food, glorious food

Hi sisters.

I have felt my creative cooking energy returning with the influx of fresh produce with the start of summer. I thought I’d share with you what’s been happening in our kitchen recently.

My love affair with rhubarb continues. I’m so intrigued by it. It’s used mostly in desserts but it’s sour. I love that! I’ve been playing around with having it as the centerpiece of a dessert rather than always pairing it with something else. Recently I made this galette which turned out great, so I made it again. Caution: use less sugar than what is listed, if you want the nice sour flavor to come through. I used maybe 1/3 a cup the first time I made it and it was great. The second time I followed the recipe more closely (I probably added 1/2 cup, maybe more?) and it was a bit too sweet.

I also like to make rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails. It’s such a pretty light pink color and it adds a unique flavor to drinks. We made this cocktail with the simple syrup and enjoyed it (note: use less sugar for the syrup–you definitely don’t need a full cup!). You’ll notice that the cocktail and the galette both pair rhubarb with ginger–it’s a great combination.

All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.
All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.

Continue reading “food, glorious food”

we’ll make our garden grow

Dear sisters,

I’ve had the satisfaction of finally getting to some “adult” goals in my life this past year. Owning a home, having my own piano, and finally…planting a garden! It’s true, if I really had wanted to, I could have started a garden at some of the rental homes we’ve lived in, but the motivation just wasn’t there. Finally, in our own home with a nice backyard, and with the help of Mom and Dad and Janna, we managed to start a garden this spring.

garden in infancy
garden in infancy

Mom and Dad brought us some local larch from Eddy’s lumber yard to build the beds. Dad and Krestia built them together on a very hot day a few weeks ago. Seriously, I think it was 90 that day! We decided to try one shallow bed (6 inches) and one deeper bed (12 inches). Our backyard tends to be wet so I’m thinking the deeper one will be better for drainage. We shall see. So much of the garden this year is experimental. Next year we can make improvements!

After building the beds, Krestia worked on the fence and the gate. We also ordered some soil to be delivered to fill the beds. The kids loved this part! It reminds me, again, that simple joys are the best. In this case, a big pile of dirt. It had to be loaded into the wheelbarrow and taken to the beds in the backyard and the kids were so happy to help.

helper #1
helper #1
helper #2
helper #2. Yes, she is sticking out her tongue at me.

 

getting there
getting there

So, the beds are filling up with soil, and the fence and gate are taking shape. Now it’s time for planting! I managed to plant three rows with the kids “helping” before I got too frustrated. Eve kept pulling up the row markers and running away with them, and when she wasn’t doing that she was digging up all the seeds I had just planted. So, last Sunday I took the kids to a birthday party and Krestia stayed home to plant. Ahhh. It was a much better plan.

Finished!
Finished!

And here we are. A gate and a fence to keep away animals. Two filled beds. Seeds in the ground.  A few starts (tomatoes, Brussels sprouts). Our own garden, at last!

yes, two rows of arugula!
yes, two rows of arugula!

Now we wait for things to sprout, and water the beds occasionally. Mom found a little watering can for Eve which is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

little helper
she has to do it all by herself, of course
her aim is not very good yet
her aim is not very good yet

I’m so thankful to Mom and Dad and Janna for their help in getting us started on this project! I’m excited to be able to harvest veggies in our own backyard. Here’s to summer and fresh green salads and happy, dirty kids. I have so many good memories of gardening with Mom and Dad. My fondest one is of picking sugar snap peas right off the vine and eating them while standing barefoot in the garden. Yes. I’m hoping to do that in my own backyard soon. Come visit! I’ll save some peas for you.

Love,

Rachel

P.S. Anyone recognize the song reference in the title? I remember Mom conducting the AU Chorus when they sang this song. It’s a good one.

Chocolate and tea

Hi sisters,

Here’s a quickly-snapped still life from internship today.

I’m in the break room, working on paperwork, since the wireless network sometimes decides that the trip to my office space is way too far. We work it hard. I understand. There’s a comfy love seat in the break room where I can tuck my feet under me and work on termination summaries.

In the mug is a hot drink I made up this semester, which I discovered on a day that we were out of creamer, and have been drinking, um, a lot since. It’s inspired by those Earl Grey truffles we’ve made a few times, Rach. Continue reading “Chocolate and tea”

Throwback Thursday: Cooking inspirations

Dear sisters,

I feel like I’ve finally hit that comfort zone with cooking where I can “create” and execute a recipe all by myself, without relying too much on a recipe from the internet. I think I’ve read SO MANY COOKING BLOGS that I’ve absorbed some of the trends and flavor profiles that appeal to me and am now confident enough to go forth and create good meals.

I’m the best at coming up with good tacos. It’s hard to go wrong with tacos. Recently I’ve loved sweet potatoes in tacos, which was inspired by those amazing sweet potato tostadas that Rachel and Krestia made for us a long time ago on our family vacation in Maine.

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This isn’t the actual meal, but a reminder of that little table we crowded around to eat at!

I loved the texture and flavor of those grated sweet potatoes. They were amazing on deep fried tortillas with salsas and cheese. At the time it was a new and amazing way to have tacos! Nowadays I grate sweet potatoes and toss them in some olive oil in a pan, add a sprinkling of cumin, chili powder, oregano and a dash of cinnamon, let them cook for awhile and add salt, pepper and lime juice at the end. When I’m feeling lazy I just dice the sweet potatoes and toss them in olive oil and the spices and in the oven they go!

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The other part of my favorite tacos is a rice/quinoa pilaf with beans, peppers and onions (corn too if you feel like it). Sometimes I add tomatoes, sometimes lots of lime juice, zest and garlic. It depends on my mood.

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The toppings make the taco: homemade guacamole (this time I added corn), queso fresco and spinach. You don’t need much when the fillings are so good! These were so delicious.

Thanks for the recipe inspiration all the way back in 2011 Rach :-). I like that we share our meals virtually every once in awhile. Recently we also had this oven roasted chicken shawarma that Rachel mentioned and it was OH SO GOOD in pitas with cucumbers, spinach, feta and hummus. YUM. Martha recently mentioned a mango curry that I’m dying to try. Sisters and friends, tell me your favorite dinners recently so I can get more inspiration!

Love,
Jewel

the state of our household

Hi sisters.

Life continues at its hectic pace around here. So much happens at home with my little family and I miss taking the time to sit down and write to you all about it. So, I thought I’d try and summarize a bit.

Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together
Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together

Continue reading “the state of our household”

My chocolate chip secret

Dear sisters,

Somehow I’ve perfected making chocolate chip cookies. That is, if you want crispy on the bottom, chewy in the center chocolate chip cookies. This is one of the recipes I have memorized, maybe because I’ve been making it at least once a month for the last 3 years. I always feel a bit sad if I don’t have chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer.

Continue reading “My chocolate chip secret”

Giving Thanks 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us! We know that Advent has already started and the Christmas season is upon us, but we thought it would be fun to have a little remembrance of Thanksgiving 2015.

Jewel: Our Thanksgiving was a Friendsgiving this year! We celebrated with wonderful friends from La Crosse. When we went around before eating to say what we were each thankful for almost everyone mentioned having found such great friends. Kevin and I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to have met this past year. It makes being so far from family a bit easier. Thanksgiving was so fun with our cute little baby.

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Someone LOVES standing up. It makes him so proud and happy.

Continue reading “Giving Thanks 2015”