Contact!

I realized that the Glover Gardens blog was missing something: you!

I’ve added a contact form for your feedback: click here or in the menu above.

feedback

And another for your ideas, guest blogger pitches and stories of your own Ferris wheel of life; click here or in the menu above.

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Kim of Glover Gardens on the Ferris Wheel of Life

I’d love to hear from you!

© 2018 Glover Gardens

2017 in Glover Gardens: Looking Back to Look Ahead

It seems like yesterday that I was creating this post, Happy New Year! and looking ahead to 2017, and now here we are again, at the brink of yet another new year. I look forward to sharing and connecting with you all in 2018 via the Glover Gardens blog, and looking back at what you liked here in 2017 is giving me some ideas for the days ahead.

Popular Posts and Themes from 2017

You Read My Heartfelt Poems

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My brother Steve

The #1 post, by far, was My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light.  The poem honors my brother, who left us in 2013. It was hard to write and share this, and yet so cathartic and restorative. Your response uplifted me.

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Dad and me in 1970

Four other poems were in the top posts of 2017, two of which reflect the unexpected loss of my Dad: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) and memory-honey (another poem for Dad) .

I was so grateful that I wrote this one about my childhood while Dad was still with us, and he commented on it: my days by the water.

Haiku for My Dad was a Father’s Day tribute to him just three days before he died. What a gift we had, Dad and me; when my husband took the early morning phone call that Dad had died and conveyed it to me, my response was: “I’m ok, we had no unfinished business.” I didn’t remember saying that until he reminded me later, but it is so true, and I am so incredibly blessed by the honesty and mutual regard of our relationship. And its awesome that you read my raw writings that tried to express this incredible blessing, and found some value in it.

Hurricane Harvey Captivated You

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AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The #2 and #4 posts in 2017 were about Hurricane Harvey: Houston is Paralyzed by Flooding and How You Can Help Texas Right Now.  You were interested in what was going on down here in the wetlands. And you didn’t just read the posts, you went to sites where you could help – there were 62 click-throughs on links I shared for donating to help Texas recover from Harvey, from the food bank to animal shelters to the Red Cross and the fund created by Houston Texas JJ Watts.  Thank you; we are grateful for your empathy and support. Harvey was horrific for Houston.

You Shared My Travel and Restaurant Experiences

Two of the posts in the top five in 2017 were essentially restaurant reviews, a retelling of amazing meals that I had while traveling.

Edinburgh’s Hipster Food Court and the Butcher Bad Boy Burger was the #3 post.

Butcher Boy Burger

Close behind at #5 was Comfort Food Alert: The “Best Gratin in Paris” (or maybe anywhere).

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Amazing Gratin at Bistro des Augustins in Paris

Another restaurant outing that was quite popular with blog readers was Simple Dishes: Venison Casserole at the The Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh.

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fullsizerender-3I did a series of posts looking ahead to a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and two were in the most-read category: New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas) and New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Bayona is a Foodie’s Delight.

A haiku celebrating a marvelous cemetery in London also caught your interest: Haiku for Highgate Cemetery.

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The final travel-related post that piqued your interest was our September 30 experience in Colorado, Blizzard on a Train!

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You are Interested in Stories about Our Next-Gen Family Members

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Photo by Mallory Frenza

Our kids were featured in a couple of top-viewed posts. Our Milennial Musician and one of his original compositions is the subject of this one: A Little (More) Music for a Sunday Evening. (Another of his compositions was the subject of the #1 post last year: A Little Music for a Sunday Evening.)

Our other milennial, The Best Eater, got married this year to The Girl Who is Always Hungry, and you liked this post about the newlyweds a lot: Our Next-Gen Couple (Now Married!) and Their Glover Gardens Aliases.

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Photo by Dreamy Elk Photography

Three Recipes Make the Top 20 Posts

I posted lots of recipes in 2017, and these three were the most popular.

Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread was a post that originated with a friend’s Facebook post of a picture of his Mom’s meaty cornbread.

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The Chipotle Chicken Salad recipe is something I’ve been making for years but hadn’t documented until now.

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I like to experiment and create new recipes, and this one caught your interest this year: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.

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I Like Taking Requests – and You Like Reading the Results

One of my readers asked how to make an antipasto platter, so I answered with a post about it and included a long reminiscence about my Mom’s approach to antipasto.  I loved getting the request, and you liked the post enough to make it the 12th most viewed in Glover Gardens in 2017: Antipasto Advice from Mom and Great Tastes from the Texas Coast.

