Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Recipe Roundup

We've been enjoying the bounties of summer gardens lately.  As much as I hate the heat, there's nothing finer than a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato in this Southern girl's estimation.    

Here are some things I've whipped up of late: 

I riffed on this Grilled Shrimp Panzanella with Basil from the August 2011 Real Simple and becuase I rarely leave well enough alone, I also added chunks of cucumbers, avocado, fresh oregano, and olives.  I used a green zebra tomato and some other variety that was small and red.  It was amazing. 

The components to be grilled

Doesn't look that pretty (certainly not as pretty as the magazine) but it sure was tasty!

I neglected to take a photo of this, but it was so delicious.  It made a wonderful, easy, no-cook supper one night when John was working (which is convenient since he doesn't like corn).  The lemonade vinaigrette is intriguing, but I like a tangy vinaigrette so I'd probably cut back on the sugar a bit next time.  Loved the crunch of the seeds.  I put a big scoop of mine over a healthy serving of these greens, which are a new favorite.  I get mine at Whole


My herbs have been really exploding so I used my thyme and some local honey to whip up these beauties from my kitchen crush, Deb.  John & I tend to eat late, after we get MKM to bed (which lately has been nearing 9 p.m.; oh how I miss the days of the strict 7 p.m. bedtime) so sometimes I like a little bite of something to bridge the gap when we get home from work.  This was perfect, and they were easy enough to whip up if you find out you have some last minute company dropping by.

I have also already made a huge batch of pesto for the freezer, just the way I like it.  I keep mine really thick, pretty much a paste (less oil than many recipes call for): a couple of healthy squeezes of lemon juice, fresh grated parm, toasted pine nuts and 1-2 large cloves of garlic.  Just enough oil through the top of the food processor to bring it all together but when I'm done with mine I usually have to end up scraping it out of the processor bowl.  I like to keep mine thick because that way it works great as a sandwich spread and if you need to thin it out to toss with pasta, some of the pasta water does that naturally and you don't end up with an overly loose sauce.  Also, when you store your pesto, either in the fridge or the freezer, if you leave enough room to put a thin layer of olive oil across the top before you seal it, this will help keep the pesto from turning brown.  I so love that bright green color, so I always do this!

In addition to the standard genovese basil, this year I also planted this spicy globe basil which has tiny leaves that are more delicate in texture, and I just use the stems whole (they are much more tender and not woody at all) and throw them in the food processor.  Obviously I like to have more standard variety on hand for chiffonades and other purposes, but I find myself using the spicy globe a lot lately.  You can just pinch the leaves off and use as it with no knife necessary!

For the kiddies, I recently made these PB&J cookies.  They actually have another name and are from my local Junior League cookbook, Seasoned to Taste.  In the book they are the Kids in the Kitchen cookies, but PB&J is what they are.  I sent them to school with MKM on Monday and by all accounts they were a hit.  I made mine totally organic (and luckily, no one has a nut allergy in his room right now) but I'm sure they'd be as delicious with store brand jelly and Jif. :)  If you want the recipe, email me {bkmaedelATgmailDOTcom}, but they are a pretty standard PB cookie recipe, make a small well in the middle and put a little dollop of your favorite jelly or jam in the middle & bake.

Next up, I want to try this Eggplant with Tahini & Honey, these grits with corn, goat cheese & roasted tomatoes, and sample this roasted peach lemonade while the crops are still plentiful and juicy!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fourth of July School Parade

{Otherwise known as Mitchell just wanted to be held}

His school had a little parade today and I debated about whether to go or not.  I decided to attend, but probably shouldn't have, becuase he cried for me to hold him as soon as he spotted me, and then cried really hard when I handed him back over to his teacher so I could return to the office.  Oh, working motherhood, I do despise you sometimes.

But I did get a few cute shots of either him or his classmates.  And isn't that the whole reason I subjected him (and myself) to that in the first place?

I think this is the only one of him that is remotely close to a smile.  Don't you just love Maddie's little ringlets?

