My hands are tan. The tops at least…the palms are pinkish/orange (my carrot intake might be a touch out of control…again). They don’t look like my hands. Honestly, I think they look dirty…I am just so darn used to them being pale. My mind is weird. I can see the million tiny crevices and lines much easier now and they don’t seem sooo veiny right now. The skin on my knuckles are more reddish than tan…perhaps brick red? My scar on my left hand near my thumb, right at the wrist…the exact spot where your hand would hit the top oven coil if you were pulling a tray of cookies from the oven…that scar is almost invisible – blending nicely with the tan. And by most accounts…I am still pretty pale.
My hair is lightening up…nothing like it was when I was a little tike (see below)…but definetly blonder…especially the baby fine hair around my temples. I love the effect that warm sunshine has on my hair. P.S … I was not a photogenic child. There are a few hundred photos of me, in my parents hutch, of me …with that same exact face…
Freckles across my nose and cheeks have popped and are in full bloom. They make me look younger than I am. No matter the amount of sunblock will stop the freckles from sprouting….Freckles have had a permanent residence on my face from spring to fall since I was a child. I welcome them with open arms…I enjoy seeing them when I glance in the mirror, always a bit of a surprise that first week or so of spring. I wonder if there will be a summer where they won’t show up…most adults don’t have freckles. Or maybe they are just wearing makeup, hiding the little guys.
Iced coffee is becoming my morning ritual. It has thrown the barista at the hospital’s coffee cart for a loop. Nate now asks if I want it hot or cold…he is a quick learner. For some reason, iced coffee needs a touch of cream. Why? Hot coffee is taken black. Iced…I need cream. It is something I don’t understand. But Nate knows to give me the room for cream when I drink it iced. He is this good with the entire hospital staff and our insane coffee addiction.
Popsicles have found their way into my fridge. I bought a mixed box (strawberry, lime, and wild berry) and a coconut/banana box yesterday. I devoured a lime one on the short car ride home. I couldn’t wait. It is a childhood habit. Remember those Good Humor Strawberry Crunch bars…those were our favorite. I have switched to all-natural, real fruit, popsicles…but the feeling of summer in the air is the same. I am thinking of sticking one in my gin and tonic tonight.
I guess what I am saying is that summer has entered into my little world and is letting istelf be known. Hi. Welcome. I’ve been expecting you. Stay awhile. Warm my skin, lighten my hair, and brighten my days.
I have been craving lime for weeks now. The almost nightly gin and tonics with a squeeze of lime have been hitting the spot as of late, but I want more. I want to put it in everything I cook and bake. A squeeze here, some zest there…So, when I saw that Joy had whipped up a lime and berry bundt cake…I knew it would be recreated in my kitchen, sooner or later…or sooner rather than later. I swapped mixed berries for strawberries and added a lime glaze to make it really limey…and ladled roasted strawberries over each individual slice – a total must! Roasted strawberries in general are a total must, but that is for another blog post…
Not a lime fan? Swap it for lemon. Only have raspberries? Ok. No bigs. Make it your own and enjoy it in the late evening with perhaps another gin and tonic. Eat it as the sun is setting and the shadows are getting longer and the air begins to cool. Enjoy it as you relax on your patio and smile as you hear the squeals and laughter of the kids next door as they play late into the evening. Eat it as you sit and listen to baseball on the radio like your grandparents did… Eat it as you welcome summer…
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 cups Fresh Strawberries, hulled and cut in half
- 8 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 to 3½ Cups Powdered Sugar
- Zest of 1 Lime
- Pinch of Salt
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine sugar and lime zest and with back of a spoon or fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar. Voila..you have lime sugar!
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together lime sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together eggs, butter, buttermilk, and lime juice.
- Pour wet ingredients over drying ingredients. Stir until all dry ingredients are combined and moistened. The batter will be thick. Fold in strawberries to evenly distribute.
- Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and place in preheated oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes before inverting cake onto wire rack – let cool completely before icing.
- Once cool, prepare icing. In a medium bowl, whisk together lime juice, powdered sugar, lime zest, and salt. Whisk until smooth. The icing will be thin. Pour icing over cake and serve immediately. Note: I refrigerated the icing, making the icing thicker without adding more powdered sugar.
