Thursday, November 6, 2014

Life in Paradise

Every time I talk to my friend Joe now, he asks me "How's life in Paradise?"...and while I can hardly claim that life in Penland, NC is totally without its trials and tribulations, it's probably as close to heaven on earth as I'm going to get.

It's kind of nice having this view a few hundred yards from my front door...

This is my new studio space in Gay Smith's studio.

And some pottery in progress...

I found a little button tumor on Tristan's chest in October...and had it taken off (it turned out to be benign), but it meant he had to wear clothes for a week or so to keep his stitches clean.  I present "Hipster Corgi". (I couldn't find Converses in his size.)

A week later we got the first snow of the year, so we had a frolic on the Knoll...I think the green was more his color.

We only got a little over an inch, but it looked nice coming down...

One of the joys of being up here is house sitting for people with awesome collections of handmade pottery and in point, tonight's dinner: note the Ruggles and Rankin bowl containing my salad.

I haven't put a recipe on here in a while, so here's the original version of tonight's salad:

Starfruit Persimmon and Fennel Salad

I made this a lot last Fall in Florida- I could get most of the ingredients from the produce section of the flea market for about 5 bucks. Serves 3-4

Hazelnut Praline Topping

1/2 cup Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

2 tbs Unsalted Butter

1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar


First put a sheet of waxed paper on a baking sheet. Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan over medium heat.  When you are just starting to smell the nuts toasting, add the butter.  Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and a little water, no more than 1/2 teaspoon, just enough to start the sugar melting.  Cook the mixture for another 2-3 min, stirring constantly, as the sugar caramelizes a little- don't let it scorch.  Remove from heat and spread out on the waxed paper.  Set aside to cool while you prep the rest of the salad.


1 large head Green Oak Leaf Lettuce, trimmed and torn in bite size pieces

2 crunchy Persimmons, halved and sliced (Make sure you get the flatter Asian variety that is intended to be eaten in the less ripe, more crunchy state- the American variety, and some Asian varieties are intended to get so ripe as to be transparent -looking spoiled!- and even undergo a hard freeze before they're eatable.  If you're unsure, cut yourself a slice first, and touch it on your tongue- if it's under-ripe it's very dry and puckery feeling.)

2 medium Starfruit, cut in 1/4 inch slices, discard ends and remove seeds

1 head Fennel, remove the green stems, remove the core and slice in 1/8 inch thick slices

1/3 cup shaved Asiago, use a potato peeler to make thick shavings, then lightly crumble

Hazelnut Topping
 Set aside a few choice pieces of the fruit and fennel for garnish, then toss the lettuce with the rest of the persimmon, starfruit and fennel in a large serving bowl.  Turn the cooled hazelnuts out on a cutting board and coarsely chop.  Set a healthy tablespoon each of the hazelnut praline and the cheese aside for garnish, and then toss the rest with the salad.  Garnish first with the reserved fruit and fennel, then the reserved cheese and hazelnuts.


1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 tbs Rice Vinegar

1 1/2 tbs White Wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)

1/2 tbs Honey (I use Orange Blossom)
Mix until the honey is dissolved.  This can be passed at the table, or tossed with the salad just before adding the garnish.

Here’s a view of the Toll House in the snow.  Note the red fire hose box is no longer there.

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