Open Letter to My New Apple Peeler

Dear Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer thingamajig that I bought yesterday,

I feel like we started out on the wrong foot. I assumed you were silly. I assumed you were one of those kitchen gadgets that would show up on a BuzzFeed list about stupid things people buy for their kitchen. I assumed you were something that no self-respecting baker would have in their cabinet. I assumed you would make not only a giant mess, but you would make my apple-pie making last at least four times longer than it should have.  But something in me said to just give it a try.

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Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer – I owe you an apology.

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Something happened to me after the first apple. I took out my phone and couldn’t stop taking pictures. The curly leftover peels! The slinky-like peeled, cored, sliced apple! I felt like I wanted to make a hundred apple pies. Maybe some apple sauce! Heck, I wanted to make apple butter, too!

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I peeled apple after apple after apple. I took pictures from every angle. I sent texts to my husband and best friend. I stuffed that pie so full of perfectly peeled apples that whoever ate it would have kept the doctor away for ages. Plus, I was done in about ten minutes. TEN MINUTES. You, my friend, are a life-saver.

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Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer, I am really, truly sorry. I’d like to start again. You are wonderful. You are helpful. I could never imagine facing Apple Pie Season again without you. Please, please can we be bffs?

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xoxo,

kels

Super-Quick Cream Drop Biscuits

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I’ve had an annoying cold for a little over a week now.

I’m finally on the upswing, off the Robutussin and Vicks VapoRub, but I am still getting coughing fits every now and then.

Like last night. At 3AM. When Brad finally came to bed, I immediately got out of bed and hit the couch.  Because no one deserves to have to sleep next to this hacking cough.  No one could even pretend to be asleep next to me during one of my fits.  It’s probably the worst sounding cough ever. In the history of the world.

Ok, it’s really not that bad.  But I finally drifted off to sleep again last night, and when I woke up there was a gray light shining through the living room windows.  I hadn’t brought my phone with me, so I figured it was just past dawn.  I stumbled back into the bedroom, where the shades were down and it was still nice and sleepy dark.  Just for good measure before I zonked out again, I checked the time…

It was already 9:30! What was that crazy gray dawn light? Where was the hot summer sun that had been blazing in on us for what seemed like weeks and weeks?

Hidden, I guess. That melting hot sun was hidden behind a cool, foggy mist. And for some I-can’t-wait-until-fall reason, I jumped right out of bed, made myself a cup of tea, and got to baking.

Because baking during the day is completely out of the question when your apartment is a balmy 82 degrees before you’ve even turned the oven on.  But when the high is 73 and the sun is nowhere to be seen?  I preheated all the way up to 400°F.

I was making biscuits.

And not the difficult, layers of butter, rolled out, cut with biscuit cutter biscuits. Nope – I had been up half the night coughing. I hadn’t drank anything but herbal tea and orange juice and good old H2O for a week straight. This was going to be a quick, simple breakfast biscuit.  I was going to whip up some scrambled eggs with ham and have a nice, hearty, foggy morning breakfast.

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Thirty minutes later, as I sat down with my sleepy husband, my room temperature cup of tea (I’m really bad at tea), and my fluffy drop biscuits with eggs, the sun was shining bright through those front windows.  The fog had already burnt off and the white hot sun was pouring in on us like every other sunny summer morning before this one.

But I had won breakfast. The 400° oven was already off, and the thermostat only read a cool 75.  Plus, I had yummy, yummy just-baked biscuits.

xoxo

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Super Quick Cream Drop Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cubed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter, melted
turbinado sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Mix the first four ingredients in a food processor or stand mixer until just combined.  Drop the dough in six equal parts (about 3/4 cups each) and drop onto a greased baking sheet.  The less perfectly round, the better.  Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Eat them piping hot right out of the oven.

Giant Squashagne

Once, at the market, there was a stand that sold giant squash.

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They were the most giant squash in all the land. Or maybe not, but they were ridiculously huge. And there was one girl who couldn’t resist buying one of the giant squashes just to dream up something fun to do with them.

