Monday, June 28, 2010

The Problem with June

Cherries. The problem with June is the cherries ~ lots and lots of cherries.

June always starts out hopeful, with recent memories of the beautiful cherry blossoms on the tree in our yard. When we peer upwards we see green, red, and then deep purple clusters of fruit hanging above us. Soon we spend our weekends like this:

But sadly, it doesn't last. Before long we spend our weekends staring at (and cleaning up!) the cherries that have fallen and are all over the ground. June is definitely a problem.

This year turned out a little different. What made all of the mess so incredibly worth it was the fact that a few weeks ago I made my very first cobbler. I had no idea how easy they are to make, and I will definitely be doing this again. We had a cherry-picking party, so those of us not climbing on the roof to grab for cherries pitted them on the ground instead. Once we had enough pitted I added a little sugar.

Then I baked them for about 30 minutes. I topped them with a simple drop biscuit concoction which I sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

The cobbler went back in the oven, and then before long it was half gone.

The recipe came from an America's Test Kitchen cookbook, and it was just marvelous. If only I had time to make one every weekend. If only I could make one now instead of sweeping up cherry remnants before they ferment on the ground. Afterall, this is why June is such a problem. But this year that cobbler saved it all!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bye, Mom!

"Bye, Mom! I'm off to the grocery store. . ."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Keepin' It Fresh

When I think of summer I think of backyard parties. In the last few weeks I was lucky enough to be part of two backyard parties, and each time my contribution was a batch of guacamole (along with my favorite homemade salsa).

Nobody batted an eye when I showed up with this:

Are you wondering what the brown things are? Let me explain. . .

I've long loved avocados, and especially guacamole, but keepin' it fresh is a real PROBLEM. There are all kinds of tips out there for keeping avocados from turning brown. One of the most popular methods involves squeezing lots of citrus juice on the avocado (which works great since I love the flavor of lime juice with avocado anyway). I find the citrus is just enough to keep the avocado fresh until it's devoured (not long in my house!).

When I'm saving part of an avocado until the next day, or when I prep guacamole in advance, I definitely need something more powerful. The best trick I've tried is to put the seed(s) back in the avocado. If I'm saving half an avocado in the fridge, I just leave the seed in. If I'm saving guacamole for later I save the seeds while I prep, and then I submerge the seeds back in the dip when it's finished. It looks a little weird, but for whatever reason the avocado stays super fresh this way. Then I remove the seeds at the very last minute.

Here's my latest guacamole recipe. It's smoky, full of flavor, and has a subtle spice from the Tabasco. Enjoy!

Party Guacamole
Serves 6-8 as a small appetizer
  • 3 avocados
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely grated on a microplace or minced
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 4 green onions, white parts only, minced
  • 1/3 cup Rotel canned tomatoes with green chiles (about 1/3 of a 10 oz can)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • Several dashes of Tabasco (3 or more shakes of the wrist)
  • Ground pepper
Cut open the avocados, remove the seeds, score them, and then spoon the flesh into a medium bowl. Add the lime juice immediately, then add all of the other ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed and the avocado has mashed a bit. Adjust seasonings, and serve.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


What a day! I am currently studying for the California bar exam, so pretty much every day is the same. I go to class, then I come home and study. Usually. Today was a little different.

First, class let out early. Very early. I decided to use the extra time to study so that I would have more family time this evening. Around 1:00 I got a call from my daughter's preschool teacher. She launched into a story about what they had been doing today. They were outside, then they came inside, then the kids laid down to rest, then. . . blah, blah, blah. . . and then my daughter walked over to the teachers and announced that she had a rock in her nose. That's right, a rock. In her nose. Deep inside her tiny, beautiful nose. A ROCK!!!

I was stunned.

It was clear that the teachers had no idea what to do, so I headed over to pick her up. She wasn't bleeding. She didn't seem to be in pain. Her only symptoms were that her voice sounded slightly funny and her nose was bulging a bit. Oh, and when you looked up her nose there sat the rock. (Still stunned, by the way!)

I made one feeble attempt to get it out with tweezers, but this mission was clearly way beyond me. Since she couldn't seem to blow it out, we headed to the doctor's office. My daughter seemed downright excited to visit the doctor. As I checked her in, she hopped about from one toy basket to another in the waiting room. Eventually I warned her to settle down so that she didn't knock the rock any deeper. Then I looked. The bouncing had actually knocked the rock a little lower. I ran for a tissue, and then had my daughter blow her nose as hard as she could. Once, and then again.

Suddenly my daughter took a big breath. Her expression changed. We both looked down, and there in the tissue was a giant black rock. This thing was enormous ~ a mini-boulder of sorts. OK, so really it was about the size of a marble. But it felt enormous in my hand. I remained stunned.

The doctor gave her a quick check and sent us on our way. Since then we've talked about NOT putting rocks, wood chips, bugs, or sticks anywhere they shouldn't go. We've discussed why my daughter decided to try it today. (She says she was playing. Sounds like fun, right?) We've even lectured the cat about why she shouldn't put things in her nose either. Once my hubby got home, he's been referring to our daughter as "Rocky" and humming the Rocky theme song under his breath.

One way or another I think she's gotten the message. And I'm still stunned.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Happy Place

Do you have a "happy place" in your life? You know ~ the kind of place you can go where nobody knows your name, but that doesn't matter because everybody there is so happy and friendly anyway? My hubby and I have recently discovered what may become our "Happy Place."

A few weeks back, on a Monday of all things, my hubby and I dropped our daughter at preschool and headed to Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a sleepy town about an hour away. We were seeking some really great beer and a fun outing, and boy did we get it. We headed to the Russian River Brewing Company, home to the famous beers Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. My hubby loves the stuff. In fact, recently he's been loving LOTS of beers. I guess it's his new hobby ~ reading about, shopping for, writing reviews, and doing cross-country exchanges of . . . well, really great beer. Beer has become a way of life around here and you'll probably be hearing more about it.

On this particular Monday, we had no idea that great things were underway in Santa Rosa. Lance Armstrong and the Amgen Tour of California were expected to roll through town later that afternoon. So we hit traffic. LOTS of traffic. And when we finally entered the Russian River Brewery there were no empty tables. But that didn't matter because we were in The Happy Place. Before we knew what had happened, somebody directed us to some empty seats at an already occupied table and we were sharing beers and stories with a room full of people. At Russian River everyone is an instant friend. There was pizza. There was beer. And there were many, many laughs.

As it turned out, at the very next table was one of my hubby's "instant friends" that he had made the last time he was at Russian River Brewing for the Pliny the Younger release party back in February. This friend is the cousin of one of my friends, so the connections ran deep. As luck would have it, this friend had two VIP passes for the race. Within an hour we were munching on mini-cupcakes, ringing cowbells, and hoping to spot Lance Armstrong from the swanky VIP tent. What fun!

Unfortunately, this adventure also included hours of traffic, a rain storm, and a broken umbrella. But we didn't care. Afterall, we had just left The Happy Place. Soon to return, I hope!
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