When I first received a message about a Harry Potter themed cooking class for a birthday several months ago, two things came to mind.
1. This past fall I had been thinking about literature/movie themed cooking inspired classes. To me it was confirmation that I needed to make it happen with some future classes.
2. I was in a panic.... I had never seen a Harry Potter movie in MY life. I knew very little about it except it was magic, and a kid with round glasses. I scoured thrift stores looking for the movies, for at least one to watch, any props I could use to decorate with without spending a fortune, I picked up the Harry Potter cookbook from the library- flipped through it, reading bits and pieces as the weeks went by.
Such a fun theme, great kids, amazing parent helpers and a birthday with memories to last a life time from spending time in the kitchen with her friends and family.
There are no doubt many great joys in this life we all get to live... but getting three granddaughters is pretty darn awesome. I mean three boys would have been amazing as well... But seriously, I still feel like I'm living a pinch me life! Now if and when there are more grand babies, it sure would be nice to throw some boys in the mix.
We waited 30 years for this!
If I had my way, I'd make sunshine stay until the end of October. Sunny, crisp, fall days. Leaves floating through the air and spider webs everywhere. The changing of the seasons is a wonderful thing.
But for now? Let's enjoy the lazy, last days of summer! Which aren't lazy by any means by the way. Where did those lazy days go from years gone past? I'm not even sure it was in my generation.... or perhaps it's just in the south?
In our little orchard, the apples are starting to fall off the trees, one or two every couple of days are on the ground below, that once hung on the branches so low.
I had a leftover round of pie crust, waiting to be used. Turned out it was just enough to make this cute little apple tart. 🍏🍎
What's your favorite apple to eat and to bake with?
Giant berry, oh how I love you.
Your branches that hold you hang heavy with fruit and nourish my dry mouth while I'm out mowing the lawn or working in the garden. Every time I walk by your bushes I pick a handful and savor the sweet summer flavor.
You are beautiful, magnificent and amazing. Sweet, juicy, aromatic, shiny ,& the darkest purple, and oh so showy.
You are berry delicious!
Sunday, brunch day.
Too bad nobody drove by our house this morning, you could have come in and eaten with us..
I miss feeding all of our boys. Oh the memories and piles of food we went through. I want a do-over with them all again.
Buttermilk waffles, fried eggs, pan fried potatoes with red pepper, garden onions, & herbs. Chunks of #kerrygoldbutter on the waffles, and for old times sake, Mrs. Butterworth.
With the next few weeks of unknown in the food world, I'm getting my cravings and belly-love taken care of before takeoff.
Thursday was Chinese food, Friday was Mediterranean - The Greek fries from Gyro Stop are uh-mazing in my humble opinion. (I love their garlic sauce they smother their crispy-hot-well-seasoned fries with).
Tonight?... Pasta tossed with fresh, whole-milk mozzarella, spicy Italian sausage, roasted tomatoes, a splash of cream and gobs of fresh basil. I forgot to mention the 12 cloves of roasted, smooshed garlic.
Jack be nimble, my golly! My belly feels like it's already growing over my pants waistline and I have not even left our State.
Oh!!!! Be proud of me, pretty please. For those that know me well, I barely can plan a day out right in front of me. However, I actually picked out dates for cooking classes starting in September and October for the kids. Shocking, I know. I actually planned ahead and surprisingly it feels really good.
So for all you planners that like to get your calendars penciled in months in advance, the potential "save the dates" are under the kids in the kitchen page.
I feel as if I am finally coming up for air after a very long swim across the pool, catching my breath and feeling almost normal again. Whatever almost normal is for me. I guess that would be back to mowing the lawn, tending the garden, and all the other things that have not been done since last Thursday.
The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of family and friends, revolving doors of people at our home, what feels like a million grocery store trips, & lots of prayers. After we hosted the wedding festivities for Noah and Lauren, I was bored, haha, can you imagine me bored? (I think I need to paint my kitchen right now between weddings because I have nothing else to do).. so I did.
Have I ever mentioned to you that I don't sit very long? More than likely too many loads of laundry to count on three sets of hands, planning and executing the logistics of entertaining and hosting an outdoor wedding, and then preparing for hosting a rehearsal dinner for 30 at an Airbnb we've never been to... and attending a wedding on the other side of the mountains.
It's no wonder I forgot my clothes and packed weird things. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy our weekend away. Family,, a beautiful bride, cousins, friends, cute babies, babies in water, people eating food..( Walmart pizzas for rehearsal dinner) gasp... I did get several compliments on how delicious the pizza was and they could not believe it was from Walmart, haha.
Add some extra fresh veggies and a pile of fresh mozzarella cheese along with fresh basil and you have created magic from a box. I did not take many photos...So these are a random collection that is starting to surface from different guests at the wedding.
Our weekend of celebrating graduations and a special wedding on the other side of the mountains started yesterday. Tom and I packed up our car with everything but the kitchen sink.. not a single spot left for any extra people, full to the brim with stuff.
We were reminiscing about how we used to go camping over to Lake Chelan sometimes, 10 days at a time with our six boys. I can't even imagine, and barely can remember that we actually took on that responsibility! Seriously, the amount of stuff that Tom and I have in this car without any kids... Then thinking back to packing our suburban to the gills, piled high with kids and all their treasures.
