Best Summer ‘Tater Salad

It’s the south , it’s hot, lets eat shrimp and drink beer.  Just this past weekend we went to a shrimp boil and I was asked to bring potato salad.   Usually my go to tater salad is this tex mex wonder land of  bacon, black beans, cilantro and spicy mayo – lots of mayo.  As delightful as it sounds, and believe me it is awesome, the mayo isn’t very hot day friendly so I set out to find something more suitable.

In one of her first cookbooks Ina Garten penned a recipe for her French Potato Salad.  With a vinegar and oil dressing it’s intended to be served warm or at room temperature, making it perfect for a warm summer cookout. The hint if white wine infused into the potatoes makes it a tad sophisticated feeling, and the generous amount of fresh herbs says it’s all about summer.  Cheers to my new favorite summer side.

Lucky for me in blog land it’s on the Food Network site, Find it here along with a video!

If you are ever in Pittsburgh….

It’s that time on my blog again where I get all gushy mushy about visiting the Phipps.  The current installation titled Super Natural is by artist Jason Gamrath. It consists of huge glass and metal orchids, pitcher plants and venus fly traps intermingled through the greenhouse rooms for a  brilliant display of color and texture.  Disclaimer – lots of photos ahead.

The breathtaking instillation wasted no time getting starting with these 12 foot sculptures.

Flanked by potted white orchids this piece truly was super natural in the main greenhouse.

Giant pitcher plants line the greenhouse leading to the orchid room.

In addition to the feature exhibit the Phipps itself looked spectacular, the ever changing scene lends this feeling of experiencing it for the first time every time.
They even cultivate all their own orchids, cherry picking the very best for the orchid room.

I loved the delicate details on this one.

Pitcher plants tucked in the ferns.  It’s always a toss up when I ask myself which room is my favorite; orchid or fern.   One is bustling with color, the other like some lush oasis.

The butterfly room was all a flutter none of them sitting still for a photo. Yes cheesy, I know – but at least I’m owning it.

My favorite of all the giant orchid sculptures was this orange one nestled in the corner of the butterfly room.  Like a little, or great big, surprise when I walked around the corner.  I hope they get to keep it!

More orchids that speak to the name of the exhibit – Super Natural.

I wish I had a better picture of this one where the deep purple and white flecks were noticeable.

Giant waterlily. Interesting – One of the first exhibits in this very greenhouse, dating back to 1895, featured giant amazonian lily pads.  There is even a picture of a girl in Victorian dress standing on one!

About ten years ago there was another glass sculpture instillation by artist Chihuly, the Phipps managed to acquire some of the pieces.  One of my favorites – the “swirly purples”, as I like to call them, are tucked into a defunct old fountain in the fruit and spice room.

The Dessert Gold Star hangs just inside the entrance to the dessert room.     I always wonder how they clean it, I mean seriously.

 If ever you are in Pittsburgh go visit the Phipps.  As you can see the well maintained Victorian greenhouse and grounds are nothing short of amazing.

Want to learn more about the fascinating history behind this Victorian greenhouse? Even see the picture of the girl standing on the lily pad.   Check here.

Even better, want to take a virtual tour?  Check this page out!

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear if any of you have visited the Phipps yourself!

Jeep Invasion!

When I say Butler is a small town in western PA, I do mean a small town.   One main drag, a couple of stop lights and small mostly family owned businesses dot the downtown.  Just a mile outside of this metropolis it’s a landscape of farmland and old homesteads.

Butler holds one great secret – it’s the birthplace of the Jeep.   Every June all the little Jeeps come to pay their respects at the Bantam Jeep festival.  There is a multitude of activities for Jeep owners to participate in to flex their Jeep muscles.  I had the opportunity to attend the Jeep Invasion, and it really is like an invasion this small town; absolutely astonishing how many of one badge can find their way together.  We all know I’m a ford truck girl, but yea – this was cool.

Jeeps lining Main Street and still pouring in.
This is what i think of when I think Jeep.
Still pouring in.
Even the side streets were being used this year.

What’s Cooking?

There is more to a delightful cookbook than recipes.   It should be enjoyable to read, inspire new things and always feel like positive results are obtainable.  My favorites incorporate family stories, history of the recipes, and just read like a good book.  So here are a few that I will pick up and read over and over.

 

Jerusalem a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Same Tamimi

Jerusalem a Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Why I like it- the history lesson that went with it, the explanation of how the flavors became so diverse horseradish and beet relish and traditions behind foods like falafel.