The whole group of Bumblebees (I think that is their class name, not sure, as I just refer to it as the Toddler room or the young 2's)

Also, please note that Mitchell has on one red sock and one white.  The red one is part of a pair of Elmo socks that he got in his Easter basket from John's parents.  He hasn't cared to wear them once, ever, but this a.m. he wanted them on and I could only find one of them so hence the mis-matched sock.  Just not a battle worth fighting!

This one totally cracked me up.  Don't they just look thrilled to be there?

He held Maddie's hand for approximately 20 seconds and then immediately wanted to be held the rest of the time.  So much for marching!

With some of the teachers. The sweet blonde one behind M is his most favorite person ever, Miss Kristen.  She was his teacher in the Wobblers room and we hated to leave her when he moved up.  Not to worry though, she is a very reliable and frequent babysitter at our house!

We were treated to lots of songs and marching by the older classes.  They really got into it!

Happy 4th all.  Be safe & have fun!
Thanks to all who serve our country and keep us safe & free.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Nightingale Thursday edition

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

round button chicken


I had this arrangement at a recent fundraiser I hosted at home.  It was too gorgeous, but those lovely peonies just don't last long in our hot weather.  I have been pulling out the tired blooms and subbing in hydrangeas from the yard to make it last a bit longer!  White peonies, white hydrangea, coral roses, thistle, blooming curly willow, and eucalyptus.  And that urn is from Hobby Lobby, years ago. 


I attempted to recreate a gorgeous photo I saw in Bon Appetit's Summer Cooking Manifesto last month.  Mine is much messier and less composed, but it was so delicious.  What made me happy about this dish is what would probably drive some so crazy: I loved trying to cut everything into psued-uniform sizes, and laying it out in the dish.  I miss having the time that I used to have to really devote to something in the kitchen; with a little one underfoot my goal is usually speed over execution/presentation.  I used watermelon, yellow & red tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, mozzarella cheese, toasted bread cubes, and made a dressing from lime juice, jalepeno, basil, mint and olive oil.  This would be equally tasted just tossed in a bowl and dressed.


This is my child with his clothing hamper on his head.  Plus some yellow sunglasses his grandmother brought him.  I love the mind of a child!


I am part of a new group in town called the Nightingale Network.  We've been raising funds in the month of June to make the very first grant our local Women's Fund has ever made in our city, and tonight is the celebration event where the winner will be announced!  Three agencies are vying for the grant: a new community garden/farmers' market in a "food dessert" area of town; a life planning course for women who are single-wage earners in their household; and a Mom's Club program for uneducated expectant mothers.  All three are amazing choices and I'm so proud to be a part of this movement.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Park Playdate

We met up with up some friends on Saturday while M & I were in the 'ham for a wedding.  The kiddos ate their weight in fruit (peaches, watermelon & blueberries) and had fun playing together; the adults just tried to stay in the shade.  It was HOT!

The roster (in addition to us, of course): Erin, ML & CQ, Momo, Chris & Sinclair, and Rainer & Bitty

Mitchell dug right in to the watermelon

Initially CQ looks a litte wary of Mitchell; she warmed up and played, and ML reported that C told her Bitty & Mitchell were fun!

Doesn't she look like she is on a mission?

They all seemed to enjoy hanging out in this tunnel, eating their fruit.  I absolutely adore this image - it really captures their playful little relationship!

Watching those crazy Kendrick cousins

Mitchell was trying to get her to say 'cheese'

I love the blueberry muffin death grip.

I know you cannot see M's mouth, but I promise he's smiling.  His eyes squint up just like his mama's when he grins.

Momo & Sinclair were just chillin

And CQ was looking for "bugs" (they filled AE's bug house with sweet gumballs) and holding on to her blueberry cup very tight!

