Archive for July, 2014

AA.MO3Over the weekend I did some exploration of my new environs – the area around Kansas City, MO. I took a drive about 60 minutes west of KC to the town of Higginsville, MO – home of Missouri’s Confederate Memorial State Historic Site.

About Missouri’s Confederate Memorial State Historic Site: “Step on to the peaceful grounds of Confederate Memorial State Historic Site and experience where the last voices of the “Lost Cause” lingered. The site was once home to the Confederate Soldiers Home of Missouri, which provided comfort and refuge to 1,600 Civil War veterans and their families for nearly 60 years. Today, visitors can visit the restored chapel and the Confederate cemetery, as well as three other historic buildings. Visitors will learn about the Confederate Home and the role it played in post-Civil War Missouri. The site’s 135 acres include numerous lakes to fish in as well as walking trails and places to picnic.”

It was a beautiful day and the park was the perfect place to spend the afternoon. As a history buff I was interested in touring the confederate veterans’ cemetery (something I am pretty sure we don’t have in New Hampshire) and then I went for a long walk along the park’s winding trails.  The Confederate Memorial State Historic Site is a great place for a picnic or just relaxing with a good book on a summer’s afternoon.

These are some of the pictures I took of the Confederate Veterans’ Cemetery in the park (click on the thumbnail below to see the full picture).

Missouri’s Confederate Memorial State Historic Site is located 60 miles east of Kansas City in Higginsville, MO.

BPSWe are getting into the height of the produce season at the local farmers markets. I have seen a ton of potatoes showing up – mostly the smaller varieties that are perfect for roasting on the grill.

However, I have found a great recipe for the baby potatoes that are showing up at the markets – this recipe for Baby Potato Salad I found in Bon Appetit magazine.

This recipe is a nice twist on the usual potato salads we tend to like this time of year. I made this with two varieties of baby potatoes – red and white – and it made for a nice looking salad in addition to a great tasting potato salad. And the best part is by using small potatoes there is less peeling and cutting – making this a super easy recipe to follow. Make ahead and keep chilled.

Fine the recipe for Baby Potato Salad from Bon Appetit here.

See all the great culinary finds from Bon Appetit here.

sandsWell there is no question that summer is in full swing and it is the perfect time to splurge on ice cream. You have many choices when it comes to ice cream, and hauling your cookies all the way to Portland, OR (if you are not nearby) may seem crazy just for a taste – but thankfully the fine folks at Salt & Straw will bring the good stuff to you.

About Salt & Straw: “We’re Salt & Straw, Portland’s farm-to-cone ice cream shop. Our ice cream is handmade in small-batches using only all-natural dairy with the best local, sustainable and organic ingredients Oregon has to offer, as well as imported flavors from small, handpicked farms and producers around the world. We start with fresh, local, all-natural cream from family owned farms in the Willamette Valley. Our ice cream is made with 17% butterfat, very little air in the churn process, and a low sweetness level…so the flavors can really shine through!”

Be sure to try Salt & Straw’s Double Fold Singing Dog Vanilla.

About Salt & Straw’s Double Fold Singing Dog Vanilla: “This ice cream is called ‘double fold’ because our friends at Singing Dog Vanilla in Eugene, Oregon use twice as many vanilla beans when making it! They also work with growers in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to find the very best organic vanilla, pay the farmers a fair price, and share a percentage of profits when the final products sell. They call it Fair Trade Plus+ and it’s tasty enough to cause the Wall Street Journal to name it ‘the new standard to beat’!”

Salt & Straw is located at 2035 NE Alberta St in the great city of Portland, OR.

FF: Into the wild – Journey into the world of Peter Beard

PBWI love the books of Taschen, they are so well made and are not only usually about great artists, their books themselves are works of art. Case in point, the wonderful anthology of the work of photography Peter Beard: Into the wild – Journey into the world of Peter Beard.

