All I can say today is: summer. We’re in the thick of it. The basil is glossy and neon green, and I will be dreaming about it in January. The daylilies are in full song, there are dragonflies, bumblebees . . . I’m a bit drunk with it all.
Yesterday Jim and I went for a drive in the country, and stopped by Heritage Prairie Farm, in Elburn. I have written about it previously, and we couldn’t resist a return visit. Attracted by their melodious bleating, we visited with the goats, who looked like they were living in goat heaven, with plenty of green grass to nibble and a great view from their paddock.
We also stopped in the farm store, and purchased goat cheese and a little box of heirloom cherry tomatoes. We got a tip from the store manager on what to make with these treasures.
Then I noticed a coffee making machine, and asked for one cup of coffee–it would be mostly for Jim, and I would have just a sip, as it was getting late in the day. First, we were asked if we wanted it hot or cold. Rarely do we have that choice, and in the spirit of trying something new, I asked for cold. Jim’s eyebrow went up. Did we want honey in the coffee? Honey? The bees were right over our shoulder in a special hive that you could see from inside the store–I didn’t want to offend–certainly not anger them–so said yes. Jim’s other eyebrow went up. Did we want goats milk or regular? Goat’s milk in our coffee? I said yes, and if Jim had had another eyebrow, it would have gone up. Ambling out of the store with our coffee, Jim said, “You first.” Well, it was incredibly delicious. There was the deep roasted, smoky flavor of the coffee, then the faint hint of the honey sweetness, like music heard from a faraway mountain, and then the goat’s milk, which tasted like the creamiest cream ever. How could I have doubted the goats? Soon, we were fighting over it, down to the last ice cube. This coffee has pretty much spoiled me for just regular coffee, and I hope to have it again soon, though certain pleasures are ephemeral, never to be repeated, and this may be one of them.
We went home, and I made the appetizer recommended by the store manager. I speared cubes of the goat cheese with a leaf of fresh basil and a cherry tomato. If the tomato was large, I halved it. I arranged this all on a plate, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I am an uncertain drizzler, but did the best I could. This was so good: the creamy goat cheese literally melted in your mouth, then there was the fresh, sharp green flavor of the basil, and then the sweetness of the tomatoes, spangled with droplets of tart, smoky vinegar. What can I say? Very good–another summer pleasure.
Photos below: fresh basil from my garden, and other ingredients. The goat cheese came from Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, in Champaign, Illinois. I visited their website, and it looks like a wonderful place—you can visit the goats, watch cheese being made, and other delights.
Also in my garden are rafts of Gloriosa daisies. They are close relations of black-eyed Susans, and will self seed year after year. They are not subtle plants, but if you like your plants bold and brassy, here they are. Every spring I look out for their fuzzy leaves, and let them grow. They are easy to start from seed. Also shown, swamp milkweed with a bee.
Can’t resist mentioning our cat Puff. He is like a big fluffy cloud in cat form!
Meanwhile, continuing drama at the bird feeder. A sparrow is repelled by the house finches, but a young grackle lurks nearby, and pounces.