Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Camping: Past and Future

Both my husband and I, not to mention our kids,  enjoy camping.  There is something about being away from the daily routine of the same old, same old (though with kids it is hardly same old, but still), unplugging ourselves from most every technologically advanced tool, watching the night sky bright with stars while lying on a picnic table, doing some kind of water activity all with the company of good friends that appeals to us.   Living out of a duffle bag and a handful of kitchen supplies also appeals to us.   I love cooking outdoors and find it I do just fine cooking meals on one skillet and one pot.   But, almost every time we go, while feeling like we are taking half of the house with us, we still forget one thing or another.   Some things, we could do without, but others, such as a flashlight, the thing we forgot this time around, is pretty useful while in the middle of a forest.  So, in an effort to leave useless things behind, and be well prepared for our next trip, I am putting together a list. While I do that, I wanted to share some of the memories from this last weekend.  

BIG, yummy trout

Baby learning how to ride a two wheeler.  He can pretty much do it on his own now.

Log riding was popular.  
The kids seemed not to be bothered by all the driftwood on the beach.

                                                         All this camping is exhausting!

Love this picture of Abby.  
Finding tadpoles was even more popular.  The kids were occupied for hours!  
 Before returning the poor things back to the lake.  

These are pictures from the 4th of July weekend when we stopped by for a day to visit Peter's most entire family who were camping there then.

 Small boat riding.  
 Big boat riding

 Big boat broke :(

Good sweet, summer memories.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Funny Them

I know that I will not be the first parents to utter the phrase "my kids crack me up".   Their sense of humor and funny ways of doing things is what makes our big parents' hearts melt and forgive and forget everything even when we are a little upset with them.  We laugh out loud and grin hourly.   In our family, the funniest kid is currently the baby.  It is probably a combination of his personality and being three.   And perhaps because the older two are currently practicing potty humor which after a while is not that funny to me, if ever.

But the baby, the baby's humor is clean.  It is innocent, light, and it is often unbeknown to him that he the reason his mom just left the room is to get out a much needed laugh so not to embarrass him.

Some days, he asks me if I love him on an hourly basis.  Other times, he confirms that he indeed was sugar today and accepts that he was a little bet of spice as well.   He is the kid who loves to please, stays away from trouble and is rarely naughty which manifests itself in all kinds of funny things.   He changes his outfits at least three times a day and is the first one to get dressed and ready to go in the morning.    He tells people that prefers to be called Tim or Timofey and not Timka.  And as much as I don't like it when he drags me out of bed in the morning because he is hungry the minute he wakes up, I do it because all the kid asks for every morning is cereal.  How difficult is that to make?

But, what I wanted to document in this entry are these pictures of him in his outfits today.

This was the second time he changed and he happened to match!  Sometime today, he came down dressed in his church dress shirt and his Easter pants. Maybe realizing that mom will not be taking him anywhere on the day she is packing for camp, he decided to take a nap.  I found him like this when I came down from working on business things upstairs.

Maybe this is how your kid takes his naps every day and you don't think this is one of the cutest things on Earth.  But I know that this child NEVER does this.  He needs to be either be read to for a long time or taken for a ride to nap these days.

Next school year, it will just the two of hanging out together for a while before the baby comes.  Yes, the baby!!!  I will have to write about our new addition this winter later.  I know we will have a blast and look forward to having many more laughs.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Raspberry Lemon Bundt Cake

I was at Trader Joe's the other day and picked up their Lemon Raspberry Bundt Cake.  Since about last summer, we stopped buying baked goods because I have discovered what homemade goodies taste like and cost and also discovered that making them was really no big hassle.  But, that bundt cake looked really good so I picked it up.   As I was enjoying a piece with tea, I decided to look up some recipes that would make something similar.  Plus, I had some left over raspberries (unused in varenie because I ran out of cans!) I was anxious to use up so now I had to try to make my own.

I know that this is not a cooking blog, but I post some of the recipes here for a couple of reasons.  First, if I don't, I will lose them, and second, by having the things I attempt turn out, I hope to inspire some of you out there who never bake that if I (with my very limited knowledge and experience) could do it, you can too!  Really, you can.   So, here is a cake that we all enjoyed yesterday with housemates from Vladivostok to whom we are currently renting our basement.

The original recipe came from here.  I changed a couple of things, but it was pretty easy to follow overall.

Raspberry Lemon Bundt Cake
makes one 9″ bundt cake
for the cake
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
zest from 4 lemons
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons almond meal (I got mine from Trader Joe's but Bob's Red Mill sells it too)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
for the glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons raspberry, or other dark pink, juice
7 – 10 raspberries, halved

Liberally butter an 8 or 9” bundt pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes more. Add in the eggs one at a time, and then the lemon zest.   Set it aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine the lemon juice, yogurt, and vanilla. With mixer on low, add in a bit of the flour mixture, then the liquid, flour, liquid again, and finally the remaining flour.

Spoon a thin layer of batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle roughly half the raspberries on top. Add another thin layer of batter, and then scatter the remaining berries. Spoon in the remaining batter.
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs and the cake is a light golden brown.

Cool for 45 minutes, and then flip cake onto a platter. Allow the cake to cool completely. To frost, whisk the confectioners sugar, lemon juice, and raspberry juice. Spoon onto the cake, garnish with raspberries and serve.

Goes well with an afternoon coffee :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

July is for....

strawberries!  It used to be June, but with the cold Spring we've had over the last couple of years, strawberries are ripening later.  I am so glad I dragged myself out of bed yesterday morning to go to the field for some picking.    Even though this was their second round, there were plenty of strawberries there and just as many people of my native origin to pick them!  I am telling you, the u-picks are thriving here because of the 200,000+ of us who live in this area and love to pick them not to eat fresh but to  make varenye (Russian form of jam without pectin so its more liquid than solid).  Varenye.  Sign.  Maybe a day will come when I learn how to make a good one that doesn't require  a ton of sugar, and yet does not taste sour and has a decent shelf life.  Also, all the recipes I've looked at give me measurements of sugar/berry ratio in kgs.  First of all,  I don't have a scale, and second, I wouldn't even be able to estimate because we don't operate here in kgs.  Anyway, I have my varenye on the stove now with sugar "na glas" (estimated amount).   We'll see.

I do want to share a great strawberry muffin recipe I found online.  I want to post it here because I know I will lose it come strawberry season next year.  My muffins turned out wonderful, very light and fluffy. Today, I will try to make them with whole wheat flour.  I got the recipe here.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped strawberries
3 tsps sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture. Add vanilla. Gently stir in strawberries.
Spoon batter into muffin pans with liners.
Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.
Bake at 400º for 20-25 minutes.
Makes one dozen muffins.