Sunday, June 30, 2013

Marlsgate Plantation Tour

You might remember that for my birthday several weeks ago, my mom and I visited Marlsgate Plantation in Scott, Arkansas.  At that time, we didn't even know the plantation gave tours.  But only a few days later, my aunt from Memphis called and said that she was going to be touring Marlsgate with her Sunday school class and asked if we would like to join them!  So I took a half day at work and met my aunt and her group, my Nana, great aunt, Mom, and sister at the plantation.  The owner, David, gave the tour himself which made it really fun.  He was a hoot, too!  I would definitely recommend taking the tour if you ever get the chance.  Lots of history and tons of great stories!

I loved the grand staircase right in the front entry.  David made a comment about re-using the drapes if things ever went south on the plantation...It's hard to tell, but they're a fabulous dark green velvet with gold fringe, a la Scarlett O'Hara. :)

Not a great photo here, but look at the fantastic ceilings!  Lots of Jacob Petit in every room.

 A view from inside the front doors.  I'm a sucker for beveled glass...and columns...and that gorgeous view of the river.

These swords were in the Jefferson Davis room.  David's great-grandfather wrote in his journal about Civil War skirmishes that occurred right outside the main home.  He also said there's a story that some Union soldiers roasted a pig in the fireplace!

 Side table in the master bedroom.  I loved all of the artwork in the home, especially this painting and all of the oil paintings of family members (those were difficult to photograph) that were in every room.  That is something I would really, really love to have.

After the home tour, we ate lunch.  The dining table was absolutely beautiful (look at that silver plateau!) and can you tell that David was previously a florist? 

All of the food was delicious, but of course I was particularly fond of the coconut cake.

 After lunch, we toured the gardens.  The side garden was designed by P. Allen Smith.

Biggest fern I've ever seen!

And a formal garden...

And precious greenhouse!

(Hello, Meredith!--That's my sister taking a look inside.)

This smaller home was behind the main house and is where David's mother lives.  I love that fountain.  David said that in the spring, they had over 1,000 red tulips surrounding it!

Marlsgate was incredibly beautiful, but David definitely made the tour what it was!  I'll leave you with one of my favorite comments from him that day:

"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, but it's still a b---- to live in The South.  We can fly to the moon but we can't kill a mosquito!?"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Recipe: Key Lime Pie

Lots of time spent in the kitchen this weekend!  Aside from the grilled chicken, rosemary roasted potatoes, Oreo mess, vinaigrette and croutons, etc... I tried a new key lime pie recipe from a coworker and James made kolaches (post to come).  Almost every week, James and I gather ideas for things we want to make over the weekend.  We both love to cook/bake and we just don't have the time during the week to enjoy it.

This key lime pie is super simple and super delicious!  Just a few ingredients and can (should!) be refrigerated overnight.  I love that--one less  thing to worry about at the last minute when you're having folks over.  Enjoy dinner with company and then just pull out of the fridge and serve!

I'm not a fan of graham cracker crusts at all, so I made a standard shortbread crust.  (I had honestly planned to make a crust with crushed up Pecan Sandies, but read in several places that it doesn't work out so well).  My coworker has made this recipe in a Marie Calendar's pastry crust and said it was delicious, too.  And of course, the graham cracker crust is classic.  If you like it.  :)

I made up this quick crust and baked it for fifteen minutes.  When it came out of the oven, I refrigerated it for about half an hour and mixed up the pie filling.  I bought the little key limes in a bag you see at the grocery store and zested and juiced all of them, after reserving a few for garnishing.  

There is also this if you need to supplement your tiny limes (and my coworker made her pie with only this).  

The filling is just sweetened condensed milk, zest, eggs, and key lime juice.  And no, I'm not

sure that key limes taste any different than regular limes, but I feel like they do!  Plus, I wanted those cute little guys to decorate the top of my pie.  So I whisked the filling and poured it into the chilled crust...

 and baked it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. And this is what I got!  

I'm not really one to "enhance" food colors, but I think there is enough lime zest in it to be pretty and green.  I made some whipped cream and topped it with tiny slices of key limes.  I hope those make up for my ugly crust!

Key Lime Pie

9-inch pie crust
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. key lime juice
key lime zest (original recipe didn't specify, but I used a bunch!  probably 3 Tbs)

Whisk ingredients together and pour into partially-baked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Refrigerate until chilled and serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Birthday Week

Last week, we celebrated my birthday.  (Let's not get into which birthday, but I'll just say that I'm not liking this getting-older-every-year thing anymore).  I went out to lunch with a big group of coworkers and got the sombrero and song treatment at the Mexican restaurant where we ate.   When we got home from work, James gave me my gift--a metal detector!  I can't wait to go nerd it up! :)

For supper, James and I went to one of our favorite local places, Oak Street Bistro.  They use local ingredients and serve local beer. I know people that drive an hour to eat here!  I always get the cheddar dill soup.  I really love dill and this stuff is awesome!  James had the shrimp and grits and I got a muffuletta.  We ended up switching after he'd eaten all of the shrimp (I don't do seafood) and the grits were delicious.  We also just found out that they closed last week (after being open for years!) so I'm so glad that we went one last time.

