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Food Living Martha's Vineyard Personal Style

Last of Summer Pies

August 28, 2018

I have picked up cooking again.   I took a break — I mean a really long, long break but I’m back, and I am finding it so completely relaxing and pleasurable to focus on feeding my boys.    I’m not quite sure what jump started it, a mix of things I think.   I watched great friends cooking in France with such ease and was reminded of why I loved it.    I keep telling you how much the produce on this Island means to me, but it’s true, I look forward to these ingredients all year.  I also was reminded of this passion which had been dampened in the chaos of life after writing a little piece on my time with Alice Waters last spring.

Last, I have a reading from my cousin’s wedding stuck in my head (it was at the beginning of this month).   Simple, amusing and true, it has stuck with me.  I’m sure that many of you have read it or heard it but just in case, here it is:

  Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. 

— Robert Fulghum

I bring it up in the context of this post because it seems particularly relevant:  the importance of simple pleasures, doing something just because, doing things with love, supporting neighbors, and the earth, and farmers, and friends, and soaking up the delights of this life, delicious food, company, singing and dancing.   So many of these things happen in or around the kitchen,  and so I am planning to spend some more time in there.  With love, xx

(And for those of you who were anticipating a pie and were given a poem instead, here is an easy one for crumble — I love blueberries and peaches xxx)

Food Travel

A Quick Visit to Daylesford!

August 13, 2018

Have you been to this magical place??? My aunt Leslie told me about it.   We stayed with her earlier in the summer while we were in England.   We had taken a day trip to the Cotswolds and over dinner that evening, she asked if we had stopped at Daylesford.  “What’s that?” I asked.   She couldn’t believe that we didn’t know, and turned us around with full directions the next morning.   I am so so so happy that she did…

To put it lightly, Daylesford might be my favorite lifestyle destination on Earth, or at least that I have visited so far.   It is an organic farm with a beautiful pantry,  full of delicious goods from local honey to beautiful freshly baked bread, a spa, a restaurant, a home goods shop, a clothing shop, a flower store (and school) and you can take cooking courses and there is a sweet restaurant and little b&b attached, too….basically it’s everything and more and if I had a dream, this would be it.   I cannot wait to spend more time there, they have really hit the nail on the head, from the fresh, open air and light-filled spaces to the music which is perfectly suited to putting on an apron and getting out the cutting boards…

I love that there is both a children’s section and an organic cleaning products (in such chic packaging) section of the shop…

My only regret was that our visit was too brief.   Luckily, it is very close to Oxford, which is where my husband’s family lives, and where we spent the most time when we visit.   I will be back!   If I lived in the area, I would be there several times a week…

I went weak at the knees when I discovered the flower shop.   I was already sold after visiting the pantry and the homewares store, and then I passed through and was actually looking for Will when I stumbled across it, cock full of beautiful English summer flowers and beautiful books.

There’s a chilly cheese room in the pantry… I’m not even a cheese-enthusiast the way most of my friends are and I was SOLD!

Our visit was all to brief but believe me, we will be back….!!

Food France Travel

Romantic Dinner for Two

July 18, 2018

I just realized how much I have been talking about romance these days!!  Chalk it up to putting our feet up for a bit in France and letting some of our daily stresses form home melt away.    It’s also really hard not to feel that dreamy, relaxed loving way when you sink into such a beautiful, serene environment.   And for me, spending less time on my phone is such a delicious way to reconnect with the people right in front of me!  But I do promise that I will get on to other topics soon enough – right after this lovely romantic dinner.

This was one of our final evenings, and one of our rare few just us.    After we settled our son to sleep, we lit the candles per usual and had a lovely sunset dinner on my grandmother’s terrace.    I’m sure it’s not hard to see why this is one of my favorite places in the world.

romantic dinner for two - here's one of us! romantic dinner for two - my favorite hurricane's of all time

These etched candle shades are one of my favorite things of hers and are so lovely and romantic, I let them be at the center of our table so that we can enjoy them.    On this particular evening, I used simple woven placemats and one of our new plate sets from the Jas des Roberts.    A simple linen napkin, fresh market peonies and etched glasses completed the easy set up.

romantic dinner for two - the glowing light of candles and sunset romantic dinner for two - don't mind if I do!

