Winding down…

You know it’s on the way.  Cool, dry air one day, then high 80’s and humid the next.  Summer is quickly approaching, and it feels like it around my house.

This past Memorial Day we spent a great weekend in the Mountains with friends, truly enjoying the best of food and life.  Old fashioned games were played, kids were entertained for hours by a bucket of water, adults sat around a campfire, dogs played in the field, and everyone enjoyed a great Potluck Dinner at the end of a fun afternoon.  Yes, I love a potluck, and tell me, what’s not to love?  Everyone prepares one dish, and then you come together to share a meal everyone has been a part of.  Recipes are often shared, and there are always classic favorites and new dishes to sample.  Occasionally there are three fruit salads, and that’s not as grand, but sometimes that’s just how the cards fall.

Maybe I enjoy potlucks because they are a fond memory for me, of Sundays growing up.  My mother is the oldest of five brothers, and each Sunday all the families would get together after church at my grandmother’s house.   The gathering was big, and so was the dinner!  My grandmother, Ruby, would prepare fried chicken, fried okra, dumplings, biscuits, sweet tea, and more.  The other sides my aunts brought, and we had one big potluck.  It sounds like a Southern food writers dream, but for us, it was just Sunday Dinner.  I know this had an influence on my beginning passion for food, and I am a better person for these Sunday memories.  At the time I may not have realized it, but when my grandmother died this past year at the age of 99, I realized how much she had been a part of shaping who I am, and how lucky I was to enjoy these Sunday potlucks.  What a gift she gave.

So, now that we are back from the Memorial Day weekend, there is a different feel about being home.  Lazy days of summer are just around the corner, and the slowing down of routine and schedules starts to creep in.  How fortunate I am to feel, really sense, the change of seasons and all it brings.  I hope you enjoy this time, too.

While I look forward to the break the next few weeks will bring from working in the kitchen on a regular schedule, believe me when I say I will be ready to cook again for you within a few weeks!  My summer schedule will be erratic, but I will be doing some “Freezer Pleaser Meals” and an occasional Dinner Pick Up or two, and of course catering.  Luckily, my blog will not be changing and I am thrilled to continue this.  I have received so much positive feedback from many of my subscribers, so thank you for your support.  I truly enjoying writing, and sharing my thoughts about life and food, however random they may be.  Who knows what stories the summer will bring!

Enjoy, the best if food and life, and all the summer season is about to bring your way!

A Piece of the Pie

You know how in Trivial Pursuit you get the game piece that is a pie shape, and the object is to fill it by going to different places on the board, answering questions, until it is full?  Wouldn’t it be great if we thought about our lives more like the game of Trivial Pursuit?  What I mean is, the game is fun and exciting, you can’t wait to roll again, see where you’re going next!  A lot of times the answers are wrong, just like in our lives at times.  So, you move on, wait for your next turn, and you try again for your piece of the pie.  Of course, life is not a game, but we should try to make it as fun as possible.  Somtimes it can be entirely too short, and we never know exactly when the game might end.

Speaking of pieces of the pie, next week I am making Tomato Basil Tarts.  A lot of you are new to my cooking, so let me tell you… this dish has always been one of the most popular things I have ever made- period!  It is different than any other tomato pie I have ever had, and the chef who taught me this recipe always called it a tart.  For traditions’ sake, I continue to call it a tart as well, even though I have adjusted the recipe a little over the years.  One summer a few years back, I made this before I had my commercial kitchen. It took me, literally, two days to bake all the pies I needed in my small home oven!  Luckily, I can now accomodate lots & lots of orders , so be sure to try this during next week’s Dinner Pick Up.

I am finding it hard to believe summer will be here shortly.  School will be out, kids will be coming and going, hot (humid) days will be here before we know it.  The Farmer’s Markets will be busting with produce, and home herb gardens like mine will be green and full!  I will write details about my summer schedule, and Summer Freezer Meals, in the next couple of weeks.  Until then enjoy the best of food and life, and I hope to see you soon in the kitchen.

