Saturday, June 30, 2012

six steps to blackberry crisp a la mode

1. Search each berry patch, looking for the one(s) with the most ripe berries.

2. Pick the ripest berries, one by one. Pick one. Eat one.

3. Admire the berries and eat a few handfuls.

4. Place in baking dish, add a bit of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of flour.
Then add crisp topping (see below for recipe).

5. Bake in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. 

6. Add two (small) scoops of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy.
Then, wake up tomorrow morning and go pick some more berries before it gets too hot.

The recipe for the Crisp Topping comes from my all-time favorite cookbook author: Deborah Madison. I own (and often use) every one of her cookbooks. This comes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Crisp Topping
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts (I use both)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mixer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients so that each piece is coated and you have a course, crumbly mixture. Use it to cover a shallow gratin dish of sliced fruit (or just-picked blackberries).

Where Did June Go?

Summer Feet, photo by Mary (Instagram)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Days When You are Eleven

My two youngest nieces came for a couple of days' visit to Farm Dover. (Their two older sisters were off at a horse competition.) Do you remember what summer days were like when you were 11?

They cooked crazy things like kiwi on a stick dipped in chocolate, they drove the Polaris really fast and swerved all over the place, they painted-by-number horse pictures and then made silly pictures with the left-over paint, they picked carrots from the garden and bought candy bars at the grocery and then froze them. They hid in the secret compartment of the bench seat. They stayed up late. And they giggled, alot. Ahhh, to be young and it to be summer....

Come back soon girls. We loved having you.
xxx Aunt Deb and Uncle Ed

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Walk Through the Garden on a Summer's Eve

So much is happening in our garden these days. Baby carrots are turning into unruly teenaged ones; big, round beets are being harvested and roasted daily; spinach is growing faster than I can pick it; the cilantro and parsley are threatening to bolt on me; the 27 tomato plants are bearing hundreds of green tomatoes and some are beginning to show signs of turning red – long before the 4th of July; the tiny basil plants that I put in the raised bed just two weeks ago are soaking up the sunshine and showing signs of robustness; and the sunflowers grow half a foot every day, I swear.  To top it all off, this evening, I harvested my first crop of garlic.

Here's a look around.

My cutting garden: the zinnias are growing so fast that you don't see the weeds underneath!

Despite the dirt, you can just smell an Italian meal in the making...

The first summer squash. I suspect in a week's time, I'll have squash galore.
I didn't really expect any raspberries this first season,
but looks like Ed will have enough to top a bowl of ice cream.
Maggie brought me three ground cherry plants to experiment with.
The tomoato-like plants produce small, orange fruit covered in papery husk.

Before popping into your mouth, you peel back the husk from the ground cherry.
The flavor is a pleasant tomato/pineapple-like blend.
Note to self: buy bacon. Almost BLT season.

The sunflowers are taller than me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The family across the street had been making wine since 1930 (according to the label) and brought a bottle over to give to us. I can't remember if it was a special occasion -- perhaps the birth of our first baby girl -- or not. The year was 1987. We put the bottle away to save for a time in the future. We moved away. We lost contact with our neighbors. By now, their three young children would be in their 30s -- off living lives of their own, perhaps making wine to share with their friends.

We carted the bottle from our home on Don Allen Road to the one on Natchez, to the one on Rainbow, to the one on Calumet and finally, to Farm Dover. Each time, wondering about the contents of the bottle and when we would finally uncork it.

The decision was made for us. We had placed the bottle on its side in our kitchen wine rack and I noticed a few splashes of wine on the counter. The cork had decomposed, allowing the wine to seep out. It was time -- or perhaps past time -- for the uncorking.

So, on Saturday afternoon, we uncorked the Pregliasco bottle of wine. Out flowed the wine -- along with a flood of memories of our life on Don Allen Road: our dating days (and months and years), raking leaves in the front yard and barbecueing in the back, the early days of our marriage, the birth of our first precious baby, Octoberfest celebrations held in the street, the old couple next door, strolling with other new moms and their babies around and around the block....

I love our new life in the country, but I treasure the memories of our lives in other places, other homes. So on Saturday, Ed and I raised a toast to all those good memories and to the friends who helped make them -- and to those who made the wine. Cheers to the Familia Pregliasco!

Monday, June 11, 2012


One of the best parts about our recent trip to Germany was the chance to reconnect with our son Jack, who has spent the last year teaching high school in Hagen, Germany, and with some of our German friends.

First, some photos with Jack...

Father and son at the Pompidou Centre in Paris
...And with his mama in the Jardin des Tuileries
Celebrating sister Mary's 21st birthday
Sightseeing with the whole group, including Aunt Gay

We also had the good fortune to reconnect with our German friend Tilman and his terrific family, spending the day with them tromping around historic Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Barvaria.

With Tilmon, his wife, and five of his six children

While in Munich, we caught up with Max and his girlfriend, Christina.
Years ago, Max was an exchange student at Louisville Collegiate.
And we had a reunion dinner with Laura and her family. Laura was an au pair for our friends Evan and Amelia last year in Louisville, and her family has been exceedingly welcoming to Jack this year.

Dinner in Dusseldorf with Laura and her family

So here's to travel -- and to reconnecting with family and friends.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Sunrise on Farm Dover
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Caged vs. Free Range

Our 27 tomato plants are stuck in their cages....

...while the wild turkeys range freely, building their nest wherever they wish.