Summer's Cobbler for those Most Nights

Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler

Tomorrow, we're off to Vermont; so that means that I have been cleaning out the fridge this week. We've eaten a sandwich for at least one meal a day for the last 10 days, and we're getting pretty creative now. Nolan's favorite is still straight-up MEAT with some balsamic.

The fun part of times like this are that you can be creative with desserts. Necessity is really the mother of invention when you have fruit that needs used up and want something homemade and sweet in the morning. For me, it's all about the ease of baking. I've gotten away from the complications of design and pomp--"fiddly" as they say on The Great British Bake-Off. Most nights, I wait until Nolan comes home at 9:00 from a 14 hour day at work and we sit at the kitchen counter and eat from the pan. Most nights, this is exactly the kind of dinner I want. Most nights, we're tired and we joke and take a shower and on those nights, maybe 4 times a week, we'll eat a bit of dessert before bed and fall asleep with the windows open and the lights off and the dogs snoring.

The crumble is a "most nights" kind of dessert. One that is comforting after a long day, when it's warm and hot from the oven; but also great to nibble at with coffee before work. It's the last of the small and bloody strawberries that we picked a couple weeks ago, and a couple old peaches milling about in a drawer. It's a tactile dessert and, to me, that makes me appreciate it more. I'm not so disconnected from it had I used a stand mixer and threw it all together. 

I can't give Nolan the world, even though I would like to, but I can make him food and most nights, I hope that's enough.

Summer Peach and Strawberry Crumble

Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler

You can really substitute any fruit here, but please adjust the cornstarch, sugar, and lemon to taste accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup strawberry, hulled and sliced
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 1 TB cornstarch (or a little more if fruit is very juicy)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 TB Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 lemon juice (or a little more if fruit is very sweet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats 
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 TB unsalted butter, slightly softened

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together strawberries, peaches, cornstarch, white sugar, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and salt
  2. Allow to sit and macerate for 30 minutes 
  3. Prepare a baking dish (either a pie pan or a small casserole) with butter or oil. Preheat oven to 375*F
  4. Pour fruit mixture into your dish and distribute fruit evenly
  5. Now, dump all remaining ingredients into another bowl and, using clean hands, mix together
  6. Continue mixing until all ingredients are fully incorporated and a crumbly dough forms
  7. Pour directly on top of fruit and pat with down
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is browned and golden
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler
Peach and Strawberry Summer Cobbler

More gardening! More picking! And radish scones!

It used to be too hard for me to look back on a year and see how it changed me. It was weird, to think that the pebble that skipped between one spot and another could create either too many ripples or not enough. In California, between ages 20 and 24, I grew up; but it was in a fractious way that I still have a limp from nowadays. I'm learning from that, though.

Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones

But now I look back at a year and see where I am and it is both humbling and terrifying and satisfying all in one. A year ago, I was living at home and Nolan was living at his parents', too, and we would see each other once in a while and drink and fall asleep. A year ago, I was sequestered to my old childhood bedroom while I saved up and figured out what I wanted out of life and a relationship and if we were buying a house or moving somewhere new again. A year ago, there was a lot more silence in my life and a lot less to do during the day. A year ago, everything was different and uncomfortable and I wasn't ready to move forward.

Now--now we have a house and the dogs and the chickens and the land. I have room to stretch in bed and still be cuddled by the person I am going to marry. My hair is grown out and curled and I tend to wear old flannel shirts and there's usually dirt under my nails. We garden now, picking from our little bed the lettuce and radishes and onions we'll have for dinner. Nolan's dad planted them when we first moved in. We throw our scraps to the chickens and eat the rest. Just another thing we take care of, just another responsibility we have for our land.

Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones

We have only the smallest recollection of How It Used to Be. And we savor the mornings with cups of coffee and the nights with a beer and everything in between is working towards a goal now--whether that goal is painting or fencing or just pulling out the sofa bed and watching movies for three days. It's all there to make us happy; to make others happy, too. The only part of us that still exists from a year ago is that Nolan still smokes the same brand of cigarettes and I still have a flair for dramatics. Everything else is different.

A year can really change a person or two. 

And each year it seems like we take a small vacation in the summer for something with food. Last year, we spent a couple days in Charleston, WV to tour the JQ Dickinson Salt Works. This year, we are heading to Vermont on Friday to go see Vermont Creamery, so i thought what better way to begin celebrating than with a goat cheese scone. And to commemorate our growth in a year, to look at how a year can change two people, I added radishes from our garden. Spicy and plump and terribly beautiful, they added an element to the scones that naturally flavored them beyond the usual salt and pepper of my upbringing.

