Monday, August 29, 2011


David lucks out with a birthday in August, when the weather's nice and we're all ready for some fun, and no one else is stealing your birthday thunder (everyone else in our family is two weeks from someone else). And what's more, my parents were visiting this August, and got to celebrate with us! (I am ashamed to say that these are the best photos I have of them on their visit. My photographic priorities are defunct!)

Papa says, "it looks like I have ice-cream on my lip!"
I don't have pictures of the hilarity, but we went bowling/video game playing at Big Al's. That place is a ton of fun. I fulfilled a life-long dream of being on Wheel of Fortune, and Noble spent the entire time standing on some driving game that took your photo. Morgen and Micah were in an air-hockey playoff and Taylor and Korah were doing their own thing, which has something to do with pooling their resources to end up with the biggest bag o' loot from the prize counter. Dave played Rockband. For like, an hour. So basically, we all got what we wanted for Dave's birthday.

We came home and had ice cream cake made by yours truly (awesome, that job at Baskin Robbins is still paying off!) and quick-like I made a card, since I didn't have a real birthday gift:

it's all meaningful and symbolic to us, and stuff

Actually, David worked hard to get his own killer birthday present this year, painstakingly dialing his phone, digit after digit, until at last.... HE WON TICKETS TO THE DECEMBERISTS from! And a gift certificate to Ringside Fish House! This guy knows how to win 'em!

"...and I'm reaping all the benefits..."
(name that movie)
I liked the Decemberists before, but now....oh, live music, it's what you do to me... now we are FANS. This was a special show for a few reasons:

  • It was the last show of the tour. There seemed to be a goofy energy that came with fun!
  • Since they are from the Portland area, it was a homecoming of sorts and they had tons of family, friends, local fanship and familiar McMenamins Brews to celebrate.
  • Their beautiful keyboardist Jenny Conlee, who missed the tour to stay home and fight breast cancer, was performing in all her bald-headed, Doc-Martined glory! Yay, Jenny!!

We are undeniably blessed. As crazy and chaotic as our life can be, good things just keep on happening, and we have to make note, make note, make note: we are loved.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gnocchi at Sunset

A Poem for Febe

I close my eyes and try
to make the traffic sound
like waves. The games of kids
pretending is the same,

Without the element
of magic that comes from
and salty air

And gnocchi-making to
a rainbow sunset.
The gift of respite, on
the job, was burned into

My senses with the smell
of bubbles in the bath,
the ocean rolling in,
the blue and orange and gold.

Inspiring me to try
a poem with my hands,
to keep on making art
with my whole life.

Your laugh is balm to my
encumbered spirit and
so glad am I that you
are my friend, mi amiga.

Friday, August 12, 2011

GF Cinnamon Rolls

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls with Creme-Fraiche Icing

I used to be all like, "omigosh cinnamon rolls are my favorite food!" and then we went all gluten-freek and I felt so much better I just kinda wrote off bread altogether. Plus, you know, you can't be eating cinnamon rolls if you are even the slightest bit interested in losing 10 years worth of baby weight...

Anyway, the other day I happened to have this bag of cinnamon-sugar laying around from a donut project I did with the kids at church, and I didn't want to just throw it away. It seemed to me that an attempt at gluten-free cinnamon rolls was the obvious and inevitable solution. In haste I googled "gluten-free cinnamon rolls" and perused a few recipes, but ended up at one of my staple websites for all things GF, Gluten-free Girl and the Chef.

I love that Shauna uses weight to measure her flours, and she explains why on her very informative blog. I'm mostly excited for a chance to weigh stuff on my cute little kitchen scale! For this recipe we substituted the Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour, because we didn't have almond flour and we are avoiding corn for sensitivity issues. The rest was pretty easy, but it takes all day with mixing, rising, rolling, filling, rolling, rising again, interspersed with going to the park for lunch, doing 4 loads of laundry, cleaning rooms, putting the baby down for a nap, drawing a comic strip and giving the dog a walk. Luckily, Taylor was (and all that life-living!) is always more fun with a little buddy.

I also happened to have a bag of powdered sugar from the same donut project. This sealed the cinnamon roll idea because powdered sugar, when it's not being sprinkled on Aebleskivers or donuts, is begging to be made into icing!* And get this: I didn't have any cream cheese on hand, but I just so happened to have some Creme Fraiche. Three cheers for Creme Fraiche! ...OOO! ...LA! ...LA!

Well, not so accidental on the Creme Fraiche. I'm going to muster another attempt at a home-made mac'n'cheese that Morgen (the Mac'n'Cheese snob of the family) will approve of.

