Sunday Thoughts ~ Poignant Words

“These beautiful days … do not exist as mere pictures – maps hung upon the walls of memory to brighten at times when touched by association or will … They saturate themselves into every part of the body and live always.” ~ John Muir

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  Have you ever heard something lovely and thought, “I have heard that before ~ but where?”  It could be a song, a phrase someone uses or perhaps, as in my case, a moving poem.

This past week I was listening to some of the tributes given at the funeral of Congressman, John Lewis, by his friends and colleagues.   One gentleman who gave such an inspirational tribute to Lewis was the Reverand, James Lawson.  At ninety-two years young, he certainly imparted the wisdom of his years for all who were listening and I hope many were.  At the end of his tribute, he read a poem that was truly written from a heart full of love, but scared by the experiences of life. 

This poem was one I knew I had heard or read before, but couldn’t remember when.  To me, it is amazing how time does not erase things that deeply touch our hearts.  So, after doing a little research through my volumes of writings, I found what I was looking for.  I had heard this poem at a poetry reading in Washington, D.C. in the late 1960s.  I was a young girl then, but the poignancy of this piece has lingered in my heart all these years.  I hope it will speak to you as it did me.

 

I Dream a World,  by Langston Hughes
“I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!”
We are hungry for tenderness.  In a world where everything abounds, we are poor of this feeling which is like a caress for our heart.” ~ Alda Merini

Dear friends, I hope this finds you and yours well.  May the month of August bring you smiles and good memories.
Know I am wishing you a beautiful day and week ahead.
And,
May we live to see the day where we will enjoy…

“One country, one destiny.”

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images:  via tumblr

Note:  The ending quote, “One country, one destiny” was found embroidered on the lining of the coat Abraham Lincoln was wearing the night he was assassinated.

bio of Langston Hughes, author of “I Dream A World.”  The information is from Wikipedia

James Mercer Langston Hughes (1901-1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He moved to New York City as a young man, where he made his career. One of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry.  Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that “the negro was in vogue”, which was later paraphrased as “when Harlem was in vogue.”

Growing up in a series of Midwestern towns, Hughes became a prolific writer at an early age. He graduated from high school in Cleveland, Ohio, and soon began studies at Columbia University in New York City. Although he dropped out, he gained notice from New York publishers, first in The Crisis magazine, and then from book publishers and became known in the creative community in Harlem. He eventually graduated from Lincoln University. In addition to poetry, Hughes wrote plays and short stories. He also published several non-fiction works. From 1942 to 1962, as the civil rights movement was gaining traction, he wrote an in-depth weekly column in a leading black newspaper, The Chicago Defender.

At Table ~ With David Lebovitz

“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people eat together.” ~ Guy Fieri

Good morning, dear friends.  Welcome to the July post of ‘At Table.’  I do hope this finds you well and ready to try a few new recipes.  It is certainly too hot in my part of the world to be outside.  Therefore, it is a  good time to be in the kitchen.  And, today we are, virtually, in the ‘Paris Kitchen’ with David Lebovitz.  So,  pour yourself a coffee or tea and join me as I share a bit of information about him, some of my favorite recipes from his wonderful book, “My Paris Kitchen,” and a wee bit of history.

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories [A Cookbook]: Lebovitz, David: 8601401105633: Amazon.com: Books

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

 David Lebovitz

 

David Lebovitz is an American, born and raised in Connecticut.  When he was sixteen, he began working in restaurants, including a job washing dishes.  He attended Ithaca College where he began his cooking career at a vegetarian café.  From this café, he went on to Berkeley, California to Chez Panisse.  Working with Alice Waters (who has touched the lives of many great chefs) and co-owner, Executive Pastry Chef Lindsey Shere. Lebovitz describes these thirteen years at Chez Panisse as most important to him and formative in his cooking career.  

In 1999, Lebovitz launched his website davidlebovitz.com to coincide with the release of his first book, “Room for Dessert”(currently out of print).   It was his intention for his website to be a place to share recipes and stories. Shortly after his move to Paris, Lebovitz began to blog more frequently and developed quite a name for himself in the pastry world. At the time, the word “blog” hadn’t been invented nor had the concept, but the blog hasn’t stopped, and recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary. In 2019, Lebovitz was honored by Saveur magazine with its first-ever Blog of the Decade Award. 
Additionally, he was named one of the Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle and has been featured in, Bon Appétit, Chocolatier, Cooking Light, Food+Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, Oprah, Real Simple, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, People, Saveur, Sunset, and USA Today. 
Lebovitz, who has gone on to be the author of eight books was trained as a pastry chef, with certificates from Callebaut College in Belgium, as well as Ecole Lenôtre and Valrhona’s Ecole du Grand Chocolat in France. 

