I was well into my 20s before I’d tasted my first scone. That notion makes me chuckle a bit because they’re something my girls have grown up—a must at tea parties for everyone, including the stuffies. Now, mind you I was not deprived. My world just revolved around all the goodies you’d find at an Italian-American bakery or pastry shop. Cannoli, sfogliatelle, and rainbow cookies, oh my!
Last week when I told Isabella I wondered what gingerbread rice crispy treats would taste like, she rolled her eyes and said “oh here we go…gingerbread this, and gingerbread that”. It was a page right out of the Michael Perillo playbook. He would’ve teased me incessantly about the tear I’ve been on the last two weeks. I just.can’t.stop.
I won’t stop.
But, I think we covered that with my last post, you know the one where I made a NO-BAKE GINGERBREAD CREAM PIE. Sorry, but that one got me really excited—I had to get that out, and only all caps would do. Can you tell I’m feeling punchy tonight? I’m just feeling a groove I haven’t felt in quite some time, and truth be told—it’s nice to be my own muse, of sorts. I’ve nothing more witty to say about this recipe, just that it’s so easy, and the perfect thing to make when you’re short on time (and who isn’t this week?). Provided you have the ingredients on hand, these treats are ready to eat in about 45 minutes, from start to finish. You can make a tray, wrap it in a cloth, and bring it as a hostess gift (the gingerbread twist ups the ante, making them worthy in my opinion). Last minute class party? It’s great for those, too. Continue reading »
I’m not even going to pretend I have a long love affair with s’mores. It wasn’t until last summer that I even developed a taste for them, as Gina can attest. In fact, before she introduced me to swapping white chocolate for milk or dark, and adding fresh raspberries, I often passed on this summertime ritual. My daughters on the hand are the complete opposite. They would gladly eat them for breakfast if I let them, and really it would be any worse, calorically speaking, than my current pie for breakfast habit. Continue reading »
Oh dear May, your exit feels as abrupt as your entry. Time feels like a treadmill full speed ahead. Much as I try to keep up, I always seems to fall behind. In some ways it’s a good salve. One day you pluck your head from the fog and realize in just two months, it’ll be two years since a jagged gap was suddenly inserted into your life.
How did that happen? How is it I’ve managed to live almost two years since that moment? I suppose it’s resilience and determination. But mostly, it’s the fact that I learned very early that bad things happen to good people. Life is fickle, and the same day that brings immense joy and happiness can also wield deep heartache.
But still I keep going because deep down I do want to be happy. I’m an incredibly independent, headstrong woman, but oh did I love being part of a couple. Michael and I were about as opposite as two people could be. The fact that we spent almost 17 years together is often perplexing. As I read his journals, though, what I’m beginning to understand is we weathered all of our differences because we were both hopeless romantics deep down. We believed in love, longed for it, and intrinsically understood that love is a living, breathing thing that requires respect and care. Love is susceptible to the elements, and left unattended it will simply wither and die.
Having said this, what I’m about to admit next may seem contrary. Yesterday I resumed my weekly date nights with myself. My recent Paris trip reminded me that I need that weekly outlet to nourish my mind and soul. I’m not good when I’m forced into any one role 24/7. I never just identified as being a wife, mother, or even writer. Before I can be any of those, I need to first be Jennifer. She is the foundation upon which all those characters are built.
I’ve wandered far from my goal of sharing a few things that I’ve really been enjoying lately, so before I lose you all together, here it goes…
— I saw this on my recent date night…Before Midnight. I hate movie spoilers, so I won’t say anything more than if you loved the first two movies, you will not be disappointed in this last installment.
— I read Let’s Talk About Owls with Diabetes during my trip to Paris, and like every David Sedaris novel it was the perfect cure when laughter is on short supply.
—I started reading The Forgotten Gift: An Interrupted Novel a couple of moths ago, and only turned my attention away because it’s on my kindle. Sometimes, most times actually, I just want a real book to hold and read, to feel the pages turn between my fingers. Well, that’s a silly excuse once you start reading this compelling novel. The back story is it was written by a friend’s sister-in-law while she was dying of cancer. It’s a captivating story, and the proceeds go towards helping her son come to terms with the loss of his mother. Good news is it’s now available in paperback too. Definitely add this to your summer reading list.
—This video I captured while strolling through Paris.
—Of all the interviews I did for the book, this one is perhaps my favorite. After a month of being on the road, and doing dozens of radio, print and TV interviews, I finally felt like I hit my stride.
