Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Accounting for Easter

Here we are in April with snow on the ground.  I'm sticking to my guns that this past March was the mildest I can remember.  I don't do statistically weather research or I'm sure this could be confirmed.  We are doing okay.  Abel is six months old and Verity turns three and a half tomorrow.  We will be celebrating this occasion with cupcakes and musical chairs.  Naomi is happily and finally five.  Kindergarten is on the horizon.

We hosted on Easter this year.  The lamb did not taste as nearly as good as the rub we made for it.  The couscous with peas and mint was a subtle victory.  The roasted beet salad was present and the beehive cake was pretty to look at.  As was this baby boy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Saint Helen

Tonight Verity reminded me of Helen Keller before Annie arrived.  I'm able to articulate that after reading to the girls the moving biography by Deborah Hopkinson, Annie and Helen.  What an amazing pair.  You really must read it.  I'm on my way to request "The Story of My Life," Helen Keller's autobiography.  She is my hero and inspiration this week as I try to remember what really matters in this life.

My sister forwarded me this blog post and it gave me such a chuckle as I have similar curiosities regarding social media and the perplexities that go with this whole moDERN world we live in.  Oh Helen, what do you think?

Monday, January 4, 2016

January Musings

This holiday season I finally threw the DIY garland party I had wanted to throw since I flipped through last December's Domino magazine.  It felt triumphant to invite people into my home, ready or not, and see them walk away with something beautiful.  

Now it's January and I'm brushing myself off, craving Heidi's winter salads and wondering what I want January to look like.  We had a very, very simple fall.  I didn't send Naomi to school this year and Verity enjoyed the company of her big sister, along with one morning a week in the company Miss Emily, a warm and lovely lady who welcomes little children into her house for a playschool.  

Baby Abel joined us and keeping him alive and well was about the only task we took on.  Still, we have a relatively blank calendar in front of us.  It looks so nice and clean, but I think I might be adding a couple more to do's so that we can survive these cold winter months and grow weary of each other with a few gaps in between.  We'll see.  The month seems filled with possibilities, even if only to consider them.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dark Bark Secrets

Last night I made a "test batch" of the holiday bark that I've made the past couple years.  I want to give some away but I also want to eat it every day this coming week.  Just a little bit here and there -after lunch, during rest time, (Naomi asks me what I'm eating, "nuts" is my reply.) and most importantly when Eric is with the girls during bedtime routine, Abel is somewhere and I'm in the kitchen gobbling down whatever I've told them they can't have.  This is when being an adult really pays off -overeating and stuff.  Because like the girls I've been staging an oatmeal protest at breakfast, much to Eric's dismay.  And unlike them I can get away with it.  So I make up for lost time in the kitchen when I should be helping but instead I'm standing by the sink pretending to wash dishes.  And now that I have a trusty candy thermometer, I finally cook the sugar and butter and honey long enough where it turns out like a brittle.  

Salted Honey and Chocolate Bark

12oz. saltine or Ritz crackers
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
6oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup dried tart cherries or sweetened dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. coffee beans, crushed
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
2 tbsp. roasted cacao nibs
2 tsp. flaky sea salt (use less if you have only kosher)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using your hands coarsely crumble crackers onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Toast until golden brown about 8 minutes.  Let crackers cool.
Meanwhile, heat sugar, honey, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occassionally, until butter is melted.  Fit saucepan with thermometer and whisking with frequency bring to 300 degrees, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture with bubble vigorously).  Quickly pour mixture over crackers, spreading to coat evenly.  Let cool completely.  
Drizzle chocolate over cooled crackers; immediately top with cherries, coffee beans, hazelnuts, and cacao nibs and sprinkle with salt.  At this point I gently press it all down to help it stick together, but you don't have to.  Chill until hardened.  Break bark into pieces.  It can be made 3 days in advance.  And it also keeps really well in the freezer.  

*Bon Appetit December 2013

Abel looking.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Baby Abel Joins Us For Advent

 Here's a glimpse of the new person who has joined our family.  Abel August.  He's almost three months old.  He's a big little baby and is giggling long before the girls could ever squeeze out a laugh.  Not that it's a competition.  He's making a very good first impression and generally we are all very pleased with him.   

Here he is having a vintage moment in one of my brother's baby outfits.  Here also are a few decorations around our house this Christmas season.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Meal Plan | 11.23.2015 | Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

This year we travel north to the seacoast of New Hamsphire for Thanksgiving.  Long ago my mother, having a nose for antique colonials and New England salt air carried us all up New Hampshire way from Georgia.  My aunt soon followed where she married the man my sister and I set her up with and they had children so we got cousins.  Naomi and Verity think of Aunt Becca's as paradise and it's the closest they will get on this earth for a taste of Marmie's love for them.

These dear cousins of mine are gluten-free and so I'm happily catering to this restriction which really isn't much of one, until i spotted the snowflake dinner rolls on display at the grocery store this morning.  But anyway, I'm bringing chestnut soup and a flourless chocolate cake made with almond meal from Jane Hornby's, What to Bake and How to Bake It.  I'm also going to bring Heidi Swanson's baked oatmeal and breakfast sausages for the morning after.  Afterward I plan to head to Kittery, Maine to hit up some outlets on Black Friday.  But, it's so close!  

Monday:  Lentil Night:  Kusheri
Tuesday: Leftover beef stew from Sunday's batch session
Wednesday: Aperitif at my sister's abode, so wine with some smoked trout.
Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Meal Plan | The Hurried Approach | 11.15.2015

It's been happening in the car on the way home from church as of late.  A scrap of paper found, a pencil fished out from the glove compartment.  The week is sketched out and a list is made.  Then we pull in to the grocery store and make it happen.  It's not very thoughtful, but it's reasonably efficient.  Then home we head to make a big pot of something -this week chicken soup, and another dish to help us get a head start on the week.

Monday:  Lentil Walnut Loaf from Food52
Tuesday:  Pasta, an easy red sauce and roasted broccoli 
Wednesday:  Leftover Chicken Soup
Thursday:  Baked Beans and Cornbread southern style -More With Less Edition
Friday: Pizza

My sister's chicken soup recipe is fast and delicious and it's what I use.

1 Whole Chicken, or parts, at least 2 breasts and thighs
2-3 carrots chopped
2-3 celery stalks chopped
2-4 potatoes chopped
chicken bouillon

Fill your favorite pot for making soup with water and bring to a boil.
Generously salt the water and place the chicken or chicken pieces in the water.
Chop your vegetables -celery, carrots and potatoes.
Once chicken is cooked through -remove and set aside to cool and shred.
Don't dump the water.
Add your vegetables to your pot, first the carrots and celery followed by potatoes after a few minutes.
Cook through.
 Add back the chicken meat shredded.
Along the way be tasting and adding enough salt and additional chicken bouillon until it's just right.