Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inspirations . . . serendipity . . . synergy

I just thought I'd share what's been going on this morning . . . it's hot here in Naples, so if you want to turn on the oven, you better do it early.  I've been smelling wafts of ripe banana and ripe peach in the kitchen since Sunday when we loaded up on fruit at the market.  The peaches were a mix of ripe and ripening, but the bananas had been around for a week and were on the cusp.  So before 7 a.m., I got a banana bread in the oven, using my current favorite recipe from the Apples for Jam cookbook.
I love the two Tessa Kiros cookbooks that I have -- they are full of great recipes presented in the most charming and visually appealing manner.  The other one I have is Falling Cloudberries.  She doesn't order her recipes in a conventional manner -- Apples for Jam is divided by color and Falling Cloudberries has a section devoted to the countries of her family's heritage and those she has lived in, ranging from Finland to South Africa.  The format of both books make them fun to peruse and find inspiration . . . inverting the usual order for me when deciding what to cook.  It's usually ingredients first -- what can I make with them?  In the case of Kiros' cookbooks, it's engaging recipe first, let me get what I need for that. I've had such success and been so intrigued by her recipes that they are worth a special trip to the store.
A few weeks back, I had come upon her banana bread recipe when thumbing through to the oil spattered page with her fabulous vegetable risotto recipe. At the time, more fragrant bananas were importuning upon me, and the resulting loaf was a hit.  One great thing about the recipe is that it calls for a 12-inch bread pan . . . so you get a nice long loaf that lasts through many between-meal slicings by family members.  This particular loaf made its welcome appearance by 8 a.m. for Quinn and Lily's breakfast, tweaking little noses awake with a marvelous cinnamon fragrance.  One of the best alarm clocks around.

After breakfast, I enlisted Lily in helping me make a peach pie with this very easy recipe.  I do use Pillsbury pie dough rather frequently.  It's great to have in the freezer for just such exigencies as peaches in danger of succumbing to severe brown spots.  We sorted through the crate of 24, placing the still unblemished ones in a bowl, and then got to work.  Lily was especially keen because I've been reading James and the Giant Peach to her at night.  So conversation rattled on about singing centipedes, kind spiders and ladybugs, and seagulls.  We made a lattice top for the pie with my little pinking cutter -- Lily loves to cut and weave the dough. Once the pie was in the oven, we had to carry on with James' adventures.  A few more chapters and -- voila!  Two home-baked goodies and the oven turned off before 10 a.m.  That's a successful start to the day!
Yesterday, I was reading one of my favorite blogs: Soulemama.  Amanda, the author of two books on family creativity, wrote about transforming cast-off skirts into new attire for her young daughter.  And this is just exactly what I do!

Amanda had repurposed her own skirts for this, but this spring I used two stockpiled vintage finds to make new skirts for Lil.
Notice the 25-cent sticker still on the gored skirt made from a lovely vintage floral linen! I picked it up at a garage sale in Wisconsin (so about 10 years ago!).  The Indian border print (complete with beading and sequins) was sent by my MIL for Emily, but was a tad too tight.  I use the same method Amanda uses . . . so check out her blog if you have a little girl in need of new duds for school (or for twirling as Amanda notes).  These recycled skirts have been in frequent "rotation" on Lily this summer as she loves pull-on clothes (who doesn't!)  As you can see, they are perfect for splashing and spinning around in unexpected downpours in the summer heat!

Next entry -- how a 12-year-old boy customizes some thrift store shirts for his back-to-school wardrobe, using outgrown t-shirts and spray paint!

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