Monday, May 17, 2010

Adventures in Nashville

Anne is my adventure friend. It started in college when we studied abroad together in Luxembourg. It continued after college when we started running races together and completed the Marine Corps Marathon in DC together. In August we went back to Europe to visit our friend Emily in London. And each May I look forward to visiting with her and her family in Nashville for the Iroquois Steeplechase horse race.

After our first Sprint Triathlon at Miami University in April

This year's Steeplechase was a little different because we invited the boys to join us. We were also there the weekend after Nashville was severely flooded. The flooding didn't get a lot of National news coverage with the Times Square bomb scare, the Greek bail-out, and the oil spill in the Gulf monopolizing things. But water covered the downtown 12 feet above flood level and left thousands without power and destroyed homes. The Opryland Hotel will be closed until the end of the year. Basically it was really bad. But Nashville is filled with kind people and they had an outpouring of volunteer support. They picked themselves up and got to work helping their neighbors clean things up.

Race day was gorgeous and sunny. This year we paid a bit more attention to the horse races than we have in years past. Each of us placed our bets and the whoever picked the winning horse got to make a rule for the rest of the day. The rules didn't really stick, but whatevs. Here is a video of the day. Music credit is Anne's jam of the day "Young Forever (feat Mr. Hudson)" by Jay-Z.

While we were in Nashville this year, Anne took us to an adorable handmade ice cream shop called The Pied Piper Creamery. They have amazing flavors and I loved their Mint Grapefruit Sorbet. With all the mint growing in my yard, I had to try making it for myself. Not only was it incredibly simple to make, it turned out amazing. I have to thank Anne for that as well because she gave me an ice cream maker for my birthday this year!

Grapefruit Mint Sorbet

1 1/3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 1/2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (the juice of 3 grapefruits)

In a small saucepan, heat half the water and the sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, swirling occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a boil, move it off the heat and cover for 2 minutes. Add the mint and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Combine with remaining water and grapefruit juice and chill completely. Strain before preparing according to ice cream maker’s instructions.

This is a fabulous summer sorbet. It is fresh and light and cleanses the palette. I'm sure other fresh fruit juices subbed for grapefruit would turn out lovely as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You may have noticed I took about a 2 month blogation. I started lots of posts within those months, but just never did get around to posting them. One such posts I started a few weeks back when ramps made their first appearance at the farmers market. I'll spare you the portions which are no longer topical (which would pretty much be this whole post since ramp season is over), but I have to share these pics and I highly recommend you pick up some ramps next spring.

Ramps are a wild leek that look like a green onion with two big green leaves. They can be found in the woods in the spring if you know where to look. Unfortunately I don't - I found mine at the Farmers Market. Maybe next year I will learn to forage.

I picked up a few bunches and would have probably used them the same way I use a green onion if one of the vendors hadn't had a sample of ramp pesto to try. It was amazing; spicy, green and super garlicy. But to my surprise, it contained no garlic at all. It is the leaves of the ramp that provided all the garlic kick, and I'm so glad he told us that or I probably would have sent the leaves into the compost for the worms and centipedes to enjoy. The ramp pesto is simple and I whipped up a big batch in the food processor.

The recipe is simple: ramp leaves, walnuts (could also use pine nuts but they leave a funky taste in my mouth), pecorino romano cheese (optional), olive oil, and kosher salt. We enjoyed it on pizza with fresh mozz, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and green olives, on Ohio City fresh pasta, and I froze some for later.


Ramp Pesto

Ramp pesto pizza

I tried two things with the bulbs. First I pickled some:

Pickled Ramp Bulbs - sweet and tangy

Second, I used the ramp bulbs instead of onions and garlics in a beef chili recipe that turned out delish.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Springtime at Wildwood

Springtime at Wildwood has been full of change and projects. My nesting instincts hibernated all winter and I had no desire to do more than spend the dark evenings on the couch wrapped in two blankets and an Olive and hope our gas bills wouldn't put us in foreclosure. But with the warmer weather and budding leaves has come an outpouring of ideas and a list of projects a mile long. The yard that made us cringe every time the snow melted this winter has erupted in green. In the mornings I survey the yard and find measured changes in the evening when I check back. The front yard is a menagerie of lady's mantle, day lilies, azaleas and hostas, all of which I couldn't have named a year ago. The back yard's ivy hasn't sprouted new leaves, but the vines are still tangled all over and need to be ripped out as soon as we can clear all the kitchen rubble that was temporarily piled here. The kitchen has made a lot of progress in our eyes, but is still a long way from finished. The walls and ceiling are long gone. The electrical is about finished and Chris built a new soffit above the peninsula. We should be insulating and dry walling very soon and after that it is all down hill (or so I tell myself).

crazy green yard

tangled ivy vines in the backyard

I'm not much help in the kitchen reno, so I have taken on some other projects. I won't touch a room unless I am 100% committed to it, so many of the rooms in our house are being lived in and used without a single attempt at sprucing them up. I've started with the two main rooms in the downstairs - the living room and the tv room. We spend the most time in the tv room and I can finally say that I consider this room completely done. Its been painted, rearranged many times, pictures on the walls and blinds and curtains are hung. It is the first room I can say I am happy with. I've moved my focus now to the living room which is well on its way. Its been painted and blinds and curtains are hung. Yesterday we purchased a new sofa table and lamp from World Market. I'm working on the accents and we need to get the new range which has been sitting in the corner of the room since November out of there, but it is really getting close to done. My next projects are the master bedroom and the guest room. I have ordered wallpaper samples and have been doing lots of searching for furniture. I'm enjoying the process, but would like to have a guest room in time for summer visitors.

tv room - first room done

Living room - on its way.

This surge of inspiration has been 2 parts spring weather and 1 part design blogs. If you are looking for inspiration, this is a great place to start:
Apartment Therapy

Not entirely my personal style, but LOTS of good ideas for rehabing and do it yourself without going broke:
The Lettered Cottage

Lots of do it yourself tutorials and ideas. This blog inspired me to buy a grotsky chair on craigslist and attempt a total rehaul. It is in process, we shall see...
Centsational Girl

Great wallpaper selection:
Walnut Wallpaper

I sent this to Chris to prepare him for this future in wainscoting:
Just Beachy

An my favorite Mid-Century Modernizers. I'm only slightly bitter that they started after us and finished their kitchen already. But mostly I'm proud:
Mid-Century Modernize