gorgeous berry tart

gorgeous berry tart

This was made by my mother-in-law, who deserves a blog dedicated entirely to the beautiful things she creates in the kitchen. She brought this berry tart to a recent family gathering. Somehow it looked this good after being wrapped in foil and jostled around in a car for two hours. When I gasp at her creations, she always says something like, “oh, it’s nothing, really. Just a few berries I picked from the garden and the woods, and a cream cheese filling, and some strawberry jam. It’s so simple.” She has a great eye for color and presentation. I feel lucky that I get to look at, and then eat, what she creates.

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August 28, 2013 · 4:50 pm

we went camping, and this was breakfast

oatmeal

Not bad for camping, huh? We were canoe camping so didn’t have to worry about weight when packing food. This is quick oats with apples, walnuts, cinnamon and a special last minute garnish: wild blueberries, picked from the bushes around our campsite. Not pictured: the maple syrup we added after the photo was taken.

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Posting from my iPad

Testing, testing. Is this thing on?
Hello, loyal fans. I got an iPad and I can blog from it! Wonder of wonders.
Last month, my husband graduated from his master’s program (with high honors, I might add). He bought me this iPad as a present for surviving him being in grad school (he’s a good one). On June 1st, we moved from Maine back to upstate New York. I start a new job next week.
We are back in the land of Wegmans, and the Ithaca Bakery, and all manor of delicious/wonderful food things (The Piggery! Finger Lakes Wine! Ithaca Farmer’s Market!). Because I am not above the occasional fast food, I will also say it’s nice to be near a Panera (with a drive-thru), a Chipotle and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries. There will be good eating experiences to share with you all. In the meantime, here’s a photo of Miriam and I, taken with the iPad. Isn’t technology wonderful.

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trying to solve the work lunch dilemma

I’m glad that my work involves me being out of an office, traveling to care for people in their homes. However, it makes packing a work lunch difficult. I like taking leftovers for lunch and, well, I haven’t yet found a microwave for my car. Sandwiches are an option but I’m picky about a good sandwich, and I get tired of taking the same sandwich day after day. I am not above eating a bagel and soup at Tim Horton’s and I have a few favorite, good lunch spots when I am near civilization.  If there’s nothing good to take from home, and I’m in the middle of nowhere, and I find myself desperately hungry at the lunch hour, often the only thing I’m close to is a gas station. I sigh, and buy a bag of Fritos and a packaged sandwich that is past its prime. My workdays are very full and hunting around for food takes too much time. The best option, really, is to pack a lunch that takes a few minutes to eat, is good at room temperature, is not too messy for car eating and is something I’m really looking forward to eating (sometimes I will take something gross, like a PB and J sandwich, and then refuse to eat it). Finding something that fits all those criteria is difficult.

Enter my new cooking muse, Tamar Adler. My sister gave me Tamar’s book “An Everlasting Meal” for Christmas and I have really enjoyed reading it and absorbing Tamar’s cooking philosophy. In her chapter on salads, the following passage caught my eye:
“Salads of grains and beans are light, but filling, and taste clear. They are especially good for taking to work, because they are best dressed ahead of time and allowed to marinate.  This salad is a good defense to pitch against the armies of salad stores that surround workplaces like attacking ants, all effective at supplying office workers with bad, expensive salads.”

Tamar’s recipe:

2 cups cooked rice or lentils (ugh, I do not like the texture of cold rice so I always use lentils. preferably good ones, like French green lentils or black beluga lentils. red lentils fall apart too much)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (I never have this. I have used fresh parsley. or dried oregano. or nothing at all. the vinaigrette provides great flavor)

1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons drained capers

basic vinaigrette, to taste (do you need her recipe for this? 1 chopped shallot, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 T red wine vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil. I usually use a whole batch of dressing because I like the flavor.)

I usually add chopped celery, for crunch. I am making a batch today and adding roasted beets and sweet potatoes. I am thinking this salad adapts well to lots of additions.

This salad is delicious, easy to pack in the morning (mornings are always hectic!) and easy to eat in a 5 to 10 minute lunch break in my car. I usually bring yogurt, an apple and a clementine to round out the meal. So far I haven’t gotten bored of it. There you have it–a delicious, nutritious lunch for someone who is on the road most of the day.

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Snack cake

I’ve been pondering the phrase “snack cake” recently, having seen it most often over at David Lebovitz’s blog. This is a not-too-sweet cake usually eaten in the afternoon, perfect with tea or coffee. (Note–when you google “snack cake,” the wikipedia entry has a picture of a Twinkie! ugh.) I think I am more of a snack cake person than a regular cake person. Snack cakes usually feature fruit, and have a little more substance to them than just flour, sugar, butter and eggs. I usually don’t go for towering cakes, layered and frosted. Those kind of cakes should be saved for birthdays.

So, here are some of my favorite snack cakes. Miriam and I enjoy having tea parties with a small slice of any of these. Also, I’ve found I like making cakes in a simple 9-inch round pan, more so than a square pan. The round pan makes cake prettier, for some reason.

