Notes from Swan's Nest

From Christy's mountain home and studio

Side Dishes – The Stars Of Summer Gatherings

Have you ever attended a summer barbecue or backyard picnic and come away raving about the mouthwatering display of side dishes? It’s true – from Memorial Day to Labor Day, side dishes are often the stars of summer gatherings. When guests bring their favorite side dish, their contributions can lead to the most amazing array of luscious flavors and oftentimes wonderful stories behind the recipes.

Jewel Tea Cookies Are Fit For A King

King Charles’ May 6th coronation is just days away but has been on my calendar for more than a month. I’ve been a follower of royal weddings and displays of British pageantry since Charles married Diana. My husband Randy had been transferred to his company’s Paris office only days before the royal wedding, and a small boutique hotel just two blocks from the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe had become temporary quarters for our young family while we awaited the availability of the apartment we’d live in for the next year.

Cooking with Irish Whiskey

Ireland’s culinary traditions underwent a significant transformation in the 1980’s when Irish chefs trained in classic French cooking returned to their homeland and opened superb restaurants in the small towns of Kinsale in County Cork and Kenmare in County Kerry. These small, chef-owned restaurants set in motion not only local Irish tourism, but a foundation for fine dining and culinary excellence that continues throughout Ireland today.

A Valentine's Day Gift From The Heart

I’ve always been crazy about decorative cake pans, from the little train pan I chose for our son’s second birthday to bundt pans of all shapes. So, when Nordic Ware reached out to me recently about their new Floral Heart Bouquet Bundt pan, I was all in. Stamped with an intricate design featuring roses, daisies, and leaves, I set about creating a special cake recipe for this romantic Valentine pan.

By Design: Memorable Autumn Gatherings

As we gather this fall with family and friends, perhaps for the first time after a long pause, making the occasion special for everyone is worth the extra effort. While I adore casual, last-minute get-togethers, and in fact my husband and I did exactly that last night when we invited neighbors to join us for dessert on the patio at sunset, it can’t be overstated the enduring, cozy feeling of a thoughtfully planned gathering during this beautiful autumn season. So, join me as we make this celebration one to remember!

From Garden Harvest To Neighborhood Gathering: Greek Pasta & Garden Salad

I love fresh garden salads, especially when my summertime alpine vegetable garden is lush with a variety of greens I grow from seed. My garden always gets a late start compared to my friends and culinary colleagues who live in warmer parts of the country because at an altitude of 9,300 feet, it’s well into June before our nights are warm enough to support tender seedlings just beginning to sprout. In fact, last year we had several nights in July that dipped to 28 degrees in my garden, and even cool season lettuces performed poorly.

Simply Peachy: Ripe, Juicy Peaches Inspire This Summer Cake

Each summer, when the Dillon Farmers Market in Summit County, Colorado overflows with ripe, juicy peaches, I head straight for my favorite booth where I know I’ll find the best-of-the-best Palisade, Colorado peaches. Large, with bits of fuzz still on the skin, the Forte Farms farmer offers to assist customers in selecting peaches that are ready to eat or will be perfectly ripe after two or three days on the kitchen counter.

Farmers Market Stroll Inspires Zesty Lemon Cake

Summer is here and so is my craving for vibrant flavors that mirror the bounty found in farmers markets and grocery stores. Barbecued ribs slathered with sweet and spicy sauce during their final moments on the grill, crisp salads brimming with just-harvested cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes, summer berries and stone fruit, plus anything citrus – these bright flavors bring mouth-tingling joy to my summer meals.

From Breakfast In Bed To Summer Brunch

Picture a luxurious breakfast in bed, served on a tray by loved ones, embellished with a thoughtfully selected card or sweet ones handmade by the kids. The tray holds a small vase of flowers, a cup of favorite coffee or tea, and a plate of something scrumptious to start the day. Those are the images of many a mother’s dreams, particularly on Mother’s Day.

From Cottage Meal to Grand Irish Tradition

I love the month of March when daffodils bloom and pansies become prolific as temperatures warm, but it’s also unpredictable. With little warning, cold brisk winds can turn the day almost wintry, and I’m grabbing a sweater to stay cozy. At Swan’s Nest, the warm promise of a springlike week can be replaced by a heavy snowstorm in the blink of an eye. This back-and -forth pattern is also reflected in my kitchen. A springlike menu one day is often followed by a hearty oven meal the next.
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