The weather finally turned and we spent hours outside this weekend, playing football and working in the garden.
Reading: Year of Wonder. I found myself in the mood for a good plague book after Kristen Lavransdatter. I don't like discussing books while I'm reading because there's still time for things to go very wrong but this is beautifully written and touching so far. It's a touch crude in spots, which I think jars me more than it should because I spend so many hours reading aloud to children.
Knitting: Wee Envelope, the second. It's knitting up quite quickly! I've been rising at 4:00am whenever possible because having a few hours to sit and knit and think whole thoughts makes all the difference in my day. I might be able to finish this in less than a week.
Baking: Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake This was very good. My husband and I both prefer apple pie so it wasn't a home run but the process of making it was beautiful in and of itself. Melting butter in the cast iron skillet and peeling the firm, ripe apples... It was a good way to pass an autumn Sunday.
Learning: We finished memorizing The Village Blacksmith last week and are moving on to Robert Frost's October (ht: Melanie via FB). I had no intention of studying poetry as much as we are, but Morning Time inspires me to reach for our poetry books far more often. Who knows what fruit this will bear?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
My husband bought me rosemary! He complains about how much rosemary I have planted around our little garden and he still bought it for me because he thought it would make me happy. Le sigh. It does make me very happy.
Francis Meilland rose - one of my very most favorite roses. A soft, creamy pink. My husband wanted to ditch this rose because the plant itself is sort of hideous right now, but it matters not. This fragrant bloom is all I see.
Not pictured: Cucumbers and a very few tomatoes, some peppers still, the corn (growing plumper by the day!), and my sad little carrot patch which is hopefully thriving far more under the soil than above. We won't have a bountiful autumn harvest, but I hope to be able to contribute something homegrown to our Thanksgiving table.
OK! Still time to get in a little knitting and tidying before everyone begins to stir. Happy Monday, friends!
Most of what we grow in the garden goes directly into our mouths. But the tomatoes? Can't keep up. I'm giving them away to friends, neighbors, and our priests. I'm making salsa, BLTs and pasta salad. I roasted a big dish yesterday for sauce or soup, it matters not. And still. I can see a pile of 20 or so from where I sit. I'm hoping that the mockingbirds, who have invited ALL THEIR BIRD FRIENDS to our garden, will go for the tomatoes and leave my dear peaches alone.
It's nice because the last two years we've gotten very few tomatoes. This year our winners in the garden have been tomatoes and blackberries. Only two of our blueberries have many berries to speak of and those are being plucked by the aforementioned birds and an overeager toddler. No onions or potatoes this year because we just ran out of time. We've gotten a few peppers, jalapeno and bell and they were extraordinarily good. Try as I might, I never get a good spring crop of peppers. Once fall rolls around, they shine. The children ate all the peaches from our early tree and the others are being eaten by the (picture me typing and deleting like a billion swear words here) birds. (My husband just confirmed that they got every.last.peach.) I still have a bit of hope for our pears.
Winners in the kitchen this week: Fruit pops, a summer must. My son likes blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, and orange juice. My daughter likes peaches in place of the blueberries. Roasted tomatoes . Coconut Brown Butter Cookies. The browned butter was good in this recipe. In the mashed potatoes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook? Not good! No one would eat them insisting that they tasted like shortbread. But the meatloaf on the same page? Very good. Tonight we are grilling chicken with roasted corn and tomato salsa. It's so, so nice to actually be at home in the summer and have the ability to plan and make meals!
On our metaphorical plate, My 13 year old's Latin final. I am not sure how to wrap up the school year because we started a few subjects halfway through the year. But I need to look back and evaluate before we move forward.
(Terrible picture, I know, but this is the third time I've made this with the intention to post, and yet it's done after sunset every time.)
Monkey Bread from Smitten Kitchen! My sister insisted I make this and I'm so glad she did. It's one of the best things I've ever baked. Like, I think if I ever did anything really wrong in my marriage, I'd make this for dessert and all would be forgiven. Lucky for my husband, he just gets it because I love him. We've made it three times this month. My recommendation? Don't bother with the cream cheese glaze. It's not needed. Mine baked up beautifully and not over browned in a stoneware bundt pan - I got mine from Pampered Chef over a decade ago. I always mess up the baking with coated pans. I do have a coated madeleine pan but I can't honestly say I get better results with it as opposed to my uncoated one.
Aaaanyway. I think I get back here so infrequently I have to write a showstopper of a post which is something I'm not even capable of, so I stay away entirely. This morning? It's just a link to a great recipe with a crummy picture. Enjoy, friends!
I became a little obsessed with making marshmallows in the last couple of weeks. I only kind of like marshmallows and most of my family won't eat them at all so this made zero sense. I didn't let that stop me and made them for a Superbowl party snack.
I used Ina's recipe because Ina can do no wrong. It was simple and the marshmallows came out beautifully. It's still a marshmallow and there isn't much that can make it into a sophisticated culinary experience. I will say that I had so much fun making these that it was totally worth it. The whipping, the spreading, the sifting of the powdered sugar, the cutting into little cubes? Just fun and tremendously satisfying. I made half the batch straight up and the other was used to top (adapted) S'more Bars (these were good-not-great as I made them).
