In the Middle of the Night

 

Sometimes in the middle of the night when everyone else is sound asleep, I wake up and hear myself going -

aaaah. . . 

You see, there’s this little angel laying 2 feet from me, in the form of our little granddaughter, who earlier this year moved from a few minutes from out home where overnighters were a weekly occurrence to a six hour drive across the mountains - 

where we drive by clear, crisp, mountain streams and climb mountain passes, eat our favorite homemade chocolate ice cream at the same little restaurant perched on a hill overlooking the Columbia River 

where puffs of white clouds dot the bright blue sky - 

and there must be a symphony playing somewhere as I watch the birds soar and twirl, keeping a perfect rhythm as they float overhead. 

Somewhere in the midst of all the hugging and kissing, catching up and how was your drive, I hear words like - 

Kindergarten. . . 

and counting by fives. . . 

and when she smiles there’s two front teeth missing. 

How is that possible? 

Wasn’t she just a baby yesterday? 

So, maybe as I lay there in the middle of the night -  

maybe . . .  

all I wanted to do was - 

listen to her sleep. .  .

Strawberry Crepes

 
As we pulled into our driveway coming home from our trip to Idaho the breeze and the leaves were
swirling and twirling,
practicing their -
fall dance. . . 
The squirrels were scampering all “hither and yon”
tucking away their last stash of peanuts for winter. .
As I stepped out of the car the air was so fresh,
it almost took my -
breath away. . . 
And as if that weren’t enough, my heart burst out singing -
the “Hallelujah Chorus”. 
AND, in the midst of all this “CELEBRATION”. . .  
I’m wondering. . .
Are strawberry crepes meant only for summer?

Strawberry Crepes - 

If you’d like to hang out and eat strawberry crepes -  

this is the place. . . 

I’m your girl! 
 

Basic French Crepes 

1 cup milk

3 eggs, well beaten

¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 Tblsp. sugar

¼ tsp. salt 

Beat milk into well-beaten eggs.  Sift together flour, sugar and salt into milk mixture.  Beat with rotary beater until batter is smooth. 

Pour 1 Tblsp. batter into a lightly buttered 8” skillet, preheated over medium heat.  Begin at once to rotate pan to spread the batter evenly over the bottom. Turn once; bake until light golden brown on both sides.  Makes 9-10 crepes. 

Slice and mash strawberries.  Add sugar to taste.  (optional)  I prefer not to add sugar and just enjoy the natural sweetness of the berries.  Place strawberries on crepe and roll up.  Top with additional berries + whipped cream. 

Eat + Enjoy!!

SUMMER 2015

I love those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  When the heat keeps you from moving too fast, watermelon is eaten at every meal and chocolate ice cream is considered a main course. 

April and May were a                

blur,  

June was gone in a  

blink, 

and as I roll into August I see summer slowly slipping behind me.    

May 9th we returned home from a 2 ½ week vacation in southern California with temps. consistently in the 90’s . I came home truly believing we had just lived summer and was surprised when I walked in to my office, looked at my calendar and saw it was the middle of May.  How can that be? 

In the midst of traveling, and gardening, picnicing at the beach, making time for friends, more temps. in the mid 90’s and back yard parties, I’m rereading “A Day In Tuscany” by Francis Mayes. As I turn the pages I’m right back in Italy standing at her iron gate just out of Cortona and picking lavender from her rock wall to tuck in my journal.  She talks about neighbors frequently gathering at their outdoor tables and bringing whatever it might be that they’re cooking that night. For Italians it’s all about the gathering.  And layers and layers of food. 

I keep dreaming of creating little Italy in our neighborhood. 

Summer fun. . . 

One of our friends is recuperating from neck surgery.  We gave him 2 weeks to move past the initial pain of healing until we would show up for a visit.  Yesterday morning I made crepes, cut up fresh strawberries, and whipped “real” cream, packed it in a cooler and my hubby and I headed to our friends.  We sat on their patio sharing stories and eating strawberry crepes, while one of those warm balmy summer breezes swirled around us, squirrels scampered up and down  trees and the resident birds performed a symphony. 

sigh. . . 

