Summertime Happy Hour: Fresh Tomato and Feta Bruschetta

Every time we go to the beach, I’m in charge of happy hour. It’s become such a tradition that my family doesn’t do it if I’m not there. It’s nice to have a purpose, I guess.

I enjoy a happy hour on a normal day, but it’s especially significant on the porch, at the beach, during vacation. You can sip a cool, refreshing cocktail, nibble on something savory and soak up the atmosphere — whether it’s watching the ant-farm family across the street or just enjoying a nice breeze blowing in from the ocean. Continue reading

How does your garden grow?

Here we go again. Since the end of February, we’ve been enjoying strangely-early, spring-like temperatures here in N.C. While I’m absolutely not complaining, that’s been a slap-in-the-face wake-up call that I need to get moving in my garden.

Last year was my first experiment with growing anything other than houseplants or herbs. I mean, I’ve killed bamboo. But somehow it was successful, and I enjoyed quite a bounty for my measly efforts. Along the way, I learned some lessons, so I had it together enough to start my seedlings early, the first week of February. Last fall, as our warm weather continued through November, I picked late tomatoes and saved their seeds by drying them on paper towels. When I was planting my other seeds this year, I just popped those off the paper towel, and they’re growing! Pretty neat.

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Enjoying nature’s bounty.

I’m sure some of you are surprised that I have yet to talk about cooking on this blog. It’s always been my refuge — I’m one of those strange people who finds total relaxation in chopping vegetables or baking bread. It’s also a creative exercise to put ingredients together, to experiment and to coordinate many dishes all at once. Like conducting an orchestra.

I don’t spend a lot of time in my house — or sit down much, for that matter — so I haven’t been cooking recently outside of what’s required for general daily sustenance. In the last week, though, it’s been little sweeties galore as they’ve ripened in the garden, so I’ve had to be decently creative.

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary.

It’s looking like the end of the summer growing season. Sad.

I’ve always had a pretty black thumb, even with houseplants, but this year was my first experiment with true gardening. I’d call it relatively successful. For the first time in my adult life, I have outdoor space, even if it’s only a 3′ x 7′ plot. It was important to me to try to grow my own organic food, and I have enjoyed taking care of my little plants.

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