Wednesday, August 13, 2014

my summer love (recipe: zucchini bread)

I love when I find a recipe and fall completely in love with it.  This is how I feel about the Zucchini Bread from this summer's issue of Cook's Illustrated.  It is light, moist, springy and delectably delicious.  I've made it several times this summer, taking advantage of summer's bounty.  It has been my dessert, a butter slathered afternoon snack, an accompaniment to my morning tea, and may or may not have met my lips in the midnight hour.  I hope you find yourself making this lovely loaf before summer ends and maybe it will become your Summer Love as well.

Zucchini Bread
yield:  one loaf

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, shredded
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
  2. Place zucchini in center of dish towel or layered cheese cloth.  Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible discarding liquid .  Whisk brown sugar, oil eggs, and vanilla together in medium bowl.  Fold in zucchini.
  3. Whisk flours, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg together in large bowl.  Fold in zucchini mixture until just incorporated.  Fold in pecans, if using.  Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Bake until top bounces back when gently pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 65 to 75 minutes.  Let bread cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes.  Remove bread from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.  Serve.
source:  Cook's Illustrated No. 129

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

32/52

It may seem strange to share a photo that looks filled with such sorrow.  As I was flipping through this series of photos this one seemed to pull at my heartstrings.  The struggles of being an only child quickly turns to the guilt I feel for you being just so.  I asked you about this particular photo and you said, "I was just bored."  Right after snapping this shot your next door neighbor peaked from the blinds in his bedroom and you waved.  Five minutes later you guys were upstairs playing like wild boys do.  Chin up my son, the world must be at rest some of the time and if you are patient enough adventure will find you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

31/52

You have a passion for the sidekick.  Robin, Luigi...you always want to be them instead of the main character.  You asked to have a "Robin:  The Boy Wonder" birthday party and we did.  It was a great party with many friends.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

that summer morning

While the little one was finishing summer's bible school I found myself perusing through the tiny little tourist hamlet that lies at the edge of the hill country.  After drop-off I hopped into the car and headed down River Road.  It was a quiet morning and the weekend tourists had not yet arrived.  The handful of weekday tourists were still asleep and finally, for once this summer I found silence within the town.
Cactus Flower at the summit of Prayer Mountain
I drove out to Prayer Mountain, a steep dome-shaped hill on the northwest side, and climbed it for my morning exercise.  Climbing steps, not actually cliffs and walls, but steps.  Prayer Mountain has a total of 220 stone steps, chiseled and made from man.  They are not perfect, some more steep than others, some needing a wider gate, needing the attention to avoid a busted knee.  And finally, once you reach the top, you can see throughout the valley-neighborhoods, the outlining of rivers and creeks,  the surprising green of the summer, haze and smoke from a few fires.  It is a lovely reward once you make the summit.  And so I took in the 360 view and headed back down, only to make a few more trips up until I was drenched by summer's humidity and my legs grew shaky and weak.
Blackfoot Daisy
I love losing myself in a drive.  No map, no GPS, just an innate sense of direction that I cherish.  I believe it is one of my valued natural skills.  I came upon a swimming hole and watched the water and families along the banks; brave and bold cliff jumping youths pressuring one another to jump from higher points, families dabbling their tiny tot's toes in the cool spring water and a group of older women soaking in their own fountain of youth perhaps.  Every milestone seemed to have congregated in that one spot that late summer morning.  And then the sun came out with a wild vengeance.
Gorgeous green waters of the swimming hole
Hungry and hot, I decided to go to my favorite little coffee shop on the square.  I found myself a corner, drank a caramel frappe, scarfed a breakfast taco, and took in some reading.  I was still thankful the tourists were still at bay and I could enjoy the slow paced town just a little bit more.  The day brought peace.  It was sublime.
Oh to be wild and free!
As the little one was climbing into the car the sky began to darken and the clouds grew heavy.  The air became unseasonably cool and it was then I knew that I had to take advantage of the break in the heat.  I drove to one of our favorite parks and watched him make quick friends.  They played soccer-volleyball, a made-up game that reminded me of how my husband used to use his soccer skills while playing sand volleyball in college.  The air chilled and in one swift moment it felt like autumn.  It was a most unusual summer moment to behold and it energized my spirit.  As I sat on a rock watching the improvisation of this newfangled game come into play it began to rain.  It was then I knew that that day, that summer morning would be my favorite this season.  May you find yours...
The stairs of Prayer Mountain

30/52


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

28/52

You finally made it to the other side.  I love your concentration in the photo.  You were so proud of yourself!  Not to mention, those monkey bars are somewhat difficult than others.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

summer orange iced tea

It felt like summer yesterday.  Not because of the heat, because the heat is always here in the hill country.  But yesterday the daylight seemed to linger longer, extending the day into extra hours. It was then, during summer's evening light, my husband and I decided to be the king and queen of the grill.  Chicken, flank steak, pecan wood, smoke and fire, it was all delicious and we were so very hot. 

As I walked into the house I poured myself a glass of orange iced tea.  The sun was settling into our kitchen window and the tea pitcher became a sun catcher, glowing in honey colored hue.  I really don't mean to speak poetically about iced tea but in that moment summer seemed perfect and the tea was even more splendid than the setting sun.