Rural England at its Best – Including a Shepherd’s Pie

Worcestershire from The Malverns (AKA The Shire)

Worcestershire (AKA The Shire) from the Malvern Hills

When I lived in England, my American friends often inquired about our home across the pond.  My response was that “I live in the Shire” – J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical green land, bordered by rivers and fertile valleys.  The statement, inspired by my mental image of the land of the Hobbits, was in fact remarkably close to the truth.  I later discovered that Tolkien modeled his Shire after rural Worcestershire, where he spent his childhood and where I lived more than a century later.

Mr. Tolkien, you were so right – it was and still is a lovely green land. Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party with Seasonal Produce (Part 3 of 3)

Summer Berries

Summer Berries

What could be a better finish to our seasonal party than a shortcake with peak-of-season local berries?   Since our party was in June, strawberries were just the ticket. It is August now and, at least here in Michigan, local strawberries have moved over to make room for our luscious blueberries and blackberries.  No worries.  You can use any seasonal berry or mix of berries in this easy dessert.

There are a number of reasons why this dessert is so easy for a party menu: Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party with Seasonal Produce (Part 2 of 3)

Sangrias at the Drinks Table

Sangrias at the Drinks Table

This summer party was a group effort – a beautiful backyard provided by our hosts, menu by A Global Garnish and food/drink contributions from all attendees.  Don’t confuse this group effort with a potluck, which has the emphasis on luck.  If you’re lucky, a potluck party will have a good distribution of appetizers, main dishes and desserts as well as a mix of ingredients/flavors.  But why leave all this to chance??  If you give out menu assignments, you KNOW the final meal will all come together.  Further, you save your guests the trouble of wondering:  “what should I make?”. Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party With Seasonal Produce (Part 1 of 3)

Israeli Couscous with Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus

Israeli Couscous with Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus

Summer solstice – time to enjoy the glorious evening daylight, the early summer climate, lush gardens and early seasonal produce. Could there be a better time for an outdoor party?  My clever friends thought not. Continue reading

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Olives and Artichokes

Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Olives and Artichokes

Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Olives and Artichokes

Memories can be tricky.   My sister and I recently compared childhood memories only to find that, while some matched, many did not and a few were completely contradictory.  So, when I returned to Morocco after a 40-year hiatus, I feared the food would not live up to my seemingly indelible memories of magical scents and flavors. I was wrong.  It was better. Continue reading

Cuban-Style Citrus – Mojo and Mojito (Part 2 of 2)

Mojito Ingredients

Mojito Ingredients

My Mojito in La Bodeguita, My Daiquiri in El Floridita.” … Ernest Hemingway.

La Bodeguita and El Floridita were favorite Ernest Hemingway haunts in Havana.  If you’ve read anything by or about Hemingway, you won’t be surprised that he lingered as regularly as possible in the proximity of his favorite drinks. La Bodeguita was his place for Mojitos. Continue reading