Wednesday, July 31, 2013

take me back to last saturday night

Twinkle Bell Secret Dinning Fellowship

Oh what a night!
 The day started off with a prediction of 60% chance of evening thundershowers but somehow with the kitchen gods watching over us the rain held off and instead presented a cool enchanted evening for Twinkle Bell's debut!
The week prior was filled with craziness! Many farms and artisans where visited to supply the dinner's bounty. A big thanks to all whose hard work and dedication to produce beautiful local & organic products.
Trickling Springs Creamery
Potomac Vegetable Farm
Blue Ridge Dairy Co
Bonjour La Parisienne
Tudor Hall Farm
Medinas Produce
Westmoreland Berry Farm
Curran Fields Farm
Wilts Fruit Stand
Pennsylvania Dutch Market
Burnt Cabins Grist Mill  
The evening's menu
County pate
assorted crackers
pickled red onions
spicy garlic dill pickles
chow chow
eggplant caviar
sea salt potato chips
hot from the oven homemade biscuits
tomato jam
peach jam
nectarine jam
BBQ peach pulled pork
root beer BBQ chicken
grilled & marinated tomato with feta
arugula & bibb with roasted potatoes, beets, green beans & corn with a balsamic vinaigrette
creamy roasted corn polenta
peach tarts
vanilla ice cream
With the first dinner under are belt we have worked out the glitches and are ready to tackle the next. I'm hoping I can remember to introduce my crew......Ken, Megan, Katie, Cameron, Zoe and Nia. Great job!
Maybe thank Suzanne O'Lucketts for allowing this event to happen!
Oh, and hey Anne, Lisa, Kim, Megan and Dillon for your all support and help.  
Can't forget Nia, who is in the process of uploading a video of the evening, thank you! Cant's forget Lauren for snapping pictures of our guests, merci!
                                         Here are a few pictures from the evening

silly me, just being happy it isn't raining!

                                      our adorable servers for the evening, where's Megan?

                                               The Metz Brothers doing their thing!


                                                  The Lucketts Crew, party animals!

From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone for being a part of the magical evening that we shared together. This is only the beginning of a creative and unique food journey.
Hope to see everyone August 24th!

Thursday, July 18, 2013



Wowzer! It is HOT out there!!
When the summer brings on this oppressive heat I only want to drink thirst quenching delicious beverages.

Thought I would share this recipe to help everyone cool down.

Refreshing Summer Tea

for 6 cups

1 bunch of fresh mint leaves from the garden, about 1/2 cup

1 tsp dried lemon verbena, available in specialty tea stores or you can grow this herb in your garden next season!

1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and twisted in a knot

2 slices of ginger

honey for serving, optional

Boil 6 cups of water. in a glass picture, combine the mint, lemon verbena, lemongrass and ginger. Pour boiling winter in and let it steep.

Serve in tall beautiful glasses filled with ice and follow these instructions.

Install this in your trees....

wear these......

and don't forget this!

Stay cool peeps!

Don't forget next weekend is the Twinkle Bell Secret Dinning Fellowship's first event. I would love to  fill 6 more seats. Come on and sign up. The menu is super duper delicious along with a fun packed evening planned. Check your calendar and call your friends, then tell me you are coming!!!!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independance Day!

Forth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Swimming, fireworks, hand turned ice cream, badminton and backyard cookouts. All my favorite things rolled into one day!

I thought I would write about Edna Lewis and post her macaroni and cheese recipe, seems very American! 
Miss Lewis is by far one of my favorite all time Chef's. Sadly I discovered her after her death in an article written about her in Saveur magazine. I rushed to buy one of her cookbook's, how I miss bookstores, and devoured it front to back. She was my newly found idol with all of her fantastic pickling recipes and delicious cakes, I kept thinking who is this woman? The more I read the more I discovered how dedicated to the art of cooking she was by following simple values, seasonal, fresh, purity of ingredients, taste and authenticity.

Just a tidbit of information........

Edna Lewis born April 13, 1916 and died February 13, 2006 , was a well know authority of country cooking of Virginia. Born and raised in north central Virginia. She came of age in the 1920's on a nearly self sufficient farm, that had been grated to her grandfather, a freed slave, grew its own crops, raised and slaughtered its own animals and preserved its own food.

  • 1986 — Named Who’s Who in American Cooking by Cook’s Magazine
  • 1990 — Lifetime Achievement Award, International Association of Culinary Professionals
  • 1995 — James Beard Living Legend Award (their first such award.)
  • 1999 — Named Grande Dame by Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization of female culinary professionals.
  • 1999 — Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) (their first such award.)
  • 2002 — Barbara Tropp President's Award, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs
  • 2003 — Inducted into the KitchenAid Cookbook Hall of Fame (James Beard)
  • 2004 — The Gift of Southern Cooking nominated for James Beard Award and IACP Award
  • 2009 — African American Trailblazers in Virginia honoree at the Library of Virginia (in Richmond

  • Macaroni and Cheese

    8 ounces of elbow macaroni
    1 1/4 C extra sharp cheddar cheese cut into 1/2 in cubes2 Tbsp all purpose flour
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    1/4 freshly ground nutmeg
    2/3 C sour cream
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    1/3 C grated onion
    1 1/2 C half-and-half
    1 1/2 heavy cream
    1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    6 ounces grated extra sharp cheese

    Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain wee, transfer to a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish. Mix in the cubed cheese.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    Put the flour, salt, dry mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl, stir to blend. Add the sour cream, followed by the eggs and stir with a whisk until well blended.

    Whisk in onion, half-and-half, heavy cream, and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Pout this custard sauce over the macaroni and cubed cheese and stir to blend. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the surface.

