A buckle, you say. Or maybe it was the whiskey part that caught your eye. Either way, I’m with you. While in Napa Valley this summer, I picked up a berry-themed cookbook from a used bookstore that was filled with traditional rustic desserts: slumps, crisps, grunts, cobblers, and buckles. All meant to be simple, comforting, and full of seasonal fruit….
Pies, Cakes, & Tarts
I have to be honest. Before this summer, I had never heard of a pavlova before. Then I saw them popping up on the interwebs loaded with beautiful summer berries, and I had to inspect further. Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, a traditional pavlova is a meringue dessert that is crisp on the outside and light and soft on the inside. Topped with whipped cream and fruit, it is transformed into a perfectly imperfect beauty….
We’ve been having beautiful, just-the-right-kind-of-warm sunny days and chilly autumn nights here in the Midwest. An Indian summer of sorts. Maybe not in the truest sense of the definition, but if I can describe what we’re having as some type of summer, then I’ll go with it. Did anyone ever see that Big Chill-esque early 90’s movie, Indian Summer? Don’t. Or do. Ok, it’s one of those strange guilty pleasure movies of mine….
Strawberry shortcake has always symbolized summer for me. As a kid, strawberry shortcake was an exciting departure from the more common cookie or ice cream treat. At the thought of it, I am instantly transported to our family dinner table on a hot summer night. My little sister, sitting across from me chattering away, curls balking against her ponytail, shooting off in directions one didn’t think hair could go naturally. Me, quietly trying to hide (unsuccessfully) the day’s sunburn from my mom on my fair, not-made-for-summer skin. The ice cream truck and its jingle approaches, taunting the neighborhood outside. Normally, upon hearing this I would have shot outside with as many quarters as I could scrounge up, but who cares when there’s strawberry shortcake for dessert!…
Last week we headed west to California. Our first stop, after a day wandering the streets of San Francisco, was Napa Valley where we met up with our friends Megan and Bryon to taste and see what Napa does best. This wine tasting trip has been in the works for the last year in honor of what Megan and I call our “25th best friendiversary”. No one really needs an excuse to go wine tasting I suppose, but this felt like a worthy cause. Next up, Heath and I drove halfway down the coast to San Luis Obispo to meet with my LA-living sister and her boyfriend, where we watched (much to Heath’s dismay) the OKC Thunder lose to the Spurs in a friendly bar that made us all feel like locals. And later, some more wine tasting. Our third leg led us north and east away from the coast toward Yosemite National Park. Beautiful seems like such a minuscule word when trying to describe Yosemite. The fact that we have so many awe-inspiring places like this in the US is always so shocking to me. I could have spent days there.
Prior to our trip, I had done some research on gluten-free bakeries and other food related places of note for our expected destinations. In Napa, we checked out the Oxbow Public Market, full of wonderful organic food vendors, wine, and cafes. This felt like a gluten-free haven to me. One of the vendors, Cate & Co., is a gluten-free bakeshop and eatery where I had my first true breakfast sandwich in what felt like eons….