French apple cake (I always have the ingredients around for this. I like that this is an apple cake without cinnamon and the rum gives it a delicious, different flavor.)

Raspberry buttermilk cake (can use almost any kind of fruit in this. Buttermilk is one of my favorite ingredients–it makes cakes, pancakes, muffins, etc much more delicious)

Moist chocolate beet cake (a little fancier than the usual snack cake–this requires separating yolks and whites)

Making a snack cake has become a weekend ritual around here (maybe more so in the winter than in the summer). I just pulled two loaves of banana bread out of the oven. Last weekend, we polished off an entire French apple cake in two days (with the help of some friends who came over). The weekend before, I made the chocolate beet cake. What are your favorite snack cakes? This one is going on the list for this spring, when I can get some rhubarb.

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Miriam, at 3 years and 8 months

dinnertime

 

She is finally, finally getting the hang of potty training. It has been a long journey. This week had two significant breakthroughs. She successfully pooped on the potty at preschool. Then, at home, while eating dinner, she said, “I have to pee!” She got up and went to the bathroom by herself. Usually she refuses to use the potty if she’s in the middle of playing or eating. I was so glad to see her take care of things on her own.

She has an imaginary friend named Marty. I don’t know too much about Marty, but Miriam has been asking to use my phone so she can text her. Miriam also tells me, “Instead of ponytail holders, Marty wears planets in her hair!” (Miriam has a set of little plastic planets that she loves right now.)

When I start to use a firm tone of voice with her, she will say, “Mommy, you’re being rude to me.” She starts to lecture me right back and it’s all I can do to keep from laughing.

She still sucks her thumb (it’s terribly chapped right now, with this cold dry weather) and loves her little stuffed lamb Yames. She still likes to snuggle in the morning and right before bed.

She loves her new black Mary Jane shoes and calls them her dance shoes. She puts them on and does dance performances for us. Yesterday her friend came over to play. Before she got here, Miriam put on her little purple fairy costume (with wings) and asked me, “do you think Maya will think I’m cute?”

She has finally grown out of her 18-24 month clothes and most of her 2T clothes.

She can write her own name and loves to point out letters that she sees everywhere. She has some books memorized. I don’t think she is reading yet but I won’t be surprised if she is an early reader.

She loves to play cards. We play Go Fish and War and sometimes Rummy (though that one’s a bit complicated for her).

She’s really into potty humor. She substitutes “poop” and “pee” for words in her favorite songs, then cracks up laughing. While playing Go Fish she will say, “Mommy, do you have a….poop?” and think it’s the funniest thing.

I have succeeded in getting her to love the movie White Christmas. She asks me to sing her the songs at bedtime. She loves the song and dance numbers.

And…she has interrupted me twice while I’m typing this, first to ask for my help with a puzzle, and now to request that I help her find one of her missing planets. Earlier today she said to me, “Mercury is sad because he can’t find Pluto and Venus!” So, I better go help her.

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2012 review

It was the year of the rotisserie chicken. We actually ate this for dinner last night, New Year’s Eve, and I thought–how fitting. Often we all get home at 5:30 or 6 pm,  and it’s nice to have a fall back plan for those kind of nights. Rotisserie chicken is a part of our weekly dinner rotation. It’s so moist and delicious and barely more expensive than buying and roasting our own chicken. It’s better than take-out, right? Or a frozen pizza. We justify this by stretching one chicken over three meals (we use the carcass to make stock).

It was also the year I learned to make Montreal Style baked beans, slow cooked in the oven.

As a family, we developed a Tim Horton’s problem. Miriam asks for their old-fashioned donuts. I rely on their bagels, soup, and ham and swiss sandwiches for my work lunches a few times per week. I really like their hot black tea with cream and sugar.

We made many trips to the ocean this past summer. We found a great little beach about an hour away and went to it every chance we got. When I remember this past summer, I will think of that beach, and swimming in the cool refreshing Atlantic.

I discovered this great little chocolate shop in Blue Hill. I do think right now Blue Hill holds the title for my favorite town in Maine. It’s on the ocean with a gorgeous coastline. The town itself is small and artsy and it has good food. I often eat lunch at the little community co-op there and just soak in the atmosphere.

We moved to our current location, the wonderful lakehouse. The house is just the right size for us and the location is so beautiful. I know I will have many good memories of our time here. I particularly love the mornings, when the light streams in the wall of windows and the birds are out in full force. I saw a bald eagle just a few weeks ago, and every day I see flocks of ducks or geese winging their way across the lake.

My husband and I started a nightly tradition of gin and tonics after the kid is in bed.  Super delicious, when made with lots of lime and this gin.

As I look ahead to 2013, I’m excited for what it holds. My husband will graduate with his master’s degree. We will move, again. I’m not excited for the moving process but for the next step in our lives. I’m hopeful for a job in public health nursing and a location closer to family, and maybe, just maybe, living in one place for long enough to buy a house, have a garden and put down some roots. I want to spend less time in my car. And I’m hoping to make more bread.

 

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