Eat This and Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon

By Libbie Summers

Photography by Chia Chong

 

A Food-Inspired Life, Libbie Summers, Oranges, Stories

Disclaimer: The healing power of the Mandarin oranges noted in this article are not substantiated by any medical authority aside from a surly retired oral surgeon and a novice yacht chef.

I could hear his laughter as he came down the dock so I was a little less anxious. This was one of my first professional jobs as a yacht chef and I was eager to make this boat owner happy. I had heard stories about him –a retired oral surgeon, nearly 80 years old who snow-skied, played tennis and yacht raced better than men half his age. Dr. “K” had the reputation of being aloof, thrifty and more than a little hard on the crew. I was confident I could win him over. Back then, what I lacked in brains, I made up in false confidence.

As he stepped on the boat, I chuckled to myself, “I got this.” He looked like Bjorn Borg (circa 1977) was his wardrobe stylist. Cream colored tennis shorts (that were just that much too short for a man of dangling participle age) and a white tennis shirt topped with a tattered FILA sweater vest. I couldn’t help notice that his Aspen Mountain backpack weighed more than he. What was so scary about this toothpick of a man? This was going to be a piece of cake. I’d wine and dine this old bastard and have him eating out of the palm of my racket hand…boy was I ever wrong. In the week we spent on the boat he never said a word to me. Actually going out of his way to not look me in the eyes and a couple of times even pushed me out of his way. On our last day offshore and just when I thought my ego couldn’t take any more punishment, the seas around us started getting rough and I was feeling queasy. I came up on deck and walked past the rest of the crew to the aft of the boat and promptly threw up over the side. As my spinning head hung over the life lines, I got a gentle tap on the shoulder. Dr “K” was standing there with a concerned look on his face and a Mandarin orange in his hand. “Here, eat this Libbie and keep your eye on the horizon.” I can’t say if it was the orange, horizon or just knowing that the good doctor knew my name, but somehow I was cured.

Too Much Fruit

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Production Assistant: Candace Brower 

One of the many good things about living south of the Mason Dixon line is the ability to be a citrus farmer…if only in your backyard. My current home in Savannah is no exception. On this modest piece of ground overlooking the Forrest River, there grows one yellow grapefruit tree, 2 orange trees, and one clementine tree. About this time every year all of the trees are heavy with fruit. 

For the first month after the fruit ripened, my husband and I made ourselves drunk with vitamin C consumption. Each day, our diet consisted of a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and half a grapefruit for breakfast. Lunch included a just picked clementine or two acting as a dessert. And, cocktail hour always involved a twist.

A Food-Inspired Life, Libbie Summers, Too Much Fruit

Between the two of us, we had eaten more citrus than a rally full of frenzied Anita Bryant supporters hopped up on self-righteous morals and misinformation.  Yet still, we had made no dent in our citrus spoils.

On day 32, I started giving the fruit to anyone who would take it. Baskets full were left at the food bank, my yoga studio and dentist’s office. I handed out citrus like advice. And, like my advice, no one wanted it.

Last week my neighbor had a large construction crew at her home working on a new seawall and I saw and opportunity. 

“Hey boys, can I give you some fruit from my citrus trees to take home?” I asked. While they were shaking their heads “no”, I was putting bags stuffed with the candy colored fruit in the back of each pick-up truck. I told myself it was for their own good…scurvy still being a thing and all.

Now some 40 plus days after the first juice was squeezed, I can finally see an end to our citrus bounty. A ladder is needed to reach the last plump orbs and for some reason the fruit just doesn’t taste as sweet.

It saddens me to think I won’t see the spectacular colors dotting the view from my windows or smell the citrus perfume that fills the air for another year. If I’m smart, I’ll use this time from now until that first fruit ripens to devise a plan on how to dispose of them.

 

It’s Citrus Season

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Polka Dots. I love them. Always have –it’s probably why I love winter time in the South. In the days from January to March, the fruit trees around my beautiful city are painted with polka dots. Bright oranges, yellows and greens. Oranges, lemons and limes are ripe for the picking, pickling, jamming and using to make a citrus smiley mouth. Join me as I celebrate the polka dots of nature in all their beauty on and off the tree.
Citrus Season, Grapefruit Season, Citrus Growing, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life, Citrus Picking

Libbie Loves: Birthday Gifts

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Just a few of the many things I’m crushing on this birthday week. I asked for them all (because why not) and hoped that I’d get one…and I did. Follow my instagram stories and see which one!

Fun Gift Ideas, Birthday Gifts, Fun Gifts,

1. Because I plan on being able to play the ukulele by Christmas.
Orange Ukulele from @reverb 

2. Because my current knife case has shit the bed.
Billy Reid Knife Case @Billy_Reid 

3. Because I tried these on in Paris and fell in love.
Endora Mary Jane in Dream Blue Patent Leather from @RepettoParis

4. Because I have 4 recipes in the book and it’s the coolest cookbook!!
The Short Stack Cookbook @shortstackeds 

5. Because I love a beanie and I love cashmere and I love pink.
Pink Cashmere Beanie  available @shopbop 

6. Because these are the COOLEST candles ever made and they are made in the USA (Kansas City)
Metallic Taper Candles from @creative.candles

7. Because I love doing basic chalk art.
Sargent Art Square Chalk Pastels @sargentart

8. Because I hate plastic.
Takenaka Bento Box @takenaka_bento_box 

9. Because I already have a set of these and I need another and this is the coolest store owned by the most adorable person on the planet.
Yoshi Bath Towels in Grey available @portofraleigh

 

Monet’s Favorite Sandwich

By Libbie Summers (recipe from my book, Sweet and Vicious –baking with attitude, Rizzoli)
Food Photography by Chia Chong

My obsession with the dining habits of Claude Monet began in college. I feasted again and again on the few English translations available of the notebooks he kept from his home in Giverny. At a time when my cooking skills were constrained by the size of my dorm room hotplate and my wallet, I would dream about the elaborate lunches Monet held promptly at 11:30 each day for guests like Renoir, Cézanne, and Degas. Some of the local ingredients that were mentioned in the notebooks included capons, chickens, berries, cheeses, and wonderful breads.

It wasn’t long after that I started making what I call Monet’s Favorite Sandwich.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love this sandwich. It has everything. Savory chicken, sweet raspberry preserves, creamy/salty brie, and the yeasty crunch of a baguette. Like Monet himself, this sandwich is kind of sweet and vicious.
Monet, Giverny, France
(Monet’s dining table at Giverny)
Monet, Kitchen Designs, Giverny, Libbie Summers
(The view from the dining room into Monet’s kitchen at Giverny)
Monet, Chicken Sandwiches, Libbie Summers, Lunch Recipes, French Sandwiches
Monet’s Favorite Sandwich
(warm roasted chicken, brie + raspberry jam on baguette)
Serves 4

What you need:
1 baguette, split in half lengthwise
1⁄4 cup raspberry preserves
1⁄2 small roasted chicken, bones removed and meat sliced or torn into large pieces
4 ounces brie
Fresh parsley leaves (optional)

What to do:
Preheat the broiler.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the bottom half of the bread on it. Spread the raspberry preserves over the bread. Top the preserves with the chicken. Cut the brie into chunks or slices and spread across the top of the chicken. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is just melted. Top with parsley if you like. Place the top half of the bread on the sandwich and cut into four equal pieces.
Serve warm.

Giverny, Monet's home, Libbie Summers, France
(me exhausted after a long day of travel but giddy with excitement standing at Monet’s stove at Giverny…starving and wishing I could make everyone there Monet’s Favorite Sandwich)