Enjoy. 

Dill, Goat Cheese, and Radish Scones

Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones

This recipe is a riff on last week's post for my shortcake scone. This is a savory version, so either you can really use as a base and just swap out the flavorings with whatever your heart desires.

Ingredients:

  • 2  cup AP flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk (for egg wash)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese 
  • 1/2 TB dill, chopped
  • 3 large radishes, rough and finely chopped + 1 or 2 sliced for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F and prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt
  3. With clean hands, roll the butter into the flour with your fingers, creating flakes. Continue to crumble butter until fat is the size of peas
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk together your egg, cream, and cheese
  5. Create a well in your dry ingredients and with a wooden spoon slowly mix while you pour your wet ingredients in
  6. Continue to mix until fully incorporated and a dough comes together
  7. Add dill and chopped radishes and fold to incorporate into dough
  8. Pat out onto a floured work surface and shape into a rectangle
  9. Cut into 9 pieces and transfer onto your prepared sheet
  10. Make an egg wash (1 yolk + 1 TB water) and brush onto your scones
  11. Top each with a radish slice
  12. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones
Radish Dill Goat Cheese Scones

Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcakes! (And Strawberry Picking is Cute Too!)

Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake

We're deep into Summer and baking has slowed. Instead, I find myself combatting fruit flies that have found their home in the windowsill. I hear the humming of a wasp nest being in an unreachable part of our porch. We worry about the dogs; Murphy is allergic. We have it on our to-do list for this long weekend.

Yesterday, we canoed down the Monogahela. Wine drunk, we floated and made new friends. The rain water stirred up soot and mud and I lost track of how many rocks I skipped when we stopped to swim. And we pulled out the sofa bed and threw on a black-and-white movie and fell asleep to the orchestra of heart beats and dog pants and the air conditioner whirring in the mess of sweat and fog that is 10 o'lock in Pennsylvania.

Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake

Two weeks ago, we began this process of running away from the heat in our house and embracing it more outdoors. We went strawberry picking one Sunday. It was Nolan's idea. He's more creative in this regard, having done more things in his childhood, he can recall those times and recreate them for us now. We drove out to a town called Armagh and grabbed a cardboard box for every berry we found. We laughed and forgot about time here again, too. We stayed on the familiar path and pushed the leaves away a bit deeper. We met a collie named Rudy. We left our orange flag, the indication that a row has been picked-through, and we kissed in the sunlight. We took a two hour nap that afternoon.

Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake

We've snacked on these berries, fed on them. We've given them to our chickens and put them on a cheese plate when we wanted a light dinner. We had them with oatmeal and Pimm's and this week I'll make them the last of them into a crumble. But the first dish I made with them, my favorite for every year (as seen here, here, here, and here), was to put them in a shortcake and enjoy them as they were--some sour, some sweet, some blood red and some white. 

Lemon Poppyseed Scone "Shortcake"

Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk (for egg wash)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 TB poppyseeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F and prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt
  3. With clean hands, roll the butter into the flour with your fingers, creating flakes. Continue to crumble butter until fat is the size of peas
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk together your egg, cream, vanilla, and lemon
  5. Create a well in your dry ingredients and with a wooden spoon slowly mix while you pour your wet ingredients in
  6. Continue to mix until fully incorporated and a dough comes together
  7. Pat out onto a floured work surface and shape into a rectangle
  8. Cut into 9 pieces and transfer onto your prepared sheet
  9. Make an egg wash (1 yolk + 1 TB water) and brush onto your scones
  10. Sprinkle each with poppyseeds
  11. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden
  12. Allow to cool while you prepare your whipped topping and strawberries

Whipped topping and preparation: In a stand mixer, whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add 4 oz creme fraiche (I love Vermont Creamery's), 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until peaks form.

Cut a scone in half, add whipped filling and a few strawberries and enjoy!

Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Picking and Lemon Poppyseed Strawberry Shortcake

POPSICLE WEEK 2k17!

Pimm's Cup Popsicle Week 2017

Sometimes it's so strange to think of who we used to be, how our habits have changed and we moved around a lot to find new ones. How the dogs have grown up. How Milo, who I found in a trash can a little over two years ago, has become this boy that smiles when we catch his eye. How money doesn't matter as much now and I can call my sister to ask how she is and that I love her. How Nolan and I worked and worked and worked on ourselves to be the people we are now. How we stopped paying rent and bought a home. "Five acres guarantees no neighbors," a coworker told us this weekend. That's heaven for me, the echoing footsteps and no one to answer them back.

