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
5 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, chilled, cut into cubes
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!
The warmer temperature lately has been a lovely welcome to June. It seems like May literally flew by. I can’t even remember what has happened this month. A long weekend getaway, we listed our house, I’ve been out of school for about a month now. Maybe the fact that I don’t have to keep track of what day it is helped the month slip by.
Speaking of our house, we officially accepted an offer. We listed it at the beginning of May, and last weekend we accepted an offer. We were really happy with the price we’ve set it at, and we’re happy to get very close to it. At first they wanted to move in, in two weeks! Um, hello, not happening. First of all, it’s a very important week coming up, well day really. My birthday, it’s next Tuesday. And then, the week after that is my official grad ceremony, and of course graduation party. So, there was no way I was moving and packing up our condo in two weeks while all that was happening as well. When we countered we extended the date for the end of the month, June 25th. That was better situated for us. So, as of Wednesday next week we will know for sure if we have sold, once the subjects are removed. We are both quite happy that it went so fast, only four showings, so we can rest assured we (read: Adam) won’t be stuck with two mortgages come November ;) . For the interim we will be staying at my Moms, thankfully they have a big house with lots of room, and Adam’s parents for the 5 months before we officially move into the new house.
The day we accepted the offer, I also went for my graduation photos. It didn’t seem real until I placed the cap on my head, and donned the official gown. It brought me back to my grade 12 graduation, as the photos were taken at the same photography studio. But, it’s real! I’ve confirmed my attendance at my convocation ceremony, and rented my gown. As if I haven’t paid the university enough money, I had to pay to rent a gown for a couple hours, on a time limit, to attend my grad ceremony. Oh well, it will only happen once! I’m not sure if there is a grad ceremony for when I finish my teaching program next year or not. My mom has also planned a party to celebrate with our friends and family that I’m looking forward to. I think 6 years of university deserves some acknowledgement, and a few drinks.
Something that has also been happening this month, the appearance of fruit. It’s the cusp of the fruit season and everything is growing bursting through the ground. A few weeks ago I posted a photo of a giant rhubarb plant at Adam’s parent’s home. Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but it is more often found in sweet dessert recipes than savoury. His mom needed to pick the very large, towing plant and gave me some to bring home, as long as I baked her something with it of course ;) One of my favourite combinations is strawberry-rhubarb. Delicious in a pie, hand pie, or as individual galette’s like I’ve done here. We had Adam’s family over for dinner, his mom and dad, sister, brother-in-law, and our sweet little niece, so I thought I would made a small galette for each person.
You can really sub any fruit for the filling, blackberry, blueberry, apple, peach, peach-blackberry, apple-strawberry, etc etc. So many fruit combinations.
Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes
Adapted from: Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
1. Pulse flour and sugar in a food processor (or whisk together by hand in bowl). Add butter, and pulse, or use pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture, pulse (or mix with fork), until the mixture begins to hold together. If it seems too dry, add another 1/4 cup of water, 1 tbs. at a time and pulse again.
2. Turn out onto counter, and wrap in plastic wrap tightly, chilling for about one hour, or overnight.
- Chilled Pâte Brisée
- 1 1/2 pounds trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (about 5 cups)
- 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups granulated sugar
1. Divide dough evenly into 8 pieces ( I made 6 slightly larger ones ). On a lightly floured surface roll out each piece into a 7 inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. arranging several inches apart.
2. In large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, cornstarch and sugar.
3. Cover each round of dough with a heaping 1/2 cup mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges over the filing, leaving the opening in the center. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until firm.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush edges with egg wash, one egg beaten, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. bake until crusts are golden brown about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake until juices start to bubble and run from center, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let cool and transfer to wire rack.
These are also delicious warm from the oven, topped with ice cream. Maybe with the Honey Ice Cream from last week!
That’s how long I have left as an Undergrad, before I walk out of my last class of University ever.
Ok, well not ever. If I’m going to be a teacher, I’m going to have to go back after I graduate to complete the Professional Development Program, thus another year of classes. But, I will however have five glorious months off from homework, essay writing and deadlines. Finally.
In these five months I plan on working, hopefully, and travelling to Europe with a friend for a month. I guess once that is all finished I’ll be alright with going back to class. Even though I would like to think this will be my last class ever.
Spring seems to have arrived here in Vancouver, though we were seeing snowfall up until last week. My allergies don’t seem to care if there is snow on the ground or not, regardless of the weather allergy season has definitely made an appearance.
I appreciate the warmer temperatures and sunny afternoons, the sun shining way past its usual curfew of 5:00 pm, and the happier moods that overall nice weather seems to put you in. I really do. Even if I curse the fact that I begin allergy attacks by 9 am each morning. Nasal strips are now my friend if I ever want to be able to sleep through the night. Oh, and breath.
After seeing a recipe from Eat – Drink – Love earlier this week I knew I wanted to make it. It just screams spring is on the way. I’ve never really had Sherbet, though I probably have and just called it ice cream. Due to dairy allergies I rarely if ever eat ice cream or frozen yogurt anymore. Poor Adam ;) After looking at the recipe I thought I could make that dairy free, and still enjoy it. It’s like a smoothie, only creamier with the addition of coconut milk.
It’s Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free and still totally satisfying. If you’re into those kinds of things. You can eat an entire bowl and not feel guilty. Have it for a snack in the afternoon, or top it with fresh fruit and you’ve got dessert after dinner.
Frozen Strawberry-Banana Smoothie Sherbet
- 1 pkg. Strawberries, thoroughly washed & stems removed
- 1 can Coconut Milk (reduced fat or regular)
- 1-2 very ripe Bananas
- Slice strawberries and bananas and place in food processor (I use my KitchenAid 7 cup) or blender and puree until smooth.
- Add the can of Coconut milk and puree once again.
Alternatively, if you do not want to have seeds in the finished product, puree the strawberries and push through a mesh sieve, and then add that back to the processor and add banana and coconut milk.
3. Place smoothie mixture into a bowl and chill in the fridge overnight. I made this the night before and let the flavours marinate in the fridge. The ripe bananas will sweeten the strawberries naturally and the coconut milk adds a hint of tropical flavour. If you don’t wish to wait overnight, chill at least an hour or two to let flavours release.
4. After chilling place smoothie mixture into Ice Cream Maker (I use my KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment) and freeze according to the manufacture’s instructions. About 20 minutes.
You can eat is soft serve once it’s done, or freeze until hardened.
This freezes quite solid, so allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Storing in cute mason jar optional. Looks like a jar of strawberry jam!