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So she went home. She pondered over it for a few days. She displayed the squash in a fruit bowl that was about 5 gallons too small for the it to actually fit in. And then, after having it catch her eye and make her laugh on the third day, she decided to do something magnificent with that squash.

But first, she wanted to make sure everyone realized how big this squash really was. And that it totally matched her new favorite nail polish. Super cool.

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The girl broke out her very dangerous mandolin and carefully sliced that giant squash into something that resembled lasagna noodles. She had recently been making zucchini into noodles (we call those “zoodles” around here, and – yes – they are delicious), and figured lasagne with squash may be just as delicious.

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She sliced and sliced until she had piles of beautiful zucchini noodles (zoodles!!).

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She piled on ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. She browned her favorite local sausage and threw it into the tomato sauce she had made with early girls from her favorite tomato stand (the recipe is here!). She layered and layered, and then she baked that lasagne just like it was a regular, delicious pasta lasagne.

(this is where she forgot to take any pictures…)

She peaked in at her masterpiece as the timer went off. It was perfect!

But… then her phone rang!  Friends were gathering with wine by a fire! They would probably be hungry, too!

She quickly wrapped up the masterpiece and headed out with giant squash, local pork sausage, homemade tomato sauce lasagne in tow. (because this is a totally normal thing to do when invited to a campfire. just bring lasagne.)

The girl and her friends laughed and drank wine and ate grapes off of vines and listened to music by the fire late into the night. And everyone was happy that she made squash lasagne (squashagne?) and just happened to bring it to the party.

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No one even missed the noodles.

Moral of the story? If you are ever invited to a last minute campfire with wine, bring a squashagne. No one will be mad at you, I promise.

xoxo

Be still.

Be still

Way back in the beginning of July when i first got back from our glorious summer vacation (it seems like forever ago), I vowed to myself that I was going to come back recharged and ready to push forward on getting my new business up and running.

And push I did. Drive forward I did. I have made so many advances towards getting my pastry business (oh, I haven’t told you about that yet? oops…) legally running, and I’m so very proud of what I’ve accomplished even this far.

But today? Today I don’t want to make any business calls. I don’t want to take any notes or do any research. I don’t even want to fill any orders or come up with fun new ways to package things.

Today, I slept in until ten. I laid in bed on Instagram until eleven. Then I got up, put on a funky playlist, and whipped up some pancakes from scratch.

Today, I’m going to take Gibson on a couple of long walks. I’m going to bake myself something that I can put in my cake stand. I’m going to freeze cookie dough balls to eat randomly throughout the last of the hot summer days. And I’m going to go out and buy myself a nice bottle of wine to have with dinner.

Because every now and then it’s important to take a step backward from your two jobs and your non-stop life. It’s important to just sit. Be still. Be silent. Listen. Just look around and what you’re creating and where you’re going. Because creating a business and a life for yourself takes a lot of hard work, but it’s supposed to be a lot of fun, too.  I’m creating memories and friendships and learning a lot of lessons along the way.  Today is my day to just relax, soak it all in, appreciate myself for the good work I’ve done, and maybe go outside and get a little bit of sun while I’m at it.

In the near future, I’m looking forward to writing more.  I’m looking forward to sharing more challenges and recipes and stories. I’m looking forward to sharing my successes and my struggles. Because this blog has been one of my favorite projects I’ve ever taken on, and I’m ready to see it grow. I’m excited to keep it evolving and changing alongside of me.

But for now, I’ve got a sun to bathe in. I’ll see you very soon.

xoxo

The Incredible Summer Market

I could give you a million excuses for why I’ve only posted – what – twice in July?

But who wants to hear that. It’s July. I’ve been working on awesome, awesome things. I’ve been building projects and baking my butt off.  I’ve been planning and viewing and researching and (always) eating.  I’ve been documenting it all and sharing what I can when I have a second to come up for air and send a picture through vscocam or something of the sorts. And today, I actually had a second to sit down and look through all of the pictures in my July 2014 Photostream.

