Life

Ciao!

July 22, 2012

I’m off! I was going to schedule some posts – But quite frankly with moving the house the last two and a half weeks and packing to go on vacation and being away I did not have time to pre-write anything. So, unless I find a quick minute while I’m away, you’ll have to wait until I am home =) I will most definitely have lots of photos to share, particularly the delicious food I’ll be eating along the way as I make my way across Europe…

Cupcakes

Summer Cupcake Series: Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

July 17, 2012

I have 5 days left in this country – and Summer has finally decided to stick around. We had to endure a rather unruly June, but July has been quite nice. I have been told I’m not really allowed to complain, however, as I am going to Europe for a month. Where the weather looks like this:

Believe me, I will not be complaining.

That is, until it is so unbearably hot and humid that I can’t sleep through the night. Who can stand sleeping in anything when it is THIS hot. Adam and I have shrugged off our duvet cover each night, and even having a thin bed sheet on top is too much. Each morning I wake up in a tangle of bed sheets and the duvet half on the ground. I find I toss and turn more in the heat.

I remember my mom telling me that when she took my brother to Italy when he was a baby, they would let him run around naked indoors because it was too hot. I can’t imagine a baby in that heat! At least I know i’ll be well hydrated, because I will be hooking an IV of fluid up to myself in the form of a straw – and some Pellegrino.

Tonight we also had Adam’s baseball BBQ and game – it was great until my allergies began to act up. Thankfully my current bed partner (Adam) doesn’t mind crawling in bed with a girl covered in a face mask and a lovely nose strip (thank you Breathe Right)  It’s the only thing that will do the job right now. Along with allergy medicine, nose spray, and an Advil decongestant. I really hope my future children do NOT inherit my allergies. Summer’s really suck with them.

On another note..

Berry season is in full swing – delicious local berries are readily available as we make our way through the seasonal peaks. Strawberry season is almost over – but there is still plenty of time left to go and pick some (I believe end of July is the finish). Unfortunately we haven’t been able to hit up many U-Pick farms, due to the fact we’re moving, packing, and (I’m) leaving the country later this week. However, last year we did visit Krause Berry Farms in Langley, and loved it – Their welcome sign is, after all, a giant strawberry.

They provide all the info for each berry season and schedule. If you have a free weekend I suggest visiting them, the farm and cafe are awesome – corn pizza, fresh fruit smoothies, milkshakes, sky high pies, and mini donuts! You can also buy frozen foods and bring them home with you! You can read about my older post and visit to Krause Berry Farms here.

I made these strawberry cupcakes for our blogger picnic a few weekends ago – they are perfectly light and refreshing without being overly sweet.

I picked up the cute mini purple cupcake stand from our visit to Steveston the weekend before from a store called Serenity Home Decor. They have lots of unique and adorable gifts, cupcake related items, baking, novelty etc. Definitely worth a stroll through.

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes 

You will need:

24 baked and cooled yellow cupcakes

one batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream

local, fresh strawberries, washed & sliced (reserve smaller strawberries for decoration)

Fresh Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:

5 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

3 sticks butter, chilled, cut into cubes

Directions: 

Add washed, sliced strawberries (about 3/4 cup) to a food processor, and pulse for a few minutes until pureed. Do not drain, or add sugar. I like to leave the seeds instead of draining it like a coulis and heating it up – leave it fresh and un-cooked. Set aside.

In a metal mixing bowl, preferably from your stand mixer, place over a pot of simmering water, not boiling. Add sugar and egg whites. Be sure there is no yolk or oil in the egg whites, they will not whip properly otherwise.

Whisk constantly, until thermometer reads between 140-160 degrees F. If you do not have a thermometer, heat until sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot. This takes about 7-10 minutes.

Transfer metal bowl back to stand mixer, with whisk attachment and whip until the egg whites are thick and glossy and cool. The bowl itself should be cool to the touch, again this takes about 7-10 minutes on high.

Once the glossy thick texture is achieved, switch to a paddle attachment, and on medium add the chilled cubes of butter, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

The texture will begin to change, to a heavier, silky texture. It may look curdled, but continue to mix and it will become smooth once again. This time my butter was a bit too warm, and my frosting was curdling and soupy. I place it in the fridge for 15 minutes, added a couple more pieces of chilled butter and began to whip again. It became smooth once again.

Pour in the pureed strawberries, and whip for a moment to blend completely. No artificial colouring needed here – all natural baby.

Using a star tip, pipe strawberry buttercream onto cupcakes. Slice reserved smaller berries, dried/wiped dry, and place on top.

These cupcakes are best eaten the same day – but are ok to be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two at most. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

 These would be perfect for a summer picnic, a bridal shower, baby shower, or summer BBQ as a light and tasty tag-along dessert. You can most certainly swap out Strawberries for other berries as well.

