Second salad of the month, this one may be tougher to pack to-go. Still, it's great to create at home and still simple!
Local ingredients: arugula, sweet potatoes & cheese!
Roast small pieces of sweet potato (tossed in olive oil and salt & pepper) at 350 until tender, about 20-30 min.
Coat your arugula in lemon, olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.
After sweet potato has been cooked, toss in arugula.
Top with thinly shaved slices of Goldie's Gouda from Three Graces.
This is a great spring salad when these ingredients specifically are available in our area before all the fun summer items arrive.
Man, I love arugula.
Part II, less talk and more color.
Let's just admire how wonderful all the shades of green are.
Look one was a gorgeous LWD Couture emerald gown with embellishments to highlight the waist. The cloud coverage was strong and the fog was rolling in. We were on this mountain bald at a lucky time of year when the grass was getting green yet the trees were still bare. It felt like we were in Ireland.
We really got to show off the Susie Saltzman ring and Floressence Flowers bouquet in Look 2. The second gown by LWD Couture was a hue somewhere between purple and grey, a smokey color that was so flattering. The bouquet was full of peach and green with hints of purple, the whole look flowed so well.
Then the sun set quickly, we took advantage and just kept snapping.
Invited by the best Asheville duo, Jameykay & Arlie, to this styled shoot, I could not have been more thrilled! Jameykay and Arlie are friends of mine and continuously rocking out their own styled shoots; I was so honored to be asked along to this one!
First off I'm sharing my favorite black and whites. Kendra modeled and she became the perfect accentuation with the mountaintop setting. The sun set fast and the breeze blew in but you'd never know by what pro Kendra is.
Each gown was created by Liz White Couture, another incredible local talent. Her gowns wow me each time I see them in person. In part two of this this post, I'll share the color photos to enjoy the detail of each dress.
I'm all about brides going for an alternative look and I can really see some brides-to-be embracing a style like this.
We can't forget the other details here. The floral crown was created by Florescence Flowers and what I've enjoyed about their work is how they can run with a concept. When J&A set this up, they provided minimal direction and Floresscence just gets it.
And the ring. It complements the gown so well and is another touch of an alternative bride.
You'll likely see Susie Saltzsman work all over Instagram, tucked into every beautiful wedding.
Pt. II will show off the shades of green, peach, and purple-grey, stay tuned.
I found just the right time to make your Cinco de Mayo plans.
A real crowd pleaser, the margarita. On the rocks.
I love a good frozen margarita too. I'm also happy to share a pitcher. As long as the ingredients are real (see below), I'm good to go.
Fresh & simple recipe from Serious Eats:
Lime wedge, plus 2 lime wheels for garnish
1 tablespoon coarse salt, for glass rims
4 ounces high quality blanco tequila (see note above)
2 ounces Cointreau
1 1/2 ounces fresh juice from 2 limes
Run lime wedge around the outer rims of two rocks glasses and dip rims in salt. Set aside. In cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 15 seconds (the bottom of a metal shaker should frost over). Fill glasses with fresh ice and strain margarita into both glasses. Garnish with lime wheels and serve.
And just like that, April is over! What a fantastic start to a beautiful summer here in WNC. Cheers to 5 gorgeous cocktails we shared each Friday of this month.
Let's see what kind of summer series I'll cook up for May...
A Pimm's Cup. Incredibly refreshing and easy to drink. Citrus, mint and cucumber always garnish my Pimm's.
Since this is my favorite of all 5 cocktails I'll be sharing with you this month, it makes sense that I post it on my birthday, cheers!
Great story plus recipe found here on Eater:
1.5 ounces Pimm’s No.1
½ ounce Hendrick’s Gin
½ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Fever Tree ginger beer
Juice from 1 lemon wedge
Build above ingredients over ice. Top with Fever Tree ginger beer. Garnish frivolously with fresh fruits of the season and some form of greenery. Cucumber, however, is a must.
The French 75.
Although not southern in origin, it is a well known New Orleans favorite. And New Orleans is a top favorite Southern city for myself.
The New Orleans style French 75 can differ from the classic. The question is, gin or cognac?
Some say the cognac version suits colder days and the gin version suits a warm southern night, so of course we're choosing the latter today!
A simple recipe from Saveur:
1/2oz simple syrup
1/2oz fresh lemon juice
Brut champagne or dry sparkling white wine
Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist to serve.
Cheers to bubbles even if you're not celebrating a birthday or Mardi Gras!
So many fun things come into my life in the summer. Windows open, dinners on the picnic table, lounging in the hammock, fresh produce, hikes, camping, waterfall adventures, fireflies... the list goes on.
Moving back to the mountains refreshed a hidden appreciation of the summer months.
To celebrate, I'll be working on a few projects all season long and plan to share them here on my blog as a summer series.
I'm kicking off the month of April with southern cocktails every Friday afternoon.
The summer series will continue into August and each month will have a new theme. A theme that fits well into the WNC lifestyle. Outdoor adventures, southern nights on the porch and food food food drink drink drink.
Our first summer cocktail fit for rockin' in your rocking chair: the mint julep.
A simple recipe from Epicurious:
1oz minted simple syrup
2c crushed ice
Add simple syrup then 1 c of ice, bourbon and a splash of water. Add enough remaining ice to fill glass. Stir well and garnish with the mint.
