A childhood favorite revisited

    When I was five years old, my family was invited to pick blueberries at a private farm belonging to a friend of my dad. Apparently, it was a banner year for their blueberries and so we were told to pick as many as we could eat or freeze. They provided us with 10 and 15 gallon buckets and we went to picking. As you can imagine, this was a huge treat as we were a family of 7 and fresh blueberries just were not in the weekly budget. We picked, and picked and picked until we were blue in the face, and fingers I might add. Then the entire family entourage schlepped home to properly deal with this great unexpected blessing. Many of the berries went into the freezer— so many in fact that we had blueberry cobbler, blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins for several years. I am not exaggerating. We lived on blueberries. Oh, and deer meat. So in truth, we lived on blueberries and bambi burgers. But that’s a blog post for another day.
       Ten years later, when my parents moved to the house they currently live in a bit farther out of town, my Dad took up gardening. From then on, he was lovingly referred to by my Mother as “Mr. Green Jeans” because everything he planted grew and grew very well. He decided to try his hand at blueberry bushes and they grew very well. Thus, we were reunited with the sweet little antioxidant. Of course, back then no one mentioned how full of antioxidants and nutrients blueberries were—they just stuck them in muffins and called it a day. My mom, not wanting to let a good berry go to waste, furthered her talent of berry-goodness and often made the most divine blueberry muffins ever. Seriously good, I’m tellin’ ya. I have recently tried my hand at her recipe, (complete with melted butter. Sigh.) and they just aren’t the same. Maybe because my feet now touch the ground when I eat them. Who knows? Never the less, I still love them whenever I go home -- provided my “mommy” makes them. There are times when I want desperately to re-create my Mom’s recipes… see: the apple pie incident. And then there are others when I feel the need to branch out. Last night was one such occasion.
   Lance and I decided to have brinner (Breakfast for Dinner) and I got to work making a frittata. Crustless Quiche-type thing filled with veggies. (Recipe to follow.) Try it with your own combination of fillings. You’ll like it. I also wanted to make a healthier version of the famed blueberry muffin. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of…oatmeal… whole wheat flour… juicy berries. I consulted Joy the Baker, whose blog I thoroughly enjoy reading. She had an Oatmeal Applesauce Blueberry muffin recipe. And can I just say that she has yet to let me down? Oh, my. They were amazing.  So amazing that I plan to make them for the Queen of Blueberry Muffins this weekend when she comes to visit us! I’m that confident in them! I cannot take credit for Joy’s recipe as it is hers and her alone—but I would like to direct your attention to her pretty little blog and encourage you to try the recipe. You’ll be glad you did. Even better, you won’t be mentally kicking yourself all day for indulging as they are full of healthy ingredients and not full of butter. What are your favorite “breakfast for dinner” ideas? Do tell!
You will need a non-stick 12 inch skillet with Tbsp. of Olive oil. Heat until oil is smoking. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
Sautee 8 oz. Mushrooms and 3 tbsp. of minced shallots until fragrant and browning. Add one diced tomato, and 8 julienned basil leaves and cook until tender and water has nearly evaporated. Remove from heat.  (You can use any combination of sautéed vegetables that you like, only be careful that they are not giving off too much liquid.) Crumbled bacon; cubed or sliced ham; or thinly  sliced leftover steak would also be great. Experiment!
In a bowl beat 7 eggs, add 2 tbsp. of half and half or milk and fresh ground salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over the veggies and top with 2oz. crumbled feta or other cheese (cheddar and swiss are also great.)  Gently shake skillet so eggs incorporate to the bottom of the veggies evenly.
Place skillet in 350’ oven for 15 minutes or until puffy and cooked throughout. Garnish with fresh herbs or scallions and serve in wedges.


Our vacation...

I never got around to posting about our little vacation before I went back to work... Lance calls it "The Magical Mystery Tour" and was it ever! We had a great time with family and friends before our "new normal" began!


2 Years

Has it really been two years, already?

