Sunday, June 29, 2014

Make It Monday: Lattice pie for the 4th of July

The inspiration for today's pie was propped front and center at the grocery store check-out and it captured myself and two other foodie friends who couldn't resist the cover - we all vowed to give it a try...

However, we were on our second round of summer house guests, a child up through the night with an ear infection, a handful of other incidents and maladies, 8 people in and out of the hot kitchen looking for lunch, and a hungry dog under foot... was there any hope of turning out a pie that looked anything like the picture? I handed the camera to my little helpers and was caught in the heat of the moment looking a little exasperated...


Lucky for me I had some very sweet and understanding helpers on hand.

 Here's what you'll need: 

Honey-Balsamic-Blueberry Pie

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, sliced
  • 6 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening, sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp ice-cold water
  • 7 cups blueberries (we used 4 cups blackberries, 3 cups blueberries for our own twist on this recipe)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
For the complete method for making this amazing pie, go to page 99 of this month's Southern Living magazine. The best part is the balsamic vinegar and black pepper in the filling - really makes the pie unique by taking the overly sweet edge off and giving it a beautiful flavor! There's a great video clip here to help you make the lattice - make sure to watch this before you start the pie (I didn't, and wished I had). There's a real knack to making the lattice, but in the end I think our pie turned out pretty close to the picture even though it bubbled over a bit. This is a fantastic recipe for an absolutely delicious pie! Grab the magazine and give it a try!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

all y'all pickers

I promise this is the last berry picking story (well, this season anyway). I just have to say you really haven't lived until you've spent some time in the fields with a gaggle of kids on a quiet morning... overcast skies, the random call of a bird swooping in to pluck blueberries, the feel of dirt in your toes, and the glorious stain of blackberries oozing into fingertips; the knowing tip of the hat to a fellow picker your Grandmother's age who, alone in her reverie of picking, is sure to go home and bake the pie you can only dream of. 

 This morning I heard "All Y'all, this bush is full of blueberries!" from a few rows over - you know you're in the rows with a true Southerner when you hear that. As if "y'all" isn't enough, adding "all y'all" really drives home the inclusion of everyone in the group like no other expression on earth. I adopted "y'all" once I had twins as it really is the most efficient way of herding a group of kids ( and a nod to my Augusta, Georgia roots) but "all y'all" could take some mulling...  

There is nothing like the taste of fruit from the field picked by the hands of exuberant children taking pride in their finds. Make a date and go!

photos by Kylie Sabine

*dedicated to RTW, Queen peach poacher

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

cannon play

Looking for a great place to cool down in the shade? White Point Gardens is the spot. There is a beautiful breeze off the harbor, lots of shade, grassy spaces to run, and history. We love it all year as a favorite picnic spot...

White Point Garden
2 Murray Blvd.
Charleston, SC 29401

Monday, June 23, 2014

Make It Monday - rhubarb

Do you ever get the question in the grocery store "What are y'all gonna do with that?"... We get that a lot with leeks and kale and parsnips and rhubarb. What can you do with rhubarb? Just what my Mum and her mother and great, great grandmother used to do... stew it and make a crumble or "crisp". What follows came hot from the oven today with the help of my niece and nephew, Cerys (chef) and Caerwyn(photographer). Enjoy! 

We gathered everything we had in the fruit bin... peaches and blueberries from Boone Hall Farms Upick, rhubarb, and apples. Wash everything well and peel the rhubarb. Chop the rhubarb, apples and peaches and simmer in a pot with 3 Tbls strawberry jam and 2 Tbls butter. 

Cook the fruit for 10 minutes. I like to add just a dash of Cointreau...

For the crumble topping, an old English recipe calls for: 120g flour, 60g sugar, and 60g butter as a standard mixture. Mix the flour and sugar together and cut in the butter, then crumble with your fingers. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes until brown. Then sprinkle the cooked crumble mix over the fruit mixture in a pie pan and bake for another 15 minutes until bubbling.

