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My brother Tom and his wife Jen and son Travis are in town this week. Our friend Elizabeth, her son Ethan and I went to pick them up from the airport, then headed to one of our favorite restaurants. (If you’re doing the math, Liz has a 3rd row seat in her Pilot.)

Travis (2 1/2) was thrilled to have another little person to hang out with in the back seat. He kept echoing every move and sound Ethan (9 months) made. So cute!

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Ketchup minis

Heinz Tomato Ketchup…. makes food more ketchupy.

I don’t even remember from whence I swiped these, but they are single-serving bottles, probably from room service or an airplane since I found them in my laptop bag.

The bread tie is there for size reference. So cute. Now I have a hankerin’ for some fries.

Reminds me of the time Steve was horrified to catch me swiping mini jars of Hero marmalade from the cafe condiment station in Trimingham. The following Christmas he gave me 8 jars of Hero preserves. (Come on – one or two jars would cost less than the shipping charges!) It’s one of the most memorable and funny gifts I’ve ever received.

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I kinda skipped over telling you about the post-picnic stuff last weekend. The forecast was 60% rain on Saturday and Steve and I didn’t want to get stuck out on the water, so we scrapped our kayaking plans. When we have a free day and no responsibilities beyond mowing the grass, sometimes we just hop in the car and drive. This area is full of cute little towns; last time we checked out Shepherdstown. This time we drove along the Shenandoah River, through Berryville, Boyce, Millwood, and Purcellville. We also did part of the AT near Bear’s Den. Highlights for me are little stops along the way, like getting Cheerwine and a lemon cooler cookie at Hill High Orchard (I’ve seen enough fruit lately – no temptation there). I also liked poking around the French antique store in Boyce, but I’m not about to pay $18 for a Tin Tin book. I’m more into junk-tiques; cool old stuff without the pedigree price tag.

Speaking of fruit, yesterday I made strawberry freezer jam with one of my quarts. Not having made jam of any kind before, it hadn’t occurred to me that the traditional canning method is what gives jam a darker, more mellow look. The freezer jam is just squish, add pectin, stir, and freeze, so you end up with uncooked bright red jam that looks like Jello with fruit in it. So yum!

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Iced Latte

I like to make iced lattes with the Italian espresso maker my Mom scored for a quarter at a yard sale. We now have a 4-shot one as well (for Those Days or to share with somebody). No measuring, just fill the bottom with water, fill the basket with grounds, and stick on the stovetop for a few minutes to let it brew. Then I fill a glass with ice, pour espresso over top, and top off with half-n-half. (Okay actually I pour the espresso and cream at the same time because it looks cool).

One thing I love about putting cream in coffee is watching it swirl together. Makes me want to make glass beads with this effect (I know, I have a sickness – can’t even have a latte without thinking of beads). So I’ll tell you that I kicked coffee, but really I just cut out the morning cuppa joe so days like today a cup can do in the place of a nap.

That there is our first ripe tomato of the season, a SuperSweet 100.

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July 4th Picnic

Our Cornerstone group planned a picnic to celebrate the 4th. Fortunately we reserved a pavilion at the local park because this is a screen shot of the weather map beforehand. (Imminent doom!) But, we still grilled out and had a good time. And we watched the fireworks from home, so the traffic wasn’t bad at all!

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More berries

Steve and I just went for a visit with his folks in upstate New York. On the way we stopped by Joolz in Canandaigua to say hi to Francie and Kerry Bogert, who was having a trunk show and demonstrating flamework. Hopefully next time I can meet Kerry for margaritas, but it was fun to say hi, catch up a little, and hit the road for the final leg of our trip. The next morning it rained, then was sunny, then rained some more. Normally I wouldn’t have cared, except anyone who knows me knows I love berries, and this is strawberry season in NY. There is a you-pick farm on every other corner! So during a break in the clouds Steve and I headed down the road to Morgan’s Farm to pick some berries. We’d collected 7 quarts before I stood up and said, “I think that’s enough. What are we going to do with all these?” And then it rained again, so we went home.
Here are Matt and Bob working on the lawn tractor in the barn.
Also in the barn there is a nest of swallows almost ready for flight school. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Later I was walking Riley in the family orchard when I noticed there are cherries! on the tree! this year. (They knew this, but it’s not a big deal to everyone else.) Ripe ones, and lots of them. They’re called tart cherries, but they are sweet to eat. (When I think “tart cherries,” I think of the bright red ones Cheryl and I bought from a vendor in Barbados who assured us they were sweet to eat – turned out to be the tartest cherries I’d ever tasted!) So we picked a quart of cherries off the tree, plus some red raspberries which had just begun to ripen. And then I died of happiness. The end. Saturday night is always Mexican food, so Cherie makes enchiladas, quesadillas, or tacos. This week it was tacos with your choice of fried-corn or flour shell, two kinds of cheese, several hot sauces, lettuce, tomatoes, and chili beans (two sets, one for each end of the table). I started thinking about this meal (and drooling) weeks ago because it’s always so good. I have an inordinate love for Wegmans, and being that the closest one to our house is an hour away, we always go to Wegmans in NY as there is one in practically every town. It’s not just a grocery store, people! Sheesh. This time we didn’t walk up and down every aisle, but we did get coffee and stroll through the market part and the cheese shop and the kitchen gadgets and the bulk candy and the craft brew section (arranged by region like wine). I got some rhubarb which may or may not have survived the trip home in the trunk, some French lemonade for my francophile friend Elizabeth, and a measuring cup with a slanted edge to make it easier to read. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have 8 quarts of fruit to deal with. Bliss!

