Thursday, December 29, 2016

tidepooling (maine, day 2)

It's fitting that we have a foot of crunchy snow outside the doorstop as I look at these lush images of our July trip to Maine: when else is better for nostalgia, built for that half-hooded sunshine and salty sprawl of a backyard?

I'll share photographs from this trip in the last few days of break, look at these creatures we found, recall the briefest of time we had together on the shore.

On this second day, Maya and I held back on the rocky edge and tidepool'ed, something I adore doing, and something I see my own wee one feels exactly the same about. We could spend hours down there, searching for little live crabs, for the snails stuck fast to the rock walls.

I also love the slip and pop of this bulbous seaweed, something so strange and unrecognizable to my Minnesota-drenched eyes.

While this pocket of the Midwest is deeply home to me now, I do express an absolute fascination and love for this landscape: the gray fog, the deep greens and washed-out blues. My maker's palate adores this place, and the latent biologist within could just sit and watch and watch, and I love that while I do, I'll have my little girl by my side.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

zucchini bread recipe

I published this recipe on an old blog of mine many, many years ago, and I've made this bread so many times since, usually out of zucchini from our garden. I used this recipe for Harvest Festival as school, but made them into mini-muffins, and they were a huge hit, not just with the students, but with my own children as well, and one of my two is extremely p-i-c-k-y.

So here I share it again, and wish you many delicious sweet breads over the holiday and in the new year:

Without a doubt, one of my biggest weaknesses is cake-y bread. Banana, blueberry, anything that is also good in muffin form. Today, I bring you one of my favorites, in celebration of seasonal eating: zucchini bread.

Recipe kindly passed along to me from Ryan's mother; it's a childhood favorite of my husband's.

- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini
- 1 tsp vanilla
- (optional: 1 cup raisins, 1 cup nuts)

1. First, you grate two cups' worth of zucchini. This is especially good for those overly large zucchinis in the garden you somehow forgot to pick; I'm sure I'll find myself in that place in September.

I love grating fresh zucchini--it's so perfect and wet and ready. It zips along the grater, snicksnick, piles up in such a satisfactory way. Of course, I'm still finding some in my hair, but that's only because I am one of the messiest folks this side of the Mississippi.

2. Then, beat four eggs with one cup of oil. I have a handheld mixer, but I did this with a whisk. After all, I did just mention four eggs and one cup of oil? May as well burn a few calories while making it.

3. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.

4. Add to egg mixture, alternating with zucchini. Stir in vanilla (and raisins and nuts--I didn't use them, but others might like the added flavor and texture).

5. Divide into greased and floured 9 x 5 pans.

6. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

7. Let stand at room temperature for ten minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool.

Ryan enjoys his zucchini bread with butter; I like mine with cream cheese. I might try it with honey. It's wonderful plain too.

For a healthier alternative, checking out this article from Cooking Light on filling fiber.

Monday, December 12, 2016

red jays

We missed out on our second grandma over Thanksgiving break because she was sick--and I sit down to write about her visit a week ago, having time just now because I am the same. Tis the season! I'm going to drown myself in yogurt and build up my immunity so that that the Ghost of School Years Future can know that I'm ready to pinch hit as my colleagues have done for me. It's not easy for the community when one of the team has to stay home.

Fortunately, lives our flexible, and we get new visits, and Grandma Sue came with her new puppy, Maggie Mae, a week ago and got to romp in our very first snow.

We've learned that Maggie Mae has an extreme fondness for slippers and napping on flannel sheets.

Our Penelope continues to be The Dog Whom Other Dogs Like because she gets down at their level to play, and Zephyr continues to be the big terror that he is--well-intentioned, but still bowling-ball-esque and galumphy.

We've put up some feeders in the yard, and we've spent so much time with our guides, looking through, wondering what sort of woodpecker is this, and why does the red-bellied woodpecker have that name when it hasn't a red belly at all, and Maya has charmingly taken to calling the cardinals "red jays." We had a gray squirrel and a red squirrel fight over the turf of the under-feeders, but haven't seen them return since the first day. Already we've increased our bird collection by dozens now that we are no longer in a downtown neighborhood. Rumor has it there are some deer leavings back there too. I'll keep watching.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

apple picking (from october)

We had our first group going out and this, at a nearby apple orchard. We had all good intentions: collect apples from the trees, make pies or sauce, pick out pumpkins for carving. Instead, we got lost in a corn maze, split up by gender, me with the boys and our head of school with the girls, and we kept thumping into each other at all turns, so after an hour of this tromping, we joined forces and eventually, one corn-cut, several tired teddy bears (as my father might say), and a discussion as to whether or not a shoe would be an appropriate vessel to boil corn in (no, no absolutely no), we went back out the way we came in, and that's OK, because we're all still one piece, we're all still a team, a family, and though we didn't find our way straight through, we got to admire the strength of a corn stalk and its potential to impale a human (no, we didn't test that theory out).

Later, we carved pumpkins on the floor of our science area and the kids kept up with the goop and broke a few carvings knives and had an all-around lovely time.

As the elementaries, it was also our duty to host the schoolwide Harvest Festival, and we served this chicken with wild rice soup and zucchini muffins, the recipe for which I will share shortly. I'm pleased it went so smoothly, and amazed at how the crew of nine came together and divided the jobs and helped in singing and clean-up. It was our first go at such a thing as a cohesive group, and I love that breaking bread with the entire school just settled us more into a family-like feeling. We sang some school favorites and got to chat with some of the youngers, many of whom are siblings of students and offspring of guides.