Is there such a thing as a dessert without chocolate?   

Say it isn’t so. . . 

Standing in line at the grocery store last week my eyes fell upon the latest copy of bon
app├ętit and gracing its cover was a picture of “Blueberry-Pecan Galette”. The book was
added to my cart and later that week as we entertained friends for dinner it was served
for dessert with vanilla ice cream.  

I know. . .  

Yum! 

So easy and fun to make.  And dare I say, pretty close to healthy.  Now, if they could
just put “butter” on the healthy food list. 

I think it’s close. . . 

Until then, I’m living - as if. . . 
  
Dough
½ c. pecans
1 cup plus 2 tblsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces 

Filling
12 oz. blueberries (2 cups)
1 tblsp. cornstarch
1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
All-purpose flour (for surface)
2 tblsp. milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream 

Dough
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until
fragrant and slightly darkened, 10-15 minutes.  Let cool. Pulse pecans in a food processor
until the consistency of course meal.  Add flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon and pulse just
to combine.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size
pieces remaining. 

Transfer to a large bowl, drizzle with a Tblsp. of ice water and mix, adding another
Tblsp. of water if needed, just until mixture comes together.  Gently pat dough into a
6” -diameter disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least one hour.

Dough can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month. 

Filling & Assembly
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss blueberries, cornstarch, lemon juice and ¼ c. sugar
in a large bowl.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12” round.  Carefully
transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. ( I rolled the dough out on the parchment
paper.  So much easier)  Mound blueberries in center of dough, leaving a 2” border. 
Fold edges over, overlapping slightly. Brush dough with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake galette until crust is dark golden brown and filling is bubbling.  45-50 minutes. 
Let cool before serving.

Rhubarb Compote


Once again our rhubarb is outdoing itself trying to out perform the other backyard plants and I do have to say - 

is looking pretty gorgeous.   

But this year I am determined to start putting it on our table. 

I’m beginning with rhubarb compote from a recipe I found this morning on a blog that

I follow.  Sounds yummy!

 
 
Here is the recipe:
1 pound (455 grams) rhubarb stalks, trimmed and sliced into ¾-inch chunks
½ to ¾ cup (100 to 150 grams) sugar
2 Tbsp. (28 grams) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier or whatever you choose 
 
 

In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with the sugar.  Set it aside while you melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add the rhubarb, sugar and orange liqueur.  Allow to cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes, until the rhubarb begins to release its juices.  Then gently stir, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is very juicy and those juices begin  to thicken.  The compote is ready when the rhubarb is tender and beginning to fall apart and the juices look thick, about 10 - 15 minutes.  This is a cook-it-until-it-looks-right-to-you situation:  trust your judgment. 

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve cold, cool, or warm. 

Footnote:

We like things less sweet so I have cut the sugar to a little under ½ cup.  The sugar is what helps to thicken the rhubarb’s juices and gives the compote its body, so it can’t be cut too much.  And if you cut back too much the texture will be different.  And I substituted orange juice for the orange liqueur because that’s what I had in my kitchen. 

See, I told you it would make it to my kitchen. . . I know you didn’t believe me!

Here Comes Summer!!


 

And along with summer comes gardening.  I love gardening!  

I love the smell of summer, the hint of green that is popping up all over our yard, dreaming of what’s going into our garden this summer and the pansies and primroses that sit outside the grocery store doors.  

I go to nature to be soothed and healed.  Mother Nature is my therapist. 

Our resident squirrels are becoming more present, slowly pulling themselves out of their winter hibernation, showing up at our back door for our peanut stash reserved just for them. 

I am in love with walking in the woods,  

strolling on the beach,  

digging in my garden.   

And picnicking with family and friends.  There’s nothing like sitting in the sun, sharing food and sharing thoughts about everything and nothing, watching the ferries on the bay come and go.  

