Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Buckle

Last night we were paid a dinnertime visit by the lovely Jillbert and, knowing that Jill will eat pretty much anything (the best kind of friend to have), we made what we always have on Friday nights - pizza. And oh, what a pizza it was. Mmmm. Only this one kind of gross looking picture, because that's all I had time to take before the pagans (ie Jesse and Jill) devoured it, but trust me, it's amazing.
~Thin crust baked on its own, simply brushed with olive oil
~Topped with kale and oyster mushrooms that had been sauteed until tender with a little butter and balsamic vinegar
~ And ONION BLUE CHEESE SAUCE drizzled over the whole pizza just before serving. And by drizzled, I mean spooned. And by spooned, I mean dumped unceremoniously.

Onion blue cheese sauce, you ask? Oh.
Oh, it's only the best thing ever. You throw half a stick of butter in a pan and melt it, then throw a whole bunch of chopped onions in and cook them til they're nice and sweet and squishy, then you dump in a cup of cream, get it hot and crumble in big handfuls of BLUE CHEESE. Gah. Incredible.


But yeah, so that was dinner. And it was great. But then.....then there was this...


I found a recipe for Nectarine Brown Butter Buckle on my faithful Smitten Kitchen, and when Jill arrived bearing bags of just-picked blueberries and blackberries (and a quart of whipping cream!), I knew that buckle heaven awaited. I made a bunch of changes to the original recipe (duh) and here's what ended up happening.
1/2 cup butter, melted1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
Pinch of allspice
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
4-6 nectarines, cut into wedges
1/2 cup blueberries
2/3 cup blackberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Topping

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup Turbinado (raw) sugar (brown or white should work great, too
1/2 cup flour
Some salt

Prepare you pan: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10" cast iron skillet (or cheat and spray with cooking spray, like I did)

Cake:
Whisk together 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar and eggs. Add milk. Add dry ingredients and blend just until combined (don't overmix your flour people - just don't!). Dump this into your pan. Toss nectarine slices with lemon juice and arrange them on top of the batter. Scatter berries across the top.

Mix all the streusal ingredients together til crumbly, then sprinkle it over the cake.

Bake about 40 to 45 minutes. The top will be golden and the batter will be set but still nice and moist. (if I do this again - when I do this again - I may put it under the broiler for the last couple minutes to really brown the top). Let it cool a couple minutes. Eat it. Eat it all.

Toby

We're rabbit-sitting this weekend.

This is Toby. He is lovely.













He likes carrots, not chard, and belongs to Eliza and Jamison. Eliza wanted to call him Frank.



Toby was a good choice.

Friday, July 23, 2010

And he's off

Miles is crawling.
And by crawling I mean flinging himself forward violently until he reaches his destination

See, on Wednesday he figured out the mechanics of crawling. Knee, knee, arm, arm, repeat. Easy enough.

On Thursday he added in a step. Knee, knee, arm, arm, lunge forward onto the ground, repeat.

And this afternoon, he said screw it to the whole crawling process in general, and decided to just stick with the lunging part. Which he does, with gusto. And, a little disturbingly, he also adds in a very energetic little "sieg heil" arm salute before each lunge. If he asks for a pair of combat boots and a copy of Mein Kampf for his first birthday, I'll start worrying.

A visual:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashbyandjesse/4821313021/


This week has been pretty incredible in the land of Miles. I remember the 12 week mark being huge - it seemed like he suddenly became a new baby at that point, somehow. It was a major turning point - he was suddenly more independent, and could do so many things he'd been struggling to do just days before. It seems like the 6 months and 1 week mark is similar. My little man is on the go, but he is also totally loving life. He is content to hang out on the floor and cruise around wrecking things, leaving Mom and Dad to momentarily think "ah, a moment to myself" before we notice that he's climbed under the table and is eating our shoes. Ah the joys of mobility.

