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Raspberry Sort Of A Syllalub & Catching Up …

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

I really wanted to update the blog last week but if I had, it would have sounded vaguely familiar. In a way… It would have started just as it did several times over the summer: "I just got back from here and I am re-packing to fly over there". And I did. Except I drove. I have been on 27 planes since June. I am so not kidding. Driving was a nice change. Except I don’t drive long distance. After 20 minutes, my eyelids get heavy and I just want to pull over and take a nap. Impossible this time.

Right after I got back from teaching in New Hampshire, we loaded both our vans with "stuff". A futon, a dresser, a bedside table. A first box of clothes, cookbooks, kitchen cookware, anything and everything to get me started in Birmingham. We had four days to find a house, an apartment, anything we could rent for a year while I start at Oxmoor House in October and he wraps up his contract at CofC until May.

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

We were on a mission. Some people thought we were crazy. Or seriously and overly optimistic. I just refuse to believe there is never a solution to an issue. And when I say "I refuse" you can trust me that I woke up saying just that when we headed to Birmingham this past Wednesday. Why? Because I came with an added little problem, the one called "I have boxes, where should I put them?"…I am heading back to wrap up a cookbook shoot on Thursday for about 10 days and flying right back to Birmingham to start my new job about 36 hours later. I had to keep the optimism factor way up.

Again. Call me crazy. Or driven. Or severely crazy happy about this next phase of my life. We found the house.(check my Instagram feed for some pics) We love it. It’s the right thing for the next few months that I will be in Alabama and Bill still in South Carolina. And it will be ours for a few months before we buy something more suited for a couple with two dogs and things. It’s perfect to host dinner with friends and drink some wine on the back deck. It has a peach tree and a pecan tree. A space to grow veggies. I have been Pinteresting decor ideas like crazy.

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

It’s all falling into place. And if I don’t stop and think too long, I can actually talk to dear friends without hugging them until they can’t breathe or hold them tight until I feel the void burning inside. I am torn. I feel guilty to say how excited I am to friends here and I feel slack not showing how excited I really am to the peeps there. A balancing act once again.

Driving those eight hours to Birmingham was actually one great balancing act in itself. I had to balance reflective moments with dancing in my seat (literally) so I would not get drowsy. I made "Eye Of The Tiger" my "driving to Birmingham" official song. Smile all you want, it worked. That and bopping around on the edge of my seat singing "blablabla" to songs I had never heard before.

Raspberry Water 1

I also made a lot of recipes in my head. Without having found a home yet, I was already thinking about my first dinner party in Birmingham. Would I make a special cocktail or stick to wine? Would I make something comforting and Fall inspired or something lighter and weather appropriate? We are still in the South after all. How about dessert? What would I want to bring to my guests as we linger on the back deck at the new house?

I wanted to remember Summer. The summer I felt ran through my fingers faster than a handful of sand. I enjoyed every moment of it but I did not really feel like I captured enough of its essence to last me through Winter. So, right there, in the car, I drew a couple of easy going, easy to make and savor recipes chock full of Summer. Lemon, raspberries, lemon verbena. Something light and refreshing. A raspberry lemon verbena water and a modified raspberry syllalub. Raspberries, a little Port and plenty of lavender whipped cream.

Lemon In Water

Something that I hope will let Summer know that I am now ready for Fall. Now that I had my little taste of sunshine, complete with friends here on the back deck. And now I am ready for all the adventures ahead…

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

Raspberry Sort of a Syllalub: 

 Makes enough for four people 


4 shortbread cookies 

2 pints raspberries 

1/2 cup sugar, divided 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

3 tablespoons white Port 

zest of one lemon 

2 cup very cold whipping cream, divided

edible lavender buds (garnish, optional) 


Place one cookie at the bottom of a ramekin or glasse and repeat for the other cookies. Reserve. In a large non reactive bowl, mull or mash together the raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, Port and lemon zest. Remove about half that mixture and place it into another mixing bowl. Whip 1 1/2 cups whipping cream to stiff peaks. Fold in the reserved raspberry mixture and spoon on top of the shortbread cookies. Top with the reminder raspberry mixture. Whip up the remaining whipping cream to stiff peaks with the reminder of the sugar and dollop that whipped cream on top of the raspberry mousse. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with lavender buds if desired.

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Water:

 Makes about 2 cups flavored syrup 

Note: feel free to add a splash of vodka or Cointreau but this is what I drink all day long, alcohol free of course, when the temperatures are all over the map hot. 


