Monday, June 29, 2009

There are a few foods that I just can't get enough of this summer. I haven't tried many new recipes, sticking more with the simple, tried and true, in season, local. But, in my opinion, that is the best eating!
One simple recipe that I love is fresh bing cherries, cooked down in a balsamic-brown sugar reduction, over vanilla bean ice cream. Oh. My. Goodness. I don't really know amounts, and they aren't important anyway. Just pit a bunch of cherries and throw them in a skillet with a generous amount of melted butter. Really, do be generous. This isn't the recipe to try and cut calories. And please, whatever you do, don't use some fake nasty stuff. No margarine or Can't Believe It's Not Butter or whatever. If you are tempted to use something fake, don't even bother with this recipe.
Anyway, to the melted butter and cherries, add some brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. If I had to give amounts, I would say somewhere in the ballpark of 1/2-1 stick of butter, maybe 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/8 a cup of balsamic vinegar. But really, change it as much as you like. Cook it all down for awhile, maybe 10 minutes or so, and spoon it warm over vanilla ice cream. A gingersnap or biscotti would be a wonderful addition too.
Another summer staple around here has been the personal pizzas. I know, nothing earth shattering but it has consistently been making our family happy 1-2 nights a week. Making personal pizza crusts takes almost no more time than making one large crust but the fun factor is increased exponentially. I don't have a pizza crust recipe that I love yet, I am still experimenting. If you have a tried and true one you use, please share it! For now, I have been using different recipes, and often resorting to the cheap, prepackaged crusts that you just add water to and roll out. I bake them for about 5 minutes, put them on plates, and set out different toppings on the counter and the boys have a blast topping their own pizzas. We do this a lot on Mondays, when the hubby and I go on date night. Letting the boys make personal pizzas and watch a movie makes the night special for them too.
The boys typically keep it simple with sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni. I love fresh spinach, feta, thin slices of tomato, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc. I will often top mine with whatever fresh produce needs to be used up such as squash (lots of squash this time of year!). The personal pizzas are great for quick lunches after a morning in the pool and the kids really love the chance to make their pizza just the way they want it.
We have also been enjoying lots of other quintessentially summer foods...
corn on the cob
low country boil
fresh berries
fruit and yogurt parfaits with homemade granola

What foods are you loving this summer?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I have been thinking a lot lately about family and siblings and brothers, as we are only seven short weeks from bringing another family member home. I have been enjoying the laid back pace of summer with my boys, spending hours every day with my tired feet propped up, watching them play in the pool, wrestle, build legos, and just do fun little brother things together.

I have been thinking about how fast their childhoods are going by. My oldest just lost his first tooth. He is starting first grade this fall, which just seems so much more serious than kindergarten. I am seeing him really change and mature and while I am proud and happy, I am also sad. I just want to freeze this time, hold on to them a little longer. I don't know why I seem to enjoy my children so much more during the summer. I just love to watch them at the beach or pool, their sweet little tan bodies running around. Gosh, they are just so cute!! And they get along so much better. I love to see them relating with each other. I love to see them comfort each other and help each other and to feel safe with each other.

I was encouraged as I thought about my own brothers (pictured above, with my Dad). We were also homeschooled and spent a lot of time together building forts, playing in the woods, dressing up, getting in trouble. I realized a few weeks ago that I have not lived in the same house as my siblings in ten years. We all are doing our own thing, living our own lives, having different experiences. It is weird to think about how different our lives are now, these people that I knew better than anyone else for most of my life. One brother is about to be deployed to Iraq (bottom in picture). One just graduated college and is trying to decide what direction to go next (far right). And the other brother is in school and married (top). In spite of the years it has been since we lived in the same home, we are still close. One brother was here at my house tonight, playing with the boys and talking to Matt about life. Within the last hour, I have spoken to my other two brothers on the phone. I am very thankful for those family connections that have changed and matured over the years. I am thankful for all the history that we share, the inside jokes, the memories, the traditions.

And even though sometimes I am sad to see my children growing up so fast, I am encouraged when I think about the relationships that I have with my siblings and the hope that I have that these years my boys have in the same house will also result in strong ties as adults. I hope that they will feel a companionship and safety and confidence in their brothers because of their time together as children.

(I also have a little sister, Darcie, who is ten. I was almost eighteen when she was born. I could say a lot about her and how she uniquely changed and added to our family but this particular stream of consciousness was more about my childhood interactions with my brothers. Not trying to leave Darcie out though!).

Saturday, June 06, 2009

TODAY FROM THE FARMER'S MARKETI didn't get much today and only spent $12. Plus, the prices had fallen on a lot of the produce, as it is becoming more abundant. People who think that fresh produce is too expensive have obviously never eaten in-season foods in an agricultural area. It is dirt cheap this time of year in south GA.

10 pounds of peaches $9 (they are only $0.50 a pound if you go to the farm and pick yourself. I will probably go in July).
8 ears of corn $1.50
1 onion $0.50
4 squash $1

I admit, I was a little disappointed in the corn this week. It was small to begin with, and once I shucked them, half of the cobs were eaten up with worms. I saw another vendor whose corn looked much bigger and better but I had already purchased this corn. Next week I will probably purchase from the other vendor. For $1.50, I am not going to get too upset about it. The corn that was left was still very good!

Caedmon was interviewed for the local news and his thoughts on the farmer's market were very cute (he said that the sweet corn is what keeps him coming back every week. That, and seeing the chickens and dogs.).

After we left the farmer's market, we made a spontaneous trip to my parent's house where everyone pitched in to pick me at least two days worth of blueberries (1 1/2 gallons) while I stood at the bushes and ate them as fast as I could pick them. :)

I love Saturday mornings.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

LOVE FOR MY DADDYMy daddy just made my night. Possibly my week. There are two things you should know, before I tell you what amazing awesomeness he did for me tonight.

1. No one in my family "gets" my daddy like I do. He is not naturally verbally affirmative, he drives everyone crazy asking a 1,000 seemingly meaningless questions, works hard, and grins like the Cheshire cat when embarrassed. In a word, he is me. Or should I say, I am him.
In my mind, he can do no wrong. He asks lots of questions because he is analytical and needs more information before he can form an opinion about something. He loves us but has a hard time communicating it in words. He shows love for us through his ACTIONS. He works hard and provides well for his family. He went to all our baseball and soccer games. He comes to my sons' sports games. To me, his love is readily apparent. To other members of my family, especially the ones who receive love best through VERBAL AFFIRMATION, they just don't get him. But I also show love through DOING and so for me, it is easy to see the myriad of ways he loves and serves his family.
Also, if he were to read this, he would be embarrassed and would act like I was crazy.
One of my favorite things about him is that he grins from ear to ear when he serves communion at church, or during a baptism, and throughout my entire wedding. He tries not to but he can't help it. And I grin when I watch him.

2. The second thing is, I love blueberries. They are my #1 favorite food on earth and I anxiously await blueberry season every year, pestering daddy about the bushes every time I see him, wanting to know how much longer, has he been watering them enough, will it be a good season this year (the 1,000 questions!).

Tonight, he showed up at my door with a bag of the very first blueberries of the season. He had just picked them for me moments before. And then, he got in his truck and drove them to my house. And he grinned when he handed them to me.

Now, an hour later, I have an empty bag, a tummy full of blueberries, a lump in my throat, and big silly tears rolling down my face. Because my daddy just made me awfully gosh-darn happy tonight.

*Creative commons image from lepiaf.geo on