Monday, March 28, 2011

First Attempt at Food

Yesterday, Allie and Harper had their very first real food, if you can call very milky oatmeal real food. Here is the video, although it is 7 minutes long, so don't feel bad if you get bored. Only their mother can watch this multiple times and be entertained.

In the end, Harper had more food on her bib than in her stomach, but I would say that Allie ate a half a belly full.  They are growing up so fast!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Celebrating Lovey's 50th!

This past weekend, my mom turned the big 5-0!  She wanted nothing more than her family to gather together in Cashiers to celebrate.  The weekend gave me a chance to reflect on what an amazing mother I have.  Becoming a mom myself has brought back memories of the fun and creative things momma did with Tyler, Bobby, and me. Every time the Book Mobile came to Lookout Mountain, we were there, waiting to check out the maximum number of books.  Because she is an artist, we would often go with her to a pottery store to get her creations fired and she would let us pick out a piece of pottery to paint.  One weekend we thought we were driving to Atlanta and Mom and Dad put on Mickey Mouse hats in the car and surprised us with a trip to Disney World.  We acted like we had won the lottery! I have vivid memories of many trips to the nature center to look at animals and read books and have a picnic in the bamboo forest. The holidays are filled with fun traditions she initiated.  Christmas brought nightly readings around a lighted advent wreath, matching PJs, and hide the pickle.  Easter was not Easter without dying eggs and having a hunt.  The food was taken very seriously at Thanksgiving.  Mom was always on the lookout for an educational game.  We had no lack of GeoSafari's, Carmen San Diego games, and flash cards. We also own any board game that has "family fun" printed on the box.

Some of my best family memories are in our silver bullet Airstream trailer.  She hounded dad to purchase a travel trailer (if you know Natalie Huffaker, this is hilarious) so we could take trips up the east coast to Maine and all the way out to Wyoming one summer.  Sometimes we would even set up the trailer at a campground just outside of Chattanooga so mom could create quality family time.  She always hung the fish and shotgun shell Christmas lights on the awning, built a fire (or rather, had dad build one), and created campground ambiance, even if it was just for a one night stay passing through town on the way to our final destination.

Ambiance is momma's specialty.  Only in adulthood have I come to appreciate mom's good taste and hard work to make a home feel like home, a meal a time to linger and talk, and even morning coffee a nostalgic time by the fire. We were thrilled to gather in mountain home she designed and decorated almost single handedly to celebrate our fabulous mom! Here are some pics from the celebration:

Carrot Cake!

Crowning of the Birthday Queen.
Toasts to Mom!

Sisters cookin' dinner!

Harper loves Lovey.

Allie and "D" cheering on the Heels during March Madness.

Saturday afternoon golf for the men, the women went shopping in Highlands.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Foster's Market Chicken

Michael and I really enjoy having friends to dinner and regret that growing blueberries has limited our time to do this.  Sunday afternoon Michael entertained the blueberries while I prepped to cook a proper meal and have friends over to enjoy it.  (I should have secretly recorded his dances for them and the glee he evoked.  Those girls love their daddy.)  Friends wanted the recipes, so I'll post two of them here.

Recently, Michael and I had awesome brussels sprouts at Holeman and Finch and Miller + Union.  They were very simply prepared with only salt, pepper, and shallots (and bacon at H&F), but they were my favorite dish at both places.  My in-laws gave us Wild Abundance for Valentines day and this recipe challenged me to possibly recreate such deliciousness myself.  Apparently, brussels sprouts are vilified because they are so often overcooked and take on a bitter taste, so don't overdo it! I'll type it out in Alice Waters' recipe format and add my notes:

"Salad" of Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Sherry 
Bring one gallon of water seasoned generously with salt to a boil.  Blanch until tender but not mushy, (about 2 minutes)
40 Brussels Sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
Remove immediately and place in a large bowl of ice water to shock.  Pat dry sprouts and set aside.
Whisk together in a small bowl and set aside 
2 Tbls sherry vinegar (I subbed 1 tbls. sherry and 2 tbls white wine vinegar)
1/3 cup olive oil
Render in a large saute pan over medium heat 
8 thick cut bacon slices, cut into short strips
When bacon begins to brown and crisp, add sprouts.  Once sprouts start to take on some color, add
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
When shallots become translucent, coat the salad (still in pan) with sherry vinaigrette to taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Enjoy!

Fosters Market in Chapel Hill was my favorite place to meet friends to study and eat.  This recipe from The Foster's Market Cookbook is easy and when finished, I liked the rustic look of putting the skillet right on a trivet to serve it family style at the table.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Artichokes, Lemons, and Capers
Pound and flatten until 1/3 inch thick
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Season with
Salt and Pepper
2 tbls fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
And dust lightly with
1/3 cup flour
Heat in a large skiller over medium-high heat
3 tbls butter
1 tbls olive oil 
Add the chicken, top with
0ne 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
1/4 cup drained capers
1 lemon, sliced into paper-thin rounds (yes, include the peel)
Cook the breasts 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning once, until light brown and crispy.
6 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
Reduce heat to a simmer, as you scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen browned bits. Simmer about 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened.
Season with additional salt and pepper if desired and and serve immediately.

Hopefully these little blueberries will love brussels sprouts and be confused when cartoon characters gag on them.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Milestone: Rolling Over

Two weeks ago, Allie rolled over for the first time.  Yesterday, Michael incidentally captured Harper's first roll while he was filming Allie.  If you have 3 minutes (sorry, I just couldn't trim out any of her blowing bubbles and dancing), you can see Harper wants to be on camera and rolls into the picture towards the end: