Summer Recap

Holy smokes!

Hello!

I still exist, and I’m happy that you do too. We had an action-packed, relaxing, invigorating, magical summer. Hence the silence on my part.

Umm, apparently June 4th was the last time I visited here, but I swear it was only two weeks ago.

For real, June 4th?

Don’t worry, I’m not sorry at all. I soaked up every ray of sun, every giggle, every trampoline flip and fish caught. (Well, I ate the fish rather than absorbed them.) I just couldn’t remove myself from life enough to post about it, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

Now that fall is settling in and the mornings are chilly, I feel like we’ve slowed down a bit.

Want to look at my summer?

Emmett Cake

Collin turns 9!

The boy turned 9!

I got my hair cut. (You’re so excited, I can tell)

I caught my first real fish! (I caught a fish once when I was 16, but it was teeny and we didn’t keep it.)

Driving!

Father and Son

Sunset Fishing

We drove boats. And played in boats. And fished from boats. And tried to ski behind boats.

Boats. Lots of boats. Can you tell that I’m obsessed with boats? I would totally live in a boat.

We went zip-lining.

All of the cousins were together for the first time ever.

My first rodeo. For real

I went to my first rodeo! Can you explain to me how I’ve been in Montana for my whole life and never once been to a rodeo?!?

My first real beer

And you guys! I drink beer now! This is a thing! I can’t even tell you how happy this makes my husband. You know him? He’s the homebrewer that I talk about all the time. Don’t worry, beer drinking was completely my decision. And in case you’re wondering  whether or not I was replaced by a pod-person, I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll ever, ever, drink an IPA. Ick!

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Daisy

Clouds

Eagle

Loons!

Inspecting the lines

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So as you can see, I was busy.

How was your summer?

Travel Food

Blueberry Muffins

I’m going on a road trip this week, and I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I’ll be performing “Views from Grandma’s Porch” with Bare Bait Dance, a fantastic modern dance company right here in Montana. I get to hang out with five of the loveliest ladies you’d ever meet, and dance till I drop.

Don’t you dare pinch me if this is a dream!

Because our schedule will get a bit hectic here and there, I’m going to be bringing some homemade snacks to get me through our techs and workshops. I was trying to think of what would be easy to make, easy to throw in a dance bag, and not be heavy in my belly.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Blueberry Muffins
From Good Housekeeping
makes 12+ muffins

1 cup oats, processed in a blender until mostly uniform in consistency
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, see the notes below)
3 tbsp olive oil (or substitute unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin tin with liners or non-stick spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl until fully mixed.
In a smaller bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk, then add the remaining wet ingredients.
When everything is almost fully incorporated, add the blueberries and fold them into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and then bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into a muffin’s center, and the tops should be golden brown before you remove them from the oven.

Blueberry Muffins
So quick!

Blueberry Muffins
So easy!

Blueberry Muffins
So delicious!

Blueberry Muffins
And pretty.

If you don’t have any buttermilk
Blueberry Muffins
Simply pour 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of milk into a bowl, and then add 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Let that sit while you prepare your dry ingredients, and you’re good to go!

So, what else should I make for my trip?
Blueberry Muffins

Winter Brew Fest

Missoula loves to celebrate. Especially when it comes to beer.

So twice a year we have a Brew Fest to celebrate all the local and regional brews we have access to.

Beer

Unfortunately, I don’t like beer.

At all.

This wouldn’t be so bad if my husband weren’t a home brewer.
White Wine & Fruit
I like sangria. And wine soaked fruit when the sangria runs out.

Even still, I’d never miss a Brew Fest.

I like going for the people,
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the food,
Cajun Style
Alligator(!) bites, grit cakes, and beignets.

and the opportunity to bring the family.
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Brew Baby

And when the news crews show up,
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you know you’re in for a good time.

Thanks Missoula! Can’t wait for the summer Brew Fest!

How to make friends at parties in 8 easy steps

Step one: Roast a head of garlic and a red bell pepper.
Comment repeatedly about how the roasted red pepper looks like a flower.
Vegetable or Flower?

