Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Broccoli Salad

Shortly after moving to a community having both rural and suburban characteristics some thirty something years ago, my affinity and love for antiques was set in motion. With no life experience frame of reference to guide me, my early 'antique' purchases were mostly influenced by pouring over books and magazines, attending antique shows, and browsing in antique stores. After several years of this random education, learning from my 'mistakes', and having my life cross paths with someone possessing a great deal of antique wisdom and knowledge, my eye and heart started to gravitate toward all things from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. To this day my heart races and head spins whenever I discover an antique shop or walk into a home filled with beautiful, sometimes primitive period pieces or collections. Beyond their visual beauty, it is the known as well as unknown stories of their provenance that I find equally compelling. When I look at my small collection of antique hand-stitched samplers, I wonder where ten year old Elizabeth Rannard lived in 1835 and what became of her. Or as I fill some of my hard carved painted trencher dough bowls with gourds, pumpkins, and Indian corn, I imagine they once held balls of dough used to bake homemade loaves bread prized by family and friends.

Walking past the cupboards filled with my collections of antique bowls, platters, and cake stands, I feel grateful to and for all of those who had cared for them before me. As these antique pieces seem to have the unexplainable ability to make all foods look and taste even better (so why do I continue to buy 'new' dishes?) Like how the slightly altered version of a vintage, not yet antique recipe, for Broccoli Salad, served on the brown transfer ware platter was so much more delicious than I had remembered it being.

Was it because I used dried cranberries instead of raisins, because I altered the ingredient amounts, or because it was served on an antique brown transferware platter? Whatever the reason or reasons, I am beside myself happy I rediscovered the recipe while going through my collection of cookbooks. Ironically it just happened to come from a book of favorite recipes submitted by women living in the town responsible for opening my eyes to the world of antiques.

Broccoli happens to be one of those vegetables with a significant number of health benefits. From offsetting Vitamin D deficiencies with its high levels of vitamins A and K, to having high levels of vitamin C, to having some cholesterol-lowering benefits, to even having anti-flammatory benefits, we should all be eating it at least weekly. And considering my recent running injury woes, I should probably be eating it daily!

For the creamiest, smoothest, most flavorful dressing, it should be the night before. The overnight resting allows the sugar and red wine vinegar to become completely infused into the mayonnaise, resulting in a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Lately I have become a big fan of Duke's mayonnaise, a brand well known to cooks to the south. This was the mayonnaise I used to make this salad, however, Hellman's mayonnaise would work as well.

A yield of a generous three to four cups of florets will come from 5 to 6 stems of broccoli.

Yes, I am on a bacon binge this week. There are many versions of Broccoli Salad out there on the web and in cookbooks. The ones that do not contain bacon are ones missing a key ingredient in this salad. Cooked to almost crisp and drained on paper towels, the bacon is cut into lardons (i.e., small strips) before added to the salad. If possible, buy the thicker cut of bacon usually found in the meat section in your grocery store. As another good option use the prepackaged thick cut applewood smoked bacon.

The early versions of this recipe used raisins. This one uses dried cranberries. Some Broccoli Salad recipes use sliced almonds. This one uses roasted, salted sunflower seeds. The combination of dried cranberries and roasted, salted sunflower seeds is nothing short of perfect.

This is not the Broccoli Salad you buy from the deli counter at your grocery store. The ratio of dressing to salad is one where when tossed, the salad is one lightly dressed versus one drowning in dressing. The dressing does not mask each of the flavors in the salad, it compliments them.

While the dressing is tossed into the salad right before serving, the broccoli is still able to retain its' crunch the next day. 

Choose your favorite or most beautiful platter when serving this Broccoli Salad. Trust me on this. Yes I know there there is current commercial out there for paper goods that want you to believe the table setting doesn't matter. Remember they are trying to sell you something. And it's more than their products! 

Once plated, sprinkle on the remaining reserved sunflower seeds and the lardons/strips cut from one slice of bacon. Like the fall landscape, this is a colorful salad. Served with a roasted chicken or some grilled steaks, it makes for a perfect meal. As an added bonus, it also one having some health and nutritional benefits. 