In all honesty, though, I love that he's moving. He is so much happier being able to interact with the world. He's like this constant bundle of buzzing energy and he finally has something real to do with it. When he crawls his arms fly out in huge arcs like he's freestyle swimming, and he lifts his feet up into the air above his head like he's participating in a wheelbarrow race, wiggling his butt around. Never one for energy conservation, it's like he uses as many movements as possible for everything he does. And god, he's so funny to watch. He plays now, waving whatever he finds in the air like a prize and babbling to it until we realize that oh, yeah, electrical things probably aren't good baby toys and take it away. Jerks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Down on the Farm

We have a new family addiction - this place . It's become a bit of a weekly routine now - after Miles' mid-day nap, we hop in the car and head down to the farm. First we pick a few pints of raspberries from the enormous, rambling patch, while Miles rides in the Ergo and studies the raspberry leaves and begs tastes of the berries. Then, when Mr. Fussypants starts showing up, he and I take a break under a nearby oak for a little snack. While he noisily nurses, I get to stretch out in the grass and watch the butterflies in the hay field. Once we've picked our pints we usually find Jo, the farmer, a delightful tidbit of a woman with cropped pants and cropped hair, tossing a bag of fresh basil into our car.

 Miles spends some time tearing around on his hands and knees under the apple trees, probably ingesting more grass and insect parts than is strictly safe, while we wade through the chest-high perrenial garden with Jo's scissors. I've found the sweet spot in the huge, wild garden, a spot to pause for a moment where the air suddenly smells so strongly of lemon balm and morning glory that it's like a little high - I forget where I am for a second and just breathe, delighted.

Once we've got armfuls of flowers for the kitchen table, we trot across the street to visit Maud, the Suffolk Punch draft horse, and the rest of the livestock. Beau Chemin is a preservation farm, so all of their livestock are endangered Heritage breeds, breeds that were common in farming years ago and perfectly suited to their jobs, but that have almost died out in the wake of mechanization and the age of inbred, standardized animal breeds. The vast majority of livestock breeds in the US have disappeared forever - farms like this one are trying to hold onto, and spread, some of the old breeds because, in truth, they are far superior when it comes to health, longevity and usually even temperament. Miles loves Maud, with her enormous velvet face and steamy horse lips. I think he thinks she's Ginger, but bigger. He is also a big fan of Jack, the donkey. He's not a heritage breed. He's, as Jo puts it, "just a donkey. We keep him for comic relief."

It's strange how much joy we've been getting out of our little farm trips. When we drive away Miles is covered from head to toe with dirt and raspberry juice and smashed blades of grass, and the whole car smells like flowers and basil, and we find ourselves breathing deeply and just grinning the whole ride home. Life is pretty good around here.

~Ashby

Port in the Storm

We had the most incredible electrical storm I have ever experiences last night. We were having dinner with Mike and Lydia and heard a tornado warning (I know, right?) on the radio. Then, like it had just been waiting for its cue, a huge flash of lightning brightened the sky and there was a growl of thunder that lasted long enough that Miles actually lost interest in the noise before it was over. It was really an incredible storm, though - very little thunder, just lightning over and over and over again, with pauses never longer than two seconds between the next flash. Driving home felt like being under a really huge strobe light, and every time the sky lit up we could see the cornstalks whipping back and forth along the side of the road, and water in the deep puddles frothing around like the ocean. It was so intense that we found this poor little tree frog (we have tree frogs in Maine?) seeking respite at our basement window when we got home.




The most interesting thing, though, wasn't even the storm - it was my reaction to it. I love a good storm (and man, this was a good one), always have. I've always been the type to drive down to the beach to watch the waves (following in Grammie's legacy there) or make a mug of tea and perch by the window, nose pressed against the steaming glass. But last night, I was a total mess. Like, heart beating out of my chest, anxiously squeazing the baby, frizzy-haired mess. I know I can'tblame the hair thing on the storm. Let me anyway, please. It was bizarre - I was completely panicked about going outside, even from Lydia's house to the car, and then into our own house. I actually tried to convince Jesse to drive around until the storm was over. Visions of Jesse getting struck by lightning and lying, smoldering, in the driveway kept flashing through my head. I wasn't able to settle down and actually start enjoying the storm until Miles was asleep in his crib, all the windows were closed, everything electrical was unplugged, the dogs were upstairs and Jesse had solemnly vowed not to touch the screen door.

What has happened to me? I blame motherhood. Have my fierce tigress protective instincts robbed me of any drop of enjoyment I might get out of semi-dangerous situations? And more importantly, is this normal?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Breath in, breath out....

Let me preface this post by saying: I love my son. There is not a single thing about him I would change, given the chance, and I think he is absolutely perfect.

