Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blackberry Pound Cake

Blackberry Pound Cake
Here is the other blackberry recipe that I mentioned in the last post. I will refrain from being so wordy in this post since I gave you my Blackberry story the last time.

I would like to thank every one's comments and encouragement over the past few month. I have received a lot of personal messages and Facebook love. I am humbled that my last post touched so many of you. I have wanted to write a blog to condense and share my family memories for a few years, but I never thought people would be interested. You all have proved me wrong. Thank you!!

Please continue to tell your family and friends about Bonbons and Biscotti. Spread the word, share the love.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Blackberry Lemon Thyme Jam

Blackberry Lemon Thyme Jam

Every summer when I was a child, as a family we looked forward to blackberry season. Because I lived in a somewhat rural area in Western Pennsylvania, our house was surrounded by wooded and undeveloped areas. This allowed for the perfect environment for wild blackberries to grow. They were not the "monster-size" berries that you find at the grocery store now, they were tiny, sweet purple clusters that mother nature tended all on her own.

My dad was the blackberry pro; spotting them on the side of the road as we drove home from my grandma's house or the grocery store.  Dad is a man of few words. He will talk when needed but he is never a person to "waste words" just to hear himself talk. Us girls always knew when he was thinking and as we would drive, we knew he was making mental notes of location and approximate ripening time for our berry picking.  When that day came and dad declared the berries ready, we would all bundle up in our long sleeve shirts and long pants and head out. Since my sister and I were young, we would pick the berries along the bottom and the perimeter of the berry patch so we did not get "stuck" by the thorns on the bushes. Mom and Dad would always venture more into the middle of the patch and therefore get the largest haul.

One really memorable thing about berry picking for me was the vessel that we brought the berries home in: my dad's miner's bucket. For most miners, the bucket that they use to take their lunch into the mine, is a very special item. It is an item that they carry with them everyday; into a place unlike any other and a scene that most people will never see. Most miners carry the same bucket through their mine career. Those buckets see young, hopeful men just starting out going into the mine, they see hard work, the loss of best friends and in this day and age, business politics, and unfortunate mine closing which include the loss of local jobs that have sustained families for generations.  In most cases, the mine bucket will "retire" or become "laid off" from it's duties at the same time their owner does.

Whenever I used to see my dad's mine bucket come home from a long day's work; dirty, scuffed, and with its reflective stickers, I was instantly proud of my dad. But most important for a miner's kid, that bucket was always a sign that my dad was home! Mining is dangerous and knowing he was home was always comforting and a relief (some of my fellow classmates where not so lucky.) The dirty, empty bucket would then sit on the kitchen floor until we were done eating dinner as a family. After dinner, as my mom scrubbed that bucket to get it ready for the next shift,  I always wondered what the bucket had seen that day!

I think that vessel, my dad's bucket, is one of my family's most valued items. It was present in our everyday life and saw my family in all stages of our lives.  If it could talk, it could tell the story of the mine, my dad's long hours there, me and my sister's childhood and my mom ever present in the kitchen making home life happy. That bucket did not just feed my Dad lunch; it fed our entire family.

And on special days in mid summer, in rural Pennsylvania, that shiny silver bucket would go into the woods empty and come out brimming with dark purple berries....

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bourbon Peach BBQ Ribs

Bourbon Peach BBQ ribs are for dinner tonight.

So I have been really hungry for some sticky BBQ ribs and by now if you have been following my blog, you probably realize that when I am craving something, I rarely go out and buy it. I usually make it. So this past weekend, a very good friend came over to watch the Olympics opening ceremonies and I took this chance to cure my craving. I made us ribs!
Although this is a long process, it is so worth it. Saucy and delicious! I do admit, sometimes if I am in a hurry, I use store bought sauce but this recipe is quickly becoming one of my favorites so I want to share. I wish that I could share by giving you each a sticky sweet bourbon rib but maybe I will inspire you to make your own!

BTW I refrained from posting the pics of us licking our fingers after dinner!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hot Red Pepper Jelly

Hot Red Pepper Jelly

When I was in Charleston this past Thanksgiving, I went to one of my favorite restaurants in that area Hominy Grill and had the appetizer of goat cheese and hot pepper jelly on water crackers. It is one of my favorites; simple flavors and textures but so satisfying.

When my hot peppers started to come in this summer, I thought again of this concoction and instantly thought why would I buy this jelly when I can make my own. I have had this recipe on my "to do list" for quite a few weeks now but this past weekend, I am not sure if the craving got to be to much or if the stars were aligned just so and all other aspects of my life in order, but I set about the task of making this wonderful jelly. 

As I sit on my couch four days later, enjoying a glass of wine and a few crackers with goat cheese and my hot pepper jelly, I am feeling very accomplished.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes

Every year my family and I meet at Outer Banks, NC for a week at the beach. I drive up from South Carolina and they come down from Pennsylvania. This is something that all of us look forward to every year; a week of relaxation, catching up and all around family time. For the past few years, my sister, her husband and her son have not gone on the trip. They decided to go this year and it was their son's first time at the beach. I think that we were all excited about all the new experiences that he would have. To me, the beach was always a magical place where life took on a different pace. It was so nice to be able to slow down and take that time with him to really see his amazement in even the smallest ocean adventure; from ghost crabs that come out at night to the amazing display the dolphins put on for us during a mid day feeding. He was excited by every new adventure.  While I am a lover of all things "beachy," seeing so much through his eyes this year really reminded me what an enthralling place the ocean and all its inhabitants are. I was so happy to be able to experience those things with him.

While we are there it happened to be my little sister's birthday. We decided  the week before the trip to have a small surprise party. My nephew was particularly proud that he kept this event a secret from his "mum."  My sister loves white cupcakes with white icing but she and my mom are also very fond of lemon.  I whipped up these cupcakes at home before I left and froze them till the party day. I also made the icing and refridgerated it till it was needed, then whipped it again before icing. They were a great, refreshing "Lemonicious" birthday suprise.

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