Talk about SUCCULENT! You may have noticed the latest appetizer trend at bistros and dinner parties is the fancy-named Charcuterie (shahr-cute-uh-ree) board. But this is not a new thing – Charcuterie can be traced back to the first century in France as a variety of unrefrigerated meats, primarily from pork.
There’s several ways to put together this easy appetizer. Focus on a few meats such as prosciutto and salami, then add in cheese, pickles and spreads. I also like to add in grapes or thinly sliced apples for even more variety and texture. A quick trip to the deli counter and farmers market, and you’re ready to go.
I purchased a large butcher block board on Amazon like this one, and use it only for charcuterie. You can also use interesting baskets for bread, or additional smaller boards. Add in branches from a lemon tree, wild mint from the garden, or any edible plants you have growing in the yard such as a sprigs of rosemary or flowering nasturtiums. Think about color and contrast when developing your plate.
Here’s a quick list of ingredients you can use. Focus on about 6 – 8 items. Simple boards for smaller parties might just have 4 items. Stock up on olives, pickles, and other pantry-ready items, so you can put something together in a few minutes!
- Meats: Prosciutto, Salami, Mousse or Pate, Pepperoni
- Cheese: Hard Cheddar, Soft Brie, Goat Cheese Log, Spicy Swiss
- Bread: French Bread, Toasted Pita, Crackers, Toast Triangles
- Fruit and Vegetables: Grapes, Sliced Apple, Dried Apricots, Thin Sliced Radishes
- Pickles and Olives: Cornichon Pickles, Stuffed Jumbo Olives, Black Kalamata Olives
- Spreads: Whole Grain Mustard, Honey, Fig Jam
- Nuts: Spicy Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Salted Cashews
This easy appetizer is super easy to assemble for any party. Use what you have on hand and make it simple! The most important thing is to have fun and make your Charcuterie Board your very own!
Succulent topped green pumpkin
Mini-pumpkin with acorns
Large selection from Serenity Gardens
Mini-pumpkin with long stem
Yes, that’s a pumpkin!
I just got back from a wonderful two-day fall event at Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA. If you are a succulent lover, visit them and you will feel like you died and went to heaven. There are acres and acres of colorful and amazing varieties of succulents and roses, lining the fields and hillsides and staging areas of design. It was also fun to be with 200+ others who are intrigued and obsessed by these plants – some even more than me!
One of the events I participated in was hosted by Laura Eubanks of Serenity Gardens. With her excellent direction, we created a gorgeous Succulent Topped Pumpkin centerpiece, which will last well through the holidays. Three years ago, this creative Master Gardener was looking for something unusual to accent her holiday decorations, and after a little experimenting, she came up with the succulent pumpkin! Her creations are available for sale at a variety of locations including Roger’s Gardens and through her website. You can also request a custom gift, centerpiece or landscape arrangement and have it shipped to any location.
Or – like me – you can learn to do it yourself! The workshop included all the tools you need but here’s the short list if you want to DIY:
- Florist Moss
- Cuttings of a variety of succulents in varying sizes
- Cones, Acorns, Magnolia Pods
- Craft Glue or Hot Glue Gun
Watch this instructional 4-minute video with Laura and photojournalist/author Debra Lee Baldwin for complete directions on creating your own masterpiece. Have fun! Send pictures!
Pallets! They really are are everywhere, just looking for a home! These nice pieces of wood usually end up in the trash, then on to landfills. But once you get looking for them, they are easy to find. My local appliance store usually has a heap of them near the trash every week. Make sure you check the markings to make sure they are safe to reuse. Also, you can look for freebies on Craigslist or Freecycle.org where you are sure to find them. I had several given to me and stashed on the side of the house, while contemplating how to make them into a succulent garden.
One morning this summer, Tom disappeared for a couple hours, then proudly led me to HIS creation! (I’m thinking maybe he was tired of seeing me hunched over in my garden, hunched over planting pots, then hunched over the rest of the day.) He partially dismantled a couple of pallets to make a usable, wide and deep potting bench. We topped it with a piece of purchased plywood for a total cost of $18. Anyway, here’s a bit of inspiration to re-purposing the ever-available wood pallet!
Tom converting pallets
Lots of storage underneath
New working pallet potting bench
Already loaded with projects
Mix and match succulent creation
- Pallet Ideas (diyconfessions.com)
- Potting Bench (onecarwood.wordpress.com)
- Pallet to Park Bench… (mostlymadeup.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Your Own Furniture from Pallets (ways2gogreenblog.com)
- A Look At Pallet Recycling (larrydkeen.com)
One of my new favorite places in town is a store called Mak & Jill at the Abode. Formerly Humble Abode, it’s located in a charming Spanish cottage right in the heart of downtown San Clemente. Each room is filled with unique finds, ocean-inspired art, antiques and painted furniture. The backyard is a succulent-lovers paradise with chalk-painted beach chairs, arranged containers, and nautical accents.
The two owners, Mak and Jill, have been friends since childhood, and merged their creative take on interior design and love for everything re-purposed. The place has been transforming week by week into a haven for beach-goers and shoppers looking for items that are unique and non-traditional. They are also stockists of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and offer workshops in furniture painting.
With reasonable prices and tons of inventory, we are wishing them tons of success this summer. If you are planning on coming to San Clemente, this is a great stop. With plenty of restaurants, boutiques, farmers market (Sunday 9am – 1pm) and art show the first Sunday of the month, you can get a lot of beach fun packed in to a few hours.
MaK & JiLL at The Abode
Store Hours: Mon – Sat 10 – 6, Sun 10 – 5
228 Avenida Del Mar,
San Clemente, CA 92672
For more info, you can call the store at 949-303-5460
The new Abode
A sofa full of succulents
Great little finds displayed in the yard
Letters – design your own
Lots of succulents in unique containers
Monthly classes in furniture painting
Great chalk-painted sand chairs