in my kitchen || journal #1


"Cooking well doesn't mean cooking fancy." 

Julia Child

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Such good words. Wasn't she just a wealth of culinary wisdom? I think I should frame this for my kitchen. It's a good reminder for me, for what I want the heartbeat of our kitchen to be. I want to cook well; to learn and love the art of it, to stretch myself, to know my ingredients, to get comfortable creating on my own, to make good food, whether it's scrambled eggs, a simple salad, or a charcuterie board.

A part of this comes from the atmosphere we create in our kitchen, I think. I want to bring people into my kitchen, to let my kids make messes -- heck, to let myself make a mess, to be brave with flavors and attempt new things like homemade pasta. I want our kitchen to be a place where people desire to be, to nurture that atmosphere of good food and great conversations. I want to do things well, just as Julia said. 

This kitchen journal is my desire to document not just the new recipes we try and love, but much more than that, the scenery that's going on behind those recipes. I want to document what we were doing, what was the atmosphere in our home, who was present, what was my heart feeling, what did I notice in that moment on that day in this sweet sacred space: our kitchen.


On this particular evening, I was craving some alone time. The afternoon had held a very fussy baby, a sad Anna Kate who had spilled hot chocolate on our off-white carpet (the day we finally get to rip that carpet out will be one met with much rejoicing), and a needy puppy annoyingly begging for her dinner. I was feeling a bit frayed.

Enter some evening sunshine and that superhero man I'm married to. Once I got the babe asleep, he took the fur-child and our big kid out for a walk in the brisk February air and said, "enjoy yourself, love." A calm fell over the house. I'm learning in those first moments of calm to just be quiet for a minutes, to reset my heart a bit, to ask the Lord to help me make the most of the time and bed ready to meet my people well when they walk back in the door. 

With Sinatra and a glass of moscato as my companions, I set to making dinner. Greek Chicken Souvlaki and Potatoes from Half Baked Harvest were on the menu that night. It was chopping, tossing, and sneaking bites of feta and kalamata olives as the evening light poured through the window. The pan went in the oven (this recipe is delightfully simple), the rice cooked up, and I set the table, swaying to "the way you look tonight" as I laid the plates and forks on the table.

J and AK walked in at just the right time, red-cheeked from the chill and ready to settle into a warm dinner. The meal itself was a winner, but more than that, it was conversation around the table, hearing about the walking adventure, a peacefully sleeping babe, and the faces of the ones I love most. It was a real evening of "us", marked by the still very new adjustment to life with 2 little ones, a reminder of where I must always draw my strength, and a sweet husband handing me a bit of time.

The Lord is so good to meet us in our imperfect ordinary. He doesn't waste a thing.

recipe || homemade granola

I never mind when the granola jar gets low because that just means more needs to be made, and there's little else that makes the house smell as good as it does when we bake granola. 

This is a recipe from my sweet momma, as so many of our favorite recipes are, and it continues to be passed on and on. It has become a staple in many of our friend's homes after they've tried it here. It's so simple to make and easy to add your own spin to so it can please every palate. And you can double or even triple it if you want to gift some of it or use it as favors for a shower, as we did for my little sister's wedding shower earlier this year. I mean, how cute are little mason jars filled with granola and tied with a bit of twine or ribbon?? 

So, my friends, welcome to our kitchen again. I hope that this granola feels just as cozy to you each time you make it as it does to me.

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Homemade Granola

4 cups rolled oats

1-2 cups nuts (chopped pecans, shaved almonds, walnuts)

3/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)

2-4 tsp. milled flax seed (optional)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dark or light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. real maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, wheat germ, and flax seed. In a separate bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and vanilla by whisking together well. 

Pour onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or whatever else you prefer.

Revel in the glorious smell and enjoy!

collection || recipes for rainy days

At the risk of being a complete broken record here, I'll say it again:

I love all things cozy.

In my estimation, rainy days are perched high atop the list of what makes a day cozy. Now, the very best of rainy days are when they are accompanied by cool temperatures, sweaters and flannel blankets, a classic read or a classic film, and your hands wrapped around the warmth of a mug full of something delicious. So when the first rainy autumn days make their arrival I thrill. My husband knows this so well about me that when he spots such days coming on the weather app he'll send me the forecast via text with some sweet comment about just how happy he's knows this will make me. 

I love cozy rainy autumn days.

Yes, it is true. And forever it shall remain. Those other may mock me or be shocked that I could love such a day (and they have) I will stand steadily by this love of mine.

So when I spotted some more days bearing this description in the forecast for this week and next I thought I would share with you lovelies some of our favorite rainy day recipes. Some of our go-to's when that chill in the air is accompanied by those pitter-pattering sounds. 

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Soups and stews are musts in this list. This Irish Stew is the very definition of comfort food and when you make it -- because you must -- it must be paired with a good (as in chock full of butter and other dairy products) mashed potato recipe and a crusty-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside bread.

This chicken gnocchi soup is like a warm hug. Our favorite roasted tomato soup recipe paired with an oozey grilled cheese. And no stew list would be complete with a nod to dear Julia's beef bourguignon. The woman was just a fountain of foodie wisdom.

Pasta. Always pasta. This spaghetti with white wine and roasted tomato cream sauce has such great flavor from those roasted tomatoes. This marinara sauce is so simple and quick and makes for a delicious combination with a warm baguette and heavy sprinkles of parmesan.

Finally, the baking. You must always have baking. The apple crisp in the picture up there we made twice in a couple weeks period. So simple and tasty, especially paired with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. These pumpkin donuts are so good, like really really. Up the spice amount a bit and just dip them in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar if you don't want to worry about the caramel glaze and you'll be oh so happy.

My precious mama's pumpkin bread is the best of all the pumpkin breads. Just look at the amount of spices she puts in. She knows her way around a kitchen. If you like, you can make a little cream cheese/powdered sugar concoction to spread across the top of your slices of pumpkin bread and then you shall achieve pure fall bliss.

These carmelita bars. Gracious, they are yummy. These with a fresh cup of coffee and you'll be closing your eyes and making all the "mmmmm" sounds with the best of 'em. I discovered these bars on pinterest a few years ago and tried them on a whim for a Christmas party for J's work. They were devoured and highly requested afterwards. A favorite was born.

Lastly, the biscotti recipe from my lovely friend, Rachel's. She lives in Minnesota now and I miss so much our long chats over cups of coffee and pieces of fresh biscotti while our littles play. But I love how making a recipe like this stirs up memories and so many reasons to be thankful.

I think that's why recipes become dear to us. Along with the fabulous tastes and the comfort of spending time in your kitchen you build memories around recipes as you share it in that moment in time with family and friends. Sometimes tears fall into a bowl of soup, sometimes you come close to choking on a bite of pumpkin bread because you're laughing just that hard, sometimes you share news or clink celebratory wine glasses together over a plate of pasta, but always, you are building up those memory blocks. Then the next time you are trying to think of something warm and wonderful to make you find yourself drawn to that particular recipe because it's so much more than a good blend of ingredients.

Stay cozy, lovely ones, and Bon Appétit!