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Yesterday was a long day, and I ate garlic bread for dinner. The girls had a bath at 4pm, and oatmeal with blueberries for dinner. They’re now cuddled up on the couch watching a movie that I hope will carry us right up to the cusp of bedtime. Yesterday was challenging, today was easy… so it goes with parenting… so it seems to go with life. We are chipping away towards our new adventure. I know I’m being coy about where and when we’re moving but mostly that’s because I don’t want to say anything until it feels more real. If that makes sense. But what I can tell you is that part of our new adventure will include a new family member. We are expecting our third babe this winter and we’re so, so happy.

Baby 3 12 weeks ultrasoundPINMenu planning has been a little interesting lately since my brain doesn’t seem to be working properly (for obvious reasons) and all my beautiful cookbooks are temporarily residing with my sister. I called my sister up for advice about planning a simple menu since I tend to make my menu based on my mood, and our current living situation doesn’t make that a very reasonable option. My sister wisely recommended that I make one menu plan for one full week, and then just repeat it for the next few weeks.

The creative cook in me cringed mildly at this idea, but my frayed nerves cheered at the opportunity to cross something significant off my daily to do list. I immediately texted a few of my closest friends to ask them, “What are your easy, go-to dinners?” I got great suggestions and pulled together a simple menu that included things like soba noodle salad with fried tofu, teriyaki chicken with jasmine rice and a side of quick pickled cucumbers, and, of course, breakfast for dinner. When I laid out my breakfast for dinner plans I didn’t exactly mean that I would be making the kids oatmeal at 4:30pm, but that was just what the day, and especially the afternoon, called for.

Keeping the menu prepped, the freezer and pantry stocked for the exact meals on that menu, has freed me up to spend my days making fun desserts which have been making me, and the kids, pretty pleased. This new baby is all about desserts, and gummy bears. I made a super simple, but pretty decadent version of bananas foster (minus the booze), and we made a delicious Blackberry and Blueberry Pie after a couple of days of berry picking with my Mom in town.

We spent about two hours picking blackberries, seeking out the ripest ones we could find and spitting out many tart ones along the way. The girls would pick their berries and plunk them into small containers to be added to my bigger one, and before long we had two full pounds of plump, warm berries. The following morning we loaded up nice and early and headed to our favorite local blueberry farm where we picked another couple pounds of blueberries. The girls had dropped theirs a fair number of times so by the time we got home their blueberries were bleeding juice through their paper bags, practically screaming to be made into pie.

BLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINI made up a basic pie crust before we’d left for the blueberry patch, so by the time we returned it had been resting for a few hours and was ready to be rolled out. I prepared the base, wrapped it tight and returned it to the fridge to chill while I prepared the berries. I used about half of the blueberries (basically all the ones the girls had pre-macerated), and all of the blackberries we’d picked. To them I added a fair amount of sugar to sweeten the still-tart berries, some bright lemon zest and juice, a bit of salt, warming nutmeg, flour and cornstarch to bind it all together, and on a whim I added a splash of fragrant almond extract. Lulu and I mixed the berries together with all the other filling ingredients roughly together in a large bowl. Once it was fully combined I let it sit for about 20 minutes so that the flavors could meld together and the berries would release a bit of their juices.

BLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINWith the base ready I ladled the filling into it just shy of the brim, rolled out my top and cut it into two inch lattice strips. After a quick egg wash and dusting of sugar, the pie went into a nice hot oven. An hour later it emerged – fragrant, flaky, and perfectly summery. I ended up with a bit leftover filling that I poured into a small casserole dish and topped with an excessive amount of crumble topping. The crumble is now tucked away in the freezer for a rainy day, and the pie is long gone, have been enjoyed for a couple of desserts and a couple of breakfasts.

BLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIEPINBLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIE

Ingredients.
Crust.
2 1/3 all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling surface
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1” slices
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup ice water

Filling.
2 lbs fresh blackberries
1 1/4 lbs fresh blueberries
zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup granulated sugar (plus more to taste, and more for assembling)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions.

