pearl and copper jar forest

I didn’t do any baking during the record-high temperatures this week.  Instead, I took to making a small and wintery indoor craft.  Inspired by Sweet Paul & Apartment Therapy, I made whimsical jar lids with plastic figurines, used jars, superglue, and craft paint.

Any empty jars you have will work: jam jars, cookie jars, baby food jars.  You could also use spray paint if you have an extra can and proper ventilation.  I used my Martha Stewart Pearl and Copper craft paint with a sponge brush.  In order to cover everything, I daubbed the paint on in three coats (brushing on just didn’t stick).  I imagine that first using a primer would make covering the lids and figurines much quicker, I just didn’t have any around.

Your jar collection can easily become an enchanted forest or a bustling color zoo; the possibilities are endless!  Use the finished jars for containing craft supplies, toys, or sweet goodies. I especially like my new birthday candle jar.

cherries & chickpeas

Those two! I cannot imagine my life without those women. Sometimes it’s funny to call them women, because we met right around the time we turned into teens. I am usually the one to bring up the fact that we are aging, but this time when we reunited, I felt completely opposite. Maybe it has something to do with happy and healthy futures? I am encouraged and just generally glad to have these special relationships.

So what do you snack on in the hot summer air? We had produce munchies and these totally addictive roasted chickpeas that Mary makes. I told her that I even prefer them to Chex Mix! Light summertime eating in the backyard is a fresh way to spend time chewing the fat without literally chewing the fat.

honeyed fig & onion dessert socca

Socca, wha??? Oblivious to this simple pleasure until recently, it is now here to stay in my eating life. Socca is a sort of flatbread made from chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is a dream, whether you have a gluten intolerance or not. I have found it in bulk at natural groceries, and in Bob’s Red Mill brand packaging at bigger stores. It’s one of the less-costly wheat flour alternatives and packs a protein punch.

Socca is nutty in flavor, crunchy in parts, springy in others, and an altogether savory pancake. Good olive oil is key to the flavor, which is certainly at the ready in Nice where you can buy socca on the street (add that to my South of France daydream). Though traditionally eaten hot out of a cast iron skillet and sprinkled with crushed black pepper, I eat it all kinds of ways. The other night, topped with with figs, onions, and honey, it was dessert.

How did this dish come together? My friend Mary introduced me to the cookbook Bean by Bean, which I have been wearing out since I checked it out of the library, and my friend Drew got me thinking about roasted fresh figs after posting a FB photo of a mean looking peach prosciutto pizza made by his talented girlfriend. Which reminds me, this socca could also be an incredible main course: just add arugula, prosciutto, and cheese (taleggio, chèvre, or gorgonzola) to the onions and figs.

Caramelized Cinnamon Onion Spread

Slice one onion and place the raw onion rings in a pan on medium heat with a few tablespoons olive oil.
Sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
After a few minutes of cooking and stirring, turn the heat down to low and cover the pan.
Let the onions caramelize for about 20 minutes (they will become translucent and some will turn brown and crispy).
Puree the onions in a food processor or blender to make a spread (you may need to add a bit of olive oil).

Socca Adapted from Crescent Dragonwagon’s recipe in Bean by Bean
1 cup chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour, besan, gram, cici, chana flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450-degrees (be sure the oven is up to temp. before putting the socca in to bake).

Sift together the flour & salt and whisk in 1 2/3 cups water and 1 tablespoon olive oil until smooth. The batter is thin and a bit bubbly.

Place a cast iron skillet on medium heat. When it’s hot, pour 1/4 cup olive oil on the bottom. The oil should ripple with heat but not smoke.

Give the batter one last whisk and pour into the skillet of hot olive oil (it will pop and sizzle!). Using a pot holder, place the skillet in the oven.

Bake until the edges pull away from the pan and the bread is golden and the top is firm, 25 minutes. Spread onions over the socca and place sliced figs on the top. Bake for about 5 more minutes in the oven.

To remove the socca, run a knife around the edge between bread and pan, and it will slide right out. Slice or break apart and serve with drizzled honey.

a faerie petal pond

My niece loves to make bouquets from my mom’s flower garden. This time, after she made two wee bouquets in vases, I filled up a glass bowl with water. She plopped her roses in there and began making “faerie lily pads” with the petals. I think she played for at least 30 thirty minutes at the table in that faerie pond. How enchanting.

neon lips straws

My niece is visiting this week, and we are doing special things together like going to the movies with grandma, visiting great-grandma’s house, and taking fancy drinks to the park. I once saw mustache straws and thought it would be fun for us to make something like that to put in our fancy drinks.  We made these simple summer lips straws using hot pink card stock and neon bendy straws (how handy that the diameter of my hole punch is exactly the diameter of the straws).  The lips template is here in case you want to make some too – just click on the image, print, cut, punch, and slide on straw.  You could even encrust them with glitter for extra shimmer.  Tonight we are going to eat spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and watch Lady & the Tramp!

anything is possible

Guess who had the most customers at my sister’s garage sale? That’s right, the 6-year-old selling lemonade and cookies. My nephew is quite the little businessman. He even made sure to charge more for chocolate chip cookies because, “they are most popular.” My favorite transaction was when a neighborhood man asked him if it was possible to get one butterscotch cookie and a large lemonade. My nephew replied, “of course, ANYTHING is possible!”

shipshewana shops

Yesterday I had a pleasant afternoon puttering around the shops in Shipshewana with my mom. It was just a little over 70-degrees outside, with enough breeze to hear the outdoor windmills and wind chimes keeping beat with the clip-clop of horse hooves.