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….
Pies, Cakes, & Tarts
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….
I didn’t used to like lemons. Or anything having to do with lemons for that matter. When I was growing up, every time my grandparents visited, my grandma would make my dad a lemon meringue pie. I would sit sullenly after dinner and eat the meringue off the top, all the while thinking, Why couldn’t she have made a chocolate pie?! Bratty, I know….
March sure came in like a lion this weekend. Snow, sleet, frigid temps. A mountain lion would probably be more appropriate. The temperature read -6 this morning when we woke up and our old, drafty house is doing its best to keep the mountain lion on the outside. At least I got a snow day out of it.
This weather makes it hard to believe that Mardi Gras parades have been going strong all weekend long in New Orleans. I miss it. I wish I was down there right now, as I do every year at this time. Dance parties in the streets, food, drink, friends, music–what’s not to miss? (By the way, happy Lundi Gras, y’all!) So the next best thing has always been to have a king cake shipped from New Orleans and make a big pot of red beans and rice or jambalaya. Last year was my first Carnival season after having gone gluten-free, and my attempt at making a gluten-free king cake was a total, utter fail. It was such a failure that I couldn’t even bring myself to take a bite….