Monday, July 21, 2008

Enjoying the Summer

Hope you're enjoying all your picnic foods!

For me, one of the most exciting parts of the summer months are all the fresh foods available in my community. We're surrounded by healthy, organic farms that are treating the community, the Earth, their workers and their crops with love. It makes a huge difference in the outcome, if you ask me. The berries couldn't be sweeter and the vegetables are so ripe and juicy. I can't stop thinking about new ways to put the most amazing ingredients together in new and delicious ways.

Recently we tried the apricot tart from Everyday Foods (one of the most wonderful cooking magazines delivered to my door!). After a few minutes of nervous whisking over medium heat the corn starch did it's magic and I was left with a creamy custard (Whew!). I threw some organic blueberries on just because I saw them in the drawer.

The outcome was a big hit at dinner that night. I have to mention that I wasn't expecting the tart filling to be really custard-like. It tasted more like what you would find in a coconut cream pie. I was thinking more vanilla pudding. I think I'd prefer something a little bit lighter next time.

Sophia enjoyed licking the spoon....

I know that the warm summer months aren't typically spend baking bread but at my recent (childless!!!) trip to the local library I picked up "Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day" and have been baking bread daily ever since.

I can't rave loud or long enough about what an amazing book this is. It came highly recommended and I pass on the wisdom to you. There is even an informative website to accompany the book!! (Kate, don't rush out to buy it just yet!)

This was my very first loaf. Since then we've broken out Geo's baking stone and the loaves have become bigger and crustier and packed full of herbs.
And what goes with freshly baked bread? How about some delicious jam??

Monday, July 14, 2008

We're Doing A Happy Dance....So Should You

There is a Hi-Res version on the You Tube site that is much, much better.

The Schwartz Family

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Celebration of Freedom

George pointed out that I have been a blog slacker. No update since the last holiday....

Guilt is a great motivator.

(He swore that HE didn't mind the "vacation" but he was SURE that there would be relatives that were shaking their heads in disappointment the next time they pulled up the site and saw the same ol' same ol')...

I'll catch ya'll up...

Inspired by our Peaster, The Dadder and I have been quite the social butterflies this summer. We've visited several friends and have planned for several more visits.

"Schantzie" and his lovely, lovely family were the first. We partied on their back porch and chatted about their big move from Carlisle to Ft. Knox. They treated us to a delicious picnic dinner (including steak, chicken, beans with bacon(!!), corn and lots of bread).

It was here where Sophia first fell in love with the corn on the cob.

Next, we took a trip to New Jersey to visit with the Gartenberg family. They were still firmly planting their feet on the fertile US soil after several years of prancing around England (and I'm sure that Joel did it with one sock on). Dave's job took them from Washington to live among the proper several years ago. I hear that they're still recovering from the Bubble and Squeak.

On a more serious note...It was great to see, in living color, one of the most wonderfully supportive friends. Dave regularly wrote me emails during Geo's deployment, sending gems of parenting wisdom, humorous quips, and, even more wonderful words of support and encouragement.

On the very same day, Queen Crazy Herself invited several close friends over to the house for an afternoon of laughter, catch-up conversations, good foods and Sidecar drinks (you'll have to email Katie of Winter Foliage, for the specifics on her delicious version of this seriously adult beverage).

Next, we packed up our bags and grand plans and headed to "The River" for the Independence Day weekend. Geo and I have always excitedly planned out hiking and camping trips that dance across our summer calenders. We both love hiking, camping, breathing-in-the-fresh-morning-dew, coming home with the smoky smell of campfire.

Really. We dream about new places to explore. Break open crisp (and well loved, not-so-crisp) maps and plot our adventures.

Back to the story. We packed up and headed due north to The River. After a visit with my parents' we hit the road and the rain. After discussing what the night might look like if Sophia were wet or soggy we opted for the Holiday Inn Express for a dry night of sleep. In the morning we were shocked (while munching on the free cinnamon bun breakfast) that there was rain in the forecast until 10 July.

Our plans changed.
We spent the day playing at The River and visiting with my grandfather (who taught me to hunt for "Night crawlers" and fish for Bass during my childhood summers at The River). George enjoyed time with his face in some good reading and a stick poking around the fire. I, of course, knit the day away.

Sophia played hard and had a blast splashing around. So much so that she took an unheard of 3.5 hour nap during the afternoon.
It has been a lovely, albeit busy, summer thus far. I'm looking forward to some more baking and some jarring. We have already enjoyed some fresh baked pretzels (recipe from The Simpler Life Cookbook by Arrowhead Mills, published in the early 70's) and I'm dreaming about the smell of bread baking in the house while we sip fresh lemonade in the backyard.

Have a great week!

And get some rest!!