June 22, 2014

French Silk Brownie Pie

 Ah, the sounds of summer. Crickets in the evening, hummingbirds buzzing over the garden (though I've yet to see one actually use the feeder...), afternoon rainstorms, splashing in the pool... interspersed with moments of my children yelling at each other. Summer is interesting. 85% of the time, the boys get along fabulously, are a joy to be with, and summer vacation is a blast! 15% of the time, I want to throw them out the window and run for the hills. I suspect these feeling are relatively normal among mothers with multiple children; they're just so much more concentrated during summer vacation, because we NEVER get a break. Unless my husband has a night that he's willing to spare so I can get a few hours completely and totally to myself, I am on duty from sun-up to sun-down. Unfortunately, when the boys are wailing at each other and I'm morphing into Franken-Mom, it's a little hard to see that 85% of pure summer joy. Silly, isn't it?? I've got to work on my perspective! On the plus side, our camping trip was a complete success, perfectly idyllic, and I can't wait to go again. Also, chocolate. I lost my taste for it for EIGHT YEARS! But it is slowly returning. Just in time for me to appreciate really good vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, AND this pie. Which you need to add to your summer repertoire, because it completely rocks my summer-chocolate-socks. (And I RARELY even wear socks!)

June 19, 2014

Finger-Licking Braised Short Rib Tacos

Oops!! This did NOT get published while I was camping!! Oh well, better late than never. I'm off to wash the campfire out of my hair (and all of our laundry), write up a lesson for church tomorrow, pick the few remaining perfectly ripe cherries out of our trees with the help of The Geologist, a long stick, and two little monkey boys, try and figure out what the heck we're eating for the next two days, and look up some dates for a few antique book treasures I discovered today. Lots of fun things to share from this trip, pictures coming soon!!

Enjoy the summery tacos! :)

June 18, 2014

Fluffy Pineapple Cookies with Orange Glaze

Today, it's about time I update you on the adoption front. You might have been wondering why i suddenly stopped mentioning it, completely leaving you hanging, but it's been a rough couple of months, to be honest. At the end of March, our case to become certified to adopt a little girl (10-12 years old) through the foster care system went to the certification board, and we were actually denied. It was a huge shock to us, especially because everyone we worked with along the way was very positive and encouraging about our chances. We know our family isn't perfect, but were frankly unprepared for a flat denial. Then we had to wait about a month for a letter to arrive, detailing the reasons we were denied. This letter turned out to be an even bigger shock, because most of the reasons detailed for our denial were false. Literally untrue!! There were even phrases quoted in the letter that we never said! Needless to say, we were furious. We set up a meeting with the supervisors to address these issues, and hopefully change their minds. 

That meeting was horribly uncomfortable. We felt like we were being gently stonewalled, that they had no intention of listening to us, and even more misconceptions about us were brought forward. I have no idea where these things came from, but if we were the family they somehow thought we were, I would have denied us too!! It was completely bizarre. We left feeling vindicated, that we had at the very least set the record straight, but were convinced there was no way they were going to change their decision. An hour later they called us and told us that they were "rescinding their denial". I have no idea how, but we DID change their minds!! It took a while to sink in, but we are now approved to adopt! It still feels a little unreal. We spent over two months feeling completely crushed and "denied", and it's still a bit hard to believe that we aren't anymore! SO, now we wait, and watch. Watch the profiles of kids available for adoption, ask about them, and wait. There aren't many kids in our age range at the moment, but we'll hang in there for a while and wait and see! 

Well, you're all caught up now! AND, here are those cookies I was supposed to blog the week that the garden took over our lives. :)

June 17, 2014

Weekly Menu June 23

This week we have:
Fluffy Pineapple Cookies with Orange Glaze
Finger-Lickin' Braised Short-Rib Tacos
French Silk Brownie Pie

For today, June 23...

June 16, 2014

Homemade Crumpets

 So, what on earth is a crumpet? Anyone? Well, I know I have at least a handful of British readers out there, and you guys and gals are all over it. But for the rest of us, they just plain don't exist in the States. I have no idea about the rest of the world. but I would still be willing to bet they aren't exactly common. When I was a kid, there was a movie called "The Great Mouse Detective", an animated mouse version of Sherlock Holmes, and the Mrs. Hudson mouse made cheese crumpets. It was apparently made by an American who has never seen a crumpet, because they looked like muffins. So of course, my 9 year old self thought that's what they were. False advertising, I tell you!! The best way to describe crumpets is a cross between an English muffin and a pancake. And they're awesome, and my boys can devour a dozen in the blink of an eye. I'm going to have to start making triple batches and freezing them. Luckily, they're also an absolute cinch to make!

June 15, 2014

Stay Tuned...!