Pimm's Cup Popsicle Week 2017

We eat at home most days (or try to, anyway). I live in my own head. I'm quiet except to answer a work call or to call the dogs in when I'm bored. I pick orange flowers that grow by the roadside and I did the dishes on my lunch break. Nolan works long hours; but we are self sufficient in our own right.

So different than two years ago, So different, you could say, from when I first participated in Popsicle Week.  Then, I cared about money. Then, I cared about Los Angeles. Then, we spent our money at bars and I didn't drink beer then, so I drank whatever was on the menu. Then, Nolan got a Pimm's Cup for the first time and it's been his favorite since. Then, we would be in silence for two hours on the way back home.

Then, I was looking for ways to escape.

But two years can change a person and I found out I'm better suited for Pennsylvania. We both are. The humidity doesn't bother us. The dogs change with the seasons and we do, too. And that's okay; because we finally found a reason to settle down and enjoy a drink on the porch swing for a minute or an hour.

And so, for this year's popsicle contribution to the zeitgeist that is Wit and Vinegar, I wanted to pay homage to how this tradition has been something to look forward to amid all that has changed. And so, I looked back on Nolan and us and his favorite drink in LA and made a Pimm's Cup popsicle--it's easy, it's fruity, and it's a little bit cold (just like me!).

Enjoy! And check out all the other recipes here! And check out my previous contributions here and here!

Pimm's Cup Popsicle!

Feel free to use your favorite ice molds, but know that the volume measurements below will be way off! I used these! (Can you tell I love Amazon?)

Pimm's Cup Popsicle Week 2017

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Pimm's
  • 1/2 cup lemonade
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 4 strawberries, chopped
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange, chopped

Directions and Assembly: In a measuring cup, mix together Pimm's, lemonade, water, ginger ale, and lime juice. Prep eat popsicle sleeve by manually inserting a bit of each fruit and one leaf of mint. Pour mixture over fruit and seal. Place in freezer for a few hours to freeze completely and enjoy! 

Pimm's Cup Popsicle Week 2017
Pimm's Cup Popsicle Week 2017
Pimm's Cup Popsicle Week 2017

First Day of Summer - Make this cake!

I can be lazy, but I am not lethargic.  

For me, summer always translated to liquid days. Days that dragged on. The sound of cicadas were the sound of sun rays. Moths hit the windowsill at night and I stayed up way too late. Summer is a melting feeling, I always felt stagnant and viscous in the heat. I spent my time reading. I spent my time sleeping. I spent too much time in hot cars with no air conditioning, waiting in parking lots for my mother to finish grocery shopping. I spent a lot of time alone in the summer months between 7th and 8th and 9th grades.

For me now, who I am at 25, it is different. I have the dogs, the chickens, a fiance. I have a life I fell into, but pursued all the same. I like summer now, in my little town of Ligonier. The rain comes and goes as it pleases and floods our side yard and still I walk barefoot with the dogs when we play in between the flowering trees. I'm not able to read as much, dishes and laundry and days get in the way; but I bake and I write and I am content in the fact that I am growing up. 

I found a shirt the other day that Nolan got me the first month we moved to California. A black Alexander Wang shirt that still smelled like the cigarettes I smoked in law school. It's no longer an anchor to that past life, but just a shirt I pulled out of the drawer now. I am realizing that we are allowed to change and not be constricted to the confines of a past we tried to idealize. That we are better now, better here, better today than we were yesterday.

I am realizing that I can enjoy summer because I am in this nebulous summertime feeling--at 25 I am no longer suffocating, but verdant and green and surrounding by the warmth I couldn't fully embrace before.

Peach Sheet Cake!

Summertime Peach Sheet Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 TB white vinegar
  • 2 peaches, sliced and pitted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line and grease a 14" x 16" cake pan
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt
  3. In another bowl, cream together butter, shortening and white sugar
  4. Add eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time, and stir until incorporated
  5. In a measuring cup, whisk together vanilla, milk, vinegar, and mayo
  6. Alternate between sugar mixture and milk mixture into your dry ingredients, stirring continuously until you get a soft, light batter
  7. Line bottom of cake pan with peaches in any design you want
  8. Gently pour and spread batter on top of peaches
  9. Bake for 50 minutes or until browned and fluffy
  10. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to enjoy
Summertime Peach Sheet Cake
Summertime Peach Sheet Cake
Summertime Peach Sheet Cake
Summertime Peach Sheet Cake
Summertime Peach Sheet Cake
Summertime Peach Sheet Cake