My daughter Caitlin had her birthday this month and I had fun preparing a small dinner party to celebrate. I was so happy that she and her friends wanted to come to my house for dinner!
The weather was still beautiful so we served cold cilantro-lime shrimp, cheese and fruit on the kitchen deck. We moved inside to the kitchen table for dinner. It is always festive and informal to eat in the kitchen where most of my parties end up anyway.
I brought in my darling little lemon thyme trees to decorate the dining table and put a large arrangement of white Japanese anemones on a side table. The beautiful fall arrangement of scented geraniums, rose hips and deep violet Dahlias was a hostess gift and graced the corner cabinet close by.
My menu was a lightly smoked salmon grilled with lemon parsley butter, mashed potatoes, green beans, caprese salad and “eggs in a cloud of herbs”. This egg recipe is in an earlier blog if you want to try them. They are one of Caitlin’s favorite. I make these eggs for holidays and many times when I entertain.
Good food, flowers, and most of all, family and sweet friends make a lovely evening to enjoy and remember. Caitlin and her friends left full and happy.
After our event at the library I was invited to Carol James’ annual fall party.
The photographs start in the front yard, through the great room/dining room and out to the back deck and yard. Carol attended to every exquisite detail herself. This lady is a gifted designer and her party was as good as it gets – elegant – inside and out!!
Carol’s food was perfectly delicious, beautiful, and extravagant. What a perfectly lovely backdrop to visit with old friends and meet new ones. It was the best party and I had so much fun.
Wow, I wasn’t expecting to experience world class design and entertaining during my visit to my little home town in Nebraska. Thank you, Carol!!!
My daughter’s friend Kalem came to visit from New Zealand and Caitlin and I made a pie to welcome him.
I combined peach and blackberry for the filling. Sweet peaches are enlivened with berries along with Meyers lemon juice and fresh grated nutmeg and mace. I also like to substitute half of the sugar with dark brown sugar in peach pies and I always use tapioca rather than flour in all my fruit fillings. These little details add big flavor.
Oh, how delightful are the late summer flavors of fruit from the beautiful Willamette Valley.
I changed my favorite banana bread recipe after I returned home from a trip to New Zealand. It is so fun to experience food in another culture and bring new recipes home or use the experience to give your old recipes an update.
The food in New Zealand was really tasty and well prepared even in the little road side cafes when we were traveling. Their pastries were home made and banana muffins were a staple. They were a lighter version of our banana bread except for the addition of delicious chunks of dark chocolate.
Also when we had dinner at a friend’s house I was surprised that traditional banana bread was served like a cake and frosted with chocolate frosting – so good.
When I got home I added dark chocolate chunks to my banana bread along with doubling the amount of walnuts called for in my recipe. Well the result was not only reminiscent of my New Zealand eating experiences but mouth watering – just plain delicious!
This is a sweet twist on our American classic banana bread.
Use your favorite recipe — double the walnuts and add 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chunks. I like the chunks better than chips, but dark chocolate chips work too.
It’s also quite lovely baked in a small angel food pan for a special occasion. No need for frosting this cake with the chocolate chunks inside.
I visited my friend Galina’s garden and we picked beets, carrots, fennel, onion and snap peas. I decided to make soup with all these fresh picked ingredients.
I started with white beans, soaked and cooked in organic chicken broth with onion, one clove and a bay leaf. I later added chicken breast chunks, careful not to overcook them. I removed these to be added back in later and then added all the fresh garden vegetables. Again I was careful not to cook them too long, but just so they were tender and still retained their flavor and brilliant color.
What a delicious summer soup. The garden wrote the recipe and I enjoyed the results.