Mountain Air.

There is something so magical about the way light reflects off water, or how the sky lights up in color, or how a cool breeze can lift your spirit.

Or how about the comfort of collapsing into an embrace, or getting the giggles so hard your eyes water, or taking a minute to just – be. Present. Now.

I miss these things.

I miss these things because my mind is preoccupied. It has disregarded opportunity for peace and stability and has traded them in for stress and fear.

Not my finest of moments.

I will be taking some time away from my blog. To find myself, center myself, and then start believing in myself. But! Do not worry, my dearest friends. It won’t be too long. In just a few short months, I will be back here – rediscovered and much more assured. I’m so excited to continue sharing life with everyone – to let my love for beautiful things come out in the form of written word. I’m going to miss it. A lot.

Sometimes we just need to catch our breath, fix our tattered sails, and allow joy to sweep us up again.

God – Give me space for healing, and mountain air.

Psalm 69:29

Mmm… How about I meet you at the top.

The view is always better up there.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Individual Peach Crisp)

Last night, we spent the evening with two totally rad people.

Some of you know them, love them, and get swallowed in their affection fairly frequently.

One is petite, and gentle, and smells like home. The other is grey, and strong, and is a Kingdom warrior.

That’s right! It’s Andy’s mom and dad. Two incredible works of art, those people. God did good.

Andy’s mom? Well, that woman is amazing at all sorts of things, but one thing in particular is her mastering of the garden. I’m always dying to copy and paste pieces of her brain into my own. That woman can grow produce better than anyone I’ve met.

She invited us over for dinner, or rather a feast. It was all based around the bounty of her harvest. Gorgeous tomatoes, plump potatoes, fresh basil, and picked-that-minute corn on the cob. Good grief, it was delightful.

We had an amazing, and much needed, time together. It was so good to be with them and to soak up all of their love and wisdom. And to love on them, in return. I’m totally blessed to know them and be a part of their lives.

Because Andy’s mom never let’s us leave with our bellies even the slightest bit of empty, she got out some peach cobbler for us to try. Fresh peaches from the neighboring town. Delicious. It was bright, and cinnamony, and chewy, and melt-in-your-mouth yummy.

So, in honor of Mom’s bountiful harvest and fresh peaches, today’s Treatsie Tuesday goes out to her. It’s an inspired take on peach cobbler. One that’s fun and super easy to pull together.

Ready for it? Here’s your victims: Flour, Oats, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Salt, Almonds, Coconut (I used large flaked), Super Cold Butter, and of course … a Peach.

First thing – Cut your peach in half, and take the pit out. Take a spoon and scrape just a bit out of the inside so there is plenty of room for the crumble topping.

Now, all you need to do is grab a bowl and throw in your flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, almonds, coconut, and salt. The list of ingredients sounds long, but this is really oober easy. It just takes a minute.

Now, just whisk it all together.

When that is all combined, you’ve got to add your butter.

Now, recipes like this will usually tell you to cube your chilled butter and then cut it into your mixture. This has always been everyone’s least favorite part. It’s tedious and annoying and takes forever. So! Guess what? I have a trick. Yep! A trick.

Grate your butter. Uh huh. Grate it. Like cheese. It works wonders.

Here’s the thing – you’ve gotta get your butter, like, super cold. Even stick it in the freezer for a bit because once your hand touches the butter, it will begin to soften from the warmth. Then, grab a box grater and grate your butter on the medium sized grates (like the kind you would for shredded cheese).

In my photo, you’ll see I used a handheld grater. Don’t do this. Don’t copy me. The grates are way too tiny and the butter comes out in strings instead of shreds. Grate it on a box grater, if you have one.

Now, stir it all up with a fork. It should end up looking something like this:

Place your peaches in a little pan.

Next, pile that peach high with your crumble mixture. Like so:

Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and you’ve got yourself dessert, baby. Heck yea!