“A recipe has no soul.  You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” ~ Thomas Keller

While conversation and stories make being ‘at the table’ most enjoyable.  I thought I would share a little family history. 
Perhaps, the recipes I am sharing, which have roots in Belgium,  caught my attention because my husband’s family is from the village of Jumet, Belgium.  Jumet is a section of the Belgian town of Charleroi, within the Walloon region in the province of Hainaut.  It is a French-speaking community of the Walloon dialect.  Jumet is famous for its skilled glassworkers, many of which arrived at Ellis Island during the late 1800s.  One of these men was Jules Lambiotte, my husband’s great grandfather who arrived in 1893.

The Lambiotte family is one of great cooks.  My husband’s grandfather (also Jules) was an outstanding cook.  He passed his love of cooking and recipes on to his son, Jean Jacques Lambiotte, and then on to my husband, Michael.  I had the pleasure of eating meals that both Jules and Jean prepared and they were outstanding.  In a later post, I will share a few of their recipes, one of which I treasure the most is Boudin, which the Lambiotte family makes during the Christmas season. I know both of these gentlemen would have enjoyed the recipes I am sharing today.

“When I’m in the kitchen, I know I’m going to have to do a little thinking for myself and rely on my senses, no matter how closely I’m following a recipe.” ~ David Lebovitz

The following recipes are from My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz.
Pain d’epices ~ Honey-Spice Bread ~ The classic addition to Carbonade Flamande.

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder ( preferably aluminum-free)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. whole or ground anise seed

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground all-spice

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Heat the honey, brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan until it begins to boil.  Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the all-purpose flour.  Let this cool to room temperature.

3. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk.

5. Stir half the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; add the eggs, then the rest of the honey mixture, stirring just until smooth. If any bits of the flour remain, whisk the batter briefly to break them up and incorporate them.  Note:  This takes a little stirring, but it will eventually become smooth.

6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Let cool for 20 minutes.  If necessary loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife,  then tip out onto a wire cooling rack.  Note:  My oven at 350 is not really hot.  I baked this for about 50 minutes.  However, do check it at 35 minutes to see what your oven may be doing.

Also, this bread is marvelous toasted and buttered with a cup of coffee.

Variation:  Replace 1/4 cup of the honey with a mild-flavored molasses for a more robust flavor. * I have never tried this.

Carbonade Flamande ~ Belgian Beef Stew With Beer and Spice Bread

I don’t know about you, but stew is something I usually make during the fall and winter months.  However, when I read this recipe I was so intrigued about bread actually in the stew, I couldn’t wait for fall to arrive.  When I was telling my friend Janet about this recipe she said, “Interesting.”  That translates to – “I’m not sure about that, Sandie.”  Lebovitz suggests serving this with mashed potatoes or fresh pasta.  I served it with egg noodles and it was scrumptious.  Now, for all you southerners out there, Janet suggests grits.  And, I think she may just be onto a grand idea.  But then I have Mississippi roots.

3-pound beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 Tbls. olive oil, plus more if needed

2 onions, peeled and diced

2 cups smoked or unsmoked thick-cut bacon cut into lardons

1 cup of warm water

3 cups beer, preferably amber ~ Note:  I used a Belgian Amber Beer

2 tsp. minces fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried

2 bay leaves

5 whole cloves

1 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt

4 slices Pain d’epices, spread with Dijon mustard

1. Pat the beef dry and toss it in the seasoned flour,  shake off any excess.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the chunks of meat in a single layer, in batches (don’t crowd the pan), and fry until they are dark brown on each side.  It’s important to turn them infrequently because you want a deep, dark browning, which gives the dish additional flavor.  As you finish each batch, transfer the pieces to a large bowl.  Add more olive to the pan as needed to keep the beef from sticking.

3. When the beef is browned, add the onions and bacon to the Dutch oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Transfer the onions and bacon to the bowl with the beef.  Add the water to the hot pan, scraping up the dark bits on the bottom, and then add the beer.

4. Return the beef, bacon, and onions to the pot and add the thyme, bay leaves, cloves, and salt.  Cover and let simmer over very low heat for 1 hour.

5. Spread the slices of Pain d’epices with a thin layer of Dijon mustard.  Lay the slices on top of the stew in the pot, mustard-side up.  Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours more, leaving the lid ajar and stirring the contents (including the bread) every once in a while during cooking until the beef is tender.  Remove the bay leaves and serve.  

Now, you know why I was so intrigued.  This recipe is outstanding and received a 5-star award from my husband.  Do give a try on a chilly fall or winter day.  Your home will smell amazing, and the dish is marvelous.  Be sure to bake the Pain d’epices a few days ahead of when you are planning to make the stew, as it needs to ripen a bit and becomes better with age.

Note:  This recipe originated in Belgium, but is extremely popular in France.  Once you taste it you will understand the reason for its popularity.  Should you be wondering about the bread in the stew, it makes a beautiful thickening and completely dissolves.  The taste is amazing from all the spices in the bread.