While making this Broccoli Salad, a flurry of memories came back to me. Memories of a house I never thought I would ever want to leave or give up; of a whirlwind antique weekend out east with friends; and, of meals eaten on table settings so beautiful even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would have been elevated to levels reserved only for five star restaurants. And all of this happened because I had saved and reopened a cookbook purchased so many years ago.
Broccoli Salad (inspired by The Happy Times with Home Cooking cookbook, a compilation of recipes contributed by some of the women from Crete, Illinois)

3 - 4 generous cups broccoli florets, from 5-6 stalks of broccoli (Cut large florets into smaller, bite-sized pieces.)
2/3 pound of thick cut bacon, cooked to almost crisp and cut into pieces
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion (from the half of a large red onion or one small red onion)
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
3/4 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds, divided

1 cup mayonnaise (recommend using either Duke's or Hellman's brands)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Combine the mayonnaise, granulated sugar and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Stir until well combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours).
2. Before mixing salad, reserve the lardons from one slice of bacon and 2 Tablespoons of the roasted, salted sunflower seeds.
3. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli florets, bacon lardons, red onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.
4. Add dressing to the mixture, and stir until fully incorporated.
5. Transfer salad to a large platter. Top with the reserved bacon and sunflower seeds.
6. Serve immediately.
Note: Refrigerate any leftovers, covering the platter or bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferns and reflections found on a walk in Wilbur Woods (Little Compton, RI)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs

"Everyone runs around trying to find a place where they still serve breakfast, because eating breakfast, even if it's 5 o'clock in the afternoon is a sign that the day has just begun and good things can still happen. Having lunch is like throwing in the towel." (Lenny Bruce is Dead, Jonathan Goldstein At some point in my life I went from skipping breakfast to wanting to 'breakfast' foods at any or all of the meals of the day. While I have scaled back significantly going to fast food restaurants, learning that McDonald's would be serving some of their breakfast foods 24 hours a day felt like a long awaited wish had finally been granted by the fast food fairy godmother. Could this mean the recently reported egg shortage news causing so many of us to go into a state of panic is coming to a sooner than later predicted end? I certainly hope so. Because I already envision myself making regular trips to the drive-through ordering my not-so-guilty pleasure Egg McMuffin to satisfy 'my too frequent to admit to' after 10:30 in the morning craving for it.

If there is one thing you can always find in my refrigerator, besides butter, it would be eggs. The large, brown, organic ones. Every time I watch one of Martha Stewart's baking shows, I enviously drool over the large bowl of fresh eggs sitting on her counter. If it were feasible to raise chickens where I now live and I wasn't such a 'picking up chickens wimptress', there would always be a large antique yellow ware bowl filled with fresh eggs gracing the counter of my kitchen. Not that anyone on the planet could compete with Martha Stewart, but this bowl of eggs would come as close to rivaling hers as possible. Maybe in my next life I will live in a chicken raising friendly place and have someone to pick up the chickens for me.  My dreams of having readily accessible fresh eggs don't include conquering my trepidation over handing either chickens, let alone a rooster. 

As much as I like eggs poached, fried sunny-side up, soft hardboiled, and soft scrambled, I also like their custard-like quality when mixed with cream and cheese. These Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs are kind of like a crustless quiche. They deliver all of the flavor of a quiche, without the work of having to make a crust. Served in individual ramekins makes them feel like you are receiving a personally made gift.

As with most quiche recipes there are no hard and fast rules in the making of these Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs. But unlike most quiche recipes it does not follow the 2 to 1 cream to egg ratio. Instead of a 1 1/2 cup of cream to 3 egg mixture, this one has a 1 1/2 cup of cream to 4 egg mixture. The fresh basil works as a great compliment to the three cheeses, sun dried tomatoes, dijon mustard, and bacon, however, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, or a mixture of any or all of these herbs would equally be delicious. 

There are three freshly grated cheeses in these baked eggs: Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. For each half cup of cheese, the general rule of thumb is that you will need a 2 ounce block. These Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs contain a total of 6 ounces of cheese or 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese. If you don't have all three of these cheeses, choose a combination of two of them and increase the weight of the cheese blocks accordingly to ensure you have a total of 6 ounces of cheese before grating.

Whether you call them scallions or green onions, you are still talking about the same onion-y, mild in bite vegetable. Thinly sliced they add the right amount of onion mellowness to the baked eggs.

After mixing the eggs and light cream (half and half) until combined, all of the other ingredients, except the crispy, cooked bacon are blended together.

