July 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to be in a friends wedding up in Killington, Vermont. Killington might be all hustle and bustle in the winter time with the ski mountain just minutes from our hotel, but in the summertime it’s dead quiet with shops still advertising ski rentals and hot soup specials. I considered myself incredibly lucky to have found Sunup Bakery, a cafe just 2 minutes from our hotel, that was not only open but had an array of breakfast choices. Thank god it was good because it was our only choice for breakfast each morning.
Our journey began Saturday morning. Once off the interstate and on the back roads of Vermont we were surrounded by so much green. There has been some terrible flooding in Vermont this past Summer but it has kept all the vegetation looking so pretty and vibrant. Our first stop was brunch in the town of Woodstock. All of a sudden we were driving through this quaint little downtown area with shops and brick houses, sidewalks and outdoor cafes. We pulled over immediately. Mon Vert Café is filled with Vermont goodies, serving Vermont Coffee Company coffee, Lake Champlain chocolate treats to take to go and breakfast served until 11 a.m. My fiance and I have come up with this little trick where for breakfast we order one sweet thing and one savory thing and share both. This way we aren’t hungry in an hour, but we also get our sugar kick. The cinnamon scone and pesto egg sandwich covered both these categories. We even got to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine for bit in little European-style white metal chairs.
Back on the road the rest of the weekend was busy, as most weddings are. There were nail appointments, rehearsals, lots of food and chatting with people you haven’t seen in years. A few drinks, some late nights and lots of makeup and perfume. So it was pleasant to have an hour in the morning of peace and sunshine, sipping coffee and enjoying each others silence. I think this is why I love cafes so much, if ever you need to nestle in for a bit and escape from reality, they offer a warm spot for you to relax. I also find it is one of the most calming ways to start the day, or at least my days.
As for the wedding, everything went just perfectly and I wish Mel and Mike so much happiness and adventure, two things I know they won’t have trouble with.
July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
The peaches are here! The peaches are here! I have been spending the last few weeks heading to the farmers markets hoping to find peaches in one of the large blue bins. There were a few weeks of anticipation and then disappointment when they had not yet arrived, but they are officially here. And so my love affair with peaches has begun.
I think I could eat three peaches a day for the rest of summer and still not be satisfied. Some people might call my addiction a little out of control but I don’t care. The good peach season is so short that I am terrified of the day when I get a mealy, mushy peach signifying the end of summer. So for now I’m buying as many as I can, multiple days a week and eating them with almost anything. Peaches are great on cereal in the morning, yogurt for lunch and in salads at night. And when you have good peaches you don’t have to do too much else to make a recipe great, hence the simplicity of the peach and mozzarella salad.
And the reduction for this salad, simply stated, is great. Reductions sound fancy, they look pretty, they have distinct flavor and yet are so simple to make. There are few recipes that only have three ingredients and taste so complex but this is one of them.
Happy peach season!
Serves 2 to 3 as sides
Inspired by Real Simple
2 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pour balsamic into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the balsamic to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally until the vinegar reduces by half. This should only take a minute or two. Remove from stove and cool completely.
Arrange the sliced peaches and mozzarella on a platter and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
July 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
I love our little condo for so many reasons. It limits the amount of cleaning and decorating I have to do, the air conditioner cools it down real quick in the summer heat and all our rooms feel cozy and full with very little effort. The biggest down side might be the lack of outdoor space. We have absolutely none. And in the summer time it becomes very apparent when we can’t grill. I love the idea of grilling. The men of the house usually leap on this responsibility, clean up couldn’t be easier and the flavor is a nice mix up from sautéing and baking inside.
We don’t plan to leave our little place anytime soon so when we want to “grill” we plug in our mini George Foreman and, honestly, it does the job quite nicely. You can still get a great char; the only limit is space, I have to do all my veggies in batches. But it’s worth it and it achieves just the flavor profile I am looking for in summer. I would suggest this small investment to any and all that can’t have a real grill.
The Foreman came in quite handy for this summer shrimp salad. Obviously this recipe can be done on a full size grill, and I do envy those who have access to one, but either way this is a recipe everyone can enjoy.