Enjoy your summer =) Any plans??  I suggest visiting a U-Pick Berry Farm! Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries!

Life

Across the Border

July 16, 2012



{Look at me – in pictures for once! courtesy of Adam’s awesome sister}

Happy Monday!

How was everyone’s weekend? Adam and I went down to the States again, to his parent’s vacation place (the same one we went to for the long weekend, here). 

{Anyone with a love of Seinfeld, like myself, will get this reference 😉 }

It was lovely and sunny on Friday afternoon when we were leaving. There was a few hiccups on the HWY, so we went around it to the Aldergrove border. Neither of us had been through this border before, and it was actually a really nice drive once you made it across. We arrived there a little after 6 pm, lounged and had dinner.

We also got to see our beautiful niece, and this cute bum (adorable outfit provided by Auntie!) 😉

{She’s teething on everything, and Adam’s fingers were the best thing ever}

Saturday morning we woke up, it was a little cloudy but we had planned on going for a hike just a little ways down the road. At first it was really cold down by the river, because it was glacier water – but once you got higher up and away from the river bed it was actually
really humid and muggy.

It took us a good hour and a bit to hike in, and then we decided to head back. The trail was busy, lots of people passing us by each way. I was complaining that it was muddy and I didn’t want to go any further when it got steep, and then Adam kindly reassured me that “if a six year old girl, wearing pink crocs can do it.. you can do it” haha. I was no longer allowed to complain after that, having passed said girl along the way.

{We left our mark on the bench, along with the others}

When we returned Adam’s cousin and family had arrived for the day to visit, and we all went to the pool. It was really hot and sunny at this point. We hung out by the pool for a while, and then came back for dinner and of course, most importantly, S’mores.

{Epic – with a PB Cup}

 Sunday we woke up, at 10 am! A real sleep in for both of us, seeing as how Adam is up at 6 am every day, and I’m usually up by 7, 7:30 ish….

We decided to head over to Bellingham area, and discovered the cutest little quaint historic town of Fairhaven. It was awesome – we walked around, they had a live band playing in the courtyard area, and then we stumbled upon Village books – it was heaven. It’s a three storey book store, with new, used, and sale books! I could have been in there forever, and I probably was. I picked up four used books for my trip to keep me company on the plane, and when I’m in little Italy with my Nonna for two weeks.. incase I get bored…lol.  They also had a gift shop area, with way too many adorable gifts, paper, souvenirs, kitchen gadgets etc etc. I cannot wait to go back already.


After perusing for about an hour or so, Adam was getting cranky  hungry. So we toured around the cafe’s looking for something to eat. The bookstore had an attached Cafe, but it was quite expensive, and a small menu. A salad was about 13/15$ (with no meat/protein) and a burger was about 15$. So we kept looking, until we stumbled upon Avenue Bread. It was perfect- they boast a gigantic menu with lots of options, a half salad was 5.95, and you could add a chicken breast for 2$. The half salad was large! I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish the full and the chicken breast, and Adam ordered the Twin Sisters wrap, for 7.50$ with a coffee. They have a few locations in the Bellingham area, and one by Trader Joes! 😉

{Adam polished off my bread too}

We stumbled upon another bookstore I could see that was across the street, and this one was Massive! It was two levels, but the books were all used – and there was a million of them. The bookstore was like the ones you see in movies, you literally get lost in it. The books are all over the place, on the ground, in stacks, in every nook and cranny of the shelves. You could search for hours and hours. They also have a huge patio out back that over looks the ocean, and there is a picnic table you can sit at while you read. Adam found a book for 3$ and we went on our way.

After, Adam had wanted to go back to a little sweets shop we passed to get a milkshake, called Papa’s Sweets.

He got Chocolate Strawberry. I like to pretend that Gelato is better than ice cream, so I opted for the Gelato down the street. I also like to pretend that it isn’t dairy, but It doesn’t help. I felt a little sick on the way home (in our hour and a half border wait) but it was so, so good at the time. It’ll prepare my stomach for the gross amount of Gelato I’ll be eating in Italy this month – I better bring some Lactaid with me 😉

{I got an Affogato with Black Cocoa and Salted Caramel Gelato, two shots of espresso on top….amazing}

Before leaving, we drove down to the bay and sat by the water for a bit – it was another great weekend. It was the last full weekend until I leave – Take off is NEXT SUNDAY! …..

Oh – and then we hit up the Fred Meyer before the border – and all I can say is omg…that store is crazy. It’s like a costco, superstore and walmart in one . We’ll definitely be back once we move into our new house..and get Nexus. Seeing as how we will be living SO close to the border.

Hope you all had a great weekend!