Monday, September 11, 2017

Fall Is In The Air

As Hurricane Irma continues its path of destruction, my thoughts and prayers are with all who are in harms way.  Thank you to all who have written to ask about our sweet family who sheltered here after Hurricane Harvey.  They have returned to Houston and have begun the process of dealing with the aftermath of the flood that left over 3 feet of water in their home and totaled both of their cars.
After Harvey left Central Texas, Mother Nature kindly sent us a wonderful cool front.  There is a touch of fall in the air with the cooler temps, and I have been motivated to join my chef and do a little baking myself.  
Pecan Oil from Wimberley Valley Gourmet in Wimberley, Texas
A friend recently gave "the chef" a bottle of pecan oil. We visited Wimberley Valley Gourmet to see how they recommended using the pecan oil, and as expected, they share a variety of recipes on their web page.  Since we keep Texas pecans in our freezer and already had some bananas on hand, I decided to try the recipe for their banana nut bread .

The recipe is extremely easy and straight forward 

with just a few ingredients.

Basically all I needed to whip up the 

recipe was a whisk and a spatula. 

I baked it in my favorite loaf pan,

a ceramic piece in the Piccadilly pattern

from MacKenzie-Childs.

A mug of dark, rich coffee with a

slice of this nut bread is the 

perfect combination for a crisp, fall day.

Simplicity at its best!

Wimberley Valley Gourmet Banana Nut Bread
You can find the recipe here.

The Piccadilly loaf pan is retired, 
but other baking pieces in this cute pattern are available at

I'm sure you have noticed we have a new look here at

Hyacinths for the Soul.

A big thank you and shout out to Linda @ Life and Linda

for giving us a new template and blog update.

I am extremely appreciative of Linda's talent and generosity.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tales of the Traveling Totes # 12 - In the Kitchen With Miss Merri Mac

Welcome to 

Tales of the Traveling Totes #12

 My heartfelt thanks to each of you who sent

emails, texts, FaceBook messages, and phone calls

to check on us here in Texas this past week.

Grateful to report that we are safe and

didn't have any threat from Hurricane Harvey.

Yes, there was plenty of rain, 

but we were prepared for the rains here at

Hyacinths for the Soul.

Radar maps from local sources 

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast late at night, August 25th.

Then the storm slowly made it's way inland 

bringing rain to central Texas.

Lots and lots of rain!

As the system stalled inland, it continued to swirl around 

dumping unprecedented amounts

of rain over Houston and surrounding areas for days.

Countless homes were flooded and families forced to flea.

As the flood waters continued to spread over

Houston, some of our family were among the evacuees.

On Tuesday, we welcomed my cousin, her daughter and son-in-law,

 their two children, and their cute puppy to shelter in our home.

The privilege of sharing our home with this sweet family

reminds us that good things can come out of a bad situation.

It's difficult to comprehend the destruction of this past week.

Please keep all who have been effected by this

natural disaster in your thoughts and prayers.

With no real summer travels here at HFTS over the past

 months, I decided to share a mini getaway to a cooking school

for our September edition of  Tales of the Traveling Totes.

Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm 

is located in the beautiful Texas hill country 

just a short drive southwest of Austin.

The hands-on cooking class was a perfect way

for a few of us to help a friend celebrate a milestone birthday.

Perched high on a hill, the 53 acre ranch is home 

to native Texan, Sibby Barrett, 

along with native flora and fauna of the area.  

Photo Curtesy of Juniper Hill Farms

Juniper Hill Farm is the quintessential hill country experience

where one is likely to spot white-tailed deer, 

jackrabbits, armadillos, raccoons,

or as we did that morning, a grey fox.

Photos Curtesy of Juniper Hill Farms

Say "hello" to Heath, Jacques (Pepin) and Darjeeling.

The resident herd of miniature donkeys 

will greet you on arrival,

and the resident bees provide fresh honey 

for sweeting the experience.

Cooking classes conducted in a state of the art

commercial kitchen and dining space offer 

hands-on involvement, which is key to 

creating a spectacular experience.

Fanciful art in the theme of

flatware and cooking utensils add a 

sense of whimsy to the space ~ the perfect

touch for a MacKenzie-Childs tote carrying gal.

We were here to celebrate this darling girlfriend.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Jenefred!

Stations were set up for each of us to work 

on preparing the various dishes on the menu.

We divided up the responsibilities and got to work.

Well, not really work. 

 It was all too much fun to be classified as work!

Turns out the favorite dish of the day

was one of the appetizers.

~ Strudel with Bacon, Figs, and Shallots ~

Each of us were sent home with a copy of all the recipes.

Thought I'd share this favorite here.

Appetizers were followed by a healthy and delicious

spinach, apple, almond salad with a blueberry vinaigrette.

Note all the different plates, napkins, and flatware.  

I admire Sibby's sense of whimsy in her collection of

vintage silverware and variety of different dish patterns.

Love seeing the mix of patterns and textures 

that are used in each place-setting.

Main course was chicken with leeks, 

artichokes, and mushrooms in a white wine sauce

with a side of Israeli couscous with lemon.

All of this served with a glass of wine

or more champagne.

Dessert was a fresh peach tart with salty nut crust.

Surprisingly light and tasty.  

I'll definitely make this one again!

Photo Curtesy of Juniper Hill Farms

Juniper Hils Farm

If you are in the area and want a unique experience,

make a reservation to attend one of

 Onion Creek Kitchen's Cooking Classes or Events.

Juniper Hill Farm has much to offer, including 

comfortable cabins available for overnight guests.

Our Traveling Tote Giveaway is hosted by

Linda @ More Fun Less Laundry.

Be certain to leave a comment on her blog to be entered.

Ready to "mix it up" for more Traveling Tote fun.

Hope you will leave a comment before your click the links below.

~ Don't Miss the Fun ~
More Tales of the Traveling Totes
at the links below.

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Katie with Miss Daisy @ Preppy Empty Nester
Linda G with Miss Rosie @ More Fun Less Laundry
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ "Pandora's Box"
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply

Also Joining
Pink Saturday @ How Sweet the Sound
StyleInspiration Gallery @ Zevy Joy
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop @ Peonies and Orange Blossoms Share Your Cup Thursday @ Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olsen Home and Garden Thursday @ Delightsome Life Share Your Style @ Vintage NestVintage Charm @ Blue Willow House Foodie Friday and Everything Else @ Rattlebridge Farm Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home