Serves 2 as mains, 4 as sides
Inspired by Eat, Live, Run
1 cup corn
6 scallions, sliced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
On your Foreman, a small grill pan, or a real grill,* char the corn, scallions and red pepper. Toss into a large bowl and let cool. Add in the tomatoes, avocado, chives and basil. Stir in the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss a couple more times. Stick in the fridge to cool everything down. (See note)
Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Once warmed, add the olive oil then garlic. Simmer for 30 seconds and add the shrimp. Sprinkle with a pinch of red pepper flakes and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until shrimp is completely pink.
Toss the shrimp into the salad and serve immediately or keep refrigerated.
*If you are cooking on a real grill, use one to two ears of corn and grill everything whole and then chop accordingly.
**You can also make this into a dip and serve with tortilla or pita chips. The only change is that you will want to chop up your shrimp into bite size pieces before adding to the veggies.
Note: Strangely enough I really love this salad with all the veggies cold and the shrimp warm. You can really eat it any way you like, but this is my preferred choice.
July 9, 2013 § Leave a comment
Here’s how our 4th of July long weekend went. Eat lots of food (more ice cream than I would in an entire year), try to stay cool in the heat (but end up sweating way more than one should), run in the sun (which leads to even more sweating), sit, relax and enjoy the company of family.
This year’s festivities were like most years past with a 5K fun run, fireworks, a book sale and parade. The only thing we missed out on were our outdoor activities, it rained every day. No badminton and no ladder ball, the grass too soggy to even step out in the backyard. We did squeeze in a bocce match and a single game of croquet. But mainly we sat and talked, read the newspaper, sipped coffees, sometimes cappuccinos, played cards and just enjoyed being home in Vermont, together, where life is a little bit slower and quieter. I think the photos sum it up quite nicely.
Oh, and when we could, we tried to eat things that were red, white and blue. We were pretty proud when we discovered vanilla ice cream with blueberries and strawberries accomplished this quite beautifully.
July 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
Not much changes once you get engaged, day-to-day life goes on as usual. I still have to meet deadlines and do laundry. I still have to make phone calls I’ve been putting off and cook dinner each night. Except every time I am in the midst of doing one of these tasks, I’ll catch a glimmer of my ring and smile. A little grin appears on my face every time I see it. So in that way the biggest change is I’m a wee bit happier than I was a few weeks ago.
I have been told that this is the “oohs and aahs” stage of being engaged and I should enjoy it while it lasts. And it’s true, everyone is crazy excited for us. It is very humbling and so much appreciated. Our date book has been filled with dinner dates and drinks out to celebrate the occasion. With this excitement comes a boatload of questions that I have no answers to. I don’t know anything about our wedding other than the fact that we will wed. And for now, only a week or so in, I am very happy to be all doe-eyed and have no answers to anyone’s questions. I plan to continue to keep smiling at my ring and enjoying celebratory drinks until the “oohs and ahhs” stage passes and I have to figure out at least a few answers to everyone’s questions.
On my very first post, back in February, when I shared my Oat and Honey Scones I mentioned that as soon as Summer came I would share my fruit scones. Staying true to my word, it is officially Summer, and it is time for blackberry scones!
Serves 2 (Makes 4 scones)
Inspired by 101 Cookbooks
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup fresh blackberries
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with just a touch of cooking oil and set aside.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Chop up your chilled butter into tiny pieces before tossing into the flour mixture and working the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers (if you have a pastry blender you can skip the chopping and toss all the butter right into the flour and use the blender to chop into tiny pieces).
Stir in the yogurt and milk just until combined (you don’t want to over mix here and it’s OK if it’s a crumbly mess). Give the blackberries a light chop and toss into the dough, mix until combined.
On a lightly floured surface transfer the dough and pat dough into a square. Slice the dough into 4 triangular pieces and place on the prepared sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until just slightly brown on the top.
Remove from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before enjoying with honey or jam (they should completely cool, but I can never wait that long in the morning and they are still quite tasty when slightly warm).