—These muffins Luisa wrote about recently. Once this heatwave breaks next week, I’m so making them.
—Spring and summer means the farmers’ market brings back some old friends…strawberries, asparagus, and peas, oh my! I’ve linked to a few of my favorite recipes, and here’s an oldie but goodie below to nudge you into the kitchen.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
serves 8 to 10
For the Topping:
1 cup (125 grams) old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup (45 grams) toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup (49 grams) coarse natural cane sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) fine sea salt
Leaves only from 3 sprigs of lemon thyme
Dash of ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, melted
For the filling:
1 pint (10 ounces) strawberries, stems removed
4 stalks (12 ounces) rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated natural cane sugar
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
To make the topping, add the oats, hazelnuts, coarse sugar, salt, lemon thyme and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it forms a coarse, sandy mixture. Pour in the butter and pulse 3 to 4 more times until the mixture comes together into little clumps. Set bowl in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.
Cut the strawberries into quarters and place in a deep bowl. Add the rhubarb, sugar and cornstarch to the bowl. Using a spoon to stir together until well coated. Scrape fruit mixture into a 10-inch deep ceramic pie plate or 8-inch square glass baking dish.
Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over the fruit and bake for 35 minutes, until the juices bubble and the topping is a deep golden color. Remove from oven and let sit on a wire rack until cooled, about 2 hours. May be prepared and baked the night before—just cover the top with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter until ready to serve the next day.
Dairy-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
Omit the butter in the crumble topping. In its place, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure maple syrup.
I love a few generous spoons of this over thick, creamy yogurt, especially for breakfast when I’m feeling a little decadent.
The crumble is fine covered with plastic wrap overnight at room temperature. Anything longer than that, I suggest popping it into the fridge.
This past Saturday started somewhat normal. I rose at an abnormal hour for a weekend day, this time feeling a bit more tired and slow-moving, having played cruise director to Isabella. Since the whistle blew last Tuesday at noon, my life has been kids, kids and more kids.
Wednesday we trekked to Harlem to visit Kim. I think I was more excited about this playdate than Isabella. I was happy and at peace, sitting across from one of my best friends while the girls played.
As I reached into the pots and pans drawer for a skillet, my hand took hold of the crepe pan. Good sense stepped aside momentarily, and I knew this would not create a traditional omelet as I'd set out to make. I knew the eggs would quickly roll to the edges, creating a paper-thin sheet, more akin to a flourless crepe than the fluffy texture of an omelet one would expect from a recipe titled as such.
Still, I moved forward, unable to control myself. I was curious, and that is always good in the kitchen. It is what moves us to create something new. The disasters and flops are the pitfalls and rights of passage as a recipe developer.
So to create the best possible image as we talk about this, let's agree to call it an egg crepe, okay? Before I set out to make my egg crepe, I prepped the asparagus. See, that's really how this all started. I bought my first bunch of the season at the farmers' market a few days ago, and was eager to do something with it—just a few spears to tide me over until I could use them more substantially.
A few years back Isabella and I were strolling through a neighborhood supermarket. Her eyes locked with a display of blueberries, and in her sweet little voice she asked if we could buy some.
It was January.
Close friends can already predict my answer. The rest of you might think me insane.
I told my then four year old daughter she couldn't have blueberries. I know, you're wondering why would anyone do such a thing.
Many people asked if I would take a break from blogging or tweeting during my vacation. I promise I'm doing my best to relax and recharge. I did, however, do the same for you all as I do for the Mr. when I'm out of town. I left a few meals in the fridge to make sure you're well-fed while I'm gone.
By now you might have heard about my legendary my tomato jam. That recipe, as easy as it is, requires a time investment. The prep time is mere minutes, but patience is required as you sit back and apply a low and slow philosophy. The reward is a thick, jammy mixture of tomatoes and onions that tows the line between sweet and savory.
That bag of tomatoes you see above is the total opposite, and for good reason. If you're still nervous about canning or preserving, then this is a good "get your feet wet" approach. No special tools required. No jars to sterilze. While it won't last as long as a shelf-stable jar of jam, it will extend your tomato season by a month or two.
There are a million other things I should be doing right about now. Like packing for vacation—we leave for Cape Cod in T-minus three days.
Or finishing my work before we pull out, so I can actually have a shot at rest and relaxation on this trip. At least as much as one can with two kids in tow.
But there's these peaches piling up, and this week is all about stone fruits on Summer Fest 2010 over at A Way to Garden. What better way to celebrate than with a simple, quick and, most importantly, easy way to make your own peach jam or preserves.