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My Mom and me in her kitchen, waaaay back when

A New Name

As I hit the 2-year anniversary of the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog earlier this year, I realized that I was talking about much more than just recipes, my original intent.  I asked your opinion about the name of the blog in What’s In a Name? Seeking Your Input.  You gave me great feedback, and one of the suggestions was simply to call it Glover Gardens.  A couple of months ago, I made this change with no fanfare, and changed the tag line to reflect the multifaceted nature of the topics.

What’s Next? Authenticity, Curiosity, Empathy

I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions these days because I don’t really believe in them, but I do want to move in these directions in my life in general, hopefully reflected in the blog:

  • to be courageous and speak more with my own authentic voice, as I did with the poem about my brother’s suicide.
  • to be more in-the-moment-mindful and curious about the world – and to share what I learn.
  • to listen more and practice “cognitive empathy”; to truly understand others and learn from their truths.

You Matter to Me

I have learned a great deal in 2017 through my interactions in this blog, spanning a huge spectrum. You validated my beliefs and ideas and added context and color to them. You challenged me and provided a different lens for viewing life and love of all kinds. You gave me interesting perspectives on photography, travel, spices, recipes, mindfulness and your own challenges. I am inspired by you!

The Collective Muse

Although I started the blog to capture my recipes for our sons and their (eventual) families, I actually thought my muse for this blog was my Dad. Then he died. He died. He died. He died. I probably haven’t accepted that – he died.

I wrote about Dad being my muse and losing him: Mourning the Loss of My Father and Muse.  Especially during his last year when he had a mysterious illness, I wrote most of my posts hoping to inspire Dad and ignite him.

Reality: Dad died. I have to have a different muse. What a hard truth to absorb.

I kept on writing.

Maybe I’m my own muse? Maybe the muse is this vast expanse of strangers who read, and “like” and comment?

I kept on writing.

IMG_2025I wrote about Dad. Here’s one: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) . If you read this, you’ll understand me.

I wrote about Mom. Here’s one: Labor Day: Cherries and Empathy at the BeachThe Real Nancy (1)

I wrote about Steve: Looking Back and Finding Joy: Happy 51st, Dear Brotherfullsizeoutput_1a25

I wrote about death, and loss, and grieving.

I wrote about joy. I wrote about frustration. I wrote about travel, the world and food. I created haiku for silly things, and profound happenings. I shared recipes.

I kept on writing. You listened.

A marvelous thing happened. One of my nieces said, “I read every one of your posts, and if I’m with my friends, I read them out loud.” She mentioned a specific post about her Dad (my brother) and referenced a phrase or two from it. Oh. My. Gosh. She’s a living, breathing muse. She is part of me, and someone I can write these memories for. So are my other family members.

And, in addition, so many of you reached out. You said that you had lost a loved one and felt something similar, or you liked a silly haiku I wrote, or a recipe looked delicious, or a family memory stirred an emotion. You shared an approach for editing a photo, or using a special spice in a recipe, or a trick you use to stay sane in a crazy world. You empathized with me. You cared.

I kept on writing. You let me know you were reading, and you became my muse / the source of my inspiration. My family, my friends, my special set of strangers – you are my muse and inspiration. Thank you. Here’s to a great 2018!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

 

Glover Gardens Holiday Menu Classics

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We’re without the next-gen here at Glover Gardens on Christmas Day 2017, so we’re throwing tradition to the wind and going out to a restaurant. Turkeys will not bake, smoke or fry here. Rolls will not rise, cranberries will not pop-pop-pop, and gravy will not be de-lumped.  None of our prized sides will compete for best in show on heavy-laden plates. Our collection of Christmas salt and pepper shakers will not adorn an over-decorated holiday table (for context, see our post Setting a Beautiful Table – Whimsical Christmas) . SIGH.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy our recipes at your own holiday table! Here is a Glover Gardens holiday recipe compendium, starting with breakfast.

Celebrate the Day!

Make-ahead is the name of the game with the one-two punch of Scotch Eggs and Sweet Potato biscuits for breakfast on Christmas morning.  Find the recipes and their stories here: Found (and edited) Recipe: Scotch Eggs and Sweet Potato Biscuits: Family History, Love on a Plate.

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Sweet Potato Biscuits
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Scotch Eggs with Sweet Potato Biscuits
Together, a perfect (and easy) Christmas breakfast

Or you can make one of our breakfast casseroles; see Breakfast Club Casseroles: Ham & Green Chilé Strata and Broccoli & Mushroom Frittata.

