The Gleeful Gourmand: June 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Madly, Truly, Deeply, Blueberries

Blueberries, oh heavenly blueberries! We've finally hit the prime months when blueberries are fresh, ripe, and each tiny ball is bursting with flavor on the tongue. I wait all year long anticipating blueberry season - even more than strawberry season. There's a reason my favorite pie to make is blueberry pie.

I've always loved this berry, but I think my true love affair started when I began visiting Maine. I could wax on forever about why I love Maine so much, but mostly when I think about my obsession with blueberries, I always come back to a specific memory. A few months after we were married, Buck and I headed to Bar Harbor, Maine for a long weekend getaway. One of the things on my "list" (ugh, I hate referring to it as my "bucket list") was to climb Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. I had been to the top on a previous trip, but I got there via a car. I always felt like I had sort of cheated, and I really wanted to tackle this challenge. It was a tough hike, or at least it was for me, but the thing that made it so memorable, besides the breathtaking views, was the fact that about an hour in we came across a few blueberry bushes just off the trail, and, seeing an elderly grandmother who was coming down from the mountain in her orthopedic shoes (which definitely gave me the "Oh hell, if she could do it, I can do it" push I needed) plucking the berries straight off the bush and eating them, we decided to partake. The berries were small, and very tart, but delicious.

Ever since then, I have been more than smitten with blueberries. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been known to eat them by the handful just straight out of the carton. I also have blueberry bushes in my backyard, but I also have a lot of wildlife that beat me to the fruit every time. There are, like strawberries, a ridiculous amount of ways to enjoy them. Very soon I'll share with you my favorite recipe for Blueberry Pie, but to tide you over, here is a great way to eat blueberries for dessert using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:

• A handful or two (or three) of fresh blueberries, washed, and picked over for stems.
• A dollop of your favorite sour cream (I use fat free sour cream).
• A healthy sprinkling of dark brown sugar.

And that's it. Fool with it however suits you: more sour cream or more brown sugar, or less. Although be careful with the brown sugar because too much can make the dish a little grainy. And if you can't get enough blueberries like me, and happen to have kids, be sure to read the classic "Blueberries for Sal," one of Liam's favorite stories. Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy One-Week Birthday!

It's hard to believe that just one week ago our beautiful twin girls, Savannah and Delia, came into this world (for those of you who don't know, I had them at 34 weeks because our doctors determined they weren't growing the way they should have in utero). I thought about writing their birth story today, and even began it, but I quickly got bogged down in the fight to remember details and my need to take a nap.

Suffice it to say, everyone is doing great. I feel that my recovery this time from the c-section has been much better, and much faster. I don't know whether that's because I knew what to expect this time around versus the fact that with Liam it was an emergency, but I'm grateful for it. I mean, I'm not doing laps around the neighborhood or anything, and it was kind of a chore to make a big breakfast for Father's Day yesterday, but I'll take it. Savannah and Delia are currently in the Step-Down Nursery which is a little more relaxed, and a lot more quiet than the NICU. They are both back up to their birth weights, and they are working hard on taking their bottles (they alternate feedings between tube and bottle). I also found out today that Delia, though tiny, is an incredible burper. She even startled the nurse with how loud she was at her feeding this morning. That's my girl!

This time we're in now is both difficult and rewarding. It's difficult being away from them, but rewarding being home with Liam. It's strange not going through the normal ups and downs of having a new baby at home, but joyful when we do get to see them, hold them, feed them, and love on them in person. It's also been good to have this time to recover and not be in such a fog due to those night time feedings. I feel like I'm gathering my strength for when they do come home. It's hard to ignore the ache our bodies feel when we're not holding them, but wonderful to know that someday soon they will be home, and the time will fly when we turn around and realize just like we did with Liam how fast they grow and change.

Today may be their one-week birthday, but I can't wait until we can mark another birthday on our calendars - their homecoming.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Robinson, Party of 5...Robinson, Party of 5

Tonight is our very last night as the Robinson Trio. It's a very difficult concept to wrap my brain around that tomorrow we will jump to being the Robinson Five. When we found out last week that we would be delivering early (I will be 34 weeks by tomorrow), we weren't surprised, but we still weren't ready. Although I was (am) technically still on bedrest, as soon as the boys left to do some grocery shopping, I went into full-scale panic nesting mode, and dusted as though I'd never dusted before. All I could think of were the doubts that had been circling for the past 8 months. What if I can't handle being a mother to three?

