Come late August, I have usually thrown in the towel on my garden because the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania is just too much for this Canadian girl and I’ve let the weeds win my constant battle with them. This year I have an additional excuse for the sorry state of affairs! A garden snake startled me in early spring and took up residence in my garden. I know, I know. They are beneficial. They consume a lot of bugs and vermin. But I threw in the trowel right then and there and decided that this would be the year I let the weeds grow with wild abandon alongside their little friend. However when a garden party looms in your near future, one must tend the garden and tame the beast.
One of the weeds happily growing in profusion was purslane.
I remember reading about its nutritious value and decided I would find my inner foraging spirit and harvest it to eat. With its plump, soft, succulent-like leaves, purslane is high in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, low in calories like most leafy greens, and rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti oxidants. Dr. Strum natural skin care out of Germany uses it as a star ingredient in their line of products(WSJ Style Issue, September 2018). But I cannot tell a lie. I pulled the purslane up and was still hesitant to consume it. I am after all new to this foraging business. What if this was something bad for me? I photographed a patch with my favorite plant identifying app, PictureThis, and it confirmed the weed as being common purslane. (The app is a free download and is very easy to use. You take a phone picture through the app and it identifies the plant). Reassured, I took the purslane into the kitchen to come up with a recipe to eat it in. But truth be told, I was still dragging my feet, foraging whimp that I am!
“When life throws you a curveball, give a punch.”
Dr. Peter Hunt
After a quarter century of marriage some wedding gifts fade from popularity and lose their shine. One of our most surprising but delightful wedding gifts was an antique English sterling punch bowl given to us by one of my professors with the witty quote above. I look at that punch bowl every day as it corrals our outgoing mail right by the front door. Once upon a time, a punch bowl was a wedding registry staple. Today, not so much. That is unfortunate as there are so many novel ways to use a punch bowl. Perhaps you’ve got a punch bowl gathering dust in the back of a cupboard or maybe you’ll come across a beauty available for a few dollars in a yard sale. It is time to reimagine the punch bowl for today’s lifestyle. This post will give you some ideas of how I use some of our punch bowls and inspire you to show yours some love.
In summer, I heap sea shells in a punch bowl on a hall table for a no-fuss, no-maintenance seasonal vignette. The punch bowl is three quarters filled with crumpled newspaper first which is then topped with the sea shells.
“Warm, enticing scents were floating down, basil and oregano and tomato. It made Wes long for something, something he couldn’t place. A happy childhood, a home.”
Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake
If you’re eating low carb and missing pizza, these portobello “pizzas” will satisfy your craving totally. Easily customizable with whatever toppings you love, these mini pizzas are easy to make to order. Bursting with oozey gooey melted cheese, they are mouth-watering with the enticing aroma of baking pizza filling the kitchen. Continue reading
Butter tarts are the quintessential Canadian sweet treat. They are a truly a Canadian invention and the oldest recipes date back as far as 1900. There is a good reason that there is a national obsession with these sweet, buttery, oozy caramel-like tarts in thick flaky pastry: they are the perfect marriage of flavor and texture and just the perfect size. Continue reading
“The best way to eat crabs, as everyone knows, is off newspaper at a large table with a large number of people.” Laurie Colwin
A crab boil is one of the easiest summer entertaining parties to host. Low on stress and high on fun, I make mine even easier by ordering the crabs already cooked, encrusted in Old-Bay style seasoning and picked up piping hot, right before guests arrive. Where we live these red-shelled beauties are Maryland blue crabs from the Chesapeake. Their Latin name, Callinectes sapidus, means beautiful swimmer. Their flesh is sweet and succulent and they are in season now. Aren’t they gorgeous? Continue reading
If you are looking for a really different pasta salad for your summer entertaining, this is the one! Made with soba noodles, it boosts interesting texture, complex flavors, loads of vegetables, protein from tofu and peanuts and beautiful color. It can totally be made ahead of time and will hold up well on the buffet table. Don’t like tofu? You could substitute shredded chicken breast or cooked shrimp. Adding edemame would boost protein and be a great addition too. The recipe was recreated by my friend Christine who is a guest blogger today. She enjoyed the salad at famous chef Lynn Crawford’s Ruby WatchCo Restaurant on a trip to Toronto. Christine brought it to a recent potluck where it was a hit. The recipe feeds a big group. It looks complicated but it really is not: cooked soba noodles are tossed in a great honey-ginger dressing. To that are added shredded veggies, sautéed tofu and marinated cabbage. To finish, the salad is topped by crunchy peanuts and pea shoots. It is worth making and leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have any, will keep for a few days. Dig in!
Avocado toast is often the star of lazy Sunday breakfasts in our household. We are always improvising on what we top the thick-cut toasted sourdough heaped with creamy mashed avocado with. Smoked salmon was our most recent creation and it was insanely good! Continue reading