There are many reasons why we are all so obsessed with bacon. Sometimes referred to as the candy meat, bacon is rich, indulgent, and slightly decadent. From its' aroma to it's taste, bacon broke out of its' 'for breakfast only' niche awhile back now. However, any morning that begins with bacon is a great morning. You can make these Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs with Canadian Bacon, but I would encourage you to first make them with some crispy, fried applewood smoked bacon. If you have a craving for Canadian Bacon, go out and get an Egg McMuffin.

In lightly greased or sprayed ramekins, the egg-cheese mixture is equally divided. To ensure each ramekin has the same amount of bacon (God forbid one should get a bacon shorted ramekin), the bacon is added after the ramekins are filled the egg-cheese mixture. Pressing the bacon down slightly into the mixture, they are baked in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for 30-35 minutes.

The Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs become golden, slightly firm and puffed when done. During the cooling process they will lose some of their height, but none of their flavor.

You can serve the Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs hot, warm, or even at room temperature. The ramekin filled Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs are the perfect portion for breakfast, lunch or even dinner (depending on your appetite at that time of the day). 

There are an almost infinite number of reasons why eggs should be one of those foods we always have in our refrigerator or on our counters, that is, if we are fortunate enough to have access to freshly gathered eggs. These Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs were just added to that list.

Herb and Cheese Baked Eggs

4 slices (5 ounces) of thick cut applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp and cut into pieces or 3 ounces of Canadian bacon cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half (light cream)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard (recommend Maille)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces of sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1/2 cup measured)
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (1/2 cup measured)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1/2 cup measured)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
2 green onions, sliced thinly (both green and white parts)
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, julienned 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or spray six 4.5 ounce ramekins. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and light cream until blended.
3. Add green onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mustard, cheeses, salt, pepper, baking powder, and basil. Mix until blended.
4. Spoon or pour mixture into prepared ramekins. 
5. Divide the chopped bacon (or Canadian bacon) evenly amongst the ramekins. Lightly press the bacon into the egg-cheese-herb mixture.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden or set.
7. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Just a few of the animals residing on a family farm in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eggplant Parmesan Fries with Marinara

After an unusually long streak of traveling, I am looking forward to staying put, to sleeping in my own bed, and most importantly, to cooking in my own kitchen. At least for a little while. In spite of having some really great meals in restaurants as well as (over) indulging my love of fresh Maine lobster over the course of three days, there is something incredibly comforting about being able to sit down at your own table and enjoy a meal made with one's own hands. Even if that meal is nothing more than a bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries, poached eggs served over a toasted English muffin, or a sliced Honey Crisp apple and a generous wedge of Brie cheese. As ambitious as my cooking and baking can sometimes be, every now and then I like to scale it back, way, way back. So when I came across a recipe for baked Eggplant Parmesan Fries, I was convinced the forces in the universe were conspiring together to keep me from going into cooking overdrive. And reminding me deliciousness doesn't need to be complicated.

On a recent trip out east, a day was spent on Martha's Vineyard. The sunny, blue sky day was going to be a perfect backdrop to the hundreds of photos I had planned to take. Instead of spending the majority of the day capturing the Vineyard's beauty with my camera, it was spent going on an almost two hour, up-hill, getting lost at least twice, exhausting, bicycle ride through the center of the island. Every now and then I don't listen to myself and veer off in an unplanned direction, sometimes for the right reason, and sometimes for all of the wrong ones. The universe must have been paying attention to some of the disappointment I was feeling as it somehow contrived to ensure my path crossed with another passionate amateur photographer (although she might best be described as a very accomplished amateur). The day after meeting her I opened my email to discover she had sent me some of the photos she had taken along with links to a lens I had been coveting and a youtube video on a way to optimize the use of my camera. Unbeknownst to her, this gesture was a reminder the value simple, unselfish kindnesses have on one's heart.

If there was ever a recipe to represent both simplicity and kindness, these Eggplant Parmesan Fries with Marinara might be a good example. The preparation and assembly of the fries could not be easier. And the marinara sauce doesn't even need to be homemade. But if you must, this marinara sauce is my hands down favorite. Have I told you yet these fries are baked? I don't think I have. Dipped in an egg white and tomato paste wash and rolled in a Panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese mixture, they are baked until golden and crispy. So where does kindness come in? Considering they may be one of the 'healthiest' fries to ever to have crossed my lips, their deliciousness tantalized my taste buds without tacking on any more inches to my hips. If my body could talk I am certain it would thank me for giving it something incredibly scrumptious, low-calorie, and low in fat.

