{p,h,f,r} County Fair Edition

Yesterday was the opening day of the local fair, and since we can't pass up a good time, we headed over as a family after Johnny got home from work. Admission was $1, which meant that even if we had a baby meltdown in short order, we weren't losing much.

{pretty}

I'm still not really used to the variety of produce that grows around here. The garden variety produce (literally) I can understand, but it's weird to go to the farmers' market and see homegrown grapes and avocados. So it follows that the produce competition at the fair was a little different from usual, including this beautiful variety of grape colors.

 
Bonus pretty: The best of the quilt competition. It was a pretty great selection!

{happy}
Maddy enjoyed the fair a lot more than we expected, especially since we were there close to (and then past) her bedtime. She's turning out to be a real extrovert, so anytime she gets to be around a lot of people (kids, in particular), she's very excited. She babbled at no one in particular, and then loved the parakeets in the Floriculture building.

{funny}
We didn't go too crazy with the fair food (mostly because it was a last-minute trip and we didn't have a chance to get more cash), but the splurge of the night was a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting and bacon. Yes, it totally looked like a baked potato. And yes, it was awesome. The stand was selling one for $6, or a value pack of 5 for $30. Super value.
 

{real}

Just to keep us from having too much fun, we ended up with three very flat stroller tires. We discovered on our way back to the car that we had parked in a field full of sand burrs, and Johnny has his suspicions that they were to blame. I'm holding out hope that they're just mysteriously flat but not injured; wish me luck.

 

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for {Pretty, happy, funny, real}!

 

7 Quick Takes: California, you are crazy

Now that we’ve been in the Golden State for almost a month, I feel qualified to offer some observations. California, please take these in the spirit in which they are intended; namely, that of bewilderment and judgement.

{1}

I feel that I was led here under false pretenses. No one ever told me about that the human population was so greatly outnumbered by the spiders (black widows, to be precise). The first time I saw one, on the screen of our bedroom window, I was the only one even remotely surprised or concerned. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t comforted to hear, “Oh, it’s just a little one.”

Luckily, my Minnesota-born family was more understanding via group text:

The second one was on the INSIDE of the screen door, and again, I was the only one who cared. By the time the third one showed up, a few days ago, I dared to get close enough to spray it with a bottle of Raid. Turns out, it was dead long before I got to it.


{2}

lizard

The other day, I took Maddy outside to take her seven month photos. Within 20 seconds (no kidding), I saw 5 lizards (again, no kidding). I’m sure they were entirely harmless, but it didn’t seem like the best time or place to set my baby on the ground, so we scratched that plan. At this rate, I’m pretty much expecting that I’ve been lied to about the scarcity of snakes and earthquakes, too.



{3}

It is, unsurprisingly, hot. I realized within a few days of getting here that my single pair of shorts was not going to carry me through till whenever the temperature drops. I went to the mall thinking that surely, shorts would still be a hot commodity (or at least available). As it turns out, no. It took me four trips to find a pair (on steep clearance, at the bottom of the rack). Meanwhile, there were crowds of people flocking to the puffer vests and leggings.

PEOPLE! Fall is not going to be a thing here until at least February!


{4}

It rained earlier this week, and like a total dork, I stood outside in the rain (and brought my baby with me for good measure, so she doesn’t forget what water is).

 

{5}

To be a good sport, I should also mention some good points about this strange state. First: the Mexican food is fantastic. Even the cheapest (okay, second cheapest) grocery store taco counter is better than any Mexican restaurant anywhere else I’ve lived.

Watch it, kid. We'll learn about sharing *tomorrow*.

 

 

{6}

The scenery certainly hasn’t gotten old yet. This place was made for Instagram filters.

 

{7}

One more…one more… Oh! Midnight EST, when blog linkups go live, is only 9:00 here, meaning I stand a chance of making it on the list above #100! With that said…

I’m linking up with Kelly and everyone who’s anyone!

 

 

Blackberry Ricotta Cake

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Last week, we found ourselves with a Friday solemnity to celebrate, and a half tub of ricotta cheese to use up.  A quick Google search led me to a Bon Appetit recipe for Raspberry Ricotta Cake.  We didn’t have frozen raspberries, but I did have a container of blackberries and some cherries in the freezer.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe, and the result was a solid home run (high praise from us, when it comes to cake).

