I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show. As a result, I’ve been in a bit of a baking craze and made these cinnamon buns and now the carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese buttercream. I had great helpers.
Both Eliza and Sophia were great pipers much to my surprise. I like baking with the girls as it provides a welcome reprieve from their typical play. They get to be creative and we learn about science (e.g., what does baking soda do in a batter and what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder). Besides that, we visited Bartram’s Garden which was just lovely. The weather was beautiful and the girls enjoyed exploring. It is difficult to believe that such peace and solitude can be found in the city.
An ice cream sundae isn’t particularly difficult to pull off if you’re not churning your own. We start churning our own once strawberries hit the farmer’s market. As such, this is store bought vanilla and chocolate with homemade hot fudge and whip cream, and a cherry on top. iSi canisters are the bomb! The kids (big and small) loved decorating their bowl with what seemed like endless whipped cream.
Sunday suppers with friends and family is something we feel we finally accomplish more or less gracefully. We hosted our very first one this Sunday and everyone helped; Sophia and Eliza assisted in capturing the menu on brown paper really enjoying drawing the pictures for every dish. I cooked the main, and Evan cooked the sides. The dinner menu was Mexican-themed complete with a tangy salad, guacamole, enchiladas verdes and, of course, arroz con pollo. I tend to gravitate toward dishes that have a lot of vegetables and color. They always look so appetizing esp. when presented on white serving ware.
My sister and I are, despite having a near 10 year age difference, dessert twins. She didn’t skip a beat and read the menu from the bottom up wanting to know exactly how we plan to finish the meal. I asked everyone to hold culinary and hostess gifts since we prefer to keep things casual so the girls were showered with goodies instead. Aunt Anna is single-handedly ensuring that Eliza and Sophia’s library of books rivals this one. I haven’t met a book Anna bought for my girls that they didn’t like including this, this, and many, many others.
And after dinner, most kids (some bigger and older than others, ehem) retired to the living area for a few rounds of party games. Sunday supper was just perfect. We’ll be keeping this tradition.
What a blustery, blistery, and cold weekend. Someone told me that a cold front was moving from Siberia of all places down through Canada and toward us. I’ve never been to Siberia but I imagine that Friday evening’s weather was exactly how cold it must be there.
The kids are at this great age where they still believe in princesses, fairytales, and magic. Marveling and relishing this, we decided to start some new (to us) traditions like having the girls decorate a gingerbread house. We also baked snickerdoodle cookies—an experience that included a completely flour-covered kitchen, many giggles, and lots and lots of snacking too close to dinner.
We spent the rest of the weekend watching movies, decorating a new year’s tree (a tradition from my own childhood) and wrapping Hannukah presents. The highlight of the weekend, which also concluded it, was a visit to The Miracle on 13th Street where we marveled at a beautiful holiday oasis that seems to appear out of nowhere as you drive deep into South Philadelphia. Lovely.
We didn’t notice if it was cold outside when we were walking through this wonderland — we were too enchanted.
Our friends came for brunch on Sunday and brought an amazing rendition of snickerdoodle pie. Baking cinnamon-infused cookie dough into crispy pie crust really is a no brainer. I saved the recipe and shall have to learn how to make it very, very well by practicing often. Brunch was a simple affair and, in addition to the snickerdoodle pie, included buttermilk pancakes, turkey meatballs that the girls have dubbed amazeballs, and vanilla-bean cheesecake (all homemade). The kids played together and the adults conversed and tried to keep up with the continuous pancake, juice, and meatball requests.
That was Sunday which we kept in line with the long weekend’s theme keeping things low-key and focusing on spending time with Sophia and Eliza. Saturday we took the girls out for chocolate croissants and
coffee steamed milks, saw the Comcast Center’s Holiday Spectacular, made sour cherry hand-pies, and made a super comforting roast chicken dinner.
Friday, for a real treat, we took the girls to the Please Touch Museum for a morning of play and discovery. We were there shortly after the museum opened and the girls didn’t skip a beat heading downstairs to the grocery store and hospital exhibits.
Before Friday, there was Thanksgiving which we spent with my family in Wilmington, Delaware having contributed a home-made cranberry pie with a streusel topping. The pie featured a home-made crust of which I am very proud of having gone as far as to blind bake it.
I had plenty of little fingers to help me measure out all the ingredients, stir the cranberries in the pot, and decorate the top with streusel.
Thanksgiving was just as we liked it — fairly small, warm, and delicious. It was a real treat to just kick back and relax.
