Friday, September 29, 2017

Ashley English and a Year of Picnics

A couple weeks ago Greenville hosted the Southern Author Festival, a program sponsored by South Carolina Humanities, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Friends of the Greenville County Library System. Events included events such as the “History of Barbeque in SC,” complete with a sampling of traditional SC BBQ sauces, and “Southern Foods and Film” with award-winning independent film maker Stan Woodward.

A favorite author and blogger of mine was in town for the festival! Cookbook author Ashley English was scheduled to speak at Hughes Main library, and I seized the opportunity to meet this local authority on topics ranging from homesteading to cooking and entertaining.

Source here

Although familiar with several of her cookbooks, I am most familiar with Ashley’s blog, Small Measure. The blog has it all – recipes of course, but also event & class announcements, and topics ranging from foraging and homesteading to being a mother. The author lives with her husband and two children in a small Western North Carolina mountain community, where she lives the life that she writes about; her Homemade Living book series showcases a variety of topics related to small-scale homesteading – chickens, canning, bees and cheese. Other books include A Year of Pies, Handmade Gatherings: Recipes and Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties, and Quench: Handcrafted Beverages To Satisfy Every Taste and Occasion. However her newest book is my favorite… A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors offers 20 ideas for creative picnics including menu, activity and location suggestions.

I can’t wait to try some of what Ashley mentioned as being her favorite recipes from the book: smoky cauliflower spread for a twilight picnic complete with stargazing and firefly collecting. Chimichurri chicken for a table to farm picnic adorned with farm bouquets. Pots de Crème with Rose Whipped Cream for a romantic picnic. Arranged by season, there are plenty of picnic ideas currently bringing me inspiration; from the falling leaves picnic to the coffee break picnic, the gorgeous photographs by Jen Altman are drawing me into a world of leaf etchings and root vegetables as we plan our autumn activities. Ashley specifically mentioned this time of ‘confluence of summer and fall,’ talking about the return to slow cooking, the harvesting of muscadine and the invigoration the brisk fall airs brings, and I can’t agree with her more – this is my favorite time of year in the Upstate!
A Year of Picnics has already been penciled in as our cookbook club selection next Spring, when we’ll be itching to get outside after the cold months, as well as craving the fresh, seasonal foods that May brings. I’ll also be keeping an eye on her blog for announcements on the wild foraging classes she hosts on her property, and incorporating ideas from her Homemade Living series into our own raised beds/garden and menu.

Thank you to Ashley English for making the trip down to Greenville, and thanks to all the organizations that made the Southern Author Festival possible. Make sure to check out Ashley’s Instagram for a dose of inspiration straight to your screen! You can also follow the author on twitter, and her blog Small Measure can be found here.

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