Monday, August 31, 2015

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

I've written before about how cool it is to have guests who come back often, whom you get to know year after year while sharing a tiny part of their lives, watching them grow and go on to new opportunities. It's sort of like having kids.

Speaking of kids, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you remember Zach, who first visited us as a twelve-year old equestrian competing in the Hampton Classic Horse show. Over the years, we've watched Zach grow up, moving from Children's to Junior to Adult Jumper Class. We saw him turn 18, then 21 (the Classic often intersects with his birthday). We missed him the year that freshman orientation at his college interferred with Hampton Classic Week and knew how disappointed he was about that. We've seen him choose a career that will keep him involved with the show horse world, even if he doesn't himself show anymore. And this year he returned for his 13th Classic Week with us, bringing with him his beautiful fiancee.

And a big blow up swan floatie for the pool, which they are enjoying like the kids they still are, in my mind.

I love this business.

Actually, there's a lot of romance here at A Butler's Manor this week. Besides our affianced couple, we've had a pair celebrating a mini-honeymoon and, tonight, a bride and groom. The bride is upstairs getting ready as I write. So love is definitely in the air here.

(Though not on the roads. Traffic in town on this gorgous, oh-no-it's-almost-end-of-summer Saturday is diabolical. It's a great day to be at the beach.)

In other Hampton Classic news, we are proud of another guest of ours competing in the Adult Jumper class. Look at all these ribbons!! Congratulations, Deb!!

It seems strange to have the Classic finishing up and still have another week until Labor Day. It's a long summer this year: Memorial Day fell on the earliest date it can, May 25, and Labor Day will fall the latest day it can, on September 7. But hey, we think a longer summer is better than a blue moon!!

Quote of the day: Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the starts. To sit on a branch and study the clouds. --Regina Brett  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Recipe: Rhubarb Walnut Bread

Ah, the dog days of summer.

Someone asked me the other day how many recipes I had. Huh. I know I have over 50 featured in A Butler's Manor: The Cookbook (available here at A Butler's Manor, or I'll happily sign and mail you one), but I also have a 4"-thick binder of recipes solely for breakfast that I am continually adding to. (What an addiction!! And don't even get me started about my "Recipes to Try" board on Pinterest!

Following the conversation, I flipped through the binder and was amused to note that just a little under half of the recipes are for baked goods.  Ha! Can you tell where my heart is? Bread + sweet = yum yum yum. 

My baked goods, as those of you who have visited us know, fall into a couple of catagories--muffins, breads, scones, or coffee cakes. Over the years, I've gotten pretty good at anticipating the quantities required each day for each type.

Except for one.

Last year, at the Water Mill Community Club's annual dinner dance, I met a woman called Anita and we got to talking about A Butler's Manor, what I generally made for breakfast on any given day, and how I endeavored to use whatever I could out of the vegetable garden Chris plants every year. We discovered we had a joint love of baking. She said, "If you have rhubarb, I have the best recipe for you." 

Oh yeah, we have rhubarb. Which I delight in bringing, in the form of a strawberry rhubarb crumble, to any dinner party we're asked to during the summer. But for breakfast?

The following day she sailed into the kitchen at 9:30 AM while I was serving out breakfast and dropped off a recipe. "You'll LOVE this," she predicted.

Okay, I thought, I'll bite. I made it that day.

Oh boy, was she ever right. I make a number of types of bread and they all go down well, but when I make Anita's Rhubarb Walnut Bread, I go through 50% more than any other baked good I offer.


ANITA'S RHUBARB WALNUT BREAD


1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup salad oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk, OR 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. white vinegar added to it
2-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups sliced rhubarb, cut fine
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients in order given. Pour into two greased 9x5" or 8x4" loaf pans. Blend:

1/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon, or to taste

Sprinkle topping over rhubarb mixture. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove to a wire rack, cool, remove from pans and cool completely.

Freezes well; stays moist when wrapped in wax paper and foil. Yields 2 loaves.

Watch this disappear faster than you can explain to folks what rhubarb is.


Did you know? 
* Rhubarb comes in both green and red versions.
* The stalk, which resembles celery, is edible, but the large leaf is poisonous to humans.
* Rhubarb is one of only two vegetables that are perennial--i.e., they come back year after year. (Jeopardy! answer: The other is asparagus.)

Quote of the Day:

 Image result for quotes about rhubarb