Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sweet August

August involved eating as many lobsters as possible, booking travel for what is sure to be a fun and friend-filled fall, celebrating a stage debut, finally murdering my long-suffering kitchen basil plant, reading so many good books, following election coverage like crazy, and diving into the land of seven kingdoms.

A sweet month indeed.

Wishing you all an absolutely wonderful long weekend! We are heading to the Berkshires for Music After Hours at the Mount, and then up to Saratoga for a day at the races. Fingers crossed for a winning bet!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Last Hurrah

We were in the Berkshires last weekend for John Williams' 80th birthday concert at Tanglewood. It was  a perfect, crisp night. We laid under a giant quilt once it got dark, scanning the sky for shooting stars.

This weekend we are off to Maine for a quick Portland visit, followed by some beach time - a last hurrah before school starts for Peter next week. I hope you all have a lovely weekend! Cheers to getting lost in a good book, eating lobster rolls on the dock, and looking out for shooting stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of Summer Feast: Menu Options

(Painting from the amazing Lulie Wallace)

I can't believe that Peter is heading into his fifth year of teaching, but it is fast approaching. If any of you are entering your first year as a teacher, I send you so much love! I wish I could make an end of summer feast for you, too.

Here are the celebration menu options:

Peter, my dear, what looks good?!

P.S. Previous end of summer feasts can be seen here, here, and here. I didn't post in 2009, but I found an email with the menu: antipasto plate, balsamic and rosemary Florentine steak, and apple pie with cheddar crust. That was a good one! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Last Gasp of Summer Reading: Blonde

The final days of August call for something long and juicy - sexy, even - that you can really sink your teeth into. Last week, I completely lost myself in Blonde, a fictional account of Marilyn Monroe's life. It's so engrossing, I kept having dreams about her. Marilyn and I at a party, watching Marilyn work on the set of a movie. Crazy!

Joyce Carol Oates has produced a staggering amount of work, but this was my first introduction to her genius. I was struck by her amazing ability to voice Marilyn, and everyone else that played a part in her huge life, with such perfection.

Now I can't wait to catch up a few of her movies. Bus Stop has been added to the top of our queue!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Opportunity of a Lifetime

At a family gathering months ago, my father-in-law announced that he had been given the opportunity of a lifetime. We imagined he found the perfect location for new wine store, or that he stumbled onto free plane tickets to Rome.

Nope! He was offered a role in the TriArts Sharon Playhouse production of Sound of Music. At first he was cast as a soldier, but somewhere along the line he got promoted to be the butler (with speaking lines!). Peter and I are heading down tonight to see him in action.

The great thing about his early declaration was that he wasn't joking in the least. He loves the Sound of Music with his whole heart, and having the chance to participate in it - in even a small way - is a huge honor for him. It's the kind of dream we never spend much time thinking about, let alone pursuing. He would never audition for Broadway, or even take an acting class. But the opportunity arose, and he said yes without hesitation. We should all be so lucky to have our back-burner, seemingly just out of reach dreams come true.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer Sunday Dinner: Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Throughout the summer, I am sharing a peak at our Sunday dinners. That is when our most pretty, fun cooking takes place, and this is a record of all that good stuff. I hope you enjoy!

I've made this peach salsa twice in the last three days - that's a good sign, yes? The first time was on these pork chops (picked up at this new-to-me farmer's market, where they had a five-piece jazz band!). The peach halves were brushed with a bit of olive oil and grilled, then rough chopped and mixed with a little chopped garlic, some chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar, and torn basil.

When I made it a second time to serve with fish tacos, I added some chopped radish to the mix. It was a great, peppery addition. I'm excited to try pairing it with chicken, pulled pork, grits - all kinds of stuff! August is sort of a strange time for tomato-phobes, but this salsa will see me through!

Summer Sunday Dinner: Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

*Make Jeni's base, and add in about 20 torn mint leaves to steep for a few hours in the fridge. Churn as usual and add in the chips at the end.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our Week on Martha's Vineyard

We are back from an absolutely fantastic week of vacation. I wrote up a little guide to Martha's Vineyard last year, but I thought I would share this week, too, since we tried some really fun new things. After 13 years of going to the same vacation spot, it's always a pleasant surprise to discover great places that were right under your nose. 

We arrived early on Saturday morning and went right to Art Cliff from the ferry. So busy, but the food was as good as ever (if the service was a bit lacking). It was a beautiful afternoon, so we went to the house to set up quickly, then threw on our suits and went to South Beach. That night, Peter grilled lamb (brought from Costco - they have such good meat :) and I made a squash and potato gratin.

On Sunday we drove out to Gay Head for a long beach day by the cliffs. Peter and I took a really long walk (past all the nakeds) to the other side of the lighthouse. It was so gorgeous with the clay on the cliffs and the greenery and flowers growing on top.