It's a strong drink, sip safely and see you at the derby next month!
I believe there is a huge importance seated in knowing where your food comes from. A few reasons:
If you find any of this of interest, it is likely you consider buying local, organic, non-GMO, any other form of awareness when shopping.
I have found that I'm most passionate about the humane treatment of animals as I am an animal-lover but I'm not (yet) a vegetarian. So I educate myself on eating humanely-raised proteins. I learn and buy accordingly. This often translates into eating organic or local (but not always).
When the water levels are low enough, you can hike right up to Bridal Veil Falls (inside DuPont State Park).
You get to hike along a rushing waterfall, see small pools cratered along the way & then crawl underneath a really rushing waterfall.
The rocks can be a bit slick but manageable.
You feel like you're standing right in the middle of it all.
The hike to Bridal Veil is more of a long walk past open fields and over bridges. You may get your heart pumping but it is not strenuous.
Ready for a little summer adventure?
We took a slight detour from our Summer Hiking Challenge to work our upper body strength.
We took to the water. Lake Lure to be exact.
Have you been?
The lake houses along the lake are the best kind of window shopping.
Driving up a winding road to the picnic area of Table Rock was slightly terrifying.
I am afraid of heights, after all.
But I would peek over from the passenger seat and realize that we were driving above it all. Into the clouds we go.
There are a few different hikes to choose from once you get up there (and finish your picnic). We were a bit crunched for time so we opted for the short but strenuous climb to the top of Table Rock.
We huffed and puffed through the midday April sun. You pass a few overlook spots that seem like the best view ever, until it gets beat by the next overlook.
At the top, the view of Linville Gorge was waiting for us. The Spring greens were starting to pop. The bees buzzed around us while we took photos and stayed away from the edge.
The sun rays shine through puffy clouds.
The clouds hover over mountain tops creating deep shadows.
The mountains stretch around you entirely.
Hike No. 3 down. Ready for No. 4?
Yes, being scared of heights doesn't pair well with flying or hiking. But I continue to do both. Repeatedly.
Why? A means to an end. The end, in this case, being the views, the fresh air and our 2015 Hiking Challenge.
This year, we're on a mission. Hike, hike and hike again.
We have decided to challenge ourselves this season (well, Spring through early Winter) to get out there and explore the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
To get exercise by gradually increasing the difficulty of the hikes each month.
To get out of our comfort zone by trying a new hike each week.
Hike No. 1: Mount Mitchell, the highest peak this side of the Mississippi. The views speak for themselves.
Time your afternoon hike just right and catch the sunset as you drive back down the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A full summer ahead.
We were lucky to arrange our schedules this week to squeeze in a hike. And some leaf peepin'.
Take a drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The elevation affects the leaf colors so keep going!
Keep going past Pisgah Inn.
Ok, stop at some overlooks and snap some pics. You're almost to one of WNC's best hikes!
Just past Graveyard Fields (FYI - no gravestones there) is Black Balsam Knob. Pull over and hike up up up.
Clouds will roll in and out. You will get hot then cold then hot again.
Families, dogs, serious hikers and toddlers will pass you by but keep going.
Keep roaming this mountain bald to feel on top of everything. Wave to those on the other mountain bald and simply enjoy the view.
On September 20th-21st, ASAP hosted its annual Western North Carolina Farm Tour. 37 farms were featured this year! Although I couldn't make it to all of them, I was lucky to visit 4 that I have never been to before.
We took our tour on Sunday and families were out all afternoon learning about farm life and where food comes from. It was touching to see kids getting excited about gardening and farming as it is so important to understand your food source.
The farms on the tour represent so many different products. Molasses, vegetables, meat, flowers. It is special to see the farmers proud of their operation and happy to open their doors to the public.
The above photos were taken at Ivy Creek Family Farm.
Rattlesnake Lodge was built in the early 1900s as a vacation home.
A vacation home right in the middle of the woods that you must hike to. I consider this a solid option to avoid unwanted drop-ins while you're at home in PJs.
Follow the link above to read about the family that built it and what led to the ruins there today.
To the left you can see partial ruins, they are few and far between while you hike this trail.
We were more impressed with the hike itself. Access to the trail is right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a quick drive from Asheville.
You get a small work-out in but the hike is not strenuous.
The trail is quite covered within the forest.
It feels palatial inside, as if the slender trees were tall walls all around you.
A beautiful hike all around that leads you through the wiggly trees (named by me), past the old family chimney with plenty of shade to keep you cool.
Western NC hikes have yet to fail.
A hike a day keeps the...
DuPont State Forest & High Falls awaits you! Climb up, slide down & swim around.
Stand back and take it all in.
Explore the covered bridge.
One last look... up close then through the trees.
Today we hike the Max Patch trail. It is a part of the Appalachian Trail and the Pisgah National Forest, both are major attractions for outdoorsy folks visiting or living in WNC. Depending on the path you choose at Max Patch, the moderate hike is no more than 2.5 miles.
Wander through the golden fields. Happen upon the enchanted forest for some shady downtime.
Pack a picnic. Bring your pooch. Don't forget the water.
Then say hello to the Blue Ridge Mountains.