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Alfresco With Friends

Over the weekend, we enjoyed two evenings of dinners with friends. Summertime is the best time to dine alfresco. We were blessed with a visit to our neighbors farm where we enjoyed wine, charcuterie and small foods in abundance and a beautiful open view of the neighboring farm where horses and barn under sunset delight.

Eloise ran with the dogs and played, as toddlers do, on a quilted blanket under the shade of an old tree. The property is very much like stepping into a Gilmore Girls set (if you know, you know). A purple victorian style farmhouse with wrap around porch, old growth trees, and whimsical plants and moments tucked in every corner. We strolled through their garden, where zinnias and pumpkins tickled our fancy. Small planes and hot air balloons right above us as we laughed and dreamed together with friends into the dark hours of the evening.

Saturday dinner was also delightful as we hosted friends on our back porch. That morning, Eloise and I harvested vegetables from our garden for our planned meal. Tomatoes, onions, carrots, sweet peas, and green beens for a salad. We were gifted beautiful little blue quail eggs from a friend, which I knew I needed to do something special with.

We gathered dahlias, zinnias and cosmos all grown in our garden. The flowers are all really taking shape as they grow even bigger and more abundant. I feel so grateful to finally have so much growing at home and having the opportunity to share it with friends. Likewise, others sharing their own harvest with us.

For Saturday's dinner I planned to prepare a Puerto Rican style chicken, a family recipe... which essentially is loads of fresh garlic, minced, and cooked at a low temperature for hours. In addition, a garden salad with semi cooked veggies and a balsamic glaze. The chicken was prepped, then marinated in garlic, butter, salt and pepper before roasting at 250 degrees for about three hours, with a higher temp that last hour.

I absolutely love cooking with garlic. Almost every dinner gets garlic in this house. Nothing beats fresh garlic cloves. And the simple addition of salt and pepper makes for the perfect flavor profile. I like to keep it simple and good.

This roasted chicken dish takes an entire head of garlic, finely minced and rubbed.

I love harvesting the rainbow carrots when they are slightly smaller for salads. After cleaning them up, trimming the roots, the carrots get a little olive oil, salt and lightly roasted whole.

These quail eggs were a gift from our friend Erica. I may now want quails of our own. Not only do they taste delicious they are so adorable and once cracked open have the most stunning blue inside the shell. The eggs measure at only about an inch. My plan for these was to poach them and add them to the salad.

All of the veggies harvested from our garden, grown from seed or starts. We are so thankful to be able to make a dish made from farm to table ingredients. Those first few harvests feel pretty magical, and then it feels like a showering of blessings! Eloise loves to pick the sweet peas and munch on them right off the vine.

The idea for the roasted chicken is that it will fall off the bone, and it does. Lots of butter, garlic, salt & pepper and a slow cook makes for a rather delicious main. We flip the chicken upside down in the roasting pan to keep in the moister, as well as tucking in any loose ends that can burn.

The theme of the weekend was alfresco with friends. If you are ever in such a busy season and receive an invitation to do dinner with friends, might I recommend you do it. There is nothing that fills the soul like community and laughter and dreaming with the people you love. We need each other, and we need to eat well.. bringing those two needs together makes for a really beautiful combination.

It was a two peach pie kind of weekend. Our friends on Friday baked a delish peach pie with a cookie crust and peaches harvested right at home. On Saturday we had the privilege of indulging in yet another peach pie with a more traditional take, lattice crust, and a side of vanilla bean ice cream. Of course they carried it over in an antique caddy wrapped in a striped cloth which was the sweetest touch!

Always antique French plates and white linens when we host friends and family. I love pulling out collected dishes, linens, and glassware to welcome our guests and make them feel special. One of my favorite looks is mismatched antique plates and old silverware.

The sun began to set at just the right moment, when we sat down to eat. Breathing in the open air and savoring all that we had collectively prepared for our meal. Chatting late into the evening about all the exciting things ahead.

Doing life with people is vital. We have found so much peace and joy in these moments with friends. We hope to discover new ways to express these same feelings through The Maple House Collective. Good things ahead!

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Everything about this post is my love language. Gorgeous images and writing! Very inspiring phoebe!

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