June 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This guy (my husband) turned 39 yesterday. What did he want to do for his birthday? We are going fishing tomorrow to celebrate. The most playful person I know. Child-like in (almost always) the best ways. A parent I learn from. An eternal optimist. He can make anything, learn anything quickly, make anything fun. A great partner to have in life.
And this kid (my son, Henry) turns 7 today!! He came out looking very much like a pterodactyl: long, skinny, and kind of pointy faced. Which was adorable, of course!
Sometimes life goes so quickly. I’m glad for the markers that call attention to all the changes. Happy Birthday, boys.
January 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
The girls and I took a trip to Circle B Preserve recently and I was reminded again how refreshing it is to pay attention to all the extraordinary beauty that’s around. It’s humbling to realize how much I take for granted.
And in other news: The days have started getting longer and that means our chickens are laying again (they took a winter hiatus)!!
And, still more: At sunset, with the windows down. Humbling and glorious.
January 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been in sort of a romantic mood lately and have been taking walks with the kids in the dark so we can get out and look at the moon (full!) and stars. It’s been so great: a little movement, some clean air (much-needed since we all came down with strep throat after Christmas!), and the immense beauty of the night sky. I like wide-open spaces when I feel like this.
December 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
We had such a good, calm, and relaxed day around here. There was no soccer, and not many presents left to hunt for, so we all (almost all) slept in. Past 8 A.M.! Glorious. There has been chess, a movie version of Heidi, some cleaning up with minimal complaining (myself included, there), decorating of the house for Christmas, musings on a Christmas eve dinner menu, soccer in the yard, flower gathering by two of my girls (they love to go hunt for flowers around the yard and put them in vases), and a little baking.
The baking of the day was the especially pleasing kind: using up some blackened bananas that were sitting on the counter, waiting for redemption. A simple banana bread fit right in to our slow and simple day. No frosting, no special ingredients, not even a mixer required (which is good, because I broke mine)! I made little cakes with the batter just because those are always fun to eat. I’ve made this recipe a few times before and I’ll continue making it, although I might mess with the flour type at some point when I’m feeling ambitious. We’ll see. That’s the kind of day it’s been: “We’ll just see…’
Small Banana Cakes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 plain Greek yogurt
Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with liners (or you can butter 12 muffin cups in lieu of liners).
Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, mix butter, by hand or with a mixer (if you are using a mixer, mix on low speed), until creamy. Add the sugar and mix until pale and fluffy. Your arm will get a workout if you are doing it by hand. Your mixer should be on medium speed. Add vanilla and egg and mix for another minute. Slowing down your speed, mix in the mashed bananas. Add in half of the dry mixture, and then add the sour cream. Finally add the rest of the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Divide the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes and check on the cakes. bake until they are a burnished gold color on their tops. (the original says 28-32 minutes, but that will vary with individual ovens so check them on the early side).
Pull the muffins and out and let cool for a few minutes in the tin. Then, flip them out onto a cooling rack, flip them right side up and let them cool to room temperature (or eat them warm, because you can’t wait anymore, like we do). You can keep them, wrapped tight, at room temp for 2-3 days or you can wrap and freeze them for up to 2 months.
December 1, 2011 § 3 Comments
Well, here it is, only a week or so after Thanksgiving and I’ve been noticing that I’m in my full-on, Christmas-crazy mode. My symptoms include talking way too fast about everything, being even more late than I usually am, and snapping at my children for being children (talking loudly, playing raucously, singing…you know, really annoying stuff). It’s a state of unrest, of fidgety discontent.
Honestly, I kind of dread Christmas every year. It’s sad, I know. It’s supposed to be a time of wonder and anticipation, but I usually end up feeling like a failure. It may be that our traditions aren’t meaningful enough, or our decorations not pretty enough, or our presents not fancy enough. Food wise, I end up feeling crappy that our Christmas dinner isn’t made with 100% local, organic, sustainably farmed ingredients. It seems like the opportunities to fall short are legion and I can’t stand up under all of that pressure, even if it’s self-induced. I start to crack up a bit and it’s the people around me that feel it most.
Well, this year I’m setting some goals: I’m going to try not to put “perfect” expectations on our Christmas. I’m going to take it as it comes. I’m going to try to be very selective about what we “have” to do b/c I want to enjoy my family and not take out my frustration, over feeling too busy, on them. I’m going to try to love the people around me the best that I can, and to that end, I’m going to stay within our gift giving budget (buyer’s remorse makes me cranky). I also have one other very important goal for the Christmas season: to make cookies, lots and lots of cookies. Lots and lots of sables, if we want to get specific.
Sables, french shortbread cookies (sable means sand in French), are buttery, luxurious little dreams made from a few readily available, and inexpensive ingredients (butter being the most used). Rosemary Lemon Sables are just sables with lemon in the batter with rosemary hanging out on the edge for fun. These things are a breeze, too, and that’s important this time of year. You can make several batches, roll them into logs (gently!), and pop them in the freezer where they can stay for up to a month before you bake them (you can also just keep them in the refrigerator for a couple of days if that’s all you need) When you are ready, you can roll them in herbs or whatever (see variations below), and just slice and bake as needed. If you make a big batch now you’ll have little bits of stress-free Christmas joy ready to be given to hosts and hostesses, office mates, or your kid’s teachers at a moment’s notice (ok, more like 20 minutes notice, but still).
