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.

IMG_6850 IMG_6838

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.

DSC_0079

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

DSC_0093

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.

DSC_0199

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.

DSC_0122 DSC_0151 DSC_0176

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.

DSC_0211

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.

DSC_0260

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.

DSC_0371 DSC_0388

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.

 

My Perfect Lake Day

Let me just tell you.  There isn’t much that is more opposite of living in Los Angeles than packing everything up and heading to our favorite lake house in Burdett, New York.

One of my favorite parts about heading to the part of the country where Brad grew up is when I tell people I’m going on vacation to New York.  You see them immediately think of sky scrapers and shopping and Broadway and subways and crowds of people.  They ask where I’m staying and what I’m doing.  They expect days of crazy plans and lots of hustle and bustle.

No, no, no.

Here’s how the lake works.

We hop onto this big jet plane, typically sometime just before midnight, and we do our very best to get a few hours of sleep before landing minutes after sunrise somewhere on the east coast.  This time, it happened to be Newark.

IMG_5317We rub our eyes, we reset our watches, and we scramble down the terminal to a much smaller gate where we are shuffled with about twenty other travelers onto a plane that I like to pretend is my very own private jet.

IMG_5321The propellers spin and whir. Brad falls back asleep.  I – the “expert” traveler – am the one who never gets comfortable in those tiny planes.  We are only up in the air for about an hour.

The airport we land at has one baggage terminal.  It has maybe two gates.  The air feels heavier than Los Angeles.  The people seem calmer.  The trees are infinitely more green.

We drive down to the house where we are staying.  The road is definitely not paved.  It is lined with grapevines and a dog or a chicken or two putting around.

IMG_5368

 

We pull up to the house and Brad is down on the dock before you can blink.  He grew up here.  He feels the most at peace next to this lake.IMG_5807 Not that I can blame him.  All of the stress and noise of big city living fades away here.  All you can hear is the heavy trickle of a creek draining rainwater down off of the hills.  The sky is the bluest blue I can imagine.  Clouds hardly look real, floating in the sky like they were placed just where they were meant to be.  Water gently laps past the dock.  Sun beats down, and I remember how long it’s been since I’ve had a tan.IMG_5783Brad finds a handful of old fishing rods and it is vacation time in full swing.
IMG_5943

While he untangles the lines and fiddles with lures, it’s my opportunity for a day-after-red-eye nap in the loft – the only room in the place with any type of air conditioning.IMG_5382Later, we head down to the Marina in search of dinner and a little sight-seeing.
IMG_5346 We explore the new fancy hotel restaurant in town.  We have a wonderful dinner, discover a new type of clams (Tiger Clams) and I get about a zillion mosquito bites.IMG_5985 Just before the sun sets, we decide to head back to the lake house for the evening.IMG_5351

Brad tries his hand once more at catching a perch.  Or a salmon, because apparently his uncle has caught one in the lake before…

Really, he tries to catch anything other than seaweed.  But nothing is nibbling.

IMG_5971

Meanwhile, I sit by my fisherman husband on the dock with a glass of rosé.  I watch as the sun sinks behind the trees and turns the sky wild pastels of pink, orange and blue.  I breathe in the humidity and let it frizz my hair into a wavy mess.  I enjoy the quiet.  I forget all about traffic.  I laugh and tell stories with family.  I try my hand – and fail – at fishing.

IMG_5961The sun is gone for the day.  We see a million stars that you could never see in Los Angeles.  We watch the fireflies and sit close to the citronella candles.  And just before 11pm, we can’t keep our eyes open any longer.  We head to bed and dream until we can do almost the same thing tomorrow.

There’s really nothing like the lake in the summer.

xoxo

 

Lake Light

Ahhhhh….

Just yesterday I got back from the most relaxing vacation.

Brad and I headed back east for his brother’s wedding, and ended up making a trip out of it.  We saw family.  We saw friends.  We hung out by the lake and ate until our pants were extremely tight.  We both have really big new projects coming up, so it was the perfect get away to gear us up for all of the hard work we have ahead.

But yesterday, we flew back to Los Angeles. We picked up our pup and gave her a bath.

And then we got right back to work.

So before I put on my work uniform today and get ready to head in for the twelve hours ahead of me (my bank account will thank me!!), I wanted to relive one little part of vacation.  I started scrolling through the hundreds of pictures I took on my phone.  And I was drawn to the photos that captured the amazing light at the lake.  How it poured through the trees.  How it dipped below the horizon.  How it glimmered and glowed and cast a golden haze over our lazy summer nights.

IMG_5851 IMG_5862 IMG_5903 IMG_5847It seemed like every evening I was inspired by the colors and the brilliance of the setting sun.  Maybe today I was drawn to these photos because it’s a chilly, gray morning. Maybe I’m missing the warm blanket of humidity and the relaxation of summer vacation.  Maybe I’m missing the quiet so thick that you can hear your own heart beating.

