Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer road trips: From sunflowers to pigs' ears to rhododendrons

I hate to admit this about myself... but I am already feeling that my summer vacation is slipping away from me.  I do indeed have a month left.  Faculty meetings begin in one month, classes in five weeks. Why do I do this?  I am a certified optimist, no doubt about that.  So why do I start counting down until something I am enjoying ends?  (I confess-- I do this in France, too.  I count down how many nights I have left on my trips.)  Je ne sais pas.  But I do know that it has been a good summer.
We flew up to NYC for four days/three nights-- not technically a road trip, I guess.  This excursion deserves its own blog.  And it will get one soon.

The view from the Empire State Building--
the really tall building is at the World Trade Center site.

We got this close to Lady Liberty.  She reopened on July 4, but we were there in June.

Pain aux raisins at Paris Baguette--

We spent a couple of days in Washington, NC at the Ex-Ex's parents.  They've been under the weather for the past few months, but happily, they are on the mend.  We went to the farmers' market on the waterfront and I saw the sunflowers pictured above.

We also went to Acre Station Meat Farm where Firsthand Foods has their pork butchered which ends up in the kitchen at Bull City Burger and Brewery and in the Pork Knox freezer at Wine Authorities.

My father-in-law loves this place and now I know why.  It is a butcher shop---

but also much, much more.  A great grocery store.  No animal piece or part is wasted.
From pig heads, snout and all--

to chicken feet.

Not at all sure what you do with them...  just like the pigs' ears I saw for sale in Arles once.  They have them at Acre Station, too.

And if ears aren't to your liking, how about pork butt?

The latest road trip took us to the mountains for a quick visit to see Best Sister-in-law in the World, her husband, and her son.  As an added bonus, well, two actually, we got to meet son's fiancée and the new mutt, Bridger.

We went for a one-night stay, bearing Bleuberry Pound Cake.

We roamed the streets of Brevard for an hour or so, had dinner downtown, watched the Tour de France Mt. Ventoux stage--

on Bastille Day, no less.'s doodle in honor of le 14 juillet--

This is Sister-in-law's bike collection.

We tried to catch an hour in between rain showers for a walk with Bridger and Arlo, the other black dog, in Pisgah Forest and it stopped raining for a few minutes.  Long enough to get a couple of shots--

Then a downpour forced us to return to the car and home and into dry clothes.
Nephew (by way of Fiancée) recommended a book, In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke-- I look forward to reading it.

I still have our beach week at Sunset to look forward to next week, as well as a quick trip to Washington, DC with Son #2 in early August. And to Spruce Pine to see my family sometime.
I will try to stop counting and carry on.  Shouldn't be too hard.  I won't even put my suitcase away until September.
Here is the Bleuberry Pound Cake, from The Novice Chef, a new blog I just discovered.  A great way to enjoy the summer bounty of blueberries.

Before frosting-- it would be good even without it.

Blueberry Lime Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Yield: 1 Loaf Cake


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz PHILADELPHIA cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lime zest
1 cup fresh blueberries
PHILADELPHIA cream cheese frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper as well. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, throughly mixing each time. Add vanilla extract and lime zest, mixing until combined.
Pour flour mixture over the batter mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour until it’s completely mixed in and there are no pockets of dry flour. Lastly, gently fold in the blueberries.
Transfer batter to prepared baking loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit until cool, at least 30 minutes and then remove from pan.
In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Beat in vanilla extract.
Carefully frost on top of the cooled poundcake and store in fridge until ready to serve.
Bon appétit, enjoy the rest of summer vacation, mes amis!

No comments: