A summer to be savored.

I know, I know–I have (once again) fallen off the blogging band-wagon! Thank you, to those that have written asking “where the heck are you?!”

This summer has been amazing–and it’s all been about family. Although I know it’s just August, sadly, I can feel summer leaving. Not only has one of my daughters (Julie) just departed from her month-long time with us here at home (she’s working for her doctorate in clinical psychology in San Francisco) but my eldest, my son (Ben), recently left for Bangladesh (of all places!) for business. And, my youngest (Jessie) is gearing up to soon begin her last year of graduate school to become an art-therapist –while also maintaining a rigorous work schedule. So, although this summer I’ve had some of the best and most loving times with Jon and my kids, I’m more than a bit bummed to feel the physical scattering. There have been so many delicious things for us all to remember…

Here are some scrumptious “homemade highlights” from summer, 2010…

Jules, Me and Jess 

Benjamin taking a snooze on the grass.

The kids playing soccer in the yard.

Mango Margaritas!

Jules, Jess, Jen (Ben’s wonderful girlfriend.)

My wood-burning oven, all seasoned and I’m ready to cook!

Here, I’m cooking butterflied chickens with a medly of fresh herbs from the garden, olive oil, minced garlic, Kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper. The chickens cook covered loosely with foil–that way, they brown beautifully while keeping the meat succulent. When the fire is prepared properly, the chickens cook in the same amount of time it takes to cook in a conventional oven.

Hot out of the oven–A mixed berry double crust pie.

The pie didn’t last long…

Potato Gnocchi–made to celebrate Jen’s birthday.  Oh, don’t worry–A detailed blog is coming about how to make this. 

I actually made gnocchi twice for Jen and Ben. Once for her birthday (June 24th) …

 Jen’s birthday cake.

And I made gnocchi again, when Julie and Jessie were at the table to celebrate Jen’s birthday as a family.

This is a berry free-form tart—Ben said it was the best dessert he’d ever had!

A “No-Knead” Bread that I’ve been working on…

“Work” is SO satisfying!

Wouldn’t you like to relax like this? Mango might seem like she’s sleeping–but (trust me)  if I took out a vegetable peeler, she’d immediately run and stand by my side. She loves vegetables–She’s a Lab.–she’d eat a can.

Here are two focaccia’s I made with my daughter, Julie. They had fresh tomato wedges, pitted olives (two kinds, oil-cured and kalamata) and small fluted rounds of zucchini. The shaped dough was swabbed (both before and just after baking) with extra-virgin olive oil, lots of fresh herbs from the garden, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Mama Mia!

A Mixed Berry, Peach and Banana Crisp–I served this with creme fraiche that I whisked with some superfine sugar and vanilla.

My fig trees, netted to protect the fruit from nature’s little thieves.

Hey, it’s my tree–I’m allowed to pick the fruit!

The neighborhood always knows when I’m up to something good…

Fig leaves, fresh picked just after the rain (I have a reason.)

Fig leaves, doubled and seasoned with salt and pepper. (I really do have a reason.)

Branzino laying on seasoned fig leaves. (My reason.)

Mango is happily on “Branzino watch” while I check the grill…

When the charred fig leaves are peeled back (at the table) the reward is THE MOST SUCCULENT, DELICIOUS fish imaginable. Beyond good–

An assortment of heirloom cherry tomatoes, seasoned with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper and ready to be roasted in a very hot oven (450F) for 20 minutes. This, then, gets poured over freshly cooked spaghetti that goes into a pan with crisp pancetta–and then the whole thing (the pasta, pancetta, roasted tomatoes with all their seasonings and juices get’s tossed with lots of fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons).

Plain and flavor-all braided challah. I purposely made this two-loaf dough externally different. One was a “flavor-all,” which we ate with dinner on a Friday night–the other one (plain) was in case I had any “French toast” requests over that weekend. 

 Blueberry Muffins with a Sugar-Nut Topping

Heaven on a plate: Rotisserie chicken on the outdoor grill. Purposely made for our dinner on Julie’s last night home (before heading back to San Francisco) –The gentle, gorgeous outdoor wafts of these chickens spit-roasting surely spells love.

The Point: I thought I’d let you see why I haven’t been able to blog this summer. Sometimes it’s just impossible to write about life without sacrificing the literal things to do to create the yummy, loving life one wants. So, for me, living will always come first–and writing next. I’m always here, though. Just an email away! xoxo Lauren

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