Lots of amazing smells later, this is what we (literally) ate for dinner last night:

The recipe made fourteeen delicious cinnamon rolls. Enough for everyone to have one for breakfast the next day! I would love a softer, squishier dough, but they were pretty good. I might be more about the sugar these days anyway... mmm-mmmm!

*I know I just mentioned a corn-sensitivity and then said we were making icing from powdered sugar, which has cornstarch in it! It's more of a thing we avoid unless we must. eat. icing. If you know of a powdered sugar that is not made with cornstarch (there must be something out there???) please let me know!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Æbleskiver Day 2011

Grandma was a pioneer in
Enterostomal Therapy Nursing
Happy Æbleskiver Day! Today would've been my Grandma's 90th birthday, and every year we make Æbleskivers to celebrate. Æbleskivers are a Dutch pancake, made in a special cast iron pan and my Grandma loved 'em. I told you all about my Grandma Cat two years ago on her birthday. She was born in 1921 and lived a tough life before she settled in as the Enterostomal Therapy Nurse I knew her as. Both of her parents died before she was 10 years old, she lived through the Great Depression, was a nurse in WWII, and became a widow at 48, just when the post-child-rearing fun was about to begin. She volunteered tirelessly for the Cancer Society, and till the day she died was making friends and we have hundreds of photos and Christmas cards to prove it. She saved every photo and letter I sent her, and now I only wish I'd written her more. There's something about writing your grandma a letter; you know she wants to know everything you have to say, no matter how trivial. And she loved my handwriting, which also encouraged me to write. If you are reading this, do yourself a favor and find a grandma to write letters to.

This year, since we are making Gluten-free Æbleskivers, I figured I'd not only post the recipe, but I'd do it food-blogger style. I want to start making my own GF all-purpose flour mix, but I haven't reached that level of gluten-free baking preparedness yet, so it's good ol' Bob and his Red Mill to the rescue.

Here's what you'll need:
2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp plus 1/8tsp (or about 2/3tsp) Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups buttermilk (or like I do, 2Tbs lemon juice and milk to make 2 cups)
2 eggs, separated -- BEAT the egg whites and set aside
3 Tbs butter, melted

Sift all the dry ingredients together. GF flours seem to be more dense than wheat flour, and when sifted, seem to be a little more than what I measured. I can't spare any stress for these things; if it's too thick, I'll add milk later.

 Beat the egg yolks and add to the milk. Stir into the dry mixture.

 Stir in the melted butter.

Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Heat the pan on medium and drizzle a little melted butter into the holes. I suppose you could use some low-cal spray, but where's the fun in that?

Do as I say, not as I do: fill the holes with batter to the top, or you won't end up with nice round kugels.

When they start to puff up and rise a little, and look like they are starting to set --oh, who am I kidding? I don't know how to tell you when they're ready. I cook entirely by feel. Just feel it, baby. You'll know when it's time to flip. Just slide that knitting needle down the side and around the bottom of the hole until you've flipped the darn thing. It might take some practice...

...and as you can see, I use a fork to help things along.

 Once again, if you fill them up all the way, you'll have nice, round kugeln (that would be German for "balls" because I didn't want to say "nice round balls," I'm not ...sure ...why ...maybe because there's an eternal twelve-year old living in my head? Anyway, kugeln reminds me of how my friends and I ordered ice cream in Switzerland, c.1994).

This takes some time, seven kugeln every seven minutes or so... so meanwhile, send your kids out to gather blackberries. Because it's August, and they're ready!

And because it's tradition to pick wild berries with Aunt Renee. The minute we know she's coming, our mouths start watering and we grab our gathering bowls.

 Dust on a snowstorm of powdered sugar...

...don't forget a smattering of jams, and if you're from my Grandma's side of the family, Key Lime Curd...

....and yell, "HAPPY ÆBLESKIVER DAY!"

And by the way, this was my Grandma in WWII:

Sharp, yes?

And her husband, whom I never got to meet, but whose middle name I share:
Hello, James Dean!He looks like a pretty cool cat, don'tcha think? I wish I could have known him, and known he and my grandma together. Willard 'n Janet. I hear they had a lot of fun, in their own little way. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bicycle Dating

For the record --because that's what this is for-- thanks to my mom carting four of the kids away to have hotel room/jumping on the bed/swimming pool fun for the night, David and I got to go on a little bike ride date! Noble babbled away in his little bike seat, yelling "HI-EEE!" at everyone we passed. We took the scenic route and had dinner at some food carts. Bummer, Scoop was out of Salted Caramel (the flavor you'll dream about), but that's okay. Riding home to the tune of cotton candy skies and white sliver-of-a-moon and the singing chatter of an ice-creamed toddler, we are feelin' the Portlandia. We are feeling blessed to spend this time together, refreshing our Selves....