Monday, September 29, 2014

Cupcake Liner Flower Crown

Aren't flower crowns the perfect addition to every party?

They go with so many themes - fiesta, princess, fairy, renaissance fair, hippie, garden.... I could go on.

After checking the internet mall for made-by-someone-else crowns, and finding them much too expensive for our budget,  I decided to make my own.

I was inspired by these flower lights from Oh Happy Day -

And this flower crown from Mama. Pappa. Bubba. -

So I packed up The Bean and we headed to the craft store. I quickly decided that a ribbon base for the crowns wasn't going to be a good idea on wiggly one year-olds. But pipe cleaners could definitely hold on to small noggins.

Sequins were also ruled out - she'd totally eat them. So that's when the Oh Happy Day flowers looked like a good fit.

So really - I created my own style of crown that looks nothing like either of the ones I have pinned on my Birthday Board. Hah.

Is anyone surprised? I think not.

To start, gather your colorful cupcake liners. I used both regular size and mini. And pipe cleaners of your color choice, scissors, and a needle.

Turn the liners inside out, so the color is on the inside. Next, take some scissors to them. Leave some full size, cut some down to smaller circles, fold and cut petals of various shapes. Experiment and see what shapes you like.

Now assemble your flowers. Since my crowns are for small heads, I only needed 5 flowers per crown. For bigger heads I'd do 7 or 9.

Once your flower is completed fold it in half, then half again, then half again. Use a sharp needle to poke a biggish hole a 1/2 inch from the pointy tip. You need the hole to be large enough that you can get the flower on the pipe cleaner.

Jam the pipe cleaner through the hole - a tight fit ensures that it won't slide around.

Open up the flower and crinkle the petals as you like. Repeat for each flower.

I fit three flowers on one pipe cleaner and two on the other. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaners together to form a crown that fits your head. Pipe cleaners are easily adjustable, and you can even attach ribbon to the back if you want.

So many options!

(The Bean was very interested in our sprinkler system. It was the only distraction that would keep her from immediately ripping the crown off her head)

Well, that didn't last long.

Her friend E, though, loved her crown. And by loved I mean was distracted enough by playing that she didn't notice she was wearing one...

Isn't she darling??? 

If you make one (or 10), I'd love to see them. Post a comment or link below!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Bean's Birthday Fiesta

On Wednesday we had our little family celebration (and I had my emotional rollercoaster ride).

On Saturday - we fiesta-ed! With some super fun friends.

And it was good.

Poofs were made via Martha's tutorial -

Funfetti cake from Molly Yeh -

And tutorial for the flower crowns coming soon - hint: cupcake liners.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And Now We Are One

I'm going to try to write this without audibly sobbing - or laughing for that matter - since an exhausted young lady is currently sleeping on my lap.

I know this blog is a lot about food, but it's also a bit about life. My life. And the lives of three people who eat regularly at our table, along with the friends and family that gather with some frequency.

And as such, it is my duty to inform you that today is a special day. A day that, as cliche as it is, changed the course of my life but one year ago. The Bean is one. One. One whole year. One of what I pray to be many - maybe even a hundred. 

She came. She took my breath away and also took every ounce of energy I had. She took my sleep, and sometimes my sanity. But she gave, too. She gave me smiles, giggles, snuggles. She gave me her trust. She gave me the opportunity to reach into the very depths of my being, my soul, and discover who I am. 

I've often heard the phrase "having a child changes you", though I'm not quite sure that that's right. Having a child reveals you. It reveals your strengths and weaknesses. It reveals your vanity, jealousy, and selfishness. It reveals your kindness, patience, and love.

This child, in her first year of life, has learned to hold her head up, sit up, crawl, and walk. She eats, sleeps, and makes audible noises that have meaning. Perhaps not at the same pace as her peers - or as the mommy blogs said. And definitely regardless of any vain-pride, disappointment, or inadequacy that I felt. And boy, did I have those feelings.

I questioned myself and my God more in the first year of her life than in the previous 28. But in doing so I learned so much about all three of us. My God is there - when my milk never came in and I spent months feeling depressed and inadequate that I had to feed my baby formula. My God is there - in the quiet moments when life was so full. My God is there - when my husband was far away for work and my child vomited (for the fifth time that day) on my last clean shirt, soaking me all the way though. My God is there. Of this I am sure.

I am strong. With His strength. She is strong. With His strength. We, as a family, are strong. By His grace. And it's taken me pretty much this whole year to figure that out.

So on this day, I celebrate her. And I celebrate all that she is in my life. It has only been a year. I am so looking forward to all the rest of them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Persimmon Pudding

Summer flew past faster than the birds that ate all of our figs.

When The Bean was born, Mr. S and I made the decision to prioritize family. All our family. Even the ones that didn't live near us - which is practically every single relative we have.

This meant trading our typical summer activities of short-term missions to the far reaches of the earth for the familiar places and beloved people that we have for far too long neglected.

Mr. S has his familial gathering spot in a cabin in Maine - more on that in the previous post. But my family roots are firmly grounded in a farm house with white gingerbread trim, deep in corn country.

