Fresh Veg Frittata

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So today’s recipe is brought to you in part by Jamie Oliver’s magnificent YouTube channel, FoodTube.  Seriously, you have to check his channel out.  It’s awesome and full of inspiration.

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I love this recipe because it is wholesome, fresh, and an absolute cinch to make.  Not to mention that you can have it whipped up in as little as 20 minutes, 15 if you work fast.

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I’ve kept the recipe loose and basic since the frittata is basically an Italian omelette, and open for loads of adaption.  My tip would be to use whatever’s in season and whatever you’ve got on hand.

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The basic recipe–6 eggs, salt, pepper, and some cheese to top it off–is truly a blank slate and I encourage you to think of it as such.  Go ahead and add in whatever your heart desires.  For my version, I used Italian parsley as the herb, broccoli and haricot vert as the vegetables, and a mix of crumbled feta and mozzarella for the cheese.  It was absolutely delightful.

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FRESH VEG FRITTATA

Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, crack in 6 eggs and beat with a whisk until just broken.  Add in a large handful of freshly chopped herbs (basil, Italian parsley, mint, etc.), a small handful of sliced spring onions, the juice of half a lemon, a generous sprinkle of sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper.  Whip it together well.

In a medium, oven-proof skillet, add in a knob of butter or drizzle of olive oil and set it over medium-high heat.  Throw in a couple of handfuls of chopped vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, haricot vert, sugar snap peas, asparagus, etc.) and season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Toss it around and then pour in the egg mixture.  Let it set over the heat and gently lift the edges as you begin to top the frittata.  Top the frittata with a couple of handfuls of cheese(s) (parmesan, mozzarella, feta, asiago, goat cheese, etc.).

Pop the frittata in the oven and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes, give or take.  It should be puffed and maybe a bit golden on the top.  Finish the frittata by topping it with a few handfuls of halved cherry tomatoes and a finishing sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve inside or outside of the pan with a fresh and yummy salad.

Serves 2-3 with a fresh salad

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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There are some really exciting things going on…  I’ll try to keep you posted as they happen.

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Until then, enjoy the sweets, sweethearts.

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BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

A combination of some of my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipes with my own additions and tweaks.  While the recipe is on the classic side with simply chocolate chips and no walnuts or pecans, I dressed up the flavour with my favourite–buerre noisette.  In addition, a key aspect to these cookies’ enigmatic chewy yet light texture is the combination of bread and cake flours.  This has definitely become my family’s favourite, and I hope it will become yours too!

  • 245 grams / 2  cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 245 grams / 1 2/3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 110 grams / 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 225 grams / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
  • 110 grams / 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned and then cooled slightly
  • 280 grams / 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 200 grams / heaping cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt.  Stir to combine and set aside.

In the large bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter with the unrefined cane sugar.  Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 5 minutes.  Dump on the brown sugar and cooled brown butter and mix again until thicker and fluffy, another 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Beat to combine, about 2 minutes.  Dump in all the dry ingredients and combine on low until just combined, about 45-60 seconds.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate chips.  Divide the dough into 2-3 portions and seal each portion in some plastic wrap (kind of flatten it out to make it like a disk) and chill in the fridge for 24-36 hours.

Once your dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and arrange the racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using two spoons (or a small ice cream scoop), portion the chilled dough into heaping tablespoon portions.  Using your hands, shape them into spheres.  Arrange about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.  Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Makes 36-48 cookies, depending on their size

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Peanut Butter Granola

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One thing that I seem to eat all the time, yet I’ve never bothered to post is a recipe for granola.  I love homemade granola–it’s great for snacks, dessert, breakfast, a meal…  It’s delicious stuff, and I am also a complete nut-butter addict.  Anywho, I’m keeping my post short today (I’m afraid that’s how most of them will have to go until things quiet down), so enjoy the pictures, dolls!

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PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA

Adapted from Cooking Classy’s recipe.