This recipe yielded much more topping than I actually needed. So, use some extra peaches, or save the topping for another day. I always have some sort of crumble topping in my fridge, ready to go for muffins, ice cream, fruit, what have you.

These little things are so cute and a load of fun. Make them sometime this week. Your family will thank you!

Individual Peach Crisp

(From Joy the Baker)

1 ripe peach

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon flaked or shredded coconut

1 tablespoon slivered or chopped almonds

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, grated on a box grater*

 

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice a peach in half and remove the pit.  With a small spoon, scoop out the the dark red pit center, creating just a bit more room for the crumble topping.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, coconut, and almonds.  Add butter and, with a fork, work the butter into the dry ingredients.  Quickly break up the butter until it is well combined.  The butter bits should be pea-like in size.

Place peach halves, cut side up, in a small, oven-safe dish.  Top each peach half with a generous portion of crumble topping. Really pile it on!

Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cold milk. Peaches are best served warm from the oven.

*If you do not have a box grater, cut the butter into small cubes and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to blend butter into oats mixture.

 

 

Easy Little Bread

Today is a special kind of day.

Today’s day is the kind where you get to snuggle in with people you love. The kind where you sink a few chocolate chips into the bottom of your coffee. The kind where you build forts and watch movies and have pillow fights.

It’s hurricane day. Which, for us, probably means some downpours and lots of wind. So, we’re taking the opportunity to have a play day.

The nerf guns are already out. Sheets have been draped from the ceiling. Andy is currently using his imagination with toilet paper. The fun is about to begin, kids.

However, before you make a fort – make sure you hire some decent security:

Before we embark on our homely adventures, I wanted to pass along a recipe for Easy Little Bread. It’s something that’s a cinch to pull together because you probably have all the ingredients in the pantry, and it takes just 30 minutes of rise time. No kneading required. It’s just that simple.

This is the perfect thing to make on such a blustery day. It’s full of little crannies and nooks. It’s oaty and wheaty, but not too dense. It’s perfect with a spread of butter and a drizzle of honey.

This is the kind of bread that says “home.”

Make it with your family today. You’ll be happy you did.

Easy Little Bread Recipe

(From 101Cookbooks)

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt or kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for greasing loaf pan

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush an 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 25 minutes, then check on it. Insert a toothpick to the center. If still doughy, return it for 5 – 10 minutes longer. If clean, remove from the oven and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Chocolate Banana Ice Cream)

Holy. Stinkin’. Smokes.

I’m almost speechless. I mean, really. I just sat here for about 10 minutes with my curser blinking, longing for me to type out a description of this magical concoction, but I’m too busy trying to pick my jaw up from the floor.

This ice cream is knock-your-skirt-off fabulous. (Was that a little brash? I apologize. I can get that way when I’m stunned from delicious desserts. Please excuse my misdemeanor.)

Here’s the deal. The title sounds simple, right? Chocolate Banana Ice Cream. What could be the big deal? Most of us have experienced a chocolate and banana combo once in our lives. And it’s … good. But, I’m telling you. This ice cream is not just good. It’s explosively delectable – and I have no idea why. Maybe it was just what my taste buds demanded in that moment. Or maybe it was the fact that it was a pretty grueling day on the emotions, and this ice cream was just the thing to pick me up. Emotional eating, anyone? Yikes. Maybe it’s that it was blazing hot out and all I wanted was to not be sweating profusely from my armpits. (Ice cream is a top runner in my anti-sweat campaign. Oh – you didn’t know I have an anti-sweat campaign? Well, I do. It’s … a work in progress. We’ll get there.)

Regardless of why this tasted so amazing, it has changed our life a little bit. Andy, who is loyal to the bones about his Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, said it was the best ice cream he’s ever had. Say what?! (I really need to stop doing that. Trying to be all ghetto. Jeesh.) This boy dreams in orange-infused chocolate. He’s a sucker for it. So the news of his adoration for this frozen cream left me at a loss. Wow. This stuff has power.

