Backyard Bargains & Best-Before Dates

Later in the summer I’ll be hosting a garden party to celebrate my daughter and son-in-law’s elopement. And yes, I know I’ve already mentioned it, but it’s become a delightful preoccupation. We’ll need extra seating, of course, and have been keeping an eye out for bargains. Well, look what I scored at a yard sale. For $15!

A pair of Adirondack chairs connected by a table creates a cosy spot for a tete a tete under the old apple tree.

Pairing the set with a gazing ball on a wrought iron stand creates a nice cottage look, don’t you think? Handy Man may paint the chairs at some point, but for now I’m loving them au naturel.

Spending time in our backyard is a favorite pastime and we do a lot of al fresco dining. Last night was no exception.

Salad fixings

The lettuce and beets are from our garden. I used my mandolin to julienne the carrots and beets – super quick and easy! Along with those are diced cheddar, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, chopped ham, sliced avocado, and on the far right a little jar of my favorite vinaigrette. Oh, and notice my adorable little crystal salt cellar with its silver salt spoon.

I don’t buy bottled salad dressing. For one thing, I get bored with using the same dressing over and over again. But then if I have several on hand, they hang out in the fridge forever. If you’re a bottled dressing buyer, do you check your best-before dates?

I’ve borrowed a vinaigrette recipe from Prudence Parker, the heroine in my upcoming novella, Kiss at the Cove, and she encouraged me to share it with you.

Pru’s super-simple super-tasty vinaigrette

Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
a drizzle of maple syrup, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake. Done.


Bon appetit! Until next time,


Farm Fresh and Delicious


For supper last night, I made a Tomato, Corn, Leek and Potato Gratin from Susie Middleton‘s newest book, Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories. It caught my eye at the library while I was looking for something else, so I checked it out.

The book is part memoir about starting a market garden and part cookbook. I read it front to back, including most of the recipes, and loved it. So much so that when I had to return it to the library, I ordered a copy to add to my cookbook collection.

Susie has lots of recipes on her website, but I couldn’t find the one of I made last night. It consists of a base of sautéed leeks and corn topped with alternating layers of sliced tomatoes and sliced and parboiled sliced potatoes. The dish is finished with an herbed breadcrumb topping. (FYI, my photos do not do this dish justice.)

My version ended up being a bit dry because I used Roma tomatoes. They’re nice and meaty, but not juicy enough for a recipe like this. Next time I’ll try beefsteak tomatoes.

And this morning, the leftovers made a delicious side dish with a serving of scrambled eggs. In fact, it gave me an idea because Prudence Parker, the heroine Kiss at the Cove, is rather well-known for her breakfasts. If you’d like to find out what else Prudence is cooking up, check out the free preview on iBooks.

Happy reading!

Until next time,