  • 100 grams / 1/4 cup natural chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown or muscovado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light honey, such as clover
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 200 grams /2 cups old fashioned quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine flake sea salt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter, sugar, honey, and salt.  Set over medium heat and warm until runny, about 3 minutes.  In a small bowl, pour in the oats; pour the runny peanut and honey mixture over the oats.  Using a wooden spoon, mix well until evenly combined.  Spread out on the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Once the granola is done, pull it out of the oven and sprinkle evenly with the fine flake sea salt.  Let cool completely without disturbing and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Makes 2 cups

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Pine Nut Paprika Houmous

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So today is the two year anniversary of happyspinach etc.  I really do wish I was more prepared for it (i.e., a cake recipe), but I just found out about it when I logged on to post this houmous recipe.  My blog certainly has come a long way since my first embarrassing post, and it has certainly been a long journey getting there.  I wouldn’t have stayed on that journey as long as I have had it not been for all of you and your continual support.  So thank you so much, darlings; I love you all.

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PINE NUT PAPRIKA HOUMOUS

If you don’t have access to pine nuts, you can easily substitute another rich and buttery nut, such as walnuts or Brazil nuts.

  • 35 grams / 2 heaping tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 430 grams / 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

In a food processor, grind the pine nuts until they form a nut butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Throw in your garlic cloves and grind with the pine nut butter until finely minced.  Throw in the chickpeas, cayenne, salt, paprika, oregano, basil, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Grind until smooth and, while the processor is still running, drizzle in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Taste the houmous, and adjust the seasonings as necessary.  Serve with crudité on a plate sprinkled with pine nuts and paprika and drizzled with olive oil.

Makes approximately 480 grams

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Baked Turkey Meatballs

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So the other evening I did something I’ve never really, really done a lot of before.  I worked in the yard.  And when I say worked, I mean worked. I teamed up with my mum to tackle the bushes and hedges with hedge trimmers and chop them down to size.  We trimmed and sculpted the little bushes into tight and symmetrical spheres, I flattened the hedges to a near perfect plane, and we planned what to do to better the yard even more.  And after all of that manual labor, I’m really impressed with everything we got done.  There’s still a lot to be done of course (namely chopping down the hedges even further), but our yard is going to be pretty spiffy.

The whole experience was thoroughly inspiring, and now we’ve got a whole lot of ideas of what to do with the remaining beds in the front yard and the surplus in the back.  The back yard is what I’m most excited about because that is where we’re going to be putting together a lovely little vegetable plot–bush beans, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppermint, spearmint, basil, etc.  And, since we’ll be growing these darlings from seed, they’ll be significantly cheaper and healthier than their grocery store counterparts.

But now let us move on to the topic of these incredible meatballs.

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These meatballs are amazing, easy to make, and surprisingly tender and flavourful for being ground turkey.  As a whole, ground poultry can easily become bland and overcooked, but that is far from the case with these fellows.  The zesty mix of spices, parmesan, tomato paste, and fresh parsley make bring plenty of flavor while the bread and egg help make a tender yet substantial ball.  And then baking them in the sauce really is the finishing touch–there’s no residual fat to fry them in, they cook evenly, and the sauce reduces to and incredibly rich tomato flavour.

While meatballs are traditionally served with some sort of carbohydrate–on top of pasta or between two slices of bread–I really find that these can readily stand on their own.

Enjoy!

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BAKED TURKEY MEATBALLS

Recipe from Joy Wilson over at Joy the Baker.

  • 6 slices whole grain or Italian bread
  • 160 milliliters / 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 915 grams / 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 40 grams / 1/3 grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cups tomato based pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with racks in the center and upper third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, tear up the bread.  Pour milk over and allow to soak for about 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the onions and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Add in the garlic and saute another minute.

In a large bowl place in the turkey.  Squeeze out any excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the turkey (discard the milk).  Add in the eggs, salt, pepper flakes, oregano, parmesan, tomato paste, and flat leaf parsley.  Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix everything together until evenly combined.

