Classic Cheesecake

cheesecake-3 You guys, berries.
I made this cheesecake for the berries.

I go a little fruit crazy this time of year, at the first sign of berries popping up in the market. I buy a pint of strawberries, or two, and then the grocery store starts doing 2 for $5 raspberries, and suddenly my refrigerator is 74% berries.

And the thing about berries is, you have to eat them fast. Like three-days-max fast, even if you’re slightly maniacal like I am and transfer your berries into paper-towel-lined containers the minute you get home from the store so that they can all lay nicely in a single layer.

If you were sensible, you might eat some berries – in yogurt, for a snack – and then easily freeze* the remainder for smoothies  to have when it’s unbearably hot and humid in a few weeks. But maybe you’re like me and decide to make cheesecake as another vehicle for berries because fresh berries and cheesecake? BFFs for life.

More Please

Mine

fishing Last Sunday was one of the beautiful days – warm and sunny and weekendy. When evening came, Eric’s dad got his fishing boat ready, while we got Owen ready. Sunblock, hat, snacks, carseat, as Owen, over and over again, happily informed us: “Me goin’ fishing!”

Yes, Owen was going fishing. He had gone fishing with my dad earlier in the month, and since then every stick we’d come across had become his fishing pole. He would cast it, pretend to reel, and then yell, for all the playground to hear: “I got a big one!” Over and over and over. And now, we were about to go fishing. On a boat. And I thought he was going to hyperventilate.

fishing-2

Owen’s face after he caught his first fish

More Please

Easy Pea Pesto

pesto-pasta-4

Today, my good friend Rachel and I took all the babies to the zoo.

I had Elsa in an Ergo; she had Ollie, who is just nine days younger, in hers.
I chased Owen, who is somehow and heartbreakingly almost two years old.
She chased just-turned-three Archie.

We both pushed strollers, which were mostly there to carry the diaper bags. And Rachel rightly compared our movement to that of covered wagons on the prairie – slow and weighed down by only the most necessary of provisions – goldfish, graham crackers, diapers, and sippy cups.

More Please

Overheard, Vol. 2

owen-3

Learning How Things Work:
Owen: Mom, cn I have some yer juice?
Me: No, you have your own juice on the table.

(30 second pause)

Owen: I’m sick.
Me: Oh, that’s too bad. What part of you is sick?
Owen: My aaaaarm. It hurts.
Me: I’m sorry. What do you think would help?
Owen: Me drink yer juice.

More Please

Roasted Strawberry & White Chocolate Scones

scone-1 Your mom called, and she wants these scones for Mother’s Day.

A few weekends ago, I was setting up to test this recipe for the first time. When Eric asked me what I was making for the blog, his response was:

“Scones? Boring.”

He proceeded to tell me how he’s never really enjoyed a scone in his life and was totally not persuaded that these were going to be amazing, even after I told him about my inspiration for them.

More Please

What Love Is

dad

My Dear Children,

The days will eventually come when you will think that your dad and I are systematically trying to ruin your lives. You will roll your eyes and shake your proverbial fists at the heavens, because we will say all the clichés like That shirt leaves no room for the imagination!  and No, you cannot go to THAT party! and you will wonder how it is that we could hate you so much.

But you need to know that my love for you is deep. It is overwhelming.

I know this because I will be driving by myself, and I will see an ambulance, or a train, or maybe even a tractor go by and I will think Oh! I wish Owen could have seen that. I know it in the moments that you are asleep, Owen, and a squirrel sits perched on our backsteps, so close to the door, and I think briefly about waking you up so that you could watch it with me because I know you would hyperventalate with joy. This is the love I have for you.

More Please

Sausage, Spinach, & Artichoke Pasta “Wonderpot”

wonder-pot-pasta-3 You may be wondering what exactly a “wonderpot” is.

Is it…
(A) A sneaky trick I’m playing on marijauna users who are busy googling their drug of choice?
(B) A fabulous one-pot recipe in which the pasta, sides, and sauce are all cooked together in one giant pot, meriting the cheers of the dishwasherless nationwide?
(C) Both?

You’re totally right. The answer is C.

More Please

15-Minute Coconut Breakfast Quinoa

Coconut-Breakfast-Quinoa-2 It all started with two inches of frost on the inside of our chest freezer.

Two months ago, I opened up the freezer to toss something in there, and I saw that we had a legit defrosting situation on our hands. But, the freezer was full to the brim of bags and bags of frozen veggies, of individually wrapped chicken breasts, of loaves of bread – all bought in bulk and when on sale because I am physically incapable of passing up a good deal – especially when I know I can stock up, squirrel-style, and keep it in the freezer.

And so I determined that in March, I would make as many meals as possible from what we already had in our freezer and pantry, only getting a few fresh dairy and produce items from the grocery store each week. I had a lot of fun coming up with meals out of our ordinary routine…and for the most part, it worked. I came up with some winners (baked apple butter pork chops over wild rice) and some definite losers (rice bowl with avocado, salsa, cheese…aaaand cut up bits from a leftover grilled hamburger). Seriously, don’t ever eat that.

