Monday, May 6, 2019

Wild Foraging

One of my favorite times of year is Spring. As Brad is an Organic Farmer and me, a Master Chef, we are always looking for unique and lovely foods to enhance and highlight the meals we prepare for guests. Mother Nature is the best artist in the world and is very creative; growing unique, strange and wonderful things that are delicious and edible. These little gems are able to be found through “Wild Foraging”. Foraging for wild food is a great way to experience the natural world and connect with something ancient and primal within ourselves. Each spring and summer you can find us out foraging for amazing foods such as our coveted Morel Mushrooms, Curley dock, Lady Fern Fiddleheads, Ramps/wild leek, Dandelion Flowers, Chickweed, Clover, Wildbriar Shoots and

I have included some photos to see how pretty 
and fresh these wild things can be.

Prickly Pear

Several Rules apply to wild foraging.  

1)Never consume wild food unless you are 100% sure of its identification. 

2)Know the look-alike plants (some look alike are poisonous).

3)Know the season to pick each plant,  

4) Don't harvest all the plants, leave some to grow wild, so they go to seed and replenish for next year, prepare your wild things correctly.  

5)Never pick in places subjected to pollution

6) Go slowly try a new plant in small bits.

7) Avoid all plants with white berries

8) Try to avoid plants with white sap (some exceptions- Dandelion, Fig,  Thistle

Wild Mustang Grape
Foraging is a wonderful thing to learn for oneself and to teach others to respect nature and learn about the environment.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Night Belongs to the Mud Bug!

 Crawfish boil night is one of our local annual fundraisers that I love, the Sacred Heart School Crawfish Boil.  I'll be honest... I'm a convert.  I never liked crawfish. I have become a tail cracking, corn eating, full fan, lover of the mudbug!

3rd Annual Crawfish BoilMy kids went to school at Sacred Heart, so I went to the first of these annual events to support the school, but I had a blast!  I caught up with old friends and made new ones. The first year I would not go near the crawfish, I just enjoyed the company and the band.  They always bring in a great act.

Image may contain: one or more people and people on stage The next year I was there and found myself in a showdown , at a table with a group of friends, I sat and sipped my chardonnay as they wolfed down tail after tail of the red tiny lobsters.  Then it happened... the gauntlet was laid down by a beer fueled challenge from a friend of ours. 
They offered me a twenty dollar bill to try one crawfish. I scoffed at the idea.  Then through the laughter, the pot was raised.  "Fifty Dollars!" another friend shouted and threw another twenty and a ten into the pot. No, my pride and taste could not be bought! Then another friend tossed in a hundred dollar bill on top! Now... I'm not a woman who escapes her convictions by any means... but I am an accountant and the numbers were crunching in my head. About 10 seconds of chewing for $150 does come out to an hourly rate of $900. 
Before I could let that sink in another friend piped up and threw in another hundred and before I could say anything, my right hand grabbed the money and my left grabbed a crawfish off of my husband's plate! 
Image may contain: food
Apparently I did have a price! 
I looked at the thing.  I wasn't sure what to do with it, but everyone else was. So encouragement and directions came from all sides as I stared down the thing... literally... it had eyes.
I broke the tail off and cracked the thing open.  I pulled the meat out and cringed as I could smell it.  I slowly moved my hand to my mouth,  wincing at the thought.
Then I opened my mouth.
I took the bite.IT. WAS. DELICIOUS.
I savored the flavor.  It was like a guilty pleasure.  A dirty little shrimp. I had no clue what I had been missing out on!
The peanut gallery erupted at the obvious pleasure on my face!  They cheered and laughed.
I? I went to the crawfish bar and got myself a plate of mudbugs with the easriest $250 I ever earned in my pocket!
I also won a mani-pedi at the silent auction, for oddly enough... $250.

Should Auld Acquaintances Be Forgotten....

This is one of my favorite times of the year. New Year's Eve is the culmination of a month of good times that starts on Thanksgiving. I get to see my family, as all of our kids come home at one time or another throughout the season. This year my son who lives in Denver came for Thanksgiving and Christmas! But NYE is the cap to the season. Every year, at the end of the season, we do a special celebration for our past guests. Our annual New Year's Eve Murder Mystery Dinner is a blast!
We sell out as soon as we announce the theme, usually in June or July, and the event is only open to guests who have stayed with us before. It's our own little way to say thank you to our guests and a fun exciting way to get to know everyone on a more personal level.  
We always get to meet new people and love making friends with our guests when the occasion arises. Some of our closest friendships we have forged over the years have come from the insanity that comes on this night!
We go all out to decorate the manor for the occasion and spend the whole day preparing the food for the event.
All of the guests dress up in costume to match their character, and we offer prizes for different contests, the favorite one being the best costume prize. Some of our guests have truly gone all out, with one year that had an American Revolution period theme included a gentleman that stayed in his powdered wig the entire weekend!
The food is always fun with a 6-course dinner on the agenda, I love stretching my chef's muscles!  
We have the dining room decked out to set the stage for the event of the season. It was so well done that when my son came by to drop off a late-arriving Christmas gift (thank you Amazon!), he thought there was an actual crime that had happened!
We start at 6:30pm after all the guests have had the day to relax, get massages,  play with the goats while relaxing with a handcrafted charcuterie delivered to guests, with house-made chevre, asiago, gouda, and Brads smoked meats to set the mood. The evening has gone along with all participating in the Murder Mystery as our staff brings both food and clues along the way. Things always get exciting as the free-flowing wine works it's magic and the night progresses.  
At the culmination of the evening, we all go outside to ring in the New Year with our great fireworks display, a champagne toast, and singing of Auld Lang Syne!

Come stay with us for a getaway soon, and then be eligible to join our Murder Mystery, with raucous fun next year!