4 cups strawberrries, hulled and quartered 

1/3 cup coconut sugar or honey (or granulated sugar but brown tasted better) 

2 lemons, juiced 

2 cups water 

1/4 cup packed lemon verbena 


Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the strawberries break down and release their juices and the sugar is melted. Cook for about 10 minutes on low heat. Remove from the heat and throw in the lemon verbena. Let steep and cool until room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Use as a flavoring syrup to ice cold water so a little or a lot, depending on your tastebuds. 


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phi September 25, 2012 um 3:31 am

Congratulations on your big and exiting move! You are sooo brave to do something I can't imaging doing – living in Alabama. The place sounds amazing.

Karen September 25, 2012 um 3:35 am

Great story. FYI I use Pinterest to save paper and recipes, not to steal content, so I"m sad that I can't pin your images, which are unbelievable, especially since you are someone who uses Pinterest. I get it, but it would be lovely if you had a Pin it thingy on your blog. Just sayin' and maybe I've missed something. =)

Helene September 25, 2012 um 4:00 am

Karen: all my images are parked on Flickr but not all are made public on Flickr because I don't want it to be a dumping place for images. Usually a couple per post become available to pin in the next few hours after I post, if I am at the computer long enough to change their status or a few days after.

Phi: Alabama is far from being a bad state. It has come a long way…Sounds like you are do for a visit there.

Unknown September 25, 2012 um 5:35 am

Helene, I've always admired your photos. They are full of freshness and life. Thank you for sharing!

Katie September 25, 2012 um 11:44 am

Congrats on your move! And on your optimism and excitement overriding what I'm sure must be very stressful. I also love that you're still hanging on to summer… the whole world seemed to welcome fall so quickly that I feel like summer never got its proper goodbye!

Redem37 September 25, 2012 um 1:18 pm

Welcome to Birmingham! I really enjoyed hearing you speak in January at Food Blog South. If you need any ideas on where to shop or eat, please message me. I worked at Southern Progress right out if school and it is a lovely place to work. You can reach me via my google account or the Facebook page for my blog:

mellissa@ibreatheimhungry September 25, 2012 um 1:33 pm

Congrats Helene and thanks for sharing so much of your experience with us. It's exciting to read about! That bowl of raspberries is so simple and beautiful – I'm always inspired by your amazing photos!

Anna Epp September 25, 2012 um 2:37 pm

What an amazing post, you don't stop for one minute and are truly an inspiration. Congratulations on finding a place in Birmingham, I am sure you will be able to enjoy a little bit more of summerlike weather there than up North.

Colette (Coco) September 25, 2012 um 4:19 pm

Syllalub…so fun to say!

Anonymous September 25, 2012 um 5:29 pm

I've never heard of syllabub but it sure sounds good!

Anonymous September 25, 2012 um 10:48 pm

House looks beautiful! I'm sure you'll love Birmingham!

Seanna Lea September 26, 2012 um 2:19 am

Congrats on your move. It sounds like things are going swimmingly. I look forward to your new digs showing up all over the blog.

I will buy the best raspberries I can get my hands on and make this (halved, because we are only 2 people). It looks stunning.

Kiran @ September 27, 2012 um 6:01 am

Congrats on your newest adventures — cant wait to read your journey 🙂

Em September 27, 2012 um 11:05 pm

hwllo! im 3 quarters through your amazing book and i was just wondering – would you recommend vinyl wooden backdrops?

Riley September 29, 2012 um 2:58 pm

Looks beautiful and, of course, delicious!

Tartes and Caro October 1, 2012 um 5:59 pm

you are a professionnal

your pics are so great
and your foodies so nice

Nomadic Samuel October 2, 2012 um 12:44 am

I have to admit I've never heard of syllalub before but it looks delicious. I think anything with a tart berry tastes wonderful. Being based in Korea I'm not able to find delicious desserts like this easily.

Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden October 2, 2012 um 6:07 am

Great dessert! I really like your post! You did a great job!

J October 2, 2012 um 3:35 pm

this one looks delicious! Oh Buddha, i wish i had a kitchen here.

Pretazetas October 3, 2012 um 10:11 am

Today, your fabulous work featured in our blog 😉 We LOVE it!!

shane October 3, 2012 um 1:41 pm

gorgeous shots.=)

Rocky Mountain Woman October 4, 2012 um 7:09 pm

Moving is always so exciting! So is anything with raspberries in it!

Half Baked October 6, 2012 um 10:38 pm

Welcome to Alabama! Birmingham is a wonderful city. I know you'll love it! I'm so excited for your new life chapter and look forward to reading all about it!

Jenn October 17, 2012 um 9:30 pm

Congrats on the move!

I cannot drive without falling asleep either. And yes singing works – to loud music (so you don't actually hear yourself sing).

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