bbq-brisket-sandwich.jpgBrisket is such a versatile meat. I like it best, slow cooked. I make it in the winter time, slow roasted with red wine, orange marmalade, orange zest, garlic and dried herbs. Yet, in the summer and fall months I like to make it BBQ style and serve it on delicious french bread with a side of Asian Cole Slaw.

The recipe calls for jarred BBQ sauce. Yet over the past few years I have really become even more conscious of what I am feeding my family. I have never bought a jarred salad dressing (even in college). Two reasons why: 1) they taste lousy and 2) there are way too many things in the ingredients list that I can’t pronounce.

And if I can’t pronounce it, I am not going to eat it. I have come to the conclusion that BBQ sauce is no different. I have decided to make my own. I make a big batch of it and use it for grilling, marinating, roasting and my kids like to dip their oven baked chicken nuggets in it.

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plum6I'm still thinking about the smell of the sweet Virginia hay - wishing there was a way to bottle that scent. We couldn't bring the hay home, but we did bring other treasures back to remind us of our trip: honey, old frames and fruit from various farmers markets.

On the drive home, the dark red plums were on my mind while they sat on the console of the car. Each time I glanced at them, I could almost taste them.

They were very sharp in that first bite and the bright red inside had a sweetness that was intensely satisfying - a perfect compromise to the sour skin.

We came home to rain and knee high grass and with too many things I needed to do to count. Yet again, those plums called to me.

Dane held them in her hands. I could see it was their size that excited her, as if they were grown just for her small inquisitive hands.

She played and I rolled dough beside her - a perfect way to be home.

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cherrysoup.jpgFor me there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a bowl of cold sour cherry soup. Sour cherries are revered in Hungary, where they are made into pies, strudels, tarts, and soups. Since sour cherries are in season right now, I picked up a quart last week at the Greenmarket specifically to make this soup. Cold soups, mostly savory, are enjoyed throughout Europe in the summertime. Sour cherry soup is technically a sweet soup, but because of its tartness it works well as a first course. I prefer it as a dessert but I just eat it whenever I feel like cooling off. I grew up eating my mom's cherry soup, so for me it's something that I love and I can't imagine my summers without it.

Hungarian cherry soup can also be made from dark sweet cherries, but sour cherries are preferred for their zing. The soup is traditionally made with the pits intact, so that is how I make it here. But if you would rather pit your cherries, that's fine too. I always provide guests with little bowls as spittoons. I think leaving the pits in adds to the fun and enjoyment of eating the soup. No one wants to cook in the summer, but trust me, this soup's ten-minute cooking time is worth the trouble. After having a big bowl of chilled sour cherry soup, you will be singing its praises and adding the recipe to your summer repertoire.


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apple-peanut-butter-tartMany projects I work on have a moratorium on sharing. Sometimes by me, other times by the publisher or editor who usually lets me know when I can start blabbing about it. Sometimes the lead times are long (a year or two in advance!), other times I just have to wait a month or two until whatever I photographed has hit the streets.

Of course, most of the time it’s ok to share a little bit via Instagram and Facebook, but I usually err on the side of caution and keep my mouth shut.

Which is painful when there are great recipes I want to talk about. Like this one. Oh my goodness, this one.

I am a peanut butter freak, and combined with an apple or banana it’s my standard sweet snack. I knew I’d love this recipe from Jenny Flake’s The Picky Palate Cookbook when we were reviewing the recipe list, and when Adam and his team began to assemble it I knew that the shape would photograph beautifully, and I knew that the shape would also fit in my stomach perfectly.

I think I ate the whole damn thing.

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gazpachoGazpacho, what a perfect name for a chilled soup. Ever since hearing of the exotic "gazpacho," I have been intrigued and perplexed by its very foreign name. I came to learn that the soup's roots lie in Andalusia in the southern region of Spain. Gazpacho originated as a cold soup of stale bread, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Once tomatoes were brought from the New World and added to the traditional recipe, the summertime soup became even more refreshing. Over the years the soup has transformed, sometimes omitting bread, and in some tomato-less variations including almonds, cucumbers, and grapes. When I tried gazpacho for the first time, I realized what I had been missing and what I had misconstrued as foreignness was just my lack of knowing how incredibly simple it is to make.

With no cooking involved, all that is needed are fresh vegetables, a good sharp knife, and a blender. I've attempted to make gazpacho before but haven't always been successful with achieving the right vegetable combination or the texture. It's entirely about having that just-so touch witth the blender. Blend too little, the soup will be too grainy and blend too much, it will be watery. One way to get really good texture is to reserve some of the chopped vegetables to add back into the puréed soup. This will create a chunky version, which is the kind I prefer. Some recipes call for pushing the soup through a sieve. Others recommend a food mill, which will achieve a really good texture. It's really personal preference that dictates whichever textural method is used.

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