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More berries

The other day I stopped by a farm stand and bought a quart of strawberries. You can brag about your apple-sized berries from Costco, but there’s nothing like the flavor of small, sweet, sun-ripened berries that were on the vine just yesterday. (Full disclosure: these strawberries were from the market in Sweden; I ate my Virginia berries before getting a photo.)

In other berry news, blueberries are 2 for 1 at the grocery store so today’s smoothie was blueberry & lemon.

I’ll probably do another round of Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberries soon, too.

If not for the thunderstorms and smelling honeysuckle from the screen porch, I love summer for the berries.

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Japanese Crusted Chicken Recipe

Here is one of my favorite things to make at the meal assembly place. My grocery store actually has things like panko and mirin, so I made a point of remembering the ingredients this time so I could re-create it at home. I am not a professional recipe writer, so I just did it my way…

Panko Wasabi Chicken with Sesame Brown Rice

Serves 3 (can be doubled)


Combine the following in a saucepan:
1 cup brown rice
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup water

Bring to a boil, stir once. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

Heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Mix together on a plate:
1 c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
½ t. wasabi powder (adjust to taste)

Add to ziplock bag or bowl:
2 eggs, beaten (or use egg substitute)
3 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, flattened to 1/3-inch thickness between plastic wrap

Dip each egg-coated chicken breast in the panko mixture to coat evenly. Sauté until golden and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a platter.

Meanwhile, mix the next five ingredients and save to add to the rice:
1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. green onion, thinly sliced

Mix the next four ingredients and save for deglazing the pan:
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup mirin or sake
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. green onion, thinly sliced
Make sure you remember which teriyaki mixture is which!

When all the chicken pieces are cooked, add the teriyaki deglazing mixture to the skillet and bring to a boil while scraping up the browned bits. When the rice has cooked 20 min, add the teriyaki rice mixture. Allow to cook 5 min longer if more water needs to be absorbed.  Plate the chicken, then drizzle sauce from the skillet over top. Serve with the rice.

And while we’re on the subject of recipes, here is one for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes that I had on Saturday at the Comfort Diner in New York. They put blueberries in mine and I really liked that combination.

Update: that link is now something else, so Google provided another source for the recipe. I’ll go ahead and post it just in case:

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes…/detail.html
Recipe From ‘The Comfort Diner Cookbook,’ By Ira Freehof

These pancakes are light and elegant. They’re a bit like French crepes, but never fear — they’re still proper pancakes and very easy to make. These are heavenly with fresh raspberries on top.


1⁄4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter + additional for griddle
4 large eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

confectioners’ sugar, to serve
raspberries or other berries and/or puree or sauce
slightly sweetened whipped cream

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Allow it to cool.

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add sugar and whisk thoroughly. Slowly add the melted butter and continue to mix. Add all of the flour and mix thoroughly.

3. On a griddle or nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Scoop 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of batter onto surface and cook for about 1 minute, or until small holes appear on the surface of the pancake. Flip the pancake and cook for 1 minute more until cooked through. Repeat to cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

4. Serve with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, fresh raspberries and/or raspberry sauce and very lightly sweetened whipped cream if you are feeling really decadent or serving as a “dessert”.

Or try strawberries or blueberries.         

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Last week Steve and I checked out Irish Isle in Middletown, Va. We went that night because Tuesday’s live music du jour is Robbie Limon who not only sings John Denver songs but is also from a long line of jewelers. (I love JD. I remember how sad I was when I walked into a freshman chemistry class and found out he had died). Anyway, the food was great; I had sausage in a pastry crust. It makes me wonder if that’s really what they eat in Ireland. On Saturday we joined our friend Reid for Shamrock Fest at RFK Stadium. There were hundreds of people dressed in green metro-ing to the same venue, so we never had to stop and think about which way to go. The people-watching alone was worth the price of admission. We saw Carbon Leaf in concert and got some festival food, then went out for tapas in Arlington. Steve’s family is of Irish descent, and after seeing this Irish Blessing the emerald isle is definitely on our list of places to go. After all, Guiness is good for you. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!