Hello friends! Without warning, I disappeared from Krista's Kitchen after last Wednesday's post. Sorry about that. But I'm back...alive and well in rural Indiana. That's right! I'm home on my family's farm. I planned to blog from here on Friday night and then again last night, but we have spent the last two evenings around the firepit. I thought about typing up a post when we came in each night, but 1 am is not when I do my best blogging...I promise! Since I moved away from home, I try to spend at least one week "back home" every summer. You can check out last year's visit HERE. I usually plan our visit for county fair week, but this year I was helping at VBS in our city when the county fair was going on at home, so we missed it. That's okay...this week works out better. Saturday we attended the wedding of one of my cousins and next Saturday is my high school class reunion. It's the perfect week to spend at home, sandwiched between two fun Saturday events.
On Friday night, our minivan rolled into my parent's limestone driveway just before dinnertime. They were cooking out. When you have a large family, there is always an occasion to celebrate. Tonight it was my sister's birthday. In attendance: both of my sisters, their spouses and children, my grandparents, and one of my uncles and his girlfriend. It's never a small affair when we cookout.
My kiddos leapt from their carseats and ran to reunite with their cousins (this is not an exaggeration).
Here are the two oldest cousins, my daughter (the oldest grandchild) and my nephew (the next oldest). They were born exactly one year and one week apart. They are too much alike. What one doesn't think of, the other does. Can you spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E?
Once the initial hugs and greetings were finished, the kiddos all headed off to play in the dirt. Actually, if I'm putting on my "farm girl hat" this week....dirt is the stuff that you sweep off of your floors or scrub out of your clothes...if it's still in or on the ground, it's SOIL!
Once the kiddos ran off to play, it was quiet enough to notice the familiar, RrrrrrRrrrrrrRrrrrr noises of the ice cream maker on the patio. Homemade ice cream?! This was going to be a good night!
Kids playing happily. Check! Children adequately supervised by the husbands "shooting the bull" in the lawn. Check! Dad "manning" the grill. Check! Ice cream maker spinning away. Check!
With all bases covered, I headed inside the house to grab an apron and help out. Only, as I walked into the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, I saw my sweet grandma, holding the newest member of our family, 10 week old baby Lilly. Oh my goodness, she is gorgeous! Forget helping in the kitchen...I had to get my hands on that baby!
She scrunches up and smiles with her whole body! I love it!
Finally, my youngest sister had to pry this sweet angel from my hands to feed her.
Things seemed under control in the kitchen, so I snuck out the side door to see what my mom has been up to with her landscaping these days.
When I was little, we found this double bicycle in my grandparent's potato cellar. I remember enlisting my sisters or cousins to ride it up and down their hilly driveway. We were pretty wobbly, but we loved every minute. Now it's part of my mom's landscaping.
Hollyhocks and lavender. If I close my eyes and block out the noise around me, I can almost pretend that I'm in the spa, waiting for a relaxation message. Seriously, there is lavender blooming everywhere between the house and barn. It's completely lovely. Like a subtle, 24 hour air freshener.
I have no idea what the flowers from the next two pictures are called. They skirt the edges of my mom's awesome herb garden. Pretty, aren't they?
Mom's hydrangea bush was just starting to bloom. Love hydrangeas!
As I examined the hydrangeas, I noticed that my sister, the birthday girl, had emerged from the pole barn and was headed for the patio with some celebratory beverages. Time to end my "Tour de Fleurs" and join in the fun!
By the time that we poured our wine, dinner was ready.
There were burgers (and some incredibly big, deliciously marinated chicken breasts that I failed to photograph).
My contribution to this meal were the Sirloin and Vidalia Kabobs from Paula Deen. I could devote a whole post to these, but at this point I think I'll just give you the link to the recipe. They were pretty good. Strangely, they were better cold. True story. I took a vote and everyone agreed. Still, I'm even more convinced that the Beef on a Stick recipe is the ultimate beef kabob recipe.
There were also Cowboy Beans. In my opinion, this is the mother of all baked bean recipes. It's like regular baked beans on steroids! There's beef and bacon and all kinds of stuff in there. It's amazing! I definitely have to post that recipe soon.
We ate traditional cookout stuff too, like potato salad.
Oh, and Cukes n' Onions. Very similar to the Black Eyed Pea Salad I recently posted about.
On the sweet side of things, my mom made a fruit tray.
My youngest LOVES fruit. She put a away a whole plateful on the playhouse porch.
Finally dessert rolled around. After we sang, and my sister blew out the candles, we cut into the HoHo Cake. (It tastes like a Hostess Hoho).
We served the cake with homemade frozen custard. The custard is perfectly delicious on it's own, but I went ahead and topped mine off with a dark chocolate syrup and some mixed nuts.
Ahhh. It's good to be home.
Stick around! I'm away, but I'm still cooking. Tomorrow we're freezing corn and I hope to can some green beans too!