Delicious! Serve with ice cream or cream. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

positive programs for children

A few highlights from one of this summer's positive programs for children - the fantastic summer art camps offered by the Gibbes Museum of Art... happy, happy campers!

With the instruction of artist Kristen Solecki (you have to check out this site offering her work!), this incredibly sweet and talented group worked hard all week to produce some unique animal artwork in many types of media such as pastels and rubbings, pencil and watercolors to name a few. Special thanks to all the artists for sharing their art with Pluff Mud Kids.

There are still a few spots available in the series the week of August 4th. 

Summer Art Camp for Children Ages 4 – 7 and 8 – 12 
June 9-12, June 16-20, June 23-27, July 7-11, July 14-18, Aug 4-8
$175 Museum Members, $200 Non-Members
  • Campers will work with practicing artists and museum teachers, explore the museum’s galleries for inspiration, and create their own fantastic artwork!

  • Classes will be held across from the museum at the Circular Congregational Church. Campers will meet at the Gibbes each morning.

  • Download an application form (PDF).

  • Contact Rebecca Sailor at or 843-722-2706 x41 for more information.
                                  (information provided by Gibbes Museum of Art 2014)

                *all photos provided by Pluff Mud Kids with permission from the Gibbes Museum of Art 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

a gift and pineapple-opoly

We were in need of a quick birthday gift on our way to a birthday party recently. With 10 minutes to spare, we raced over to Barton's Toys in the Shellmore Village shopping center on South Shellmore Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant and found some great choices. We settled on this unique Thinking Putty that's a big hit with kids lately...

It was hard to decide - there are lots of pool/beach games and creative building toys...

The best part for moms is Barton's will wrap your gift up quickly for no extra charge and you're on your way to the party...

They have some inventive games for summer play like Make Your Own Monopoly. You'll need a computer, printer, paper, and some scissors. This is a wonderful activity for kids age 8 to adult - perfect for a rainy summer day as it takes lots of time and creativity. You can even personalize it and give it as a gift because the kit allows you to name the box - ours is called "Pineapple-opoly" for reasons only known to 10 year old boys! (comes with printable labels for your own customized property names and pawns). Very cool.

A great game for endless creativity!

Located at:
708 S Shelmore Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464(843) 723-7419

*sponsored by Barton's Toys

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

each peach - live from Boone Hall Farms Upick

"Do I dare eat a peach?"
-T. S. Elliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Dear reader, in case you hadn't already digested this fact, this is not a trendy or fashionable blog - it's not a blog about me and I am certainly neither of those things. Don't get me wrong, I admire the work of those talented gals who blog about fashion but I'm the last person on earth to consult on the subject. Now if you're looking for practical info like where to park downtown or how to get twins to nap, I'm your girl. On this note... 

The Peaches Are Ready!!! and also Boone Hall Farms U-pick is actually not open until 9am and closes at 5pm - today's earlier post mentioned them opening at 8:30 am, but apparently that doesn't apply yet, though we thought it was already hotter than blue blazes in the fields by 9am this morning. Herewith, a few PMK tips fresh from the fields...

It is hot. Take plenty of water. It's also a great idea to take a bucket of water in the back of the car or this incredible portable shower to wash down after picking. Wear old shoes or flip flops and don't wash your car before heading to the fields! Wear a hat and plenty of sun screen too. Be prepared to be absolutely filthy when you leave (it's OK, it's a good kinda filthy)...

Instruct your little ones to press into each peach gently with their thumb before plucking it as some peaches aren't ready yet and some that are close are fine to pick and can ripen a bit more on the counter at home. One twin was at the Gibbes Museum of Art summer camp this morning while his brother and I had some one-on-one time ( a great thing for twins sometimes)...

