Tag Archives: Mom

Zucchini Bread

Well before I even started this blog (yikes – I’ve been blogging for a year now!), one of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning is to peruse my arsenal of cookbooks, magazines and apps for recipes. Often I’ll search by ingredient and take in all of the possibilities of what to do with it. Sweet or savory? Simple or complex? Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert? I’m not going to lie – it can be overwhelming. That’s why sometimes I go straight to my mom’s recipe collection.

A few years back, my mother typed up ALL of her recipes in her collection so that she could have digital copies of everything and that Christmas, assembled them into a well-organized recipe book for my brother and I. Just flipping through it brings back cherished childhood memories of my grandmother and old family friends. So when I noticed a a lone zucchini in my fridge this past weekend, I knew I could turn to my recipe book and find something to do with it. And indeed I did – Spiced Zucchini Walnut Bread.

I was over the moon over this bread. It has the a crunchy crust and moist interior. And the occasional green fleck from the zucchini is nothing short of cheery. Spiced, but not overly so. Cooked all the way through (something I sometimes have issues with) but not so dry that you need to slather it with butter – in fact don’t even try to cover up the deliciousness with it. It’s one of those times that I was glad that I didn’t have to share it with Scott or bring it into lab – I got to enjoy it all. And enjoy it, I did.

Spiced Zucchini Walnut Bread

makes one loaf

2 eggs, beaten light and foamy
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup shredded zucchini (unpeeled)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, zucchini, cinnamon and allspice until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and walnuts. (Tossing the walnuts in the flour prior to folding into the batter will help prevent them from sinking while baking).

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a batter forms. Pour into a buttered loaf pan and bake at 350º for about an hour.

That’s it. Easy as pie. Easier in fact. (But just as tasty).

Eat it for breakfast or brunch. Eat it after dinner. Eat it at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

I am my mother’s daughter. And unlike so many other women in the world, that thought doesn’t send chills down my spine. After all, she’s the one who taught me how to make real Mac n’ Cheese and Apple Brown Betty as well as countless other dishes. She taught me how to sew and tackle any home decor project (like this) and to be completely self sufficient. We have exactly the same temperament and similar sense of style. She is my favorite person to shop with. We managed to work in the same dental office and live in the same house for seven years while I was in high school and college without killing each other. She doesn’t give me (too) much grief about my purple hair and nose ring.

And things haven’t really changed since I moved away from the Pacific Northwest, almost seven years ago. But it does make Mother’s Day hard to celebrate. Thank goodness for the telephone and email. But I think “Happy Mother’s Day – I baked you Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp” isn’t quite the same in an email as it would be in real life. Granted, I did make her Carrot Cake Cupcakes while she was visiting last weekend … but really, it’s not the same.

I actually did make Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp because I was thinking of my mother today. I’ve kind of had rhubarb on the brain lately and I can’t think of it without also thinking of my mother. For no particular reason except that I know she likes it. The tart sourness is right up her alley.

Most people pair rhubarb with strawberries and I think that’s a perfectly fine combination, but I prefer to have my rhubarb with raspberries. I like keeping the tartness right in the forefront of the dish. I think my mother would agree. I kept it simple, some fruit, a little bit of sugar and a oatmeal-brown sugar-butter topping. Fruit crisp in all of its deliciousness.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

serves 6
3 cups cut rhubarb, in 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Chop the rhubarb.

Put rhubarb, raspberries, sugar and corn starch in a large bowl.

Toss until berries and rhubarb are evenly coated.

Transfer to a medium glass baking dish.

Now for the oatmeal topping.

Mix together flour, oatmeal and brown sugar.

Mix in the melted butter.

Top berries with streusel.

Bake at 350º for about an hour. The berries should be thick and bubbly and the crust a nice golden brown.

I topped mine with some freshly whipped cream and a sprig of mint (but vanilla ice cream is also a perfect accompaniment).

These color make me want to swoon. So does the aroma … and of course the burst of flavors.

I made, ate and enjoyed this purely for my mother’s sake. I was only thinking of her.

Sorry, but I don’t think it will ship well.

They’re a hoot!

I spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta, soaking in the warm weather and enjoying the company of loved ones.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.  In fact, we ate Thanksgiving dinner outside on the patio.  How about that to be thankful for!