“…I got an unexpected lesson in the art of arranging the poireaux (leeks):   I learned that it’s imperative that you lay them with the queue (tail) alternating with the tête (head).  So I recommend you follow those instructions, if you want, don’t want to raise any Parisian eyebrows.” ~ David Lebovitz

 

Poireaux Vinaigrette A La Moutarde Et Aux Lardons ~ Leeks With Mustard-Bacon Vinaigrette

Bacon Vinaigrette

2 cups thick-cut smoked bacon cut into lardons 

1 Tbls. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 Tbls. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt

3 Tbls. neutral-tasting vegetable oil

2 Tbls. olive oil

2 Tbls. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

5 large or 10 small leeks, cleaned

2 hard-cooked eggs

1. To make the vinaigrette, cook the bacon over medium heat in a skillet until nearly crisp.  Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.  When cool, chop the bacon into pieces about the size of small peas.

2. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and salt.  Whisk in the oils, 1 Tbls. at a time (the sauce may emulsify, which is fine), then stir in 1 Tbls of the parsley and 2/3 of the bacon.  Set aside.

3. To prepare the leeks, fill a large pot fitted with a steamer with a couple of inches of water.  Bring it to a boil over high heat and add the leeks.  Cook the leeks until tender, when you poke them with a sharp knife, it should meet no resistance at the root ends.  Smaller leeks take about 15 minutes and larger leeks about 30 minutes.

4. Remove the leeks and let drain and cool on a plate lined with paper towels.  Cut the leeks in half crosswise, and arrange on a serving platter, alternating them head to tail.

5. Peel and dice the hard-cooked eggs and scatter them over the leeks.  Pour the vinaigrette over the leeks and toss them and the pieces of egg in the dressing so they’re thoroughly coated, then scatter over the remaining bacon pieces and parsley.

6. Serve at room temperature.

Note:  I served this with pan-seared salmon with mustard butter for the salmon.  It was yummy.  This dish is a lovely accompaniment to most meats, poultry, or fish.  French and Belgium cooks add leeks to many things.  They are wonderful in soups and stews or in many dishes to substitute for onions.  To me, they have a sweet mild flavor.

Also, I prefer this made with smaller leeks as they are more tender.

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your time ‘At Table’ and that you will give the recipes a try.  I don’t believe you will be disappointed.  

Wishing you a beautiful day, happy times in the kitchen, and many wonderful memories ‘At Your Table.’

Stay Well!

 

“A garden brings life and beauty to the table.” ~ AliceWaters 

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

Images: via Tumblr and Facebook

Information on David Lebovitz, from his book “My Paris Kitchen and his blog, Davidlebovitz.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Smiles

“Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  It is a pretty morning here in our West Virginia hills.  Hopefully, it is where you are as well. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could stop time,  for just a few days?  It passes way too quickly and in a blink, it will be autumn.  But meanwhile, let us enjoy this season.  To me,  one of the sweetest things to accompany summer is the butterfly.  They are beautiful, delightful to watch, and bring us smiles.  

 

Butterfly Laughter, by Katherine Mansfield
“In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the
butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: “Do not eat the poor
butterfly.”
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother’s lap.” 
“Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life.  And everyone deserves a little sunshine.” ~ Jeffrey Glassberg

lalulutres: “ Flickr by natsuki90 ”

 

Melanargia galathea / le Demi-Deuil (mâle / male) Causse Méjean, France. Juillet 2020. Melanargia galathea / le Demi-Deuil (mâle / male) a species of Lepidoptera ~ Causse Méjean, France.

Argynnis pandora, Le Cardinal (Femelle, Female). Causse Méjean, France. Juin 2017. Argynnis pandora, Le Cardinal (Femelle, Female). ~ Causse Méjean, France.

“Butterflies are like angels kisses sent from heaven.” ~ Malia Kirk

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~ Maya Angelou

gardenofgod: “Queen, by RVTN. ”

“Butterflies are but petals upon the sky.” ~ Jazz Feylynn

soul-of-an-angel: “Monarch Butterfly • | ©Rob Haskett ”

“…and when all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful.” ~ Ruskin Bond

“A butterfly is a flying flower with a dancing heart.” ~  Debasish Mridha

 

Dear friends, I hope my amazing little garden buddies have brought you a few rays of sunshine as you begin your day.

And…

“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to light on.  To bring you luck, happiness, and riches today, tomorrow and beyond.” ~ Irish Blessing

 

Have a beautiful day! 

Amour,

Sandra

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ July 19, 2020

“That place where wildflowers wrote summer stories.” ~ unknown

autumncottageattic: “ mysimplehome ”

Good morning, beautiful souls.  Summer is marching along and our hillsides in West Virginia are bursting with wildflower bloom.  They turn an ordinary trip to the store into a sweet sight-seeing adventure.  To me, they are a sign of hope and one of the ‘simple things of life’ I enjoy.  

“There are butterflies here.  Watch how they dance from wildflower to wildflower in a nectar~fuelled trance. 

