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?”
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
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
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
Are 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
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!!!
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
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. 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!
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!)
SOUTHERN FIELD PEA RELISH
- 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 chives
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Wash and dry fish fillets; lightly salt and pepper each side of the fish
- Dredge each fillet in flour; shaking off excess
- Dip floured fillet in buttermilk and coat
- Dredge and fully cover the floured and buttermilk’d fillet in panko crumbs; set aside on tray
- Repeat for all fillets
- Place oil in frying pan and heat on high, watching carefully
- When oil has reached frying temperature, place the fillets into the pan; be careful not to overcrowd
- Fry on each side about 3 minutes or until golden brown
- Remove to lined plate or warm oven until ready to serve; top with Field Pea Relish
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
Good Gookamookee Sauce (pronounced; goo-ka-moo-kee) is HANDS DOWN my most often used and requested barbecue sauce. But let me be clear…this is my dad’s prized sauce and he deserves all the credit! When he first made it for our family, he declared “good gookamookee!” the name stuck, and a craze began! For a lotta folks…it’s barbecue crack (beware people!…highly addictive!). Just don’t let my dad see you put it on his smoked brisket! By his rules, he decrees Good Gookamookee can accompany anything but brisket! (Hmmm…I humbly disagree!…this sauce would taste good on a rock! Love you dad!)
Please allow me to “break it down” for a moment and elaborate on Good Gookamookee Sauce and all its many culinary attributes. It’s a mustard based sauce, highly reminiscent of those made famous in the Carolinas. It’s wet. You get me? Wet! Not thick and sappy sweet…but liquidy and slightly sweet with a nice little peppery kick and a pleasant vinegary burn. Because of the spiciness and acidity of the sauce, it also plays the role of marinade,finishing sauce, dipping sauce and dressing! Yep. This sauce is kick ass (sorry mom). I have used it in so many dishes I couldn’t possibly be able to account for them. However, it is most obviously and frequently used when barbecuing (my friend Trey swears by his Barbecue Grilled Chicken Thighs with Good Gookamookee Sauce) while my husband puts a little in pasta dishes! It’s delicious mixed in with hamburger meat before grilling with a continuous basting or as that “special something” in your favorite homemade soup. The Peach and the Willow Slaw that accompanies the pulled pork sandwiches in this blog uses Good Gookamookee Sauce as its slaw dressing! So you see…no other barbecue sauce pulls this much weight in the kitchen or at the grill. Without further adieu…I present to you the recipe for Saucy Babe #2…
GOOD GOOKAMOOKEE SAUCE
- 2 cups Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup Brown Sugar; packed
- 1 cup yellow prepared mustard
- 3 tbsp Hot Sauce (I use Louisiana)
- 2 tbsp Black Pepper (I use course ground)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 tbsp Season Salt
Mix together and store in a jar or squirt bottle. Gets better as it ages!!!! I usually double this recipe because of how often I use it!
A Pulled Pork Slider is the ultimate summer crowd pleaser! Poolside, lakeside, beach picnics or just a great lunch or supper at home, this is the ticket! And EASY! The only thing the pork requires from you is patience. Here’s your step by step guide for Pulled Pork and Peach and the Willow Slaw.
Buy a pork butt or shoulder just big enough to fit in your Dutch Oven. You will want a big ‘un cause you’ll want as much pulled pork as possible! Turn stove burner on high and pour 2 – 3 TBSP of Vegetable Oil in the bottom of your pot, bringing up to high temperature but not smoking. Generously salt and pepper your roast on all sides and sear the meat on high a couple minutes per side. End with the fatty side on top (you want the fat to seep down into the meat).
Next, douse in 3 – 4 Tbsp Worcestershire over the top of the roast…
Cover pot, turn burner to low heat and walk away! The secret to good stovetop pulled pork is cooking it low and slow. I cooked mine a little over four hours but it could have withstood longer. Check your pot every hour or so to make sure you have liquid at the bottom of pot…adding water as needed. I didn’t add any water during my cook time.
Once done, remove roast to a cutting board until cool enough to handle. Using your fingers, pull the pork into strips. You will have a mound of beautiful pulled pork like this…
Some folks sauce their pulled pork at this juncture. I find that my family likes to sauce as they go…some want more, some less. This is totally up to your preference. When the pork has been pulled, it’s ready to be stacked onto a slider bun, splashed with a little Good Gookamookee Sauce and topped with Peach and the Willow slaw…
Pulled Pork and Good Gookamookee Sauce go together like peaches and cream but if you want a truly elevated Pork Slider, add my Peach and the Willow Slaw. I would say my slaw is like a classic vinegar slaw, but it’s not. I would say it’s like Asian slaw, but it’s not! So it’s simply “Peach and the Willow Slaw” and it’s my original. Because this slaw is crunchy, spicy and sweet, it is a perfect pairing with the meat and soft bun. And, since there is no mayo involved, it packs beautifully for any outdoor dining situation. And let’s talk about the colors! Don’t they say we eat with our eyes???? Check out these gorgeous slaw ingredients!
PEACH AND THE WILLOW SLAW
- 1/2 head of red cabbage, julienned
- 1/2 jicama, shaved into strips or julienned (if not available…no worries)
- 1/4 large sweet onion, julienned (I almost exclusively use sweet yellow onions in everything I cook…just my preference)
- 1 white carrot, shaved into strips (orange works…I like these better)
- 1/2 of granny smith apple, julienned
- 1/2 jalapeño, minced (Good Gookamookee is pretty spicy on its own so if you can’t tolerate a little heat, forego the jalapeño. That said, most of my folks want it in there!)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Good Gookamookee Sauce
- Salt to taste (you will not need pepper…there’s plenty in the sauce)
Mix all together. Done! Yields 8 servings or enough toppings for 16 sliders.
All that’s left to do is pack your cooler with Pulled Pork, a jar of Good Gookamookee Sauce and your Peach and the Willow Slaw and head outside to play, eat and enjoy! Pack your pulled pork in aluminum foil and throw the foil package on a hot grill to warm before serving. It’s also fine room temp. Assemble your sliders at your outing! Super fun and easy!
Happy Summer Everyone! Cheers!!!