books, our life, and cool stuff we like. in random order.
plums on a plate
July 27, 2015
More and more, I fantasize about moving into a little cottage and watching the grass and the breeze blow. Or signing up for those retreats where you spend a couple of days in total silence. I think I could do that quite happily right now.
The kiddo is feeling fried - we've been doing fun things but in the past three weeks, I think she's had a 10pm or nearly a 10pm bedtime four times. I'm going to put a serious bedtime smackdown on our family. How do you all handle this in summer time? I mean, one big family dinner began at 5pm in a restaurant for heaven's sake, and we still didn't get home until nearly ten. How could we have begun any earlier?? And when we saw 'Wicked' recently, we didn't get home until past 10, because we could only get tickets to a 6pm show. Am I making too much of this? I know when she melts down before bed all the time, that bedtimes are happening TOO LATE.
Also, I really need to crack down on MORE SUMMER READING and less screen time. We have some videogame mania happening (cough, Andrew) and not enough reading happening. I'm thinking about locking up the gaming devices for the rest of the summer. Too harsh? Tell me how you all are handling the summer reading versus screen time for your kiddos, if you would be so kind.
So that was a lot of frenzied griping from me. Let's pause and talk about plums on a plate. There have been some amazing plums at the market recently, and I found this old plate at a local thrift shop. It was a steal and I looked at it, went home, thought about it some more, and then went back the next day and got it.
more home cooking
July 22, 2015
But I have something that will make your summer happy, if you like tomatoes. It's like summer pizza. Except it's BETTER. It's a biscuit pie (there's a top crust to this as well, but I wanted you to see all the filling.) I did a post on it long ago, but this recipe is so charming, it deserves mention more than once on my blog. I should talk about it once a year, at least.
First, do yourself a huge favor and go find a copy of 'More Home Cooking' by Laurie Colwin. While you're at it, you might as well get book 1, which is called 'Home Cooking'. I own both and if every book in my house was bursting into flame, I would be reaching to save both of these amazing cookbooks-slash-food memoirs. So delightful, so fun to read, with the most accessible and happy-making recipes. And one of my favorite recipes is Laurie's Tomato Pie. She writes her recipe out longhand and it takes awhile to write down, so I'm going to be a cheater pants and just cut and paste from my first Tomato Pie post, which is an awesome read but I'm too horrified by my old photos to link to it. You can look it up in my archives if you're feeling intrepid. Year 2011. Oh, a note about the tomatoes - whatever form you use, canned or fresh - DRAIN DRAIN DRAIN. Blot them, drain them. Drain drain drain.
TOMATO PIE - from 'More Home Cooking'.
"The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending 2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and approximately 3/4 cup milk, either by hand or in a food processor. You roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it. Then you add the tomatoes. Mary makes this pie year round and used first quality canned tomatoes, but at this time of year 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes are fine, too. Drain well and slice thin two 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, then lay the slices over the crust and scatter them with chopped basil, chives, or scallions, depending on their availability and your mood. Grate 1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar and sprinkle 1 cup of it on top of the tomatoes. Then over this drizzle 1/3 cup mayonnaise that has been thinned with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and top everything with the rest of the grated Cheddar. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several vents in the top crust and bake the pie at 400 degree F for about 25 minutes." (if you have a slow oven, cook 5 minutes more)
Make this pie and enjoy your summer! (P.S. the biscuit crust is seriously the easiest thing EVER. faster than fast to make, especially if you have a food processor, but it's all easy to make by hand. seriously.)
July 19, 2015
Well, it's hot. Just too hot for me, and it's not even the hottest part of the year yet (hello August) and it's not even the hottest part of the country. But I'm ready for fall. I'm always ready for fall. Despite the heat, summer has been marching along nicely and it's going to be a real shock to have to eat indoors again at some point. We've eaten every single dinner outside since June. That might be ending soon though, because we're seeing more wasps. I've thrown together a few snaps of a recent trip to Eastern Washington. And a snap of Japanese Pringles, because I am the Queen of Random. These Pringles were not in Eastern Washington, they were in a candy shop, but I was so impressed by them, I had to take their picture. No idea what flavor they were, or why they were in a candy shop. I did not buy them. I feel intensely regretful.
Julia took her latest summer reading book on the trip - 'Moominsummer Madness'. Oh this is one of the BEST books from the series. I must say, the millionth time, that it would be a crying shame to let these books about little creatures living in the mountains of Finland pass you by. The books follow the moomintrolls as they Have Adventures, of the funniest and silliest kind. Please make me happy and put these books into the hands of your children. AND THEN WE CAN ALL BE HAPPY TOGETHER.