Fun times were had by all!  Thanks to all who came, despite almost all kids having slept poorly the night before.  I miss my friends & family so I treasure that time we do get to spend together!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mitchell Catch Up at 22 Months

So yeah, the star of our show hasn't had much press on here lately, huh?  I know that's why most of you read, if anyone is actually still reading this thing.  I post so infrequently these days, and for that I apologize, but the balance in life just really hasn't been there.  As I say all the time, we all do what we can.  I hope we can still be friends.  Marc posted recently about how much time it takes to prepare a post...I concur, and honestly that's one of the reasons I usually just don't post anything.  At any rate. 

Finally got around to planting my kitchen herbs
(they seem to be doing well, despite our Hades-like temps recently)

Here's what MKM has been up to of late:

Verbal Skills: the vocabulary continues to mushroom.  At last count, in March, he was well over 100 words and now he is able to speak in sentences.  The funniest thing about him though is his recall.  He will remember something that was said or explained to him long after the memory of the instance has left my addled brain.  Sometimes I have to have him repeat himself a few times before I can even figure out what he is talking about.  He also mimics frighteningly well.  We have to really watch ourselves now.  He can sing the full ABC song as well as Twinkle Twinkle (convenient that they are the same tune).  He also loves to be sung "Little Bunny Foo Foo (which he adds several extra 'foo' sounds onto) and the Shoo Fly song.  Still very into who people are, saying names of all his/our friends and we talk about Daddy being at the 'tadium a lot

"Mewon" is one of his favorite snacks

Some of his favorite phrases
  • "I hold you" - obviously, when he wants one of us to hold him
  • "I ____ (verb)" - he is big into the statement of the obvious, saying things to me like "I waffing (laughing), I color, I walking, etc. 
  • "Mitchell do it" - anyone who has ever met a 2 year old will identify with this
  • "Wook, mama, big truck" - he likes to point out every.single.truck we pass, which can get a bit exhausting when we are in the car for a long time.  There are only so many times to sound excited about an 18-wheeler.
  • "That right there" - this one gets used constantly while playing & eating; big fan of arranging and re-arranging things.
  • Dump It - without fail, if I give him something liquid, he will look at me with a hopeful look and ask if he can dump it out.  I guess he expects that one day I will respond in the affirmative.  Other than the random bucket of water I put out on the deck for him to play in, he's going to have to keep waiting on that one!
  • "Wike dat" - for the longest time, he would say "like that" if he liked it, or if he didn't.  He has started learning to put a no in front of things he doesn't like but it's still sporadically applied.
  • " 'sat?" - as in who or what is that - he asks this 80 jillion times a day
  • And everyone's perennial favorite, "why" has crept into our vocab.  Cue the tearing of my hair.

Whyyyyyy, won't my pictures display correctly?  I tried rotating this one 3 times.

He hates hates hates getting his nails cut.  It's like way past fussing and onto tortured sobs.  My mom kept him for me last month while I had to be out of town for work and the Lookouts were in town, meaning John was chained to the stadium.  Unless our magical nail cutter is around and then he's semi-OK with it.  Who might that be, you ask?  Erin.  If she is involved, he seems to be fine with it, so we have to schedule our mani/pedi sessions each time we are Birmingham.  Please do not ask my why this is.  He has just latched on to her as being the one who cuts his nails.  Last time we were headed down there, I was talking to him about it beforehand and I asked him who all we were going to see, and we were saying everyone's name.  All of a sudden he blurts out "Erin - nails."  I asked him if he wanted Erin to cut his nails and he said yes.  When I then asked if she could cut his toenails (which he truly hates having done) he exclaimed with a very enthusiastic "yeah!".  When I told Erin this story she said she loved the way his mind works.  So true, sister, so true.  From the looks of this photo it's a good thing we're coming for a visit...

Playing with a pull & peel Twizzler (didn't care a thing about eating them, but enjoyed pulling them apart); contents under nails at present include playground dirt and blue icing from a classmate's bday party.  He's a real catch.

