Virginia really is for Lovers…of Life, Food, Wine and Nature

A pastoral setting, to say the least.

First, forgive me for the lack of posting for a while. This is truly the longest I’ve gone between posts since I started this blog. Work deadlines are the main culprit, and being out of town…and more work deadlines. Reality sets in, folks, but I am back! And I have lots to share with you. So sit back and read my story about taking a little trip to Virginia.

A dear girlfriend of mine and her husband have a lovely home on a farm in Afton, Virginia, and last weekend I flew up for my first visit and a girls’ weekend. Little did I know what a fun, tasty, adventurous and beautiful interlude lay ahead. Continue reading

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Confessions of a Cookbook Addict

I am a cookbook-a-holic.

There, I’ve said it out loud…well, sort of. I know many of us have lots of cookbooks and/or love to read them, but I’ve kind of taken it to the extreme. In fact, they are running me out of the house.

My unorganized reading table of cookbooks, food mags and Ree Drummond's new book.

Sure, I have my favorites, and they rotate sometimes. I have some very old ones, hand me down ones and some found at yard sales. I have some by famous chefs, some by famous cooks, some from other countries and some from little churches, schools and Junior Leagues. And In addition to the ones I own, I’ve read a bunch that I checked out from the library. It’s like some kind of a jones or something, every now and then…mostly now…I have cravings to read a new cookbook, essay or magazine about food like others have cravings to eat some chocolate. What can I say? I’m kinda weird that way. Continue reading

Of Mountains, Waterfalls and Picnics

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”

—Kahlil Gibran

Yesterday seemed like a perfect day to drive up to the North Georgia mountains for a little R&R from the city and we chose Amicalola Falls as our destination. Located in the Amicalola Falls State Park and situated at the southern terminous of the Appalachian Trail, it is the tallest cascade in the Southeast at 729 feet. We were pleased to find it not so crowded, and there was an invitingly cool and gentle breeze blowing…the promise of fall was in the air. Continue reading

A Superb Summer Sandwich: Pan Bagnat

Recently, Pan Bagnat has come back across my radar. What a wonderful summer sandwich it is, and why haven’t I made it in such a long time? I believe the first time I tasted it was in the south of France, where it’s very common and you can find many different versions of it. It tasted so good on a hot summer day, was easy to make, and I made it many times right after we returned. But as time marched on, I somehow forgot about it. Then, just last week, I saw a post on a blog in France about Pan Bagnat made with fresh produce from a Mediterranean garden, and it looked so yummy that it brought the taste back to me, and I’ve been craving it. Continue reading

Food, Fans and Formula 1

My husband has been an Formula 1 Grand Prix racing fan for many, many years. And shortly after we got together, we had the good fortune to go to Monaco and see the Grand Prix de Monaco, my first live race. Needless to say, I, too, became a fan after seeing those amazing cars running the Monte Carlo street course in that gorgeous principality. Continue reading

A Rosé By Any Other Name…

One beautiful sunny summer day 11 years ago, while sitting in a little bistro in a small village overlooking the Mediterranean in the south of France, I tasted my first glass of a Provençal rosé wine. The moment I breathed in the fragrance of it—the grass, the flowers, the fruit, the slight minerality—I started to understand and really appreciate the difference between red and white wines, and what can happen in between. At that moment, I became a devout fan, and rosé is now my favorite warm weather wine. Continue reading

Postcard from Florence

Last weekend for the 4th of July holiday, we journeyed to my hometown of Florence, Alabama to see family and friends, and to visit some of my favorite haunts from childhood. My intention was to share some thoughts about a great little soda and sandwich shop that we always go to when we are there, but something happened as I looked at my hometown with fresh eyes…I saw so much more to share. So this is my postcard to you from Florence…and maybe you’ll just wish you were there, too! Continue reading

Glorious Greece: Part 1, Tzatziki

It was 12 years ago this spring that my husband and I went to Greece on our honeymoon, and I’ve had a love affair with Greece and Greek food ever since.

Wildflowers in an olive orchard, Maleme, Crete.

We spent a large part of our trip on the island of Crete, where the wildflowers and wild thyme were in bloom, and where many endemic plant and animal species and subspecies are not to be found anywhere else in the world. It’s a truly magnificent and diverse island in its terrain, culture and in the food. The inhabitants of Crete are especially known for their healthy lifestyles, and for food dishes featuring what’s locally available—and some of the world’s best foragers of wild plants live there. To this day, I will never forget my first taste of Horta, wild greens cooked in garlic, olive oil and lemon, and what a revelation it was to me to realize that I could love greens­. There was also Horiatiki, a refreshing salad of cucumber, tomato, onion, kalamata olives and feta. And oh, those Cretan hot pots—stews of meat, herbs and vegetables, topped with grated hard local cheese and then cooked in small covered clay pots—something I would love to taste again and cannot replicate. Continue reading

Summer in the South: A Few of My Favorite Things

Easy, refreshing and delicious Buttermilk-Basil Sorbet

Summer has not been my favorite of the seasons. Of course as a child, there were some things I really liked about it: no school, swimming and vacation were chief amongst them. But summer is always hot here in the South…really hot. And I like cooler weather better.

As time goes on, though, I’m coming back around to appreciating summer again­—it does have a lot going for it, after all. Longer and lazier days, cooking outdoors, taking a dip in cold bodies of water, and tons of fresh produce. Here’s my little laundry list of a few of my favorite things about summer, the things I look forward to—most of which are food and drink related, of course! What are yours? Continue reading

Ode to Red Speckled Grits

Red Speckled Grits close up and personal.

You no longer have to be born and bred in the southern U.S. to have tasted grits in one form or another. Now a part of the mainstream food vernacular, they appear on menus and in recipes from grit cakes to souffles, and the ever popular shrimp and grits. But as a child raised in Alabama, I hated them! Usually over salted, or worse still, bland and runny, I just didn’t get it. To me, they were slop. Continue reading