Pull out two 9 x 13 pans and pour about one cup of sauce into the bottom of each pan.  Using damp hands, form 24 meatballs out of the meat.  Each one will be about three tablespoons worth of meat.  Place 12 into each pan and top with a small spoonful of sauce.

Place the meatballs in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until everything’s bubbly and the meatballs are cooked through.  Serve with pasta or with a hearty green salad or just by themselves!  Leftovers will stay fresh wrapped well in the fridge for 4 days.

Serves 8-10

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Irish Soda Bread

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(photo credit: Mum)

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(photo credit: Mum)

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IRISH SODA BREAD

Recipe barely adapted from the fine folks over at America’s Test Kitchen.

  • 435 grams / 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 125 grams / 1 cup cake flour
  • 35 grams / 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/ 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 30 grams / 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 25 grams / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 360 milliliters / 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 10 grams / 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the center of the oven.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar.  Using your fingers, rub in the butter until thoroughly combined with the dry ingredients.  The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Form a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk.  Using a fork, mix the buttermilk into the dry ingredients until the everything is moistened.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it just comes together.  The dough will look scrappy and uneven, but that’s the idea.

Form the dough into a round loaf of about 6 or 7 inches in diameter and place into a large cast iron skillet (or a baking sheet lined with parchment).  Score a deep cross on the top of the loaf and place in the oven.  Bake until a nice golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.  The bread should sound hollow when knocked.  Remove from the oven and brush the top with the optional tablespoon of melted butter.  Let the loaf cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.  The bread is best enjoyed fresh, but will keep up to two days in a cool, airtight container.

Makes 1 loaf

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TeenPact 2014

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(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

To try to sum up a TeenPact four day class and political communication workshop in one post would be…  well nigh impossible.  So I’m not even going to try.

What I will say is that it was probably one of the most positively influential experiences of my life up until this point.  I loved it to pieces.

And instead of doing a journal-style post as I was originally planning, I think I’ll just do pictures and captions.  Or not.  I really don’t know.

Basically, I’m winging it.

Enjoy!

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(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

It began as a long walk after a long drive into a building of formidable size.  There, we were all immediately greeted with bright smiles and firm handshakes from the staffers before we started to mingle and get to know each other.  Then we settled down for the class. which soon had us all laughing with the staffers’ humorous skit of how a bill becomes a law.

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(photo credit: Ross the Boss)

A skit that had Sarah taking off her shoe as she got ready to beat Zach over the head with it, while “Senator Deadman” watched in horror (don’t worry, nobody actually got hurt).

Afterwards, we all broke up into committees and I ended up on the fabulous AF committee headed by staffer Christian.

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(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

Once we had all gotten to know each other by answering a variety of interesting questions, it was time for us to elect a chairman and clerk for our committee.  Much to my surprised delight, I was not only nominated for clerk but also elected clerk!  And before that my buddy Jonathan A got chairman!

As a committee, we got to discuss and then pass or fail bills that had been assigned to our committee during TeenPact legislation (TP Leg) first reads.  Most of the bills were of a serious nature, since all of us had been assigned to write up at least one serious bill (granted amendments could be [and were] made to add some humor).  But then there were the hilariously outrageous bills, like Kaitlin’s “All TeenPact Males (including staffers) Must Wear Kilts” bill, where lack of cooperation would result in makeup, manicures, pedicures, etc. Luckily for the men, that bill did not pass.

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(Christian acting as chairman and Sarah acting as clerk for TP Leg; photo credit: Giann)

Besides the excitement of TP Leg, we also got to listen to Senator Whatley, Senator McGillis, and Justice Moore speak!  They were all incredibly insightful, and I learned a lot listening to them talk.  And then there was the amazing fact that we got to go into the Alabama Supreme Court Courtroom to hear Justice Moore speak.  So it was majorly awesome.