Two weeks ago our family packed a picnic and headed to the Edmonds beach, a sunny day with a chill still in the air.  We collected shells, drew sand art, made sand castles, ran on the dock and ate ice cream.  In our family, beach time is not only reserved for warm, sunny days.  You will find us there on sunny winter days or drizzly rainy days wrapped in our warm winter gear.  Standing at the water’s edge quickly forgetting  



there’s a busy, noisy world behind us.





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last week I met a friend up north at a park in a little community called Arlington.  We each brought food for a picnic lunch.  We began with a walk on the Centennial Trail and then found a picnic table in the sun.  When my friend and I get together there is never enough time to say all that needs to be said, which always leaves us anticipating our next rendezvous. She brought the most amazing tuna spread made from fresh tuna she and her hubby buy in Westport, bring home, smoke and can.  She mixed celery + this new yogurt (to replace mayo) she found in Stanwood called Grace Harbor Farms Natural Yogurt that is made up by the Canadian border in Birch Bay.  She recommended the one with honey. Topped on her homemade crackers there is only one word for this.  YUM! 

In our back yard we have this bush or - 

maybe a tree . . . 

that started from a seed blown in from a neighbors yard.  Over the years it has grown to about 15 feet high and equally as wide and in the spring is covered with delicate white flowers.  It’s my favorite bush in the yard, because of its free spirit, wild and wispy, like a piece of art.  Last summer one of our daughters actually discovered that it bears fruit. And every spring my hubby threatens to prune it back or worse yet, cut it down.  And every spring I work hard to redirect his energies.  

Sigh. . . 

As lovely as perfection is, and truly remarkable + unattainable, and so much work, and if we were remotely close to attaining it which would make us entirely unapproachable to our friends or family or whomever might pass in front of us.  I’m forever drawn to plants that look a little unruly, Italian pots with chips in them and to things that just look  

Unusual + comfortable + interesting. . .   

Wherever perfection might appear I find myself running,  

Sprinting. . . 

 as fast as I can in the opposite direction. 

This morning as rain is lightly falling outside our windows you will find my hubby and I snuggled up in our den talking about relationships.  More pointedly about -  

Our relationship - 

and what has made it so good all these years.  Before we were married we said to each other -  

“I never want to change who you are”. . .  (Prune you) A lot of couples make those promises, but they are quickly forgotten. 

That we would always give each other the freedom and space to be who we are. . . (To grow without guidelines and borders just like that bush.)    

This has created the safest space in the world for each of us.  A space where we love to hang out.  I reminded him that our relationship is like the bush in the backyard that we have allowed to grow in whatever direction it wants to and with that freedom comes changes each year.  My hubby is still dreaming of pruning and I’m still defending my bush and working really hard to keep the pruning shears -

out of sight. . . 

After many years of marriage the lines will sometimes become blurred and as I said earlier perfection is only an illusion and as much as we still give each other space and the freedom we promised, we every once in a while have to remind each other of 

That promise. . . 

As for that bush.  It still has a home tucked up against the backyard fence and this spring is outdoing itself as its white flowers have turned into green lacy leaves.  I’m pretty sure if you looked really close you would see it smiling, knowing it has escaped the pruning shears or ax - 

one more year.

 

 

 


"CHOCOLATE GIRL"



Sometimes when you least expect it, a  

new random chocolate. . .  

shows up . 

Yes, I do have to say, I’m obsessed with good chocolate.  Hence the nick name “Chocolate Girl”.  And I’m  

happy to report. . . 

that “good chocolate” is now on the FDA’s health food list (at least for now) due to its rich, creamy oils that are so good for our bodies. 

Though I think my “love for chocolate” has less to do with the “health” benefits (well, maybe a little) of it and more to do with the fact that,  

I just “love chocolate!” 

What can I say? 

When I need a break from writing I wander into the kitchen and open my “chocolate” drawer and take out a piece of Theo’s organic 70% Sea Salt chocolate.  My all time Fave!   

