Super send off…

In a word, awesome.  In two words, foodie fun, and in three, just what I wanted.  I am talking about this past weekend, which was almost the perfect way to spend our last weekend before school begins.  Great times with family and friends, time working in the yard, just relaxing and fun at the same time.  Friday we helped host a great 40th birthday party for a dear friend, featuring the Camel City Grill Food truck.  I chose the Ben’s Pimiento Burger, and it was a really good burger…chipotle gave it a nice kick.  Not to mention Ben, the namesake, was the one serving it.

Camel City Grill Food Truck

Camel City Grill Food Truck

Saturday morning brought a Fall like feel with crisp air, and a picture perfect setting for a trip to the Old Salem Farmers Market to buy some gorgeous things for dinner.  There, Sugar Creek Farm is one of my favorite vendors.  After a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for lemons, then home for a quick rub down for the leg of lamb before it sat all day soaking in the flavors, we were all outside working in the yard and enjoying an afternoon outdoors.

Sugar Creek Farm peppers

Sugar Creek Farm peppers

Farmers market Yukon Golds

Farmers market Yukon Golds

Now, the real fun begins.  Our grill has a rotisserie attachment, and we don’t use it often, making the times we do even more enjoyable.  Last night we put our leg of lamb on it, and let the fire do the work.  Crispy on the outside with herbs and garlic making a yummy crust and tender, juicy meat beneath, what else needs to be said.  Fire roasted baby Yukon potatoes, marinated vegetable salad, grilled pita bread, to enjoy this with fresh ingredients form the market that morning was amazing.

Full from dinner, and not to mention tired from the past two days of fun, we sat down and watched a movie for a relaxing end to the day.  Now, morning is here, and I’m awaiting my sleepyheads to wake up.  Four Oaks Farms grits are on the burner and fresh sausage in the cast iron pan, and I need to go before it burns.

I hope you have a great week, you will find me back in the kitchen this week getting ready for a busy season ahead and preparing for several catering jobs.  My updated menu for the first dinner pick up Sept. 4th is now listed on my blog links on the side.  Enjoy, the best of food and life, one weekend at a time, I hope to see you at the kitchen soon!

Rotisserie Lamb

Rotisserie Lamb

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Volunteering…

Volunteer tomato

Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to volunteer.  I am talking about another kind of do good’er here, the volunteers plants you find in your yard.  I seem to have more than ever this summer, which is no surprise with all of the rain here.  Temporarily we are living in a temperate rain forest for a season in Winston-Salem.  Finding volunteers in my raised garden bed is usually no surprise, as I compost most of my fruit and vegetable scraps.  Compost bins are like seedling heaven!  Occasionally, I’ll have a tomato plant grow from the plant that was there the year before, waiting over the winter and spring before it pokes its green leaves out of the ground.  But never have I had a cherry tomato sprout from the gutter downspout, or a cantaloupe grown between the 1950’s trash cans at our driveway.

The best BLT I have had all summer, maybe even this past year, was last week using the first, and one of the few, homegrown tomatoes I will have.  It came from my volunteer tomato plant at my garden gate, my “stellar volunteer”.  It’s like a natural gift.  Thinly sliced and sandwiched between white bread, spread with Duke’s Mayonnaise (apologies to you Hellman’s people) with apple wood smoked bacon and crisp lettuce, generously sprinkled with salt.  I had to compose myself as the juice trickled down my hand it was so yummy.  I was glad I was alone at the kitchen sink.  That good.

Sometimes nature has ways to make us laugh, and I always find food spreads joy like the ones mentioned here.  Enjoy the pictures of my precious summer volunteers, they have been hard at work, helping me enjoy the best of food and life all summer long!

Cherry tomato in gutter!

Cherry tomato in gutter!

Volunteer cantaloupe growing between my trash cans!

Volunteer cantaloupe growing between my trash cans!

This has been a stellar volunteer!

This has been a stellar volunteer!

last week's BLT, thanks to my volunteers!

last week’s BLT, thanks to my volunteers!

