missing you

On hiatus until the squirrel bread household is wired for Internet. [Santa, are you reading this?]

For now we prepare for the chaos that is Christmas in Wisconsin with our families. Looking forward to it, especially the trip’s first stop at Iowa Family Christmas and to meeting my mom’s newly adopted horse!

Merry Christmas to all of you. May the holidays overflow with wonderful times, happy thoughts, tasty food and much love.

Happy Thanksgiving

Many of you have just begun the cooking and preparation in advance of tomorrow’s holiday. I presume some of you have been knee-deep in turkey, stuffing, cranberries, root vegetables and pies for days now.

Not so here. This Thanksgiving marks the beginning of our house move. Or, it should be the beginning, but those thoughtful county inspectors felt we needed more time to bid farewell to the rental.

Meanwhile, we’ve no smoker for our traditional bird and, even if we did, no one in town to share with.

That’s why we are so thankful for dear friends extending an invitation to supper tomorrow. All we have to do is take a drive, offer gifts of wine and marinated olives, sit down and enjoy the cooking of others.

Here’s to a happy Thanksgiving. To all of you. To all our families. To my most caring and adoring husband. I hope it is a holiday filled with delicious food and drink, and connecting with those you love.

the champagne is chilling | sneak peak

This post is to remind us that our house is almost done.

And to let you in.

Appliances this week. Walk-through and closing not far behind. Thanksgiving weekend?

I wonder what will be the first thing we make in our new kitchen…

handmade holidays | nutty coconut blackstrap granola

It amazes me how quickly my mind turns holiday once November arrives. It’s a switch that flips without fail, the same time each year. I look forward to it most because I can begin the list. The list! Not a daily to-do, or things to pick up from the market — a list of gifts for family.

Sure I enjoy receiving gifts, but it really is the giving that gets me going.

The constant in all that giving is the promise of something homemade. And edible. Homemade foods, especially with an eye on nutrition, allow us to eat and feel well. These foods also taste better.

Over the years it’s been dark chocolate bark, roasted and spiced nuts, Marranitos, hand-ground spice blends, butternut squash spätzle, infused salts and sugars, biscotti, coconut macaroons — and granola.

I’m not embarrassed or sorry to say that granola has had several cameos. At least a half dozen over the years. There are just so many ways to interpret. Varying grains. New sweeteners. Nuts and seeds. Unusual spices. The possibilities are endless, and always delicious.

Read more…

rainy day treats | pumpkin whoopie pies with coconut chestnut cream

It rained that entire morning in Portland two years ago, but I just had to visit the farmers market. The stalls along Congress artfully stacked with greens, beets, radishes, sunflowers — colors intensified by a grey sky. It was lovely, though numb fingers and wet feet threatened the enjoyment of our last Maine morning.

Clutching coffees we ducked into Two Fat Cats Bakery. Our second visit in two days.

Two Fat Cats is a baker’s bakery, where mixing, assembling and from-scratch baking happens right before your eyes. Part of its cozy charm is that the one-room establishment is tucked down a flight of well-worn stairs in a quaint, old building.

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home-building | not-so-tough (cream cheese) cookies: two ways

“You must be a tough cookie” — one of many similar sentiments when our decision to build a home was announced. I chuckled to mask nervous confusion because, for those who know me well, it’s no secret that my proverbial cookie is warm and tender at the center; very seldom tough.

Shortly thereafter, those sentiments were realized. Our once smooth ride to the finish began to twist. A miscommunication there, an incorrect assumption here, and a handful of glaring oversights.

Nauseating and maddening as the construction has been on occasion, the final stage is at hand. The excitement grows daily. And though I may be slower to make peace than he, we’re pleased with a recent flurry of activity:

+ cement patio poured

+ windows and sliding glass doors placed

+ addition of exterior siding, wood shakes and flagstone

+ shingles complete on the roof

+ gas line re-routed to the island

+ fireplace installed

+ plastering of drywall seams

Highly anticipated are the hardwood floors, granite counters, ceramic tile and appliances. Most of all we dream of the double wall ovens and five-burner gas cook top with downdraft. Sweet thoughts are also reserved for the rescue of our cooking tools and bakeware from storage.

As it stands now, projected move-in is set for the middle of November. While I await the new kitchen (and the portion of my mind that’s AWOL), dessert is kept painfully simple. This week, a not-so-tough cookie.

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with this ring…

As some of you know, we said I do last Sunday. Family and friends looked on while a dear friend officiated. I count my blessings to be the wife of such a sincere, selfless, talented man.

Dan and I wed in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin on a grassy patch just beyond the bright white Century Barn. Horses were galloping on the farm. Milkweed seeds floated on the air. The autumn colors a patchwork beyond gently rolling fields.

A fifteen-year October day in Wisconsin by all accounts – calm, pleasantly warm and sunny, only a few feathery wisps of clouds in sight. Read more…