Monday, September 15, 2014

She's a Brick....House

Sticks and stones... Well hand-hewn cedar beams and antique bricks more so.

Farmdale is coming along. Each day brings a new element to life. Slowly and surely it will come together and a home - my home - will be ready to move in! I cannot wait!

Though I have lived in Middle Georgia my entire life, I have always loved A. Hays Town's architecture and his perfect capturing of the Arcadian, Creole and Louisiana vernacular. Though Farmdale is not a bayou cottage, I did take some inspiration from those fantasist, soul-stirring homes with my bricks and beams - hopefully evoking some of that Louisiana/Hays Town essence. Thankfully, my fantastic architects poised my home to adapt to such a style.


Bricks and beams are from the earth and land. These elements can be awesome bridges to connect our homes to our land, thus keeping our homes grounded, in tune with place and apropos for their settings. I love the tints and textures of the antique bricks and how they were further blended with a new brick in my blend from my friends at Cherokee Brick in Macon - still keeping it local and Southern. But these bricks tell a story...

My bricks are molded from the clay and dirt of Middle Georgia - a constitution many of us can relate too. When we boast dirt on our hands, we boast a connection to our past. These bricks are reminders of the hands before mine that were stained and dirtied and even nourished by our native soil. These bricks have heard hymns and sermons, witnessed weddings and funerals, and now they will now be a part of dinner parties, holidays and fun times for family and friends. I believe Southerners are keen on knowing our people - knowing our people's roots and the soil they run and grow in is so special too.

The bricks above the foundation are going to be painted - 
I adore painted brick and had to have some at Farmdale!

Farmdale is sited in a glade within my family's wooded land. Lots and lots of oaks from live to red to water to laurel canopy the woodland terrain and large pines and cedars dot the wooded landscape - these are some of my favorite trees and a natural choice for my home.

Cedar beams (stamped with my initials mind you) will span my living room and heart pine beams from a cotton warehouse will don the ceiling in the kitchen. My floors are planed from the same heart pine beams - ancient lumber structuring a Southern agrarian mainstay in one life and giving me a floor and foundation for mine.


My back hallway - a narrow gallery - boasts the antique brick, a handsome hewned cedar beam and sturdy cedar columns. Their perfume is intoxicating - clean, woody, earthy and soulful. These sticks and stones - bricks and beams - are probably my favorite elements of the home's construction. Sure, I can't wait for fabrics and furnishings, but there's just something so everlasting and timeless and meaningful about the earth and land forming foundations for my home.

As any true Southern gent, I know my people and where they're from.  Furthermore, I know my bricks and heart pine - and where they're from too... true Southern fashion.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer Garden Pasta

Meteorologically speaking, fall has fallen. Maybe in parts well above the Mason-Dixon Line or high in the Appalachians, crisp mornings and whispers of Autumn proper are upon y'all. When I'm in Cashiers, I can feel it too, but whilst back in Perrydise, the equinoxes have not yielded one to another and summer still reigns supreme. 

Indian Summer is what this seasonal limbo is often referred to. And summer garden produce is still coming in too! With the plethora of produce, a couple of my favorite dishes make their way to the table this time of year. In Dinner on the Grounds, I have my Cashiers Farmers Market Pasta, and from A Time to Cook, my Summer Garden Pasta comes to life on the pages. 

I love this pasta. It's simple and delicious and full of flavor. It can be doused with cream and covered with cheese or served simply without the cheese and cream ... yet be so elegantly fresh and light. It's even better the next day reheated!

Plus, this is a pot and pan dish. Boil the pasta in a pot and sauté the veggies in a pan. Mix it all in the pan and serve! There'll be some chopping too but it's a fun meal. A meatless meal but you'll never miss it... Unless you just want a piece of salmon or some shrimp or sausage for good measure.

This dish is an all time fave of mine and my family. I hope it becomes one for you and yours! Enjoy this season of summer fading to fall and all the produce the season affords! Happy eatin' y'all! 

Summer Garden Pasta
Photography by Helen Norman

½ pound pasta, shape of your choice
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ pound tomatoes, chopped
1-2 small yellow squash, diced
1-2 small zucchinis, diced
freshly ground black pepper
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
4 ears of corn
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup roughly chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 cup or more heavy whipping cream
¾ cup grated Monterey Jack or Parmesan cheese
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and then transfer pasta to a large baking dish sprayed with cooking oil.

In a large, deep skillet, cook shallots and onion in a pan with olive oil and butter over medium heat until they are caramelized and crispy. Add the chopped tomatoes, squash, and zucchini and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper; for a bit of heat, toss in a dash of red pepper flakes.

Remove corn from the cobs and add to the skillet; stir. Once the veggies have softened, add garlic and basil and stir gently (the pan is probably getting full). Pour in the vinegar and stir to release any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and wake up the flavors. Now add a gentle pouring of heavy cream, amount depending on how creamy you want the sauce, and stir well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the cream begins to simmer, transfer the whole panful to the baking dish filled with cooked pasta. Gently mix the vegetables and pasta together. Distribute cheese over the top. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are toasted, about 15 minutes.
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