I absolutely LOVE this man.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. I adore you!


Warm Bread and Large Shoes

There is a small jar of strawberry jam in my refrigerator. This glistening red goodness is perfect and homemade, only it was not made in my home, but in the cozy kitchen of a kindred spirit. We refer to it lovingly as "Sexton- Jam." Sexton is their last name, you see. We only use it when we have a worthy baked good to top it with. We would not dare put it on something as trivial as PB & J. Bearing in mind that the summer is coming to a close and the strawberry crop has come and gone, this is the last bit of this special jam we will savor this year. And so, we have carefully and conservatively chosen when and on what we would enjoy this lovely jam. Yesterday, I found the jam's true complement: warm, fresh from the oven Brioche. Brioche is one of those concoctions which I had always wondered about, but never tried to make or even tasted. Brioche. It's just fun to say, no? Once, I even purchased a pink silicone brioche mold from the Williams-Sonoma semi-annual sale. Not because I love brioche, but because I love pink. The fact that it was a brioche mold was secondary. To date, I have absolutely no idea where this pink pan is. Good thing it was $3.99.
But, I digress.
Friday afternoon I came home all too ready for the weekend to begin, and as I walked through the door the overpowering scent of a bakery found me. Warm, yeasty air filled my nose as I found my husband in the kitchen looking very proud of himself. And rightfully so. Dear husband stood there next to an enormous bowl of rising dough, sheepishly telling me that “he needed a challenge.” Now, need I remind you that this was only week 2 of “stay-at-home-daddy-dom” and already, he needed a challenge? Wow. It took me a good 6 weeks before I started to count on getting a shower before noon, let alone ventured the undertaking of baked goods. And not just any baked goods, but those that involve yeast. Me = Impressed.
Upon waking up in our chateau in the south of France small seminary apartment the next morning, I realized why perfect strawberry jam was created: to top a lightly toasted slice of Brioche alongside a steaming hot cup of strong coffee. I then realized that once my sweet love finds a job and I find myself at home with our daughter, I shall find myself standing in very large shoes. The shoes which do things like bake French brioche “just because” and play Tiger Woods Golf with a friend have all the clothes perfectly laundered and folded by the time I walk through the door at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I love those shoes and the feet which reside in them. He has made this current situation so much easier on me. I love him and his brioche making self.
Authors Note:
Those of you who are aware that we are both trying to eliminate the few extra pounds which have taken up residence in the S house, never fear: we gave the other loaf away to the maker of the perfect jam.


Wordless Wednesday

2 1/2 Months Old Already!!!!!


Another long cooking post...

Boeuf Bourguignon.

That is the dish I laboriously prepared for dinner this evening. Carefully selected ingredients. Several hours in the kitchen. Several more hours of waiting with bated breath on my "French Beef Stew" produced a dish so divine, so unequivocal to "American" Beef Stew that I had to laugh at the thought of how I previously made Beef Stew. (My slow-cooker and a McCormick packet.) Although it warmed us from the inside out on many a cold or rainy night, that quasi-beef stew has and will forever pale in comparison to Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. What prompted me to attempt such a feat? A movie.

Last night, Mr. S and I were blessed to be able to go to the movies while our good friends kept Little Lu. I had been dying to see Julie & Julia, which parallels the life of Julia Child to the year long culinary experiment of Julie Powell. It was a feel-good movie and I laughed out loud several times. I highly recommend it. (And for all you wives, my husband laughed several times as well and really seemed to enjoy it. It's not very often that there is a movie with certain chick flick qualities that we BOTH enjoy... but, I digress.) At one point in the movie, Julie makes Julia's Bouef Bourguinon and it looked so absolutely yummy, that I felt the need to return to my culinary fundamentals. I found something very therapeutic in this 3 page recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This being my first weekend as a working mother, I enjoy the irony of cooking a meal that takes 15 steps instead of 3. Let me be very clear, I say this not to boast that I will be cooking every meal from such a book.

