weather!

I've yet to get my picnic basket out of storage this Summer.
The intense heat, and many house and garden chores requiring attention before we
 left on the trip north, left no time for preparing a portable meal. Time for languishing on
 a grassy country spot in sensible temperatures just never arrived.

Looking through this little treasure of a book, once again I'm feeling up for planning
 a real picnic. . . . . . . if not this coming week, perhaps the next when hopefully it will
 cool off a bit.  Driving out into the countryside will be more enjoyable, spreading a 
tablecloth on the grass less buggy, and popping open a nice chilled rosé while nibbling 
tasty morsels, a Summertime adventure.

Are you planning to picnic this Summer?
Do you have a special place you return to. . . . . . . . or just drive
 through the countryside until you find 'the perfect spot?'

Of course one can also plan a kind of makeshift 'picnic' at home if traveling is not possible.
We often eat al fresco no matter the weather by sitting in the gazebo in the back garden!
There are no sweeping vistas, rippling streams, ponds, lakes or rivers. . . . . . 
. . . . . just bird baths, and a little tinkling fountain. 
Massive old trees overhead, with patches of blue sky just visible here and there, 
offer cooling shade.
The overhead fan turns silently, stirring the humid southern air.
Now and then a breeze sweeps through and rustles the tablecloth, lifts a napkin. 
 The birds sing loudly, take a bath then preen on a branch.

Yes, come to think of it, perhaps the home picnic is one of the most enjoyable.
This weekend will be very hot, I think I'll get the basket out and pack a picnic
to enjoy right here.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Clouds and the journey home. . . . . . . . . .

I took these photos with my iPhone as we flew into Washington D.C.  
last Thursday evening. The flight from New Hampshire was smooth
 and the cloud formations just stunning.

The Pentagon and Potomac River

Northern Virginia 

Coming home from a trip, especially when flying is involved, is always
 full of nostalgia for me.  
Each time I land I give thanks for the safe passage, then, if necessary, 
as on that evening, I head to the next flight gate, or the lounge if time permits, 
and settle in for the layover. That evening our flight from Washington to
Raleigh was delayed 2 hours - crew problems - so a comfy lounge wait as
 dusk turned to night was manageable. Eventually, the last thanks for safe travel
 were given as familiar territory appeared below the wing, the landing was good,
 the bags appeared quickly, and the taxi took us home.

There's no place like home, is there?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Lakeside Independence Day. . . . . . . . .

Part of our afternoon was spent at lovely Lake Massabesic in Bob's hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire.
It was HOT - reaching 96F - with brilliant sunshine.
Because this is the drinking water for the city, there is no swimming, and 
only small boats are permitted on the water. 

Mommy duck with her babies - all were enjoying a swim along the
 shoreline where we were sitting enjoying an ice cream under a shady tree.

Flying home later today - from one hot spot to another. Actually, the heat has been even 
more intense here in New England and Eastern Canada than back in North Carolina
 these past 10 days!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day 2018. . . . . . . . .

The Lady of the Sea - New Hampshire Marine Memorial
Designed by Alice E. Cosgrove : 1909-1971

A memorial dedicated to all New Hampshire servicepersons
lost at sea due to warfare.
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire 
4th of July, 2018

Have a fabulous time today!
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