Favorite Recipe – Spiced Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable salad

 

 

 

Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

Barefoot Contessa Family Style
by Ina Garten

Why I like it-  Any of her cookbooks make me feel fancy, like every meal is a little dinner party, even if it is just for two.   Also, I have yet to fouled up when following her instructions and tips.

Favorite Recipe – Hands down her Chicken Parmesan, it can be found in her Family Style Cookbook and pretty much all over the internet.

 

Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debbie Debi Mazar

Extra Virgin
by Gabriele Corcos and Debbie Debi Mazar

Why I like it – Much like the show, the cookbook has his family history and their relationship interwoven through every recipe.  The recipes are simple and reliable with out sacrificing flavor.

Favorite Recipe – Red Sauce

 

 

Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Around my French Table
by Dorie Greenspan

Why I like it – I honestly couldn’t put it down.  It’s enormous and filled with stories, history and recipes.  The recipes are everything from rustic potato gratin to elegant honey spiced madeleines, all while maintaining the story.

Favorite Recipe – okay so this is more like one I want to try that I just haven’t gotten to recipe, Salted Butter Break-ups!

 

Thug Kitchen by Thug Kitchen

Thug Kitchen
by Thug Kitchen

Why I like it – It’s new healthy ways to use things I already love, which is inspiring.   Truth be told, I was half way through it before I realized it was vegan.   Be warned not a cookbook for family time, they cuss profusely,  but another truth be told – it cracks me up!

Favorite Recipe – Basic Maple Granola

More Orchids

It’s that time of year where I put pictures of my orchids on my blog for no reason other than I’m proud of myself.

Boaty McBoat Project

Husband: I want a boat!
Me: Take a class make sure you like it.
Husband: Okay…….. (two moths later) I love sailing, I want a sailboat!
Me: *sigh* okay
Husband: this one is in our budget
Me: ugh
Husband: All it needs is paint
Me: okay
Husband: (7 months later and a lot more than just paint) tada
Me:  SMILE

 

Beach Bug Out Bag

It’s that time of year again, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer and around here and the official start of tourist season.  If I want to get to the beach and miss the crowd I have to be prompt as soon as the weather looks ideal!  I accomplish this by putting together my beach bug out bag ahead of time, so then after a quick change into my suit,  I’m out the door.  (Sometimes it’s the boat bug out bag, but that is a whole different post!)

My beach bug out bag starts with a huge sturdy handled bag that sand doesn’t stick to.  I found this great one at Target, it holds enough to send a small army to the beach.  Stuff it with two big fluffy towels, a water bottle, snack and zip-lock bag with sunscreen and hair ties.  Then the best part – picking out a lighthearted silly little summer read.  I would recommend anything by Janet Evanovich, guaranteed easy to pick up and be delighted by even if it’s been a few days (or weeks) between reads. Have a little extra room, try a notebook and pen – never know when the muse may strike.

What would you keep in your beach bug out bag?

Bored to Bake List

Just the idea of spring makes me want to bake, and this year I saved my pennies and splurged on a KitchenAid stand mixer. I was so excited and planned to make a lemon cheesecake on Sunday. Thinking after a long week and company for dinner on Saturday it would be perfect.  Nope – half way through dinner on Saturday with a loud bang and a bright flash of light the range decided it needed a vacation.  It’s been nearly two weeks, it gets fixed Thursday, I miss my oven.

So I’ve had time to plan what I want to try and here is my list.
Dreamy Lemon Cheesecake at Southern Living

Chocolate Chess Pie at Food.com

Butter Toffee Pecan Layer Cake, also at Southern Living

Sausage Cheesy Biscuits by Trisha Yearwood

Lemon Lime Pound Cake by The Pioneer Woman

Any suggestions, I’m ready to bake.

 

Unravel My Travel – South Dakota

I am admittedly a little late in posting this since our trip was in October, but South Dakota was great none the less.

The two big attractions that fueled our travel choice were Mount Rushmore and The Badlands, however we were pleasantly surprised with everything the area offered.  Most notably was Devil’s Tower, a little over an hour drive from our hotel in Deadwood it was an easy day trip.   At the visitor center we walked up a steep path to the base of the tower, and then followed a fairly flat paved trail around the base.  The views were spectacular, and no we did not have any close encounters.

Devil’s Tower

Also notable; steam engine rides, The Blackhills, Crazy Horse, greasy dinners for breakfast, old cemeteries and cave walks.

It was a long days travel from the southern east coast to get there but well worth the trip.

Mount Rushmore
The Badlands