It’s a sturdy cake, and I think it would hold up well in layers (if my geometry skills are still working, one 9″ cake is roughly equal to two 6″ layers).  I’m also pretty certain that it would freeze very well; in any case, ours was better than ever after a few days in the fridge.  It was a snap to mix up, and we’ll definitely be making it again!

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Blackberry Ricotta Cake

Source recipe

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh berries or cherries (if using cherries, cut in half), divided

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9”-diameter cake pan or pie pan. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a separate bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in butter, followed by 1 1/4 cup of berries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup berries over top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool before unmolding.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (a cup of tea pairs well, too).  Stores well in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Mollet Eggs Florentine

At some point in our almost-two years of marriage, Johnny and I realized and accepted the fact that we have the television taste of people much older than us. Watching Jeopardy! at 7:30 makes any day better, and we had a long run of a Friday night in-house date to watch Dateline (spoiler: the husband always did it, and he was always having an affair). Living so close to the home of PBS means that our limited channels include 4 PBS stations, so we’ve also gotten familiar with Cook’s Country, Julia Child, and Jacques Pepin. The latter is where today’s recipe comes from (slightly edited).

I was skeptical at first (I think it’s the French accent), but Johnny cajoled me into trying Mollet Eggs Florentine, and we’re pretty much hooked. They seem much more complicated than they really are – it’s just a matter of three separate but simple parts: eggs, spinach, and sauce. They make a delicious and filling addition to brunch, or on their own for dinner. Equally good with meat or without, they can be a great Friday option. The recipe is also easy to scale up or down, and can be mostly prepared ahead of time.

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Serves 2 hungry people, or 4 as part of a larger brunch

  • 4 large eggs

Spinach:

  • 9 ounces fresh spinach (or whatever reasonably-sized bag you find)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons grated Swiss cheese (the original recipe calls for Gruyère or Emmenthaler, which are probably superior since they’re made out off dollar bills)

Mornay Sauce:

  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For Serving (optional):

  • 2 English muffins or slices of bread
  • Ham or bacon

Eggs

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Bring 4 to 6 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. With a pushpin or thumbtack, prick a small hole in the rounder end of each egg (this will help prevent the shells from cracking during cooking).

Using a slotted spoon, lower the eggs into the boiling water, and let it come back to a simmer. Cook for about 6 minutes.

Pour the water out, run cold water over the eggs, drain again, and shake the pan to crack the eggshells. Cool thoroughly.

MolletEggs-27Gently shell the eggs (to prevent breaking them) under cold running water.  If it’s your husband’s first time peeling eggs, provide a little guidance or just take over and let him do the sauce.

Spinach:

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Bring about 1/2 inch of salted water to a boil in a stainless steel pot. Drop the leaves into the boiling water and boil, covered, for about 1 minute, until wilted. Drain the spinach in a colander and immediately run under cold running water to stop the cooking and keep the color. Drain again, pressing on the spinach to extract as much water as possible.

Put the spinach on a chopping block and coarsely chop.

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Melt the butter in a skillet over high heat and cook until it turns brown. Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, mix well with a fork, and cook for 2 minutes.

Arrange the spinach in the bottom of an broiler-safe dish large enough to accommodate the eggs (I use a small round cakepan). Sprinkle the Swiss cheese on top, and arrange the cold eggs on the spinach, with a little space between them.MolletEggs-31

Sauce:

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Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, until the mixture froths, without browning. Add the half-and-half, whipping constantly with a whisk, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Stir in the seasonings (but not the cheese) and continue cooking over low heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly with the whisk. Cool for 6 to 8 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Add the egg yolk to the sauce, whisking very fast and hard.

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Coat the eggs with the sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese while making your “cheese-grating face.” Place under the hot broiler (not too close, so the eggs have a chance to get hot inside) for 5 minutes, or until the sauce is nicely browned.

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eggs6

While the eggs are cooking, make your toast (English muffins are best).  You could butter it if you’re so inclined, but given the sauce you’re about to add, even I think that’s overkill. Heat your meat, if using. When the sauce is dappled with brown, remove from over and serve immediately over bread and meat. Serve immediately and sigh happily.

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