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(Senator Whatley; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(Senator McGillis; photo credit: Giann)

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(the group in the Alabama Supreme Court Courtroom listening to Justice Moore speak; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(me getting to ask Justice Moore a question after his speech; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

In addition to all of that, we got to have TeenPact elections!  We were divided into four parties, and then the staffers helped the parties assess what their stance on certain issues would be, namely the coal mining industry in Alabama and the expansion of medicare under Obamacare.  Within each party, then, one person was elected to run for governor and two people were elected to run for two of the three senatorial positions.  When all was said and done, from our party, I was to be running for governor and Levi and Cody were to be running for the senatorial chairs the next day.

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(Sierra and Benjamin helping our party, the capitalist party, assess what our platform would be; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

We got back to camp and, unlike the previous day, we had a lot of free time to kill before dinner.  So what did we do?  Well, ultimate Frisbee, of course!

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(Christian in the middle of grabbing the Frisbee; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(Grayson and Levi going for the Frisbee at the same time; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(exhausted and getting ready for another round; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(tossing the Frisbee and doing some sort of strange Olympic ice skater flourish; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(the aftermath of barefoot ultimate Frisbee; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

But not only did we spend our free time over the next few days chasing a small, UFO-like disk, but we also played around on the mini golf course and shot some hoops (not that I actually shot any, haha).  And then we hung out in the game room for pool, Ping-Pong, and foosball.  One day Sarah pulled out her guitar and we proceeded to sing together!  And then we’d have good old fashioned hang out time.

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(Aimee and Kaitlin in awe; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(Kaitlin rocking at pool; photo credit: Giann)

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(guitar time; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

Sarah at the guitar

(Sarah at the guitar; photo credit: Ross the Boss)

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(Rebecca, Sarah, Arienne, and Jonathan M chilling on the fence; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

And then there was before-dinner hacky sack led by pro hacky sack player Mr. Crum.

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(photo credit: Sierra)

And then of course dinner time, which always abounded with delightful conversation!  Not to mention tasty noms!  I have to admit I was expecting some horrifying food, but it was quite good.

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(my lovely friends; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

And then sometimes we had to goof off and try to imitate Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” with our forks, because that is one hundred percent normal.

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(photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

Which was soon followed by a dart war from the other table (which apparently had been a staffer war all week according to Giann’s post, haha)!

Dart war victim number one

(dart war victim number one, Zach; photo credit: Ross the Boss)

After dinner we would head back to the cabins for worship services with Christian and Grayson leading us in song and Mr. Crum leading the service, both of which were amazing.  I have not felt that close to God in such a long time, and being there really helped to ignite my soul for Christ again, where it had been flickering dimly for far too long.  It also proved to be such an intense bonding time for us all as we were encouraged on the first day to share a moment where God had moved in our life.

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(Grayson at the guitar; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(Christian at the guitar; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(last night of worship together; photo credit: Sierra)

After session had drawn to a close, we were then free to hang out together until rendezvous.  Usually a large group got together to play “Do You Love Your Neighbor?” which would later break off into smaller games of wink, ERS, ultimate basketball (I know I got that wrong, but I can’t remember its name), more foosball, and music time with guitars.  And then, sometimes we’d just hang out and talk.

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(do you love your neighbor; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(wink; photo credit: Sierra)

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(so many smiling faces; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

And then after all the fun and games, we headed back to our rooms to get ready for bed and rendezvous.  Rendezvous was basically a time lead by two of the lady staffers where we would all talk about our day, whether it was the field experiences or Mr. Crum’s sermon or what we were looking forward to the next day.  Our rendezvous was lead by Sarah and Sierra, and I think it was definitely one of my most favourite parts of the whole event.  And what a perfect way to end the day–girl talk, prayer, and scripture.  And then the last night we had rendezvous, Sarah pulled out her guitar again and we sung our hearts out to “How He Loves Us,” “Oceans,” and more.

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(rendezvous time; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

And before I go on to talk about the gubernatorial race on Wednesday, I should probably explain the crutches in that picture.

