Inspirations, Outdoor Life

Summer's End, September Florals

 Flowers from the Park Slope Coop, delivered from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op - sunflowers, basil, celosia, mint

Flowers from the Park Slope Coop, delivered from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op - sunflowers, basil, celosia, mint

Enjoying the month of September.

I was writing a blog post about the start of school and celebrating Labor Day signifies the end of summer. It doesn’t need to be. The post was bumming me out. End of summer, bummer.  I decided instead to write the Enjoyment of September.

 Clay decorative plate from  Elemthebrand

Clay decorative plate from Elemthebrand

I received an email from Etsy and it had this picture in it. I thought, oh so pretty. It exudes the calmness that one craves by the end of the summer. Our bodies want to wind down, start getting ready for winter hibernation. Right now flowers and plants are so intense and overgrown. Colors are a deep saturation of hues and starting to droop. Aren’t we all like that? Tan, exhausted from the sun and heat ….maybe not overgrown. But I am wowed by the floral explosion going on. In my backyard, somewhat, we struggle with getting enough sun. The flowers delivered to my local grocery store, the Park Slope Co-op. I can’t stop buying them, they are amazing! Go buy or pick some flowers and put something together for your dining table.

Here are a few of my favorite arrangements.

 Type up Lancaster flowers on Instagram and you will find some beauties. Check out these rudbeckias. This photo was shared by petalslnc

Type up Lancaster flowers on Instagram and you will find some beauties. Check out these rudbeckias. This photo was shared by petalslnc

 From the woman who did the flowers for my wedding,  Soiree Floral in Nantucket . Dawn is always posting the most beautiful, rustic looking arrangements. I see sunflowers, chamomile, what else….

From the woman who did the flowers for my wedding, Soiree Floral in Nantucket. Dawn is always posting the most beautiful, rustic looking arrangements. I see sunflowers, chamomile, what else….

 photo by  Longest Acres in Vermont.  Kate Maclean shares her life thru the most beautiful and moody photos. I saw this one today and couldn’t help but share it with you. At first I could not make out the duck. And then I though oh wow, those stripes on his head with the butter yellow sunflowers behind him, I want to hug him! Enjoy the sunflowers while they last!

photo by Longest Acres in Vermont. Kate Maclean shares her life thru the most beautiful and moody photos. I saw this one today and couldn’t help but share it with you. At first I could not make out the duck. And then I though oh wow, those stripes on his head with the butter yellow sunflowers behind him, I want to hug him! Enjoy the sunflowers while they last!

Enjoy!

Tracey

Outdoor Life

Picnic / BBQ Prep - Food Platter Ideas

  Nantucket Wildflower Farm flower truck  on Main Street in Nantucket, Ma. The geese hold the spot until Charlene the truck arrives.  The farm specializes in growing native flowers and only sells on Main Street during the summer season.  If you can, grab some flowers for your picnic and put them in a mason jar or an old food jar. Easy to carry, it's an upcycled producct and will add a bit of summer fresh whimsy to your meal. 

Nantucket Wildflower Farm flower truck on Main Street in Nantucket, Ma. The geese hold the spot until Charlene the truck arrives.  The farm specializes in growing native flowers and only sells on Main Street during the summer season.  If you can, grab some flowers for your picnic and put them in a mason jar or an old food jar. Easy to carry, it's an upcycled producct and will add a bit of summer fresh whimsy to your meal. 

With Labor Day upon us our days of enjoying a meal outside are winding down. Vacationing on Nantucket where I have been lucky enough to come every year for the past 10 or so years. And 4 years ago we upped it and started coming for 2 weeks. It is for me the most relaxing and beautiful place. Whenever I am here I think can I live here year round?

The crowds can be a bit much but just this morning I dropped off Harper and my husband at the docks for a pirate adventure and it was relatively quiet.  A ferry just arrived and delivery trucks were making their way to restaurants. I walked along the cobble streets to the coffee shop and thought this is one of the things I love about this place. Just walking around the quaint, historic New England village. AND pedestrians have the right away, cars and trucks stop for you and wave across. Complete opposite of life in NYC. 

Summer is wonderful here. An abundance of places to have picnics and barbecues; the beach, the docks or the wharf are all a perfect setting.  In our case we utilize the barbecue at our rental which also has a beautiful yard and garden with a quick 5 minute walk to the beach. We really are lucky.

So what to do when you pack a picnic and want it to look like the lovely dinner parties you give at home?  Here are some platter ideas that are picnic and environmentally friendly.

  Simple sandwiches and chips.  Food52  using bamboo plates, paper straws, glass bottles and cloth napkins. 

Simple sandwiches and chips.  Food52 using bamboo plates, paper straws, glass bottles and cloth napkins. 

  Food52  crudite platter using a mesh net cover from Dot and Army. Starting from the bottom clockwise, yellow pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes keeping the vine intact, snap peas, orange pepper sticks, carrot sticks and celery sticks.  Notice how the green snap peas are placed to be diagonal from the artichoke dip; color coordination. 

Food52 crudite platter using a mesh net cover from Dot and Army. Starting from the bottom clockwise, yellow pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes keeping the vine intact, snap peas, orange pepper sticks, carrot sticks and celery sticks.  Notice how the green snap peas are placed to be diagonal from the artichoke dip; color coordination. 

  Antipasto platter from Southern Living   - pickled okra, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, salami, breadsticks and cheese. 

Antipasto platter from Southern Living  - pickled okra, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, salami, breadsticks and cheese. 

