A Harvest Dinner

Posts aren’t exactly tumbling out themselves from the cracks and crevices of my laptop and self-publishing, so until that happens (wait, that would be some strange content) we’re just going to play catch up for a bit.

It’s no secret that I’ve been grasping at summer,
not wanting to let it slip away, so last month we hauled our dining room table out
onto the freshly mown grass, added the picnic table, plus a table I use
for photography, and hosted a harvest dinner party under the trees.

I invited over 60 people (what was I thinking?), and in the end we were 44, kids and all.

Check out the full recap with pictures and tips over on Simple Bites, but for now here are a few Instagrams images I managed to snap.

These tomatoes were the inspiration for a simple tomato salad with
buffalo mozzarella, fresh torn basil, and a sherry vinaigrette.

The gathering place of friends at it conception, with 23 indoor and outdoor chairs that we managed to round up.

There were simple place cards on apples for the guests, and jam jars for water glasses; wildflower bouquets and red wine for all.

 Kids corner: a self-serve snacking station complete with wraps, drinks, muffins, fruit & vegetables.

Dinner under the willow tree. There may have been a few babies present.

The only dish I managed to snap a photo of, and my favorite of the day:
poached salmon, homemade tarragon aioli, dill, pickled ramps, and our
own eggs.

In the middle of winter I’m going to gaze at this photo and remember the warm night air, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the rippling laughter…and then start planning the next event.

Friends brought desserts of all kinds – cherry clafouti, apple bundt cake, blueberry pie, peach crisp and much more. We ended the evening on a sweet note, to be sure.

Here is a one-minute recap of the event with Danny’s first attempt at timelapse photography. ..The end is a natural fade-to-black, as we lingered outside until it was nearly night…

Until next summer…

Grasping at summer


I’ve never been one to usher in the arrival of fall with whoops and cheers, eagerly abandoning the over-ripening tomatoes and mammoth zucchinis for early apples and taut leeks.

I know the fall produce season is a good long one, so these days I overlook the (howbeit, beautiful) bushels of oval Roma tomatoes at the market, and pass over the heaps of Spartan apples in favor of yet another basket of peaches, a flat of berries (perhaps the last for many months), a dozen ears of corn, and the largest bundle of basil to be found.

Back in the kitchen, I turn the basil into pesto and freeze it in muffin cups for use during the winter. The boys hunker down by the compost pile and shuck the corn for me, so I can cut it off the cob and add it to the freezer as well.

I serve up salad after salad for dinner, followed by generous slices of melon, which we all -even Clara- eat until the floor under the table is sticky and the rinds are heaped on our plates.

I understand that autumn’s arrival is inevitable. I don’t pretend to ignore the landscape of school supplies spreading across the buffet. I’m aware, painfully so, of the faint tint of gold on the leaves in the back forest.

Even today, as we picnicked with lemonade and cookies on the grass (an undeniable attempt to salvage summer), I felt a chill in the air. Clara’s bare feet felt clammy. And I shivered even though the sun was shining.


Yes, August hangs by mere moments, but I’m choosing to live in them, deliberately.

On Sunday I cannon-balled off the diving board at my in-laws, amid shrieks from my boys. I let myself sink to the bottom of the pool, relished the cool quiet, then surfaced in the sun. Perhaps it would be the last swim of the season.

I stripped Clara naked and dunked her in the clear blue salt water as well. She’s only going to have a soft teeny dimpled bottom to appreciate for so long. At five months she’s sitting and nearly crawling. In as much as I’m aware of the season’s turning, I’m as painfully aware of how quickly she is growing up, transforming from infant to little girl.


Christmas products are in stores and holiday baking is starting to plaster Pinterest, yet I’m firmly stuck on summer. I’m buying up stone fruit and baking desserts like Vanilla-Biscuit Peach & Plum Cobbler, which Danny and I consume together after the children are in bed, our spoons congenially scraping the bottoms of our bowls together.