Okay, so we were walking back to the cabin from the cafeteria for session.  It was about 6:30, so everything had gotten dark.  I had been a little behind, so I was trying to quicken my pace so I wouldn’t be late.  It was pitch black where I was walking–all I could see was the dim light several hundred meters ahead of me that illuminated the winding road–so I kept my focus on what I heard.  For a little while, I had heard a soft grunting, but thought nothing of it.  But then I stopped.  Everyone had previously told me of the wild boar that roamed the woods and warned me to not spend time outside at night alone.  My heart raced.  I had to hurry.  Within seconds, the grunting became more aggressive and the owner squealed.  I spun my head around to see a short and stocky shadow running after me.  In my fear, I tripped over my legs, twisting my right ankle.  I screamed and cried as the boar rammed into me.  My screams were heard by the group quite a ways ahead of me and the guys came running back, to beat the boar away and get me back to camp.

Not.

At.

All.

That was the story we came up with to make my clumsiness sound more exciting.

The truth?  Walking back to camp after dinner, it was dark and I tripped over some giant tree roots, bruising up my knees and twisting my right ankle in the process.  Even though that version is a lot less, well, dramatic, let me assure you that it was still pretty awful.  The pain was excruciating to the point where I couldn’t walk.  If it hadn’t been to the quick care of the staffers, parent chaperones, chefs, and my friends, I would have missed out on so much of TeenPact.

That said, I want to thank Mr. Mike, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Peaches, the chefs (I never got their names), Christian, and Brandon for their immediate help right after the fall.  They got me water, washcloths, bandaged up my foot, pain medicine, and then a van to get me back to camp–which ended up being more work than it should have been, but that’s all right.  And then a super big thank you to Sienna for re-bandaging my foot and to Aimee for sharing her pain-away essential oils!  And then  thank you to Mr. Crum and Grayson for helping to put together the plan to take me to the doctor and to Mrs. Celeste for taking me to the doctor.  Thank you to Mrs. Roxanne for driving me to and from the Judicial building so I could still participate in the field experiences.  Thank you to Jake and Zach, and then to Benjamin and Caleb when I went and, erm, tripped again and re-smashed my foot, haha…  And then finally a huge thank you to everyone for just being absolutely amazing and so supportive–you are all the greatest!

And now on to the gubernatorial elections!

So I found them to be exceptionally nerve-wracking, but really fun at the same time.  Basically, all four of us candidates (Jonathan A, Anna Leigh, Allan, and myself) stood up on stage (well, they got a chair for me, haha), while our masters of election, Hannah and Zach, asked us questions.  The questions ranged from relatively easy, our party’s stance on the expansion of medicare under Obamacare; to humorous, Disney princess you feel you relate to most; to challenging given the timeframe, whether justice or mercy is a the better trait in a leader.  In the end, though, it was up to our constituents to decide.

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(getting back just in time for the gubernatorial elections; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(hopscotching up the stairs onto the stage; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(answering those questions; photo credit: Giann)

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(masters of elections, Zach and Hannah; photo credit: Giann)

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(the four gubernatorial candidates post election; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

So who won?

Jonathan A!  And he made an awesome governor.

But what about the senators, you say?

Levi, Jordan, and Jake!

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(Jake, Jonathan A, Levi, and Jordan; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

And each one of them made awesome speeches the next day at graduation.  I mean, wow!  In less than twenty-four hours, they were all able to pull together some poignant and personal speeches.  Pretty darn amazing.

The next day, we had the aforementioned visit to the Alabama Supreme Court, and I got to participate in a prayer walk with the AF committee again (besides all of the other activities of the day, i.e. quizzes and more quizzes)!  I was beyond happy to finally be able to participate in a prayer walk with the committee again.  The previous day, I had to sit it out thanks to my ankle, but it felt so good to be with them again, even if it was in whipping, icy wind.

Still, though, that last day of the four day class had to end.  So after all of the (really awesome) speeches from TeenPact politicians, Grayson, and Mr. Crum; after being awarded with certificates for completion of the class; after numerous pictures; and after the TeenPact store was able to sell all of its Frisbees with the prospect of Christian singing One Direction, the four day class came to a close.  It was hard to part with so many of my newfound friends, but we exchanged contact information in the hopes of coordinating attendance at alumni events (by the way, guys, I’m going to NC and so should you).

