Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tea Time in St. Louis

I spent last weekend visiting my friend, Jennifer in St. Louis. We had a fun girls weekend that included, Sushi, movies, pedicures, shopping and tea! Jennifer took me to this cute little tearoom in her town, O'Fallon, MO.

I enjoyed my visit to Aggie's Closet and Tea Room which was surrounded by pretty gardens. There were several tables setup in the garden but it was too hot to enjoy the outdoor seating.
We chose to eat our lunch in one of the many tearooms inside of the house. One table over from us were two little girls enjoying tea with their grandmother. Aggie's Closet and Tea Room has a special "closet" where you can borrow hats, gloves and dress-up clothes to wear while enjoying your tea. The girls were all dressed for tea while nibbling on their flower-shaped tea sandwiches.
I chose a strawberry herbal tea to sip along with my lunch of spinach and artichoke quiche, and a garden greens salad.
 The menu isn't huge but the food is made fresh daily and was certainly delicious.
One of my favorite things about tea is that it's meant to be unhurried which gave Jennifer and I lots of time to talk and catch up.It was a lovely afternoon, and wonderful weekend spent with a dear friend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Preserving the Garden

Each spring Keith plants a beautiful garden and each summer I feel so fortunate to be able to walk a few feet out into my yard and pick delicious produce for our dinner.I get so much satisfaction out of being able to cook with homegrown food, and enjoy creating new ways to get the most out of our produce.

So far this summer I've canned pickles made with our cucumbers, and tomato-basil sauce made from  heirloom tomatoes and herbs. I've made three batches of blackberry jam, and several batches of strawberry jam. We devoured countless salads, roasted vegetables, kabobs, fresh tomato sauce, and salsa.
Recently Keith picked the remaining carrots from the garden so I took the opportunity to make a few loaves of carrot bread.
And although the blueberries and blackberries are pretty much done for the season, the raspberries are in full swing. I've been able to pick at least a pint of raspberries each day which is pretty good considering many don't even make it into the house before being eaten.

Nothing is more refreshing in the summer than a berry tart! I made this tart with garden raspberries and pastry cream.
There are many good eats still to come as there is plenty of produce that has yet to be harvested, and I'm looking forward to getting a little more canning in before the summer's end.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Visit to Portland and the Lan Su Chinese Garden

Last month I had a "working" trip to Portland. I purposely chose to work this trip in order to visit my friend, Steph who recently moved there. I arrived in Portland in the early afternoon and took the MAX downtown to meet Stephanie at Pioneer Square. We had decided to meet at the Sqaure and then take the train from there to the Lan Su Chinese Garden.
The Lan Su is a beautiful and quaint setting to relax and catch up with a friend. It's one of  Steph's favorite places in Portland so I knew we'd be visiting while I was there.

In 1988, Portland and Suzhou, China, became sister cities and the dream building a Suzhou-style garden became a reality in 1999 when the garden was built. Most of the materials in the garden were brought in from China, as well as most of the plants in the Garden are indigenous to China but were grown in the US.
While at the Garden, Steph and I enjoyed a gongfu tea ceremony at the Teahouse. Steph chose a Wuyi oolong tea which tasted nutty and smooth.
We also ate some special snacks, Horsebeans (roasted fava beans) and Coconut Tarts.
After our leisurely afternoon tea, we finished walking around the garden, taking in the beauty of it all. It was such a lovely place to spend with a good friend. I felt like I was on vacation even though I was actually working. I'm looking forward to the next visit, and hopefully Esme will be able to join us.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sea World

While we were vacationing in San Diego, we spent a day at Sea World with my in-laws and my sister and her family. The San Diego weather was cool and cloudy which made spending the entire day outside bearable.
The first thing we did upon arriving at Sea World was watch the Shamu show. Madelyn really got into doing the "Shamu wave" which signaled the wales to splash the audience. Thankfully we were sitting further up in the stands and out of the "splash zone."

The boys wanted to go on a ride but every ride involved getting wet and it was a little too chilly for that so Grandma and Grandpa bought them these cool Shamu raincoats to keep them dry while they rode the Shipwreck Rapids.
We enjoyed both of the aquariums and the hands-on exhibits, especially feeding and petting the dolphins. .

At the starfish exhibit, the boys stopped to have their picture taken with Grandma and Grandpa at this giant starfish.
We all enjoyed experiencing the 4D Elmo show, and the kids looked pretty cute in their 3D glasses.

One of the last things we did for the day was watch the Blue Horizons show. This was probably the most popular show at Sea World. We had to arrive 45 minutes early just to get good seats. The show combines theatrical aquatics with acrobatic performers. It was really quite amazing!