Fluttering, fitting, lightly they live. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have wings and think only of wildflowers.” ~ Ellis Nightingale, Wildflowers 

speakingofnature: “As summer advances more wildflowers become available to feed the butterfly population. Here an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) nectars at a favorite of many butterflies, the Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). ” Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoying Wild Bergamot.

“Where hope grows, miracles blossom.” ~ Elna Rae

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we… see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places~and there are so many~where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.  And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory…” ~ Howard Zinn

Dear friends, while each of our lives and our communities is unique.  We are all struggling to deal with the virus and the non-ending bad news.  However, I know we are also struggling to keep life as safe and normal as we possibly can, for ourselves and those we love.  And, there are different things that help each of us cope.  Whatever that may be for you, stay with it.   

And…

May, little snippets of beauty greet you at your every turn.  Notice them, they are there just for you. 

Stay well! 

itsthesmallthing: “Pinterest • The world’s catalog of ideas https://www.pinterest.com ”

“The Amen of nature is always a flower.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images: via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Adversity

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”  ~ Robert D. San Souci 

yellowrose543: “Life ”

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  I do hope this finds you well and that the past week was a good one.

Considered a weed by many, although I can’t imagine such, poppies brighten our days with their blooms and also by where they decide to grow.  They enjoy scattering their seeds by the wind and are quite happy being allowed to grow in the spots ‘they’ choose.  To be as delicate as they seem, poppies are a tough plant and grow in rocky places and under adverse conditions.  I have no idea where the photo above was taken.  But it doesn’t appear to be too cheerful.  However, the bright red poppy grows as a sign of hope and beauty in the cold stone.

It has been said, “Poppies refuse to grow where they are not welcome.”  I am always so excited to see them every spring and I believe they know it.  It is such fun to see where they decide to grow in our garden.  Our poppy seeds traveled many miles to their new home in West Virginia.  They are from a friend in France.

FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

“Hope always blooms.” ~ Amy Neftzger

In thinking of plants that grow and bloom in ‘adversity,’  I have also given much thought to brave people who have bloomed during terrible times, in horrid conditions.  People whose lives were in the hands of evil and in spite of it all, they managed to inspire and care for others.    

Currently, in our world, our conditions are far from good.  Our lives have been turned upside down by the Coronavirus and we are terribly saddened by the unrest at home and in our world.  However, there remain many good people and good things happening.  And, for me, it is important to pause a moment and remember them. FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

“Bloom as if you want to make the whole world beautiful.” Debasish Mridha

Dear friends, among you, are fellow bloggers, virtual friends, and my precious friends of many years.  To me, you are all a gift and a part of the good in our world.  I want you to know what an inspiration you are by the comments you leave on my blog as well as your private messages.  I am certain you also inspire others.   Truly, I am grateful to all of you and I send a huge ‘thank you’ for your goodness.

Know that you, indeed, make the ‘world beautiful.’  

 Have a perfectly glorious day and a lovely week ahead! 

Stay well. 

 

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything –
It’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Amour,

SandraFINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

 

Images:  via tumblr, Michael S. Lambiotte

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Kindness

“Kindness changes the world one heart at a time.” ~ Mary Davis

followthewestwind: “ Sisters ”

Good morning, dear friends.  I do hope everyone enjoyed a lovely and peaceful Fourth of July.  But most of all, I hope this finds you well.

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela

In thinking of a topic for this post, my mind wandered to the many celebrations of our freedom held this weekend.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all across our beautiful country we could celebrate America as a nation known for its generosity, kindness,  love, and respect shown to all.”  “From the mountains to the prairies and to the oceans.”

allthingseurope: “Aberdeenshire, Scotland (by Paul) ”

Honestly, I don’t have my head in the sand.  I am just weary, as I know you are also,  of the hate and meanness in our world.  It is everywhere, but if we could clean up our own back yard we would set an example for others.  Our nation and her citizens are still trying to heal from past wounds.  It takes effort and attention to close a wound.  It will not heal itself.    America has, however, always extended its hand to our neighbors, spoken out for those without a voice, and offered hope to the forgotten.  But, what has happened to us?  Hateful speech, vulgar language, and dreadful behavior are things that have become all too commonplace in our country.  And, often, our neighbors and the downtrodden of this world no longer seem to matter.  I do know our country cannot save the entire world.  However, there is an old saying ~ “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”  Have we?

“Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom.” ~ E. B. White

petalier: “@WeHeartIt /entry/187665415 ”

 

 

 

To me, E.B. White is correct.  Perhaps, we need to imagine our country in “bloom,” before we “sow the seeds.”  But, we must do something and soon.  Because “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ~ His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Dear friends, know I am wishing you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day.  Do continue to take care with regard to the Coronavirus.

And…

May you find love and kindness along your path.  

