Patrick and I were sitting snugly in our two antique rocking chairs on our front porch last weekend sipping our strong dark roast coffee with thick cream stirred in and whipped foam resting on top. We sipped slowly on our favorite brew…rocked a bit more…sipped a bit more. Sometimes, we’ll milk that coffee for upwards of an hour before we plunge into the line up of all that needs to be done when you own and are refurbishing an 1828 farmhouse.
We watched from the dry front porch as it poured rain on New Hampshire last weekend and everyone welcomed a glorious saturation of the parched earth. We can see the Warner river from our front porch and the the water roared with sounds of it tumbling over the huge granite boulders, flowing under the red painted covered bridge, and crashing downstream. It was a lovely scene. We soak up every minute of quiet in our little village of Warner. The rain pelted down and filled the soil with goodness as we watched all of the garden flowers spring back to life. On this old creaky porch, rocking in our old creaky chairs, we do some heavy reflecting, talking, and planning. For instance, like how the porch itself has paint peeling and needs a good white washing. But, that project is for another time…our plates this summer were full and its time for a bit of a rest!
When we moved to New Hampshire, we planned to slow down and smell the roses a bit more but our nomadic tendencies continue to present us with a lifestyle that takes us from one adventure to the next. We’re not doing anything exotic, mind you, but this new for us lifestyle living in Boston a portion of the week and returning to the bucolic quiet of New Hampshire tickles and fulfills our desire for a mutual balance as well as craving for a combined rural and urban lifestyle.
Slowing down on weekends means long meals at the table, perhaps a few bottles of good red wine, and lately lots of bowls of fresh cherries. My antique silver pitchers on the kitchen table rotate from holding clusters of aromatic lilacs, then sweet flowered dogwood branches, then puffy peonies, some scented lavender…and now bunches of just blooming Roses of Sharon. Typically, this pleasure of a long awaited dinner is followed by lots of work in the garden(s) as well as continued renovations on our upstairs guest bath. Speaking of guest bath…it is finally completed! I love it and will try and do the fun before & photos and post them here. We’re moving one room at a time upstairs now. The laundry room needs a few more finishing touches. The bedrooms will each be emptied out as we tackle preserving the gorgeous pumpkin floors and giving them the care they need. I’m trying not to go crazy with the William Morris wallpaper love affair I have going…but I see a bit of it in each of the guest rooms. I just know the future owners of this house will probably say, “What was SHE THINKING?” as they labor to remove my ever-blooming wall paper passion.
This dish made last weekend has become a favorite. The flavors are few but so fresh and strong. It is a skillet roasted chicken dish with a wonderful combination of honey, lemon, parsley and leeks. The chicken thighs are seared until the skin is caramelized and crisp. The leeks are sautéed until slightly browned and then stirred with the lemon juice and honey. This simple deliciousness is served on a bed of chewy soft hearty brown rice.
In our Boston life, we’ve been getting familiar with the South End neighborhood. What a wonderful part of Boston to explore. There is so much to like about this part of the city and since I am a food blogger, I would say the restaurant options here are our favorites! There is something about the South End that is different from the other neighborhoods. The pace is relaxed and quiet but by no means sleepy. The mood on the street is companionable and inclusive. Not only are the sidewalks filled with diverse faces but it is reflected in the small cozy local eateries here as so many ethnic groups are represented in the restaurants that call South End home. Real life is happening in this neighborhood with the tourists settled mostly over in Downtown Crossing and Back Bay areas. Dogs sit comfortably and safely outside Foodie’s Market on Washington Street waiting for their owners. Don Quijote Market is a few blocks south and is a fun Spanish grocery market. Then 5 or 6 blocks north sits Ming’s Supermarket, a wonderful Asian market bursting with fresh vegetables and everything imaginable for cooking Asian cuisine.
Families, bringing their children to daycare and school, walk leisurely on the bumpy brick tree lined sidewalks. I saw lots of babies being pushed in strollers and children playing in the quaint flower filled pocket parks nestled throughout South End. Two bakeries, Flour, located along bustling Washington Street as well as The Buttery, located off of the undeniably adorable Union Park, offer delicious pastries and coffees with side walk seating for meeting up with friends for long 2 hour chat sessions (Hi Chenedra! Thank you!)
