Good Grief A Beach House

It’s been 3,079 days since I lost my son and two years to the day, I bought a beach house because of a rock. Yes, you read it. A rock, but not just any rock. Seriously, grief makes one do crazy, impulsive things that you never thought you would or could. It’s true. 

If you follow the blog, I suspect you already know the effect the rock had on me, but for the others, let me explain. I believe my son died before he was ready to go and with that keeps a presence here. There wasn’t a day that went by that he did not end a conversation with an “I love you” and thus he continues to show himself to me with an occasional heart sign. I call these moments “whoosh” and along with seeing a heart I feel a squeeze in my chest as if he is hugging me.

So, it was two years ago while on a vacation I happened upon a house just a few doors down from our rental that was for sale. Just for fun, my husband and I took a walk through the house never intending to buy it, but as we were leaving the property there was this rock nestled in the crushed shells of the driveway. I gravitated to it and my husband immediately said, “he wants us to buy this house.” The rest is history.

The beach house has been a large part of the grief journey not only for me, but for my husband. The property is a stunning, peaceful wildlife refuge on one side with gentle ocean waves on the other. Surrounded by nature it’s a birder’s paradise with nesting osprey, herons and eagles plus all the sea creatures one can imagine.

There is also an 8-point buck that hangs out. He is here.

Swayed by emotion? Trust your instincts. Find your refuge.

Fresh Picked Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

IMG_0338

Warm, but overcast, yesterday was the perfect day for strawberry picking with my family. Highland Farms in West Chester, PA is the place to go for all sorts of fruit picking throughout the year. The scent of strawberries was in the air as we approached the field.

IMG_3825

photo by Caitlin

Do your littles watch the show Daniel Tiger? Annabelle loves the animated Mr. Rodgers version and on one episode Daniel and his friends go “fruit-picking”. My Annabelle could not wait to try it. She ate as much as she picked and was covered in warm strawberry juice by the time we were done. Want to have some fun? Go pick some berries!

IMG_3864

photo by Caitlin

Fresh picked berries are at their peak of sweetness compared to the more tart berries found in the grocery store, so less sugar is needed for the perfect pie. Make sure your filling is really bubbling (see video below) before you pull it from the oven to insure all the juices gel and don’t leave a soupy mess when the pie is cut. If the crust edge is over-browning then cover it with a pie shield or foil.

IMG_0316

Find a pie dough recipe here. It’s my favorite go to recipe and enough for a double crust, so wrap and freeze half of it for another time or just bake two pies.

IMG_0332

best baking buddy ever

Fresh Picked Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Pie dough for a single crust pie

2 tablespoons gingersnap crumbs

Crisp Topping

½ cup all purpose flour

¼  cup brown sugar

¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into cubes

Filling

4 cups of fresh picked strawberries, slice large ones in half

2 cups sliced (1/2-inch thick) fresh picked rhubarb

2 tablespons heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup sugar

¼ cup all purpose flour

Heat oven to 400F. Line 9-inch pie plate with dough. Trim and flute edge.  (Roll out dough scraps and cut shapes for decoration. Sprinkle shapes with sugar, if desired.)

Sprinkle cookie crumbs over bottom of pie shell and chill while preparing topping and filling. For topping: combine all ingredients in a bowl working the butter into the dry ingredients until clumps form. Chill it. For Filling: Place berries and rhubarb in a large bowl. Drizzle with heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla; gently toss to coat. Add sugar and flour; toss again. Spoon into pie shell. Sprinkle crisp mixture over the top. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until pie is bubbling and crust and topping are golden brown. Let cool to room temperature or serve just slightly warm. 

 

 

A Visit with Revittle

fullsizeoutput_54b9

Continuing to move through this month with some Good Grief activities to take my mind off things I invited my husband to join me in taking a food judges’ class sponsored by the Steak Cookoff Association. Bill is my chief taste tester and having him always support my cooking adventures and antics with enthusiasm has been a blessing. Driving 2 1/2 hours to the western part of the state would take us through Harrisburg which sparked a brilliant thought to visit an on-line cheese shop known as Revittle.

fullsizeoutput_54dd

Revittle came to my attention through a “Best of” Philadelphia Magazine food piece. The article highlighted the best pizza in America made with a Pennsylvania sourced gouda cheese and a cheesesteak made “wit” another local farmer’s cheese. Always looking to try the best of anything in and around here I learned these artisan cheeses are only available through Revittle whose address just happens to be Harrisburg. I was hoping they had a brick and mortar store where I could sample and buy.

fullsizeoutput_54e4

Otterbein Acres Shepherd’s Delight

An email exchange with the owner, Mark Zimmerman, revealed no physical store, but he enthusiastically invited Bill and I to his beautiful office in an old historic building on the river to sample some cheese and cured meats along with his business partner, Tim Pianka. While all the bites were quite delicious, Shepherd’s Delight was hands-down my favorite. How could one not love a cheese whose shepherd grazes his sheep only on the youngest grass? What a labor of love herding the animals from acre to acre seeking that green sweetness. Well aged, salty and sweet this Tomme style cheese is totally addicting.

fullsizeoutput_54ef

Food people are the most welcoming generous kind. Bill and I quickly felt at home with Mark and Tim as they relayed the story of how Revittle came about. Each bite of their delicious products included interesting tid-bits of their close-knit relationships with local farmers and chefs. Sharing with us was a real gift.

“Revittle was started on the principle of working with the best artisanal producers. Let us introduce you to the families who take pride in the quality of their products. Together, we put healthy, regionally produced foods and wines on your table.”

IMG_1411

Cheese boards and charcuterie seem all the rage these days. Whether offered as an appetizer or a dessert who doesn’t love an array of farm fresh goodness accompanied by sweet and tangy condiments and crispy crackers? Arranging a cheese board is an art I have yet to master, but that won’t stop me from enjoying the delightful contrasts in tastes and textures and layers of flavors offered from local farmers.

As luck would have it Bill and I were invited to visit and sample an Ah-mazing line up of award winning Pennsylvania farm cheeses and Charcutiere/ Cured Meats with Mark and Tim. We are friends now and I have nothing, but gratitude for our chance meeting. Check out Revittle on their web site to see their array of locally sourced and might I add reasonably priced products. Bonus: use the promo code GOODGRIEFCOOK to receive 20% off your purchase. I gain nothing from your purchase. I’m just here to tell you about great products from really nice people.

oops forgot to mention….if anyone wants to buy and share that 11 pound Gigi brand whole prosciutto…I am in!