 

 

“Keep your eyes lifted high upon the sun ~ and you will see the best light in everyone.” ~ Tess Guinery

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images:  via tumblr

‘Sunday Thoughts’ ~ “Green Fingers”

“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.” ~ Russell Page

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  I do hope this finds everyone continuing to be well.   

“At the heart of gardening there is a belief in the miraculous.” ~ Mirabel Osler

This week, as I was going through my many pages of quotes and writings, I came across the opening quote by Russel Page.  About gardening and “green fingers.”  I had to laugh and it gave me a great memory of my dear mom.  As many of you may know, mom was an avid gardener, and a talented one as well.  She once had a friend who was visiting her garden say, “Louise, I do believe you could put a broom handle in the ground and it would sprout and grow.”  Mom and I laughed over those words many times.

Narcissus, Rip van Winkle (double heirloom)

But, as you might imagine, there is more to this story.  Now, the virus hasn’t caused me to take leave of my senses and I know it is a bit early to be thinking of spring blooms.  However, let me explain.  In the very early spring of this year, probably mid-March, Mike and I were in the garden and were looking for a daffodil we knew we needed to move because it was not getting enough sun, which should have been done last fall.  This daffodil is special to us as it had been on his grandparent’s farm in Pennsylvania.  The daffodil is named Rip van Winkle, an heirloom daffodil.  ‘Rip,’ as we call him, takes a little getting used to, but he does grow on you and has gorgeous green shading.  He looks like someone who is having a really bad hair day.  Anyway, on this spring day, good fortune was with us and we found Rip.  I reached down to put a stick in the ground marking its location and came into the house and didn’t give Rip another thought. 

A new Annabelle hydrangea marking daffodil, Rip van Winkle.

Until, one nice warm April day Mike came into the house and said, “Sandra, you are certainly your mother’s daughter.”  Of course, I wanted to know what prompted that remark and so he replied, “Remember that stick you put in the ground to mark the location of Rip?”  “It was a broken hydrangea stick and it has leaves coming from it and it has taken root.”  We both laughed and off to the garden we went to inspect the ‘stick.’  Now, I couldn’t have started a hydrangea using this method if I had tried, but there it was, a new Annabelle hydrangea with leaves and it was taking root.  

Annabelle hydrangeas in our garden.

“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.” ~ H. Fred Ale

Nikko Blue Hydrangeas in our garden, just beginning to turn blue.

Do I believe there are folks with green fingers or green thumbs?  Perhaps, I’m not certain.  But I do believe there are folks who, have suffered the loss of treasured plants, outwitted all sorts of destructive creatures,  endured the wrath of Mother Nature, and even with all of this,  pushed on to become outstanding gardeners.  Why does one pursue such madness?  It is all about the love of beauty and the feeling one has when they have a hand in bringing such beauty to life.  It is the enormous sense of satisfaction that one receives from being rewarded by their hours of work and care, and it is the magnificent peace one has while in the garden.  It is also about memories that will last a lifetime.

“I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark.  Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.” ~ Julie Moir Messervy

Poppies from France, blooming in our garden.

 

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit.  Know I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And…

May your week ahead be filled with lovely moments and kind people.

Amour,

Sandra

 

Note:  Should you have a fondness for the Rip van Winkle daffodil he is available through Old House Gardens which specializes in heirloom bulbs and plants.

Images:  Michael S. Lambiotte, tumblr, Old House Gardens Catalogue

At Table ~ With Dorie Greenspan

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.” ~ E.A. Bucchianeri

Good morning, dear friends.  And, welcome to ‘At Table.’  This month we will be joining Dorie Greenspan, Around Her French Table.  Now, you may or may not be familiar with Greenspan.  Therefore, today I will share some of what I have learned about her, all of which has come from my reading and from preparing her delicious recipes.  Make yourself comfy, find your coffee/tea, and join me ‘At Table, with Dorie Greenspan.’

“Sometimes I think there are devils at work in the kitchen ~ recipes that are always perfect sometimes come out less than perfect and I can’t figure out why.” ~ Dorie Greenspan

We're definitely making room on our cookie plates for these five treats.

Most likely, one would consider anyone who had burned down their parent’s kitchen at age twelve as one who would probably not go on to become a famous chef or one who would write wonderful cookbooks.  However, that is exactly what happened to Dorie Greenspan.  Although, the kitchen fiasco did prevent her from venturing into the kitchen again until after she was married.  Oh, but when she stepped into the kitchen again, she never stopped cooking or baking.   And to this day, she continues to enjoy her career.

Greenspan is the winner of five James Beard Awards.  They are as follows: One for journalism,  one for her books ~ Baking With Julia, Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie’s Cookies, and one for being voted into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.  Additionally, twice she has won the Cookbook of the Year Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  Once for Desserts by  Pierre Hermé and once for Around My French Table.  She has also been on the New York Times Bestseller List twice.  Once for Around My French Table and once for Baking Chez Moi.