About Into the wild – Journey into the world of Peter Beard: Into the wild: Journey into the world of Peter Beard Photographer, collector, diarist, and writer of books Peter Beard has fashioned his life into a work of art; the illustrated diaries he kept from a young age evolved into a serious career as an artist and earned him a central position in the international art world. He was painted by Francis Bacon and painted on by Salvador Dalí, he made diaries with Andy Warhol and toured with Truman Capote and the Rolling Stones—all of whom are brought to life, literally and figuratively, in his work. As a fashion photographer, he took Vogue stars like Veruschka to Africa and brought new ones—most notably Iman—back to the U.S. with him. After spending time in Kenya and striking up a friendship with the author Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) in the early 1960s, Beard bought a piece of land near hers. He witnessed the dawn of Kenya’s population explosion, which challenged finite resources and stressed animal populations—including the starving elephants of Tsavo dying by the tens of thousands in a wasteland of eaten trees. So he documented what he saw—with diaries, photographs, and collages.”

Into the wild – Journey into the world of Peter Beard is available for Amazon and other fine booksellers.

FF: Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out by Marc Ecko

eckoDesigner Marc Ecko knows a little something about branding. In his wonderful book, Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out, Mr. Ecko tells his own story and shares how artists can carve out a personal brand that is not just about commerce.

About Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out by Marc Ecko: “As instructive as it is innovative, Unlabel will empower you to channel your creativity, find the courage to defy convention, and summon the confidence to act and compete in any environment. This visual blueprint will teach you how to grow both creatively and commercially by testing your personal brand against the principles of the Authenticity Formula. Marc Ecko shares the bruising mistakes and remarkable triumphs that reveal the truth behind his success, growing from a misfit kid airbrushing T-shirts in his parents’ garage to the bold creator of two hugely successful branded platforms—Ecko Unltd. and Complex Media. As Ecko explains, it’s not enough to simply merge your inner artist with business savvy, you must understand the anatomy of a brand, starting with its authentic spine. With Unlabel, you will learn how to discover your own voice by overcoming fear and taking action, what it means to deliver on your promises, why failure is essential, how to understand how your product or service makes people feel, and how to recognize if your nostalgia for the past is hampering your ability to envision your future. Unlabel is a bold and honest approach to building an authentic personal brand, growing a bootstrap start-up into a sustainable business.”

Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out by Marc Ecko is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

FF: The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe Van Beuren with recipes from Dixie Grimes

BTCCooking is an art, especially when the recipes are proven to bring people together and stand the test of time. Like the stories and recipes in The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival by Alexe Van Beuren with recipes from Dixie Grimes.

About The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe Van Beuren with recipes from Dixie Grimes: “Locals go to the B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley, Mississippi, for its Skillet Biscuits and Sausage Gravy breakfasts, made-to-order chicken salad and spicy Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese sandwiches, and daily specials like Shrimp and Grits that are as good as momma made. The B.T.C.’s freezers are stocked with take-home Southern Yellow Squash Casseroles and its counter is piled high with sweets like Peach Fried Pies as well as seasonal produce, local milk, and freshly baked bread. ‘Be the Change’ has always been the store’s motto, and that’s just what it has done. What started as a place to meet and eat is now so much more, as the grocery has become the heart of a now-bustling country town. The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook shares 120 of the store’s best recipes, giving home cooks everywhere a taste of the food that brought a community together, sparking friendships, reviving traditions, and revitalizing an American Main Street.”

The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival by Alexe Van Beuren with recipes from Dixie Grimes is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

MASTEveryone I know has a “killer” recipe for cheese dip. You know the kind… it shows up at every party, cookout and reception these days. But I think one would be hard pressed to match the Queso Blanco Cheese Dip from Mast General Store of Sugar Grove, NC.

About the Queso Blanco Cheese Dip from Mast General Store: “Our Queso Blanco Cheese Dip has a rich, creamy, cheesy flavor, but with just enough herbs and heat to tickle your taste buds. Eat ’em with tortilla chips, or spread it on your burrito and make a boring meal a little more special.”

Find the Queso Blanco Cheese Dip from Mast General Store here.

See all the great products of Sugar Grove, NC’s Mast General Store here.

twcI love a good road trip and I love a good dog. Put the two together and I am all in full stop. In his new memoir, Travels with Casey, New York Times writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis takes us on an epic road trip across the US with his dog, Casey. More than just another indulgent excuse for a book, in Mr. Denizet-Lewis’ gifted hands we are treated to something that is far too rare these days: a literary travelogue.