PS- after my last “Tribute to Lorine” post, I had to say congratulations to Candice for winning American Idol last night, I know my friend Lorine is proud!

Tribute to Lorine

This is one of my posts that has less to do with the best of food, and more to do with the best of life.  It’s about how meeting strangers, who quickly seem to become someone you know, can change your day.  Two weekends ago I met Lorine, and it was just one of those moments that has stayed with me, and I have thought about her every day since.  For a little added humor, I should tell you how we met.

Lorine lives in St. Helena’s Island, just outside of Beaufort, SC.  This is also where one of the American Idol finalists, Candice Glover, is from.  My family was visiting in Beaufort, and it happened to be The American Idol Finalists home town parade and concert at the same time.  The city was going “Candice Crazy”, to say the least!  As luck would have it, we went to the parade that afternoon, and out of the hundreds of people there, fate had it that we were in a spot beside Lorine.  Lorine knows Candice and her family, and somehow we started talking and didn’t stop.  Her sweet Gullah accent was so smooth and deep, and for whatever powers that be, she just made such an impact on me.  Funny, I don’t even know her, yet I feel like I had a glimpse into her life and she into mine, in that brief time at the parade.  When we were leaving I asked her if by any chance she was on Facebook, and I was actually quite surprised when she said she was.  Earlier I sent her a friend request, and although we might end up as FB friends, I’m not sure she will ever know how much of an impact she made on me.

That afternoon made me realize, again, that what we do, and how we treat others, influences not just us, but those we encounter.  It might just be the line at the grocery store today, or it could have been the Winston-Salem Centennial Parade this past weekend, you never know who you’ll meet and their influence on you, or you on them.  Thanks for reminding me of this Lorine, you rock, and I hope our paths do cross again.

Until I see you again, enjoy the best of food, and life!  This week there is no dinner pick up as I have a “full plate” with catering jobs.  I will update later this week about a simplified May 23 pick up, just in time to help with your Memorial Day plans.

Fun Facts for a Friday!

Ok, so maybe I should have put the word “useless” in the post title- “Fun, uesless, facts for a Friday!”  But then again, are any facts really useless?  My Father-in-law, named Jack, always has lots of information.  We call these “Jack Facts”, and even though it isn’t a genetic connection, I think I have picked up on this as I love this kind of silly trivia!

So, in case you need something more to do this May, here are some fun things that might spur an idea for you.  But first, let’s talk about this…when did May become the new December?  Everyone who has walked through my kitchen doors, and that has been quite a number of you recently, is talking about how busy this month is!  May feels like a Holiday month, and I know many of us are looking forward to the lazier days of summer that will be here before we know it.  Maybe when you need a break from everything this month, you can look back at this post and choose something to slow down with, so here is some more food for thought.

Did you know May is National Hamburger month?  Go bust out your grill!  May is also National Salsa month, probably not ironic since Cinco de Mayo is this weekend!  In addition, it is also National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg month, National Salad Month, and National Strawberry Month.  I liked it when I saw the last one, since I will be strawberry picking this weekend!  The National Barbecue one got me thinking we should smoke some pork shouulders soon for a dinner pick up, just in time for early summer entertaining and weekends away.

Today, May 3rd, is offically “Raspberry Tart Day”, but I’m sure you knew that already!  May 19th is Devil’s Food Cake Day, and probably one of the most popular is May 25th, “Wine Day”.  Truly, I could go on with more, but you are probably reading this in a line somewhere and have things to go do.  Email me anytime if you want more foodie facts.  My calendar lists facts about each month, and I also have a cookbook called “Food Fest 365”, with 365 facts similar to the ones above, and recipes to go with it.

Have a great weekend, I look forward to seeing a lot of you next week in the kitchen.  My Dinner Pick up is on May 8th, and this will benefit Hope du Jour.  Join me in “Dining in” Wednesday if you can’t dine out on Tuesday.  The updated menu is listed in the link on the side.  I am almost sold out of the Shrimp & Corn Chowder, so if you are planning on ordering this do it soon!

And, until I see you, enjoy the best of food and life!