Homecomings…and Goings

IMG_0818My oldest child returned home from a two-month job out west last week. Her stay here will be temporary, as she is preparing for a new adventure in yet another part of the country and will be leaving again in just a few short days. It’s hard saying hello again, knowing that more goodbyes are imminent. These grainy sands of time just keep slipping through my fingers.

There is still one child home, and he turns 18 this week — the age at which one is considered a legal adult in the U.S. Old enough to legally work, participate in contracts, vote, marry, give sexual consent, and join the military.So in truth, he is an adult; there are no more children at home.

We have a tradition in our family that when one celebrates a birthday, he/she is treated to breakfast in bed. In a happy surprise, the almost-adult told me he wanted to stick with tradition and be feted in bed with a big old breakfast! I’m figuring this might be my last opportunity, so I plan to make it memorable.

Of course, for me they’re all memorable. Burned in my memory in fact. Every breakfast in bed; every birthday party; every celebration that ever was. Hopefully, the “kids” share those memories. Maybe they will think of them (and me), even as time between homecomings becomes longer.

photo (21)Lemon Blueberry Muffins
I love these muffins for their sunny, lemony taste and for their incredible fluffiness — made possible by the addition of a few special ingredients. These will certainly be on the menu for Spencer’s breakfast in bed.

3 c. flour, plus 1 T. for dredging the berries
4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 t. lemon zest
1/2 c. butter, melted
1-1/2 c. sour cream*
1 c. blueberries

*(Sometimes I like to mix 1 c. of sour cream with 1/2 c. of crème frâiche.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-well muffin tin with paper liners.

In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Create a well in the bottom of the bowl for adding the wet ingredients.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix until combined and then add the sour cream. Lightly mix again but do not over mix. Toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon flour and fold into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly into each cup in the prepared muffin tin.

Bake for approximately 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
(recipe adapted from Kelsey Nixon, Kelsey’s Essentials.)


The Family that Cooks Together

My daughter and I are collaborating on a cookbook. It’s not exactly a cookbook, per se, more like a shared compendium of recipes. We began the project at her request about a year ago, shortly after she returned from a semester abroad in Samoa. Something tells me that after four months of little more than taro, rice, coconut milk, and the occasional spit-roasted pork, she returned hungry–not simply for food, but for options.

Two years earlier, when she first left for college, I packed a copy of The Healthy College Cookbook in her duffle. Self-described as “quick, cheap, and easy,” the book was full of options for the the student seeking more than just dining hall fare. Honestly, if I had had access to recipes for “Easy Chicken Philly,” “BLT Taters,” and “Orange French Toast” as a young (and usually hungry) college coed, I’m thinking I would have learned how to fire up that skillet long before I got married.

In any case, I love that the students who wrote the Healthy College Cookbook, now all Williams College alumni, dedicated it to their families. I have a hunch that it was the mothers, fathers, siblings, and others with whom these first-time authors shared their tables that served as inspiration for the project. Let’s face it, when we are away from the ones we love, we hunger for more than just food. We long for the familiar company, conversation, sounds and smells that conjure happy memories and allow us to be ourselves.

Which brings me back to the mother-daughter recipe collection. It remains a work in progress; in fact, many pages are still blank. Which is the best part really, because the recipe book is more than a resource for those days when you just can’t decide what to make for dinner. It’s a reflection of our best days in the kitchen, our tried-and-true favorites, and our creative whimsy. It offers a glimpse into who each of us is and forever links us to one another. As long as there are pages to fill, the conversation will continue. Which is a good thing, because I still have a lot to learn.

Hangover Home Fries
Okay, no surprise here that this is one of my daughter’s contributions. Trust me, you will love these-hangover or not!

3-4 potatoes, washed and diced. No peeling necessary*
1 large onion, diced or sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch (or more, according to your heat preference) dried hot pepper flakes
2 T olive oil
1 t dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

*Feel free to pre-soak the potatoes in order to expedite the cooking process, although this is not necessary.

In a pan, sauté onions, garlic and hot pepper. When onions start to soften, add potatoes. The onions will ultimately crisp up, as potatoes will take some time to cook. Stir occasionally until potatoes start to brown around edges. Add rosemary, salt and pepper. Enjoy with ketchup or maple syrup.