You just really have to see what’s happening at the market right now.  It is glorious.

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I can’t even explain how happy it makes me that it is tomato season again.  I literally just had tomatoes (and a hard boiled egg) for breakfast.IMG_6672IMG_6573IMG_6413 IMG_6410And the melons! Is there anything that tastes more like summer than melons?  I’m over the moon happy with my summer fruit!
IMG_6412IMG_6661 IMG_6837 IMG_6574 Ok, one more tomato shot. I actually started a #kelslovestomatoes hashtag so I could document all the beautiful tomatoes in my life – before they quickly disappear into my stomach’s life.IMG_6833 IMG_6834 IMG_6665I’m always glad I brought my cart…
IMG_6847I hope you are all enjoying your summer, and that it has been just as bountiful as ours has been!  Happy summer market to all!

xoxo

 

 

I hope you are all I hope you 

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

My fridge is stuffed right now.

Not because we have a crazy amount of food.  I mean, we always have sort of a crazy amount of food in our house, but this time it’s just because it’s summer.

Summer stuffs our fridge for two reasons.  The first is that everything delicious is in season.  Cherries and apricots are on their way out, peaches are at their peak, and tomatoes are just about ready.  We’ve had to start bringing the cart to the market with us because It’s kind of impossible to carry around three Weiser Farm’s melons, a bag of peaches and a flat of tomatoes.  For three hours.

Talk about a food blogger workout.

The second reason our fridge is stuffed is because we don’t have air conditioning.  So if we left those tomatoes I’m in love with out on the counter for more than twelve hours, we would not only have tomato mush, but we would also have a swarm of fruit flies.

No bueno.

Somehow recently, a few bananas got left out in the fruit bowl in the summer heat.  And I kept telling myself they’d be ok or that I’d finish them in the morning. But then I was having breakfast and I realized I could smell the bananas on the shelf next to me.  It wasn’t a bad smell, just a “use me now or I’ll turn into a big blob of gross” smell.

One of the bananas even looked like this, so I was almost sure I’d just be throwing the whole bunch away.

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Except when I peeled it, just to make sure, the banana inside looked just right…

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Which, of course, meant banana bread!

I started looking up recipes.  I also discovered I had a pint of strawberries that were on their last days.  (Strawberries and bananas take a back seat to stone fruit in this house, I guess.)  I figured I’d throw them in the mix.  I started making a grocery list.  I almost headed out the door.

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But before I did, I just happened to stumble across a recipe for chocolate banana bread.  Chocolate. Banana. Bread.  I had an epiphany where I realized that the combination of chocolate and banana in bread was even better than banana and walnuts.  And sounded so much more like dessert than breakfast…

Plus, I was still going to add in strawberries.

Yep. I was making Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread.

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Banana bread is one of those comfort foods that just makes me happy.  It’s fluffy and light and crunchy and is kind of like a cake, but can definitely be categorized as breakfast.

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This banana bread was even better.  Even more decedent.  Even more tempting to just cut yourself off a piece every time you happened to be near the kitchen.

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I truly had to give away half of this loaf because it was so rich and delicious and amazing.  But mostly because I’m supposed to be on a post-vacation detox, and I just couldn’t stop eating it.

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No one I gave it to seemed to mind too much.  It was almost like a giant strawberry brownie.  And topped with vanilla ice-cream on a hot summer day?  Oh. My. Gosh.

Give it a try.  I promise you’ll be tempted to always leave your bananas out a little too long when the temperature goes up…

xoxo

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

ever so slightly adapted from smitten kitchen’s Double Chocolate Banana Bread

3 medium very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup Strawberries, chopped
3-4 Strawberries, sliced length-wise for topping

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, & vanilla. Use as sifter to sift baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chopped strawberries.

Pour into prepared pan, top in whichever design you’d like with the remaining strawberry slices, and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.