To make the pie dough, put the flour in the food processor along with the salt. Pulse briefly to combine. Add in the chilled butter and pulse to combine, until the butter is broken up and the dough looks like sand. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the ice water just until the dough forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form it into a ball, being careful not to overwork it. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least four hours, up to overnight.

While the dough chills, combine the blackberries, blueberries, lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar, nutmeg, corn starch, flour, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a large bowl. Mix roughly with a wooden spoon to combine and slightly macerate. Taste for sweetness and add sugar as desired until it’s just as sweet as you like. Set aside to settle and meld for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar into the base of your pie dish – this will make it easier to maneuver you dough in the dish. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut it in half. Wrap what will be the top crust back up tightly and place it back in the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the bottom crust to 1/8th inch thick. Carefully transfer it to the pie dish. Fill it nearly to the brim with the filling, dot it with the 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and pull out the remaining pie dough to roll out. Roll the top dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut it into two inch strips for a wide lattice top, or simply roll it out for a basic pie crust.
Using a pastry brush, dampen the exposed rim of the bottom crust before adding the top crust to the pie. Crimp the edges by hand or with a fork. Trim the excess dough from the edge of the pie. Whisk together the water and 1 egg and, using a brush, lightly coat the top of the pie with the egg wash. Sprinkle the wash with a bit of sugar. If you have chosen a basic pie crust, as opposed to a lattice top, be sure to cut slits into it to allow the steam to escape.

Place the pie in the oven on the center rack, on top of a baking sheet in case it spills over a bit, and immediately turn the oven down to 350ºF. Bake the pie for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until the crust is golden and flakey, and the filling is heated through.
Allow the pie to cool completely, or at least as cool as you have the patience for, before slicing it and serving it with vanilla bean ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Keep it wrapped and stored in the fridge. It makes for a great breakfast served with a splash of heavy cream.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
BLACKBERRY AND BLUEBERRY PIE

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  • Megan Wellings - Um. I’m hungry now.ReplyCancel

  • Jo Anne - The pie looks yummy. I will have to try it. I really wanted to congratulate you and Kyle on the new little one. Such an exciting time of life. All my best in your new adventures. ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Renah - Kacie!!! So so good!! All the above!!❤️❤️❤️ReplyCancel

I’m sitting in our bed right now, which is just our mattress on the floor of our room, surrounded by moving boxes and clothes slopped into large plastic bins rather than dresser drawers. I can hear the girls waking up in their room which echoes the same interior design theme. We are at that odd moment in packing and moving when we’re down to lots of miscellaneous things. Our office is packed with things we’re planning to sell at a garage sale, and a relatively small portion of our belongings have been allocated to storage. My to do list is filled with things like: pick up a quart of paint, pack up pantry items for my sister, get notarized and official documents from the county office, etc. It’s all starting to feel really, really real.

In the midst of the errands, and packing, and feeling incredibly excited and overwhelmed, I have forced myself to stop and cook. There’s been moments where I’ve dreaded it, like when I’m in the middle of organizing a box or emptying a drawer and I look at the clock and it’s 4:45pm and I know there’s nothing in the fridge and we end up eating salads with lettuce from the garden and hard boiled eggs. But then there’s been moments where I crave it, where I just want to drop my paint brush and packing tape and retreat to the kitchen where things feel somewhat normal and I can carve out room for my cutting board and just focus on a meal… or more likely these days, a dessert.

My stepmom gave me a large bunch of rhubarb from her garden and, since the strawberries were popping up in ours, I decided to make a classic rhubarb and strawberry compote to which I added a Campari syrup. Campari is a bitter, herbal, sweet, unique liqueur, generally considered an apéritif that hails from Italy. Once concentrated down with quite a bit of sugar to cut the bitterness, I added it straight to my simmering fruit. The result was a slightly tart, sweet, bitter, tannic, compote that cut perfectly through the richness of a simple vanilla bean flecked panna cotta.

panna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINpanna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINpanna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINWhen I told Kyle that I was making a Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Strawberry Rhubarb Campari Compote he looked at me with his eyebrows raised and said, “Isn’t that a lot to do?” I assured him that, in spite of how lovely and fancy it sounds, it’s actually one of the simplest things I could make. I mean, sure, it’s not as simple as picking up a pint of ice cream and grabbing four spoons, but it’s really pretty simple… and sometimes you just have to ignore everything that’s going on and make something delicious and indulgent to remind yourself that stillness can exist amongst wild chaos.