I wanted to contribute to the feast as well as give thanks to our hosts for putting Scott and I up for the weekend.  However, traveling from Minneapolis I had to careful to bring something that would survive the trip.  I scoured my old Bon Appetit and Cooking Light magazines, flipped through the cookbooks and cooking websites and stumbled upon a recipe for Apple Cranberry Tarts on a very cool cooking blog, The Craving Chronicles.  I did omit the caramel sauce, as I was worried that TSA might confiscate it, but I don’t think that the tarts were any less tasty because if it.

I also brought a batch of cookies that are very popular in my family this time of year.  Hoot owl cookies, as they are called, may be one of the cutest cookies in existence (and my photos will not do them justice).  The recipe originates from a cookie contest in the 1950’s and the winner, Natalie Riggin, was from my hometown of Olympia, Washington.  These cookies are made on an annual basis in my family and if forgotten, there is hell to pay.  Recently my mother gave my brother and I copies of her entire recipe collection (a great gift idea) and somehow the recipe had been left out (a mistake that both my brother and myself had noticed).  A phone call quickly rectified the situation and I whipped up a batch to share with my Atlanta hosts.

Hoot Owl Cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup  butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

80 semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup)
40 whole cashews (about 2/3 cup)

Beat brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  On low speed, mix in flour, baking powder and salt.  Divide dough in thirds.  In small bowl work in chocolate and baking powder to 1/3 of the dough.

Using one portion of the light dough, press out to form a 10″ x 4″ inch strip.  Using 1/2 of the chocolate dough, roll a tube 10″ long and wrap light dough around the entire chocolate log.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Wrap in foil or plastic and refrigerate at least an hour (although in my family we put it in the freezer and sneak cuts of dough to snack on.  Very often we run out of dough before the cookies are baked).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut each roll into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.  Place 2 slices, sides touching on cookie sheet.  Pinch the corners of the slices to for the ears.  Place a chocolate chip in the center of each slice for the eyes and finish with a whole cashew between the slices for the beak.  Each cookie is unique and has their own personality, which I find fantastic.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.

These cookies are pretty fragile so handle with care.  I was worried that my traveling would bump and break them, so I carefully wrapped them in plastic and packed them in tupperware.  Aside from a couple of casualties, they made it to Atlanta mostly in one piece and instantly got rave reviews and have since been gobbled all gone.

Mom’s weekend

So my mother came to visit me this weekend.  And a lovely time was had.  Nothing really spectacular to note – just a lot of little things that makes life enjoyable.

A walk through the neighborhood that ended up at Pizza Luce in Uptown.  Enjoyed a beer on the patio while we waited for our table.  Filled up on some tomato and basil bruschetta and decided to be adventurous and ordered a baked potato pizza.  We were pleasantly surprised with how tasty it was.  I think the key was the extra smokey bacon they used.

Saturday brunch at Lucia’s (the baby Budapest muffins are well worth a visit).

Changing the car battery.  Yes, we are two strong women capable of changing an automobile battery.

A trip to the fabric store to pick up goodies for a craft project (reupholstering my dining room chairs) in my newly resurrected car.

A quiet dinner at home of leftover pizza and a fresh salad (spring greens, honeycrisp apple, raspberries, dried cranberries, blue cheese and caramelized walnuts dressed with some red wine vinegariette.  There may have been some catching up with Project Runway…

And a most delightful Sunday.  A much needed mother-daughter heart-to-heart followed by a breakfast of french toast topped with my experimental blueberry jam (which was delicious, although, more of a compote than a jam).  Then we headed east out of town to try our hand at apple-picking.  The weather was perfect for such an event.

We walked the apple orchards and vineyards while enjoying a cup of cider and an apple brat.

Then we made our way to the St. Croix river and stumbled along the quaint little town of Stillwater.  It was almost disgustingly cute.  We poked into all the little shops and walked around the river all the while remarking on how quaint the town was.

After such a full afternoon of activities we rewarded ourselves with ice cream from Izzy’s.

And we even managed to take a walk around Lake of the Isles, snapping photograph after photograph trying to capture the fall colors.

So thanks Mom, for a great weekend!