Monday, August 27, 2018

MFK Fisher's Gazpacho Salad

If it's still in the 90s in the daytime and 70s at night, it's still Summer and it's hot, I don't care how many Autumn pictures I see on Pinterest.

It's still aspic weather in the South and will be in my house as long as the hot weather lasts, although I've been known to serve tomato aspic on Christmas Eve.

I did one post on it at my other blog back in June but MFK Fisher helped me take my recipe to a whole new level when I made her Gazpacho Salad this week. 

It turns out that hers was just a fancier name for it and I guess that gazpacho salad does sound more gourmet than tomato aspic.

The recipe for the basic tomato aspic is back on my blog post here but I updated it with Fisher's recipe in Joan Reardon's delightful book on her called M. F. K. Fisher among the Pots and Pans.

I added 1 cup of beef consommé, 1 red sweet bell pepper diced, 1 sweet red onion, chopped, and 1 cucumber peeled and diced. And I added a couple of chopped jalapeños from my garden. All of these chopped vegetables were so good in the salad!

And I added a cup of chili sauce, something I saw somewhere, can't remember where, and thought would be good and was it ever! Extra spiciness!

I didn't make her dressing of 1 clove garlic mashed into 1/2 cup olive oil with salt and pepper because we love my own dressing of mayo with a little olive oil, lemon juice and snipped basil so much.

I know from emails on my other post that very few of you like aspics. But I stand with Julia Reed (I love her column in Garden & Gun) when she wrote in her cookbook Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties that we congeal everything in the South. 

Her mother once "had a four-day house party during which she served an almost exclusively gelatin-based menu...crabmeat mousse, a strawberry mousse, two kinds of tomato aspic, and a charlotte russe."

I would have been a happy member of that house party! 

Now I can just bet that no one is going to try the Gazpacho Salad recipe and I'll put money on not one of you trying the entree of our meal. But you might just like my dessert recipe, so stay with me, please.

Are you asking what in tarnation is that ugly entree? I never said I was a food stylist but believe it or not this was good.

On a slice of pumpernickel for each of us I spread avocado mashed with a little lemon juice, next I put on some good wild caught canned sardines, next went thin slices of cucumber with black pepper and a squirt of lemon juice and then I topped it off with jalapeño slices. 

And there was our dinner. I know that Poppy loves sardines, although hers are fresh caught ones from Crete. Anyone else out there like these protein packed little fish that have the same omega 3 that salmon does?

Enough of that, let's have dessert! What about pecan pie? 

That purple is just a sprig of Joe Pye Weed hanging over the pie from a vase on the table. 

Have you ever tried an Authentic Pecan Pie? One without nasty corn syrup in it? 

I've had this recipe for years and the clipping said it was by a Carolina cook. "And don't ever use corn syrup! That ruins the consistency. Authentic pecan pie is jelly-like, translucent with sparkle. Just start with a pound of brown sugar, then add three eggs, about two eggshells of milk, a big splash of vanilla, some salt, and a lot of pecans."

I baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Easiest pecan pie ever and you wouldn't believe the good flavor. I have several recipes for pecan pie but RH says this is his favorite. I only had a small piece of the pie and left the rest for RH, and he took a slice to Zack.

Besides, my favorite dessert is another serving of aspic. And I'll take fish and seafood any day for my protein rather than poultry or beef or pork. 

Maybe, just maybe, I've been influenced by MFK Fisher's thoughts in Serve It Forth.

For many old people, eating is the only pleasure left...And between gobbling down an indistinguishable mess of heavy meat and bread, or savouring a delicate broiled trout or an aspic full of subtle vegetable flavours, how few of us would choose the distressful insomnia that follows the first for the light easy rest of the second?

Okay, I really don't think of myself as old yet but I'm already finding that I sleep better after a supper of vegetable stuffed aspic and fish or seafood than red meat. Wild caught Alaskan salmon is usually my choice but I think that Rainbow or brook trout is my very favorite fish and I have an excellent recipe from Judith Jones for that. 

I wonder if RH would agree to trout and pecan pie for Thanksgiving Dinner? 

Oh, and thank you so much for ideas for using the copper gutter in the garden! I think that RH is now thinking about making it into a water fountain if he can find a pretty basin for the water to fall into.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Remembering Mr. Bradbury

Born August 22, 1920

In my later years, I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating.

Ray Bradbury
Bradbury Speaks

Friday, August 3, 2018

Old, Found, and Recycled in the Garden

Except for plants, pea gravel and sand, and the stepping stones, everything in our new garden is either old stuff, found stuff, or recycled stuff.

Even most of the plants were on sale as RH has an eagle eye for bargains. The Tennessee Crab Orchard flagstones were costly, our major purchase last summer and saved for this project.

I love this found lantern, one of two in our garden, this one is just hung from a metal plant holder. I guess we need battery candles for it but those haven't been found yet.

There were two of these hanging in the little barn when we moved here.

I was so happy when RH got them down and cleaned them up for the garden, one by the cupola weather vane that was recycled from a job at one of the major country music stars' house years ago...

and one lantern hanging in a sweet gum tree in the shady sitting area of the garden.