When shopping for eggplant, I usually buy the Italian variety. Having a deep shade of mauve-purple, it is generally smaller and more oval in shape than the regular eggplant variety. However, I couldn't resist buying the Sicilian (or sometimes called Zebra or Graffiti) eggplant this time. They were the right size, had a good firmness to them, and were slightly less seedless. Making them the perfect choice for the Parmesan Fries.

The recipe for the Eggplant Parmesan Fries called for cutting them into 1/4 inch sticks, however, I cut them slightly thicker. For a longer lasting, crispier fry, the eggplant should probably be cut closer to the 1/4 inch recommendation. Eggplant is one of the vegetables having a lot of moisture, so the thicker the eggplant sticks are sliced, the less crispy they will remain. If you are serving them immediately and want to taste the flavor of the eggplant, definitely cut them closer to the 1/3 or 1/2 inch stick size and adjust baking time accordingly.

The sticks are first dipped into a wash made with egg whites, water and tomato paste. Then rolled in a Panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano mixture. The original recipe called for using whole wheat bread crumbs (which you could certainly do), but I thought the Panko would give the fries an even better crunch and finished look. And they did.

Before placing the Eggplant Parmesan Fries in a preheat 400 degree (F) oven, they are sprayed with olive oil and given a light sprinkling of sea salt (or kosher salt). Baking time ranges from 25-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fry.Your favorite jarred or homemade marinara sauce (warmed) is the absolute perfect and healthy accompaniment.

There is so much flavor in these fries no one will ever suspect you had their best 'health' interests at heart. At least until you bring out a platter of cookies or another of your favorite to make and serve desserts. Happy first day of autumn!

Eggplant Parmesan Fries with Marinara (inspired by the Eggplant Parm Fries shared in the March/April 2015 Weight Watchers magazine)

1 1/2 pounds Sicilian or regular Italian eggplant (2-3 eggplant depending on size)
3 large egg whites 
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups panko (plain) (or whole wheat bread crumbs)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea Salt (or kosher salt) for sprinkling
Olive oil spray
1 - 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Trim and peel eggplant. Cut lengthwise into half inch slices. Cut each slice (lengthwise) into 1/2 inch sticks. Then cut each stick in half (lengthwise) again.
3. Whisk together egg whites, tomato paste and water in a shallow bowl.
4. Combine panko and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in another shallow bowl.
5. Dip each eggplant stick into egg white mixture and turn to coat. Gently shake off excess. Place in panko-cheese mixture, turning to coat. Place on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining eggplant sticks. Note:  Make sure the eggplant sticks/fries do not touch or overlap with one another on the baking sheet.
6. Lightly spray dipped and coated eggplant sticks/fries with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.
7. Bake until fries are golden brown and crunchy. Approximately 25-30 minutes.
8. Heat up marinara sauce.
9. Transfer baked eggplant fries to a wire rack and allow to set for 2-3 minutes.
10. Serve immediately on a platter with a bowl of the warmed marinara sauce.
Note: Eggplant contains a lot of moisture, so if left out, the eggplant fries will lose some of their crispiness. To re-crisp, place in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Views from Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine on a sunny day in September.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Raspberry Almond Bars

There are days when my bedroom looks worse than any stereotypical teenage bedroom or college dorm room. While it drives me absolutely insane if anyone commits the high crime of leaving a dish in the kitchen sink, I seem to have a high tolerance for allowing a pile of clothes to sit for an extraordinarily long period of time before being put away. An array of shoes and sandals strewn on the floor, clothes piled on both the chairs and ottoman, earrings and bracelets scattered on the dresser, and purses hanging from the door knob would cause any cleaning lady to quit (maybe this is why I don't have one because I would end up being the Murphy Brown of the cleaning service employers). As much as I love for the bedroom to always be a calm, peaceful sanctuary with a boutique hotel feel to it, I can create quite a mess. Especially in the days leading up and returning from a trip. Having returned from a great, long weekend trip to Dallas and heading out for a trip to the east coast at week's end, it seems almost pointless to bring any order to all of this chaos this week. It is no surprise that given the choice between baking and cleaning the bedroom, I would choose baking without any hesitation. Even if baking means spending hours on my feet and having to clean up the kitchen.

Before leaving last week I made these Raspberry Almond Bars. I brought most of them to my running group but saved a couple of them to have when returning home. Knowing there were a couple of bars were chilling in the refrigerator lessened the angst of a return flight with a long delay. These bars were pretty gosh darn delicious when I tasted them freshly baked, but for some reason they tasted even more scrumptious several days later. And I don't think it was because I was tired and starving.