In the end, even after all the other pictures featuring mouthwatering pies and glossy berries, this one (see above) is my favorite. It was taken using my phone and isn’t particularly well-framed but it conveys the very essence what our daily life is about — developing and nurturing a bond between Sophia and Eliza. Here is Sophia helping Eliza zip up her coat. She did this without us prompting simply because she wanted to help and to be the big sister. This Thanksgiving break was epic.
Two. Eliza turned two yesterday. These past two years have been a whirlwind—a happy, chaotic, tumultuous whirlwind. Eliza is truly a little piece of sunshine. She has captured our hearts and souls and we love her to the moon and back, twice over.
This year, I opted for a strawberry cream cake which was a chiffon cake with macerated strawberries and a cream/cream cheese frosting. It was incredibly light, not too-sweet and tasted of June, of strawberries, and of family celebrations. Eliza, much like both of her parents, liked the frosting and the strawberries over the cake itself.
Kids now-a-days have so many toys that most parents, including us, have a difficult time finding ample storage and managing the inevitable clutter. The best possible entertainment, I find, are activities that we make ourselves and not ones that are specifically for the kids anyway. We involve the girls in our everyday life encouraging and expecting that they participate in our family life. One such example was the making of a Vanilla Bean Raspberry Swirl cheesecake which both Sophia and Eliza helped me make. Eliza helped weigh out the graham crackers and Sophia crushed them and mixed the melted butter into the crumb mixture. Sophia also helped swirl the unbelievably good raspberry sauce before we put the cake into the oven. She loved being so creative with the swirling. The cheesecake turned out out of this world and a recipe is forthcoming.Speaking of homemade or handmade or made at home and by hand is this beautiful quilt. My sister Anna has taken two years to make it and it was worth the wait. It is so special because it is made especially for Eliza. The design is bright and airy—it isn’t too girly because of its geometrical pattern structure but hints of femininity with its bright pinks and reds. Without trying, the quilt has brought the rest of the elements in her small nursery together. Eliza loves to cover herself with ” ‘da blaket ‘dat Anya made!”This weekend was mostly about spending time as a family. We followed what has become a bit of a routine—a visit to a coffee shop, a trip to the farmer’s market, a dance class, and lots and lots of time outside.
The wedding was held outdoors overlooking Independence Hall and the beautiful park grounds of Old City. I never tire of this view and never take it for granted. Sophia and Eliza helped make a wedding card and we think it turned out rather cute.
We watched For Grace yesterday. I’ve, over the last few months, preferred documentaries over fiction/drama.We’ve liked Cooked and Dior and I. People’s personal stories can be so powerful and their creativity inspirational.
The movie capped off a fairly busy weekend which started with a Friday evening tour of Sophia’s art at her school’s Lower School Art Show. She had two works on display—a watercolor of a wave and a clay butterfly. We capped the visit with a stop at the playground and retired home.
We made it an early night on Friday to try and recuperate from the week. Busy and exhausting doesn’t even begin to describe it. The rest of the weekend was spent out biking with the kids, a brief dinner date, at dance class, and in a marathon blintz making session. My mom and I farmer’s cheeset wrapped ~90 blintzes. Mmm… That was punctuated by a home-made sprinkled donut snack and a glass of Jefferson Vineyards’ Meritage we brought from our babymoon in 2014.
The brisket at my parents was stunning this year as was the apple cake at Evan’s Bubbie’s Passover celebration. I refuse to believe the apple cake was kosher for passover because it was that good. Traveling to see family is arduous when your kids don’t nap and your commute is traffic laden. This year’s Passover celebrations were back-to-back which, despite not having to cook ourselves, was a serious undertaking on our part.
In addition to celebrating with family, Sophia had a birthday party to attend and we decided to sneak a quick trip to a coffee shop, too. I love the energy that coffee shops have on weekend mornings. They’re bursting with people who are optimistic and hopeful about their days off. The adults are looking forward to that ever-important first cup of coffee while the kids (both human and canine) explore their surroundings and indulge in baked goods. Our neighborhood has no fewer than 6 coffee shops in a three block radius. Coffee is a big deal in Olde City.
I wish I could regale you with stories of grand culinary undertakings but truthfully, we were too busy spending time with the kids, attending their social events, and visiting our extended families to really have the time. One thing we did make was ice cream. And not just one batch but three. It was a snowball effect, really. I made french vanilla and then Sophia asked for chocolate, so we made a batch of that. Vanilla and chocolate seemed too luxurious and fairly unhealthy so I made a batch of strawberry to balance it all out. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.