Last night I opened my suitcase only to find three bras, two pairs of socks, two curling irons ( which I never use and for some reason thought I might need them this week) one pair of shorts two swimsuits, cowboy boots, a pair of sweatpants & t-shirt and nothing else. Remember, our car was loaded to the gills with food... Packing clothes was not the first priority apparently and food is always the most important. When you go on road trips, are you like us and digging into the snack bag 1 mile down the road or already wanting to stop at a drive-thru?
I did remember my dress for the wedding so there is that.. 😊 but Tom forgot his clothes for the wedding. I almost took a picture of my suitcase and it's contents... Tom and I were laughing so hard at what we found in my suitcase, I honestly do not even think I was thinking with a clear mind while packing... I've never been a great packer for vacation but this trip I have sunk to a new level of bad packing.
If you're reading this and you know bad guys that like to go in people's homes while they are away, please let them know our house is being cared for by house sitters- real live people and their German Shepherd.
If you're going on vacation anytime soon, start packing now, and really think about what you put in your suitcase, a checklist would be very helpful especially if you're over the age of 49.
Noah & Lauren
It's been busy, I MEAN a very busy couple of weeks with our family. We were honored to host our son and his brides' wedding. It was a small intimate celebration to keep it simple. Mostly because I was panicked about the weather, wondering if it would be lashing rain and no place for all the people to find shelter.
The rains were here leading up to the evening before- about 7:30 pm the skies cleared, showed their glory with a beautiful sunset and the promise of no more rain. Yeehaw!
You have no idea how relieved I was that the skies cleared for our special day on our property. (we all were actually). The set up began; the chairs were lined up in rows, pretty flowers were arranged, food was prepared, family was here to help and make it all happen.
About 75 close family and a few friends gathered to witness, celebrate and support our families with love!
Everything turned out perfect, better than the bride and groom ever imagined in their words "perfect in every way and more than we ever imagined". Lauren was a beautiful princess bride, Noah was the cutest with tears flowing down his cheeks from the moment he walked me down the aisle to my seat. He turned to see his first look at Lauren as she came around the corner.. it was such a tender moment to see your son filled with such emotion, joy, love, & excitement.
It was a joy to host this special day for our kids. It was now time to rest and gear up for the second wedding to happen in 3 weeks...
Cooking for a crowd- we planned for 75 guests at the wedding. The recipe I was inspired by was from Serious Eats. I changed up a few things to make it work for our feast.
"Real cochinita pibil is not spicy, but it has a uniquely sweet, earthy aroma imparted by bitter Seville oranges, achiote, charred garlic, and a host of other spices. That earthiness is backed with the herbaceous aroma of the banana leaves it's cooked in, along with smokiness from hours of slow cooking in a smoky, steamy píib (or, in modern Mexican Spanish, pib), the Mayan oven consisting of a hole in the ground lined with hot stones."
For the Marinade
1 whole head garlic, separated into individual unpeeled cloves
2 tablespoons lard or bacon grease
1/4 cup achiote annatto seeds or about 1/2 cup achitoe paste
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
3 whole cloves
1 3-inch Ceylon cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
3/4 cup bitter Seville orange juice, or 1/4 cup each lime, orange, and grapefruit juice ( I used the latter)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder- I had the butcher cut our large roasts into smaller pieces so more surface area would be covered in the marinade. I also always season my meat with salt and pepper generously before pouring the marinade over it.
Wrapping the pork in the leaves:
6 to 8 banana leaves
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
1 white onion, sliced
12 bay leaves
Heat oil or lard in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add achiote, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin, garlic cloves, allspice and cook, tossing and stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a blender along with the orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and a big pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with more salt. It should be quite salty and have a consistency like ketchup. If too thick, thin it with water until it flows slowly.
Pour marinade over meat and rub it in with your hands. Cover, refrigerate, and let it rest marinade overnight or up to two days.
Light 3/4 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals adding a few split hardwood logs and let them cook down for 30-40 minutes. You want the wood nice and hot with ash, not roaring flames. Once the wood is hot and has cooked down, set cooking grate in place, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
When the fire coals are good and hot, place the pork roast on a grate over the fire. Turn the meat as needed to get a nice golden sear on all sides. Once all the meat is seared, remove for the fire and bring inside for the next step in the cooking process.
Lay out 2 to 3 overlapping banana leaves on a work surface. Place the pork in the center and layer with some of the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and bay leaves. You may need to make 1 or two separate bundles depending how your pork is cut from the butcher.
Form a tight parcel by folding the bottom side up and the top side down, then rolling in the sides. Secure parcel with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining pork and banana leaves. It’s almost like wrapping a beautiful gift!
Transfer the parcels to a deep roasting pan and place in the oven, slow roasting for several hours at 300˚ It took our piles of meat almost 6 hours at this temp.
Transfer the bundles to a platter, or rimmed tray. Unwrap banana leaves and serve, shredding pork with two forks, soaking it in drippings, and stuffing it into tortillas with pickled red onions.