Let’s talk about the ice cream, shall we? It’s super smooth and very creamy. It’s the real deal, made from homemade custard. No cutting corners with this guy. He’s all calorie-laden and completely worth it. It has a deep chocolate flavor with a subtle banana undertone. There are no chunks. There are no bells, whistles, or harmonicas involved. There are just the simplest of ingredients that meld together to form a paradox of simply complex flavors. It is the kind of cream that is good all on it’s own. It doesn’t cry out for toppings or whips or drizzles. It is so beautifully independent. And it deserves every second of spotlight.

Remember when Andy and I went to Vermont a few months back for a wedding? I wrote about our trip to The Special Place and our ice cream cone treats. I had Chocolate Banana, and it was unreal. I wanted to try and recreate it. So, Andy and I did our research, then went out and got an ice cream maker (best investment ever).

I have a special guest photographing with me today. He’s tall and handsome and has kissable lips. (Not for you. Just for me. He’s all mine.) It’s the one and only … Andy!

*Special Note: Some photographs have man hands, and some have lady hands. Andy wanted me to ensure you that his hands are indeed manly and the lady hands are not his. They are mine. We traded cooking and photographing every once in a while. Cuz we’re a team like that.

Alright, let’s dig in. First up! The victims… mwah, ha, ha, ha, ha. (So creepy.) You’ll need: Half and half, sugar, eggs (you’ll only want the yolks from these bad boys), unsweetened cocoa powder, a banana, and a pinch of salt.

Now, you want to add your half and half to a medium sized pot. Slowly heat it over low – you do not want it to boil. Check on it periodically while your working on assembling the other ingredients.

While that is heating, work on separating your eggs. And yes, I do mean work on it. Poor Andy had some troubles trying to separate the yolk from the white. Want to see?

Yep, that yolk is on its way to the whites bowl. After multiple attempts, we decided to switch spots. He’d photograph. I’d separate.

Do you know how to separate the yolk from the white? All you do is crack the egg, gently pull the shell apart in half, and slowly rock the yolk back and forth between both sides, allowing the white to fall into a bowl underneath. Please put a bowl underneath. Your counters don’t desire to be covered in egg whites. You can even keep the whites and make a meringue! Or mousse! Or an omelette!

Once you’ve got your egg yolks in the bowl, add in some sugar, a pinch of salt, and cocoa powder.

Grab your banana, peel it, and mash it all up. Feed it to your baby, if you have one. Then grab another banana, peel it, and mash it all up – this time adding it to your cocoa mixture.

Whisk it all up, my friends.

Now – you’re going to need to add the hot cream to this mixture, but listen up. That cream is hot – and your eggs are cold. When cold eggs interface with hotness, they cook. We don’t want scrambled egg ice cream. Blech. What we need to do is temper it.

Dunk your 1/2 c. measuring cup into the hot cream. (Please don’t scald yourself. Be careful.) Now, while whisking your cocoa egg mixture, slowly drizzle the hot cream into the batter, whisking constantly. This is going to slowly heat up the yolks, but not flash-cook them. Soon your batter will be warm and your eggs will turn custardy and not scrambly.

Repeat this until you have a half cup of cream left in the pot. Return the pot to the stove over lowish heat.

Grab a strainer and put it on top of your pot. Slowly pour your batter through the strainer and into the pot. This will remove any clumpage from the bananas or over-heated cream. It’s not a necessary step, but it allows the ice cream to be super velvety.

Heat that up over medium-low heat and stir constantly until custard-like and can coat the back of a spoon. (About  7 minutes for me.)

Now, here’s the hardest part. You’ve gotta pop that sucker in the fridge and let it chill for a few hours. I know, I know. I wanted ice cream right away, too! But it really won’t freeze right if goes into the maker all hot. It’s got to cool down. Be patient, dear friend. Go watch a movie, or clean the bathtub, or go on a bike ride, or snuggle with your children, or scrub permanent marker off your walls (Marissa!), or call a friend. These things will help you in your waiting.

