Last Sunday I went to a really great barbecue at the home of a lovely man named Neil Gaiman. The food and company were wonderful and his home and dogs and cats are beautiful. White German Shepherd, Lola, was especially cute after a roll in the mud. Of course, I may think so because I didn't have to bathe her afterward.
Neil showed us around his garden, where the oregano was taking everything over, so a bunch of it met its fate between the briquettes and the chicken on the grill that evening where their smoke made our meal even more delicious. I learned about garlic sprouting little garlicky bulbs way up on their shoots to reseed themselves, and I learned that asparagus, when left alone, becomes an amazing, Seussian bush taller than I, that looks not unlike a giant runaway dill plant.
Then we all went down to see the bees. Our friend Sharon keeps Neil's bees, and donned her bee suit along with me. Not everyone wore one, but I can't figure out why - they're super sexy.
Dig my red Wellies, too.
I had ankle socks and low top Chucks, but apparently bees are ankle stingers, so I opted for the borrowed boots as well. Thank you, Lorraine.
We went down to the hives and I learned a lot about bees. (They will - and did - eat honey right out of your hand!) Sharon and Neil selected a comb to bring back up to the house, and my un-bee-suited husband, Bill carried it back up the hill for us.
We were told this side looked pretty much like a perfect comb. Isn't it pretty?
This side, obviously, not so much, but doesn't Bill look like a kid showing off his 4-H project?! CUTE!
Back up at the house, we unsuited (DAMN, bee suits are hot) and were handed plastic spoons. If you ever get the chance to eat honey this way, please take it. It's amazing. There were little dark spots that were actually little pockets of pure pollen. It took a little thinking, but Bill eventually came up with what they tasted like: artichoke. Oh, man.
L to R: Me, Neil, Kevin Murphy and Bill dig in with some new friends.
Woodsman Hans gets a beer in the background.
See the little dark orange hexagons in the bottom right of the liquid honey? That the pollen.
We watched a storm roll in and when it started to rain, we took a tour of the house, leaving the two chickens on the grill with a can of Strongbow up each of their arses and a huge bundle of flowering oregano beneath them, lending their delicious smoke to the smell of the rain. The house, as you can imagine was beautiful and full of amazing things.
The tour and the rain stopped around the same time -- though not exactly, as some of the brave souls finished cooking rounds of the zucchini-the-size-of-my-calf from the garden on the grill along with the chickens and the heads of romaine in the end moments of the rain. The meal, which also included grilled eggplant, fruit salad and bison sausages, was delicious. It also included a fantastic potato salad that I had to ask the recipe for. And here it is:
This is a rustic dish, and you should use proportions that please you. I had left over onions, bacon and dressing when I made the potato salad. The night I made this, I put the extra onions and bacon on the hot dogs we were having, and today I used the leftover dressing for a chicken pasta salad with grapes, cucumber, almonds, dill and chives.
Neil Himself's Warm Potato Salad, as interpreted by me:
Red Potatoes, whole or halved if bigger than a tennis ball.
1 cup plain yogurt
2 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBSish lemon juice
Onion, large diced
Boil potatoes, skin on, til fork tender
Cook the bacon til crisp, drain on paper towels and eat at least three strips while cooking
Cook the onions in the bacon fat
Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, bacon fat and onions in a bowl/measuring cup
Pour dressing over warm potatoes, crumble in bacon, stir.
The next day, I was advised by Neil's amazing assistant, Fabulous Lorraine, to fry up the leftovers if you have any. I did, and I topped them with fried eggs. Yeah.
Dice up the leftovers.
Fry them. (I used butter and olive oil)
Fry two eggs and put them on top. Looks like I had a strip of bacon to crumble on top, too.
I call this "Next Dress Size Up Hash"
We were also served three different kinds of pie purchased at the local farmer's market and vanilla frozen custard. Good thing, because by the time dessert came around, only a few of the Blueberry White Chocolate Ginger Cookies (from EatingWell) I brought were left, as they had been snacked upon in the kitchen all day.
These were the first thing I cooked in my new oven (learning that it runs 25 degrees hot). I added a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger to that recipe, and will do so again!!
Ready for the oven.
I keep crystalized ginger, dried blueberries and white chocolate chips in the cupboard at all times so I can make these super easy, delicious and impressive cookies any time.
To close this post, I will leave you with a picture of our merry band outside, marveling, snapping pictures and making internet meme references....
...of the double rainbow that we were blessed with that day.
I know what it means.