the making has begun.
this year we are giving handmade lip balms and hand salves. perfect for this bitter cold weather.
today we will start to make cookie doughs to freeze and then bake at the end of next week. i love this recipe.
we will also make chocolate covered apricots. this week.
hannah coaxed me into giving her the socks i was knitting for her a few weeks early so her toes could be toasty warm with all of the sledding that’s been happening here.
today is hannah’s last nutcracker performance. she has worked so hard and danced so beautifully.
i never tire of watching it over and over.
yet it will be nice to have a bit of a break from it all for the next few weeks.
one of the highlights of the event every year is the pie bake off.
hannah and norah both wanted to enter a pie this year.
they wanted to try something totally new and something that would knock the socks off of the judges.
they paged through our martha stewart pies and tarts cookbook and decided on a mile high lemon meringue pie.
after a long day of setting up for the event i admit i was in no mood to bake especially something i had never made before. but the girls kept persisting and so i gave in.
we turned on some music and began to squeeze some lemons.
hannah kept asking me “isn’t this fun mom?”
when we pulled the finished pie out of the broiler with it’s browned peaks of meringue it was a proud moment.
our pie did not win the contest but none of us seemed to mind.
making the pie was a prize in itself.
and it was pretty darn tasty too!
turns out it really was fun, hannah.
i have not been out in the garden much, although it is looking happy thanks to all of the rain we have had.
we have been eating lots of tomato sandwiches, smoothies, homemade popsicles, watermelon and snack bar food at swim meets. i don’t think i have turned the stove on in almost a week. thank goodness for the food processor.
we have been going for either a late night swim or taking an ice cold shower just before bed each night to cool down.
but aside from all of that, summer has been good to us. really good.
:: chris makes a few jars of sun tea every other day in old pickle jars.
:: harry is adjusting beautifully and goes where ever we go. his breed is known for adapting well to an active family. he plays hard and sleeps hard like all of us.
:: earl still continues to stop by for a few nuts. i saw him playing with two other squirrels this morning, circling the big maple tree in my neighbor’s yard.
:: today we make pickles from an overabundant crop of cucumbers. i harvested loads of dill flowers from the farm last night to top each jar.
:: i miss the cicadas. i have hardly heard their song this summer.
:: i am counting down the days until we head to the lake. it’s my reward for getting through the dog days of summer.
my new favorite way to enjoy summer fruits (other than just eating them fresh from the fields) is filling hand pies with them.
i love the simplicity of this recipe and the ease of bringing them along to a picnic or party without worrying about plates and forks.
and they make the perfect breakfast. a homemade pop tart!
summer fruit hand pies
makes about 15 pies
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
your favorite summer fruits cut up or whole mixed with sugar and lemon zest
whisk together flour, soda and powder. with electric mixer beat butter and sugar til fluffy. add egg cream cheese and vanilla until well combined. add flour mixture and beat until smooth. form dough into ball and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
pull out dough. on lightly floured board roll into 4 1/2 inch rounds and about 1/8 inch thick. transfer rounds on parchment lined baking sheet to freezer for 30 minutes.
pull out dough rounds and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes. spoon a tablespoon of filling onto one half of round and brush edges with water. fold round in half and fork around edge to seal. repeat with rest of rounds and transfer pies to freezer for 30 minutes.
preheat oven to 375 degrees. pull out pies and sprinkle evenly with sugar. bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. cool on wire rack.
serve warm or at room temperature.
i live in such a fun neighborhood.
we are always throwing a party!
i feel so lucky to have such a close knit community within my neighborhood and that we all love tradition.
we get together regularly for all different occasions and we always have so much fun!
this past saturday was our annual progressive dinner. it’s usually held late winter, early spring and i was delighted that it fell on a beautiful warm and sunny evening. for those of you who are wondering what a progressive dinner is, it is basically a party where each successive course is prepared and eaten at the home of a different host.
i hosted hors d’oeuvres this year. i wanted to focus on the arrival of warmer and longer days and chose spring inspired fare.
the menu included horseradishy deviled eggs and salmon with brown bread and condiments such as capers onions, mini gherkin pickles and different types of sweet and spicy mustards. there was white bean dip with sugar snap peas, carrots, asparagus and baby broccoli and several different cheeses served on a long cheese board that i had made just the day before. because it was such a warm day i was able to open up the front porch to serve drinks. i used spring flowers such as hyacinth, ranunculus and tulips to make an arrangement for the table. i unearthed my antique china adorned with polka dots and green trees and it was time to celebrate!
i highly recommend this type of party. they really are so much fun (i had so much fun that i didn’t even pick up my camera to photograph any of the guests!) and the list of possibilities are endless.
i thought it might be fun to offer a little how-to guide on organizing one.
here are a few suggestions….
hosting a progressive dinner
::progressive dinners are not just meant to be hosted within a neighborhood. plan one with friends, co-workers or family. but be sure to keep in mind the travel time between each course to make the night more enjoyable. being able to walk from course to course is the most convenient!
::progressive dinners can be simple or as elaborate as you wish. our neighborhood one involves just appetizers, a main course and dessert. but you could involve more homes with more courses such as soup and salad, or after dinner drinks and dancing. we keep the menus and decor simple but my mother’s neighborhood hosts progressive dinners with themes that involve culturally inspired foods, decorations and sometimes even costume!!
::make sure to involve the whole gang. ask others to contribute to the different courses. you can even be particular and let them know exactly what you need. for example, bread, a green salad, a grain dish etc.
:: make it BYOB! it will help with the budget of those who are hosting the different courses who always seem to take on the brunt of the bill.
:: progressive dinners can happen at any time of the year. we like to pick a time when not much is going on in the neighborhood and when the winter months have kept us all inside from seeing one another. but a summertime one would be fun to host outdoors too!
::progressive dinners are a fun way to meet new people. invite a neighbor who has just moved in or a co-worker who you just haven’t had the time to get to know.
:: don’t stress! there are no particular rules to this. make it your own and have fun!
well it seems as if we are all wearing our stay at home weekend well.
everyone is on the mend and feeling like their old selves again.
the last few days have been full of playing games, hot baths, making music, watching, finishing up knitting projects, reading library books and lots of baking including homemade pita bread and a birthday carrot cake for hannah (both from 3191).
and there are still 2 more days left of the weekend!
We all love our sweets around here. I like to make and have on hand a couple different healthy snacks when that sweet tooth hits. Here is one our favorites
1 cup of sunflower seeds (toasted)
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
6 tablespoons raisins
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup raw almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Throw everything in the food processor and roll into balls and then roll balls in coconut. Pop them into the freezer. We love them frozen.
We have been having fun in the kitchen these days. We are trying to make as much as possible from scratch. Peanut butter, yogurt, hummus, nut milks, and salad dressings are some of the recipes we have played with this week.. Norah loves to cook. As soon as she hears me working in the kitchen she drags the stool over and asks “whatcha makin mama? Can I help?”