Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake zb 11

When I moved into our new house last year, the one thing I left behind at my old address, other than my amazing neighbors, was my garden. Some of you may remember Stefan and my “urban farm” project. I’d worked, or at least assisted, in the creation of a spectacular 14 x 14-foot farm. In my new house we have great big trees, that give us wonderful shade and privacy, but my chances of recreating my vegetable garden are zero. I’m lucky just to grow hostas. I studied the patterns of the sun on my new yard, in hopes that a small sliver of day light would present itself. The only spot is a little nook by my back door, but it is covered in concrete, so tilling the soil will never happen. On a trip to the farmers market I bought a potted patio tomato. Why not herbs and berries in pots too?

patio garden

Now I have a rather impressive (albeit small) crop of lavender, sage, rosemary, lemon verbena, mint, other herbs and


two varieties of strawberries. It isn’t the lush mini-farm I once had, but at least I can step out my back door and “harvest” from the pots.


Truth be told, I’ve only eaten a handful of strawberries from those pots. I’m not sure if it is the rabbits, which we have many, or my boys, who are eating them all? The few I have picked are sweet, a little tart and the most spectacular color red, throughout. The berries we buy in the store are often perfect looking, but when you cut into them they reveal a hollow, white interior, that resembles an empty shell, with a flavor to match.  The home grown variety are dense and lovely, just small in number. My new neighbor, who just happens to be an inspired food blogger, Stephanie Meyer of Fresh Tart, brought me a perfect summer gift of a couple pints of hand picked, locally grown strawberries. They were just like my little beauties from my pots, but a recipe’s worth. When she handed them to me, I knew I should do as little to them as possible, they just don’t need adorning. A tiny bit of sugar, a splash of a sweet wine, some herbs from my pots, paired with shortcake and whipped cream. That’s it. (more…)

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Scones – My Son’s 1st Pop Up Bakery

scones 13

Last week my husband got a craving for scones. Instead of turning to me, or making them himself, he asked our 12 year old son to bake them. He challenged Charlie to have hot scones ready by the time he left for work the next morning. 7:30am is an hour my boys rarely see, because they are deep in REM sleep. Agreeing to this request was based on one thing, and one thing alone, money. My sons get an allowance, but it isn’t always enough to satisfy all the activities and toys they want, so the thought of a few extra bucks in his pocket was enough to get him out of bed. And, he loves to bake, so it wasn’t much of a hardship. The night before, he picked a recipe from Baking with Julia, set up his mise en place (a fancy way to say ingredients and equipment), then set his alarm for 5:30am. He woke me up at 6am, so I could sit in the kitchen, bleary eyed, with my coffee and answer any questions he had. It was quite something to watch him navigate the recipe. He didn’t know what a pastry blender was or what cornmeal looked like, so the instructions of “cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry blender until is resembles cornmeal” meant nothing to him. I showed him a jar of cornmeal, handed him the pastry tool and off he went. Scones are really quite easy to make, but it does require a gentle touch, so they don’t come out too tough. He did it perfectly.

My husband is a big fan of raisins, so Charlie folded them in during the last steps and added a bit of zest to the dough as well. He made an entire batch, which was way more than my husband could eat, so Charlie got the idea of texting our family members, who live near by, to tell them he had hot scones coming out of the oven and he was selling them. The price is fair, the product is amazing, the baker is adorable and he sold out for the day. By the time the scones were cooling on the racks and his costumers were showing up at the back door, he had crawled into my bed and fallen back to sleep. I was left to run the store, which was just fine with me. The scones were such a success that he’s now taking pre-orders for all kinds of baked goods and has a schedule of when he has to deliver the goods. It’s the best summer job I can think of and he’s going to be a skilled baker by the time he hits the 8th grade. Could I be any prouder of him, nope, not possible! He’s my fabulous baker boy. (more…)

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