Posts tagged ‘Recipes’

Contest Entry: Partying with Food & Flowers

Flowers and Food Party

Entry #3 :: “Project Food Blog” Contest

Challenge Prompt from Foodbuzz: Celebrate! You’ve made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors. Share your hosting secrets with readers, like how to cook for a crowd, plan a menu, or involve guests in the prep. And don’t forget to document the party with pictures including one of your Project Food Blog Menu using the provided template.



The reality of my life is that it’s entirely too overloaded with priorities.  It seems there’s never enough hours in a day and certainly not enough days in a week.  As such, I’m always looking for ways to multi-task and objects that are multi-functional.  For example, in my garden, the best plants are those that are edible, look beautiful in the garden, make good cut material for bouquets, and come back every year so I don’t have to take the time to replant.  Sometimes it takes some creativity to get all this multi-tasking and functioning rolling, but it’s well worth it in the end. 

The trio

My passions for food and for flowers have been merging a good bit lately.  When Foodbuzz issued the challenge to throw a luxury dinner party, my first reaction was “Oh no!  How am I going to fit this into my schedule??”.   Then, as I mused about the possibilities, I decided what a great opportunity it would be to combine local seasonal food with a flower design class using local seasonal flowers that I was already scheduled to host.  See, my business, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, is focused on growing flowers sustainably and using/selling them locally in gorgeous lush floral designs.  My clever tagline is “from seed to centerpiece”.  Fun, huh?    

The Spread

While the combination of a floral design class and a dinner party might not be feasible for most folks, it IS worth considering how you can involve your guests in a fun activity while they munch on your fabulous fare.  In this case, it was a match made in heaven since the lovely ladies that attended the class were very appreciative of both the delicious food and the beautiful blooms.  We even trekked out into the garden to take stems of herbs {sage, rosemary, lavender, dill, fennel} and apples, among other things, that were then incorporated into our floral designs.  Ah, how it made my multi-functional heart happy to see these delicious edibles so beautifully displayed. 

Food and Flower Party

All of the food was uniquely seasonal and easy to grab a bite between bouquets.  There was the French Fig Clafouti you’re all familiar with already from the last post.  And the dense moist Pumpkin Bread that’s made an appearance on the blog already was once again a hit.  Slices of perfectly ripe Asian pears and decadent blue cheese were simple and delicious nibbles.  And the recipe featured in today’s post actually used some of the same elements from our floral arrangements — sage, rosemary, and apples — and joined them with pumpkin and garlic on an Autumnal Pizza

Pumpkins and Herbs

Add to the mix some local cider and a few glasses of wine, the evening proved to be a delightful success with a chorus of excited “Thank you, let’s do this again soon! I had so much fun!”  and happy hugs.  The moral to this delicious and beautiful tale is that even if you are a busy bee, don’t presume you can’t squeeze in a dinner party. Think a little bit beyond the traditional table and place settings to incorporate some of your other passions and talents.  I bet you’ll find your guests to be all the more engaged and satiated in the end. 




October 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm 30 comments

Top 10 for 2009

Happy New Year

I thought it would be fun to wrap up the year with a Top 10 List of the Most Popular Posts of 2009 on SFTF.   I bet all the little blog posts out there in the world wish they could grow up to be on this list one day.  Okay, so I’ve had a little too much holiday punch, but the truth is that you lovely readers have really helped me this past year to hone my recipe instincts and broaden my creativity.  It has been wonderful sharing yet another passing of the seasons and their produce with you.   I do hope you’ll make a resolution to eat more local food in 2010! 

We’ll start from the bottom up…

 #10. Grandma’s Zucchini Bread

Oh, I’m so glad this made it into the Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2009 as it’s certainly in my own personal Top 10 Recipes of All Time List.  I love how moist and fragrant this loaf is and how much it reminds me of my grandmother

Zucchini + Bread


 #9. Tatties and Neeps (Potatoes and Turnips with Bacon and Cream)

A Scottish dish, this recipe came from one of my favorite new cookbooks in 2009, Eat Feed Autumn Winter by Anne Bramely.  It’s a great dish for the deep dark days of winter ahead of us. 

Creamy and delicious


#8.  Strawberry Vanilla Ice Cream

So fruity and the perfect way to showcase in-season strawberries, I couldn’t stop gobbling up this ice cream made with cold rich raw cow’s milk.

Scoop of Strawberry Please


#7. Organic Tzatziki Dip

Ah, this makes me miss summer and homegrown cucumbers so much!  This classic Greek dip is creamy and brightly flavored…how many days until spring?   

A Bite of Tzatziki Dip


#6.  Sweet Potato Cupcakes

I am so glad I made this Top 10 List as it reminded me about this amazingly scrumptious cupcake recipe!  So moist, so tender, so full of flavor!  And you can practically convince yourself that these are “healthy” enough to not dislodge any of your New Year’s resolutions to eat better. 