Park at the Upick entrance off Hwy 17 and pick up your basket, then drive back to the peach trees along the dirt road. Peaches are $.99 per lb. All the info you need is here on BHF's site

The blueberries and blackberries are ready too!! However, though we did hit the peaches and blueberries today, we were fully cooked by the time we reached the blackberries. Know when to walk away - you can always go back. 
*note how I edited my unfashionable self out of this parting shot, but the nail color is OPI Strawberry Margarita, hehe)...

Happy Picking and thanks to Boone Hall Farms for a great morning in the fields!

Charleston Currents Feature - June 2014

Picking berries and making jam
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents

JUNE 16, 2014 -- One of my boys' long-standing favorite spring/summer activities is picking berries and making jam.
There's something about the whole process of picking and chopping while chatting all the while that makes this an annual challenge to revisit with great expectation -- how many pounds of berries can we pick this year? Continuing the activity at home with the process of jam and preserves making teaches lessons in preserving foods from farm to table. This makes for a rich reward when you sit at your dinner table in the middle of winter eating strawberry jam on ice cream, evoking memories from that year's picks.
From strawberries to blueberries and blackberries, gather some friends and all your strength and hit the fields to preserve the taste of summer for the rest of the year. Here are a few of our favorite tried and true farms for U-pick berries:
Boone Hall Farm U-Pick: Great for strawberries, blackberries , and blueberries. The hours officially are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but they are tending to say 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. now that it is hot in the fields. Enter the site off U.S. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant where you see the tents. Free parking; no entry fee. Directions.
Berries and produce are all priced per pound. Baskets and buckets are provided. Hand sanitizer and water station also are provided for washing up.
  • TIP: If you want to pick all three berries, start with the strawberries and then move to the front field for the blackberries. Then leave your berries at the tent while you drive to the blueberries down the dirt path. The blueberries are the easiest and quickest to pick, so keep an eye on your total weight as it can quickly add up.
  • RECIPE: Black and Blue crumble.
Black River Berries: To get a feel for how prolific the fields are here, check out this post on Black River Berries. Located in Salters about an hour north of Charleston, this roadside farm is my favorite for strawberries. You must take cash with you (pricing depicted on the board on the linked post) and you can keep the buckets they provide. Cooper's Country Store just down the road is a must-see with picnic tables, cold drinks and an ATM for cash if you decide to pick more than you planned for initially!
Ambrose Family Farm: This farm is our pick for a quiet, remote spot for peaceful picking. Be sure to check out the preserves and pickled vegetables at the point of check out. Located on Wadmalaw Island, use the following information from the farm to guide you to this perfect pick for blueberries and blackberries: 2349 Black Pond Lane, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487. Some GPS systems do not recognize this address. (If yours does not recognize Black Pond Lane, use Selkirk Plantation Road, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487.)
It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Call before visiting on Sundays because it's generally closed on most Sundays. Prices: $2.50 per pound for pick-your-own strawberries.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Make It Monday - chipotle chile pork chops on the grill

Although I've been a vegetarian for a very long time, you would never realize it with all the meat that's grilled around here throughout the summer! When my son was 6 years old, he suddenly looked at me with a hard, fixed stare across the dinner table and announced "Mama, I think you're a pescatarian!", in the tone of "You killed Mrs. Peacock in the kitchen with the candlestick." He got it in one. Fish on the grill is my all time favorite, and I'll gladly leave the pork for the rest of the family. These spiced chipotle chops are a big hit around here (season fish too and cook right along side)...

Gather the ingredients above and heat up the grill. Method: For the chutney: melt the butter in a saucepan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the apple and pear and saute for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and all other ingredients and saute. Then bring the chutney to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until fruit is soft, stirring often.

Aidan, age 10, helps create the chutney- always watch children carefully when cooking on the stove and around the grill. 

 Prepare the pork by combining the chipotle with the next four ingredients and shaking the mix in a ziplock bag with the pork chops to coat evenly. We like this brand of Chipotle seasoning - great on fish too.

 Grill and serve with chutney and side dishes.