Greenspan, who considers herself very fortunate, was born in Brooklyn, New York.  Today, she splits her time between New York, Connecticut and Paris.  She has been married to her husband,  Michael since her junior year of college and they have one son, Joshua.  She is the “On Dessert” columnist for the New York Times Magazine,  a contributing editor to Parade Magazine, a long-time contributor to Bon Appétit, and the food critic for the Louis Vuitton City Guide:  New York.

“I always feel that when I send a recipe out into the world, I’m asking you to be my partner in making it…”  Dorie Greenspan 

Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by [Dorie Greenspan, Alan Richardson]

 

Now, I am sure you are anxious to see recipes I have selected from her outstanding book, so I will stop the chatter and get on to a few of my favorites.  I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.

Gougères (makes about 36)

The easiest way to describe gougères is to call them cheese puffs.  Gougères are made all over France, but they originated in Burgundy where they are always the first thing you receive when you sit down in any restaurant.  They are delightful with a glass of Champagne.  

Note:  These can be frozen in dough form and placed in the oven directly from the freezer.  Nice to have on hand for something to serve at the spur of the moment. 

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

8 Tbls. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese, such as Gruyère (my favorite) or cheddar.

Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat.  Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk.  The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan.  Keep stirring – with vigor- for another minute or two to dry the dough.  At this point, the dough should be very smooth.  

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny.  Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next, and don’t be concerned if the dough separates.  By the time the last egg goes in, the dough will come together again.  Beat in the grated cheese.  Once the dough is made, it should be spooned out immediately.  Using about 1 Tbls. of dough for each gougère, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between the mounds.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375.  Bake for 12 minutes then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom.  Continue baking until the gougères are golden, firm, and puffed.  Another 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve warm or transfer the pans to racks to cool.

Note:  According to Greenspan, when you are an American in France, there is nothing more flattering than to have French people ask you to share your recipe for one of their national treasures and she has had this recipe requested over and over.

“Sitting down to a meal together draws a line around us, it encloses us and strengthens the bonds that connect us with other members of our self-defined clan, shutting out the rest of the world.” ~ Miriam Weinstein

 

M. Jacques’ Armagnac Chicken (serves 4)

Greenspan considers this recipe, Une Petite Merveille (a little marvel).  It was given to her many years ago by Jacques Drouot, the mâitre d’ hôtel at the famous Le Dôme brasserie in Paris.  She has been preparing this recipe for her family and friends ever since it was given to her.

1 Tbls. olive oil

8 small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise – I use red potatoes

3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

2 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and thickly sliced on the diagonal

salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 spring fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 – 3 1/2 pound chicken with wings turned under and feet tied together at room temperature 

1/2 cup Armagnac, Cognac or good Brandy (Armagnac is preferred)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450.  You will need a heavy casserole with a tight-fitting cover, one large enough to hold the chicken snugly but still leave room for the vegetables.  A cast-iron enameled dutch oven is perfect.  Put the casserole over medium heat and pour in the oil.  When it is warm, add the vegetables and turn them in the oil for a minute or two until they glisten; season with salt and white pepper.  Stir in the herbs and push everything toward the sides of the pot to make way for the chicken.  Rub chicken all over with salt and white pepper, nestle it in the pot and pour the Armagnac around it.  Leave the pot on the heat for a minute or so to warm the Armagnac, then cover it tightly.  If your lid doesn’t fit tightly cover it with foil and place on the lid.  Slide the pot into the oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for one hour.

Transfer the pot to the stove and carefully remove the lid and foil, if you have used foil.  Make sure to open the lid away from you as there will bee a lot of steam.  Transfer your beautifully browned chicken to a warm platter or large shallow bowl.  Using a spoon, skim off the fat, and discard it.  Pick out the bay leaf and discard also.  Turn the heat to medium and add the water, stirring to blend with pan juices.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it slightly begins to thicken.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Carve the chicken and serve with vegetables and sauce.

NoteBonne Idée (good idea)  Armagnac and prunes are a classic combination in France.  If you like, you can toss 8-12 prunes (pitted or not) into the pot along with the herbs.  These make a sweet and lovely addition to the mixture.  The prunes often simply melt during the cooking process.  You won’t be sorry you tried this.

“Desserts are the fairy tales of the kitchen, a happily-ever-after to supper.” ~ Terri Guillemets

 

Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse (serves 4)

3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

pinch of salt

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

Whipped cream or Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)

Gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave oven on medium power.

Transfer the chocolate to a bowl that can hold all ingredients.  Using a whisk, stir the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time.  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with salt until they start to form peaks.  Beating all the while, gradually add sugar.  Continue to beat until the whites are shiny and hold medium-firm peaks.

Spoon about one-quarter of the whites over the melted chocolate and stir with the whisk until the mixture is almost smooth.  (Stirring in a bit of the whites lightens the chocolate and makes the next step easier.)  Spoon the rest of the whites over the chocolate and using the whisk or a large rubber spatula, very carefully fold them in.  Be as thorough as you can without overworking the mixture.  