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Our millennials can make a mean breakfast quiche, which would be great on Christmas morning: What’s for Breakfast? Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella, and Spinach Quiche.

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Hors d’Oeuvres

We’ve made the mistake in past years of having too many appetizers and getting full by turkey time, but the one appetizer we always have on holidays is house-made smoked salmon.  Get the recipe here: Tom’s Smoked Salmon.

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This salmon makes a welcome appearance for parties and holiday meals at Glover Gardens.

Another very simple and incredibly beautiful appetizer is the Rosemary Wreath. Read about it here: Rosemary Wreath Appetizer Platter .

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The Main Event

We usually have two turkeys to ensure plenty of leftovers (turkey gumbo is the best!) and have tried a variety of recipes in the past.  The Grill-Meister will do one outside (usually smoked) and I’ll go the baked route.  For several years, I’ve used the spatchcocking approach, and the turkey is always very moist. Spatchcocking maximizes the skin surface for that crispy goodness and enables the turkey to cook more evenly than as a whole bird; read about it here: Spatchcocked Turkey. Say What?

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If you’re thinking of frying a turkey for the first time, check out this recipe for a great set of instructions with a focus on safety: Found Recipe: Alton Brown’s Deep-Fried Turkey

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Savory Sides

For me, the side dishes are as important as the main course. We have our favorites; I’ve recently waxed poetic about our creamed corn: Best Creamed Corn Ever – Handed-Down and Upgraded Scratch Recipe from My Dad and Grandmother.

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233408Another recipe that uses corn is one that I found in a magazine: Food Magazine Treasures: Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding . This recipe is a little off the beaten path for holiday dinners, but if you’re in the Southwest, anything goes, chili pepper-wise. I sneak this dish onto our holiday table about every three years, and someone (usually the Grill-Meister) says. “why don’t we have this more often?”

And then there’s the squash.  I love all kinds of squash and am on a mission to get the Grill-Meister to tolerate it. A super-simple holiday side dish is here: Simple Autumn Side: Baked Acorn Squash.

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Or you can go the soup and salad route, with Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with a Hint of Cumin and Warm and Yummy First Course: Toasted Goat Cheese Salad .

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Butternut squash makes a creamy, comforting cool-weather soup
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Toasted Goat Cheese Salad is festive enough for a holiday meal

Brussels sprouts are in the “love ’em or hate ’em” category, but I’m definitely in the  “love ’em” camp. If you’re with me, try this stellar treatment: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.

Or if you are a sweet potato aficionado, how about this: Found Recipe – A New Holiday Sweet Potato Favorite.  These individual sweet potato goodies are a big hit, and straddle the savory / sweet taste market perfectly.fullsizeoutput_360

Another great savory side, and an alternative to the ubiquitous mashed potato, is our rosemary-roasted potatoes, AKA Simple Potatoes, Yummy Crunchy Goodness. 

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Rosemary-roasted potatoes are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside

Breads

I just published the Mema Rolls recipe, finally! This is THE BOMB if you are in need of a homemade bread solution for your holiday meal.

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Last Call: Sweets

The Grill-Meister can also bake, and he made this marvelous pie from Southern Living a few years ago (I’m campaigning for it to appear again this year): Food Magazine Treasures: Salted-Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie.

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Pecan Pie at Glover Gardens
This pie is every bit as delicious as it looks.

I’m not really a baker, but I make cookies during the holidays, mostly at my mother-in-law’s request. This is her favorite recipe: Raspberry-Nut Christmas Bars.

Our go-to favorite in the cookie department at any time of year is the Glover Gardens Comfort Cookies, a version of the Cowboy Cookie (just call it an Everything Cookie). I just made a huge batch for our Musical Millennial, who is home from college and had a passel of friends over…not a morsel was left.

December 28th is “Christmas”

Don’t feel too sorry for us for doing that restaurant outing on Christmas Day; we’ll get our millennials back on Dec. 28th and will have our big family celebration then. Some of these Glover Gardens classics will be on the menu, and if there’s anything new, we’ll be sure to share it.

Best Wishes

Peace, goodwill and happy holidays to you and yours, whatever joyous occasion you celebrate. Ours is Christmas.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

The Yard Misses You! (says the Grill-Meister)

When I travel, the Grill-Meister keeps me posted on happenings at home. I love it when he sends flower photos – they make me feel so connected to Glover Gardens. This week was no exception.  I was in Washington, where it was cold and rainy all week (although I was almost never outside because I was attending a conference), and these pics with the Grill-Meister’s cheery messages provided all the sunshine I needed.

