The Road to.....

Hell is paved with good intentions.
That's what my Mom told me once. I tend to think it may occasionally be true. It was this past week at least.

My week didn't actually go to hell. I had things I intended to write about, recipes that I have come to really like and wanted to share but then life happened, and friends came to visit, and no pictures were taken (how could I not take pictures of these people and the fun we had) and time just got away from me, (and clearly punctuation has gotten away from me) and the things I wanted to share with you were neatly spooned into storage containers and zip top bags and set in the refrigerator to make someone a happy lunch this week.....

It was an oddly quiet week and for some reason, even though I had great plans and plenty of time, I just couldn't get around to writing, or more precisely, I couldn't find the words to say what I wanted to say. Half our family was gone for a soccer tournament in Spain (I know. We don't feel bad for them) leaving the other half a little lost as to how to spend our time. The house was just too big, and while there was warmth and laughter (Morgan and I do know how to have a good time together) we just missed sharing life with the rest of our little tribe. Thankfully the weekend came and with that friends. Thank goodness for friends.

There were sleepovers, and giggly girls wanting to be fed, and baking, and marinating, and second guessing on an appetizer that I served at a BBQ. Olives warmed in a honey and sherry vinegar reduction. I bought this crazy huge jar of honey at the market a few weeks back. It was an impulse buy.  Well that's not entirely true, it was more pressure, hard sell, and lack of language skills that lead me to trade money for a giant jar of honey. Honestly though I am not a honey person and it could take me the better part of a year to get through all this honey. This recipe though called for 2 cups of the stuff, WOO HOO!

I cooked the olives, tasted them, got scared. Let them sit a bit, tasted them again. Not so scared but now concerned. Was this a recipe that I made because of the beautiful pictures, and intriguing ingredient list that in reality would just be weird?

Nah, it was good, addictively so. Salty, sweet, sour, sticky goodness. I'm all set if my intentions this week head South.

Warm Olives with Honey Gastrique
adapted from Tyler Florence Family Meal
3 cups Sherry vinegar
2 cups honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 large fresh sprig of rosemary
Grated zest of one orange
Grated zest of one lemon
5 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
1 pound of mixed olives, unpitted

In a large shallow skillet combine the vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Add the bay leaves, rosemary, orange and lemon zest, garlic and olives.
Simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrupy consistency.
Serve the olives warm.

My Day Thus Far.......

Here is how my day started.
4:15 am, pushing the bounds of my "morning personhood", the call to prayer sounds. The speaker is directly across from our bedroom window. I think I can drift back to sleep.
4:45 am, a pack of neighborhood stray dogs begin howling at the rising sun, joining in chorus to a random rooster, and other birds.
Since the world is waking up around me I may as well get up.
I turn on my laptop, make coffee, consider what I might make for breakfast for the sleepover girls.
Sip coffee, look at Facebook, throw together a dough to make cinnamon rolls.
5:45 am, some sort of alarm I have never heard starts sounding from an upstairs bedroom. It is not unlike the sound of police sirens at full volume.
The sleeping teens, including the owner of the blaring alarm, do not stir from the downstairs guest room.
I run upstairs and find someone's Blackberry phone ringing away to the morning alarm.
I try to turn it off but only manage to hit the snooze. Hmmm, how to turn off the alarm. I am not at all familiar with Blackberrys.
Ah, that must be the volume button, that can buy me some time until I figure this out. Oops, nope not the volume, I may have just changed some settings. Shoot.
The alarm sounds again. I hit a button and accidentally call someone named Tinta. Tinta isn't happy. At least I think she isn't happy. I can't tell because she doesn't speak english.
I hit another button and end the call. I think. Phew.
Okay, what is that button.......Oh good Lord. I accidentally take several pictures of the floor and closet. I also may have possibly taken a video which I really hope doesn't have sound.
I may have said some unkind words about the phone.
The alarm sounds again. I have figured out the snooze function and hit it.
I google how to turn off the alarm. That doesn't work.
I google how to turn off the DAMN phone.
The alarm goes off again, this time the sound is a little muffled because it is at the bottom of the laundry basket. Snooze is hit again.
It is now 6:30. I consider backing over the phone in the driveway.
Instead, I wake up the sleeping girl, which I should have done 45 minutes ago, and have her turn off her phone.
Good morning.

Brown Sugar Caramel Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from the Pioneer Woman
For the dough:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 package yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For the filling:
1 cup butter melted
1 cup dark brown sugar lightly packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract

To make the dough: Over medium high heat warm the milk, butter, and sugar. Just warm it through, don't let it simmer. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the milk mixture and with a dough hook blend until a soft dough forms, or using a wooden spoon stir the dough until it comes together. Spritz the dough with a little oil, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.
While the dough rises make the filling and frosting.
For the filling: Stir together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed add the powdered sugar and beat until well combined. Add the extracts and combine. Set aside.
To assemble: Turn out the risen dough onto a floured surface. Knead to bring the dough together. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the filing mixture over the surface and roll up. Pinch the seam closed and slice into 12 equal rolls.
Place in a 15X10 inch baking pan (you can use a 9X13 but it will be crowded), lined with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and let rise again for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375. Bake the rolls for 15-18 minutes. Immediately after removing from the oven spread the rolls with 1/3 of the frosting. Let cool for 15 minutes and frost with remaining frosting before serving.

À Bientôt

Sweet friends came to Tunisia this past week. They will be moving here in August and to say that we can't wait is an understatement. I'm counting down the days I'm so excited. 132 days. Sigh, it's like waiting for Christmas.

Yesterday was their last day here for a while, we squeezed in a few more cups of coffee, important chats, a little site seeing, a little getting lost....... Just enough to leave them excited to return minus the getting lost part. It was a beautiful day, the sky was impossibly blue, the Med a crystal clear turquoise pool, the day was warm but there was enough of a breeze to keep you the perfect temperature.

To ease into the day I made a coffeecake. It was very moist, and rich with a crunchy caramelized topping. I think it set the mood for a perfect final day until we see them again soon.

À bientôt, see you soon Marty and Bridged!

Saturday Morning Coffeecake
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9X13 inch baking pan.
In a food processor combine the flours, sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and salt, pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you don't have a food processor whisk together the flour, sugar and salt and cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 2 cups of the crumb mixture, and place the remaining crumb mixture in a medium mixing bowl.
To the mixing bowl add the baking powder, baking soda and mix well. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and stir well to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
To the 2 cups reserved crumb mixture add 1 cup dark brown sugar and the cinnamon. Mix well and sprinkle the crumbs over the batter. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 35-40 minutes.
If you can manage it, allow the cake to cool slightly before serving. I dug in right away and have the burned roof of my mouth to prove it. Totally worth it though.


I wanted to show you the beautiful blue skies we've been having of late. Is this a great reason to get out of bed in the morning or what?  I'm kind of strange, I am very much a morning person. Actually I am very much an early morning person, and it's even better in my book if that morning is a Monday.

I know, strange right?

If you are however not a morning person, I make the case that these muffins might just persuade you otherwise.

Morning Muffins
Makes 2 dozen
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups grated carrot
2 apples grated
1 cup grated unsweetened coconut
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar lightly packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup olive oil
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Coarse sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the zucchini, carrot, and apple. In another mixing bowl whisk together the coconut, flours, cornmeal, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and stir well to combine.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup mix together the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together until just incorporated. The mixture may be a bit lumpy.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin tins and then sprinkle each muffin liberally with coarse sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to sit in the muffin tins for 5 minutes then remove to a rack to cool completely.