'Lost Lake' by Sarah Addison Allen - she's one of my very great favorites. I've been disappointed with everything I've read so far this summer; I'm really hoping this book bucks the trend. It might look like we also wandered into ancient Greece, but no - we wandered into some winery in Eastern Washington and had fun walking the grounds. I've never seen any Italian villas, but I think they must look like this place.
Twin Peaks, remember that show? (Andrew heard the pie there actually wasn't that great, so we didn't get any, but we did all share a chocolate malt at another eatery, which was the maltiest malt I've ever had) Andrew and I recently re-watched the first season. What a wacky show that was. I wonder if the reboot will 1) actually happen and 2) be any good? We stopped at a fruit stand that was stocked with salt water taffy, which is not friendly-to-braces, but Julia decided that even if she couldn't have any, she still wanted to get some for her best friend.
I have nothing more to say about our trip, because really, it was just too, too hot for me. We did have a lovely time though! Andrew said he never saw me walk faster in my life than he did when we were walking on the streets of eastern Washington, trying to get back to the place where we were staying.
Julia and I still are making our way through the 'Little House on the Prairie' books. And all I can think about is......what did they do in the summer? In the heat? In long dresses? Were they not allowed to wear short sleeves? I have to research this. I simply can't imagine how they survived the heat. Oh, speaking of all that, I have something to show you, but it's for another post! It's a good surprise.
cool stuff i like
July 17, 2015
Plum and Summer Berry Lavender Crisp. The prettiest food photos I've ever seen.
This space book for kids looks flat out amazing.
Interesting. And bummer.
I hope she finds it! And then explains to me how to get motivated again, because I stopped after 2 projects.
This movie just jumped onto my Must See list.
Summer Berry Breakfast Crisp.
A mac n' cheese for summer.
A site full of adorable things. The hedgehog headband set is on sale!
This is sweet. Preserving summer.
Julia is way more into crafts than I am. I need inspiration and I've been eyeing this book for a while.
This post was lovely.
Cool Book of the Week: 'Nightbird' by Alice Hoffman (of 'Practical Magic' fame) is one that I've had pinned for awhile. But I really should pay more attention to my own Pinterest boards, because I plumb forgot all about it! Happily, my friend Danzel brought it to my attention again, and I decided it was time to bring this book aboard to take up more bookshelf space in the house. Best for grades 4-6, this tale follows the story of Twig, whose family was cursed by a witch long ago, forcing the male family members to hide because of an unusual affliction. When a new family moves into town, Twig finally makes some friends, but at the risk of her secret history being exposed. I really want to read this one! So I think Julia and I will dive into it together as a read-aloud.
But the most exciting thing....the other night we saw 'Wicked', the stage play, for the first time, at the beautiful Paramount Theater in Seattle. IT WAS AMAZING. One of the best shows I've ever seen in my life. I had tears streaming down my face during the 'Defying Gravity' song, which is the big show stopper number. I had seen it on YouTube so many times, and to see it in person was just a bit overwhelming for me. Julia adored every minute. I wasn't familiar with the show plotline, and I haven't read the book, so after 'Defying Gravity' at the end of the first act, I thought the show was done! That's it, the witch flies into the sky. Show over. UM, THAT WASN'T THE END OF THE SHOW LOL.
The two girls playing Glinda and the Wicked Witch were flat out amazing, and the whole thing was brilliant, and now.....I'm going to read the book, which I've had ON MY BOOKSHELF SINCE 1996. I've never read it! I should just call this blog, 'Books I'm Going To Talk About That I've Never Read'.
I can't believe I've never read it! For those of you who don't have a clue about any of this, don't hand it off to your kid - it's adult/YA fiction age fantasy fare about the behind the scenes lives of the witches in Oz, told from the perspective of Elphaba, the green-tinted witch of the west. It describes her formative years and friendship with the bubble-traveling (and bubble-headed) Glinda, and then follows Elphaba's hardships in trying to save the magical, talking animals of Oz from destruction and discrimination at the hands of the Wizard, who is NOT a Nice Guy at all.
Have you all long since already read 'Wicked'? Or any other Gregory Maguire books? He has several books that feature his alternative takes on the so-called 'villains' from famous stories and fairy tales, like 'Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister', his retelling of the Cinderella story.
OOOOOOH, I have another picture, which sadly I can't show you, or I might get into trouble. I took a photo (which I wasn't supposed to) of the curtain inside the theater for 'Wicked' and I'm going to be a tease and not even tell you what it was, because I don't want to spoil the experience for any of you who haven't seen the show, and might in the future. But for those of you who've seen it, SO COOL right? What they did with that curtain? Julia and I were hopping with excitement. I'll give a small clue, because this play has been running for so long, I'm going to assume there aren't many secrets about it. The third photo in today's post.
Andrew didn't see the show, as he has a lofty disdain for most musical theater. He cheerily informed me about how "that 'Defying Gravity' song is really mediocre and not good at all". I had a hard time calming myself down after that.