That being said, holy hell. Whatever this little phase is, Mama will rejoice when it is over. Our normally opinionated, outspoken, energetic baby is still all those things - but now, he's ANGRY. So instead of happy hollering and wiggling, we have ferocious bellowing and flailing. All. Day. Long.

I'm chalking it up to the fact that he is soooooo close to crawling, and is marinating in his frustration all day long. So, for the love of god, crawl baby, crawl!


~Ashby

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Garden Begins

We finally (finally!) have space for a garden (in the actual ground, not in a kiddie pool - yeah, remind us to tell you about that failed experiment sometime) and are trying our hand at a little plot in the side yard, and some border gardens and potted veggies and herbs. We truthfully don't expect much, since we've never done this before, and have a less-than-stellar track record with houseplants (shhh, don't tell the seedlings). We're calling it our "practice garden." It's so much fun.

We planted 9 tomato plants in pots alongside the driveway, where they get a lot of sun, and Jesse planted a little herb garden. I put in a perrenial bed along the front walk, and we also tilled up a little 8x8 plot for veggies. Here's how she started:

                                                                     May 27, 2010


                                                                       June 13, 2010

                                                                         July 6, 2010

We've already had a few learning experiences - major cabbage worm infestation on the cabbages, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts, and some Japanese beetles lurking around the beans. But we're figuring it out! We are so passionate about knowing, and liking, where our food comes from, that it's been so cool to start bringing the process even closer to home. We ate our first tomatoes yesterday, some sungolds and early girls. Amazing.

~Ashby

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shark Pants

 I love that he loves the water. It's so much fun.


I also love his swim diaper, which has fish on it, and I call his "shark pants." There is even a theme song. It's a blend of batman and duck tales.

Na na na na na na na na Shark paaaants. Woo oo.

 Awesome.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cape Cod!

Just got back from a long, wonderful, relaxing visit to the Cape visiting my family. I have to say, travelling with an almost-6-month-old isn't as horrible as expected - actually, it was pretty awesome. We had a fantastic week - lots of quality time with Shapapa and Memesoup (the "soup" is silent, remember) and Uncle Tanner; lively (as always) visits with the Aunties (Audrey and Jenna and Smokey, only one of whom is actually an Auntie, but hell, who's counting) and the Rev; visits to the ocean and my childhood home; lots of hugging long-lost family and friends; far too much food; and Asian weiner.

 Don't even worry about that last one.

It's so cool to see my parents with my child. For one thing, they adore each other. Miles is utterly smitten with everything that is Memesoup, and Jesse and I totally got a kick out of coming back to the house after a child-free(!) errand and hearing the two of them chattering to each other in the next room. And he and Shapapa have clearly got a connection - it's zen time when Shapapa's around and anyone who's met my kid knows that zen time is a rarity. But seeing my parents as grandparents is also really cool because it jogs so many memories for me - I have such awesome parents, and it's nice to have these visual memories playing out in front of me.

It wa also, of course, nice to hand the baby over and have two hands for entire hours. It made snuggling in bed at night that much better, because I often felt like I had barely seen Miles all day, since he'd been busy flirting with everyone else.

Regretably, we had way too much fun to take many pictures - I'm particularly disappointed that a camera never made it to the beach with us, since baby's first skinny dip was the cutest thing that has ever happened. Ever. But here are a few...
Haley graciously shared her pool with Miles. Then he tripped her. Bully.

"Whoa!" A little colder than expected, perhaps. Miles spent a good portion of our trip in the pool (poor January-born Mainer can't take the heat) and an even better portion of it mostly naked. That's my boy.

Bongoes with Shapapa - lovely way to wake up.

Baby's first lobster - these poor guys travelled all the way down from Maine with us after being bought from Alvin the roadside fish guy, then spent the day in the meat-and-cheese drawer in the fridge, before finally meeting their delicious doom. Mmmm, doom.


Not pictured here is Uncle Tanner, mostly because she was usually the one taking the pictures, or she was off hitting pirates with golf balls or whatever it is she does. Suffice to say that Miles thinks she is the bees knees (what the hell does that mean, anyway?) and misses her accutely, especially when Mom and Dad are being boring (which is, like, always).


~Ashby