Friday, August 26, 2011

Taste of Summer

Summer markets are full of corn and zucchini. When we purchased a dozen ears of corn earlier this summer, I found myself searching for new recipes to use it up. I made a pot of corn and potato chowder as well as the tasty corn and zucchini salad below. The veggies are raw, so there's no cooking involved. Cut the kernels off several ears of corn (to equal 2 cups) and thinly slice one medium zucchini. Toss the veggies with a couple tablespoons of fresh cilantro (I used Vietnamese coriander from our garden; it tastes very similar to cilantro but tolerates the heat better), a couple tablespoons each of olive oil and fresh lime juice, and some salt and pepper. It's that simple! The next time I make this salad, I think I'll add a bit of minced jalapeno pepper to give it a little heat.

When it comes to corn, what is your favorite way to eat it? Do you prefer white or yellow? In our house, my husband prefers yellow corn. I like both. However, the markets and stores in our area mostly sell white corn and sometimes we can find checkerboard, but rarely do we see yellow corn. So for this salad, we mixed in a little yellow corn from the freezer, which made Paul happy.

The green glass container below, by the way, is a vintage refrigerator dish, which I collect. They are plentiful in antiques shops and I enjoy looking for ones in unusual shapes, sizes and colors.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Bakery

We're so lucky to have the most amazing bakery just minutes from our house. Everything I've had there is delicious! The pain au chocolat is my favorite, and as good as those I had in Paris. As an avid baker myself, I feel like I've died and gone to heaven when I find a great bakery. Here are a few shots from our visit on a recent Sunday morning with friends. Not shown are the mini fig-walnut tart I purchased for my dessert, the eclair my husband chose as his dessert, and the fabulous almond croissant I savored the next morning. Yummm ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Antique White Coverlet

In the warm summer months and early fall, this antique white coverlet takes the place of our heavy winter comforter. To keep things simple, I use the same throw pillow, which coordinates with the dust ruffle, and the same pillow shams. I love the bright, fresh look of white in the summer. The pattern on this coverlet is beautiful. It may be solid white, but there is so much texture and such a pretty design. The border around the edge is a sweet polka dot pattern. The second and third photos show the flower design in detail. We purchased this at an antiques show from a woman who specializes in textiles. She explained that this coverlet, and several others like it, had been used in an early 20th century boarding house. One thing I love about antiques and vintage items is their history. Where have these things been, and what stories do they have to tell? 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blueberry Tart

This fresh blueberry tart is a summer favorite at our house. I always make at least one after going berry picking. You can find the Everyday Food recipe here (there's also a video of the preparation). If you're a fan of blueberries, you'll love this tart which is simple to make, yet elegant and perfect for company. So, what's your favorite way to use blueberries in cooking?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Picking blueberries is a summer ritual. We pick gallons of them and freeze them for year-round use in breakfast smoothies, which my husband has mastered. A typical breakfast smoothie of his contains:
  • frozen strawberries and blueberries
  • a ripe banana
  • fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • a little skim milk, soy milk or almond milk - or a combination thereof
  • a little honey (local wildflower or gallberry)
  • wheat germ or flax seed oil

Last year we learned about a blueberry "farm" from our niece. It's a bit of a drive for us, but they charge -- are you ready for this? -- only $4 per gallon! Four dollars! For an entire gallon of blueberries! That's quite a deal. Payment is on the honor system ... just leave your money in a box or mail them a check. 

The picking was easier last year and we must have come home with six gallons. This year, the picking was a little tougher and we only picked three gallons. The best and largest berries mostly seemed to be at the top of the very tall bushes. I wonder if blueberry bushes need to be pruned to keep them low and bushy? Next year, we might have to bring ladders with us just to reach the berries!
Sweet Gillian, the 16-month-old daughter of our niece's friend, had a good time picking berries (some ripe, some not) and dropping them into the bucket.

This handsome farm dog stopped by to see what we were up to, and posed for a photo before moving on.

A little bird's nest tucked among the berries.

Blueberry bushes and a beautiful mountain view.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fresh Flowers

I purchased this sweet little bouquet of flowers at the farmers market for only $6. I think dahlias are my favorite flower ... I love their vibrant colors. We grow dahlias in our flower garden. They produced beautiful blooms earlier in the season, but the intense heat is taking a toll on them. I love how an arrangement of fresh flowers perks up a room, don't you? What's your favorite flower, and what kind of arrangement do you prefer?

These little white dahlias are from our garden.
I love how they look in this miniature vase in the bathroom.

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