North Carolina feasting

Last weekend I went to North Carolina. Oh yeah, I already told you that. I’m obsessed with North Carolina, particularly the mountains. Hm, told you that already too. Oh well, it’s good to reiterate the important things. I drove down to Tryon, NC, this magical little horsey community just almost tipping into South Carolina. Ivey, one of my best friends Bette’s mom, has a house there. The front porch looks west towards the mountains and sunsets. There’s a three stall barn next to the house where Bette’s retired horse Johnny, Ivey’s superstar Joseph, and her newest addition Gus, live.

Renée picks tomatoes for gazpacho

And this summer, Ivey’s planted a little garden filled with okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds, too.We spent many of our days off from camp at this house. It’s like my summer retreat. I love it. So I could hardly wait to spend four days there with Bette and Renée, a fellow Green Cove counselor, and Bette’s friend Jennifer. (There was a fifth girl, but I’d prefer not to mention her as she put a big fat blotch on the weekend.)

We rode ponies, went to Bele Chere, visited camp (where I got to hug Lee, the riding head, and my summer momma), and cooked so much good food.

I’ll go in the order we cooked these items.

blackberry peach pie

1. Porch Swings, our beverage of choice. Pimms (a tradition for us in Tryon), gin, cucumbers, 7Up, and lemons.

2. Gazpacho. Tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers, avocado, spices, jalapeños, green peppers.

3. Blackberry-Peach pie. Peaches and blackberries in a buttery crust. Oh and a little vodka.

Porch Swings
from Smitten Kitchen

Pimms comes from England. It’s gin-based I think, but the recipe itself is a secret mix of herbs and flavors. A traditional Pimms Cup has all sorts of summer fruits soaking in it. I like this variation and I like its name. Very southern summertime. By the end of the night though, I was just pouring Pimms and raspberry lemonade into my cup and topping it off with 7Up.

note the horse on the cup!


1 1/2 ounces gin (we used Tanqueray)
1 1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur
4 ounces lemonade (we used Simply Lemonade)
7-Up or another lemon/lime soda
Cucumber, sliced thinly
Lemon wedges

Put a few ice cubes in a tall glass. Pour in the gin, Pimms, gin, and lemonade into the glass. Top it off with a splash of 7Up. Add a few slices (maybe four or five) of cucumber and garnish with a lemon wedge. Sip on a porch or in a kitchen with your friends


by Renée Grinnell

This was entirely Renée’s creation (I was making pie at this point), so I’m going to do my best to remember what she put in it, because it was fabulous. Cool and refreshing on a roastingly hot day, with a bit of a spiciness. This served four people four small portions, plus plenty of leftovers.


About 3 or 4 tomatoes, chopped up
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
1 1/2 cucumbers, divided, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
hot sauce
salt and pepper
avocado, chopped

Puree the tomatoes and garlic in a blender or food processor in batches, adding a little olive oil. Pour pureed tomato into a large bowl. Puree the whole cucumber and the jalapeño and add them to the tomato puree.

Mix in the half of the chopped cucumber and the green pepper. Add hot sauce, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish your bowl with a spoonful of avocado.

Blackberry Peach Pie
pie crust adapted from Smitten Kitchen
pie filling concocted by Julia and Renée


for the crust
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie
(as a sidenote, we used all butter because the house was super air conditioned. If your house is hot during the summer, I suggest using a mixture of 1/3 butter and 2/3 shortening.)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

for the filling

about 5 peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into medium wedges
1 pint of blackberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup flour

Start with the crust. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a medium bowl.

Cut in the cold butter using either two knives or a pastry blender. You want the butter to end up in pea-sized pieces. This size will give you nice, flaky crust.

Sprinkle the vodka and water over the flour-butter mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. You want your dough to come together and hold together. It shouldn’t be too dry, nor should it be too sticky and gooey. I actually ended up having to add more liquid (so obviously I reached for the vodka). I used my entire mini-bottle of vodka. Just add liquid until you reach a nice consistency where the dough holds its shape in a ball.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the fridge for about a half an hour.

Bette and Renée enjoyed some large blackberries

Now, on to the filling. This is easy. Put the peaches and blackberries in a bowl. Mix in the flour and sugar. Let it all sit for about half an hour.

And now we assemble! Preheat your oven to 425°.

Get out your pie pan. Flour your counter top. Take a little more than half of the dough, set it on the counter, and gently flatten it into a little disc. Roll it out, using a rolling pin (or a cup), flipping it over every few rolls to keep the dough from sticking to the counter top. Gently set this bottom crust into the pie pan. You should have some crust hanging over the edges of the pan.

Gently pour the filling into the pie pan.

Reflour your surface and roll out the smaller half of the dough that’s left. Set it on top of the filling. Pull the bottom crust that’s hanging over the edges up over the top crust and form a nice seal. You can make your edges pretty here. Cut a few slits in the top crust and either brush it with honey or sprinkle it with sugar.

pie heaven

Put the pie into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Bring the temperature down to 350° and bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling, another maybe 20 minutes.

Remove pie, let it cool (if you have the patience!), and slice into that baby while it’s still warm! Everyone else had vanilla ice cream with their pieces. My silly tummy said no to dairy. But hot damn, this pie is amazing!


6 thoughts on “North Carolina feasting

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