Saturday, August 25, 2012


Written by Diva Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt Blog  

Any garden day at Sophia's house is guaranteed to deliver both a satisfying gardening experience and an overwhelming dining experience but this time there was something extra... Sophia's mother Hazel and her sister Gina had been traveling the US by train and they would be here in Austin for Sophia's garden day. We looked forward to meeting her family and to helping Sophia get her garden back in shape after winter.

Oatmeal nut muffins and banana muffins were piled up on the beautiful table (I do covet that bird tablecloth!), and a compote of berries, pineapple and nectarines looked wonderful. 

Sophia decided to bake something she hadn't made before - two delicious quiches - one with broccoli & turkey and another with ham & bacon.

It was fun to see Sophia & her mom Hazel standing side by side, ready to take on the day!

Shade and careful watering by both Sophia and Roger had kept most of their plants alive through 2011 (still referred to Austinites as the Summer from Hell), but late fall and winter rains had made some of the surviving plants a little too happy. The weather channels had warned that rain was still a possibility on Sophia's day  but we thought we could get most of the work done anyway.

Much of today's project could be described as outdoor housekeeping - we had zillions of cedar elm leaves to rake and many yard bags of sticks to pick up

We pulled weeds from beds and borders, removed a sea of henbit and chickweed and got the vegetable squares ready for planting. Some of the Divas figured out a new configuration for that area.

In other parts of the yard Divas were pruning crepe myrtles, cutting back wild branches of buddleia, snipping out dead leaves on the large sweep of Cast Iron Plants and taming the out-of-bounds Mutabilis Rose... but who could cut off a flower that was brave enough to bloom in February?

There was a bit of a cold wind and the air was damp - something was sending pollen out to irritate the allergic among us, but the satisfaction of getting everything ready for Spring was stronger than momentary discomfort. The front garden was looking good!

In truth, our reward was much greater than the work we did - three cooks, Sophia, Hazel and Gina - had prepared a feast! I stopped taking photos of weeds and tools and aimed the camera at the wonderful food.

 The Big Salad with Bacon started us off with a crunch. 

We all love Sophia's Signature Dish of Italian Wedding Soup, here joined by Hazel's Signature Dish, A Rice, Sausage & Noodle Casserole.

The Three Cooks had made delectable Carmelized Onion & Mushroom Tartlets, some with walnuts and some without walnuts (recipe HERE)

We were treated to Olive Bread and we all got to try Lupini beans. (If you want to make these beans yourself and can faithfully attend to them daily for a few weeks, HERE is a recipe.)

 We didn't get dessert ... there were THREE desserts!

A trio of gelato for starters: Pistachio, White Chocolate and Tiramisu

Gina's Signature Dish was this spectacular, genuine, made from scratch Italian Cream Cake (one of the best cakes I have ever tasted... The Italian Cream Cake recipe is at the Divas of the Dirt Recipe Blog.)

It was followed by Gina's amazing second "cake" - less a cake than a Confection (go Here for Recipe), assembled from Oreo cookies, Cool whip, Chocolate fudge topping, Instant Pudding and Ice Cream Sandwiches and frozen - ultra rich and quite delicious.

We talked and laughed, heard stories, were amazed to see Mattie's pup Barbie waltz into another Diva house and steal the hearts of  Sophia's pooches Tedster & Chukster. We even got a little more work done that day, but you can't see it... I never took another photo after sampling those three desserts.

As usual, we had Too Much Fun at Sophia's house!

Written by Diva Glinda for the Divas of the Dirt Blog 

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 January Planning Meeting

The Divas of the Dirt meet at a local restaurant every January to set months and make plans for the coming year. We had such a good time at Manny's Uptown Kitchen (near the Crate & Barrel on north Research Ave) in January 2011 that we decided to go back in 2012.

The previous rotating calendar wasn't working so we tossed it & started from scratch, with each Diva pulling the name of her month from the bowl.  Sophia will start off the year in February, we'll skip the hottest months and use early November as the 8th month. 

As always, the food at Manny's was utterly delicious!

and as always we had a great time catching up.

But gosh-darn it! We can't go back again... in February Manny's Kitchen announced that the restaurant would be closing. We're sorry that Manny's is gone, but very glad we got to be there.