Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kale Salad

I woke up the other day feeling a bit off,
I thought maybe I was coming down with something, or that I was just tired for some reason

Three days later and it seems to be sorting itself out.

I'm not tired, or sick,
 I'm beginning to RELAX

Weird. Nice.

There is this wonderful, yet unfamiliar, calm that seems to come with relaxing.
I'm breathing deeper
I feel satisfied with the moment in hand,
rather than creating 6 things to do at once

While showing a design client a house I really like
I discovered this INCREDIBLE field of flowers.

When we were through, I went back with a basket and picked some

I had friends over last night for a simple Wednesday night supper.
I made Cajun Halibut with Garlic and Lime , a recipe I discovered
while leafing through my own cookbook! ("Cooking In the Moment")

And I made this incredible kale salad with roasted sweet potatoes and dried cherries
that has really become a favorite.
Recipe below

A final thought from my daily affirmation
"...sometimes more isn't always better.  Chasing in circles that which you think 
you want or need is simply an illusion"

I hope you have sunshine in your day today


1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and sliced into a thin julienne
2 good sized sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large red onion, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
or if you have an abundance: 1 cup of shallots, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 cup dried cherries, cut in half if large
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 T sherry vinegar
1 T brown rice vinegar
2 T olive oil
Plus more oil for roasting onions and sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Toss sweet potatoes with some olive oil to coat and season with salt
Place on sheet tray in a single layer and roast, turning potatoes on tray occasionally until golden and tender, about 20 -25 minutes
Place your onion pieces in a small oven proof dish, moisten with olive oil and a bit of salt
and roast along side sweet potatoes, turning occasionally
Remove both from oven and allow to cool to room temperature

Meanwhile, whisk your vinegars, 2 T of oil and salt and pepper to taste to make a dressing
Toss raw julienned kale with dressing and allow to sit for 30 minutes
This will soften the kale 
Toss kale with the roasted sweets, onions, pumpkin seeds and cherries
Adjust salt and pepper as needed
Serve at room temp or chilled

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GF Almond Cake with Strawberry Sauce and some Garden Whimsy

Sculpture by Laura Bambolini

Okay, I'm over the deer thing.

I'm overwhelmed with this summer extravagance
 Everything wonderful is lush and abundant
and there is still so much more to come......

Obviously there is enough to go around for every being.
And I find myself abundant with gratitude

I planted strawberry plants under a few rose bushes about 7 years ago
after reading the suggestion in a magazine.

They grow like crazy and wander all over my gardens in the yard
so that when you go to harvest a bowl full you search
under and around everything like an Easter egg hunt

Sculpture by Laura Bambolini
Jubilant with berry abundance I made a strawberry sauce
and then started craving a dense almond cake to go with it
like the Gateau Britton that I used to make for mornings in the cafe

Often it will take me a few times to get a cake recipe right,
but this one was perfect the first time out of the oven

Enjoy the bounty!


1 qt of fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and cut in half
Sweetener of your choice, I used coconut sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 T unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the strawberries in a medium saucepan, and using a fork or potato masher,
smash the berries a bit to release their juice
Add your sweetener, how much depends on your berries, sometimes you don't even need any.
I used 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
Place over a medium low heat and stir frequently until berries and sugar turn into
a wonderful sauce, about 15 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt and the T of butter, continue stirring until butter is melted and sauce
has thickened slightly.
Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract
Set aside to cool

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup almond meal
2/3 cup sweet brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sunflower or coconut oil
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (Native Forest is my favorite brand)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9" springform pan

In a large bowl combine all your dry ingredients with a whisk
In another bowl whisk all your wet ingredients until smooth
Pour the wet into the dry and stir until everything is evenly moistened
Pour your batter into the prepared pan and bake until tooth pick in center comes out just clean of crumbs.  This took 35-40 minutes in my oven.
Let cake stand on a rack to cool for 10 minutes, remove the springform band and allow to cool completely.  Serve with sauce and some cream if you wish.


Note: you can easily substitute honey for the brown rice syrup and would probably want to omit the maple syrup since honey is a bit sweeter. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo-op Friday

Before I go on and on about playing around in Belfast this morning
I would like to talk about the shrub Mock Orange
Look at how beautiful its branches are in bloom.

