The One Thing I Never Heard My Son Say

“Hey mom!  I’ve been doing some thinking.  I sure would enjoy it if you remodeled my bedroom in a Scandinavian Minimalist style!” said Ethan Pflug NEVER.  HAHAHA!  Yep…I’m literally LOL as I write this post.  Poor kid.  Having to put up with a designer mom that is always using her home as her own little mad scientist laboratory.   And the truth is, E didn’t say those words because I said them.  I said them (or at least I thought them) and the idea worked!  It worked for my son and it worked for me!

Wall Headboard Continue reading

Tropical Chic Rosemary Beach Condo

No matter the date on the calendar, this Rosemary Beach Condominium was designed to be the quintessential endless summer getaway for a busy couple and their three young sons.  The home, situated in the heart of the Rosemary Beach, Florida town square, is a light and airy space where graphic punches give way to organic, woodsy respites, all thoughtfully woven together with a rich, leafy thread that feels neither forced nor overused.

White, Green and Black Color Palette with punches of Magenta

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Summer’s Go-To Party Dip

Peach and the Willow Dip with Farmers Market Array

Hold on Ranch Dressing and boring ol’ Onion Dip!  There’s a new dip boss in town!  Peach and the Willow Dip, “please stand up, please stand up, please stand up”!  (Go ahead and rock the Slim Shady song here….it’s Friday and you’ve been itching’ to dance all week!).   Continue reading

How One Uninteresting Wall Became a Whole Lot Cooler!

I see it all the time in my interior design work.  Homes with these quirky little wall insets in halls, foyers or transition spaces.  I’m guessing it’s the builder’s attempt to add “character” to the house but, inevitably, the homeowner is left scratching their head as to what to do with the dang things!  In most cases, the easy “go-to” is to lean family photos or artwork or place a floral arrangement inside but, many times, those choices leave the homeowner feeling underwhelmed and bored.  I, too, was faced with this problem in my own home.  However, my problem was two-fold.  (A)… I didn’t enjoy the look of the inset and (B)…I needed more storage space.  In my case, the inset was placed on an angled wall and angled walls usually house unused space behind them.  Now…those of you that know my work know that I am never opposed to busting through walls if I think there is hidden storage behind and that’s exactly what I did!  Check it out!  See the pretty antique door?  That used to be an unimaginative wall inset!  How’s that for “turning it up a notch?”

Foyer with Built-In China Cabinet
View of foyer from the front door.  A Built-In China Cabinet with Vintage Doors replaces, what used to be, a boring wall inset.

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“Snap, Crackle, Pop!” That one time the Breakfast Nook came to life with KID ART and POPS OF COLOR!

Breakfast Nook filled with Color

I don’t know about you guys, but just looking at this breakfast nook makes me instantly HAPPY!!!  So imagine getting to eat your Cheerios in the midst of all this happiness every morning or your mac n’ cheese at night?!  And then further imagine that you’re the kid(s) that created these modern art masterpieces!  I mean…wouldn’t you feel super duper proud of  yourself and want to go out into the world and drink up every ounce of it’s goodness; maybe cure some rare diseases or write the next Great American Novel???!!!! Continue reading

Make Your Fireplace Wall a FEATURE! Before and After

One of the most frequently asked decorating questions I get from clients is what to do with a fireplace wall, how to style the mantel and how to make them both become a “feature” and not a “flop.”   Continue reading

A Light and Airy Kitchen Renovation – Just in time for Spring!

Peachy Keen Kitchen Renovation

The kitchen…the heart of the home…the very hub of life’s “hubbub,” wants to be loved too!  If our kitchens could talk, I sometimes think that they would say they felt neglected.  Not just neglected from a “wear and tear” standpoint, but aesthetically, as well.  Don’t you agree?  The kitchen performs on the daily for us…first in the morning over pots of coffee, bowls of cereal and trails of toast crumbs…then into the evening where it takes the heat, the sauce splatters, the wine spills, the ice cream plops, the oil slicks and performs like a champ through it all.  But shouldn’t our kitchens be more than just our work horse?  Doesn’t most of LIFE happen in the kitchen?…from social gatherings to family meals to homework to bill paying?  And since everyone ALWAYS ends up in the kitchen, shouldn’t your kitchen not just function but look really awesome too???  I think yes! Continue reading