IMG_5947 IMG_5967 IMG_5966Maybe this week it’s back to reality.  But I found so much inspiration and beauty these past couple of weeks.  Now, I’m recharged and ready for all of the challenges ahead.

xoxo

 

The Star of the Show: Artichoke Flowers

I bought a ridiculous amount of produce at the market this week.

I can’t help it.  Stone fruit is in season.  There were bags of apricots, bags of peaches, nectarines, and a handful of something called a plum cot (those were gone within 3 minutes, easily).  There were thoughts of pies and jams and other delicious pastries in my near future.

I could barely carry my bags by the time we got back to the car.  Maybe it should have been a cart kind of day.  You know it’s almost summer when I have to break out the cart.  Oh man, I just thought about tomato season…

Don’t even get me started on tomato season.  I have to start saving my money now.

But this week there was a particular item that everyone was talking about.  They were poking out of everyone’s bags, and people who hadn’t discovered them kept asking me where I found mine.

Artichoke flowers.

DSC_0069 DSC_0071

Gorgeous and kind of exotic, these are simply artichokes that have grown past the edible stage.  The artichokes that we eat are the flower bud before it blooms.

DSC_0079 DSC_0074

Once the artichoke has reached this stage, the fruit becomes super coarse and basically inedible, but it is still quite a conversation starter.  The flower almost reminded me of sea anemone and they were super soft.  Brad really, really liked them, so we picked up a giant one for him to walk around with.

DSC_0073

Everyone wanted to touch our artichoke flower.

DSC_0088
Before we left the market, we were gifted a couple other, smaller artichoke flowers, and I threw them all together at home in a funky artichoke flower arrangement.

DSC_0011 DSC_0007

Apparently I just can’t get enough of produce as decoration.

DSC_0005DSC_0021DSC_0017

xoxo

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rainy Day Blackberry Lavender Spritzer

I try to be a pretty positive person.  I really believe that you get what you give out into this world, so might as well make it happy.  Might as well find a reason to smile even when it seems like everyone else has lost their minds.

A good friend used to always quote “the sun is shining somewhere, even when it rains.”  I like that.  I try to think of the sun shining while I’m sloshing through the puddles.  It’s just the better way to spend my time.  And I swear, the energy is contagious.

But man, every now and then you take your car in for an oil change two weeks before an exciting, big vacation you’ve been trying to save a tiny bit of money for, and – instead of just oil – your car needs a month’s rent worth of repairs.

Puddles.  Big, muddy puddles.  Maybe even without rain boots.  Because who owns rain boots in Los Angeles?

After we authorized radiators and belts and whatnot, Brad hung up the phone and I made a decision.

It was officially happy hour.

The good thing (sunshine!) was we had also just gotten home from the market, where we had gone crazy buying all kinds of fruits, vegetables, cage free eggs, raisins, and pork.  I figure we were stocked food-wise until at least vacation in a couple of weeks, so we would just have to live off of our bounty and spend our food budget instead on radiators…

I was starting the saving with my cocktail, going right for these giant, tart but kind of sweet blackberries that I had bought on a whim from my favorite cherry stand.

DSC_0117DSC_0121

And then I muddled them up, because muddling always makes drinks feel more festive and happy.  Yes, I used a blue Rolling Stones tongue glass as a shaker.  Because why not?  Mick Jagger makes me happy.  This happy hour was all about finding happy.

Finding sunshine.

DSC_0126 DSC_0131 DSC_0133

I added some gin, some of my lavender simple syrup (lavender again for the win!), and a little bit of bubble, then I threw a berry and a sprig of lavender on top.  By then, my drink was so pretty that I took it outside for it’s very own photo shoot.

DSC_0148 DSC_0209

And I stuck a purple/blue party straw in there…

DSC_0144 DSC_0150

Yep, this was definitely the cocktail to cheer up with.

DSC_0181DSC_0199

Well, this cocktail, plus FaceTiming with the parents who were sitting on their screened-in porch during an actual rainstorm back home.

DSC_0134

It was kind of nice to hear the rain behind them.  I forget how much I love a good rainstorm – literal or figurative.  The downpour brings growth, brings new life, brings the green to plants that grow delicious blackberries for cocktails…

And although the rain might just bring mud at first, things will dry up.  That sun is still out there somewhere.  It’ll be back.  We will work things out.

Until then, pour yourself something festive, muddle it, shake it up, and find yourself a party straw in whichever color you’d like.  Because nights at home being broke aren’t so bad when you have a lovely husband to make you dinner, a pup to give you kisses and cuddles, a fruity cocktail to keep you cool, and a million ideas and projects on the horizon to devote all of your energy into.

Thanks for being my rain boots, guys. :)

xoxo

Blackberry Lavender Spritzer

2 oz gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
3/4 oz lavender simple syrup
3 large blackberries
2 oz soda water

In a shaker, muddle blackberries and lavender syrup together.  Add gin and fill shaker with ice, shaking to mix.  Pour into glass and top with soda water.  Garnish with whole berries or fresh lavender sprigs.

Enhanced by Zemanta