Sweet Potato Cupcake all dressed up



December 31, 2009 at 12:00 am 7 comments

The Pioneer Woman Cooks & A Recipe

Book & Skins

There are many benefits to being a food blogger.  You meet a lot of awesome people for starters.  You also occasionally get asked to review a cookbook that you’d already been anxious to get your hands on because it’s written by a fellow food blogger whose work you adore.   Bou-YA! 

I’ve been a fan of The Pioneer Woman blog just about since Ree Drummond started it in 2007 to document her zany life as the “accidental country girl” wife of a cattle rancher.  When I heard tell she was working on a cookbook, I was thrilled to see yet another food blogger join the ranks of “real” (i.e., the kind that make money at it) food writers.  I especially love Ree’s honest and sometimes unexpected viewpoint on life and food and how she ties it all together.  Her photos of her ranch always take my breath away and make me dream of meeting my own steely-eyed cowboy and saddling up a mustang.  Or something like that.  It’s escapism at its best, folks.  Trust me.  Or, better yet, visit her blog and find out for yourself.

Before and After

Now, to get back to business.  I got her cookbook, appropriately titled The Pioneer Woman Cooks,  the other day and I promptly sat down to read it from cover to cover.  I’ve never seen a cookbook so stuffed full of photos.  There are glorious photos of Ree’s ranch, family, and food. It’s evident that Ree, who shot all her own photos, has a serious artist’s eye for nature.  In addition, each recipe has a photo for every single step!!   That’s right, every single step!   And there’s a parade of cute country sketches of butterflies and roosters and such across the pages.   Cover to cover, it’s a stunner.


November 11, 2009 at 10:23 pm 13 comments

Baked Eggs for Brunch

Baked Eggs with Creamy Leeks

Brunch is by far my favorite time to sit down at the table.  It always feels so much like a luxury and like you’re somehow sneaking around the conventional dusty rules of three meals a day by combining two of them.  Plus, I do love to sleep in when time affords, and brunch is usually the result of a long lazy stretch in bed that morning.

Leeks soaking

I also like how brunch bends the rules by putting sweet pastries, warmly spiced French toast, savory quiches, and even heartier fare like meaty sandwiches all on one table.  There’s this place near me, Valley Green Inn, which serves an amazing (and generous) basket of homemade mini muffins, breads, and pastries to every table at brunch.  It makes my heart sing.  Somehow the sight of a slice of pumpkin bread nestled beside a blueberry muffin snuggled up with a hunk of sourdough truly tickles my fancy. 

Free range eggs

This recipe for Baked Eggs with Creamy Leeks is a quintessential brunch dish.  It’s rich to the point of being just a little bit self-indulgent (just like sleeping in) and best eaten when you’ve got time to linger as the flavors demand being savored.  The onion hints of the leeks and their bright color offset the eggs as only leeks can.  The eggs, by the way, were some of those wonderful country brown eggs from chickens running around out in a pasture.  It’s always amazing to me (although it probably shouldn’t be) that you can taste the difference between a caged-up hen’s white eggs and a free range hen’s brown eggs – you really can! 


January 17, 2009 at 8:32 pm 15 comments

Honey-Ginger Carrot & Parsnip Latkes


Today is a special day for me.  It was four years ago that D and I went on our first date.  And what a first date it was.  It started with a long stroll through the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we sat by the monastery courtyard fountain and he took my hand for the first time.  Then we had a late lunch at More Than Just Ice Cream on Pine Street.  He had the guacamole; I had the grilled cheese with tomatoes; and we both agreed that water is the only drink we ever order out.  We shared an enormous slice of the house special: apple pie al la mode. 

Frying the latke

And because we were having so much fun already during that first encounter, we decided to catch a movie too.  Does anyone remember that indie film Closer, the one with Damien Rice’s haunting melodies?  While it was an interesting flick with a great soundtrack, it was most definitely NOT first date material, seeing as how it’s all about deception among couples.  But somehow we made it through that and went on to have many more dates and here, 1460 days later, we’re celebrating another anniversary. 

Mixing the latkes with honey

Sadly, we didn’t get to spend most of our special day together as he had a class to attend.  But I decided to make something nice for a light bite when he got home.  A recipe I spied in Eat Feed Autumn Winter (still equally in love with this book too) for Honey-Ginger Carrot Parsnip Latkes seemed like just the ticket.  D was raised in a Jewish household and still has a soft spot for many of the traditional dishes he ate as a kid.


