Category Archives: Summer Fun

Fall Creeping In

Wow. I blinked and summer flew past me. Gone are the nights spent outside in tank tops. Gone are the sweat-while-standing afternoons. Gone are the iced-coffee for breakfast mornings because it’s already too hot to turn on the stove.

Now we have the cozy warm dusk enveloping our house around 7:30pm. We have snuggles on the couch reading stories before bed instead of playing outside until exhaustion. We have the stove on every night for dinner. We have suggestions of hot cocoa from little ones and long sleeved pajamas.

I love this time of year. It satisfies me in ways no other season can. Like a warm, familiar blanket, the early sunsets cover our house and make it cozier (no more calm unfortunately but cozier nonetheless). The dark outside our windows encourages me to turn on the kitchen light and play between the two. Now looking down at my mixing, now looking out into the blackness. In the same instant it makes me feel safe and adventerous. Snug in our little house I imagine the whole world in darkness, save the light from my little kitchen. I fancy I live on a farm with no neighbors for miles and no reason to leave, content in the life we’ve made in our little house. The next time I look up from my mixing bowl I see the darkness at my window as a blank slate. So many millions of opportunities await and this time of year is when I feel the most energized to start new projects and take on new responsibilties. Maybe it’s the inherent Back-To-School mentality still clinging to me but September has always felt like the time for new beginnings.

I got a few more things on my To Do List completed but I was horrible at documenting any of it. I wore my favorite two dresses almost weekly. I got a pedicure a month ago with my wonderful mother and aunt and my toes are still strawberry red. I drank Gin and Chartreuse and I’m just now reaping the rewards of our tomato garden (a tomato tart is coming soon!). I made lemon cucumber pickles from here, the walnut cake from this lovely lady (sans the jam), and this jam (that I love in theory but in practice turned out too jammy for me. Next time I’ll cook it less).

I also made these beautiful treats. I used sour cream instead of creme fraiche and demura instead of muscavado sugar. They turned out perfectly and I wouldn’t change a thing.

This was in high rotation to accompany all the crunchy vegetables from the Farmer’s Market and I made tomatillo salsa for the first time ever and I’m now obsessed. Why did I wait so long?

Whew. That feels better. Now that I’ve caught myself up a little bit, it’s onwards and upwards! I’ll keep my camera closer this time around.

Stay Sweet

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Progress and coffee

Just a quick note to say I’m playing hard and trying to make the most of the fleeting summer days. It’s been hot and sticky in Portland for the last few days and (since I’m a good Portlander) I’ve been complaining about it to anyone who will listen. Secretly though? I love it. Absolutely adore it. My summer uniform consists of loose flowing skirts or dresses, tanktops, sunglasses, and bare feet. Every day I look forward to lying in front of a fan with a cold drink in one hand and a good book in the other; the heat as an excuse to lounge and cat-nap. Every night I sit on the porch and catch the warm breeze on my cheeks and watch the moon and stars peak out of the sunset. This little ritual helps me connect to my days, reminds me of summer’s brevity. Sunset is coming earlier every day. It’s an almost imperceptable shift, or perhaps it’s me looking forward to autumn, but at 10:00 pm when I catch a chill on the wind, it reminds me to drink in the heat and the sweat and the sun before they’re gone.

I’ve been waking up anxious on my weekends recently and I think it’s my inner clock telling me to hurry up and do summer things before it’s too late. There are so many things on my list that I still need to do, so many berries that still need to be eaten and so many grassy knolls that need to be napped upon. To jump start my mornings and simultaneously check something off my list, I made cold brewed iced coffee last weekend.

This is hardly a recipe but I’ll put it here for clarity sake:

Cold Brewed Coffee:

1/3 cup ground coffee

1/8 teaspoon salt

Add coffee grounds and salt into coffee vessel (I use my wonderful coffee press) and stir. Add at least 1.5 cups of water and stir again. Let sit for up to 12 hours but at least 8. After the resting period, strain and doctor it to your tastes.

I’d heard from multiple trusted sources that iced coffee tastes more pure than it’s hot counterpart, that the cold brew lends itself to a more nuanced flavor profile. I would have to agree. This was the perfect pick-me-up on Sunday when, at 8am, it was already 75º and only promising to get hotter. I added a touch of honey, a splash of almond milk, and three ice cubes and walked out into the garden to soak up the sun. I plan on making this every weekend until at least mid September. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be next to the fan, this drink in hand.

Stay Sweet

A Discovery and Strawberry Jam with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper

I’ve always liked the idea of canning things. Picturing myself in a poofy, straight-out-of-the 50’s apron, pulling scones, muffins, and brioche out of my bright red Kenmore oven. Putting five different types of homemade jam on the table and calling my girlfriends over for brunch. Doesn’t that sounds lovely? Just the idea of going to the pantry and having five different jams to choose from makes me feel very satisfied, very industrious. But then I remember, I don’t really eat jam. I’ve always been a peanut-butter and honey sandwich type of girl and assumed any jam I made would languish in the back of the pantry, sad, and forgotten.
Oh boy was I wrong. Since last summer when an overabundance of U-pick strawberries forced me to try my hand at canning, I’ve never looked back. Turns out I’m just picky!

I got this recipe from Saving the Season and haven’t changed a thing so check it out here. I live with little kids that don’t always love spicy food so I kept the pepper as written. If I’d been making it for myself I would have probably tripled it. I also found the balsamic vinegar to be more a counterbalance to the sweetness of the strawberries than a significant flavor profile. This is not a complaint.

Stay Sweet!

Summer 2010 list

Can anyone else wrap their head around the fact that it’s July 7th 2010? Have kids really been out of school for almost a month already? Has the longest day of the year already passed us by? How did that happen? Where have I been? I have not had nearly enough BBQs, picnics, starry nights outside the city limits, or summer fruit desserts and this must be rectified immediately. As of today I am on a mission, a summer-fun-don’t-miss-a-thing mission. Here’s my list of must-do thus far:

To do

  • Wear summer dresses as often as possible
  • Wear bright colored sandles
  • Paint my toes strawberry red
  • Ride my bike on the waterfront
  • Take a dunk in a river (stay in for more than three seconds!)
  • Sleep under the stars
  • See a movie in the park
  • Picnic
  • Lie in the grass with a good book and lemonade
  • Eat a tomato out of my garden
  • Take the munchkins to the zoo
  • Watch the sunrise
  • Bonfire
  • Have a guitar/drum/sing circle
  • Lead climb
  • Pick more berries than I know what to do with

To make & eat/drink

  • Gin and Chartruese on ice
  • Roasted tomato tart
  • Raspberry brown butter tart
  • Strawberry Pinot Noir Jam
  • Homemade burger buns
  • Panzenella salad
  • Homemade falaffel
  • Almond or coconut milk ice cream
  • Pizza
  • Pickles
  • Cold brewed iced coffee
  • Chocolate Cherry Brownies
  • Bagels
  • Romesco sauce
  • Milk Liquor
  • Gnocci
  • Walnut cake
  • Fresh tomato soup
  • Create and coin “my” salad

What do you think? That’s doable right? Alright then, off I go. Wish me luck