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Strawberry Frosting and Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries and Pomgranates.jpgAre you feeling it like I’m feeling it…seeing it like I’m seeing it???   The warmth of the sun, the pop of greens, the new melodies of the song birds???  Spring, albeit too early, is bursting all around us!  From tree blossoms to grass weeds…the signs are everywhere!  Soon…crates of Strawberries will be showing up from Plant City, Florida to satisfy our strawberry indulgences and vices.  And although a nasty freeze will surely make an unwelcome appearance before it’s all said and done…we can still be excited about Spring’s beautiful, life renewing arrival.  Continue reading

Fireside With Friends ~ A Casual Fall Dinner Party Celebrating Comfort Food in the Great Outdoors!

tablescape-with-fire

I promise that no friends were harmed in the shooting of this blog!  Real Friends.  No actors.  (Wait!  Check that.  A couple of my friends are actors but let’s not get caught up in semantics.) And from all accounts (and even though I bossed  my friends around a great deal that night)… everyone had a ball!  Create your own outdoor party like this one and you’re guaranteed to have a ball too!!!

friends-and-food-fireside

Confession…I have dreamed of creating a party in this backyard oasis ever since I was first invited to the Russell’s beautiful home about a year ago. Continue reading

Summer’s Perfect “Send Off” Meal ~ Panko Encrusted Swordfish with Southern Field Pea Relish

swordfish-with-lady-pea-relish

Still reeling from a sun and fun filled Labor Day Weekend on Smith Lake with friends, my mind keeps nagging me that our frolicking days of summer will soon dim into the short, crisp days of fall.  My heart actually grimaces a little when I consider that very soon, summer vegetables like our beloved tomato, will disappear from the farmers market and be replaced by it’s boring cousin…the dull and lifeless grocery store variety shipped from God knows where.  And then there’s the disappearing field peas and sweet corn that my family and I have lapped up all summer long with great enthusiasm.  Yes…I “put up” a few bags of peas and tomatoes in the freezer…but who am I kidding?  Those will be consumed by the end of September!  So what is left to do but embrace the fact that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the changing colors of a Tennessee fall and all its beauty…that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, football season with tailgates and boiled peanuts and “football food”!…and that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the baked goods and holiday fare that I will soon be preparing and enjoying with wild abandon?!!!  There!  Done.  I feel better.

But before I start carving a pumpkin or making a spice cake, I must share with you a meal that I served for a couple dinner parties over the summer.  The first time I made Panko Encrusted Swordfish with Southern Field Pea Relish, we had just returned from Gloucester Vineyards (my childhood home), with a bushel or so of freshly shelled White Acre field peas.   I had employed my son and husband, along with mom and dad, to help me shell the said peas, thinking it would be fun for all of us to sit in rocking chairs beneath my parents’ covered porch and talk while the whippoorwills sang us a pretty melody, just like I remember as a child.  Hahaha!  For two city boys, the talking and bird listening was great…but the shelling?   The finger blisters?  The slow moving pace of the peas falling into a large, seemingly bottomless bowl?  LOL!!!  But for me?  Sheer bliss.  It reminded me of a sweet time…a slower time…a time before cyber space and social media check in’s…and it was heaven.  And I knew those peas would taste better for the effort.  Shelling Peas.jpg Growing up, I really don’t think we enjoyed a Sunday lunch without peas making an appearance at the table.  We never tired of them…ever!  And my grandma Berta, being the saint that she was, made sure she froze enough peas to get us through all of winter’s Sunday lunches!  Glory be!!!  They were always served in a pretty painted flower laced bowl  with bits of salted pork swimming in the broth.  Occasionally, and especially in the summer when okra was fresh, a few pods would have been placed atop the boiling peas to add their own earthy flavor to the mix.  These days, when summer tomatoes are at their peak, I enjoy peas alongside freshly cut ‘maters with sea salt and bits of crumbled bacon.  Talk about the ultimate main course salad!lady-peaslady-peas-and-vine-ripe-tomotoes-with-bacon