More specifically, in the kitchen of that house. It's where meals were cooked, conversation shared, and hearts filled.

I have so many memories that take place in this room. Card games late into the night, making (and ruining) meringue for the first time, Chirstmas breakfasts, sneaking treats.... I could go on. 

But now we're all a little older, and things aren't quite exactly like what they were. Including this pudding. This recipe came out of Grandma's recipe box, but it's different from what I remember. It's still delicious though - in fact most of us agreed that we liked it better than the original. It's a British pudding, in that it's a cross between a cake and what we think of as pudding. And it tastes a little like gingerbread. It's delicious.

Grandma has several American Persimmon trees growing between the two white barns near the house. These are a far cry from the Fuyu or other varieties you typically come across. They are smaller, and you have to wait until they are super mushy and fall from the tree before they are ripe.

This year's batch is just starting to ripen, so I used pulp Grandma had frozen from last year for the pudding. Just helping make space for this year's crop. I'm so considerate.  

Persimmon pudding is truly the taste of autumn. Once you eat it, you're in the mood to wear flannel shirts and walk briskly. Trust me. I know.

First up, persimmon pulp goes into a large bowl. How do you get pulp? Put the persimmons through a food mill. Or get it from grandma's freezer.

In a sifter, add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and pour in the melted butter.

In three additions each, alternate mixing the wet and dry ingredients into the persimmon pulp.

Pour into an extremely well-buttered 9x13 pan. The recipe calls for an 8x12, but adding an inch doesn't hurt it one bit.

Yes, I know it doesn't look appetizing, but just wait until it's done!

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center puffs up and it jiggles like jello. Serve slices, warm or cool, with good vanilla ice cream.

Pretty soon the only things left on the table will be these:

Persimmon Pudding

2 c persimmon pulp
3 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 c whole or 2% milk
1/2 c melted butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Dump persimmon pulp in a large bowl. Add all dry ingredients to a sifter. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, milk, and butter. In about three parts, alternately add and beat in the wet and dry ingredients to the persimmon pulp.

Pour into well-buttered 9x13 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until jiggly and not wet.

The Bean with her Grandma and Great Grandma

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Bread

At the end of July, our little clan took a long plane ride across the country. We ended up on Ripley Neck, a tiny little peninsula that juts out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was glorious.

The peninsula is technically part of the state of Maine. Which means I ate more lobster over the 7 days we were there than I'd ever eaten before. It was glorious.

We stopped for our first lobster roll about 30 minutes after we climbed into the rental car. Mr. S was so excited. He knew exactly which shack he wanted to patronize. We even let The Bean have a bite of the crustacean goodness (don't worry, she's not allergic to shellfish). And this was her first response. It was hilarious.

About a half second later she had her mouth wide open for another bite. Then, because I'm selfish with my shellfish, I switched her to French fries. She didn't mind.

The reason behind the trip is that Mr. S's grandpa, Art, and his wife Charlotte summer in the family house on Ripley every year. And in the nearly 5 years I've been married to him, Mr. S has managed to not schedule in a trip to Maine. He's totally been holding out on me!

Needless to say, we're definitely going back next year if I have any say in the matter. 

I mean, lobster! Blueberries! Lobster!

Did I mention the lobster?

Mmmmm. Lobster.

Mr. S's family came along for the fun too. The Bean's Grandma and Grandpa, plus the Monk and the Poet. (We have the most interesting extended family ever)

(The Poet is taking the photo)

Great grandpa Art and great grandma Charlotte were wonderful hosts, even providing Bean-watching services while she napped on the daybed.

Charlotte, a visual artist in her own right, also dabbled in the culinary arts while we were there. Including the lemon bread this recipe is based off of. Hers has walnuts, but no blueberries. Which I consider nearly a sacrilege, seeing as there are blueberries EVERYWHERE up there. I'm not kidding. They grow like weeds.

So, with great apologies to Charlotte, here is a Blueberry Lemon Bread. The way it always should be when one is in Maine.

Add all the ingredients to the bowl, reserving 1/4 c sugar, 3 tbsp lemon juice and the blueberries.

Whisk vigorously until smooth.

Add blueberries. Stir gently.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake.

Mix sugar and lemon juice, pour on finished bread.

Remove from pan after glaze soaks in.
Just TRY not to eat it all in one sitting!

Blueberry Lemon Bread
Adapted from Charlotte's recipe

1/3 c vegetable oil
1 c & 1/4 c sugar, separated
2 eggs
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp & 3 tbsp lemon juice, separated
1 1/2 c flour
1 c milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c Maine blueberries (canned, frozen or fresh)

Preheat your oven to 325. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the blueberries, 1/4 c sugar and the 3 tbsp lemon juice. Add in blueberries (drain if using canned) and stir gently. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and cook for 70 mins, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Mix together remaining 1/4 c sugar and 3 tbsp lemon juice and pour over warm bread while still in pan. Wait until bread cools to remove from pan.