 Layered salad in a jar from  Lavender and Lovage  -  starting from the bottom, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, green olives, salsa and sour cream.  Don't add the chips on top until you are ready to eat. No one likes soggy chips. 

Layered salad in a jar from Lavender and Lovage -  starting from the bottom, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, green olives, salsa and sour cream.  Don't add the chips on top until you are ready to eat. No one likes soggy chips. 

Do you have any go to favorite platters you like to create for picnics or barbecues? There are so many wonderful ideas out there. Please share if you have a favorite. And thanks for visiting!

Tracey

In the Kitchen

My Favorite Homemade Salsa

FAVORITE SALSA

 

Years ago I worked in Nantucket, Massachusetts for a summer. Nantucket if you do not know is a little island in the Atlantic off of Cape Cod, 30 miles out to sea.  I was in college and worked as a chambermaid, yes that's what I was called. I was basically housekeeping at a bed and breakfast called the Four Chimneys.  One of the many jobs we had was to put out chef made snacks around 4 pm with wine and beer for the guests.  The chef, who was a student at The CIA at The Hotel School at Cornell, made the most delicious, refreshing salsa I ever tasted.  I learned it was from a book called Home Cooking from Nantucket by Nancy Asche Ivas.  

 Now closed, The Four Chimneys Inn

Now closed, The Four Chimneys Inn

Now when I mentioned in the beginning that years ago I worked in Nantucket, I mean about 25 years ago.  At 18 I moved to Nantucket for the summer.  My second time to the island; my first being when I was 11 with my parents just for the day.   People say Nantucket is magical, a happy place and I think it may be.  I introduced my husband to the island when he was my then boyfriend.  He proposed to me on the island, and then we got married on the island.  There is something beautiful about it.  It is 30 miles out to sea and has a rich history.  A small village island in New England that is only a 30 minute flight from NYC.  

nantucket map.png

Looking back on it do all roads in my life lead to Nantucket? Even when I lived on the west coast I came to this island for vacations.

This is a great recipe to pack for a picnic because you can  make it a day in advance. And also this will last up to 2 weeks. That is if you don't eat it all right away. 

INGREDIENTS SALSA

Your ingredients:

4 ripe tomatoes (hello summer tomatoes!)

2 jalapeños (get out to that garden or fire escape and harvest your peppers)

1 small can tomato sauce or 1/4 cup V8

1 teaspoon garlic minced

salt to taste

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (window box herb garden)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 scallions

juice of 1 lemon or lime (optional)

1  1/2 tsp. olive oil

Directions: Combine all ingredients, I usually am in a rush and use a mini chopper but you can cut everything up by hand if you want.  If you want a chunky salsa you should manually cut up the ingredients.  Pour into a bowl or storage container. Store overnight so the ingredients can settle and do the work.  If you don't have over night time, you can also make in the morning or afternoon for dinner.  The salsa is still quite good but the jalapeños definitely need some time to heat up the salsa.  Enjoy!

Here is a link to the book  this can be purchased thru Nantucket Bookworks which is a small, independent book store on the island, and my favorite bookstore ever.

Enjoy!

Outdoor Life

Picnic Basket Essentials

 photo credit:  food52.com

photo credit: food52.com

Tis the season, summer and picnicking.  Last week's post I told you about 3 picnic baskets locally made here in the U.S. Today I want to help you pack that basket. I did some digging to see what people like to pack and eat on a picnic.  Most of it goes back to common sense, logistics and classic traditional foods.  I will start off with saying, nothing with mayonnaise. It spoils super fast (1.5 hours)  and you don't want a slew of sick people on your hands. (although trash bags and wipes are on the things to bring list). 

Food: finger foods, easy to eat for kids and adults, and most finger foods stay edible. Crudités, hummus and my personal favorite french onion dip, cheese sticks for kids, 2 to 3 blocks of cheese. I had a truffle cheese recently at an outdoor night picnic that was absolutely amazing, so try something different.  Cut up fruit or just bring a watermelon to cut up onsite.  Baguette, crackers, tortilla chips because they can be eaten plain or with the hummus, pickles and/or olives.  Now on to more substantial items, salads, try to skip basic greens because of wilting, substitute the lettuce with kale or a grain like quinoa or farro and pack the dressing in a mason jar so you can shake and apply when you arrive. Caprese salad is always a hit, be sure to use local farmer heirloom tomatoes and a very nice Italian balsamic dressing. I go to L'Albero dei Gelati to buy our balsamic syrup.  A local place in Brooklyn who imports from Italy. It can be expensive but you do get what you pay for.  For the third course, I think fried chicken is always a hit and a cold pasta salad. Brownies or pie for dessert and don't forget the beverages; beer, wine and water.

 photo:  oprah.com

photo: oprah.com

Ok so I told you all the food items, now for the non-food essentials. I try my best to leave a small carbon foot print. Have you seen the signs at the beach, take out what you brought in?  First on the list is trash bags. So easy to forget. Cloth napkins, gingham is a summer time classic, biodegradable plates/cups and flatware or take it up a notch and bring your melamine, acrylic or tin plates. Flatware, once again go with biodegradable wooden flatware or bamboo which you can get quite a few uses out of.  Another option is bring your flatware from home. You can wrap it up in each napkin and tie some twine or ribbon around it. Ready for use.  Corkscrew/bottle opener, salt/pepper, serving utensils and a small cutting board is ideal but not a deal breaker. 

Do you have some favorites you like to bring on a picnic?

Enjoy!