I make my peas very simply…start with enough water so that when peas are added (you can buy frozen peas at your local grocery…they’re quite good!) they will only be slightly covered by water.  Now add your salt pork…you can use smoked jowl, bacon, country ham…whatever you have available.  I usually use about 8 ounces of smoked pork and I allow the pork to boil for about 10 minutes before I place the peas in the boiling water.  Add peas and return to a boil…now taste.  The water will not be salty enough…even with the salt pork.  So begin with teaspoon increments and add salt to the peas, water and pork.  Continue to taste until desired saltiness, being careful not to over season.  The salt from pork will continue to be released as you cook.  Continue cooking on medium for 30 – 45 minutes.  This beautiful, simple field pea dish is the building block for the relish that you will make for the Panko Encrusted Swordfish.

…Getting back to my story.  We had returned from Florida with a bushel or so of peas…

I had invited a few couples over for dinner that week and knew that I wanted to serve something slightly more elevated than a bowl of field peas and ham.  That’s when I remembered a recent article I had read in Garden and Gun that had incorporated peas into a relish.  My mind started running and I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to serve!  My family cannot get enough of my Panko Fried Chicken so I thought to myself, “what if I lightly fry Mahi Mahi or Swordfish the way I fry my chicken?…then top it with field pea relish?”…and that’s exactly what I did.  As it turns out…the meal was a huge hit with our guests!  The field pea relish with its lightly sweet and acidic notes, made the perfect complement to the crunchy, buttery fish.  Served alongside creamy Gouda Grits and a simple Spinach Salad, this elegant summer meal is worthy of your fanciest dinner party menu or presented casually the way I did.  Either way…it’s a show stopper!!!  And a recipe you will want to Pin and return to summer after summer!  (Psst!  While it’s still “summery” outside…make this dish this week!  Heck!  I break the rules about wearing white after Labor Day ALL the time!)

panko-encrusted-swordfish-and-lady-pea-relish-over-baby-spinach

SOUTHERN FIELD PEA RELISHshallots-and-garlic

  • 1 tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups cooked field peas (lady peas are pictured)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped parsely
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped chivesherbs-for-pea-relish
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, simmer minced shallot and garlic in 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar over medium heat until softened (about 5 minutes).  Place mixture in a bowl and combine with peas, olive oil and chopped herbs and zest and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

panko-swordfish-with-lady-pea-relish

PANKO ENCRUSTED SWORDFISH     (Serves 4)

  • 8  – 4oz  swordfish fillets…2 fillets per guest  (I have also used Mahi Mahi!)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut or vegetable oil or enough to cover bottom of frying pan to 1/4″
  • salt and pepper to taste

The breading of the fillets is a 3-part process using three bowls for dredging and dipping.  I like to season and bread all of my fish before heating the oil.

  1. Place flour, buttermilk and panko crumbs in three different bowls.  Add 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper to the flour and panko crumbs; stir to combine.
  2. Wash and dry fish fillets;  lightly salt and pepper each side of the fish
  3. Dredge each fillet in flour; shaking off excess
  4. Dip floured fillet in buttermilk and coat
  5. Dredge and fully cover the floured and buttermilk’d fillet in panko crumbs; set aside on tray
  6. Repeat for all fillets
  7. Place oil in frying pan and heat on high, watching carefully
  8. When oil has reached frying temperature, place the fillets into the pan; be careful not to overcrowd
  9. Fry on each side about 3 minutes or until golden brown
  10. Remove to lined plate or warm oven until ready to serve; top with Field Pea Relish
panko-encrusted-swordfish-and-lady-pea-relish-over-gouda-grits
Panko Encrusted Swordfish and Southern Field Pea Relish with Creamy Gouda Grits and Fresh Spinach

Bon Voyage Summer!!!  See ya later Field Peas and Tomatoes!  Until next time!!!  We love you!  Peace Out!

Autumn…we’re comin’ for ya!!!

Remember to follow these and other Peach and the Willow recipes and decorating ideas on Pinterest.  Search me, Sabrina Shelfer Pflug, and pin from the Peach and the Willow Recipe Board!  Happy Pinning!

Field Pea Relish recipe courtesy of Garden and Gun Magazine, June/July 2016