I took Wednesday off of work to spend the day with my mom.  We have so much fun when just the two of us set out.  First, we took a look around Marlsgate Plantation in Scott.  We didn't go in, but I just love looking around the outside.

We actually looked at having our wedding here, but decided on somewhere closer to where we were living at the time.  It looked like they were setting up for an event when we were there this time.

Tons of sorghum!  I'd never seen it growing before I don't think.

The Ashley-Alexander House is nearby, too.

And just down the street is the beautiful All Souls Church.  Thinking back on it, I really wish we had decided to have our wedding ceremony here and the reception at Marlsgate.  Maybe we'll do a vow renewal in a few years.  Ha!

We thought about stopping at Cotham's Mercantile for lunch, but ended up running ahead of schedule and getting there before it opened.  They're famous for their "hubcap" burgers.  

In a town nearby, my great-great-great grandfather is buried.  He fought with the Confederate infantry and we are lucky enough to have inherited the family bible that he and his wife started.  It stays at my parents' house, but I've already called dibs.  

We stopped at Morris Antiques in Keo and followed that up with lunch at Charlotte's Eats and Sweets.

We shared the Keo classic sandwich (it was fantastic--look at that crust!) so we each had room for our own piece of pie, of course.

We were too late for the lemon (they're known for their pies and you have to get there early!) so Mom got chocolate meringue and I got coconut meringue.  Hers was a little more photogenic.  

Over the weekend, we had my family birthday party.  My mom and sister had planned to have it at our neighborhood park on the lake, but when it started raining, we decided to move it to our house.  They always do such a good job--check out that homemade strawberry lemonade on that precious vintage tablecloth (which was a gift to me)! 

And the flower arrangement they put together with peonies and handpicked wildflowers...

in a huge Ball jar (now also mine)!

Mom made my favorite:  fresh strawberry cake.

 And I can't resist throwing in a photo of precious Natalie (with the unicorn she picked out for me)! :)

And my new salad plates!

Although it's no fun for me to get older anymore...this really was one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time.

Monday, June 3, 2013

An Anniversary

Last Thursday was James's and my fourth anniversary.  We exchanged gifts in the morning, before work.  James got me this fantastic canning book that I'm sure you'll see more of in the future.  The photographs are beautiful (which always hooks me), but the recipes are also "modern" and include things to can as well as recipes using jams, sauces, etc. that you have canned.  There are lots of recipes in it that I can't wait to try.
I prefer to follow the "traditional" anniversary gifts list, so this year was a flower theme. Knowing James would certainly not want a bouquet, I went to the manliest flower I could think of--hops. This was an easy gift for me to put together since James is such a big fan of beer and I knew he had been waiting for a specific book about hops to be released. So he got that, as well as another book in the series, some hoppy beer, etc.
In keeping with the flowers theme, he also had an arrangement of the most beautiful peonies delivered to me at work. LOVED! I am a serious sucker for flowers and the pale pink and white blooms made my whole area at work smell amazing. I got to enjoy them for a couple of days at the office and then moved them home for the weekend. Really makes me wish we hadn't gone out of town later that week...

After work, we walked around The Old Mill.  We had never been to see it before, but I had always wanted to.  It was in the opening scene of Gone with the Wind!

Every anniversary, we take a self-portrait.  This is what we looked like at four years :)

We ate supper at Brave New Restaurant.  It is hard to tell from this photo, but we ate on the patio overlooking the Arkansas River.  It was beautiful and the temperature was perfect.  There were bunnies (one a baby!) that we really enjoyed watching.  We go out a lot together, but an anniversary always feels different.  Fabulous night!

The restaurant wins lots of local awards and this was the first time we'd ever been.  The staff was professional and the food was really good.


The following Wednesday night, we loaded the car and drove a few hours northwest for the 10th Annual Wakarusa Music Festival. WOW. I thought I prepared myself but I clearly hadn't. It was a totally different experience for us.  We bought tickets several months ago on a whim. When we found out that one of my favorite bands, Of Monsters and Men, was playing this year, we decided to get tickets as our anniversary trip.

It's a four day music and camping festival.  I won't go into a ton of details, but it basically ended up being more of a rain and mud festival.  There were around 20,000 people and we were all crammed into the camping areas with our tents, canopies, etc.  Once the rain started coming down, it got messy!

Strong winds left a lot of debris, but everyone made the best of it!

We did get a few hours of sun on Friday...luckily, surrounding the Of Monsters and Men show. We got to the stage a few hours early so that we could score a front (non-VIP) spot. It was an AWESOME show and made all of the bad weather (flooded tent, sleepless nights, etc.) worth it.
Wakarusa was definitely more than I had anticipated in every respect...but I'm already hoping we can make it next year!