Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Old Stuff

Everything old really is new again. As a child of the late 70's/early 80's, I spent an inordinate amout of time listening to records. There are times when I wonder why my mother keeps so much old stuff. But this time, when she presented the Little Bear and I with a box full of my old albums, I was tickled. Peter and the Wolf, Urban Chipmunk, Peter Pan, On Top of Spaghetti, The Magic Garden, Puff the Magic Dragon, Free to Be You and Me. The list goes on and on. The Little Bear has been having a great time singing, dancing and partying hard to all the kids classics I knew and loved.

Of course, the kids classics aren't the only hits he loves. In fact, his taste in music is just as ecelctic as his mom and dad's. Topping the list are:

We Will Rock You, Queen

Thriller, Michael Jackson

Low, Flo Rider

Bad Romance, Lady Gaga

You Spin Me Round, Dead or Alive

Hey Soul Sister, Train

Magic Dance, David Bowie

Thank God I'm a Country Boy, John Denver

Ghostbusters, Ray Parker

Firework, Katy Perry

anything by Harry Belafonte

He actually asked if he could be Harry Belafonte for Halloween this year. I'm not quite sure how we'll pull that one off without having him wear a sign, or carry a bunch of bananas, but we'll see what we can do. Of course, as soon as I located a number of adorable calypso-type button up shirts online (apparently called a gauyabera shirt), he told me he wanted to be Peter Pan. So I'm thinking we'll wait until at least September before I go any buy anything for Halloween.

The Mama Bear also landed a number of lovely new-old things (much to the Papa Bear's chagrin). An enchanting unicorn mug one of our librarians had since college (she's a few years removed from college now!)...

Two silver butter spats with incredible detail. This one has the welcoming pineapple...

And two new kitchen chairs. These are used primarily for standing upon either when I need to reach something on an upper cabinet or when the Little Bear helps me cook, bake or do dishes--something he's been asking to take part in recently. Our former chairs, though high-quality and antique were just not up to the job and I feared for our safety. These oldies are much sturdier...

Speaking of baking...we whipped up a few loaves of Irish soda bread earlier this month for St. Paddy's Day and I must admit I've found myself day-dreaming of them almost every day this past week. Time to make a few more loaves to celebrate winters end me thinks. If you'd like to join me in a warm slice slathered with sweet cream butter and accompanied by a mug of strong black tea, here is the recipe I always use.

Irish American Soda Bread (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

Apparently, "real" Irish soda bread contains neither raisins nor egg, sugar nor butter. Sites that promote traditional soda bread suggest our version should be called a cake, but I don't think "cake" really captures this barely sweet quick bread either. Whatever you call it, this raisin studded loaf is best served warm or, better yet, toasted.

1-2/3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

1 large egg

2/3 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons warm melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together in a large bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the raisins. In another bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk and butter. Add the liquids to the dry and stir just until the ingredients are moistened. The batter will be thick but sticky. Form into a round mound and place on the baking sheet. Slash the top with a large "x" about 1/2 inch deep and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (for about 25 to 30 minutes). Let cook on rack before slicing. Scarf!

p.s. I don't know what is up with the crazy formatting, but I will attempt to fix it as soon as Blogger lets me!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Honey house

I believe we've seen the very last substantial snow storm of the season. And, luckily, it was snowman snow. All winter we've been awaiting the snowman snow. We've had loads of ice-snow and plenty of cotton snow, but I feared spring would come before we were able to build that man of snow. The corn-cob pipe has been waiting since fall. Finally....

He only lasted about three days.

From snow to spring. And this spring, we're leaping head first into beekeeping. Papa Bear is the action sort, and Mama Bear is the planning sort. So, betwixt the two of us, (and with a healthy dose of bickering) we manage to get things done and done well. Lets hope this holds true for welcoming bees into our backyard. While I lectured on getting books, signing up for workshops and finding a mentor, the husband was online ordering two packages of bees and printing out plans for building a top bar hive.

We also took the Little Bear to a bee workshop for kiddos. He LOVED it.

To celebrate our impending adventure, and to quiet the daydreams of mass quanitites of golden honey, we indulged in a sweet treat straight from the expert: Winnie-the-Pooh. We considered the recipe for Marmalade on a Honeycomb, but settled on Apricot Honey Muffins instead. They're not overly sweet and are an incredible breakfast or afternoon tea.

Apricot Honey Muffins (adapted from The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature
1/4 cup dark honey
2/3 cup canned apricots, mashed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon apricot juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
coarse turbino sugar

Preheat oven to 375-degrees-F. Grease muffin pan or line with paper liners. Cream the butter with the honey and add the mashed apricot pulp. Beat in the egg and the apricot juice. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Fold into the web mixture. Fill the muffin pan, top with a sprinkling of coarse turbino sugar and bake 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with sweet cream butter and drizzed with honey.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Zen Tacky

So I've been trying to keep up with an increase in hours at my part-time job and additional freelance projects coming down the pike. While also making time for valuable play with the little bear. (No, no, cleaning has not been on the feasible "to do" list for a while now.) All this means I've been neglecting my lovely blog. I promise a substantial post or two in the coming weeks. Until then, I leave you with a few Zen shots. (Wish I felt as calm and collected as these photos!)

Oh, and I've fallen madly in love: Taza stoneground Mexicano chocolate. It is sweet, bitter and just a little gritty. Kind of like the texture of icing when you don't cream the butter and sugar enough. I know it is a huge no-no, but I adore a good gritty icing now and again. There is something satisfying about feeling the sugar crystals exploding between your teeth. Does that make my tacky?