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(with Levi; photo credit: Levi)

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(with Kaitlin; photo credit: Ross the Boss)

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(with Jordan; photo credit: Ross the Boss)

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(with Sienna later that night; photo credit: Sienna)

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(with Caroline on the first day and Jonathan A photobombing; photo credit: Ross the Boss)

Finally it was political communication workshop (PCW) the next day!  This amazingly insightful class, lead by Grayson, was something I’ve really needed, but didn’t realize that I did.  I actually really love public speaking and speeches and debating and all of that goodness.  The only problem with all of that is that most of it I only know how to do in theory–debate in particular (I will finally be trying to join debate club next year).  This class gave me the perfect opportunity to do some seriously thought-provoking improv.  And it was really fun!  Especially breaking off into teams to be biased news stations, haha.

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(Baxley, Kasey, and Sienna planning something; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(liberally-biased news team planning our skit; photo credit Mrs. Peaches)

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(Ellis was a pastor with 37 kids being interviewed by Christian S. on the conservatively-biased newscast; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

When the class ended, well, it was hard to believe that it was really over.  That it was finally time to drive home and resume my normal routine.  Before I went, though, of course I had to get pictures with all of the phenomenal staffers.  Seriously, you guys were top notch. (I did forget to get a photo with Hannah, so shout out to you! I will be getting a picture with you first thing at NC!)

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(with Christian and Grayson; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(with Giann; photo credit: Giann)

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(with Sierra; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(with Benjamin; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(with Sarah; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

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(with Zach; photo credit: Mrs. Peaches)

Overall, TeenPact was spectacular–the classes, opportunities, people, and the message.  You guys are the best!

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(photo credit: Giann)

Tarte au Citron et aux Amandes

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I discovered “Tiare Tahiti.”  It was the poem that made Fitzgerald change the name of his first novel from “The Development of the Personage” to This Side of Paradise.  When I read this poem, I got chills.  It’s real, it’s yearning, it’s melancholy, it’s passionate.  Il est crudité raffinée.  And the last two lines?  Well, I’ll let you read them yourself.

 
Well this side of Paradise! ….
There’s little comfort in the wise.
“Tiare Tahiti” by Rupert Brooke
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In other thoughts, I did some more French cooking.  Today, a richly flavoured, lemon treat.
If you like lemon desserts, then this is certainly the one for you.
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It rather reminds me of a glorified lemon bar.
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(I apologize for the shortness of this post–I promise that my next one is longer!)

TARTE AU CITRON ET AUX AMANDES

From lovely Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One.

  • 1 recipe pâte sablée, baked
  • 3 lemons
  • 175 milliliters / 2/3 cup water
  • 440 grams / 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 110 grams / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 115 grams / 3/4 cup pulverized almonds*
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • zest of 1 1/2 lemons

Remove the lemons’ yellow parts by peeling with a vegetable peeler.  Julienne the lemon pieces into about 1/16 inch strips that are about 2 1/2 inches long.  Place into a small saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 12 minutes.  Drain thoroughly and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the water and 440 grams of sugar.  Bring to a boil and heat until it reaches the soft thread stage, 230 degrees F.  Add in the vanilla and the cooked lemon peel.  Let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Beat the eggs and the 110 grams of sugar in a bowl with a whisk until the mixture is a thick, pale yellow and falls back on itself in a slowly dissolving ribbon.  This will take 4-5 minutes.  Alternatively, you can beat it in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment until it reaches the above criteria.

Beat in the almonds, almond extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Pour this mixture into the prebaked shell placed on a baking sheet.  Place in the middle layer of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.  The cream will be slightly puffed and golden and a needle inserted near the center will come out clean.  Slide the tart onto a rack to cool.

