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Good morning, and happy Sunday! Can you believe that it’s the last day of July?! We had another typical summer week here in Virginia, full of flowers, peaches, pools, and books. All of the highlights, along with each of our dinners, are included in today’s roundup of Our Week in Meals!

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For those of you who are new to the blog, Our Week in Meals is where I share a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the past week — as it relates to our dinners each night. This series gives you a glimpse “behind the scenes” at some highlights from our life, shows you how I balance a busy schedule with feeding my family, and offers a few new ideas for your own weekly meal plan. Now, let’s back up to last weekend…

Here’s a perfect snapshot of Virginia in July: my friend’s homemade grape juice, a neighbor’s flowers and fresh basil, and a tray of local peaches!

I met my neighbor, Barbara, for a walk up the road bright and early on Sunday morning…before the 100°F heat truly set in.

We took the boys out to lunch in Culpeper, went to the pool for a swim, and eventually returned home for supper.

Keith grilled steaks and bbq chicken wings,

Close up front shot of grilled new york strip steak on a cutting board

which I paired with rosemary roasted potatoes (I actually used purple potatoes from my neighbor’s garden — a first!), dinner rolls from the farmer’s market, and a simple tomato-basil salad with the tomatoes from another neighbor’s garden. ‘Tis the season for local produce, and we’re doing our best to enjoy it!

Hands holding a bowl of fresh tomato salad with basil and balsamic

Casey had an orientation at the middle school on Monday morning, since he’s starting 6th grade in a few weeks. While he was occupied, I dragged the other two boys back up to Culpeper for a couple of errands — including school supplies at Target. These kids are not ready to return to the classroom!

After we scooped up Casey at the school, we made a quick stop at my friend Adria’s farm to tend to her garden while she was out of town. I snipped some dahlias, and also brought home cucumbers and yellow squash.

Aren’t they stunning?!

Dinner that night was a pot of creamy roasted tomato soup, paired with grilled cheese sandwiches. This combination is always a hit with my crew, and the soup is an easy way to use up a good number of fresh tomatoes at this time of year.

Mollie came over for an early walk on Tuesday morning,

and then I took the boys to ride their bikes at the school before the rain arrived that afternoon.

I drive them to find pavement, yet they always end up off-roading…

My friend Andrea, who I haven’t seen in about 15 years, was visiting Virginia this week from Ohio. She brought her 3 kids to Madison for the afternoon, which was such a treat. The boys and I had grand plans to take them to the pool, or for a hike in Shenandoah National Park, but the weather didn’t cooperate and instead it rained most of the afternoon.

Andrea and I had fun reminiscing about our early 20s and our years of teaching middle school together, while the kids had a blast with the dog and the toys inside. Late afternoon when the rain cleared, we went over to Yoder’s to feed the animals.

Our guests stayed for supper, so I planned a menu that would be kid-friendly, and largely items that I could prepare in advance. We picked up fried chicken from the Wolftown Country Store (here’s my favorite homemade recipe if you have more time),

Close up side shot of a plate of the best fried chicken recipe on a metal plate with a side of pickles

and I made the sides to go with it: vinegar coleslaw,

Close up side shot of a bowl of vinegar coleslaw

fruit salad with vanilla pudding,

Close overhead image of a bowl of the best fruit salad recipe served in a white handmade bowl

pickles, potato chips, and cornbread.

Close up side shot of Jiffy cornbread with creamed corn and sour cream on a plate with honey and butter on top.

We had soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies for dessert, and set up an ice cream bar with all of the toppings for the kiddos (sprinkles, M&M’s, whipped cream, marshmallows, caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce). So much sugar, and such a fun way to spend a summer evening!

Stack of soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies on a dark surface

A foggy Wednesday morning walk…

Can you spot the volunteer sunflowers in the field?

Gibbs had a golf lesson that afternoon in Ruckersville, so the younger boys and I entertained ourselves with some errands while we waited for him to finish up.

I made Italian Sausage and Peppers for supper,

Overhead image of a pan of Italian sausage peppers and onion garnished with parmesan and basil

which we paired with pasta and 3-ingredient roasted yellow squash.

Close up side shot of a plate of roasted yellow squash

Book report time! I have three good books to share with you this week. First up, a novel called The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This is a reimagination of Homer’s The Iliad, and an entertaining combination of adventure, thriller, and love story.