“Frank-biscus is showing off!” (The hibiscus below is named after my Dad; see Death is Life-Affirming: Hibiscus Haiku).

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“….So is Mahogany Splendor aka Hollywood Video….” (The Grill-Meister gives nicknames to many things, and calls this unusual hibiscus with the red foliage and velvety maroon flowers Hollywood Video.)

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“And Yuletide Camellia sez ‘Don’t Forget About Me!'” (This winter beauty is blooming early this year.)

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I love how the Grill-Meister’s shadow is in the photo above, and how he keeps me grounded in the flora of Glover Gardens when I’m away.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Mother Nature Does Her Stuff

Going straight from vacation at Little House in the Rockies to work in Europe (I’m not complaining!), I was a little worried about the patio-side plants at Glover Gardens.

The Grill-Meister got home late last night from the post-vacation flight as my flight to Europe was about halfway there. My nagging met him before he landed: “Plants OK?”

A dutiful husband, he not only reassured me, but also sent a picture. The message?

Mother Nature watered your plants for me. Look at all that blue….plumbago looking awesome!”

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Life is good.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Who Wants to Cook on Friday Night? Not Me!

Who wants to cook on Friday night?  Not me!

At the end of a challenging and productive week at work, I want to be pampered at a restaurant or to have something super-easy at home.

That’s where our Family Smorgasbord comes into play.  Here’s what we had for dinner last Friday night, just the Grill-Meister and me.

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It’s a selection of cheeses from our local farmers’ market, some fresh fruit and veggie with a couple of dips we had on hand (also from the farmers’ market), sliced meats and olives.

The “Recipes”

The only “cooking” was assembly of canapés from stuff we had lying around, liberally seasoned with freshly ground pepper:

  • leftover cornbread adorned with horseradish sauce, roast beef, red onions and parsley
  • leftover cucumber slices from a salad earlier in the week, spread with harissa and topped with sliced fresh jalapeños
  • hummus packed into celery bites sprinkled with a spicy olive/garlic/bell pepper garnish (like olive salad)

Easy-peasy!

A Great Way to Spend Friday Evening

The Grill-Meister wanted red wine and I was in the mood for white, so we threw caution to the wind and opened them both (don’t judge, it was Friday).  Sipping wine and enjoying a throw-together smorgasbord meal while reviewing The Week That Was and The Weekend to Come is a great way to spend a Friday evening – who wants to spend it in the kitchen?  And of course we didn’t eat all that cheese, paving the way for another smorgasbord soon, maybe even this Friday.

What will you be doing for dinner this Friday night?

Family Smorgasbord Night – No Cooking, Just Bonding

For more about our favorite Friday night no-cook, easy-peasy approach, see the original post below.  Click here for the story, including the history of smorgasbord.

Smorgasbord at the Game Room Bar
Smorgasbord at the Game Room Bar

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Spicy-Sweet Honey Chipotle Pork Spareribs

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You’ll need a lot of paper towels with these ribs, but they’re worth it!

If you’re like me and have never tried ribs before, and, also like me, perhaps a bit intimidated by the vague feeling that you have to smoke them for hours and they still might come out tough, this is the recipe for you!

I rolled up my sleeves one rainy Saturday afternoon and pulled together this ribs recipe when the Grill-Meister was out playing dominos with his friends. Then I surprised him with them when he got home.  Score!

Succulent and fall-off-the-bone-tender with just the right balance of spicy-sweet and piquant, these ribs take their ‘cue (pun intended!) from the spicy rub they get before baking and a last-minute swab of homemade sauce before a quick char on the grill.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

Rub

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This is the brand of ancho chile I use
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp ancho or chipotle chilé powder (use paprika if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Ribs

2 racks St. Louis style pork spareribs, 2 1/2 – 3 lbs each

Honey-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

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    Chipotle is really important in this sauce

    2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped chipotle peppers and sauce
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 2 tbsp of the spice rub

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 300. In a small mixing bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Set aside 2 tbsp of the spice rub to use in the sauce, and then rub the ribs generously with the mixture.

Wrap each rack of ribs in heavy duty foil, sealing completely.  Place seam side up on a pan or cookie sheet with a decent-sized lip.  Bake for 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce by putting all ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan,  heating to a boil and then reducing to a simmer.  Cook at a simmer until reduced and thickened.

