Raspberry Sort Of A Syllalub & Catching Up …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.