So I whipped up, literally, a batch of marshmallows, still puzzled as to why it was a creative urge I could not ignore and then sat down to my knitting. And there it was. Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport in Marshmallow. I think I need to be more careful about my yarn color names.
I recommend these to my northern friends who might have a wee bit of cabin fever as a fun, easy, relatively cheap but super sticky way to brighten up your winter. I imagine they'd be super yummy in hot chocolate.
Time seemed plentiful this weekend. I played baseball with my son, read to my oldest daughter until she fell asleep, watched a little football, and experimented a bit in the kitchen.
I finally made that No Knead Bread - what, six years after first seeing it? It reminds me of Artisan-Bread-in-5-Minutes but slightly less work and slightly less flavor. Everyone seemed to enjoy it but it we didn't have any best.bread.ever claims. I probably won't make this again.
In the definitely make again category: Farmer's Cheese! I first saw this done on a Martha Stewart segment years ago. This recipe was linked at soulemama's last week and it was too simple not to try. It was mild but with a great texture. I held back on the salt because it seemed like a lot, but it really needed the full amount. I think this would be so fun in the spring with fresh garden herbs and tomatoes. My sisters should make this. ;)
I poked around the garden a bit, hoping for inspiration. I usually can't wait to get my hands dirty, but after a meager harvest last year and a new layout this year, I'm just a little lost as to where to start.
Baby just woke up and I promised my sister I'd post these recipes. So I shall abruptly end this. Happy Monday!
I received a tortilla press for Christmas. It has been on my kitchen wish list for ages. I don't know if I can specifically recommend the press I have because it's a little too small for my liking but I highly, highly recommend trying to find one you like. Texans have access to some pretty good tortillas but these are far, far better than anything I've purchased, even at a specialty shop. I consider tortillas a staple, so it's really nice to be able to make them myself. I'm using the King Arthur tortilla recipe right now, made with butter.
I made the family regular beef tacos for the trial run and they were enough of a hit that we can't stop talking about them (specifically, making them over a campfire). The above is my lunch from today. Avocado, tomato, bell pepper and an onion marmalade my sister sent for Christmas.
Snuggle Puppy is being shoved in my face now, so that's all for today! Hope it's a good one, friends!
Reposting this for Margaret. I wrote it, published, the pulled it for no good reason but that I am feeling a bit quiet and shy around here still.
The weather forced us inside for a few days. I was unusually on top of things the day before the storm hit and stocked up on ingredients for cozy, hearty meals. I made this pot roast, Ina's Tortilla Soup, honey bread, salads, and potato soup ... We've eaten well this past week. We've spent hours by the fire, played board games, and read. We didn't make Mass this week and it has thrown me off but there was no helping it. I also didn't get to plan or execute our typical second Sunday of Advent tea time. I am working on rectifying that today. We've decorated the wreath with fresh greenery and I just rolled out gingerbread dough. The children rummaged through the cookie cutter basket and chose their shapes.
We're just picking up steam now and honestly, this holiday business is not for me. I endure December in a Merle Haggard sort of way. It's too bright, too costly, too busy, too much for me. But there are some little things that I love; birch branches, fresh flowers around the Advent wreath, bulbs chilling in the refrigerator. And right now, I'm reading Bubo, the Great Horned Owl by Jean Craighead George to my son. I love disappearing into those woods every evening.
I have to run now. The chidlren have waited long enough for gingerbread. I'll be back soon.
I'm lingering over coffee this morning though I need to be dressing for Mass. I always botch the Nicene Creed if I haven't had enough coffee.
I am looking forward to a whole week at home! I have yarn, new flannel, books, and coffee. I hope to clean the house and have a little creative time with the children too. I scrubbed and bleached the trash can last week and hit the bathroom yesterday. So satisfying!
Funny story: I've been working on a bonnet to match Coraline and I finished it last night. I set it on a lampshade to block on my way out the door. We came home later that night and someone (me) switched the lamp on not realizing how high the bulb extended until people started asking, "What's that smell?" Yeah. There's a nice burn spot on the inside now. The stitches aren't entirely compromised and she will wear that bonnet at least once before I burn it entirely because man, that smocking stitch has been a headache. I need a nice chunky garter stitch sweater.
I have a fun new sewing policy to keep me going. One yard in, one yard out. I ordered some new knit fabric this weekend because I cannot find plain children's cotton jammies to suit me. I so mega-loathe the policy on flame retardant jammies. So many cute styles! In itchy polyester and soaked in weird chemicals. Aaaannyyyway, I placed the order and, because I'm terrified of a Hoarder-like home, I have been obsessively sewing this weekend. Easy stuff, peasant nightgowns and pajama pants. My husband and I were talking last night about why it mattered to me. It's because I get to occasionally call something done. You don't get that a lot in parenting.
A sweet baby nightgown for a new walker. My oldest was sick last week and skipped a night of ballet - oh, the things I accomplished with that gift of time not spent on the highway!! I added a ruffle, y'all.
Some good things from last week. I was supposed to post this Friday but alas, the time gets away from me these days. I vacillate between loving this space and feeling like I can't commit to it enough and should pull the plug but I have this yarn, you see. It's the color of gingerbread and oh so beautiful. And without a blog, I have no reason to take a photo of this yarn. I don't want to be the kind of person who doesn't photograph a beautiful skein of yarn.
But it's not happening this morning. So I'll be back. Sooner or later.
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