Step two: Find a brie baker.
This one was made by my very talented mother in law. If you don’t have a brie baker, or a very talented mother in law, any oven safe container with a lid will work.
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Step three: Place brie, garlic, and sliced red pepper into the brie baker. (You can remove the brie shell or leave it on. We prefer to scrape most of it off.)
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Step four: Bake the brie at 350F for 10-15 minutes.
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Step five: Remove the brie from the oven. Do not inhale! (It’s really hot)
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Step six: Ogle the baked brie. It smells like cheese heaven. Then tell everyone again how much a roasted red pepper looks like a flower. Show them the pictures as proof.

Step seven: Serve with homemade baguette. (Or, if you’re not a foodie dork like me, buy a really high quality baguette, slice it up and just tell everyone it’s homemade. When they ask for your recipe, tell them it’s a strictly guarded family secret. Or you could give them my recipe. Either way, your secret’s safe with me.)
Apple Pies

Step eight: Bask in the glory that is baked brie. Try not to let it go to your head when everyone raves about how amazing it is.

Friends will be made, and food will be eaten. Done and done!

Summa

I can’t admit how much it saddens me that summer is almost over.

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Hold on, yes I can. And I’ve been telling everyone for the last week.

So rather than focusing on how dark it’s getting in the mornings/evenings, and how much I hate being cold, I’m trying to squeeze every last drop of summer onto my vitamin-D soaked skin.

I’m taking advantage of weekend festivals and farmer’s markets.
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We’re eating shave ice and watermelon for lunch.
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We got a dog!
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Because what says summer more than taking your dog to the river to make friends?
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We are totally in love with Britta! She was a stray, in line for euthanasia before an absolutely lovely woman introduced us. If you’re even thinking of adopting a dog, I’d highly recommend driving over to Corvalis and visiting the MT Companion Animal Network.

I know that fall can be lovely,
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but I’m just not ready to give this up!
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How are you feeling about the end of summer?

The Best BBQ Garnish

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Tasty, easy, fast, and cheap! Plus, people seem to really enjoy it. I get requests for this recipe at just about every summer function with my family.

It’s macque choux! (Pronounced mock shoe) My sister and I cooked at her house on the 4th of July, and other than heating up the kitchen a bit, it was no sweat.

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I love your cutting board, Amanda!

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I can almost make Macque Choux in my sleep–heat up olive oil, saute onions,

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add red bell pepper,

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and garlic,

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and corn,

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add more tasty things like tomatoes,

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and green onions,

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then season,

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season,

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season!

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Am I dreaming about cayenne?

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Totally.

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I like to shovel it in my mouth before anyone notices. Then I pretend like it needs more salt or cayenne, and then I need to taste test it again.

Naturally.

Macque Choux
adapted from Eating Well. This recipe makes enough to feed an army. Feel free to modify as needed. But you might regret not making more…

sesame oil (or olive oil) for the pan
1 large onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cans of fresh corn, some of the liquid reserved (if you have time to cut corn off the cob, you’re awesome)
1 tomato, diced
6 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp freshly chopped)
1 1/4* tsp paprika
1* tsp salt
3/4* tsp cayenne
*Use less or more, depending on tastes

Heat sesame oil in a large pan. Add onion and saute until soft and opaque. Add red bell pepper and garlic, saute until the peppers are tender-crisp. Add the corn and some of the canning liquid to keep things moist (or water if you used corn from the cob), then saute the mixture for about 5-7 minutes more.
Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Taste often to make sure everything’s just the way you like it.

Serve with chips, over barbecued chicken, as a side dish, or garnish to your burger. Basically, just get it in your mouth!
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More summer bbq recipes coming soon. Until then, I’ve got my mouth full.

Skillsets

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Yep.

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Yep.  Mmmhmm.

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Yeah.

I’ve made cakes before. Delicious, moist, fluffy cakes. Sometimes with frosting, sometimes glaze, sometimes with just a dusting of powdered sugar.
But I’ve never made a layer cake.  And we all know that presentation isn’t my strong suit.

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I’ve always wanted to do it–try my hand at making things look as pretty as they are delicious.
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I’m getting better at it, but when it matters, when all the money’s on the table, I call in the master.

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The man with a vision (and that whole spatial-awareness thing that I never got).

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The man who can freehand the Bat Signal.

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The man who can take my lopsided, haphazardly frosted (but delicious) cake wreck and turn it into art.

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So that when it matters,

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When it’s important,

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No one remembers that it tilted to one side.

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They remember the sweet Batman cake. And the even sweeter birthday boy.

Thanks for working on Father’s day, Nick. You make Batman proud.