panna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINpanna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINpanna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINpanna cotta strawberry rhubarb compotePINVANILLA BEAN PANNA COTTA WITH STRAWBERRY RHUBARB CAMPARI COMPOTE

Ingredients.
1/4 cup Campari
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

2 packets gelatin (.25 oz each)
1/4 cup cold water

4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 oz hulled strawberries, cut in half or quartered depending on size
15 oz diced rhubarb
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
pinch of salt

Directions.
In a small saucepan, combine the Campari, sugar, and water and bring to a low boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce to about 1/2 cup of syrup.

In a small glass dish stir together the gelatin and 1/4 cup cold water and set aside for ten minutes and allow it to bloom.
Prepare six glass dishes on large rimmed baking sheet.

Split your vanilla bean lengthwise and use a sharp paring knife to scrape out the vanilla beans. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the heavy cream, vanilla beans, vanilla pod/shell, vanilla extract, 1 cup sugar, and salt. Bring to a low simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, discard the vanilla bean, and whisk in the gelatin until completely dissolved.

Carefully pour 3/4 cup of the panna cotta mixture into each of the glass dishes. Set the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for two hours.

In a medium non-reactive saucepan combine the rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice and zest, Campari syrup, and salt and bring to a simmer. It will take somewhere between 5-7 minutes for the rhubarb to cook. You want it to have a little bite left in it, like al dente pasta. When it seems nearly done, stir in the strawberries and cook until it’s perfectly done. Carefully transfer the fruit to a glass bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving the syrup/liquid in the pan. Turn the heat up and reduce the liquid to 3/4 cup before adding it to the fruit. Stir together and let it cool to room temperature while the panna cotta sets.

To serve simply spoon the room temperature compote onto the chilled panna cotta and enjoy.

If you have leftover compote you can keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator and serve it over yogurt or ice cream. It will keep for about a week.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
VANILLA BEAN PANNA COTTA WITH STRAWBERRY RHUBARB CAMPARI COMPOTE

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  • Rebeka - This looks so delicious. I’m always trying to figure out new ways to use rhubarb as my dad always gives me a ton from his garden. Also, I had no idea panna cotta was so simple, it always seems so fancy and in my mind (and maybe in Kyle’s too) fancy = complicated.

    Where are you guys moving? It’s so crazy you’re leaving Hood River!! No more Gorge in the Gorge? 🙁ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Rodriguez - I want this for breakfast. I know you don’t have a lot going on right now so can you just come and make it for me?! No? Fine. I’ll do it myself.ReplyCancel

We have so many changes happening. Changes that, had you asked me three months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to foresee… I wouldn’t have even known to think in that direction. The direction is that Kyle, after working for the same wonderful brewery for seven years, decided to leave. That was back in the March, and then suddenly here we are in the middle of May and he has wrapped up his time there. It makes sense, he’s spent a lot of time there, worked his way up, enjoyed it immensely, and meanwhile has finished his Masters degree in Fermentation Science and Distillation. Now he is ready for a new chapter in his career.

What that means for our family, and what I have spent a fair amount of time in denial of, is that we will be moving. We aren’t exactly sure where yet, but we’re starting to form a good idea, and it’s very exciting. Exciting, terrifying, surprising, overwhelming. There is a mix of grief at leaving the town that we love; the town that is home to some of the most wonderful friends we ever could have hoped to make; a special town that we’ve called home for ten years; and excitement of striking out on a new adventure.

We will know more within a week or so, and until then I’m keeping one foot firmly in denial. For me, the best place to embrace that lovely, conscious state of denial is in the garden and kitchen. After all, nothing says, “Hey, we’re going to be in this home forever”, than planting tomato plants that won’t bear fruit until the end of the Oregon summer. Of course, on the other side of things our house is already full of mostly empty boxes, ready to be filled with different things depending on which direction things take us. But until those boxes are full, taped shut, and we’re lining up a cleaning service to get our house renter-ready, you can find me in the kitchen, embracing denial and gorgeous spring salads.

SALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINEverything in our garden is at it’s most tender. The kale is soft and lacy; the pea tendrils are sweet and feminine; the radish greens just beginning to reach for the sun. A very happy place for me is wandering through our little garden with a sharp pair of kitchen shears, feeling the late afternoon sun on my skin, while I trim here and pluck there, dropping greens, micro-greens, and herbs into the same bin to be rinsed and spun and tossed together into a vibrant, tender salad.

SALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINSALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINOver the past couple of weeks I’ve made a few variations of this spring salad, so feel free to pick and choose and adapt the ingredients based on what might be growing in your garden or available at a local farmers’ market. The tender little greens are certainly the stars of this salad, but the fresh croutons, and breadcrumb salad dressing definitely contribute to the recipe. This salad begs for a glass of delicious Pinot Noir, or maybe a Tempranillo to accompany it… although a crisp Pinot Grigio would be pretty great too. Pour yourself a glass of wine, make this salad, and settle into whatever the moment brings, you can pack boxes (or answer emails, or fold laundry) later.

SALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINSALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINSALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINSALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINSALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSINGPINSALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSING

Ingredients.
6 eggs
baby lettuce
baby spinach
baby kale
small carrot tops
radish (or other) microgreens
pea shoots
capers
chive blossoms
French breakfast radishes, very thinly sliced
Roma or cherry tomatoes, sliced
crumbled feta
1/2 loaf ciabatta, torn into bite size pieces
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons minced chives
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
paprika
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
flake salt

Directions.
Place the eggs in a large saucepan, cover completely with water, place the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Allow the eggs to cook in the resting water for 12 minutes (for fully cooked eggs, shorter if you prefer soft boiled). Carefully transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with ice water. Set aside and allow to cool completely before peeling and slicing in half.

Wash and thoroughly dry your greens, place on a large serving platter or in a large bowl.

Pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a large nonstick skillet, add the crushed garlic, thyme and rosemary, turn the heat up to medium and allow the garlic and herbs to infuse the oil. Carefully remove and discard the garlic and herbs before increasing the heat and adding the torn pieces of bread. Toss continuously in the hot oil until croutons are golden and crisp (adding a bit more oil if/when needed). Transfer the croutons to a paper towel lined plate, season immediately with salt, pepper, paprika and gently toss.

In the still hot oil, carefully add a teaspoon or two of rinsed capers (they may sputter a bit in the oil), sauté them for a minute or two before transferring them to a small plate.

Crush one 1-2 of the croutons into fine breadcrumbs using a rolling pin. In a small bowl, whisk together the champagne vinegar, chives, and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil while whisking. Gently stir in the breadcrumbs, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the radishes, broken up chive blossoms, fried capers, tomatoes, crumbled feta, and eggs to the salad. Season the eggs with a little extra pepper and flake salt if desired. Dress the salad, and serve immediately.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
SALAD WITH HARD BOILED EGGS, GARLIC CROUTONS, FRIED CAPERS, AND BREADCRUMB DRESSING

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  • Angela - I am excited for your family. Fingers crossed for all the good things to come your way. Love love love.ReplyCancel

  • JenJen - Well I’m happy and sad all at the same time. Excited for your new adventure…but you will be oh, so missed! xoxoReplyCancel

    • Kacie - We’ll be back to open our own brewery some day! Let’s get coffee soon! Kyle is done at work so I’m a lady of leisure, unless you count all the stuff we have to get done in the next month! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Renah - Love!!! Here’s to adventure!ReplyCancel

Spring has fully sprung and we’re pretty darn happy about it. We got our garden planted. The girls prefer to garden in full princess dress which is pretty awesome. It reminds me of a quote I came across by the founder of Goldieblox (a really cool company to check out if you have girls!) where she said, “There’s nothing wrong with being a princess, we just think girls can build their own castles too”. Seeing them prance around the garden, digging up worms, watering strawberries, and getting mud on their gowns makes me feel like we’re achieving some kind of balance in that department.

