Those Darn Goodbyes

One of the things on my list of "What makes Shelly happy" is the fact that many of the friends we have collected while living overseas also spend their summers in the Pacific Northwest.
We get to catch up on what happened in their part of the world while we were apart, things like teenagers learning to drive, the concern over aging parents, the news that you need trifocal lenses, and friends heading off to new posts. I love living life with these people and the time we get is NEVER enough.
We have now reached the goodbye phase of summer, actually I prefer a "see you later", it seems so much nicer to me than goodbye.  The first goodbyes years ago as we left for our new life in Singapore were very heart wrenching. I remember standing in my friends driveway, my heart filled with dread knowing I wouldn't see her for a long time. With tears streaming down her face she looked me in the eye, punched me in the arm, and said "I never liked you anyway, hose head".
I'm sure it was said with ALL the love in her heart.

Tonight is one of those "See you later" BBQ's. My husband was taking some graduate classes this summer at the local university and found out that one of his fellow students owned a vineyard. That little bit of information turned into the discussion of having a gathering at the tasting room to celebrate the end of their time together. I haven't met these people, but I find that giving people cookies is a nice way to hello and then, well, see you later.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Toffee and Peanut Butter Glaze
For the blondie:
1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cups peanut butter flavored chips
2 cups toffee bits with milk chocolate such as Heath brand
For the glaze:
1/2 cup peanut butter flavored chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 11X15 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, peanut butter, dark brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat until lighter in color and fluffy about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat well to combine.
Whisk together the baking powder, salt, and flour. On low speed, add this to the butter mixture and mix well.
With a wooden spoon stir in the chocolate and peanut butter chips. Spoon into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Generously sprinkle the toffee bits over the top of the peanut butter batter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
While the blondies are baking make the glaze. In a medium size saucepan over medium heat combine all the glaze ingredients and stir until melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and cool.
When the blondies are completely cool drizzle the glaze over the top and allow to set for an hour or until the glaze feels firm to the touch. You don’t want a runny glaze running all over when you cut the blondies.
Makes 24 generous sized blondies.

Well that was Awkward and Painful (And there's a Give Away)!

Have you ever done something and even though you were by yourself, and there were no witnesses, you were still embarrassed?
Today after running errands I came home to change my clothes to go for a walk. I got my foot stuck in the leg of my jeans, lost my balance and fell over the exercise bike. I ended up stuck between the bike and the wall.
Did I mention that in the midst of falling I sustained a rather large and deep scratch to my backside that started bleeding rather briskly?
I should also confess that while I was using a mirror to get a visual on the wound to bandage it, I slipped off the edge of the bath tub.
I have since recovered, nearly, from the indignity of the afternoon.
Although I do have to type standing up.

In addition to sharing with you my mortification I had two other things in mind to share with you.
First of all this.....

For our friends wedding anniversary brunch I also made this Buckwheat and Banana Bread. Despite looking rather uninteresting and a little homely, it was a lovely addition to the table. The buckwheat flour gave the loaf a really nutty taste and aroma. I definitely will be making it again.

And then I really wanted you to see these....

I found these aprons at the Bellingham Farmer's Market. They are the handiwork of Twigg and Bek, very talented, sassy, and funky textile artists. The aprons are made with quilting fabrics and they are really special. The colors are vibrant and you just can't help but feel creative and happy while wearing one. Now, here's where the fun comes in. I have one of the aprons, the second one from the left to be precise, to give away to one of you lucky readers.

So, here's what you need to do. Leave a comment about one of your most awkward or embarrassing moments. On Friday July 20 I'll choose a winner. Make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you.
Can't wait to hear your stories!

Buckwheat and Banana Bread
adapted from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed, ripe banana
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coarse sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat well until incorporated.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and blend until just combined. Add the banana, sour cream, and vanilla and then stir well.
Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with the coarse sugar, and bake until tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, approximately 1hour-1hour 10 minutes.
Let rest in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a baking rack.

Oh Happy Day

What a glorious week we have had. The sun has been shining, the skies are clear, friends are abundant, and the iced coffee is flowing. Make that iced coffee and Mimosas.

It's important to stay hydrated.

We don't usually throw down Mimosas every morning but today we had friends over for brunch. The fabulous M and B are celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss and we wanted to toast them. We've been friends for a long time, and lucky for us they will be joining us in Tunisia in August. Woo Hoo!

We spent the morning talking family, and future, and laughing a ridiculous amount. If you don't have friends who make you laugh a ridiculous amount go find some right now.

With the Mimosas we ate these. Melon with prosciutto and a drizzle of lime and olive oil. Lots of black pepper and a little mint made them sing. They come together in a snap so you can get back to more important things, like laughing your head off with old friends.

And don't forget the importance of staying hydrated.

Melon with Prosciutto and Lime Drizzle
Serves 4 as an appetizer

8 slices of melon, about 1/2 of a melon peeled and seeded
8 slices of prosciutto, each slice cut in half lengthwise
cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of a really fruity olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

Wrap the prosciutto around the melon slices and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper.
In a small bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, honey, and mint. Drizzle evenly over the melon slices and serve.

Failure to Launch

Not that I'm complaining, well I am a bit, but summer has failed to launch in the great Pacific Northwest. We still turn the heat on in the mornings, wear fleece, and snuggle under a blanket to watch TV. Yes it is July 3.

But things could be worse. We could have raging wild fires, power outages, and temps of 100+. What's a little rain......

Speaking of failure to launch.....

Don't you just hate it when this happens! I was bringing dessert to a friends house last night and made this Almond Poppy Seed Pound Cake, I was serving it with whipped creme fraiche and berries. At the last minute I thought I would make a glaze to hide the cakes disfigurement.

As you can tell I ended up with a cake that looked like birds did their business all over it. Lovely.

Thankfully they are good friends who will look the other way when someone serves them up questionable looking baked goods.

Or maybe the wine clouded their judgement.

Almond Poppy Seed Pound Cake
adapted from here
1 cup of butter at room temperature
3 cups of sugar
1 cup of sour cream
6 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and flour a bundt or tube pan and set aside.

In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the sour cream and beat until light and fluffy.
In a medium bowl stir together the eggs and the almond and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Alternate adding the flour and the eggs to the butter mixture beating well to combine. Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine thoroughly.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minute to 1 hour 30 minutes.
Cool completely then unmold onto a serving platter.