Adapted from Joy the Baker
30 years. 3 decades. 1,565.32 weeks. Even more days, hours, minutes, and seconds. 30 years of heart beats and breaths. 30 years where smiles have outnumbered frowns. Laughter has been abundant. Tears have been rare. Cities have been explored and oceans have been swam. Miles have been walked, ran, and flown. Friendships forged and loves lost. There have been high hopes and big dreams alongside stinging disappointments and slight blunders.
While the past 30 years (especially the previous 5+) have seemingly flown by with little resistance (and I am sure the next 30 will do the same)…I am honestly and wholeheartedly looking forward to this upcoming decade. I would be lying if there haven’t been moments in the past year where I have slightly freaked out about turning 30…they weren’t moments of comparison between my position in life and that of others. We all lead different lives at varying paces. However, do you ever feel like you are just tumbling along like a rogue sock in this big dryer called life? Yeah…moments of feeling lost in the shuffle have made me apprehensive about turning 30. I guess I always assumed 30 year olds didn’t tumble. 30 year olds knew what they wanted. They walked confidently. How naive my younger self was. While I don’t feel like I am tumbling about, but have gracefully graduated to gentle stumbling…I think learning how to confidently walk is what awaits me/us in our 30’s. And you are silly if you can’t find the joy in that.
Birthdays have a tendency to be celebrated with layered cakes and multiple scoops of chocolate ice cream and rivers of hot fudge and mountains of whipped cream and showers of sprinkles. However, after I recently had a rather heated (ha!) text message conversation with a friend over the best cake flavor (chocolate versus spice), we both realized that cake was our 4th favorite dessert. Who argues over their 4th favorite dessert? Pies, cookies, and brownies are favored over cake…all day, every day. So, on this 30th birthday of mine…there will be no cake, but a dessert I have made no less than 5 times in the past 3 weeks. A favorite of mine? Perhaps.
The simplicity that is a crisp is why I favor this dessert in the spring/summer. A few cups of fruit that is hanging about the house, tossed with some sugar, a thickener, and perhaps a squeeze of a lemon or lime…topped with a quick crumble and in no time you have a dessert that will please everyone and anyone. Young and old. Friends, coworkers, and family.
Plus, when you have a friend who supplies you with bundles of rhubarb because it grows in abundance behind her house ( I give thanks to whoever owned the house prior to her … we would have been fast friends as well) and when the strawberries are sweet and delicious … my mind can think of nothing else besides strawberry and rhubarb. Rhubarb and strawberry. It is the only thing I have been pumping out of my kitchen.
So, while I enjoy a bowl of warm strawberry rhubarb crisp and say adieu to my roaring twenties…I am giddy and anxiously awaiting what my 30’s will have in store for little old(er) me. Cheers!
- Crumb Topping
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar, tightly packed
- pinch of salt
- 2 lbs Strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 2 Cups Rhubarb, ½ inch dice.
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar (less if you like it tart)
- 3-4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime (if you don’t have citrus, just omit – it’ll still be awesome, trust me)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare topping first: In a medium bowl, combine all crumb topping ingredients and mix until well combined. Place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Prepare filling.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, corn starch, and lemon/lime juice. Carefully toss to combine.
- Pour filling into 9 inch deep dish pie plate (or an oven safe dish that will hold this amount of filling – casserole dishes work well).
- Carefully spread chilled crumb topping over fillling.
- Placed in preheated oven (place a baking sheet/tinfoil below baking dish to catch any drippings) and bake for about 45-50 minutes until the top becomes golden brown and the juice around the edges are bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
- Store at room temperature loosely covered.