Coconut-Breakfast-Quinoa-

But after a month of purging our pantry and freezers, I still had the quinoa. The quinoa I bought on impulse at Costco two years ago. The quinoa that had moved into progressively smaller containers every few months. Yeah, that quinoa.

More Please

Bread of Life

bread-of-life

1
It starts simply.
Some flour, some water, then yeast.
It is mixed, and it is active.
It is alive.
Kneaded and pounded, then left to rest.
It is filled with air and rises with potential.
It is baked, and the aroma is intoxicating.
The smell of baking bread.
The aroma beckons us.
It speaks to us of home and comfort and sustenance.

2
The time has come.
The loaf is removed.
And there it sits, perfect in form and fragrance.
We gather around the cooling bread.
This loaf – which, done right, has been long in the making.
Forearms tired from kneading. All of that waiting.
And for what?
We rip into the bread, destroying all of the work with every bite.
The bread is consumed.
And in its death, we are fed. We are nourished.
It dies that we might live.

3

Photo Credit

Kindness

kindness He was wearing sunglasses inside.

Right there, in the library on Saturday morning. He stood there, near the checkout computer, eyes covered and with an scraggly white beard that had hints of tobacco stain. He wore black, some leather, and seemed out of place, surrounded by parents’ lugging Trader Joe’s tote bags of books and their toddlers hyped up on the recently ended storytime.

I was one of those parents. Owen, Elsa, and I had gone to the storytime that morning because it was Saturday and Eric had to be gone all day and I felt sorry for myself that this weekend day felt like every other day of the week. We needed to get out of the house. So, with Elsa in the Ergo, I’d done my best to contain Owen’s endless energy for the duration of the storytime…and then, between chasing Owen down as he raced around the bookshelves and trying to keep Elsa asleep, I managed to find a bunch of new books to take home.

books Baby in carrier, toddler firmly in hand, I lugged our thirty pounds of books towards the checkout computer. The mom in the front of the line checked out their fifty-seven books, while Owen tugged and tugged on my hand and Elsa started to make that squirming sound which, ignored long enough, erupts into what is definitely not a library-friendly squawk.

More Please

Cheesy Roasted Asparagus & Bacon Melts

asparagus-open-sandwich

So yesterday it was 70* here, and my spring checklist was in full force.

Robin in the backyard? Check.
Tulip buds poking through the ground? Check.
Obligatory Minnesotan in shorts, sandals, and a tank top? Check.

The kids and I spent the morning at Como Zoo along with every other family of preschool-aged kids in the metro area. And I ended the day by having dinner on a !patio! with a good friend. I kind of felt like I was giving Spring a hug the entire day, and it was fantastic.

More Please

Overheard

coffee

Over breakfast…
Owen: (pointing upstairs) Mama, der’s a gian eccavader up der!
Me: Um, I don’t think there’s a giant excavator upstairs. That’s pretty funny though.
Both: (chewing toast)
Me: (sipping coffee and stretching)
Owen: Mama’s tired.
Me: That’s actually true.

Friday Morning, April 4, with 6″ of snow on the ground….
Eric: Doesn’t seem to be many kids walking down the sidewalk to school today.
Me: Maybe they cancelled school because of snow………oh wait! It’s spring break this week.
Both: (silence)

snow-2

More Please

The Starfish Throwers

image from southernsonomacountrylife.com/

Eric and I tend to seek out movies that have been described by my mom, among others, as “quirky” and “weird.” We can’t disagree; I mean, for weeks now we’ve been scheming a way to see The Grand Budapest Hotelnot knowing whether Elsa could keep her cool for two hours in the theater and not being ready to leave her sometimes-bottle-refusing self with a babysitter just yet.

But quirky, weird, or not, it’s not often that we’ll turn down the chance to see a documentary. We’re pretty much documentary junkies, and we’re definitely those people that you’ll overhear at a party obnoxiously praising the merits of some obscure documentary we’ve just seen. It’s true.

So when we were contacted about our interest in seeing The Starfish Throwers,  we were more than on board. The documentary tells the story of three individuals who are doing incredible work to take on hunger. The key here is individuals – Katie, a nine-year old girl in South Carolina, Allan, a retired school teacher in Minneaoplis (represent!), and Narayanan, a top-tier chef in India. All three made a small choice to do what they could with what they had to help the people in need around them, and all three have had tremendous impact on their communities.

What impressed me was that these three people are actually doing the work of feeding the hungry. They are the faces bringing food, bringing compassion. And while they now have a wider network of people who are contributing to their efforts, it is still the three of them happily and deeply involved in the day to day interactions with the food and the people. Their work and stories show that everything big starts small. I loved that.

More Please

Sweet & Savory Pancakes

pancakes-3 The seat of your car being too cold in winter.
Your chest freezer needs to be defrosted again.
Having to take more than one trip in from the car with your groceries over icy sidewalks.

These are all totally legit first world problems.

But perhaps the most difficult first world problem of all?
Whether to go sweet or savory when going out for breakfast.