Spoon the mousse into individual serving bowls and serve or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the mousse to prevent the top of the mousse from hardening.

oldfarmhouse: “Inspiration by Valentina Hortus~ ”

“I don’t know if there is a method that I’d like to see younger people bring back, I just want to see everyone of every age in the kitchen.” ~ Dorie Greenspan

Dear Friends, I hope you have enjoyed your time ‘At Table.’

Wishing you a wonderful day 

And…

Only happy times in the kitchen!

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

 

Images:  Pinterest and tumblr

Recipes:  All are from, Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday Thoughts ~ Gardeners and Their Shenanigans !

“A gardening friend of mine has quite lost her mind ~ not that it distresses her much ~ and she no longer makes an effort to conceal her madness.” ~ Henry Mitchell

Photo in our garden.  By, Andy Walker, Walker Media

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  I do hope this finds everyone well.  Lately, while enjoying time in our garden, I find myself reflecting on the many treasured gardening friends I have been fortunate to make over the years.  Gardeners form a deep bond of friendship through their shared love of the earth, creating beauty and growing lovely things.  These friendships bring about interesting tales of success and failure, as well as things gardeners do upon finding themselves on the garden path. Some of which, non-gardeners may well consider a “bit off plumb,” as Mike would say.  However, I want to share a couple of these tales this morning and I hope they will begin your day with a smile.

“Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.” ~ Mary Cantwell

Antique rose blooming in our garden.

Linda, one of my dear gardening friends had been watching a home in her neighborhood she had long admired.  She had heard through the grapevine the house and property may soon be for sale.  The owner of the home was from Russia and her only child was her daughter who lived in Washington state.  Quite a distance from coastal Virginia. 

One evening Linda was out for her daily walk and there it was ~ the ‘For Sale’ sign.  Quickly, she ran home, got in her car, and drove back to the house.  In front of the house, she grabbed the sign, placed it in her trunk, and went home.  Then,  she immediately called the realtor, confessed her sin, and requested to see the home the next morning ~ early.  The home was charming but it was the garden Linda was after.  The garden sloped down to a lovely creek and was full of azaleas and many other beauties.  Namely sequoia trees.  Now, one does not normally see these magnificent trees in Virginia, but they were thriving in this beautiful garden.  The lady from Russia was a brilliant gardener.

Needless to say, Linda and her husband purchased the house on the spot.  It is wonderful when a beautiful and loved garden can be turned over to another gardener who will also love and care for the beauty and appreciate the work which has been done before it became theirs.

“Out of gardens grow fleeting flowers but lasting friendships.” ~Beverly Rose Hopper  

Rosa New Dawn Rosa, New Dawn

My next little tale is about my wonderful and unique gardening friend, Anne.  It is impossible for this world to hold another Anne like this one.  She has a sense of humor that is unmatched,  loves life, is a mom to two sweet little boys (now sweet young men), is unbelievably talented, and above all, is so very real.  Truly, she would never make an effort to “conceal her madness.”  And, I hope she never does,  as it is such a part of her charm. 

 

Anne, Max (on left) and Wes ( on right).

Before Anne and I retired we were ‘partners in crime’ in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Department of Human Resources.  To say the least, those were some stressful times.  We helped each other to remain sane and our gardens helped us too.  However, there was additional stress on Anne.  She was going through a ‘difficult’ divorce.  But through it all,  every day I was greeted with her huge smile and something that I always had to figure out later (I am one of those people who gets the joke long after it is told).

One summer evening around 10:00 p.m. I received a call from Anne, “Sandie are you still up?”  Anne was on her way over to our house.  She only lived a few miles from us.  When I saw her coming up the driveway, I turned on all the outside lights.  I wondered what she was up to.  When she arrived by our back porch, out jumped Anne and she slid the doors to her van wide open.  And, what did my eyes see?  Nothing but plants.  The van was exploding with plants and a huge variety of plants.  I said to her, “Anne, what in the world have you done?”  She answered, “He might get  the house, but he will never have my garden.”  Anne had dug up her entire garden, leaving only the holes where plants once were and brought her garden to me for safekeeping.

All of Anne’s plants were on sheets (she had thought ahead).  The two of us drug them around to the side of the house where my garden was and I spent the next few days hilling in her plants, watering them until she would be able to take them to her new home, and her ‘soon to be’ new garden.  One of these plants was her beautiful New Dawn Rose.  She had to cut this rose back considerably to dig and move it.  If you have ever grown a New Dawn in the south you know how massive it can get.  This rose is a magnificent specimen but she has tremendously large canes and even larger thorns.  Anne’s arms and legs clearly showed she was determined to win the struggle of moving this beauty (more like a beast).  

