Monday, July 14, 2014

A Birthday and Barbecue

Our sweet Rosy turned three and we had a very low-key birthday party for her this weekend, which means we had family over, I made a few bouquets for the table, and cooked a meal.  It was so nice!  The more birthdays we have for the girls, the more I'm gravitating towards simple parties as they seem to be a lot more enjoyable for all! Plus it was so nice to have the family all together and visit.

I have several old tablecloths that belonged to my grandmother and I love pulling them out for special meals. I brought a card table in and "attached" it to our dining room table so we had enough seats for all the adults.  Then we had a separate little table for the sweet little cousins.   

 There was a time I thought I would never say this (believe me), but one of my favorite things about having friends or family over is cooking a meal for everyone.  Since we're in the midst of a hot July, I decided on a menu of summer barbecue dishes.  We don't eat a lot of pork, but I cooked this pulled pork with spicy peach-mustard sauce (using recently made peach jam) from the cookbook The Art of Preserving, and it was so delicious.  (I'm sorry, I can't find the recipe online anywhere, but the cookbook is worth purchasing if you like to can!) 

Three-color slaw (recipe here)... 

Potato salad (recipe here)... plus sweet pickles and sliced tomatoes from the garden.  (Not pictured, because I get so busy I always forget to take pictures of all the food!) 

  For dessert I made a cake that I saw in my Pioneer Woman cookbook.  Her recipe uses strawberries, but my parents have wild blackberries blooming all over the farm, so I used the blackberries instead.  These were so good!  They are a little tart, but after sitting in a little sugar... oh my...

Now my picture really does not do justice to how good this cake is.  (Not to mention I assembled it in a hurry with everyone in the kitchen watching - ha!)  But here is the link for the recipe and you can view The Pioneer Woman's beautiful photos instead.  ;-)  The cake was a winner.  So delicious and easy too since there wasn't any frosting.  

Just a note on the recipe - I used a dark chocolate almond spread instead of Nutella and I decreased the amount of sugar in the whipped cream to 1/4 cup and used organic granulated sugar instead of powdered.   Also, I baked the chocolate cakes the night before to save time, and put them in the freezer until about 15 minutes before I was ready to assemble the cake.  It worked perfect!

Last night I received a text from my sister-in-law and it was a picture of Rosetta from the evening.  She said, "You should put this picture on your blog!"  It was a picture of Rosetta wearing her pretty birthday dress, grinning ear to ear... and her dress pulled up (unbeknownst to her) with a chicken in her arms.  It's rare to be outside and see Rosetta without one of her chickens, even in a pretty dress!  Too cute!  (And I did want to put the picture up, but decided I probably shouldn't have a photo of Rosetta with her panties showing on the internet!  ;-) )

Hope you have a wonderful week! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Catching Up

 It feels like it's been forever since I last posted!  Sometimes a blogging break (even an unplanned one) can be kind of nice, but after a while I start to miss writing here.  Not so much because I feel like I have to, but I feel like I'm getting out of touch with friends!

A couple weeks ago Justus and I celebrated ten years of marriage!  My parents watched our girls and we headed out to dinner together (at The Melting Pot - yum!), had a leisurely morning and coffee (okay, chocolate pie too) at the coffee shop in town.  We're thankful that after ten years of marriage, our love for one another is still so strong.  And one day I have to tell you the story of our wedding day! 

 Did you have a nice 4th of July?  We did!  We were away for the weekend, staying at my in-laws' farm.  There was a lot of family there and a lot of food.  The kids all played in the water and we played many games of volleyball!  I also got to pick a lot of fresh blueberries to bring home.  Delicious. 

 The days have been full here, enjoying summer and our last month before school starts.  The garden has been doing wonderful and also keeping the girls and I very busy.  Picking every day, weeding (who am I kidding - the weeds grow faster than I can pull!), freezing green beans, making pickles, and eating more squash than I dare count. 

My mom and I have also been busy with a little endeavor of ours.  We planted rows and rows of heirloom flowers to sell (purely for enjoyment) at my parents farm.  

 We have a little flower stand at the road.  Justus built this stand entirely out of reclaimed material - isn't it the cutest thing you've ever seen?  (You can read more about our adventures and the stand here if you're interested.)  :-) 

 We've had so much fun going out to the flower garden and making bouquets. 

I caught this image of Jillian this week.  We had brought home all the old flowers and Jillian immediately sat down on the floor with all the flowers and proceeded to cut and arrange a new bouquet for her room.  Sweet moments of summer!

Hope you are doing well.  I've missed chatting and promise to be back quicker this time! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rustic Pie with Peaches and Blackberries

 After a recent trip to the farmers market for a basket of peaches to make jam, I saw they also had local blackberries in.  Oh, I love summer!  And while cutting the peaches for the jam, I just knew I was going to have to make a dessert too - and I was feeling like a pie. But it was going to have to be quick, because I also had dinner to cook!

 When my grandparents visited last year, my grandma asked if I enjoyed making pies.  Yes, but I could not find the perfect butter pie crust and ended up with too many flops too frequently.  Well, my grandma told me she would come up with something and a week later I had a recipe in the mail.  Since then I've used this all butter pie crust recipe numerous times, and it's delicious and perfect.  And special too since every time I pull it out it makes me think of her. 

I love baking pies, but when I'm in a hurry, I'll make a rustic pie which uses only one crust, instead of two.  Once rolled out, you plop your fruit in the middle and simply fold up the sides.  Don't worry about perfect edges! 

In this case, I make the pie crust first before combining the fruit mixture so that it doesn't allow time for the peaches and blackberries to get juicy before it heads into the oven.

 It may not be as pretty (hence the word rustic), but it's definitely just as delicious! 

As a final note, I try to cut our sugar down whenever possible, so my pie had minimal sugar.  If you're feeling like you need it a little sweeter, you may want to add more sugar.  I find that using less sugar allows the natural sweetness and flavor of fresh fruit to shine through and with homemade whipped cream on top, it's a perfect quick summer dessert.  Hope you enjoy!  

Rustic Pie with Peaches and Blackberries 
Makes 6 slices

All Butter Pie Crust (makes one 9" crust)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter (I used organic salted), cut into slices
1/4 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine flour and salt in a bowl.  Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, add butter to flour until blended and fine textured.  Add 1/4 (less if it is enough) cup cold water, one Tbsp at a time while mixing with a fork until it can be gathered into a ball.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and gently lift the dough and lay it flat on the paper. 

Peaches and Blackberries Fruit Filling
 3 small peaches, sliced
1 cup blackberries
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Mix together peaches, blackberries, flour, lemon juice and sugar. Place fruit mixture in the middle of the pie dough.

Fold the edges of the pie dough over the fruit.  Sprinkle course sugar over the top if desired.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is lightly golden brown and fruit mixture is bubbling.   

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