I love that last moment of glowing daylight, after which the candles really start to twinkle – its the most romantic dinner moment of all.    There is no light outside so we have to light up the wall and other tables around — I think it was over one of these dinners when I was so swept up that I suggested to Will that we live by candlelight after dark for a year.    He quickly dismissed that idea!

romantic dinner for two - and one for you baby! romantic dinner for two - spinach pie french style with local greens

One of the best suggestions for a romantic night is keeping the food so simple.    In this case, we had a flaky spinach pie from the patisserie and a salad with lentils followed by ice cream and berries — hard to beat! XX

romantic dinner for two - this blue dress is from Franceromantic dinner for two - the glow intensifies as sunset passes by

Food France Personal Style

The Most Romantic Nights…

July 13, 2018

A few years ago, my cousin got married at our family house in France.    The house was brimming over with women preparing for the big weekend, and there was so much chatter about manicures and hair appointment times, I could tell that my (new) husband was hitting his limit (bored senseless, and he has a very high tolerance!).    I quickly and quietly extracted him for a mind-clearing drive.   Naturally, we ended up at the beach.   It was a windy beautiful June day, perfect for a swim.   Because we had rushed out, we didn’t have any of our beach things — suits, towels, etc.   We ended up buying cheap bathing suits at the nearest stand, and then we splurged and rented a jet ski.    We spent an hour tossing and turning in the Bay of St. Tropez and re-emerged refreshed, sated and happy to have had this private moment together, doing something fun and spontaneous.    Whenever Will wears those swim trunks, I am happily reminded of that afternoon.    All this is to say that sometimes the most romantic things are best unplanned, at least for us.   And this little car rental ended up being a lovely follow up, just the two of us…

The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - French Picnic - Wine, Cheese & FruitsThe Most Romantic Things - Moke Fun!

The sun sets so late in France, our little one has often gone to bed well beforehand.    With enough support at home, Will and I were able to sneak off once again, this time for a romantic picnic nearby.    Funny how taking a quick moment to really set it up, pillows and all, made it all the more special for us.    The cherries and nectarines are bursting, sweet and juicy and were the perfect match to the buttery soft cheese and ice cold rosé.   And, it’s hard to feel anything but happy when you are bathed in beautiful, golden light with your love.

The Most Romantic Things - Delicious French Cheeses! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Sunset PicnicThe Most Romantic Things - Earrings!!The Most Romantic Things - Local Cherries and Peaches - Yum! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two!

I have been trying to figure out how to recreate this at home and am open to any recommendations.     I think in Charleston, it would probably involve biking to a nearby park (when it cools off a bit).    I’m looking forward to more time in the Northeast as we love watching the sunset from the dock or beach.

The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two! The Most Romantic Things - Moke Picnic for Two!

Charleston Entertaining Food Home Style

Wines for the Weekend!

May 9, 2018

I know that it comes as no surprise that Will and I really enjoy drinking wine!   At one point last year when I was just starting to appear more regularly in front of the camera my mom (and dad) pointed out (separately) that I had a glass of wine in hand perhaps a bit too often 😉  — nerves I say !

Regardless, Will and I are totally casual and relaxed about our wine education; by no means are we wine snobs, and we’re happy hitting our box rosé during the week but, we really enjoy trying new delicious wines and expanding our knowledge and experience.   Lucky for us, a lovely little wine shop opened up around the corner this winter and, when I had mouth surgery over the holidays, the owner Justin helped me pick new delicious wines which suited by damaged and very limited palate (which has healed in full BTW — phew!).     Through this experience, we formed a friendship, and he gained two very loyal customers (four really because our friends were living with us at the time).    Justin is so passionate and knowledgeable without being at remotely pushy or judgmental.    You can say to him that you need to find an $11 bottle or that you’re looking for a splurge and have no idea where to begin…. he really doesn’t mind and is there to help.   He has introduced us to plenty of new delicious bottles.  I can honestly say that there isn’t a wine that he has sold us that I haven’t liked.   He remembers his customer’s tastes and preferences and makes helpful recommendations.  With that in mind, I have been wanting to share some of his knowledge here and so asked him to help me pick some wines for us, two under $20, two under $40 and a splurge….here we go:

Two Under Twenty:

Cahors Le Pur Fruit du Causse –  Justin recommended a Malbec, which is a crowd pleaser (good to know, we aren’t big red wine drinkers so it’s particularly mysterious to us ).   This wine references the limestone it takes its name from and is organic, crisp, earthy, and juicy.  Pair with good or drink alone!