The white drain thingy was a discard at a job too and found its way home to me because every chain link fence needs jewelry.

But did you notice the rooster that sits back there, ready to crow?

In 1977 my husband drove to Chicago for a van load of cast stone fountains and garden pieces for his and his brother's garden center that they had bought from my father when he and my mother moved to Florida.

And when we moved back to Tennessee from Florida last year, his brother still had some pieces at his house and shared them with us, including the pineapple that sits by our front porch and almost all the clay pots in our garden, Italian pots and left over from the old garden center days. They were much needed as we had left all our pots at the old house in Nashville. 

I looked up the company in Chicago where RH bought our rooster over 40 years ago and found that they're still in business there, the Henri Studio, begun in the early 1960s by Eneri Prosperi who emigrated from Tuscany and became the world's leading name in cast stone fountains.

Here's a link to the business for anyone in the Chicago area.

And here's a picture I got from their website of the very same rooster that they still sell today, Rooster Provence in Trevia Greystone.

I love seeing our rooster sitting back in the garden on his perch topped with a travertine tile that we brought back from Florida.

When we sit there as the sun goes down, we're careful not to disturb him and he promised never to wake us up at dawn. 

Now I have a favor to ask you, well, two favors, please!

1. Can you give us some ideas for another found object that we'd like to use somewhere outside? A friend who has done the metal work for us for years had a beautiful sample 1/2 round copper gutter that he no longer displayed at his business and gave to RH. We'll take free copper anytime!

There's not only this large piece but an extension for the pipe and an elbow piece, all gorgeous heavy copper. What in the world can we do with it?

Any ideas? 

We did make use of the two beautiful copper brackets that came with it, using them not only to decorate the kitchen porch entrance but to give me something firm to hold on to while going up and down the steps.

And that blue will be painted either white or green when the kitchen porch is dressed up with an overhead pergola some day, I hope.

2. Most of you know about our son Zack and daughter-in-law Courtney now owning our old farmhouse and you saw pictures of their wedding there last September. But you may not know that Courtney has started an event venue business right there at the old farm.

And she has an Instagram page all about it!

If you enjoy Instagram, would you please visit her so you can see the charming pictures she takes? You might even spot one of me dancing with a handsome young man at their wedding!

Remember to watch for familiar sights from our days at what we called Valley View but that is now The Farmhouse, and her business Nashville Forest Farm.

Many of the pictures are of events held there and some of their own beautiful wedding, but there are plenty that show what a fabulous job she has done of imprinting her own unique young style in a home and garden that they love as much as we did, Courtney maybe even more than we did because she loves all things garden and farm. I expect that someday there will be a barnyard of animals who call her Mom.

Here's another link to her Instagram page...

And a link to the story that Nashville Bride Guide featured, with an event that was held there...

Thank you so much, dear friends, for your help!

And I finally managed to fix my blog so that your comments are sent to my email, which will make it so much easier to communicate with you. I even think I managed to fix a little problem that a few of you said prevented you from being able to leave comments. I hope so!

Happy gardening, everyone. We're still in the good ole summertime!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Anniversary Thoughts

Happy Anniversary, Mama!

And to Daddy, in heaven!

Even though they eventually settled in Nashville after World War II, Mama and Daddy weren't really big fans of hillbilly music, as country music was called then.

Mainly, they were products of the Big Band era. Glen Miller and Tommy Dorsey were to them as Elvis and the Beatles were to RH and me as young marrieds.

Mama knew the words to all the big band songs and sang them as she worked about the house in our new two bedroom, one bath home we moved to when I was four, not long before my little sister Deb was born.

I remember being in my pajamas one night staying up later than Deb, a baby in her crib. It was before we got our first television set but the radio was on, the one Mama listened to Stella Dallas and other soaps while ironing.

Music was playing, what I now know was swing music, and Mama and Daddy were dancing, to what I now know was the Jitterbug.

Mama was in a housedress and Daddy in casual slacks and a short sleeve button down shirt that he changed into from his suit after work each day.

Both were in their sock feet and they were having the best time dancing while I watched from the sofa. Daddy wasn't throwing Mama over his shoulder or anything fancy like that but darn if they weren't pretty good, I realize now. 

Mama's shoulder length black hair was bouncing and Daddy had his tongue stuck out through the corner of his mouth like he always did when he was concentrating.

When I remember this night of dancing, I realize that they were still in their early 20s and young, oh so young. 

And fun, lots of fun. This photograph taken while Mama and I were with him in Arcadia, Florida for his Primary Flying gives a hint to that.

We three are on the left, with their friends on the right, Air Force buddies and Christmas card friends all their lives.

I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood but this one, the night that my parents danced in the living room, is tops.

It was a grand night and I was their audience, at least until I was tucked into bed.

Happy Anniversary, Mama and Daddy!

P.S. Since Christine asked in the comments about that being wigs on our heads in the photograph or not, I thought I'd better clarify that it was Spanish moss from the live oak trees. Evidently it was abundant around the Homestead, Florida area where Daddy was stationed, but let's just hope there weren't bugs in it!