I signed up for the Tough Mudder April 2013 yesterday. Remember the Tough Mudder 2012? I do. The memories are rather vivid, maybe because I finished the race feeling 20 years older and looking like I was mugged and then pulled through a gauntlet. Or maybe because I still have a slight bump in my right shin from one serious bruise. Or maybe because I had so much fun. Like serious, to the core, can’t wait to do it again, adrenaline rush, pure exhaustion, fun. Yeah, there was a bit of failure ( i.e. monkey bars and rings), a bit of terror/trepidation ( 30+ leap into an ice cold quarry and electric shock that left me face down in the mud), but I experienced a lot of team work and success ( 13 mile run, 20 foot walls, quarter pipe, etc…). All of which make me excited for April. While jumping off a ledge 30+ feet above a quarry will always make my stomach enter my throat (half the fun, right?) and running 13 miles will always be my strong point in the tough mudder…beyond just finishing, this year I have a few goals to work towards. One being those damn monkey bars and secondly, I plan on leaving the quarter pipe with fewer bruises. And I will try to remember to not chug my beer at the end…talk about a lead weight in the gut, ugh! I was just so thirsty.
What does this have to do with strawberry infused vodka? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Other than I should have a batch of this ready come April, post race…Anything to ease the pain, right?
Strawberry infused vodka … I am not sure this needs an introduction or an explanation. Strawberries and vodka have a tendency to speak for themselves.
- 2 Pints Strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 2-3 Cups Vodka, your favorite brand
- Mason Jars with tight fitting lids
- Cheese Cloth
- Hull and quarter strawberries.
- Fill mason jars with strawberries, packing them in there.
- Pour vodka over strawberries, filling just below the rim.
- Screw lids onto mason jars and place in a dry dark place for three days, shake jars once daily.
- After three days, line a mesh strainer with cheese cloth and place over a large container that will hold about 3 to 4 cups of liquid. Pour strawberries and vodka into strainer. Let sit and strain for several minutes. Discard strawberries.
- Store strawberry infused vodka in glass jars with tight fitting lids in the fridge until ready to use.
I have this new found love for Jeff Bridges. The drunken, dried up, cowboy/country singer is played well by him. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I liked him in Crazy Heart and just finished True Grit and I have to say I enjoyed that as well. Who knew? Well, a few people, since he was an Oscar nominee for both and won once…
I suppose I should have known.
I bet Jeff Bridges likes berry crisps. He looks like a lover of crisps. I like guys that like crisps…keeps me from eating the whole crisp. Which my thighs thank you for, by the way. I have used the word crisp a lot in the last 3 sentences…Crisp, one more for good measure.
This crisp is super easy to make. Trust me, I wouldn’t lie to you. Not my style.
I was raised with crisps that were topped with a combination of white and brown sugar, flour, and butter. No oats. Oats were not allowed. Oats were not included. Oats were forbidden. But with some careful consideration I now, sometimes add oats…they are nice every now and then. However, my mom’s apple crisp – that, by tradition, can not, will not, should not ever contain oats. It just wouldn’t be the same. A chilled fall night with apple crisp that contained oats would feel foreign and wrong. So very wrong. I am pretty serious about my crisps.
So are you ready to make a crisp?
You will need 8 cups of mixed berries. I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I also tossed in an apple because it was sitting there…
Mix berries with corn starch, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and zest…pour into a DEEP dish pie plate. Set aside.
Butter, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, oats, salt…mix until it looks like this…
Sprinkle it over the berries similar to the above…
Bake until it looks like this…Oh, how I love thee
Serve it up or…when no one is looking, eat straight from the dish. Its best that way. Just say that there was a lingering berry or the edge needed straightened if you are caught in the act…or just give ’em a fork and have at it – they will thank you for the gesture because they too were dying to dig in. Fact.
Serves 6 to 8
*I used a 10 inch deep dish pie plate. If you are using a shallow dish, then halve the filling…simple as that.*
8 Cups Mixed Berries. I used strawberries (sliced), blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and a sliced apple (because it was there)…you pick the mix.
3 to 4 Tablespoons Corn Starch – Juicy berries require more cornstarch.
2/3 Cup White Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 Cup All-Purpose White Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats ( instant is fine too)
6 Tablespoons Butter – chilled and cut up into chunks.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Wash all berries and pat dry.
In a large bowl, toss together berries, corn starch, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour them into a deep dish pie plate. Set aside.
In another large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, white sugar, oats, salt, and butter pats. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until butter is pea-sized. You can pulse everything in a food processor if you are in a hurry – but oats will not remain whole, so proceed with caution.
Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the berries. Place on a cookie sheet and then place in oven. (cookie sheet will catch anything that may boil over the edge…therefore preventing smoke from rolling out of your oven)
Bake in preheated oven for 1+1/2 hours (deep dish pie plate) or 30 to 40 minutes (shallow pan). The berries will be bubbly along the edges and the top will be golden brown.
Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.
*I do not like a runny crisp, so I baked mine about 20 to 30 minutes beyond the bubbling edge stage, ensuring that the cornstarch thickened the juices.
*If the top gets too brown, then loosely cover with tin-foil.
*If you remove from the oven and let it cool and then realize that it is too runny for your liking, toss it back in the oven. No harm, no foul. This is a very forgiving thing, this crisp.
I wore a white tee shirt to Target today and within seconds of being in public, I dribbled coffee down my front. I do this constantly. I have this problem even with straws…Lord help me.
From here on out I am only wearing shirts that match the color of my beverage.
So today, I ran errands with coffee stains on my shirt. I wanted to explain to everyone what had happened, that the shirt wasn’t dirty when I put it on, that I am just a clumsy 28 year old.
Actually, it might be a bit of karma kicking me in the butt. See, I am generally grossed when I see people who could have possibly used their shirts as place mats. Grease stains, ketchup stains ( I pray its ketchup), pop, chocolate (again praying its chocolate), coffee – you get the idea. Maybe they too are clumsy or have small children with sticky fingers or they hit a pot hole while they were drinking their morning coffee. It is all possible and I need to cut them some slack, because today I needed that same slack.
Where does cake come into this? It doesn’t. Nope not at all other than I was at Target buying a cast iron skillet because my old one grew legs and ran away. Why a cast iron skillet? Because that is the only thing I bake upside down cakes in. You can use normal cake pans, but I love how the cast iron skillet bakes evenly and creates a bit of a crispy edge. So if it wasn’t for this cake then I wouldn’t have been in public today and the coffee on my shirt wouldn’t have mattered. However, I wouldn’t have been reminded to cut people some slack…
Anywho…lessoned learned. Lets back this rad (I miss that word) cake.
You will need some butter.
Some sliced strawberries…
Layer the strawberries over the butter and brown sugar.
Spread the batter evenly and pop it in the oven.
It will look something like this once out of the oven and you will brush on the glaze like so.
Inversion…this can be tricky. Watch out for that handle – its screamin’ hot!
Give it an old flip-a-roo. Don’t you like my mickey mouse pot holder? They make me smile.
Upside Down Strawberry Lemon Cake
Lemon Cake adapted from Ina Garten -Barefoot Contessa Parties! and inspired by Joy the Baker
1 stick plus 5 Tablespoons Butter – at room temperature
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 + 1/2 Cups Strawberries, sliced
1/4 Cup Lemon Zest – about 4 to 6 lemons
1 Cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 + 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice – about 2 to 3 lemons
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a 10 inch cast iron skillet (or cake pan), melt 5 Tablespoons of butter either on top of the stove or in the oven. Be careful – the skillet handle will be hot!!!
- Scatter brown sugar over melted butter and stir to incorporate. Spread mixture as evenly as possible over bottom of pan…it will be patchy.
- Arrange strawberry slices over brown sugar and butter in a single layer. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon zest, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar.
- Beat in eggs ,one at a time, to the butter and sugar combo – mix well. Then mix in vanilla and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Beat in the flour mixture alternating with buttermilk. Begin and end with flour mixture. ( i.e. add half the flour mixture and blend until just combined. Add all the buttermilk – blend to combine. Blend in remaining half of the flour.
- Spread evenly over strawberries.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes – or until toothpick comes out clean.
- While cake is baking – make glaze. Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small sauce pan and place over low heat and cook until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- When is cake is done, remove from oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Poke holes all over cake with a toothpick.
- With a basting brush, brush the lemon glaze over the cake.
- Once this is complete, invert the cake onto a cake stand ( try to center it – I failed at this! ) If baking in a cast iron skillet – do not grab the pan handle , it is still screaming hot and no one looks good with a burn on their palm in the shape of a pan handle – trust me!
- Eat warm or let cool.