This year I was armed and ready for the after school crash. Dylan is just 4 years old and his preschool days really drain him and sometimes that draining turns after school time at home into crazy town. Happily, that hasn’t happened much this September but maybe we are in the honeymoon phase? Either way, I have been surprising him with sweet homemade snacks for after school (remember his serious sweet tooth!) and audio books queued up for a rest on the sofa. So far, banana bread made with date sugar and walnuts and chia pudding made with coconut milk and nectarines have been winners. Both are special, filling, and healthful.
PS. Photos snapped on my phone from one of our recent walks.
Wholesome Banana Bread
makes 1 9-inch loaf or 2 smaller loaves
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup date sugar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl beat together the sugar and eggs for about 5 minutes then drizzle in the melted coconut oil.
Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and mix just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture and nuts just until evenly mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours for a 9-inch loaf and about 45 minutes for 2 smaller loaves. It’s done when the top is golden brown and the center springs back when you touch it. Let the bread cool in the pan for 30 minutes then pop out to cool completely.
Cooking with chia seeds was totally new to me but it was so super fun and easy! I didn’t realize all you do is shake the seeds in a liquid mixture and they magically turn to pudding. This is a total science experiment (and involves aggressive shaking) so it’s perfect for kids.
Coconut-Nectarine Chia Pudding
makes 6-8 snacks
1 can lite coconut milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup chia seeds
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup peeled and diced nectarines (you can use any fruit you like – banana, mango, blueberries)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon
Put all the ingredients in a large mason jar, stir, secure the lid and shake for 1 full minute. Let the jar rest on the counter for 15 minutes then shake again. Put the jar in the fridge and wait 2-3 hours for the pudding to thicken. When you are ready to serve, scoop it out and top with anything you like from extra maple syrup to fruit slices, nuts, or toasted coconut.
I like the summer side effect of people talking about books. It makes sense – more leisure time and vacationing leads to more reading. On our last day in Truro we went swimming in a kettle pond and our quick chat with strangers focused on summer reading. The friendly older man taking a swim and I both just finished The Goldfinch and we liked it. Have you read it?
We arrived home on the Island Sunday night and fell into bed. One con of family vacations is infant sleep relapse (mama is tired). Nick and I turned on the documentary Bill Cunningham New York and thoroughly enjoyed it. So if you have a travel hangover I suggest curling up with this movie. One pro of family vacation is eating not one but two dishes of Nectarine & Blueberry Crumble. We made this dessert early in the week and had to make it again.
Nectarine & Blueberry Crumble
3/4 cup all-purpose flour,
1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup fresh blueberries
5-7 nectarines (depending on size), peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
First, preheat the oven to 375 F degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and cane sugar. Using your hands, mash butter into flour until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare the fruit.
In another large bowl, toss fruit with lemon juice and cinnamon. Transfer to a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Nick and I were married 6 years ago today. The weather was a lot like it is now, hot but with just enough wind to stay comfortable. On our way out of the barn where the wedding party was held, Nick grabbed the last beer the bartenders had. Apparently we bought just the right number. I think it was a sign of our luck to come.
I wish I could flash a quick picture of our life now to the newlyweds that day – two boys, a life on this island, our challenges as a young family. I know that little glimpse into the future would have made us smile even bigger walking up the aisle. We often joke that we find each other the least annoying of anyone we’ve ever met – so I call that a good match.
These Grilled Nectarines with Ice Cream & Cookies are a festive afternoon treat that require little effort. You can adapt them however you’d like with peaches, plums, lemon sorbet, or chocolate wafers. I’m a sucker for gingersnaps so the little spicy kick is my favorite part.
Grilled Nectarines with Ice Cream & Cookies
Ripe nectarines (or any favorite stone fruit)
Vanilla ice cream
Simply heat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high. Slice the fruit in half and remove the pit. Brush grill with oil and place fruit skin side up. Cook until caramelized, about 4 minutes.
Place warm fruit in a bowl, top with a scoop of ice cream, crumbled cookie, and torn mint leaves.
My family has been on this island for something close to forty five summers and we just bought an air conditioner yesterday. I don’t know if it is the hottest July in forty five summers or the relief I, the very pregnant sister, and Anna, the bride to be sister, just needed to get by.
In any case it feels great and my sister’s wedding is officially tomorrow. There are four houses and countless hotel rooms filled with family and friends scattered across the island. We’re eating a lot, playing a lot, and having a ball. I made us a no-cook dinner before the blessed air conditioner arrived. This summer vegetable “ceviche” was on the menu and is something I will make again.
Ps. Dylan is the only person I know who has fabulous humidity hair. I look like Elvis.
Summer Vegetable “Ceviche”
from Food and Wine August 2013
1 cup fresh baby lima beans (from about 1 1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges
1 hass avocado, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 orange bell pepper, finely julienned
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1. In a small saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the lima beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeno, and shallot: season with salt. Gently fold in the lima beans, corn, nectarines, avocado, orange pepper, and tomatoes. Refrigeratre the “ceviche” for at least 2 hours. Fold in the cilantro just before serving and serve the “ceviche” chilled.