I promised you crumpets this week. They're the perfect thing to finish off my week of ultimate British food! And I just finished making and photographing a batch, and the boys just finished inhaling them, and they're positively scrumptious, BUT I need to make another batch. I let my dough over-proof a little much, so they aren't quite as riddled with adorable little holes as they should be (which I realize means nothing to you now, but will make complete sense tomorrow), so I'm making another batch tomorrow and you'll get the full crumpet post, cross my heart! I know, I know, it doesn't have to be perfect, but to me it DOES! But I'm not bailing or leaving you hanging. Crumpets tomorrow. On my honor. :)

Source: Pinterest

June 14, 2014

Victoria Sponge (or Sandwich) Cake & High Altitude Baking

Since I started this blog almost two years ago next Friday (can you believe it??) I've learned a LOT, about cooking and baking and blogging and social media and PINTEREST! What an awesome invention/way to waste tons of time. :) No seriously, I love Pinterest. Thousands of recipes at my fingertips?! Genius. I try to answer as many questions as I can, looking them up for you if I just plain don't know, and learning with you! One thing I get asked about a handful of times is high-altitude baking. You'd think, living just a few feet shy of 6,000 feet above sea level, that I'd be all over that, right? Nope. Not a clue. I tend to veer away from tall, fluffy cakes in favor of quick breads, muffins, and biscuity things that aren't affected much by altitude. Actually, I've scrapped half a dozen cake recipes in the past year because they all collapsed after multiple attempts, and I had no idea until a few weeks ago what the problem was. Altitude. Baked three different versions of that darn lemon ginger cake with no luck. So after much searching and reading and testing, I found the best high-altitude baking guide ever, from King Arthur Flour. Those people are geniuses, I swear. In fact, it's SO good, that I'm sticking the link in a tab up above, in case anyone needs it for future reference. I have followed their tips to the tee with three completely different kinds of cake since, including this one, and the results have been perfection! It looks like a lot of info, but once you've done it a few times, it becomes part of your recipes. Subtract some flour, decrease the leavener, add some liquid. Voila, perfect cakes at high altitude! From now on, I will include high-altitude adjustments in italics to my cake recipes when needed. If there are no adjuments, assume that the recipe works just fine the way it is, even at high altitude!

*Note: In case some of you thought this original recipe was already adjusted for high altitude, I'm so sorry for the confusion! I'm adding the adjustments I made for high altitude, in parenthesis and italics, into the recipe. I'm at 6000 feet, so if you are significantly higher or lower, please check the King Arthur Flour link to the left to adjust for your altitude. since there seems to be a decent demand for high-altitude baking, I'll include those adjustments from now on. Sorry again!! *

June 12, 2014

Classic British Scones with Currants

This week is all about classic British food! Which, of course, is my favorite thing ever in the whole world. The most classic English tea-time cake I could find, British-style scones, and crumpets!! Do you even know what crumpets are?? They're so fun, I can't wait to show you!

My house is being ripped to pieces all around me while two lovely gentlemen replace our bay window and install French doors in the back. They. Are. GORGEOUS. When they're all done, I'll show you the final reveal! Until then, Scones!! Which, of course, make everything better. :)

I've eaten scones for as long as I can remember. They're one of my favorite things to bake! It wasn't until a few years ago that I truly learned the difference between British and American scones. American scones are more dense, lots sweeter, usually have some kind of sugar or glaze on top, and can be kinda awful if done wrong, turning them into sugary doorstops. British scones are lighter, softer, barely sweet, and much simpler. You don't usually find tons of chocolate chips and fruits packed into them. British scones are made much simpler because they're designed to be spread with butter, clotted cream, and jam. Now, I'm not bashing American scones! I love them!! And I love my add-ins!! Both favorites! The first time I ever tried a truly British scone was at a tiny Scottish restaurant on the way to Virginia Beach. We wanted fish and chips, (which were awesome) but started with scones, clotted cream, and jam. It was also the first time I ever tasted clotted cream, and oh MAN, that stuff is heaven!! I was head over heels in love. Forget the fish and chips, I wanted four more orders of scones and jam!

It's about time I make some for myself, right?? And you guys!

June 10, 2014

Weekly Menu June 10 and Lots of Garden Stuff!

 Source: Pinterest

This week we have:
Victoria Sponge (Sandwich) Cake
Classic Currant Scones
Homemade Crumpets

June 4, 2014

Blackberries and Cream Oats with Honey

Okay, I'm obsessed. Again. My blogging life tends to jump from one obsession to the next, whether it be a certain food, a blog, or a style. I started this blog because I was hooked on The English Kitchen (still my favorite blog ever), got the whole "weekly menu" idea from StoneGable, and found a new photography style after being inspired by Alexandra's Kitchen. (Still working on that one...) We all have a few of those blogs that just encompass EVERYTHING we want to be as bloggers, and these are a few of mine! My newest obsession is Pinch of Yum. This blog has everything. Awesome comfort food, incredible healthy food, and gorgeous pictures. I almost hate her, just a little, her pictures are so flipping perfect. Not really. No hating here. But still... how do I get that good!? Lucky for me, and other rookies out there, she's written a fantastic food photography e-book that I can't wait to put to use! I need a few more props, and napkins... Anyway. This is the recipe that got me hooked. 

I also get obsessed with food. I have been known to eat the same thing every day for weeks. Guacamole phase, omelet phase, buffalo chicken phase, egg and cheese bagel phase, bruschetta phase, I've had them all and more. Some healthier than others, obviously. And my biggest dietary stumbling block is lunch. Breakfast is easy, smoothies are a cinch and totally yummy. Dinner is easy to make healthy. But lunch... Nothing ever sounds good! Except junk food, these days. Until I found this oatmeal. "But oatmeal is for breakfast!!" you say?? Not for me! A smoothie for breakfast, this bowl of awesomeness for lunch, and there goes two-thirds of my daily food devoted to healthiness. I think I've already lost a few pounds... :)

June 3, 2014

Weekly Menu June 3

This week we have:
Blackberries and Cream Oats with Honey
Pineapple Cookies with Orange Glaze
Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

For today, June 3...