That night we went to Harborside Inn for a drink on their beautiful patio. Goodness, those drinks nearly knocked us off our feet! Proceed with caution. My entire family was in a very good mood by the time we went to Atria for our dinner reservation. We hadn't been there before, but it was an absolutely lovely meal from start to finish.

Monday was a bit cloudy, so we shopped around Edgartown. My favorite shop, Portobello Road, is pictured above. Books, stationary, artwork - just everything good under one roof.

We went to Morning Glory Farm on the way home for corn on the cob. Peter grilled steaks, and we played Five Second Rule after dinner (love that game!).

With our Crane Beach pass, we got a book telling us about all the Trustee Reservation properties we have access to in Massachusetts. I found Longpoint Refuge while flipping through and we thought it might be fun to try a new beach (anyone can go, you'll just need to pay for parking and beach access). 

We loved it! There is a fresh water pond just behind the ocean beach, and it was so great to flip back and forth between the two. The pond was a whopping 80 degrees! And the ocean waves were some of the biggest on the island. 

For dinner that night, we had a long-time family favorite - lobsters and steamers from Net Result. Don't sit at the picnic tables right next to their restaurant. Instead, go through the parking lot and sit by the bay - there are a few quiet tables over there and you can watch the sun set across the trees. 

On Wednesday we went back to South Beach for the morning, and then played at Farm Neck Golf Course for their twilight rate. This course is really hard (at least to me!), but a lot of holes have amazing ocean views. It's worth the challenge.

We had a casual dinner at the Martha's Vineyard Chowder Company afterwards. I had read about their award winning clam chowder in the latest Boston magazine, it was truly amazing.

We went back to Longpoint Refuge and Gay Head late in the week. After our second day at Gay Head, we stopped at Larson's Fish Market in Menemsha. It was a pretty night, so it was jammed with people grabbing seafood to-go before heading to the beach to watch the sun set. We got pumpkin swordfish to grill at home since we were all sticky from the beach. Have you heard of that fish?! It has a pretty orange tint. So good!

For our last dinner, we went to The Outermost Inn. My parents went years ago, but the rest of us had never experienced it before. The menu is price fix, three courses. It's inventive and fresh - definitely our new favorite splurge dinner on the island. Highly recommended!

Our last day we went to Art Cliff for one final breakfast. Everyone's food was good, but the service was just awful. We are big fans, so this pains me, but we might not be back next year! Time to try Black Dog and see what everybody else is raving about :)

In the afternoon we shopped around Vineyard Haven (that's Bunches of Grapes above, in their new location across the street from the old store). I had one more dish of Mad Martha's before the ferry sailed us back to the mainland.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Grits with Fresh Corn, Caramelized Onions, and Smoked Trouts

I went to college in the south, but my only experience with grits there were of the dining hall variety. Not pleasant. Now that I try to maintain a gluten-free existence, I'll try just about any grain I can eat.

I am now in the midst of a hot and heavy love affair with the stone ground grits. My usual method is to cook them according to the Trader Joe's package, and then add cheese and some kind of topping (pesto, roasted vegetables, chicken, sausage - anything!) at the end.

With these, I made the grits all the way through the "add milk" step at the end. I added a little bit of extra milk and also an ear of corn cut of the cob. These would be good with almost any topping, or on their own. But for this dinner added blanched green beans, caramelized sugar onions, flaked smoked trout, and a bunch of torn basil. Oh my!

Are you on team grits yet? I'm cursing the years I wasted thinking I didn't like them!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Martha's Vineyard! Martha's Vineyard!!!

My eyes popped open at 6:22 a.m. this morning. My brain was chanting, "Martha's Vineyard! Martha's Vineyard!!!"

We're leaving tomorrow to catch an early ferry. I look forward to this week all year long, imagining beach days at Gay Head and breakfast at Art Cliff and walking around Edgartown in full Lilly regalia (what, your fantasies don't involve awesome outfits?!).

I hope you're all having an absolutely lovely start to your August!

P.S. I took this picture after a storm last week - see the double rainbow? I told my sister and her boyfriend about it, referencing this amazing-ness - and can you believe they had never seen it?! Insanity. We remedied that right away.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Loving Lately

This book is pure magic. If you enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife and Water for Elephants, you should read The Night Circus.

I have been wearing my Jack Rogers sandals all summer long. I've convinced myself that they go with absolutely everything . Jack Rogers ballet flats might help lessen the blow of cooler temps and the bustle of back to school time that's just around the corner. But only might! Summer, please don't come to an end!

I can't shut about the fact that I'm watching season three of Dawson's Creek on Netflix, but it has been making me so happy. Pacey + Joey, falling in love. Need I say more?! Alright then: Henry + Jen, Jack going on dates, scary EVE, and so much more. Re-watch it, and then email me, okay? We have a lot to gush about.

Lovely links:

What are you loving lately?

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