What we've been up to the past week:
Listening to Christmas music (Frank, Dean, Bing, Doris, et al) and watching favorite Christmas films: Elf, Miracle on 34th Street and a new favorite since last year - Peter and the Wolf. The second two are streaming on Netflix.
On Thanksgiving the kids and Dave and I made:
Scalloped Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes
Green Salad with cherries, walnuts and apples
Lemon Cream Pasta
Hutterite Turkey with homemade gravy
and Pumpkin Creme Brulee!
We've also been working on Christmas decorations and handmade wrapping and gifts. We started some paper mache puppets based on these:
which you can find instructions for here
There is a Santa, an elf, a reindeer and a deer girl in the works so far.
And baking sugar cookies.
And last night Madeline and I made Raspberry rose souffles - oh my god - so so amazing. We made them with two pints of fresh raspberries, which were pureed and put through a fine sieve to remove the seeds - the prettiest bright pink, no food coloring required.
But after making souffles (10 egg whites) we had a bunch of yolks leftover... So tonight M and I are making eggnog custards!
Well, it was here for a day anyway!
Gorgeous day yesterday - first official day of spring. All sunshine-y and 65 degrees out. The kids were out riding their bikes throughout the day. The lettuce, arugula, chrysanthemum and swiss chard have all sprouted on the front porch. The rhubarb and poppies are growing taller.
And I made the most ridiculously decadent lemon puddings for dessert. Meyer lemon budino (or Italian puddings). wow. With lemon whip cream. (added extra fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice to the whip and it was - so good.)
Then I slept in inexcusably late again today and sat on my bottom in front of the computer for the majority of the remainder of the day so far, planning out next week's quick trip to Portland. I am really packin' it in, too - the kids will be with their granny for one day and night and I've got us hitting at least 4 cocktail lounges, a tapas bar, and the Laurelhurst all in one "evening". Can't wait!
It was another gloriously hot day - I'm afraid I'm just not going to get sick of them this summer. Unfortunately, too, because once it starts to cool off it's better for it to be a relief. So, after a night of really bad dreams - probably due to said heat - I woke up and shared a peach with my very sleepy, much-in-need-of-haircut, curly-haired son. It wasn't long before the cousins started trailing down the hill and up the steps. I took the youngest two up to the cabin with me and while they ate ice cream sandwiches (an okay occasional breakfast for healthy children, right?), Tina and I had a little brunch of muscat with sliced plums (wine is an okay occasional breakfast for healthy mothers, right?)
I don't feel like I accomplished much today, but still ended up with a satisfied feeling by the end. Probably due to all the amazing food that was made for me today. Of particular note, the fantastic dinner my husband came home and made (after a preparatory nap). Beet and goat cheese tartines. So, so good. Not a beet fan? Neither am I, but the title is a little deceptive - the beet flavor is mellowed by the goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Try it! You'll like it! This was actually only the second recipe I've ever had with pickled beets - the first was chronicled here when we made Aussie burgers last summer. And for dessert, we had the lemon-glazed butter cake that my 8-year-old son made, all by himself! He's been wanting to learn how to read recipes so today was the start of his recipe-reading career. I did my very best to completely keep my paws out of his work, although I did give him lots of helpful hints, or so I thought. The cake turned out so sweet and rich and moist and absolutely perfect. Very unassuming looking, but delicious.
There was no way I could eat all that food and not do something physical though, so once it cooled off outside, the dog and I ran laps down the old logging road and back with the soccer ball for about 40 minutes. Now I feel very good about myself. I got to have my cake and eat it, too.
Well we're back from Alaska now, almost a full month of summer left, the days have been consistently hot and sunny, and I know that I should try to start getting the kids into a more fall-like schedule (earlier bedtimes - much earlier! - and earlier to get up, chores, homeschooling, etc.) - but I can't bring myself to do it yet. Schedules mean the end of summer, and I'm not ready for that - we just got back! So for the time being - the house is upside down, the kids are up until almost midnight most nights, sleeping in and then running up the hill immediately the next morning to their cousins' cabin to play (or vice versa), not pausing to eat of course. The one "rule" being no children knocking at each others doors before 9am. And as the grown-ups have been staying up even later, 9am usually seems a little too early.
Last night we had a very small very belated Montana birthday party for our now 10-yr-old daughter. The child is addicted to mascarpone cheese - so that is always the main ingredient in her birthday desserts. This year it was a tart with mascarpone cheese filling and strawberries on top - very rich, very very yummy. I made Strawberry Muddles for the adults - just the three of us - so we each got a few fill ups. They were good - too sweet for everyday enjoyment - but fun to make. (And if you followed either of those links and didn't already know it - now you do - I have subscriptions to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit and I really put them to good use!)
So I'll end on that note and leave off with a bunch of pictures from the summer so far.
(adapted slightly from Gourmet magazine - Feb. 2009)
Butterscotch Pudding / serves 6
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 TB cornstarch
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 TB butter, cut into bits
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
(with fresh lightly sweetened whipped cream for topping)
Thoroughly stir together brown sugar, cornstarch, and heaping 1/4 tsp salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in milk and cream.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, then boil, whisking, for 1 minute - should be quite thick at this point.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
Pour into a bowl, then cover surface with buttered wax paper and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
To die for.
We lived in Pittsburgh for 2 1/2 years, literally right around the corner from Primanti's on the south side. If you've never eaten a Primanti's sandwich, then you've never been to Pittsburgh. There are all sorts of combinations, but the basic sandwich consists of fried egg, cheese, french fries, coleslaw and tomatoes - all between bread together. Mmmmmm.
Which brings me to dinner last night. In my latest issue of Gourmet magazine there was a recipe for the "Aussie Burger". Somehow the odd combination of ingredients, all stacked together, reminded me of the sandwiches at Primanti's and so of course I had to try it. The so-called Aussie Burger consists of a hamburger, fried egg, pickled beets, grilled pineapple slices, lettuce and tomato - all between a kaiser roll (or bun). It was around a 100 degrees out, so we took our fixings to the lake and made dinner there.
It was a complete success! So yummy! I wasn't sure if I'd like the pickled beets, but the flavor was perfect with all the rest of it. Mmmmmm. But I'm curious, any of you Australians who read my journal - have you ever eaten one of these? Is this really a common combination in Australia? Oh, and as we aren't really normally hamburger eaters, we did make ours with mushroom Garden Burgers - which tasted great.
Afterward, the kids cooled off in the lake - we were the only people there at that point. Quiet and dusky.
And I never did get the wrap skirt done for myself, but this is what I did do - lazily sewed an apron front onto an old black skirt of mine (with some really pretty vintage blue bird fabric.)