La Louvetrie – For the white he picked a Muscadet, its the entry bottle from Domaine de La Louvetrie, home of some of the very best in the Loire Valley and a very well-respected wine maker — one of the best.    This is the wine maker’s “entry level” bottle and because he is so skilled, is particularly wonderful for the price point.    

Two Under Forty:

Taganan –   I love the story of the team behind this  Canary Island white.   They are four who studied together and then went their separate way to study under famous wine makers before coming back together.   They bring back parcels of lands and revive old vineyards which have fallen on harder times but still have lots of potential because they feature old vines with real pedigree.    Taganan is a wine from Tenerife where the vines sit on volcanic rock directly above the Atlantic.   

Barsotti Vineyard – Gamay – The upscale red selection is a Californian Gamay.   These vines are grown in granite soil and replicate many of the features of one of the most famous varieties of Beaujolais — Morgon Cote Du Py.    Fantastically light, this is a fresh and charming choice. 

Fizz:

Pow Blop Wizz – Monarch has a great selection of ‘pet nat’ sparkling wines.   These are made using ‘unfinished’ grapes, allowing fermentation to continue in the bottle.   It is lo-fi wine making, shunning some of the pretense of champagne.   The bottle has to be inverted to release all the “yummy” residue before pouring.   The process – described as Russian Roulette with wine making – when successful results can be deliciously lightweight and fizzy.   Like this one, with the amazing name, it is delicious, fun and feels just like summer – why not?

Splurge:  Justin has a selection of collector’s wines, and this Volnay Caillerets (2002, $250) his first choice for a “splurge” bottle — elegant, sophisticated, lifted, crisp and seductive.  The excitement with which he spoke about it had us dying to buy a bottle (there’s only one left).   What a fun date night experience to have at home — pair with food that isn’t too dominant, like a roast chicken or hearty fish.

 

Charleston Entertaining Family Food

Adventures in the Kitchen: Sweet Animal Cookies

May 1, 2018

Our little one, Baby R, loves activities in the kitchen.   Whether it’s tinkering with a can opener, or creating some wild smoothie (like arugula & milk for “mama” — yuck!), he absolutely adores to spend time creating his own concoctions and playing with all the tools.   I am not particularly gifted in the kitchen and am prone to burning/over-cooking and generally forgetting what’s in the oven (lost in the act of flower arranging/candle-lighting) but since having our child, I have been determined to learn more to ensure that we stick around the table for meals as our family grows.

I love the idea of having glass jars filled with (healthy) baked goods that the children can grab;  I know this is not the best example but it was definitely a fun place to start.   Baking is an art form and I loved mixing together the frosting with the natural coloring the most — felt a lot like painting which I always love to do…

We try to really take our weekends as a family, and to check out from work.   This is particularly important during wedding season when we have so few weekends totally “off”.    This past weekend we spent most of our time outside playing under the hose and scooting around the neighborhood but in the height of the afternoon, we came inside to do some baking.    Those of you who follow us on Instagram stories might know that right now we have nine pets — four cats & five turtles (long story, and we’re not hoarding we promise).   We thought it might be fun to make some (as healthy as can be) sugar cookies to enjoy with an iced tea in the late afternoon and naturally gravitated towards the animal molds … I particularly love the unicorn which I am icing below:

The lady who sold us the molds reminded us that we should freeze our cookie dough for 20 minutes or so to make sure that it’s extra cold when it’s going into the oven — this way the shapes won’t expand/spoil — good to know!   He really loved watching me smooth the frosting with my finger and found it to be the most amusing part of the process — we didn’t let him have too many cookies !! xx

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