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A lived-in life … Black raspberry, rhubarb, red raspberry pie

Our messy cabin kitchen. Photo by Wes Erbsen

Anybody can make a perfect pie. But I like repairing ones that are not. A holdover from my earlier life as a family therapist, I suppose. Give me a pie whose baker’s humanity hangs out any day. I’ll take the messy kitchen, the day’s reading materials abandoned on the couch, the wet socks drying on the floor before the fire.

Give me the lived-in life.

Speaking of which, a couple days ago, I was interviewed for a magazine story (more on that later), and so I thought I’d make a pie to be photographed (instead of me!). It’s a winter article, so I figured I’d make a pie from frozen fruits I had collected from my yard/garden this summer.  Black and red raspberries and rhubarb.

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International Biscuit Festival!

This pretty much sums it up. What a fun and inspiration-packed four days spent in Knoxville last week. First there was the Wednesday night Alton Brown show in the lavishly restored historic Tennessee theatre. He took us on a witty, sciency quest to re-create his grandmother’s southern biscuits. Then there was the first annual Southern Food Writer’s conference created by John Craig, Dawn Coppock and friends (John’s the Biscuit Boss/organizer of the Biscuit festival). What a truly talented collection of food writers, publishers, bloggers, journalists they collected for this event. I had the great pleasure of presenting a session with Jodi Rhoden about collecting recipes and old-time advice from the southern women in our lives. Then there was the (included with the conference, mind you) dinner at Blackberry farm. Over the top elegant/farmy…. how about a soup of poached trout swimming in a clear smoked local buttermilk broth topped with fresh-plucked watercress? Geez! Continue Reading →

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Pink Lady’s Slipper Tea Party

There’s a National Park in our back yard. For real. A short 20 minute hike through the woods and up a mountain will land you on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But wander just beyond our campfire ring, into the woods come May, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of hundreds upon hundreds of spectacular Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids. They’re native to these Appalachian mountains, and cannot be moved and they just grow where they grow. You’d better celebrate them when you are given the gift of their company and so that’s what my girlfriends and I did on a recent chilly spring afternoon.

Armed with  pink prosecco and our grandmother’s vintage hats, we toasted (and toasted) the arrival of our pink pocketed posies. Continue Reading →

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How did you whip that up so fast?

So says my husband as I plopped dinner on the table tonight. After returning from a chilly evening stroll with the dog, I wandered into the kitchen to assemble dinner before Wayne had to leave for his weekly radio show. 30 minutes later, dinner appears in the form of a sort of chili. It smelled great, tasted like it  had been long-simmered, and thus prompted his question “How did you whip this up so fast?”

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A Jiggly Wiggly Thanksgiving

This year, Wayne and I traveled to Richmond, VA for the family gathering and feast. And speaking of feast, sometimes you just have to start with dessert first. I made a couple lovely candy roaster pies with a bittersweet chocolate ganache under the pumpkin custard. And that was all fine and dandy.

I had to make those pumpkin pies because I always make the pumpkin pies, and my sister Laura usually makes her beautiful and delicious black walnut cake. But this year, she didn’t make her cake because we were expecting a special guest dessert. This year, my dad’s friend, David, was coming to the Thanksgiving feast and bringing something that took 6 hours to make.

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Saved from the stew-pot: The perky carrot family …

I want to be more well-behaved. Really, I do.

But when I pulled these carrots up, I just knew they were, er …. special. They looked so innocent, buried in the dirt with their green furry fronds poking up so nice and vegetable-like. But it looks to me like they’ve been havin’ some fun down in the nether-regions of my fall garden. I’m thinking seriously of leaving the rest of their buddies in the ground so I don’t have to buy any carrot seeds next year! Continue Reading →

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