I decided I’d only worry about the garden through July. After that, I let it all surrender to the squash bugs, at least one groundhog, a few squirrels, possibly a deer, and powdery mildew and blight of all manner. But even as they weather the onslaught, the tired-looking plants still spew fruit. Most of my outdoor plants have had a banner year, especially considering my gardening-in-Virginia track record. All the plants, except the fig. read more »
According to the calendar, we’re right in the middle of August, though any sensory assessment would tell you it’s late September. It’s been a mild summer in Charlottesville, with only a handful of days where temperatures topped the 90 degree mark. And ever since we ticked over into the month of August, fall has been in the air. Tiny acorns are already dropping, dogwood leaves are tinged with red, while many of the tulip polars, birch, and black walnut trees have already yellowed and lost most of their leaves. The cicadas, typically deafening in the southern summer, never really reached full force. Instead, there’s the quiet hum of crickets.
No matter the time of year, I love how the changing seasons capture our attention. read more »
Charlottesville is just 25 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Shenandoah National Park, but it took us more than a year of living here to make our way out there. And even then, we barely made it. To start, it one was of those weekends –– equal parts magical and exhausting –– where Brian and I fit way too much in. It was like a marathon as we madly hopped from one fun activity to the next, with hardly any time for important things like sitting around or making food.
No matter, on Sunday we had brunch with visiting friends and then set out for a trip to the mountains. read more »
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After years of growing summer foods in containers, I’ve been a little taken aback at the amount of time it takes to properly care for a real garden in Virginia in mid-July. This weekend, my diligence slipped a bit and we got the first woody green beans and one way-too-giant zucchini. The difference between a tender vegetable and an overgrown one feels like 5 minutes. And what began as a nice handful of this or that a few weeks ago, is now filling a pint (or even a quart) basket daily. It’s overwhelming and wonderful all at the same time. read more »
At a time when so much good stuff is growing, it’s nice to have a copy of Erin Alderson’s The Homemade Flour Cookbook in hand. Erin, the lovely writer and photographer behind Naturally Ella, has created a beautiful book that details homemade flours of all varieties –– everything from traditional wheat flours to those made from legumes, nuts, and seeds. The most exciting thing for me is that Erin’s book gives readers the information they need to mill their own grains at home. And her simple, fresh recipes offer a great chance to play with all the best flavors of the season. read more »
Grilled fish is one of the purest pleasures of summer. The immediacy of it all –– fresh and simple –– makes for the very best kind of eating.
High on my personal list of skills I’d like to learn is fishing. I used to fish with my dad all the time, but one day in the peak adolescent years, sticking the hook through the minnows’ mouths was too much for me and I swore off eating any animals for 13 years. Now that I’m back to more omnivorous ways, the ability to catch my own supper is something I’d really like to reclaim. The dream of fishing goes hand in hand with my desire to become some kind of backwoods canoeing badass, but I think the canoe thing will have to wait until next summer. For this one, I’ll be perfectly content with trout straight from a Virginia stream. read more »