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Well, here it is....July 4th. Cookouts, parades, BASEBALL!!! and fireworks. I don't do fireworks, although I love the words of the national anthem.
We will be grillin' shrimp on the barbie, luscious country pork ribs as only my Sweetie knows how to smoke them and various and sundry other bits and bobs.
BUT the best part is the R, W & B bits. So, here's a few for your pleasure.
We had "The Spring of The Honey Bees"!!! Our herb garden is next to rhododendrons and honeysuckle and the sage and English thyme and the Lemon thyme and the chives have bloomed like crazy. I go out to pick some fresh herbs for cooking and I hear a bzzz, bzzz and see the lovely bees drinking the nectar and collecting pollen. I've seen more this year that last. I did whack my thyme and sage plants a lot last fall and they are blooming and growing so well that I need to give away some fresh or dried herbs.
Enough about my garden, let's get to the food.....

Firelight Blueberry Buckle

This was originally a Firelight Inn recipe, I have changed it. Well, when do I not change a recipe to please me? That is the art of cooking....don't be so tied to "THE RECIPE", make it your own!

Preheat oven to 375º
I use an 8"X8" pyrex dish see note
Serves 6 medium sized servings or 12 small servings

1/4 C softened butter (I use unsalted)
1/2 C sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp natural baking powder (Rumford)
1/2 tsp sea salt
14-1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 C milk at room temperature
2 C fresh or frozen blueberries at room temperature
1/2-1 tsp fresh lemon zest

1/2 C sugar
1/3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground saigon cinnamon
1/4 C butter

Combine the topping dry ingredients and cut in the butter. Reserve.
For the cake:
Cream butter and sugar, add egg and beat in. Meanwhile sift dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to the butter, sugar, egg mixture. Mix well.   Fold in blueberries and lemon zest in cake mixture and pour in an 8" X 8" square pyrex pan that has been greased with butter. Sprinkle topping over the top. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean and top and bottom are browned. I like cooking this in a pyrex square pan. I can see the bottom!

You can use a metal pan, cooking time may be different.
The sugar in the cake depends on the sweetness of the berries. You need to taste and see. The sugar can vary from 1/4 C to 3/4 C. I do leave the amount in the topping the same.

Strawberry Summer Salad

This is an easy salad to make and customize. I usually make just enough for the meal and can always mix up more the next time I want some…which is usually soon!

strawberries, core cut out and cut in thirds longways (I usually buy organic or farmers market see note)
mixed greens like green ice, baby spinach, mesclun, bibb and arugula torn into bits about 2" X 2"
scallions or red onion or shallot, slivered
fresh mint leaves
few grains of coarse salt or fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper
balsamic honey dressing
lime fruit dressing

Use equal parts strawberries and mixed greens. Add alliums to your taste. Mint is essential as is the black pepper. The salt is just a tiny accent. I dress my salad on the table, my Sweetie likes the lime fruit and I like the balsamic honey.

lots of farmers at my farmers market are NOT certified organic. It takes a lot of $$$ to do that. I'd rather have a farmer I know spend their money on growing the best produce than getting a sticker!

Balsamic Honey Dressing by chinese grandma

Whisk Together:
2 T honey
1 T Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C Moderna balsamic vinegar
 Whisk In:
1 smashed and minced large garlic clove
3/4 C extra virgin olive oil (good for salads)

Lime Fruit Dressing by Art of Design

Whisk Together:
2 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1/8 tsp almond extract
mint and basil, chiffoniered

RWB Polenta Bites

What is "polenta"? It is just coarse ground cornmeal! You don't have to buy the more expensive product labeled "polenta", just buy some medium or coarse ground cornmeal. These appetizers are very colorful and taste different than regular yellow or white polenta.

Preheat oven to 375º

For the polenta:

4 C water
1 - 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
1 C medium to coarse grind blue cornmeal
1 1/2 - 2 T good extra virgin olive oil


4 oz goat cheese, softened
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

1 lb cherry tomatoes
sprinkle of coarse salt
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves minced garlic (optional)

extra toppings
freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan bring the water to a boil, add the salt and cornmeal, turn down heat to medium low and whisk until thickened (about 10 - 20 minutes). Take off heat and add olive oil and stir in. Let cool and pour into a greased tart pan. Let it sit to firm up a bit and then bake it for 20 minutes or so until it is golden and crispy on the edges. Let cool. You can even make this the day before and just let it come to room temperature before assembling.

Place cherry tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with a little salt, the olive oil and garlic if using. Bake until softened. Usually 8-13 minutes.

Mix the goat cheese, black pepper and red pepper flakes together until smooth and chill.

To assemble:
Cut the tart into 1 1/2" wedges and place on a platter, place a dollop of the goat cheese and a few cherry tomatoes on top. Add extra toppings you like.

Tiny Tasty Trifle

This is a nice, small treat after a great meal or just because you need it. Easy to make and easy to eat. Enjoy!

small 8 oz glasses like these
greek yogurt
sour cream
mint, chiffoniered
raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries or a combination
cookies or biscotti, crumbled

lime or lemon zest
chocolate curls or sprinkles (either milk or dark or white)
lemon or lime curd
lemon thyme

Whisk until smooth equal parts greek yogurt and sour cream. Layer in the glass: cookies, cream, mint, berries…repeat and finish with cream and mint. Add other options as you wish.
I like a fairly plain cookie like a speacloos or amaretti or plain oatmeal or a hob nob or a digestive biscuit or even a ginger snap.

I hope you are having a lovely evening. Last night was my Sweetie's birthday and I made a dinner of lemon & thyme chicken thighs, sour cream dill arugula new potato salad, roasted asparagus with grabiche and cherry tomatoes. Dessert was Hummingbird bars with cream cheese icing. And a nice, spicy Zinfandel.
What's your dinner plans?

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