When the ribs have 20 minutes left to bake, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.  When 2 1/2 hours have elapsed, remove the ribs from the oven and carefully undo the foil around the ribs, being cautious about steam and very hot pan juice.  Place the ribs on a different cookie sheet or platter and reserve the pan juice for another use (I like to use it to make stock with the rib bones).

Take the ribs outside to your barbecue, slather the sauce on one side and place on the grill, sauce side down.  You may have to be very gentle with the ribs, because they will be very tender and may want to fall apart.  Slather the sauce again on the top side just after you place the ribs on the grill.  Sear on each side for 4-5 minutes until there’s a nice char, then remove them.  Place on a cutting board and cut between the bones.  Serve with extra sauce on the side.

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The finished product is great with a cool, crisp, chipotle-fennel slaw
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Ingredients for the spice rub
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I made a double batch; the spice rub is good on other meats and fish
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Generously rub each rack with the spice mix
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Seal tightly and place in a pan with a lip
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Make the sauce while the ribs are baking
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After baking, before the grill
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After the final quick char
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Super-tender, super-good!
Honey-Chipotle Ribs with Chipotle-Fennel Slaw
The finished product

These ribs are so good with just a quick slaw. I created a complementary Chipotle-Fennel Slaw when I made the ribs a couple of weeks ago and will publish that recipe soon. And until then, here’s a Pepper Jelly Slaw.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

A Glover Gardens Follower Shares: “Summer Days” Cocktail

I love it when you make my recipes!

A Glover Gardens Cookbook follower – a great gal pal from Glasgow – recently tried the Warm and Yummy First Course: Toasted Goat Cheese Salad recipe from the Glover Gardens Cookbook.

I love it double when you share a photo!

She did a great job with the recipe and posted a photo on the Glover Gardens Cookbook Facebook page.  She said, “Had a wonderful toasted goats cheese salad last night. Thanks for the recipe. First time ever trying panko…very nice.”

Nice, indeed!  Look at that beautifully plated Toasted Goat Cheese Salad.

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I love it mucho grande when you share recipes, too!

She went on, “While prepping my salad I had a wonderful cocktail called….Summer Days.  I know you’ll love it.”

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Summer Days Recipe from My Glasgow Gal Pal

One measure each of vodka, peach schnapps and midori, shaken with three to four measures fresh orange juice. Pour into a chilled glass and add a measure of grenadine.


One more thing I love:  cocktail recipes in “parts” or “measures” as above.  You can easily multiply them to fit the number of guests, or just make one to accompany your salad preparation.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook, with all photo credits and the recipe to Anne of Glasgow

What’s In a Name? Seeking Your Input

db1d01dca5fad07dd24838da79f66cf3Did you ever start out to do a thing, and then it evolved into a different thing?  A second thing that resembled, honored and took strength and identify from the first thing, but in the end, became its own new thing?

That’s what has happened to the Glover Gardens Cookbook.  I set out to capture recipes for my family (see About, if you’re really interested).  But then, I realized that the stories around the recipes were equally important and should be shared, too, as in Sweet Potato Biscuits: Family History, Love on a Plate.  And since I have this platform, why not share my amateur poetry and the almost daily haiku that pops into my head like random mice in a field? And travel stories, and the seemingly almost daily musical compositions that pop into my son’s head like lilies in a field? And speaking of lilies, how could I not share the amazingness of nature and the world that surrounds me, here at Glover Gardens, northwest at Little House in the Rockies, and everywhere I travel?

I talked about some of this in my blog’s second anniversary post earlier this month, with the wonderful quote from Emile Zola: “I am here to live out loud!” And now, it’s time to take action.  I think.  Maybe.  Because I’m not sure that the content of the Glover Gardens Cookbook matches its name, although I remain very committed to capturing and sharing recipes, and still plan to publish that cookbook one day.  But the blog is now more like a collection of stuff you’d find in the Life section of a publication than a cookbook.

6e000ec02c7c93eef58146bcb1c63682So I’m curious to know what you think:  Does the Glover Gardens Cookbook need a new name?

All ye who have encouraged me, the post-likers and blog followers and casual lurkers and friends, I’d love to hear from you in the poll below, in which I’ve collected a few possible new names. I’m hoping to get some new ideas from you, as well, either in the post comments or the Other choice in the poll.

Thank you!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook.  Featured image photo credits to stephrobbins.com.