Our family has a range of feelings about mustard. Our younger daughter would be perfectly content to have a dinner of mustard and nothing else, while our older one won’t touch it. Brian could spend an hour browsing the mustard section of our local international food store. And I fall somewhere in the middle. But, a mustard-based barbecue sauce –– that’s something that brings us all together. The first time we a made it, it was because it was easy. The second time, it was because the first iteration was just shy of completely addictive. At its best, mustard-based barbecue sauce, also known as South Carolina-style sauce, gets some zip from mustard and is heightened by additions like apple cider vinegar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
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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 »
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 »
Our family took a quick trip down to North Carolina this weekend to celebrate my brother-in-law’s graduation (with honors, from his doctoral program –– NBD). It was pretty wonderful to drive the lush country roads that link Charlottesville to Chapel Hill. Our trip coincided with the first heat wave of the year, as well as a host of spring thunderstorms, so as we motored along the backroads, the distant thunderheads contrasted with the deep green of southern trees in May. read more »