Summer’s End


West Beach, Whidbey Island, WA.


Washington Park, Anacortes, WA.


Driving through the Skagit Valley always pulls at my heart. There is nothing like it.

We just returned from a trip to visit family and friends in the Pacific Northwest. We quickly made up for our usual lack of fresh seafood while living in middle Tennessee, right from the get-go and procured a few other of our favorite PNW treats…

Photo 7-Seafood

Photo 8-Food

And in Seattle, our friend Steve took us out on his boat where we feasted on a picnic of freshly caught and steamed crab, local cheeses, and fresh fruit- while getting one of the best views of the city, in my opinion. I find the real working parts of the city to be the most beautiful.


Nautical Men!

from the Boat

Our friend Kathy had a little birthday cook-out for her husband Chris and we were thrilled to be able to help celebrate. She created a few new simple recipes that I fell in love with. She came up with a few gems and with her permission, I am sharing them here. Her cooking methods are similar to ours in that she doesn’t usually follow recipes or measure ingredients so the measurements are a little of a guess but both seem hard to screw up, just taste along the way and adjust to suit yourself.


Why, yes, that IS a Paul Stanley birthday cake!

Kalamata Fig

Kalamata Fig Spread
1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives
1/2-3/4 cup Bonne Maman Fig Preserves (3/4 c will make it sweeter, 1/2 c less figgy and more savory)

Blend together in a food processor, that’s it! Serve with bread or crackers. Rosemary makes a good garnish for it. It is excellent with goat cheese!

And what to do with all those jalapenos from the garden and the leftover watermelon in the fridge? Well, this sangria Kathy came up with was super delicious and made for a fun, festive cook-out beverage!

Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon Jalapeno Sangria
4 cups(ish) cubed Watermelon
1 medium seeded Jalepeno, diced fine
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Lime Juice
1 bottle dry Rose wine
1/2-3/4 bottle slightly Sparkling White Wine, like a Vinho Verde
1 cup Sparkling Water

Combine all ingredients together and then enjoy! Ahhh… so refreshing, with a hint of spice!

This next recipe came about from a few different inspirations. One, I was trying to think of another party recipe to include in this post. Secondly, as I was thinking about our trip, I was reminded of the excellent dinner we shared with dear friends Tim, Kelly, & Sully at their home. We hadn’t made a kale salad for ourselves in quite awhile. They served an excellent one with corn on the cob and grilled chicken. It was so beautiful.


Kale Salad

And the third inspiration for this next recipe is our friend and neighbor, Melissa, who has an amazing back yard garden. I stopped by to take some photos for her last week and in return she made me dinner (with the excellent company of Melissa and her husband “Pank”) and sent me home with 2 bags of produce. I felt a little guilty as I surely came out on top of that barder. In one of the bags was a big bunch of kale!


I also used some cheese I picked up in Seattle and brought back with us. It is a parmesan style made by Beechers. Any parmesan-like cheese will work.

Beechers Brad's Parm

Made in Seattle, Brad’s Parmesan is a good salad topper.

Lemon Kale Dip
1 small bunch Kale
Sea Salt
Lemon Zest of ½ Lemon
Lemon Juice of ¼ Lemon
1-2 cloves Garlic
8 oz Neufchatel Cheese
½ – 1 cup Greek Yogurt
¼ cup finely grated firm Italian-style cheese
Black Pepper
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley
1 Tbsp fresh Basil
2 tsp fresh Oregano

Remove the hard middle stems from the kale leaves. Clean and dry kale leaves. Sprinkle the leaves with a little sea salt and squeeze the lemon over. Zest the lemon on top. Gently massage the leaves with your fingers and let sit while you mix all the other ingredients together in a food processor. Start by adding ½ cup yogurt and later you can gradually add in more, if needed. Chop up the kale finely and add to the mixture. Add more yogurt if necessary for desired thickness. Chill for a little while. Serve with Pretzel Chips.

Photo 16-Kale Spread

I can’t stop thinking about Otis Gibbs‘ music this week. Last week, we went to his album release at the world famous Station Inn! Otis has been playing music and writing songs for a long time. He tours all over but, he very rarely plays in Nashville. It was a real treat to hear him play with a full band.

Otis' Album Release

I snagged this poor quality, quick, cell phone photo before we were encouraged to put our electronics away and be there in person, together!

Otis is a great story teller and this new cd is a wonderful collection of new songs. Each one sounds like a soon-to-be favorite. This new album is sure to be one of those that just gets better and better with each listen, too.

Amy & Otis

Amy Lashley, Russell, and Otis Gibbs. The Red Barn Round-Up, April 2013.

Here’s a video for one of my favorite new songs, The Darker Side of Me.

You can purchase the new album on his website, here, and while you are there be sure to check out Amy Lashley’s page, Otis’ photographs (if you ever wondered what to buy me, hint, hint!), and Otis’ most excellent podcasts, “Thank’s for Giving a Damn!”

Photo 20-OG cd


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