I struggle with this every single time. And I always default to savory – an omelette with toast or a big plate of scrambled hash goodness. Because I just can’t fathom eating an entire plate of french toast – the same flavor bite after bite. But doesn’t everyone want to end on something sweet? Just a little nibble of maple-syrup-soaked pancakes before draining that last sip of coffee? I mean, you guys are with me, right?

pancakes-1

More Please

Eyes to See

Eyes to See Oh, Owen.
This morning was a train wreck.

Though I know better, I couldn’t drag myself out from under our flannel sheets until just minutes before your dad had to leave for work. When I heard him putting shoes on, I knew things were about to get real.

More Please

New Seasons

Two months ago, Elsa arrived, and we, as a family, could suddenly fill over half of a mini-van. Where once there was one carseat, now there is two. What I’d like to tell you is that I’m caught up! We’re back on a consistent daily routine! All of us are happy all of the time! 

But the reality is that sometimes Owen wakes up for the day at 5:15 instead of 7:00. Sometimes Elsa eats every two hours, sometimes she’ll go four. Baskets of unfolded laundry are slowly taking over my house. And sometimes I feel like I’m caught up in a swirling cyclone of unanswered mail.

We are adjusting. It’s slow but sure.

It’s usally 9:30 at night before I have a minute to really sit down and breathe. And by that point, all I want is to watch something mindless. But all throughout the day, there are thousands of moments: the absurd, the hilarious, the anxious, the deeply sad. And I am processing these moments, ever aware of how much they are changing me.

More often than not, I am alone with these reflections during the day. At times, I try them out on Owen; he usually responds with a request (“Play castle?”), a demand (“Juice please!”), or complete silence. It is not amazingly helpful.

And so I write. Sometimes just a jotted sentence as a reminder. Sometimes a flood of words the second both kids are sleeping during naptime. Sometimes something more structured later that night. But I write to process…and then make Eric read it while I intently watch his face (it’s as annoying as it sounds).

I am trying so hard to embrace all of the changes that this additional little one has brought with her. To “Carpé the crap out of this Season” as we like to say. And part of doing that will be making some changes to the blog. Going forward, I’d love to share some of these reflections with you.

Don’t worry. There will still be recipes because there are just so many cheese-based dishes out there that I have yet to try. And the recipes will still be seasonal. But on a somewhat regular basis, I plan to throw my non-culinary thoughts out there too. Doing this will free up a little extra time for me to nibble on my newborn’s cheeks rather than take 124 pictures of (increasingly cold) enchiladas…but more importantly, I’m hoping it will give me further chances to connect with you!

I’m so grateful for all of you who read Carpé Season. And I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met – virtually and for reals – through this little corner of the World Wide Web. I hope you know that.

Here’s to new seasons.

 

Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

We’re just days away from the first day of spring. And It’s trying to be spring. It really is.

Here in Minnesota, we’ve had just a couple of those really warm days – the kind where you don’t really need a jacket. The snowbanks are diminishing, leaving gray piles of rock-hard ice and road-salt behind, but it’s okay because there are puddles everywhere, and sometimes you can even hear birds chirping.

owen-puddles

But the reality is that we’re still a couple of months away from flip-flops and fresh produce.

seasons-winter-comic-funny-cartoon- (1)

image from the blog A Cup of Jo; illustration by Sarah Lazarovic

And around here, we’re still happily on the winter-comfort-food bandwagon.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

More Please

Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly Pasta with Sausage & Pumpkin-Cream Sauce

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce and Sausage Sometimes...awkard things just happen. And over dinner the other night, Eric and I were reflecting about these moments…when your interaction just takes a turn for the weird. Our conversation started with a mishap Eric had last week as he was walking into the parking garage after work. Apparently he’d had his head turned around while holding a door for a fellow walker and then proceeded to basically T-bone a parked car at full walking speed.

I may have laughed so hard that water came out of my nose. (Also, I would pay like $500 to have that security camera footage.)

Once I stopped laughing and got my breath back, I responded by asking…”Did I tell you about what happened in church last Sunday?”

Somehow, I hadn’t.

Here’s how it went down. 
More Please

Make-Ahead, Freezer Friendly Stacked Enchiladas

Stacked Enchiladas Now that the wonderful tidal wave of family visits has receded, we are busy finding our new normal. Most days, we are home, with no plans to leave the house again until mid-April when we no longer need eighteen layers of boots and hats and mittens and coats.

These days are full of nursing sweet Elsa and laughing with Owen at her catastrophically loud belches.

More Please

Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly “Sloppy Juffins” (BBQ Beef Biscuit Cups)

Sloppy Juffins - (BBQ Beef Cups) Let’s talk about last Thursday, okay?

Last Thursday, Elsa was three weeks old and still mostly oblivious to the world. Last Thursday, Owen woke up with a recurring rash once again all over his face. Last Thursday, I cried when I saw Owen’s returning rash and ate a cookie for breakfast.

We were in week six of the War of the Rash and the rash was totally winning the emotional battle. So, after my cookie, I got on the phone and calmly explained to the nurse on the other end of the phone that my son needed to be rid of this face rash….today.

More Please