The Worcester Street community gardens certainly caught my eye and it has been fun returning over several weeks from spring to summer to watch these spaces being carefully maintained and groomed. Now, it is bursting with flowers and I am green with envy over their 6 foot tall hollyhocks. In New Hampshire, my hollyhocks are about 5 inches tall. I suspect they are being nibbled on by our resident wood chuck (and her baby woodchuck that I’ve seen wobbling near the vegetable garden). I’m going to list all of our favorite spots to visit in South End at the end of the post in case someone wants to use our experiences as a guide. We’ll certainly return to one of the wonderful Sonder rental apartments here again because we are already craving the Michoui, a marinated roasted lamb shank (falling off the bone) served with a caramelized onion sauce and moroccan couscous at Teranga, a Senegalese restaurant… and the Mechada empanadas, Venezuelan style stewed shredded beef, at Orinoco Latin Cuisine…and the Cambodian/French fusion dishes at The Elephant Walk…
Along the Currier & Ives trail early in the morning from the top of Gould Hill Apple Farm looking north towards the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I didn’t have my DLSR camera with me and this was taken with my phone camera. Wish I had the big camera with me as the scene was stunning and this photo doesn’t do it justice.
Another sunrise shot with the cell phone from the top of the hills in New Hampshire as the early morning fog rested in the valley. Oh, to have had my big camera with me…note to self.
Sonder Stays is a company that offers fun stylish furnished apartments in Boston as well as many other cities in the US. We’ve loved their selection of apartments and this has given us the opportunity to jump all over Boston to get to know the city and make transitioning back and forth from NH to Boston easy.
The gardens in front of the Boston Center for the Arts in South End
Adorable flower filled pocket parks like this one, called Union Park, provide a quaint centerpiece for the surrounding cinnamon colored brownstones adorned with flower boxes dripping with flowers.
Orinoco Latin Kitchen! Incredibly delicious Latin American food, quiet tree lined setting, and wonderful service. The lamb chops were the best we’ve ever eaten! I asked the chef for a photo. He was all smiles before hand and then got professional and serious and struck this pose for the camera. He loved getting his photo taken but not with a silly grin…he was all business! Adorable.
Orinoco Latin Kitchen (above)
Sonder Apartment rentals in Back Bay. Some are in quaint brownstones with bowed front windows that really make you feel like you are living as a local.
Anoushella…a delicious stop for Eastern Mediterranean food. We ate the spiced minced lamb/beef Lamajun flatbread wrap as well as the Anoushella kofta which was a big bowl of hummus, spiced lamb + beef kofta, topped with mint, pomegranate, sumac onion, parsley mix, tahini, and zhouk sauces.
Teranga Senegalese food (above)…one of our favorites! Everything we have tried here as been delicious. From the croquettes de poisson to the yucca fries, and the Michoui, which is marinated roasted lamb shank (falling off the bone) served with a caramelized onion sauce and moroccan couscous. We find ourselves craving Michoui and can’t wait to return again for our 3rd time!
Favorites in order of preference in the South End Boston neighborhood:
Teranga – Senegalese food that is spiced wonderfully and one of our favorites
The Elephant Walk – Cambodian/French fusion
Anoushella – Eastern Mediterranean cuisine
South End Buttery – adorable bakery/café off of quaint Union Park
Sonder Stays – furnished apartment rentals all over Boston neighborhoods
Worcester Community Garden – community members have little patches of earth and create the most wonderful little gardens in their spaces.
Foodie’s – a nice grocery store for buying fresh and prepared foods.
Boston Center for the Arts – a 501 nonprofit visual and performing arts complex in the South End neighborhood
Local Baskit – Concord, NH based cook-at-home meal delivery kits – sourcing some ingredients locally
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 lemons
- 2 leeks
- fresh parsley
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse lemons, pat dry, and zest. Then halve and juice lemons. Trim leeks and thinly slice white and light green parts (I use my mandolin for this). Rinse them in several changes of water to remove any traces of soil. Drain well. Rinse parsley, pat dry, and chop coarsely
- Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve. Heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Add rice and toast until dry and starting to brown slightly, until the rice is fragrant. Add 2 cups and 1 tsp salt and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low very low and cover. Cook at a bare simmer for 45 minutes. When the rice is tender and most of the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave covered until serving time to allow the cooked rice to steam slightly.
- Brown chicken with salt and pepper, then massage lemon zest into chicken. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add 1 TBS of olive oil to the pan. Add chicken to pn and sear on each side for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
- To the same pan of juices, add leeks and season with salt. Sauté, sitrring occasionally, about 10 minutes, until stating to brown. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice and honey. Return browned chicken thighs to pan and mound leeks on top of chicken. Transfer skilled to oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through (I also use an instant read thermometer and take the chicken off at 150˚F and let it sit for about 5 minutes)
- Divide rice between plates, then top with chicken and leeks. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.