The best way I can come to terms with the approaching autumn (and subsequent winter) is to preserve the summer season in jars. This week I roasted trays and trays of peaches slowly in the oven, and as they perfumed the house, they reduced into a thick, rich butter. I seasoned the butter with a dusting of fresh cinnamon, tipped it into hot jars, and gave them the hot water canner treatment for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, the pints of cinnamon-peach butter join the other jars in my pantry: sweet zucchini relish, pickles, cherry-plum jam, strawberry jam, blueberry butter, sliced peaches, cherries in vanilla syrup, and more.

Slowly, one jar at a time, I am conceding the end of summer.

The Big Summer Potluck Retreat Recap

Dancing to a live bluegrass band playing into the evening, sipping ice cold rosé while a thunderstorm raged on three sides of a covered patio, laughing with the HomeFries girls – these are just a few of the moments my memory keeps returning to from last weekend’s retreat.

Today I don’t have food photos, cooking tips, or a recipe to share, but rather a brief glimpse into The Big Summer Potluck, an event I recently attended with Clara in rural Pennsylvania.

I believe last year I established that this gathering was decidedly not a conference. I’ve been to a few now, and The Big Potluck is vastly different, swapping dark hotel corridors for open fields, sponsors’ halls for a picturesque barn, and a hurried agenda for a relaxed, poignant event.

[Read more…]

Strawberry Season Recap


They came and went in a flash. Not gone entirely, I suppose, as late varieties still linger at the markets, however when I pulled up at my local U-Pick I was told the strawberries were finished. That was the beginning of my raspberry picking adventure, and another story altogether.


Before the season was over, I did manage to get a few berries tucked away for winter, with the help of Mateo, who washed and drained the lot. He is most enthusiastic about this summer berry, and couldn’t care less about the rest.


Not all the berries went into the freezer; we made sure to feast on them along the way.

First up was a creamy, dreamy strawberry-buttermilk lassi: berries, ice, buttermilk, a sprinkling of sugar unless you like it tangy. Blend. Drink.


There must be roasted strawberries each season, jarred up in their own juices and frozen. For crepes. For cornmeal pancakes.


On they day the strawberries were roasted, I tucked several into a panini along with fresh basil and a few squares of chocolate. Summer lunch at its best.


Ice cream was made, strawberry-sour cream ice cream, at that. Two little boys pulled up stools and watched the pink cream freeze and take on shapes.

It was so good, I made two more batches that week.


And of course, jam. First a Honey-Strawberry Jam, then a Strawberry-Rhubarb Orange Jam from the new Food in Jars cookbook from Marisa. It will go down in history as the very best straw-rhub jam I’ve ever made, with its perfect consistency and balance of sweet and tart.


Strawberry season may be over, but I’m still canning. It’s Canning Week over on Simple Bites, kicking off with Sweet-Cherry Plum Jam, and continuing with Marisa’s sultry Peach Barbecue Sauce. Come join the party.


What are you doing with summer berries?

Ten Years Married


Ten years ago Danny and I tied the knot in an apple orchard with about 120 friends and family looking on. We were young, just 23, full of hopes and plans for the future.

The years since have blessed us with far more that we could have ever dreamed -three healthy children, a little urban farm, careers that we enjoy, and most of all, a love for each other that grows stronger by the day.


On Saturday (our actual anniversary) we returned to the very same orchard with our three little ones in tow. We picnicked on the grass, played tag among the trees, and reminisced over our wedding day.

Later that evening, Danny and I slipped away without the kids for a dinner on the town where we sipped champagne, slurped a dozen oysters, and speculated on what the next ten years might possibly hold. Good things, we are sure of that.

Here are a few iPhone photos from the day.











Clara gave us the very best anniversary present ever – she slept through the whole night in her own bed. This was the morning after, when she was all smiles.
We all were.

PSST! In honour of my 10th wedding anniversary, I’m giving away a KitchenAid 7 Qt Bowl Lift Commercial Stand Mixer valued at $900. Head on over to Simple Bites to enter and good luck!

(Giveaway is sponsored by KitchenAid USA and only open to US residents.)