December 13, 2008 at 11:11 pm 9 comments

Eat Feed Autumn Winter

Inside Eat Feed Autumn Winter

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m absolutely smitten.  I haven’t been this taken with someone or something since the day I met D.  You know how that first encounter makes you wish for more time together.  You dream of being curled up on the couch together, basking in the soft puddle of light from a solitary lamp, maybe an afghan pulled over your knees.  “When?  When will be we together again? Can I see you tonight? I’ll cancel my meeting…”

Now for the shocking confession:  I’m talking about a cookbook!  It’s true!  Anne Bramley’s Eat Feed Autumn Winter cookbook is utterly irresistible and, yes, so charming it will sweep you off your feet.  And guess what?  The recipes are delicious too! 

Front Cover

When Anne asked me to review this gorgeous book, I had no idea what I was in for.  To start with, the talent of the team that put this book together is incredible.  The elegance of the layout, the styling of the food, the quality of the photos, the wit of the sidebars, and the overall welcoming soft atmosphere speaks volumes even before you’ve tried a single recipe.  I spent two days just hungrily reading this book before I even started contemplating what recipe to try first.  Really, it’s just plain addictive. 

Lemon Cake slices

Now, about that title:  I too was a bit confused when I first read it.  See, Anne, unbeknownst to me until I got this book, has a hugely successful podcast – an online radio show in essence – called Eat Feed.  Since discovering this, I’ve been listening to as many of her archives as I can fit into my spare time (along with thumbing the pages of her book) and have come to realize this woman really knows how to spin a tale about food.  I’m immensely impressed with her all around.  

Rosemary Lemon Tea Bread

So, anyway, back to the title of the book.  The remainder of the title bears tribute to the theme of the book, which is “30 ways to celebrate when the mercury drops”.  Anne compiles her recipes into said number of vignettes, such as “Highlands Hogmanay”, “Fireside Chat”, and “Traveling the Spice Route”.  Each of these creative themes includes three or four recipes and usually a historical quip or two.  The overarching idea being to present fun excuses for gathering friends and family together during the dark short days of winter to light them up with good food and merriment.  Like I said, “charming.” 

Rosemary sprig

To step aside for a moment from my tween-like-cyber-squeeling-at-the-sight-of-the-coolest-cookbook-ever, I do have one little bitty piece of criticism about the book.  On the inside of the jacket, in the introduction where I, being the good literature major, naturally started my reading, it says “Everybody talks about eating seasonally.  But that’s easier to accomplish in summer….Being a consummate (and truly seasonal) cold-weather cook takes real creativity – and a deep enthusiasm for the fortifying pleasures of the autumn and wintertime table.”  Oh how I almost jumped for glee in my reading chair!  Finally, I was going to get loads of great recipes for winter squash, rutabaga, celery root, kale, collards, parsnips and all those other tricky cold-season vegetables.  

Cake on pink

Well, there are a few recipes for most of those, but really, I don’t think Anne’s goal in this book, even if it came across in that very first introductory paragraph, was to present recipes for locally grown produce in autumn and winter.  Or, if that was her goal, she fell a bit short when she listed citrus and chocolate as main staples in the winter pantry.  Neither of those are easy to come by locally in most of the continental United States in January. 

Flowers on cake

But, hey, having said that, guess what I’m about to do?  I’m going to use some locally grown lemons in a recipe from Eat Feed Autumn Winter!  Ha!! How’s that for irony?  I happen to have friends who have the world’s most productive indoor lemon tree growing in their kitchen.  These same friends also happen to throw intimate dinner parties about every other week or so.  When I got an invite to the last one, I immediately remembered seeing Anne’s recipe for a loaf of lemon tea bread.  


In a post way back in the archives somewhere (oh yes, it’s here), I’d once experimented with pairing lemon and rosemary together and I quite liked it.  So, I decided to add a little to this new recipe to make Lemon Rosemary Tea Bread and dressed it up a bit with some fluffy frosting and flower garnish to make it presentable for dessert after a nice dinner. 


November 29, 2008 at 11:50 pm 7 comments

Time Flies


I can’t believe it, but Straight from the Farm is turning one today!  I hate to repeat an old adage but time really does fly when you’re having fun!  Thanks to all of you who have become regular readers and to all those that leaves such fun and informative comments.  This blog wouldn’t be the same without you! 

Here’s a link to my very first post, for Grilled Baby Bok Choy.  Gosh, did practice really help my skillz!

Here’s a link to my most popular post to date, Dulce de Leche.

Here’s a link to my favorite post for pictures, Spiced Green Tea Ice Cream.

And finally, here’s a link to my favorite recipe I’ve posted so far,  Roasted Potato Leek Soup  (blieve me, this was a tough one to choose).

In case you’re curious, there is a total of 212 posts on the blog to date so make sure to get into the archives and surf around for content.  The Recipe Index is always a great reference for new ideas!

Again, thanks for a wonderful first year, everyone!!

May 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm 13 comments

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