Lemon Rosemary Sables*
(Lemon Sable recipe by Dorie Greenspan)
MAKES ABOUT 40 COOKIES
***Plan ahead: This dough has to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before baking
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter (high-fat, like Plugra is great, but regular butter works well, too), softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon sea salt *
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour.
For the decoration (optional):
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons minced, fresh rosemary
*I used 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and was very pleased with the results.
1. With a mixer (standing or handheld), beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy (I actually did this by hand and they turned out fine).
2. Mix the sugar and zest together in a bowl and rub them together with your fingers until you can smell the lemon and the sugar is moist.
3. Add the sugars and salt and beat until smooth and looking like velvet. You’re not going for fluffy and airy, so keep it to about 1 minute (Dorie’s advice). Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, beating until well blended.
4. Turn your mixer off, pour in all the flour, and, at low speed, pulse the mixer about 5 times (a kitchen towel over the mixer will help keep flour from flying all over the kitchen). Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds more. You only want to mix until the flour disappears into the dough. If, after 30 seconds, there is still flour on the bottom of the bowl, take a spatula and work it into the dough. You don’t want the dough to come together into a ball. It should be clumpy and soft. (she likens the feel of it to Play-doh)
5. Pour the dough out on a work surface, bring it into a ball, and divide it in two. Shape each piece into a log about 9 inches long and 1 1/2″ wide. (When forming your logs, lay the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and use it to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and put them in the refrigerator for at least two hours. The dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or kept in the freezer for 1 month. (if frozen, let dough thaw a bit before slicing into cookies. If they crumble when you slice them, you can gently pinch them back together)
6. When it’s time to bake, center one baking rack in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.
7. To apply the rosemary, whisk the egg yolk and brush it onto one log of chilled dough. Sprinkle the rosemary on a work surface and roll the log in the rosemary until somewhat covered. (you don’t want a thick crust, so go easy). Trim the ends of the log if they are uneven and slice it into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.
8. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. Dorie says: “When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top”. Let the cookies rest a couple of minutes before carefully moving them to a cooling rack (you can use the parchment as a “sling” from one surface to another). Repeat the process with the other log, letting the cookie sheet cool before baking the next batch.
~you could roll this shortbread in other herbs, too. Thyme and basil would be nice. Poppy-seeds or finely chopped walnuts would be good as well.
~Also, for a sugar-free option, you can take out both sugars and lemon and replace them with 3/4 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese. Beat the cheese into the creamed butter before the flour goes in. A roll in a savory herb is still excellent.
October 20, 2011 § 3 Comments
Here are more kitchens I’ve been looking to for inspiration for “our” (my in-laws’) kitchen remodel. See round one of images here. Thoughts, comments, and experiences wanted.
(ABOVE) Love the table as island. I also love the wooden counter throughout. It probably appeals to me so much because I can’t have it (ugly, but true). I love the look of wood countertops, but not the water damage that will eventually (I think?) happen. Does anyone out there have wood counters that have stood up over the years?
Another table island and I think I marked this one b/c we have a vaulted, cedar ceiling that I’m thinking of painting, but I’m on the fence. You can’t go back, once it’s painted, so I’m trying to decide.
Focus only on that amazing window. I love the 2 rows on top, 3 on the bottom. Ok, look at the open shelves, too. They’re so pretty. Skylight is great, too.
Wow. Love the window style, the island off the floor, the vivid blue accents, open shelves, painted beamed ceiling, and (even though I sometimes don’t like them) the pot rack. So elegant, but, still, a cooking kitchen.
And finally, I really liked this for a pantry idea: furniture look, not just cabinets, windows on doors that can be covered with curtains if need be. Pretty.
October 11, 2011 § 6 Comments
This is a shirt I sewed this summer and just now got around to posting it. I’m particularly fond of racer back tanks, and I was so proud of myself for sewing a knit (stretchy and woven) garment and having it be wearable in public (not just to sleep in).
This is a shirt I sewed three days ago…It’sn Lisette pattern number 2245, and I really like it. I just need a pair of slim cigarette pants or something to wear with it b/c it’s a boxy shirt (I love that about it, but it needs some slim accompaniment). Linen Fabric with a bit of metallic sheen. Vintage button. Photos by my 4-year-old and therefore a bit dark and fuzzy!
And these two skirts are the same pattern, Lisette number 2211, and came together really quickly. I really like the pattern and went on a bit of a sewing binge, sewing them back to back in a span of 24 hours. The first is a nice stretchy denim and the second a fine wale corduroy in a color that reminds me of butternut squash and nutmeg! Fall.
I have several more things I’m wanting to sew, but need to stop neglecting my house for a few days (toilets, laundry,clutter, hello!). I was sent a link to this project by my daughter’s awesome, first grade teacher (Hi Miss Lewis!!!) and I’m ready to take it on, but I want to find the perfect, cheap/free tank top before I experiment. But isn’t it cute? Definitely summer, but, who am I kidding? It’s still 85 degrees here and will be until some time in November or December. I can wear summer clothes nine or ten months out of the year. Soon!
Have you seen Downton Abbey ? It’s a PBS (and BBC) TV version of Gossford Park, but with much more endearing characters. It’s in its second season now. Great costumes, too.
I missed Springsteen in the eighties (elementary school), and I’m definitely a cheese ball, but I love this song! Like it or not, intense commitment is where great things begin. A great song.