We've been experiencing some novel behavioral issues in our household.  Mitchell continue to remind us that he's nearing the age of 2.  Some days even getting shoes on is a battle, becuase of the "I do it" factor.  We try to find ways for him to participate in the process, but sometimes you just cannot predict what is going to set them off.  So I've caved into letting him watch a few minutes of one of his little shows in the a.m. becuase I can dress him in 2 minutes flat that was, as opposed to chasing him around the room when he's not otherwise engaged.  It's not probably my finest parenting choice to date, but when you're getting yourself, a toddler and sometimes a husband out the door (and taking the dog out somewhere in there too), you do what you gotta do. 

Strawberry Summer Cake from Smitten Kitchen.  You should make this.  Soon.  So easy. 

Mitchell has had some less than glowing reports from school of late, but we're hoping part of that is growing pains from moving up to a new classroom right after Memorial Day.  He had grown very tired of his old classroom (although we LOVE LOVE LOVE his teacher from that room, she is our most favorite babysitter) becuase he was well past the age where he should have moved up and was just stuck where he was due to space issues at daycare.  They had a bit of a logjam in one of the older classrooms, which meant quite a few children had to stay where they were for longer than usual.  M's old room was 12-18 months (approximately) and he moved just before his 22nd month.  When you are talking about the developmental span between a 12 month old and a 22 month old (who is pretty advanced, at least when it comes to language) that is a huge difference and we were able to tell that he was feeling a bit stunted.  Plus, I think he was just getting tired of some of the kiddos in his class.  He's very happy to be back with his 2 buddies that have been there since he started at 3 months old. 

Here they are (upside down) playing at a birthday party.  What is the deal, Blogger?

Those others will be in his new room soon enough, but it was clear M needed a change of scenery.  Still, he's been a bit mischevious since he's moved up, but I'm praying that is just a factor of excitement and getting used to new routines (they walk up stairs to eat, sit at a little table where as before they had been in chairs with trays to limit movement).  They enforce the "walking feet" rule indoors, and Mitchell is the walking feet police.  He likes to remind me to use walking feet all the time (not that I run around a lot, but he tells me just the same) and points them out anytime we see anyone walking or gasp, running (as in for excersize).

And yet, here he is running with popsicle in hand.  At least he doesn't have it in his mouth, right?

I really do count my lucky stars all the time at how inquisitive and intelligent he is.  He has always just seemed to be in a hurry - he was huge when he was born, sat up at 4.5 months, crawled at 6 months and was walking by 10 months.  He's still that way...he just whizzes through life.  Please understand that I say none of this in a boastful's our reality and that's where I'm coming from.  I say this becuase for me, it's hard many days to sit down and appreciate the little moments, but I do try.  He's still so sweet and loves to hug and kiss (and invents lots of boo-boos that he commands me to kiss) but those baby traits are just melting away and he's becoming a big boy before our eyes.  It's fun, but I see why people talk about how much they miss thier children being babies.  I couldn't have appreciated it even this time last year because we were still in the throes of it, but even this short time later I really can identify.

Focusing really hard on some eye-cweam

He's 100% boy and we still call him Pig Pen with good reason.  He is very into climbing, being chased and general rough-housing.  Every time we are outside with Dixie he'll look at me with a gleam in his eye and ask if he can go running.  He loves to "dig-dig" in the dirt and is getting more into sports.  His daddy has been very deliberate about teaching him to go "boom" and swing his arm like he would a baseball bat, but by the looks of this it continues to be more likely to me, that he will be a catcher.  He's always been a squatter.

Again with the orientation - sorry.

In closing, this boy makes life so interesting and often, challenging.  But we usually have fun too.  My house is not very clean, my yard has been sorely neglected, and the dog has been walked far too seldom these days, but that is the life of 2 working parents I suppose.  I struggle every day with juggling it all, and I'll be honest that of late I've not done a great job, but I'll end with this little gem I plan to order for self-affirmational purposes very soon.  It's so true, at least in my world, which is what matters.  You know, to me.  Happy Friday, ya'll!