    Bake in a preheated oven until the custard is set around the edges but still a bit loose in the center, about 30-40 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes to allow custard to thicken.

    Enjoy the day!

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Sneak Peek: Kitcken Confidential

    Kitchen Journal


    I'm having fun going through all my pictures to put together a timeline of our kitchen renovation. We have lived in our house for 7 years now and started this project in 2010 and finally we will have a kitchen soon.

    Ken and I are both in the food & beverage industry so days off sometimes are non existent and when you are off you can barely function because you just worked 5 12-14 hour days. We are both crazy energetic and love our careers plus adore restoring our home. This is why we are in the 3rd year of this process, not allot of time. We only hired out the plumbing and have done all the work ourselves.

    I had grown up with helping my Dad, who was a Master carpenter and my Mom who was obsessed with DIY projects non stop. The two of them built the house I grew up in with only the help of my Grandfather who did all the plastering, old school no sheet rock back then!

    Ken on the other hand has never in his life done anything like this. He is self taught I guess by trial and error and he defiantly has talent. Even my picky Mom was impressed.

    I get a kick out of the picture above. Ken is sitting, looks like he is fiddling with something electrical,  where we tore down the wall between the old kitchen and the dining room. I especially love that he has his head lamp on, nerd, and the coffee maker is sitting on a chainsaw box. We had to cut down a tree in our front yard that lighting struck, another skill we learned along with one more tool added to the growing collection.

    Also if you notice the doorway that leads to the staircase we closed that up to make more wall space. At this stage had decided on a galley style white kitchen with a vintage cottage modern feel.


    This is the original ghetto kitchen. We had just installed the new insulated door that we love. All the windows and doors would steam up when you did any type of cooking. We have replaced all the windows in the house except for 3!
    The sink will be moved to the other side and bigger windows installed making a new home for a L shaped window seat eating area. I purchased the white chimney cabinet years ago in Philadelphia which we have restored and made into our pantry, pictures later.


    Don't you love that we just kept the protective covering on the refrigerator for 2 years. Everyone thought we bought a blue one, hahaha!
    I had decided to keep this renovation on a strict budget. I bought the appliances not when we where ready but when they where on sale. We would just move the boxes to different spots around the house so we could work, cray cray!

    We had gutted the kitchen down to the studs and replaced the wiring and insulation. We where now getting ready to attempt to install a smaller window in place of a larger and it was freezing outside. Somehow we did it! The staircase doorway has been sealed and the walls are ready for sheet rock. Hey see our TV trays, we had dinner on those for 3 years!!!! Oliver is always with Ken, so cute. Hey does anyone want a chandelier?

                                               New project! Ken, please build us a porch.



    Poor Ken, because I had the bright idea to buy the entire kitchen on sale even if we where not ready, big problem..... storage. First the cabinets where in and had to be delivered. In the living room we had sheet rock, tools, dishwasher etc. ugh.
    Now he has to figure out how to build a screened in porch to solve the storage problem and have some extra space.
    We both took a week off from work thinking this will be so easy, shoot the house already has a deck so we'll just tear off the railings and use the deck part for the floor, build a roof, add walls and screens. 
    We then said, hey might as well get 3 ton of rock delivered and make a patio area. I found out fast that wheel barreling rock is a back breaking job and building a porch takes longer than a week. But we did it!
    All the aches, pain and misery was well worth it. We enjoy our porch and patio everyday.

    back to kitchen:



    Moving along, we decided to do half of the kitchen at a time so we would have space to move around and work. The sheet rock is going up and we are getting ready to mud, yuck..... that means sanding which leads to massive amounts of dust everywhere!!!!

    Wow, windows in & tape/mud on. We have taken some of the cabinets out to see how it is all going to work. Few minor problems but we have a plan. We have been cooking on the stove where ever we move it, it's all good.


                                                                 Ken thinks I can't see him!

    Don't you love these tall cabinets

    Yes, walls are getting painted and the layout is working. I bought the cabinets on sale at Home Depot, Martha Stewart Collection. We chose to go with simple and white. Next the counter tops will be installed soon. We are feeling it! The ceiling we are going to put up white wainscoting and beams, a cottage feel.

    A beautiful thing. Silestone counter tops from Home Depot. Looks like marble but a fraction of the cost. I really really love them. You can't tell but we have sanded the floors. Which we have decided to paint white much cheaper than new bamboo flooring and I think it will look grand! Running water soon, just waiting for the plumber.

                                                                   Phase 2

    Same as the other side, ripped everything out to the studs, new wiring and insulation. We also put new larger windows in. This will be where the window seat is. The view is so

                                  Found this adorable kitchen table at West Elm, got it for a steal!

    Ken will flip if he finds out I posted this but how cute is he with Oliver. We are enjoying Christmas breakfast relaxing at our table in our kitchen. This is a first!! And yes we wear matching Christmas PJ's, total nerds!!!!


    I can picture the window seat. I have a feeling this will be my favorite spot in the house. Oliver will go nuts squirrel watching. I am starting my search for the perfect fabric to have the cushions made. I think a trip to Calico Corner is approaching.

    More dust and hard work we conquered the walls, trim is up and sanded the floor. Ken is applying the first coast of paint. This paint rocks. We highly recomend it. I read about it on a DIY blog. You can find it online.

    The last picture is our super tiny powder room. During the kitchen renovation we had to gut it. It turned out amazing. This is another story, kind of a horror story which I will tell later along with pictures. 

    Here is our current To Do list:

    finish painting and sealing the floor
    finish the door trim and paint
    wainscoting on ceiling with beams
    tile sink and stove walls, white subway tile
    install ceiling lights, check out
    window seat and cushions


    Next weekend we are going to start the window seat. Will update soon!