May 29, 2014
Micah made slightly more honeysuckle syrup than he knew what to do with, so I improvised a quick sorbet for our recent low country boil. A quick Googling revealed that nearby Chapel Hill restaurant Crook's Corner (home of the best shrimp & grits I've had to date) is famous for this extremely seasonal treat. But, that recipe calls for infusing the flowers in the water (instead of the sugar), so... improvisation. I started with about 1 part syrup, 1 part water... then added a little more water... and some fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste, plus that hilariously minuscule amount of cinnamon called for in the recipe (because it just seemed too quirkily specific to not humor). After churning it in the ice cream maker, I felt it was still really sweet, so I grated some lemon zest over it. And it turns out, honeysuckle and lemon are amazing bedfellows.
The honeysuckle are already gone from our yard, but we still had some syrup left, so I recently made another batch with more lemon juice in the sorbet. So refreshing and summery – we're rationing it as much we can. I loved how much simpler sorbets are to make than most ice creams. No tempering in egg yolks, not as much chilling before churning, simpler ingredient list... plus, we used wild flowers from our own yard, which is pretty rad.
I am definitely pro-foraging, especially in the safety of your own property (as in, you know if you do or hopefully don't use pesticides). I don't really see how it's any different from harvesting from your vegetable garden. I KNOW there are more wild edibles out there, and my own ignorance on that is starting to annoy me. I'd love to learn more about that. And now that we're finally on property that we own, I'm going to start tucking edible perennials and annuals outside of our garden squares: in corners of the yard, up against the house, down by the mailbox. I want a property that's overflowing with herbs and medicinal plants. But hopefully in a thoughtfully relaxed, wabi-sabi kind of way. I've already taken the first step, and planted mint in the ground (SO daring). Six weeks in, and my three plants are already kicking out runner roots in all directions. I can't wait to watch them Godzilla-battle our monkey grass. I hope I have a yard full of mint someday.
Where was I? Oh yeah. This sorbet was really good. Go make some sorbet.
May 25, 2014
Above: Photos by Megan & Mike Gilger. I was so busy hostess-ing that I didn't snap a single shot all day!
Yesterday, Micah and I threw a low country boil for about 12 of our friends. We bought 3-4 pounds each of shrimp, crawfish, crab legs, andouille and kielbasa sausage, red potatoes, and corn, boiled it in a shit-ton of Old Bay, and dumped it out on our dining table for everyone to dig into. Thankfully, everyone was totally game for the primal-yet-satisfying mess that comes with shelling a ton of seafood and eating everything with your hands. For never having made any sort of seafood boil, and being a bit apprehensive about quantities and process, we were pleasantly surprised by how easily it came together, and how impressive it looked and tasted.
Afterwards, I served a honeysuckle sorbet (made from Micah's foraged honeysuckle simple syrup) with lemon zest to cleanse the collective palette – it just seemed like the perfect Southern dessert to serve with this perfectly Southern boil. I'll be posting about that later this week - it was my first sorbet, and I'm instantly hooked.
We actually had no idea that it was Memorial weekend when we originally set the date; we were simply working around one friend's visit to North Carolina, and another friend's departure to thruhike the Appalachian Trial (so inspiring). But it ended up being such a fitting way to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer!
May 22, 2014
The blackberries on our patio seem to be flourishing! If I sound surprised, it's because... I am. When we first moved into our house, those three bushes were scraggly and wild and had obviously not been tended to for a year or two. We couldn't even open the gate (on the left, in the top photo) without thorny branches swinging maddeningly close to our eyeballs. Some quick research revealed that each branch will only produce every other year, which led to some serious trepidation on our part around what to trim and what to save. But, we went with our gut, trimmed them back heavily this winter, and set up a simple trellis system to guide whatever grew back into a more orderly chaos. (Really, Micah did all of this. He had much more faith in these bushes than I did - but of course now that they're flourishing, I'm all, "MY BABIES!")
We told ourselves we'd be happy even if we just got a handful of berries (our actual goal was four. FOUR). And I'd say, as of this morning, there are easily 100 fuzzy, half-ripened berries out there. Crazy. But then! A few weeks ago, we realized there were suspiciously strawberry-esque plants coming up at the feet of each blackberry bush. Again, some quick research revealed that these MAY be strawberries, but they may also be a angrily-indigestible strawberry lookalikes - and we wouldn't know until they flowered. (Spoiler: they turned out to be fine - more than fine! - wonderfully edible). They, too, are flourishing now - I think today is the day I pick our first strawberry.
There's nothing like the first piece of home-grown produce of the year. I can never bring myself to do anything with it, other than lovingly rinse it off, and slowly enjoy it, often standing right next to the very plant it grew on. Forget "farm to table." It's all about farm to FACE right now. Starting with these berries.
DRAMATIC UPDATE: Right after publishing this post, I caught a squirrel eating those two red berries. MOTHER NATURE, man. She giveth, and she taketh away.
May 18, 2014
May 12, 2014
Above: our first kiss, the front of our announcement, and a sneak peek portrait. Photos by the amazing and highly-recommended Brett & Jessica Donar. I can't wait to see how they captured the rest of the day.
One week ago today, Micah and I eloped in the mountains outside of Asheville!
It was magical and transformational and just so absolutely perfect for us. I wore dark green and went barefoot, Micah read from The Princess Bride, and we incorporated shots of moonshine into the ceremony. Kathleen officiated, her husband Jeremy was Micah's best man, and the fantastic Mr. Fox was my man of honor. We stopped mid-ceremony so he could be breastfed.
I'm still buzzing from the enormity and perfection of it all.
I'll be posting more about it over the next few weeks (especially after I get those photos back - oh man), but for now you can check out our wedding blog for a few peeks into our planning process, ceremony, and other details from the day.