Monday, September 22, 2014

Maeve: 2

When Silas turned four we had his birthday party at "train park" -- a sprawling park where some old-men engineers ran a jumbo model train on weekends -- not commercial but just for the serious trainmanship of it.  I remember standing in the grass, jumbo gum drops on bright cupcakes (candy land party), a handful of friends scattered around, the tangled strings of dollar kites kids were feeding into the sky, feet racing; it was a best day.  

Today Maeve turned two.  I've never known a two year old so aware of her birthday.  This morning, she came into the kitchen and held up both hands, concentrating until all of the fingers on both hands were about half bent, and then said "uh-huh, boo," which meant, I'm holding up two fingers and am two.  She blew out a pink candle in her yogurt this morning over and over, the two of us at the kitchen table, and danced a birthday dance for the lady giving samples at Trader Joe's, for shoppers nearby, for Annemarie, and everyone else who asked.  Whenever anyone mentioned a present, she started humming a tuneless song, which was happy birthday to herself, and told people "mine dot," which was her way of telling them she'd had a polka dot birthday party in the park.  

At age two, Maeve still speaks mostly in single syllables and more sounds than words.  We rejoice at new consonants, like a T sound at the end of "hat," and congratulate ourselves on how much more she's talking, though Eden told lengthy stories at this age and Silas asked all sorts of questions while he sat on the potty.  She moves at her own pace.  She tries to frown a lot, even scowl, but often ends up smiling under her breath, and then laughing a little dimpled laugh just to herself.  She knows when she is funny.    

Tonight we celebrated her birthday at our house with grandparents, an aunt and uncle and two little nephews who live far off, and again I found my child's birthday to be a best day.  Maeve born on the line between summer and fall, a both/and baby, a shock and delight, a nay screamer and charmer, she fits this line.  Sunday sagged with summer heat and this morning woke to fall.  The air still smells of sweet grass, but in the evenings there is smoke on the breeze and a nip of cold.  We sat around the table tonight eating barbecue and cake with drippy chocolate frosting.  The kids played blocks and trains and led us outside.  The sun pitched gold.  At one moment I stood at Ben's shoulder looking: Eden flinging herself through cartwheels in the grass, Silas gliding wild arcs through the air on the swing, Maeve on the ground busily stuffing rubber food into a toy blender, a baby nephew plopped in the grass watching and the other scooting down the slide, my parents there, Ben's dad, a brother sister, a breeze.  No one was entertaining anyone else; everyone just was.  Remember every part of this, Ben said next to me.  And he was right, that was exactly what I was trying to do.  These birthdays, these best days, these ways we mark time.  

Monday, September 01, 2014

Eat Drink and Be Merry

Now that it's September, two quick recipes I loved this summer:

Tonight my Family (big family, capital F) all piled on the porch and ate together in celebration of the end of summer -- corn on the cob (still sweet) and this Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade from Food52:  It tastes like summer.  Drink it with lost of ice.

Boozy Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade: 

  • 3/4cups sugar
  • 2cups water
  • 4sprigs rosemary
  • 1cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 7cups watermelon diced
  • 8ounces gin
  • 1lemon - thinly sliced
  1. Add sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan with rosemary sprigs. Cook over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved remove from heat, and cover the saucepan.  Let sit for at least an hour to infuse.
  2. In a blender combine the lemon juice and watermelon. (Add the watermelon in batches, blending after each).
  3. Add in the rosemary simple syrup 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture is at your desired sweetness (about a cup).
  4. Pour the mixture into a large pitcher, add 1 cup of cold water, and the gin.  Stir and serve over ice.  Garnish with lemon and rosemary sprig if you like.  

A nearly symptomless fever cut Eden's first week of school short by two days, so she stayed home coaxing Maeve from room to room with games and books and empty ice cream cones (that I later found crushed in the couch pillows AND in my bed...).  We ate a lot of yogurt and granola together at the table.  My favorite granola is Michele's Granola, made locally in Maryland -- perfect light crunch, flavor.  Everything.  I've tried to recreated it, and have never come close until this recipe.  As usual, Orangette delivers!  When I made this, I used slivered almonds and pecans.  The second time I used sunflower seeds, pepitas, and walnuts.  Michele uses sliced almonds and sunflower seeds.  I'm waiting to have the right ingredients in my pantry to try her combination.  One note: I used 1 1/2 t kosher salt when I made this, and it was pretty salty.  Amazing on ice cream and vanilla yogurt.  For cereal, I'd cut the salt down even more.  Find the orangette recipe here, or here:

Molly Wizenberg's Granola No. 5

This is a recipe by weight (though I used cups the first time and a postage scale the second).  Use any nuts or seeds as long as it's roughly 400 grams in all.  You can add dried fruit at the end, if you like, or just eat it as is.  The essential ingredient here is the unsweetened coconut chips (I tried it with unsweetened shredded coconut and it was still good, but not the same texture).  

Molly's note about kosher salt: I use Diamond Crystal brand, which is less salty than Morton. If you use the latter, you’ll probably only want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons.

600 grams (6 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats  (I used gluten free oats and it was great)
100 to 150 grams (about 2 to 3 loose cups) unsweetened coconut chips
400 grams nuts (maybe 3 to 4 cups? see headnote), chopped if you like
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup (240 ml) maple syrup, preferably Grade B
2/3 cup (160 ml) olive oil

Preheat oven to 300.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment (I ended up using more like 2 1/2 sheets).

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and stir well. 

Add the maple syrup and olive oil, and stir to coat. 
Divide the mixture between the two prepared sheet pans, spread it out, and bake, 
stirring the granola and flipping the pans once or twice, until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Look for the whole mixture to toast and brown evenly.
Allow to cool completely, then transfer the granola to airtight containers. 

September 2nd brings week two.  Off we go again*