I know. . . 

I remind my hubby and kids, my habit could be so much worse! 

Every couple of weeks I get in my car and drive to Central Market and buy several bars of Theo’s.  When I open my drawer and see I’m on the last bar a part of me begins to - 

hyperventilate. . . 

And the thing is,  

If. . . 

my husband’s niece from Minnesota, had not made plans for a tour for all of us at the Theo Organic Chocolate Factory in Seattle during her visit a couple of summers ago I would never have known about Theo Sea Salt Chocolate.  Or about the Theo Chocolate Factory.   

  I know. . .  Can you even imagine?

 Seriously?

 
 1000 recipes? A gift from my sister-in-law 
 Denise and her daughter Meghan.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 
Chocolate Sauce

¼ cup cocoa

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 tblsp. cornstarch

½ cup milk 

Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Add 2 tblsp. butter + 2 tsp. vanilla.  Cool to lukewarm. 

If there’s no chocolate ice cream in the house, this is the next best thing, drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

VALENTINE'S DAY + LOVE + CHOCOLATE


 
 
This year I decided I wanted to write my hubby 

 a “love letter”. . .

I didn’t want my card to be somebody else’s words. 

I wanted them to be  

My words. . . 

I wanted to tell him that in all the people in all the world 

I knew. . . 

God had picked him - 

Just for me. . . 

I wanted to tell him I notice all the “little” things he does for me  

every day. . .   

Because in reality those are the  

“big things”. 

I wanted to tell him I notice he stills treats me the same way he did when we were dating. 

I wanted to tell him I love it when we cross a street and he puts his hand on my back.

I know he’s silently saying, 

I’ve got your back. . . 

I wanted to tell him that I love his smile and the way his eyes “twinkle” when he laughs, that he holds me when I cry, and that he makes me feel safe and protected. 

I wanted him to know -  

He’s my best friend. . . 

He’s my deepest love. . . 

He’s the best part of me. . . 

And I’m going to love him forever. 

I know. . . 

You thought I forgot about the chocolate part. 

Seriously. . . 

And I want him to remember that Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without 

Chocolate. . . 

I’m pretty sure he’ll remember. . .

I Hope You Dance!


I was born into a family that loved to dance, so I didn’t have a choice -                               

but to dance!   

My parents loved to polka and I grew up with “The Bop” and “The Stroll”.  In junior high I did a lot of dancing with our kitchen cupboard doors.  Anything to practice before the Friday night Tri Hi Y dances that took place at our local YMCA.  My four brothers would roll their eyes as they passed through the kitchen.  But that didn’t faze my desire to dance.  I arrived with my friends and as we lined the walls of the dance area we tried with everything we had to not look like -

wallflowers.   

Because that’s the last thing you wanted to look like.   

One by one the boys would come across the dance floor and as you held your breath and  

waited. . .

they walked right on by. . . 

and you tried to look cool and to act as if you didn’t even notice or care because you were too busy in conversation with your friends.   

And then - 

out of the corner of my eye I noticed one stopped directly in front of me.   
and there he was - 

holding his hand out to dance - 

with me. . . 

But there was this one time when a boy asked me to dance, before I could stop myself, the word “no” tumbled out of my mouth because somewhere in my mind I thought he just might be teasing me and his buddies might be watching from across the dance floor. 

Sometimes opportunities come to us and because of fear we let them  

pass us by. . .  

Sometimes we’re looking so far down the road that we miss what’s right  

in front of us. . .  

Sometimes we need to make space - 

for the miracles to happen. . . 

And then sometimes, we throw caution to the wind and with it ourselves 

And we just dance. . . 

As I give a “nod” to 2014 and tumble into 2015 

I leave you with this song - 

“I Hope You Dance” by Tia Stillers 

I hope you still feel small 

When you stand by the ocean. . . 

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens 

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance - 

I hope you’ll dance. . . 

I hope you’ll dance. . .