No fuss growing, deer haven't touched it! and it smells HEAVENLY

Renee and I headed to Belfast this morning to hang some posters
announcing the Antique, Craft and Cool Stuff Festival
that Lily's is sponsoring on July 22nd at Edgewood Farm in Deer Isle
(Over 25 vendors from a lot of different places in Maine, live music, food, wine, farms, folly!
from 10am - 4pm if you are around)

And they were just unloading fresh produce at Chases Restaurant

from their farm as we pulled up

Needless to say, I could barely control myself

It was all so fresh and ripe and beautiful

Then a stop at the fabric shop for a few yards of voile
for a new little shift

What do you think?  Looks good with my eyes, doesn't it?

Dinner tonight, crispy polenta with tomato sauce, roasted asparagus,
sautéed broccoli raab and grated pecorino cheese
and tomorrow savoy cabbage with.......

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Blogger/ Tomboy Construction, Inc.

Renee and her crew just finished a lovely project and I thought you might be interested.  I am always amazed at the transformation of space and the amount of work, focus, details and team work - especially with the homeowner - it takes to produce quality craftsmanship and good energy 
in the spaces she and her crew create.

Here's Renee:

In my business you just never know what exciting adventure is next.  I am a general contractor and, as far as I know, the only woman general contractor in all of Downeast and possibly the State of Maine.  At present time I am keeping twelve individuals as busy as beavers and we are just putting the finishing touches on a project that started last fall as a “small kitchen renovation”.   Here it is nine months later on what turned out to be a complete remodel of a cottage on the west shore of Deer Isle. 

  The owner had been a prior client of mine so we already had a great relationship of trust and friendship.  When she approached me about renovating the kitchen of her late mother’s cottage on the shore I jumped at the chance.  At a meeting with her architect to review some preliminary drawings I received a rather big SURPRISE.  It turned out that my client neglected to tell me that there was also a new bedroom to be added and a complete renovation of the rest of the structure. If ever a surprise to be had, these are the kind us general contractors love.

With the threat of winter soon ahead I knew I needed to get the ball rolling so I called on my excavation subcontractor to get a hole for the foundation dug and ready so that we could poor the concrete before the nights would turn to below freezing.
Timmy Fowler doesn’t hesitate and before I knew it the hole was dug and Doane Foundations had forms in place and concrete being poured (I love my subcontractors!!!).

After looking at the drawings with Scott Parker, my foreman, we both knew that we had to make some changes to what the architect had drawn or we would have some roof line issues.  A few creative changes later and a whole lot of cutting and nailing and we were well on our way to having walls and a roof.

The next step was to insulate the inside while the rest of my crew worked feverishly siding the outside.  It was now mid- winter and we were all racing the clock to beat the snow that one would expect to be right around the corner in January.  I decided to use blown in fiberglass insulation for its R value and overall good ratings.  I hired Garside Insulation, Inc. to do the work and, as always, they did an excellent job in a timely fashion.

Next came the electrical and plumbing. Without a kitchen plan this was going to be a challenge so I called in the expert, Kyra, to help my client come up with a design that would work in the space created.

Now we needed to put up the interior walls.  My client decided on sheetrock for the walls and stained pine for the ceiling.  My client also wanted to do a little something different and special in the kitchen by putting old barn boards up on one wall. Kyra sourced just what we needed at A.E. Sampson in Warren, Maine.  The homeowner, met with Jula and had these old boards delivered.  I have to say that my guys were just shaking their heads, thinking they were trash, while Kyra kept assuring them that it would be awesome.  As Scott put them up, we started to agree.

The pendant lights are by Julie Morrengello
Another feature that was important to my client was to have a screened porch to enjoy on those buggy evenings.

The building artist in Scott,  enjoys leaving some sort of a mark on our projects.  He is very creative so I always entertain his ideas.  He asked if he could do something special around the front door and presented a plan.  After some minor changes he created this lovely entrance to the cottage. 

this barrel ceiling in the hallway was another creative touch
A goal was to keep the living room area as it was originally.  We did this by replacing the wall board with the exact wall board as before but with a lighter stain and added some cool old beams to the ceiling and restored the old field stone fireplace.