I am happy to say, in spite of this difficult season,  Anne’s life took a lovely turn with a good man, and she continues to garden.  Currently, she is involved in creating fairy gardens with two little girls who live next door.  She lives happily.

Photo of Fairy Garden, by Anne.

 

“I like gardening. It’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” ~  Alice Sebold 

Out in the garden, out in the windy, swinging dark, under the trees and over the flower-beds, over the grass and under the hedge border, someone is sweeping, sweeping, some old gardener.  Out in the windy, swinging dark, someone is secretly putting in order, someone is creeping, creeping. ~ Katherine Mansfield, Out in the Garden, 1922

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit and my gardening tales.  

Know, I am wishing you and yours a beautiful day.

  And…

Should you find yourself on the garden path, may it bring you many smiles, only the best of memories,

and friends you will want to “hold with both your hands”.

 

“Hold a true friend with both your hands.” ~ Nigerian Proverb  

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Note:  I have many more garden tales and will share them from time-to-time.

Images:  Fairy Garden, by Anne.  Other images:  Michael S. Lambiotte, Andy Walker, and Jackson and Perkins catalog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “…The Sweet, Simple Things Of Life…”

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring ~ these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” ~ John Burroughs
https://www.instagram.com/dreamywhitelifestyle/

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  I hope this finds everyone well and under blue skies.  We have been enjoying some lovely weather the past few days.  And as I write this, with the office window open, the smell of the honeysuckle on the arbor is glorious.  I wish I could add the fragrance to this post for you to also enjoy, but perhaps the photo will stir your imagination. 

“I shall take my morning tea with the birds, the trees and the bumbling bees.” ~ Flora Turrill

Definitely, I agree with Flora Turrill, other than I prefer coffee in the morning.  But, the beverage choice doesn’t matter.  The pleasure is to enjoy it, if possible, with the “birds, trees, and bumbling bees.” 

One lesson the virus has taught us is, I believe most of us have learned the difference between what we want and what we need.  Certainly, I truly have.  And, I have always been a believer that all things happen for a reason and I don’t feel the virus was any different.  Perhaps, we needed to be reminded of a few matters of importance.  Such as ~ the simple things, the small joys that touch our hearts, and provide us with wonderful memories.  

“For me, wildflowers are joy-giving. They have enriched my life and fed my soul and given beautiful memories to sustain me.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

 

image

I have always loved wildflowers and they are abundant in our West Virginia hills.  Perhaps you enjoy them too.  Every area of our land is rich with its own special varieties ~ beauties that thrive in intense heat, poor soil, as well as in freezing weather conditions.  During this pandemic, they seem to be even more plentiful.  Or, maybe part of my lesson was to pay more attention.  Either way, they are lovely, and to see them makes me so happy.

I am fortunate to have many of my mom’s flower and gardening books.  She always took along certain books on wildflower walks to help with plant identification. One of her most favorite things to do was to attend the Wildflower Pilgrimage which is an annual event conducted by the West Virginia Garden Clubs, Inc. and co-sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.  It is held every spring in Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, West Virginia.

“As I wander’d the forest, the green leaves among, I heard a Wildflower singing a song.” ~ William Blake

Wildflowers truly are one of the “Sweet, Simple Things of Life.”  And how perfectly delightful it would be to have a simple meal with someone you love and adore in a field of wildflowers.  

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” ~ John Kabat-Zinn

” It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” ~  J. R. R. Tolkien
*
“They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” ~ Dr. Seuss
It has been so nice to enjoy time on my bench in the garden.  Listing to the birds chirping in the morning, watching the way the sun shines through the trees and the raindrops sparkling on everything after an early morning shower.  And, pondering a delicious summer dinner.  
Our area is famous for Italian olives and Mike and I love them with cheese, a little bread and of course a glass of wine.  
lablascovegmenu-cookbook: “ From @realisrad on Instagram: Yes | Blueberries + Blackberries ”
Add some fresh berries and you have sweet perfection. 
And for dessert, watermelon.  I am anxiously waiting for those Sugar Babies to hit the market.  Ripe and ice-cold they are pure bliss on a hot summer day.  Mark Twain knew what he was talking about when he said, “When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.”

“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things that the true beauty lies.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit.  Please continue to be careful with regard to the virus.  The experts tell us it is far from over.  And I believe when it is over life will be different.  That is certainly not to say that it might just not be better.  Know I wish you a beautiful day and a lovely week ahead. 

And…

May you enjoy all your moments and find beauty in all that you do. 

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Authors Notes:  Part of the title of this post was taken from the quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder which reads, “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

Honeysuckle Photo:  Michael S. Lambiotte

Images:  Regarding the images on this blog, most are from tumblr, unless otherwise noted.  Most often, I am unable to determine the photographer or where the photo was taken.  All I can say is, The photos are the work of highly talented souls and I would be happy to attach a name if I could locate one.  I find great joy in sharing their work with lovely quotes from my personal collection and am hopeful the two together provide a message of goodwill.