Once your few hours is up, you get to churn your ice cream!

Umm … well … you see … the thing is … I don’t have photos of the ice cream churning process. 😦

I know. I’ve let you down. But, you see, I was hanging out with Andy and sometimes we have too much fun together and I forget to do important things like photograph steps to Treatsie Tuesday. Please don’t be mad. Just make this ice cream, eat it, and you’ll forget that you were even upset with me.

I’ll tell you that I used a Cuisinart ICE-21 model ice cream maker. It works magically. And is one of the best rated on Cook’s Product Reviews. They know their stuff.

Churn your ice cream and enjoy! Straight out of the maker, it was so creamy. It set up real nice, and when you gave it a taste, it would melt perfectly on your palette – sort of similar to a frosty. After a few hours in the freezer, it will harden more like ice cream.

Also – this could be really great with agave nectar instead of sugar. I tossed around using agave, but decided I would use sugar since it was my first time. If you’d like to substitute agave nectar, use 2/3 cup agave for every 1 cup of sugar.

It’s amazing, as is. But you can get jazzy and give it a good drizzle of salted caramel sauce and a sprinkling of chocolate confetti.

My friends? Enjoy.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

(from All Recipes)

I halved the recipe to serve just Andy and myself, with a good cup of leftovers. This recipe should yield about 8 servings.

Also, the first four ingredients make up your ice cream base. Play around with other ingredients to make various flavors. Omit the cocoa, add a splash of vanilla and substitute fresh mashed strawberries to get strawberry ice cream. Take out the banana and add in chopped peanut butter cups and pretzels near the end of the churning process to get a fun spin on chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream. The sky is the limit.

4 cups half-and-half cream
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)

Instructions:

Pour the half-and-half cream into a heavy saucepan, place over medium-low heat, and heat until barely simmering, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to low.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cocoa, and banana in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.

Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat three times more, whisking thoroughly before adding each additional 1/2 cup of hot cream to the egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot cream, and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and will coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes. Do not let mixture boil.

Pour the ice cream base into a bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours. Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Remove the ice cream and enjoy! Pack the leftovers into a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Turquoise and Coral

I got something sort of special recently.

It is not a necessity, nor is it cold enough to really use with complete surrender. It has pops of color and handwoven stitching. It’s got a ridiculous amount of pattern and will warm you just by looking at it. It was toted home in a large paper bag and was drooled over so much that it could probably use a good washing. It was special. It was gorgeous. It spoke to me.

It’s a beautiful patchwork quilt full of oranges and blues. It’s bold, and independent, and sort of grandmotherly. I love it.

Good grief, I’m addicted to color.

You may not always be able to tell by looking at me. I wear a lot of neutral tones. And a lot of black. But I’m slowly gaining speed on the pops-of-color train. Be patient with me. It takes a lot of guts to wear a mustard yellow cardigan. (But, oh how I want to!)

I have, however, had some courage when it comes to adding color into my home. It can be a tricky thing, but I’m learning a lot about how to do it right. I still don’t have full freedom yet, as we rent our home and have to keep our walls eggshell white. But, this girl has dreams. Oh, she’s got dreams.

So, here’s the thing. I go through seasons of obsession over a certain color. Right now, I’m all about pairing dazzly turquoise with rusty colors like orange, coral, and muted peach. Mmm. Yes.

Inspired by my new quilt, I decided to share some images to help stir awake your creativity for your own style. I’ve put together some collages using images from my latest preoccupation, Pinterest. You think Facebook sucks you in? Good Lord – Pinterest will keep you surfing for hours on end. I count on the people who love me  in my life to pry my eyes away from the computer screen when I’ve entered the Pinterest world. It’s just – so infectious! Check it out. It’s a designer’s dream – the ability to create inspiration boards, online. It’s fabuloso.