Drain the strips of lemon peel and artfully strew them across the top of the tart.  Boil the lemon syrup down until it is a glaze, about 228 degrees F.  Spoon a thing coating over the top of the tart.  This tart is generally served cold, but may be eaten warm if you wish.

Serves 6

*To make pulverized almonds, toss almonds into a food processor with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar until fine and crumbly.

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Pâte Sablée

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I went to camp and it was an incredibly deep and moving experience.  At the moment, trying to put together a cohesive post about it would be rather impossible.  In the interim, though, this song was probably one of the most impactful ones we sang during worship sessions.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
Hillsong UNITED, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
But moving away from the topic of camp and music and on to the topic of this pâte sablée, let’s just call it a precursor to my next French post.  Which is delicious.
Until then!

PÂTE SABLÉE

From Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One.  For tips on making the dough, see here; and for tips on rolling out the dough, see here.

  • 195 grams / 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 40 grams / 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 70 grams / 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 25 grams / 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, unsalted butter, and shortening in a medium bowl.  Using the tips of your fingers, quickly work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembled fine oatmeal.  Form a well in the buttery flour and pour in the beaten egg and vanilla extract.  Using your finger tips, slowly incorporate the wet into the dry.  Turn the dough out onto a marble slab and knead until it comes together.  Form it into a ball.

Using the heel of your hand (not the palm), smear the dough out bit by bit onto the marble surface and re-form into a ball.  This is the final distribution of the fat into the dough.  Pat it out into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or overnight.

To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly flour your work surface, roll the dough out, and place it in your 9 or 10 inch, false bottom tart pan, being sure to work quickly.  Line the tart with aluminum foil and pie weights or beans.  Place into the oven and bake for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough is set.  Pull the tart out of the oven, remove the foil and weights, poke the bottom of the shell with a fork multiple times, and place back in the oven.  Bake again for 8-10 minutes, until the tart is beginning to pull away from the edges and is lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and unmold to cool.

Makes 1 tart shell

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Buttermilk Country Cake with Crème Fraîche and Berries

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So I am a year older today!  That’s fun, isn’t it?

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I had a wonderful birthday full of fun.  I spent the afternoon in youth symphony rehearsal with some of my favourite friends and teachers, I went out to have a lovely oyster dinner with my family, I talked with out of state family members on the phone, and I enjoyed this lovely cake.  (Which I really think you need to make now, as it is one of my favourites.)

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BUTTERMILK COUNTRY CAKE

Recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, which is probably one of my all time favourite cookbooks.  Even if you’re not an avid baker, it is, in my opinion, an essential book to have on hand whenever you want to make a cake.  But not only cake–frostings and compotes and cremes and meringues and more.  She also spends a lot of time explaining the chemistry of her cakes and other recipes, which is a fascinating delight to read.

  • 4 large egg yolks (75 grams)
  • 169 milliliters / 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 200 grams / 2 cups cake flour
  • 200 grams / 1 cup unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 110 grams / 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • quick crème fraîche, to serve (recipe below)
  • fresh strawberries, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degree F with rack in the center of the oven.  Grease a 9 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and grease again.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the yolks, a quarter of the buttermilk, and the vanilla extract.  Set aside.

In the large bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and buttermilk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase to medium speed (high if using a hand mixer) and beat for 90 seconds to aerate the batter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Gradually add in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the spatula.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.  The cake should only shrink from the sides of the pan upon removal from the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto a greased wire rack.  To prevent splitting, re-invert so that the top is up.  Cool completely before serving.

When ready to serve, place the cake on a platter.  Top generously with crème fraîche (you might have some left over) and sliced strawberries.

Serves 8-10

QUICK CRÈME FRAÎCHE

Also from The Cake Bible (see above for link).

  • 355 milliliters / 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 120 grams / 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 25 grams / 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar

In a large mixing bowl place in all of the ingredients and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Pulling out beat just until soft peaks form when the beater is raised, or until if forms soft mounds when dropped from a spoon.

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(Rockefeller oysters)