About Travels with Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis: “A moody Labrador and his insecure human take a funny, touching cross-country RV trip into the heart of America’s relationship with dogs. ‘I don’t think my dog likes me very much,’ New York Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis confesses at the beginning of his journey with his nine-year-old Labrador-mix, Casey. Over the next four months, thirty-two states, and 13,000 miles in a rented motor home, Denizet-Lewis and his canine companion attempt to pay tribute to the most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world. On the way, Denizet-Lewis—known for his deeply reported dispatches from far corners of American life—meets an irresistible cast of dogs and dog-obsessed humans. Denizet-Lewis and Casey hang out with wolf-dogs in Appalachia, search with a dedicated rescuer of stray dogs in Missouri, spend a full day at a kooky dog park in Manhattan, get pulled over by a K9 cop in Missouri, and visit ‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan in California. And then there are the pet psychics, dog-wielding hitchhikers, and two nosy women who took their neighbor to court for allegedly failing to pick up her dog’s poop. Travels with Casey is a delightfully idiosyncratic blend of memoir and travelogue coupled with an exploration of a dog-loving America. What does our relationship to our dogs tell us about ourselves and our values? Denizet-Lewis explores those questions—and his own canine-related curiosities and insecurities—during his unforgettable road trip through our dog-loving nation.”

With Travels with Casey, we take a journey of discovery about one of the great cross-species relationships in the animal kingdom, that of man and dog – and it is thoroughly entertaining.

Travels with Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

BPMOK, so I have a thing for repurposed items as lamps. Further, I have thing for the awesome Southern U.S.A. commerce site Bourbon & Boots.

These two things come together with the Ball Perfect Mason Pendant Lamp available from the afore mentioned Bourbon & Boots.

About the Ball Perfect Mason Pendant Lamp from Bourbon & Boots: “The Ball Perfect Mason Pendant is made of an authentic blue or clear Ball Mason Jar enveloped in a great industrial style lamp cage making. It is a beautiful mix of both early Americana and Industrial styles. Assembled and built by hand in Kentucky, the Mason jars have been re-purposed and up-cycled into beautiful, essential pieces of glass that can be enjoyed again and again. Just hang, plug into an outlet, and enjoy! This fixture is not intended for outdoor use, although your covered porch is okay. The lamp cage can be removed just in case you would like to replace the Ball Mason jar with something else. Though we can’t imagine why you’d want to.”

Find the Ball Perfect Mason Pendant Lamp from Bourbon & Boots here.

See all the greatness that is Bourbon & Boots here.

BDMOne of the great things about having this blog is that I have a collection of stories from the past five years and can look back and re-read them and share them again with my readers. 

In 2012, I shared the story about the Bastille Day flag my mother made for me in 1989.  My mother has since passed away, and there are many things that I cherish that keep her memory alive, but few as special as the French flag she made for me.

So in honor of the day, and in memory of my mom – click here to read my post from Bastille Day 2012.

Vive La France!

Happy Bastille Day!

vivavivaviva

CUCUMLast week, while helping my friend Lynda make a batch of Strawberry-Basil Bourbon Lemonade, my eyes turned to another item in the Country Living magazine where she spotted the recipe. What I saw was a recipe for Cucumber Gazpacho with Watermelon and Mint – which sounded so intriguing, I just had to try it out.

About the recipe for Cucumber Gazpacho with Watermelon and Mint from Country Living: “Diced watermelon and toasted pumpkin seeds garnish minty cucumber gazpacho. Refreshingly light and just a little bit sweet and spicy, this cool, colorful soup is a novel twist classic gazpacho.”

I like classic gazpacho just fine – well good gazpacho that is – but also love the cool refreshing taste of cucumbers in the summer and this recipe called to me.

I made the recipe pretty much as presented in Country Living. However, I substituted the “English cucumbers” the recipe called for with some fresh cukes I picked up at a local farmers market. I also used a white onion instead of the sweet onion, and I ditched the cilantro (not a fan) and did without the pepitas.

The result was a nice refreshing summer soup. It was almost a dessert treat with the mint and watermelon, but it made a nice companion to a salad for the perfect summer meal.

Find all the great recipes and other tips for Country Living magazine here.