So many details, decisions and craftsmanship goes into each project.  It really is amazing what is created with all of us working together.

The bathroom vanity is an old dresser that Kyra found and it was retro- fitted to allow for plumbing.  The homeowner chose the lights and medicine cabinet from Pottery Barn.

Last but not least is the outside shower.  My client wanted it to be a place for all to enjoy and to also accommodate her handicap brother in law who is in a wheel chair.

As the project comes to an end I find myself suffering with some separation anxiety.  It was a great run with an awesome client in a beautiful setting and that is why I love where I live and what I do.  Here’s to Deer Isle Maine and all of its beauty!

Thanks for letting me share,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Deer and Pork Chops

Yesterday Renee called me from home, all excited to tell me
that she had just been in our garden shed and ran smack into
a momma deer and her very very young Bambi behind the shed

While she was overcome with cuteness etc. my heart sank
I knew why they were on the edge of the yard.
All my rose bushes are plump with buds, ready to explode.
perfect eating.

When I arrived home late yesterday afternoon
 I went out back, almost woozy, to the gardens

  They clean'd h'er Cap
 - island speak for, they ate almost every single bud on all the bushes -

Okay. time to recover. Yikes.

I'll cook!

I had just been in Blue Hill and wandered around the Coop to see what they had
I saw a jar of Bubbie's Sauerkraut and it just seemed like a good idea
Turns out it really was

I had defrosted pork chops the night before and came up with this
old school concoction of Pork chops, potatoes and sauerkraut
and brightened it up with a lot of fresh herbs and liberal amounts of paprika

Plus I had the chance to use this cool enamel coated, iron, skillet, baking dish thing, I had
found at a yard sale last year.  

Delicious!  I have posted the recipe below.

And yes, I admit that my heart is still a little sad,
Talk about learning how to let go of expectation...

But my front yard is still ready to pop with roses
And, lets be serious,
 if the Bambi invasion is the worst thing
to happen to me this year - I am pretty gosh darn fortunate!


2 thick cut pork chops
4 medium new red potatoes, sliced super thin
(I do this on my fabulous Microplane Box Grater, if you
don't have one - you should get one - but until
then use a very sharp knife or a mandolin)
A mellow oil, I used sunflower
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
5 sprigs of fresh herbs, I used winter savory and thyme
1 cup of a good fresh tasting sauerkraut - Bubbie's is wonderful
@1/4 cup of milk of some sort - I used my almond milk

Spread a bit of oil in a small baking pan
Toss the potato slices with oil and kosher salt and spread out in the bottom of the pan
Lay your sprigs of herbs on the potatoes
Season with cracked black pepper
Spread your sauerkraut over this layer, and then lay your pork chops on the sauerkraut
Season the chops liberally with salt and paprika
Drizzle a bit more oil over it all and then
I poured about 1/4 cup of almond milk in the pan
just to make sure nothing dried out

Bake in a 400 degree oven, un-covered, until potatoes are tender,
and pork chops are golden brown and temping at 150 degrees
This took about 25 minutes in my oven

Let stand for 10 minutes to let the juices run and then

Have a deer free day everyone

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I love writing this blog and have been just tickled with
so many of your kind comments and inspirations from you taking
the time to read it

Someone just wrote to tell me they had nominated me for 
the Country Living Magazine's Blue Ribbon Blogger Award
and I feel honored that it meant enough to do that.

I met up with a cafe customer from Boston
the other day to sell her some cookbooks and she
asked that I post more of my events on the blog, not just Facebook.
I shared with her that I didn't want to use this as a bill board and
she said "people love you, they want to know what you are doing"
Oh my gosh.
I said I would.

Then I was just recently asked to be a guest blogger on P. Allen Smith's blog.
A long time, well known, classy gardener, cook and lifestyle expert
in Little Rock, Arkansas.  You can catch him on MPBN on Sunday's at 2pm

I guess I just want to say thank you today,
from the center of my heart.