Archive for August, 2016

What stuff?  And who is Dave?  And so begins my tale of a Tuesday night road trip to the booming metropolis of Lincoln, Illinois (population 14,000). Home to the beautiful Logan County Courthouse built in 1905, Lincoln was the first city named after Abraham Lincoln before he was elected President (they must have been feeling lucky).  And why was I venturing out on this sultry, humid evening?  Not because I wanted to purchase Black Velvet coffee at By the Bean or because I wanted to try the sauce at Guzzardos’s Italian Villa, but because I was meeting a guy to pick up the stuff.

We met on the square.  Ate lasagna and eggplant parm.  Walked out the back door. Ducked down when the 40’s Ford Deluxe drove by (just in case). And then made the hand-off as twilight descended.

The guy ⇒ my brother, aka “The Stinger”
The stuff ⇒ fresh from the hive honey

As a newly christened beekeeper, my brother collected his first, 20 lb batch of honey from two hives (population 40,000).  I was pick-up and delivery for the Peoria “syndicate” (there was a lot of excitement). This will be the only honey harvested since it’s the first year, the hives are still developing, and the bees need food for the Winter.  A quick taste when I got home (safe and sound) presented a rich, smooth, and slightly lemon-y flavor that will be perfect with goat cheese and maybe a date or two.

As for “The Stinger”, he drove back to D-town to double check nobody had messed with his remaining stuff … it won’t be pretty if they have.

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Guzzardos’s Italian Villa
509 Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL
(217) 732-6370
*Been around for 50 years – located on the square through the Arcade. Enter by the back door off the patio (there really is no front door).  It will seem like you’re going into the kitchen, but just head up the stairs.  Known for their prime rib.  The Pizza, Lasagna, and Eggplant Parmesan were all great comfort food in large portions.  Loved the full salad bar with kidney bean salad.

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lemon3It’s still hot, the mosquitoes are fierce, and the cicadas are loud, but Summer is winding down.  It’s always a bittersweet time, and even more so this go around, with the start of an eighth grade graduation year.  A recent back-to-school barbecue saw misty eyes and a few “remember when’s” from parents who suddenly realized they’d hit a milestone; a point of no return both exhilarating and crushing.  With the perfect combination of tart lemon, sweet strawberries and a delicate pink frosting, I thought Strawberry Lemonade Sugar Cookies would be the perfect antidote to soothe the parents and delight the kids.  A bit old-fashioned, these cookies seem to hearken back to a simpler, younger time when picture books and a wagon were king and queen and a stone pedestal near the garden was the perfect perch for a tea party.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemonade Sugar Cookies
*I made a few tweaks to the recipe adding additional lemon zest to the sugar reserved for pressing the dough and adding a bit of the lemon sugar to the strawberries before crushing for the frosting.

butterflyThanks JMM for the recipe and my grown up girl for the photos and the helping hand!

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pie_HMI have a chalk board I made out of an old frame that says “New Beginnings” at the moment.  It’s a rotating message board reflecting whatever pops into my head when I feel it needs to be changed. I simply open my mind and voila. It’s become a barometer of my life at any given time. New. Stress. Beginning. Stress. That makes perfect sense to me.  Change seems to be all around me at the moment. I try to control things by giving it a time frame of today or after next week or ’til things settle down … but really things change all the time; every day, every hour. And my crazy need to be in control and corral all that change leads to stress (I’m pretty sure someone really smart and insightful came to that conclusion before me). The shadow of excitement and anticipation briefly appears but is quickly swamped by the dark clouds of anxiety and fear.  What does this all have to do with pie you may be thinking?  Well, David Mamet said it best in the title of this post … and I took his advice. If you haven’t been to Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Evanston (or Chicago) it’s a great place for perspective … and pie.  I met my long-time high school and college friend there recently, who is incidentally going through her own major life change, to re-connect and de-stress.  It wasn’t an intentional choice of venue but, like opening my mind for chalk board sayings, it just came to me.  What is more comforting and re-assuring and instills a feeling like the warm breath of your Mama than pie.  Apple raspberry and blueberry were our choices out of about 8-10 available that day and close to 40 options available to order online (sorry, only pick-up. no delivery). If you don’t feel sweet, try a savory option instead.  The Evanston location is paired with Dollop Coffee & Tea Co. so you can get a decent cup ‘o joe too.  Swapping stories and sharing concerns and memories with a friend over pie is living in the moment even if that moment is full of great uncertainty … and you’d rather be hiding in the closet.  Take a breath and eat a piece of pie. Ahhh.

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Thanks to EJM for the photos!

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