Ready to take a peek at what I’m lovin’?

That umbrella photograph is the cutest ever. And those blue tinged watering cans? Ugh. Love!

I stinkin’ love that outfit. And those turquoise peep-toe heels! Stellar.

That armoire is so fun. And that fan?! Shut up. How about the beach photo? So ethereal and serene.

I’m diggin’ the cool blues with the warm orange-tones, folks. It’s just so much fun.

What colors are singing to you right now?

Z-z-z-zumba!

Listen – I can make it through Jillian Michaels’ DVDs and  (almost) live, which is quite the accomplishment if you ask me. I can do rockstar jumps, mountain climbers, chair squats with a ‘v’ fly, and  scissor jacks like a mad woman. So… I’m thinkin’ to myself… “Zumba? Piece of chocolate mouse pie with raspberries on top. Bring it on.”

…………  I was sweating in places I never knew had sweat glands. I mean, really. Zumba?! Just some cha-cha here and merengue there, right? Well it’s the cha-cha, alright. The cha-cha on narcotics. Good grief, I got my sweat on. I walked out of the gym dripping and smelling like a man. It was fabulous.

I topped off my morning dance with a bite out of this hot little number – Chocolate Almond Butter Coconut Fudgies!* Big thanks to Cupcake Kat and her love for healthy things in the form of chocolate yumminess.

Now, let me tell you that this is no ordinary cookie. This is not to replace or be compared to those sweetly buttery, crumblyy, chewy, faintly crisp on the edges, cookies that Mommas always make. No, no, no. That is a real cookie. This, my friends, is different. It’s a bit dense, resembling somewhat of a brownie in the center. It’s health conscious. It’s chewy. It’s fudgy. It requires no gluten and is vegan, if you want it to be. It’s a treat when you’re just craving something chocolatey after zumba-ing your tushy off. But it’s the kind of treat you can feel great about – because the fats in it come straight from the almond, and only requires an eentsie amount of sugar. Try them. You’ll love ’em. Bake them on a rainy day while listening to this album. Trust me. It will blow your mind.

❤ K.

*Just a note: I used crunchy salted almond butter which gave this a yummy salty-sweet complex. I also used ground flax seed and subbed in coconut milk.

“If I was a flower growing wild and free…

… all I’d want is you to be my sweet honey bee.” Thank you, Barry Louis Polisar. And thank you, Juno, for putting this on your soundtrack. You’ve made my life a little bit better.

I have a sweet honey bee. He’s tall and browned-butter-skinned and has killer legs. Legs that would make you jealous. Legs that do make me jealous. He’s got passion in his gut and a voice in his lungs – full of vivid life and canyon thoughts. Mostly, he loves Jesus… Jesus, cheese, and me.

Today my man sat sweetly, patiently, lovingly with me on our cheap linoleum kitchen floor. Miscommunication happens sometimes between people who deeply love each other. And it happened today. We fought… and then we talked. Because the best thing you can do after missing the communication boat is to take a deep breath, hop in that creepishly deep  sea, and swim your ass off until you finally reach it. Then… climb on in. And just communicate.

He’s a keeper, my Andy. He loves me well – and I love him by growing strawberries in our parking-lot of a yard. It’s true – our second floor flat has never seen grass. It doesn’t know the way of whistling birds and bright leafy veggies. That is, until we moved in! My man built a garden box with the help of his wife who is really the builder in the house, but sometimes chooses to take a backseat approach and let her artsy fartsy husband feel manly and accomplished for me, all on his own. We stuck it right in front of a parking space. The neighbors still haven’t thanked me for their new view.

Strawberries are amazing. They are sweet and juicy, with a hint of tart every now and then. Mmm. Perfection. You know what else is perfect? Cookies! Chocolate ones to be exact. Chocolate Almond Butter ones to be even more exact. Chocolate Almond Butter Coconut ones to be exactly exact. More on that later!

❤ K.