I've been a mother to just one for the past 3 1/2 years. While I don't always get it right, I pretty much have it down pat. It's comfortable, most of the time. I have time to read, to do things outside of my child, heck, to make dinner and cookies and pies, and all the things I really enjoy doing. And yet, here come two more children who will be completely dependent on me for a long time. It's a daunting thought, along with all the usual worries of whether they'll be healthy and happy babies. Heaped on top of the nagging thought that my son was such a great baby - textbook, really - that maybe these two will be really, really difficult. Maybe they'll hate sleeping. Maybe they'll hate eating. It's a lot to think about.

I was talking to a friend of mine earlier today who is due in early July with her first child. She told me that she isn't ready at all, and we talked about the doubts that plagued us both. I was reminded that I had these exact same doubts about my first child just before giving birth, except a little different. What if I'm a terrible mother? What if I just plain suck at it? It's comforting to me to know that even with these new doubts, I know myself well enough to know that whatever comes my way, I'll put my head down and power through it. My mother used to say all the time before Liam was born, "If cavewomen could do it, you can do it." And she's exactly right. There are plenty of moms out there who have not only had twins, but had them with children already in the home.

So while I may feel emotionally a little bit like the above picture of Liam (who is suddenly terrified of the first fish he caught), I'm physically ready (especially as the Virginian summer gets going), and I know what I know before I gave birth to Liam: that God is completely in control, and I trust Him completely, no matter what happens. I recently came upon this scripture from my dear friend Kiki over at I Still Hate Pickles, and it's really been something I've been returning to this past week. I know tomorrow I'll have it running through my mind:

"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27

We can't wait to meet our sweet little girls!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Richmond Uncorked!

Attention Richmonders, and fellow Gourmands! Tomorrow, June 11th, from 12pm - 5pm, and the Virginia Historical Society are holding their very first Uncorked event! If you enjoy everything Virginian, especially our specialty food and wine, you won't want to miss this event. Local music and artists will also be on hand, and it all benefits the YWCA of Richmond.

I am truly disappointed to be missing this event since I'm still on bedrest - especially since some of Richmond's best and most popular restaurants will be serving their food, but hopefully if enough people attend, this is the type of event that will be making an annual appearance.

To find out more, please go here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Easy Strawberry Bread

Strawberries! Glorious Strawberries.
Strawberry season is finally here! It has been for a month or so, but I feel like we're just beginning to see the real benefits in our grocery store. I didn't get a chance to go berry picking this year at a local farm - something Liam and I did last year and had a blast at - mostly because I couldn't think of anything more challenging than picking berries and corralling a 3-year-old while in the 3rd trimester of carrying twins.

However, that hasn't stopped me from stocking up at the grocery store and getting to the best part - eating and creating with them! As any strawberry lover knows, there are about a million ways to serve these juicy red beauties. Literally, the amount of recipes knows no bounds. I would like to humbly submit one tried-and-true recipe, though, that has been around in my family for as long as I can remember: The super-simple, super-delicious Strawberry Bread. Here's what I love about it: It takes barely any time to make, comes together easily, and is absolutely foolproof. It's a winner every single time.

Easy Strawberry Bread.

Strawberry Bread

• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 egg (lightly beaten)
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (washed, hulled, sliced)

Mix dry ingredients. Add egg and oil. Mix and fold in berries. Bake in a lightly greased bread pan for 50 to 60 minutes at 350˚. Let rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, but  no longer than 20. Invert onto a cooling rack, and let cool completely before slicing. Yields: 1 loaf.

I swear, it's that easy! A couple of notes: The "dough" is more like a batter, but it's not really pourable. You kind of need to form it into the bread loaf pan, and I find that a non-stick spoon or spatula gets the job done. This "bread" is more like a dessert bread, really and it rises, but not too high. I'm serious about the no slicing until it's cool: It will absolutely crack and break apart if you try to handle it too much before it cools. 

This Strawberry Bread is perfect for breakfast, or for dessert, but I especially love serving it alongside a nice crisp summer salad. Makes an excellent gift for anyone in your life who loves strawberries, but it's okay to be selfish and keep it all to yourself, too.