after a picture-perfect weekend of sunny, warm days – particularly at the end of september…in minnesota, no one wants to be the first one to say it. after all, i had just gotten myself warmed up to the idea of fall. and then we had last week in all of its glory, and this morning, we woke up to that chill in the air again. we’re not there just yet – there are sunny days still ahead, but fall is here. in a way, the burst of warm air & sunshine with everyone out & about soaking it all in actually helps the transition. i can’t quite say that i’m fully ready to turn over t-shirts for sweaters & flip-flops for boots, but i have begun the transition a little in the kitchen. we had mediterranean beef stew last week, chili with our small group a few weeks ago, and chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight.
one of my favorite parts of the summer-to-fall season transition is getting to enjoy a little of both. these days, it’s not unusual for me to have a pot of soup simmering and a pile of produce ready to preserve: canning tomatoes, basil, garlic, cucumbers, onion, raspberries. we canned 40 pounds of tomatoes so we can cozy up with warms soups & stews all fall & winter, froze jars of pesto, stashed away jars of jam to open when the first snow flies, and made four pints of a fun, new-to-me version of pickles. the recipe came in one of our CSA weekly newsletters this summer, and friends made them right away. their rave reviews had me slicing cucumbers the next weekend, and here we are. we’re suckers for our CSA’s garlic, so i couldn’t help adding it to the recipe. it didn’t disappoint, and now i can’t get enough of the garlicky, sweet, crunchy little snack.
we’re almost there – just a few hours, and the weekend will be upon us!
miraculously, this weekend i did warm up to the idea of transitioning to fall…just in time for this week to be pretty great! the sweet spot of warm weather this week & weekend is a-ok with me. to celebrate the gorgeous summer weather we’re getting spoiled with, here’s a song that i loved this summer. windows down, radio up, singing (badly), doin’ a little dance in my seat. a few other quintessentially summer songs that i’ve been playing all day:
summertime by none other than will smith & dj jazzy jeff
when dustin and i got engaged, i remember that one of the first things i felt in some of those initial conversations as i shared our exciting news was feeling like i had just gotten invited to a special club. not because of the ring or anything like that, but because as one of the last people to get married in my group of friends, among lots of fun new connections, being engaged allowed me to (finally) be part of the marriage-y conversations. the good, the challenging, the utterly hilarious.
marriage, like all relationships, requires us to be intentional, present, and honest, and having a community to share with and be accountable to has added a richness to our growth as a couple. we are blessed beyond measure to have a community that stretches near and far including friends and groups we meet and share with individually as well as family and friends that we hang out with together. we are also incredibly grateful to have been welcomed together as a couple into a couples small group. we get together monthly at one of our houses for dinner, a considerable amount of laughter, and conversation about marriage, challenges, joys, faith, encouragement.
this month’s dinner was this past weekend, and we had volunteered to bring dessert. i woke up saturday morning super excited to find a new recipe to try, and it didn’t take me long to do so. my search ended when my heart got set on bon appétit’s caramel budinos with salted caramel sauce (“budino” is Italian for “pudding”). they had me at caramel. topped with salted caramel.
happy friday! here’s to savoring this last official weekend of summer. maybe next week i’ll be more ok with transitioning to fall? i’m not sold on the idea yet…
is anyone else pumped for shows to start up again next week? in honor of the the big bang theory kicking off on monday, here’s a little throwback to one of my very favorite (and for sure the most quoted, at our house) sheldon scene. do you have a favorite?
friends, i won’t beat around the bush. this banana bread: oh! my! i’m not typically a person that dubs things as “the best.” my list of things that start with an emphatic lead-in is pretty short, unless we’re talking about my husband. so to go to extremes about banana bread of all things seems pretty ridiculous. it’s a simple recipe, and there are limitless spins on this classic. i just hadn’t ever found one that i particularly loved. so, when in search of a new old thing, where else does one turn but to Google. when my search lead me to this recipe (among a sea of others) earlier this year, the name kinda turned me off. “ultimate”? yeah, right.
those smarty pants at america’s test kitchen know what they are doing, though, because every so often, i’d think about the recipe. as luck would have it, we didn’t end up making as many breakfast smoothies last week. i eyed the bananas mottling perfectly on the counter & Googled “america’s test kitchen ultimate banana bread.” this time i noticed a video in the search results. since i’m an ATK nerd (they always teach me fun new things that make so much sense) i watched it, and i was finally convinced. if for no other reason than the recipe called for all brown sugar (be still, my beating heart), i at least i needed to give the recipe a chance.
happy monday, brave ones. i am convinced that sometimes the most brave thing we do is show up. for anyone needing a little extra encouragement, you’re not alone. push aside fear & choose brave. deep breath. chin up. you got this, and you are loved beyond measure.
so we get this CSA box each week. if you know me or we interact in any way, you are well aware of this ;o) each week’s box is packed with the most delicious fruit, herbs, and vegetables we sink our teeth into all year, and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite experiences of the entire year. to me, it is the epitome of summer: the play of the hot sun on warm days & cool nights creating beautiful harvests, the mouthwatering taste of the freshest, most succulent fruits & veggies, and relationships built with our kind, generous farmers. laura, adam & their staff are truly some of the most joyful people, and they are sold out with passion for all things farming & loving on their members. i’ve said it before, and i imagine i’ll say it for all of my days: we have the very best CSA, and we could not be more thankful for them.
having such an incredible bounty to work with keeps us on our toes as we make sure to take full advantage of it. that is, for anything that isn’t practically devoured on the spot. those mixed heirloom & sungold cherry tomatoes are – no joke – like candy! the carrots are what carrots should really look & taste like. i wouldn’t fathom peeling them – a little scrub, and they are good to go. then there is the garlic; we savor every clove. dustin is convinced it is the best garlic he’s ever tasted (i agree wholeheartedly but love that he’s so passionate about it). at the end of the season, we buy as much garlic as we can to last us as far into fall & winter as possible. we have growing list of go-to recipes that help us maximize every last morsel of the goodness, but there are still scraps, right? peels from cucumbers, discarded carrot tops, garlic & onion skins. it was almost painful to toss them out!