My sister had a Pampered Chef Bridal Shower about 12 years ago, and one of the activities was writing kitchen advice on an apron with a Sharpie. I have no idea what I wrote back then, but I will always remember my mom’s advice: “Never run out of brown sugar.” My mom is smart. This time of year I cannot get enough of it for sprinkling on Cream of Rice or making caramel corn. I think Molasses is one of my hidden weaknesses. Anyhow, I made caramel corn for thank-you gifts this weekend and added some cinnamon and cashews to make it special.
I have had Frankenberry on the brain since I decided to put together a friendly strawberry cereal monster costume this year. One time I made Booberry cupcakes for Halloween, but when I saw the strawberry marshmallow sale at Kroger, I was inspired to make Frankenberry Rice Krispie treats. I stuck wild berry Life Savers gummies on with icing for the geary eyes and cut out some strawberry Fruit Roll-ups for the eyebrows. Crunchy and chewy pink monster! I can’t wait to wear my pink hair… this Frankenberry will be a little more pixie ladylike, I think.
We painted pumpkins (and just about anything else we could find) over the weekend. What an event! My niece has this crazy dual brush mixing on the surface technique and insists on wearing jewelry when she paints. My nephew is more of a performance artist while painting and twirled his pumpkins clockwise while dragging the full brush over the top. We also had banana slices that needed to be eaten, so the addition of candy corns did the trick there. My niece called them little birthday cakes.
When I found out that my nephew liked these Monster Pops molds I had to get them for him for his birthday. Many healthful and gourmet popsicle recipes do exist, but today I celebrate the tried and true Kool-Aid popsicle. It’s good to be a kid and make monster faces and run around the yard eating icy sweetness. In the words of Kool-Aid Man, “Oh, yeah!”
My mom was 1600 miles away from home when she was rushed into emergency surgery two weeks ago. She stayed for seven days at a hospital just miles away from a personal paradise in the mountains. Since we knew it existed, my mom and I shared the dream of setting foot at Sundance. One afternoon while she was resting she told me to go see it and take my camera. The place is a gift preserved. “This place in the mountains, amid nature’s casualness toward death and birth, is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas: harsh at times, life threatening in its winters of destruction, but tender in attention to the details of every petal of every wildflower resurrected in the spring. Nature and creativity obey the same laws, to the same end: life,” Robert Redford.
Did you think we only looked at things on Magazine Street? No way! Yummy food stops along the way included hey! Cafe, Slice Pizzeria, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt and Velvet Teacakery. It is unbelievable what fresh, house-made mozzarella can do for a pie. And what laughter, silliness, and sharing city-loving can do for the soul.
I am in New Orleans for the first time in my life for my first ALA Conference! I didn’t eat one full meal today, but in between registrations and check-ins, I was able to have a few tasty bites around the Conference Center. Baby Arugula Flatbread with Shaved Manchego and Marjoram, House Sourdough from Feast, Warm Pork Fat on Toast with Thyme and Piccalilli (my stomach churned for a bit afterward, but it was so rich and cozy). Finally, my indulgent version of bedtime tea and milk: Creole Cream Cheesecake with Chamomile to drink. What makes a cheesecake Creole? Oh my, a tangy combination of whole milk, skim milk, and cream with spiced Steen’s cane syrup and dehydrated berries. Sweet dreams.
Don’t worry, the usual malted milk balls and peanut butter crackers are in my bag, too. This granola recipe, adapted from Melissa Clark’s in In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (recommend), is the only one I have made that doesn’t call for honey. The cardamom/maple syrup/olive oil combo seeps into the oats and turns them into an addiction! The great thing about granola is there are unlimited ingredient variations. My sister always does coconut and pecans, my friend Mary gave me a delicious batch with dried blueberries and walnuts at the holidays. Dried papaya, almonds, and pumpkin seeds were my add-ins this time. I think I am all set to fly now, and I will also have a few homemade gifts to give. It just occurred to me that making granola is a lot like making caramel corn, and oh, the kitchen smells the same.