Doughnuts in the making…

Work hard, play hard.  Just do it.  All kinds of ad campaigns regularly run through my mind as slogans for how to live life, not just buy products.  Sometimes I imagine a career in advertising, where my often random thoughts and ideas could be put to use.  Therefore, the purpose of my blog.  For those of you reading it, I hope sometimes it inspires you to cook, play, and live the best of food and life from time to time, and I thank you for being somewhat interested.

Today I woke up thinking how different my life will be a week from today as we get ready for the first day back to school.  Many of us count our calendars by school days, and those summer days are quickly drawing to a close this week as Labor Day approaches.  One day, as sad as it might make me to think about now, I realize this calendar will change as children grow older, and my calendars is marked by Holiday breaks from college and home visits.  Summer has been exactly the kind of fun we dreamt of early last Spring, but as my kids start to increasingly irritate each other and wonder what to do, I realize a schedule will be good for all of us.

Between books and carpools, soccer and lacrosse, you will find me nestled in the cutest commercial kitchen you have ever seen, having fun, cooking all under the guise of working.   Just whistle while you work, right?  Some of our good friends own Carolina Pet Place, which is a great kennel if you have dogs, or other animals, and live in the Winston-Salem area.  But the best things about this “shout out” is that his email is signed “Living the dream one dog at a time”.  I love it, I think it is hysterical, but it also reminds me how lucky I am to truly be living my dream, as I hope so many of you are.  If not, just do it!

My kids are hungry right now, and they want to make doughnuts, so I better go.  Really?  Yes.  Homemade doughnuts, I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes and/or laughing that I would do this.  Just go to Krispy Kreme– I mean, we are in Winston-Salem where they were born, right?  But yes, what fun!  Unfortunately they have to rise for a couple of hours, but now you know what we’ll be having for breakfast tomorrow.  I have made beignets before, but never doughnuts, I’ll post my recipe if it turns out well…

Thirst Quenchers

I’ve said this before and this won’t be the last time I say it.  Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best.  For example, homemade lemonade in the summer.  It’s that tang that hits you in the back of your mouth and makes your jaw tingle, that only comes from fresh squeezed lemons or limes.  Okay, not really true, I had an extreme sour candy the other day and it tingled my jaws like nothing ever had before!  But, back to lemonade, it is such a simple thing, and one I hope you’ll be inspired to try soon.  And, if you remember the old days of the Village Soda Shop at Reynolda Village, then I’m sure you are quickly taken back to Orange-ade glory!

So it is with Sweet Tea, same simple joy minus the tingle in your jaws.  But the simplicity of brewing a pot of iced tea is a gesture that sometimes goes a long way.  It is somewhat becoming a lost art really, a memory of Grandma’s house most people save for ordering out, but it is so easy you’ll see there is no art to it.  So go drag out a pitcher and buy some citrus and/or tea bags- treat your family to some simple summer love in a tall cold glass this weekend.  Show them how easy it is to enjoy the best things about food and life while quenching your thirst.

Homemade Lemonade or Limeade- makes just over 2 quarts

1/2 cup water

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon, peeled or grated, lemon or lime rind (about two lemons)

1-3/4 cups fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice

6-7 cups ice water

Directions:  Bring 1/2 cup water to boil in medium saucepan.  Stir in sugar and citrus rind, stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, stir in squeezed juice and water.  Serve in tall glass, garnishing with lemon or lime slices, straws and enjoy!  Hint:  lemons and limes juice better when they are not cold.  If you want more tang and less sweet, cut the sugar amount back to just over a cup of sugar and citrus back to 1 1/2 cups.  Get Creative with it!  Put mint in your simple syrup mix, combine different juices, add fresh summer berries for Lemon-raspeberry-ade…no rules here as long as it tastes good!

Sweet Mint Tea

8 cups water

2 family size tea bags

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint, about 4″ each

3/4 cup sugar, more or less to your liking

Directions:  Bring water to a boil.  While water is heating, place tea bags and mint sprigs in another tea pot or heat proof pitcher.  When water is just coming to a boil, remove from heat and pour over tea bags and mint, cover and steep for 5 minutes.  Remove tea bags and mint, pressing with back of spoon to extract all the flavor.  Stir is sugar to dissolve while hot, let sit to chill.  Serve over ice with lemon wedge, and enjoy!  I grew up drinking this tea, and now my kids love to help make it as well.