This Frock Rocks; six great things shared weekly
Sunshine and happiness continues this week as we are getting the hang of summer. I am really enjoying the longer days and time with my family. I have been out of my house more than ever and finding time to cook is happening later and later in the evening. I have been taking a few short cuts like serving cheese platter with charcuterie and crackers or only a simple grilled dish and crusty bread for dinner. I came across a recipe from David Leibowitz that is perfect for summer and looks gorgeous in my Weck jars (OBSESSED with jarring stuff I make). It is quick and easy and it pairs well with goat cheese ( I love and the husband hates) or any of the other things listed by David; vanilla ice cream, grilled pork, cheese platter.
Pickled Strawberry Preserves
1 lemon, preferably organic or unsprayed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, plus additional for finishing the preserves
14 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
2 pounds (900g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 1/3 cups (265g) sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) cider vinegar
optional: A few drops balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon butter, salted or unsalted
1. Juice the lemon and pour the juice into a small nonreactive bowl. (Save the lemon halves.) Put the seeds in a piece of cheesecloth along with the peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves, and give it a few whacks with a hammer or rolling pin. Add the bag to the lemon juice.
2. Cut the strawberries into quarters, or if they are small, you can cut them in half. If you have a mix, cut them all so they are approximately the same size. You just don’t want them too small.
3. Toss the strawberries in a separate bowl with the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature for a few hours (2-3), stirring occasionally.
4. Set a colander or large strainer over a wide, nonreactive cooking pot. Scrape the berries and their juices into the colander or strainer so the juices go into the cooking pot. Remove the colander with the macerated berries in it and set it aside. (I put it back in the bowl so it doesn’t drip on the counter.)
5. Add the lemon juice, the spice bag, the reserved lemon halves, and the butter to the strawberry juices in the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the juices begin to thicken, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the strawberries and continue to cook, stirring gently every so often, until the berries are plump and softened, but not bursting apart. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes. You want the berries to remain in fairly distinct pieces.
6. Remove from heat, then discard the spice bag as well as the lemon rinds. Grind a bit more black pepper into the strawberries and ladle them into jars and cover.
On the note of taking it easy and finding shortcuts, I found the easiest RIDICULOUSLY FLATTERING LACE DRESS and bought it in all colors. I find myself suddenly in love with Free People this summer. This dress in particular is so fun because it feels like pajamas, looks like something special, but is really on sale. I added a different slip underneath for more coverage and an even softer t-shirty quality. One retailer even had the dress marked-down for less than $40. I will be wearing this everyday so plan on seeing it on me.
I can wear a lot of white, like my new dress, because I am a whiz at laundry. At least I thought I was until I got makeup and a huge black grease stain across my white Indah cover-up . I thought I was going to have to throw it away. However, before I got rash, I turned to the interwebs and searched for a grease stain solution. Do want to know what the answer was? WD40! Yes, so obvious, right? Hardly, but true! The full secret is posted at Northern Belle Diaries.
While I was shopping for the perfect lace dress and wearing it to death, my little boys went on an ALL TRAIN VACAY with their grandparents. We met the grandparents at the train station in Bakersfield, California and their week of adventure began. Dieter and Henry got to ride the train with their grandma and grandpa back to John's hometown. They heard trains all day every day from the Hale's home. They went to visit the train museum in Sacramento. Henry got a train toy. They had dinner at The Spaghetti Factory and watched trains roar by while sitting in a train. They played trains in the playroom at the house. ALL TRAIN VACAY was beyond a dream come true for one 6 year old. Dieter was a pretty good sport too, all things considered. What an opportunity to hang with grandma and grandpa doing boy stuff in the summer.
While that was one more get-away, we are still scoping out our options for the family vacation this summer. We have had some incredible last minute opportunities present themselves in the past, we are betting on that happening again. We are pros at packing a bag and rolling out with a minutes notice. I wrote a blog post about travel packing this week about this very thing. I have heard some of the saddest-yet most avoidable vacation wardrobe stories. I have perfected my travel wardrobe scheme and that of my family. Even if our suitcases don't make our destination we will be fine, more than fine, awesome, until they arrive. I am always happy to share my travel secrets, or you can read the post.
One comment I read about traveling light was that one could "go without blowdrying" for a time, while traveling. YUCK! The point about packing smart and packing right is so that you can look and feel awesome on your vacation. I think there is a way to have a smart hair plan without settling for "wash-n-go-oh-well-rat's-nest". I also want to be clear that I never told anyone to go anywhere without a blowdryer. So sad, so sad.
Happy Independence Day! Let Freedom Ring! Is there any way to celebrate the 4th of July without being deeply humbled by the blessing we have in these great United States? I don't know how that can be. We are a patriotic family and are trying to teach our kids about the great freedoms and responsibilities we have in America; Land of the Free and Home of the Brave! I only had the teenage home for the 4th so we had a chance to do cool teenager + mom things. We shopped for wetsuit shirts and Quicksilver swimsuits, Sun Bum clear zinc for their faces, and a few other body boarding essentials. I let my teenager drive all day; downtown, the beach, near a farmer's market, all the varied environments there are in San Diego. We spent time at the beach, and hiked at Torrey Pines.
We also hit up a ramen house on the San Diego #BestRestos2015 list, UNDERBELLY. This Japanese magic was perfect for hungry teenagers who want RAMEN all of the time. Lucky for them it was a "Slurp not Spoons" restaurant where you are encouraged to pick up your bowl and drain all the rich broth into your mouth. They have edamame, oxtail dumplings, crispy sesame chicken wings, and so many other delicious offerings it was hard to decide what to order. EXTRA NOODLES is a $3 option that my boys took advantage of too. #FeedingMen is important work and one of my favorite jobs, especially when it involves new spots and some adventure.