There are raspberry bars and then there are the rich, buttery crust raspberry bars. Some are 'silver platter' status worthy, white others have no real discerning status. In other words, not all bars are created equal. Leave it to Nancy Silverton to set the raspberry 'bar' sky high. Having a perfect buttery crust and streusel topping to raspberry filling ratio, her Breakfast Bars are the bees knees.

If there was ever a raspberry dessert to lessen your craving for or keep you from mourning over the limited availability of the really good fresh raspberries at the farmer's markets or in the grocery stores, it would be these Raspberry Almond Bars.

The streusel topping comes together easily in a food processor. Silverton gives the options of using either pastry flour or all purpose flour. Pastry flour falls somewhere between all-purpose and cake flour on the flour continuum in terms of its' protein content, gluten levels, and baking properties. The slightly higher gluten content of pastry flour creates a kind of elasticity contributing to ensuring the buttery layers of croissants, puff pastry and crusts are held together. If you have pastry flour, use it for the crust as that is where it will make the most difference.

Once the dough for the crust is assembled, it needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. Chilling the dough further contributes to ensuring a flaky crust, reduces shrinkage during the baking process, and makes the dough easier to roll out. If you allow the dough to rest for more than two hours, you may need to allow it rest for 10-15 minutes before rolling as it may be initially 'too' hard to work with. Rather than roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, I like rolling out my dough on a large piece of parchment paper. This makes the process of transferring the dough to the baking pan easier.

In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven the crust is baked for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. After the crust has baked and cooled, the raspberry jam is spread evenly over the bottom of the crust. The addition of sliced almonds is optional only for those of you who don't like or can't eat nuts. For everyone else, consider them a required ingredient. The bars are topped with the chilled streusel topping before going back into the oven for an additional 40 minutes of baking time. You might think you made too much streusel topping. You didn't. Use all of it. You won't be sorry.

After the baked bars have cooled, a light sprinkling of confectionary sugar gives them that bakery finished, irresistible look.

Slice them into either squares or bars. 

Served at room temperature or chilled, these Raspberry Almond Bars are delicious both ways.

Whether you are having a brunch, need to bring a hostess gift, need to contribute something for a bake sale, planning a picnic, want to create a perfect start to a meeting, or just like having fresh baked pastries around, these Raspberry Almond Bars will most likely be what everyone won't be able to stop talking about.

There is a bit of effort going into these Raspberry Almond Bars. While the perception of effort is all relative, there are incredibly rich rewards to be had in the making of them. And who knows, you might even be given a pass for not cleaning your room.

Raspberry Almond Bars (slight adaptation to Nancy Silverton's Breakfast Bars as shared in her Pastries from the LaBrea Bakery cookbook)

Streusel Topping
2 1/2 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and frozen
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

4 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 cups raspberry jam (or 2 jars (13 ounce sized) Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, optional

Confectionary sugar for dusting, optional

Streusel Topping
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pulse to incorporate ingredients.
2. Add butter and pulse on and off until it's the consistency of a coarse meal.
3. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and add the egg. Toss with your hands or a wooden spoon to incorporate. Mixture should be crumbly and uneven.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Dough and Assembly
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, sugars, cornstarch and salt. Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together.
3. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and gently knead to gather into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap to chill until firm (at least 2 hours or overnight). Note: Dough will become very firm if chilled for more than 2 hours. Will need to allow to rest on counter for 10-15 minutes before rolling out.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) and place rack in center of the oven. Line a 10"x16" baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to an 12"x18" inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. Flour surface of dough as needed. (Note: Rolling out dough on a piece of parchment paper makes the process of transferring dough to the pan easier.)
6. Place dough on baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool.
7. Spread jam over the surface of the crust. 
8. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the crust. Note: Almonds are optional but add great flavor and dimension to the bars.
9. Spread a heavy layer of the topping over the jam and almonds. Note: The topping mixture may seem like it is too much. It's not.
10. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.
11. Allow to cool on a baking rack. Sprinkle with confectionary sugar.
12. Cut into squares or bars and serve.
13. Store bars (covered) in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Note: Bars taste delicious chilled as well.

Images from the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. 
Walking through Crepe Myrtle Allee.

The Reflective Garden.

The Koi Fish Pond.

One of several flower and vine houses.

One of several waterfalls in the Lay Family Garden.