fabric apple favors

For the party we had for my folks last week, we wanted to send our guests home with something cozy and fallish. What says that more than a pouch of fragrant mulling spices nestled inside of a fabric apple? My sister sewed the apples while my niece and I measured out spices into cheesecloth pouches (the apple template came from a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book). We finished them off by tucking in a recipe for spiced cider and a cinnamon stick for the stem. After the spices are used, the apple pouch can be stuffed with anything and tied up for decoration. I don’t know about you, but I could smell some mulled cider or wine everyday for the next four months.

peach wontons with browned butter whiskey sauce

Here’s another recipe where the measurements are up to you. Ingredients: fresh peaches, brown sugar, wonton wrappers, butter, and whiskey. Once the peaches are sliced (or diced), sprinkle them with brown sugar (I used smoked demerara sugar, but brown sugar is also good). Place the peach mix on top of wonton wrappers. Fold over and pinch edges together using water or egg white as adhesive. Fry one minute on each side in hot oil. Drain and cover with powdered sugar or browned butter whiskey sauce. To make the sauce, brown some butter on the stovetop, then whisk in some whiskey and brown sugar. Cook till it reduces to a near caramel state and pour over tops of fried peach wontons. Voilà: crunchy dough, spiked glaze, sweet steam, and warm August peaches, intersecting in one juicy wonton bite.

celery date salad

Last week my mom spent a day researching the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington at the library where I work, so we had a lunch date downtown!  We walked to a sit-down restaurant where I ordered a falafel with a side dish of celery salad. I enjoyed so much of that chunky crunch that I made up my own salad at home based on the combination of flavors on my lunch plate that day.  It’s a great dish to prepare on a night when you crave the catharsis that accompanies chopping vegetables, and now every time I eat it I will remember the intrigue of Mary Custis Lee and that fun lunch.

For the salad:

Chop up celery, dates, and red onions.
Whisk together apple cider vinegar and honey.
Toss it all real good.
Sprinkle crumbled feta over top.

Turn a side dish into a meal:

Add crispy bacon and/or roasted chickpeas to the pile.

my introduction to ground cherries

In a parking lot on a card table before a rusty pickup truck.

Nestled beside zucchini logs and onion bundles.

Spilling from a flimsy wooden box.

Pocket-size paper lanterns?

Husks grass to blush.

Petite globe fruit packages.

Green apple, roasted pineapple flesh.

New ritual for the summer pre-meal ceremonies.

Shucking corn, snapping beans, unwrapping ground cherries.

pushing summer

The June bearing strawberries are ripe as ever, and it’s still May! Juicy strawberries and 95-degree temperatures means fruity push-up pop time in my backyard. Along with the fresh strawberries, I had a few apricots and frozen blackberries to puree in the blender. I experimented with different ratios of honey and rice milk to blend up with the fruit and even added a few layers of honeyed rice milk in between fruit layers.

Though I had to wait two hours (for hardening) between filling the flavor fields, I thought it was worth it, because the combined taste was exciting. Visually, the finished pops were like a lickable frozen homage to Mark Rothko (just don’t gaze too long, or they will melt). Perfect for this summery weather and also useful as smoothie starters to keep in the freezer. Cheers to unofficial summer!

yeast-raised pancakes with ginger syrup & oranges


I never met a pancake I didn’t like, and I met a tasty new one this weekend. After flagging the recipe at SweetFineDay over a year ago, I finally got around to making Mark’s Yeast-Raised Pancakes. I remember reading the entry from the Pastry Chef of Whimsy & Spice and thinking to myself, those sound too good to be true: lighter, fluffier, slightly-yeasty pancakes that are ready to cook when you wake up?

Believe it, folks. Whip up the batter before bedtime and by morning you will find that your recipe has raised overnight! All that remains is cook time.

I burned the first few, because my skillet was too hot. After turning the dial down to between the 2 & 3, the pancakes puffed up and cooked throughout while staying golden on the tops and bottoms. The addition of ginger syrup and oranges to the yeasty pancake plate was reminiscent of a Belgian White beer brewed in orange peel. Welcome to the breakfast table at Summerflavorville.

coca-cola cherry blossom cupcakes

With nostalgia for my Great Aunt Catherine (she loved the cherry blossoms), I made cupcakes. Of course, you could make these cupcakes from scratch, but in true Aunt Catherine form, I used box mixes! I have great memories of stopping at hot dog carts for a coke and a dog during my last trip with her to New York City. She was always on the move and liked to eat Chinese take-out while reading the paper.

White Cake Mix: substitute Coca-Cola for water, add 5 T Cherry JELL-O powder, follow box instructions.
Frosting: Cockylit is my go-to for Meringue, and I added about 2 t Cherry JELL-O Powder to her instructions.
Together: Cherry Vanilla Coke in a cake with a big dollop of pink sugary protein on top!