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.


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


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!


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.


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?




Giant Squashagne

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!




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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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.

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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.

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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.


Everyone wanted to touch our artichoke flower.

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.

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



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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.


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.

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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.

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

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


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


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. 🙂


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.

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