Not so much.

I haven't the time nor the energy to make every dinner a cooking extravaganza-- especially not right now. But there is something to be said for taking the time. For example, I have a close friend who very seldom buys any convenience grocery items. She cooks delicious meals from a few simple and tasty ingredients. She has a wonderful talent of stretching a few dollars into a gourmet meal. Sometimes elaborate, sometimes comfort food, but they are always full of love and warmth. She and I have often joked about some of the "convenience items" that are available and what a rip off they can be. For example, tonight I noticed pre-seasoned, cooked taco meat at the grocery store. (Wow. Is it that hard to add taco seasoning to ground beef? Sorry, soapbox.) Never the less, there are many nights during the week when I need to be able to whip up dinner in under 30 minutes.... but sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that you can cook without any convenience foods. You can prepare a meal the "long" way. Today was such a day.

A few minutes into the process of carefully searing the chunks of perfectly marbled meat in my giant Turquoise Le Creuset, I began to appreciate Julia's gusto for excellent cooking. She did not learn to cook out of necessity but out of a love of food and love for her husband, and in an impossibly tiny kitchen. The last of which concerns me most. Somewhere between slicing perfectly uniform onions and learning a far better way to sautee mushrooms, I found enjoyment in being able to successfully prepare classic cuisine for my husband regardless of how busy life has recently become or how little time I seem to have these days.

My point in writing these ramblings?

1. Everyone should have a creative outlet. No matter how busy they are or how crazy life becomes.

2. Try something challenging once in a while. Even if you fail miserably, you'll be glad you stretched yourself a bit.

3. Even in a tiny kitchen with 7 square feet of counter space, a 5 inch deep sink, and an oven that is 50 degrees off and with lopsided burners-- God provides amazing blessings of encouragment. Though I do not look forward to another 5 days away from my little girl, we have all three had a wonderful weekend together and I personally, feel energized and refreshed.

P.S. Our dinner took so long, we ate at 9pm. Ha! It was worth it though!


Several Different Sighs

Have you every realized how many types of "sighing" there are?

I have.

I find myself sighing a lot these days.

6am- Alarm goes off. Breathe a prayer that the Lord will sustain me for today. "Only today." Deep breath as feet hit the floor which ends with hopeful sigh that today will be a bit easier.

6:30am- Disappointed sigh that pre-preg work clothes still don't fit properly. Ha.

7:00am- Happy sigh at the lovely sounds of baby girl waking up. Make mind up to soak up every second of the next hour with her.

7:03am- Sigh of Laughter as she lights up when she sees me.

7:05am- Euphoria. Pure euphoria as she is on my shoulder. We both sigh happily.

7:15 am- Praying again for the Lord's strength and grace. Deep Breath of peace.

7:45am- Where did the last 40 minutes go? Time to leave for the day. Sigh. Happily kiss husband and daughter. They're both smiling.

7:47am- Say 'goodbye' again. Sigh. Try to leave. Unsuccessfully.

7:50am- Realize I'm going to be late. Sigh of exasperation with myself. Look back at them one last time--- Sigh. Blow a kiss and leave.

8:00am-ish- Sit down at computer. clock in. open email. Sigh of Resolution to give it my best effort, happily with a grateful spirit. Sigh of Disappointment with myself that I'm not more patient.

5:00pm- on the dot. Time to go see my family. Sigh of relief.

5:10pm- Walk through the door. Breathe a second sigh of relief and smile as they both smile back. Kiss that handsome man and breathe in the sweet smell of the little baby's head. SIGH. Life is good.


On the job front, we have had a few "nibbles" you could say. One particularly encouraging "conversation" that will hopefully turn into more... we shall see what our God has in store. More on that when I feel at liberty to share.

In the mean time, know that we are still alive and doing well. Needing to stay encouraged these days. Finding it hard to focus on today and not look ahead with anxious expectation.

"Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are you not He, O Lord our God?
We set our hope on you, for you do all these things." --Jer. 14:22