Next up, I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg. This wasn’t my favorite Fannie Flagg book, but it’s still full of that classic Flagg writing style that so perfectly combines serious topics with funny, over-the-top characters. Worth the read!

Finally, a fun summer beach read by Emily Henry: People We Meet on Vacation. Here’s the quick summary from Amazon:

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
 
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
 
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
 
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

We drove south on Thursday morning to spend the day in Nelson County at my parents’ house.

We got peaches and apples from a local orchard,

rode bikes, went for a swim,

and stayed for supper. My mom set up a make-your-own burrito bar, knowing that it would be a big hit with the kids. Tortillas with beef taco meat, chicken, rice, refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, olives, chips, and more. Plus brownies for dessert before we headed back home…

I dropped the boys off with their former babysitter, Rebekah, on Friday morning. She helped raise these kiddos from the time they were newborns, and still lives on a farm up the road from us. She invited them over to go “adventuring,” which included a walk through those 6-feet-tall cornfields to the pond on the other side, picking green beans from her garden, and opening aloe plants to find the gel. They came home tired and hungry for lunch!

While the boys were occupied, I stopped by my friend’s house to tend to her garden again while she was still out of town. I came home with more beautiful flowers, as well as 6 giant cucumbers. Looks like I have refrigerator pickles and cucumber salad in my near future…

I spent the rainy afternoon testing a couple of new recipes. First, a batch of peach jam that was a total fail, since it scorched when I got distracted and briefly forgot to stir the pot. Ugh, so frustrating. I redeemed myself, though, with a delicious apple cobbler recipe, coming to the blog soon. I’ve got one foot in summer, and the other foot looking ahead to fall!

Keith was out of town for a long weekend in Atlanta with his dad and brothers to watch the Braves play baseball, so I let the kids pick the dinner menu. Not surprisingly, they opted for pancakes! We paired the pancakes with sausage and fruit for an easy supper that was a little bit different usual.

Front shot of small hands pouring syrup on a plate of fluffy buttermilk pancakes

I also baked a Southern squash casserole, because I wanted something savory and I had all of the ingredients in the fridge. A sliced garden tomato with salt and pepper finished the meal. Such a random mix, but it all tasted delicious. Plus apple cobbler for dessert, of course!

Close overhead image of a spoon in a dish of southern squash casserole.

Our only outing on Saturday was a quick stop at the farmer’s market. Otherwise, we stayed close to home while the kids played and I shot some recipe photos.

Our apple trees are heavy with fruit, so I used some of those, as well as the apples that I bought at the orchard earlier in the week, and canned a batch of Crock Pot apple butter, too!

We had spinach lasagna for dinner, which is one of Gibbs’ favorite meals. I paired the pasta with store-bought garlic breadsticks and the leftover squash casserole from the night before.

Close overhead shot of spinach lasagna in a white dish

And that’s it for the month of July! I hope that you’ve found some new recipes to add to your family’s table in the days ahead. Thank you for being here, and have a great Sunday!

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

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  1. Hi Blair. I was wondering if you can share your friend’s homemade grape juice with us?
    Thank you,

    Carmen V. Perez

    1. Hi, Carmen! Yes, I was planning to ask her for the recipe, because it’s absolutely delicious and she doesn’t even peel the grapes to make it. Like magic! Stay tuned for that, because I’ll try to make some and share the details when the local grapes ripen this month!

  2. How on earth do you find time to do all the things you do I would be exhausted but I sure do look forward to Sunday post

    1. Thank you, Rita! This felt like a particularly busy month, I agree. While I’ll miss the boys, I’m looking forward to returning to the school schedule in a few weeks so that my days are quieter while they’re gone. Right now I feel like a full-time mom and a full-time camp counselor — in addition to the rest of my jobs! 🙂

  3. Blair,
    Your blog and photos are lovely. It brings back good memories of spending weekends at my father in laws in Madison, VA at his beautiful farmhouse. We loved spending time in Culpepper. We have wonderful memories eating at the Bavarian Chef and It’s About Thyme! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful glimpse of your family and life. I look forward to trying some of your recipes, delish! Wishing you all the best from Tennessee. Lisa C.

    1. That’s such a small world, Lisa! Yes, I know both of those restaurants well. Definitely local faves!

      Thank you for reading the blog and for taking the time to leave a note. Have a good week!