Monday, August 30, 2010

A Home Grown Dinner -- One of my Top 10 Dining Experiences

Prepare to be amazed.
It's been almost a week and I still am.  
Come with me to dinner at Cassie's house.

Cassie is also known as Farm Girl.
She's the one in the lovely, long dress, and sweet pink apron.
She's the one behind Pocket Square Farm, a suburban home turned tiny farm.
She's the one behind one of the best dinners I have ever had.

It was Cassie's turn for book club, which means she got to pick the book.
She chose Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  This book changed her life, she says.
After that dinner I believe her.
I think it changed mine too.

After reading the tale of Kingsolver's family embarking on a journey to grow and eat as much of their own food as possible, Cassie determined to do the same for her family.
She started small; a few raised beds in the back yard.
Now her side yard is full of raised beds.  Her other side yard will be soon.  
And I have no doubt that her front yard will be full before too long.
She has a bathtub full of basil.
She's getting chickens.
Did I mention she lives smack in the middle of suburbia?

To show us how serious she is about this farming stuff, and how much she loves the book, Farm Girl Cassie had us over for guerrilla dining in her back yard. 
The entire meal was either made from scratch or from her garden.
Or both.
Like her yard, the whole thing was breathtaking.
Take a look:

After giving us a tour of her front yard gardens, Cassie ushered us into a dining wonderland.
The table was set with roses from her garden.

And a menu.  Yes! A menu.

There were lights strung up amongst the grapevines.  (Thanks to Farmer Ross, Cassie's husband)

As darkness fell, the table became more lovely with candlelight and wine glasses filled with organic wine.  One thing Cassie hasn't embarked on yet--wine making.

Cassie prepped our first course table side.  
Greens from her garden and a homemade champagne vinaigrette.
It was so good.  

Then, before each of the other courses, she told us about each thing she had made for us, where the ingredients came from and how it was prepared.  
(And do you see that play structure in the back there?  Cassie is a mom of 2 kiddos under 6.  She gardens with them.  They love it.  She's remarkable.)

There was: homemade french bread, homemade butter (she used her Kitchenaid mixer!  Who knew?) an incredible acorn squash soup with fresh squeezed Valencia orange juice, fresh tomatoes with basil and feta, green beans dressed with a light, creamy dressing, and my favorite, roasted eggplant and zucchini stacks with HOMEMADE mozzarella cheese.  
Oh my word.

She's promised to provide the recipes so I can link to her blog.  I can't wait because everything was so incredibly good.
Like, better than a lot of restaurants good.

Then we had dessert.

Nectarine lemon and basil jam swirled in cheesecake and then spooned on top.

Cassie didn't make the jam.  One of her students did.
Oh, did I forget to mention that she is a 5th grade teacher?
We were at the table for hours.

It was magical.
People pay big money for a dining experience like the one Cassie created for us last Tuesday night.
It rated in my top ten dining experiences of all time. (list  #12 tomorrow)
I felt like we were in a movie or a photo shoot for a magazine.
Except that there were no stylists, chefs or assistants to make it all happen.
Cassie did it all.
Every vegetable came from her garden.
Every herb.
What she didn't grow herself she made for us herself.
It was so inspiring.
So lovely.
So amazing.
It was such a labor of love.

And you know what? You could taste it.

While you may not feel up to creating all that Cassie has, I don't think I am, I hope you are at least inspired to plant a pot of something on your back porch.
Fall is on it's way so plant some greens.  Try arugula!
Or maybe bake a loaf of bread from scratch.  
Try making your own cheese.  This I am going to do.
You won't be disappointed by your efforts.
You'll be able to taste to love that went into it.

Hope this leaves you with a little more inspiration to bring good things into your life this Monday afternoon.
Love from,

To see read more about Pocket Square Farm, read Cassie's blog here.
And I'm linking up to Heather's Make It Lovely Monday. Go check it out.


Heather @ Life Made Lovely said...

such a good post and exactly what taking life and making it lovely is all about! a huge portion of our yard is dedicated to our garden and chickens and we live right in the middle of a college town, but i couldn't imagine surviving this crazy world without our little patch of space. i like how she named her garden...i think we need to follow her lead!

Four Flights said...

she made her own mozzarella?!? that is inspiring. We turned our side planter bed along our driveway into a vegetable garden since we lost our garden plot at the LB Community Gardens when we moved. We love it and my favorite part is the lettuce. There is just about nothing easier to grow than lettuce and picking your own lettuce makes you feel amazing! thanks for sharing :)

mygirl said...

looks like it was a great night. i have a friend who is doing the same thing in her front yard and her garden is so inspiring. what a wonderful use of space.