cherry blossoms pacific northwestPINIMG_9983PINIMG_0001PINRecognizing balance is an important part of cultivating it (or so I’m told). But it can be hard to see if you’ve been living out of balance, which I definitely have been. That’s been a real struggle for me. After all, how do you learn what you aren’t in tune with? I’m setting myself a challenge of doing yoga, meditation, and going for a walk every day for the next 30 days. I’m using Yoga with Adriene, which I’ve mentioned before and am a huge fan of. It’s all free and there are tons of different videos including one for stress and anxiety I do a couple times a week. As for the mediation I’m loving the Headspace app, it costs a little bit but is better than the free apps I’ve tried over the past months. I know I probably won’t succeed at doing all three things every single day, but I’m going to give it my best effort. I know my yoga will be interrupted, my walks might be short, and I might spend my whole meditation time thinking about things on the horizon, but I’m going to try. I’m also cutting back on caffeine, although I haven’t quite figured out if I will give it up all together. After all, I love my morning latte. A lot.

salted caramel saucePINI start off every morning with a latte. While lying in bed I motivate myself to kick off the covers with the promise of a latte. I pad out to the kitchen, flip the switches on the base of the La Pavoni, and wait for the machine to warm up while I pour whole milk into the steaming pitcher, grind my coffee and tamp it into the filter, and most importantly, scoop a sizable dollop of salted caramel into my favorite mug. Come to think of it, it may actually be my addiction and love for salted caramel that lures me from the comfort of my bed, rather than the coffee/caffeine… although I’m obviously addicted to that too.

salted caramel saucePINI make salted caramel by the rather large jar full. It’s so basic, but so satisfying to make. Sugar, a bit of corn syrup, water, butter, heavy cream, salt. I love the way the sugar mixture starts off thick, slowly melting and transforming, bubbling aggressively at first and then slowly concentrating and giving into itself until it begins to turn color. Then it turns thin and darkens quickly to the color of… well, caramel. When the butter and cream are added the reaction of the cold dairy hitting the scalding hot sugar is wonderfully exciting, and slightly terrifying the first time you do it.

salted caramel saucePINsalted caramel saucePINsalted caramel saucePINI use salted caramel in so many applications. I drizzle it over vanilla ice cream that’s been sprinkled with crushed pretzels, slather it between layers of cake, dip tart green apples into it, top dense panna cotta with it, slip it onto meringues… the sweet possibilities are endless. I double the following recipe, but as I’ve said, I’m seriously addicted to the stuff. Doubling the recipe, at the rate I use it, should be enough to last a month… long enough to support the 30 day challenge I’m setting for myself. Which is perfect cause nothing is a better motivator than caramel.

salted caramel saucePINsalted caramel saucePINSALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs water
2 tbs corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions.

Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly as the sugar melts, foams and bubbles, and finally starts to change color. Once it’s light golden, move the pan from the heat and continue to stir until it turns a deep, amber color. Immediately add in the butter and stir quickly to melt. Add in the heavy cream (the caramel will bubble up), stirring carefully and constantly. Add in the salt and stir until it’s dissolved. Carefully transfer the caramel to a glass container and allow it to cool. Caramel will keep in a covered glass container in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Yield: 1 1/4 cup

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

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Once again, my silence around here has extended far beyond my intentions. February, and most of March, slipped by in a series of dramatic, and quiet days. I celebrated my 33rd birthday, had surgery to remove a high risk mass from my breast, took Lu in for two rounds of superglue sutures (on her chin (stairs) and forehead (coffee table), respectively), and one round to remove all the superglue and stitch her forehead up with three sutures, and laying low to recover from the surgery, stitches, and a late round of the seasonal flu. Once we worked through the initial frustration of cabin fever, it was kind of wonderful to find our rhythm of staying in our pajamas all day for days at a time, enjoying the spring downpours and rainbows from the comfort of the couch and backyard, weeding and prepping the garden for spring planting, sipping lots of Sleepytime Tea and hot toddys, and watching pretty much every Disney movie ever made. It’s made the last few days of, “Oh my goodness we actually feel human enough to join the outside world and it’s 55 degrees out!”, so much sweeter.

gardeningPINgardeningPINIMG_9745PINIn the last weeks of recovery and quarantine, I found myself slipping out in the evening to go grocery shopping rather than my usual mid-morning routine of loading up the kids and doing a full grocery shop with them in tow. At first it was because I wasn’t supposed to lift anything (or anyone) heavy, and then because the kids had such rotten coughs and fevers that it would have been socially irresponsible to take them out in public. I have to admit, while I love taking them shopping with me, my quick, short, solo trips to the grocery store have felt like little escapes from the confines of our living room littered with tissues, thermometers, DVD cases, abandoned teddy bear tea parties, and discarded princess dresses. I found myself gravitating towards somewhat repetitive, simple, ingredients and staples; the kind of ingredients that quickly become a crisp, tart salad for lunch, or a fast, simple, quiche or scramble for dinner. I’m sure that next week, when we’re all feeling 100% we will get back to our menu planning and all-together grocery shopping, but I’m going to keep that quiet, efficient, simple, alone-time grocery shopping in my back pocket for those evenings when I need a moment to myself.

It may not seem like much, but as a stay at home, quasi-homeschooling, work from home mom/wife/sister/friend/daughter/person, it’s all about finding those little moments of quiet. It’s about making myself a latte before I get my kids their breakfast even though they’re chirping at me, pulling at my legs, and acting as though we’ve never ever fed them before; the scalding hot shower extended by five minutes; taking an extra long time to walk down the driveway to the mailbox to get the mail; the moment of pause after the kids are buckled in the carseats and the car is loaded with the stroller, water bottles, hand sanitizer, pull ups and a change of pants and underwear “just in case”, sunscreen stick, and half a peanut butter and honey sandwich slapped together for my breakfast that will ultimately be consumed by my kids, to stand inside the front door and take three long, deliberate breaths even though we’re already running late; the extra ten minutes after the kids are down for naps to pull together a refreshing, salty, sweet, tart, crisp, nourishing salad just for me. All of those little moments add up, and give me enough time to remember that I’m doing a good job, that I’m a good mom, a good wife, that I am enough even though I fail often, lose my temper, have to ask for help way more often than I’d like, have muffins I forgot about in my purse and moldy apple cores in the base of my stroller, and a mountain of laundry that could rival Everest.

FENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINAnyway, I got a bit off topic, I wanted to share with you my recipe for that “refreshing, salty, sweet, tart, crisp, nourishing salad” I mentioned in my rambling list of ways I’m learning to put myself first. I’ve made variations of this salad, which is, at it’s core, a Fennel, Apple and Celery Salad, but I think I’ve recently come up with my favorite version. The salad begins, as I said, with licorice-y fennel and tart apple, thinly sliced, and is quickly transformed with the addition of crisp, tender celery, crackly celery seeds, salt flecked Parmesan, and Meyer lemon zest and dressing made from sweet, peppery olive oil and fruity Meyer lemon juice (if you don’t have Meyer lemons, a regular lemon will do). Whether it’s raining outside, or there’s sun streaming through the window, or you’re exhausted and recovering from a late night administering Ibuprofen and Tylonel to your little ones, or you’re elated and restored from a long, perfect night’s sleep this lunch will either aid in or add to your restoration with it’s optimistic texture and bright, clean flavors. I’ve made this salad for solo lunches, to accompany roasted chicken, and I’ve even been known to make it for breakfast; that’s the kind of cravings it fosters.

FENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINFENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINFENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINFENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINFENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINFENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINFENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALADPINCELERY, APPLE AND FENNEL SALAD

 Ingredients.
1 sweet apple, cored and thinly sliced
2-3 center ribs of celery (leaves included), thinly sliced on the bias
2 small bulbs fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
palmful of fennel fronds, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
juice of 1 Meyer lemon (about 1/4 cup)
about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (equal parts lemon juice and olive oil)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Set it aside.

In a large bowl toss together the apple, celery, fennel, fennel fronds, celery seeds, Parmesan, parsley, and lemon zest. Toss immediately with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Serves 2 as a main meal, 4 as a side.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
FENNEL , APPLE, and CELERY SALAD

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