Jul 18, 2014

summer weekend // on my mind no. 1



hey friday! Jim's been working hard this week on a personal project, and so I've been a busy host all week, cooking and cleaning and entertaining #onrepeat. Lots of garden veggies were spot-lit on our dinner table, but the real stand-out was this crazy-good almond peach dessert.

Lemme tell you about it. My sister brought me a basket of fresh peaches last week, and my first thought was to recreate my childhood friend's dad's peach ice cream. We'd spend our days with their family on Lake Rabun and as the sun set, Johnny would treat us to his golden, peachy, magical ice cream. I set to work on Cook's Illustrated's recipe and even though I followed every step, the cream would not freeze. (Perhaps the two tablespoons of vodka??;) One of the six men I was cooking for (!) suggested we use it as a cream/topping instead, so I made this almond cake and served it warm with the peach cream on top. SO GOOD. The next night, after a night in the freezer had its way with the cream, we served the peach ice cream with toasted almond cake bits on top. Seriously, ridiculous. Both ways. I took a vote and we were split about which way was best.

Athens has a new restaurant, Seabear Oyster Bar, and the men behind it (Peter, Patrick, Chris) know what's up. We ate there this week and it's everything it promised to be.

Conde Nast Traveler featured our town  in their July issue (Skip Atlanta: Go Here Instead), touting all the things that make this town so sweet, including White Tiger, Treehouse, Independent Baking Co, and Seabear, too! (ps - look at the people seated outside White Tiger - do you recognize that little baby byrd?!)

Our house is featured on LeeAnn McCollum design. If you're in Athens and thinking of designing or decorating, consider her... she's good! (plus she's my sister;)

My immune system isn't what it used to be (a postpartum thing), but since I started taking vitamin D daily it has evened out again.

Breastfeeding and social media - specifically instagram - are not playing well together. I want to share photos of Luca nursing but don't because I fear my account will be deleted. So I'm happy Mother(bleep) is on the scene, taking a stand.

Do you think about living with intention? It's been on my mind lately and my days and relationships are better for it.

Summer is for reading and if I can recommend one book to you it's Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. It's got all the good stuff - ballet and drugs and love affairs and NYC - a fast read that's beautifully written and sticks with you.

*top left image via Olivia Rae James' beautiful site. right image by Victoria Hannan via Cup of Jo


Jul 17, 2014

luca byrd // fourteen months

If one day, someone asks me if having a kid is worth it, I'd want to let that potential future parent spend a day with Luca at fourteen months. These days are so sweet and lovely and everything we hope for when we take that huge leap into parenthood.


Luca wakes up and I bring her into bed to nurse quietly. It's when we come downstairs that it starts: BALL! BALL! DOG! DAD! BABA! BALL! UP! She talks and plays and listens and responds (which is AMAZING). I think the best way to describe this month is that Luca is coming into her own. She's a little person now, which I suppose marks the transition from baby to toddler.


Athens has a sweet little daycare, Arrow, that we've started taking Luca to once or twice a week. Of course I dreaded it, but she loves it. We tell her bye and she walks off, finding a ball or some other little toy and going for it. Apparently she likes the snack room best because she can steal raisins or corn chips from some unsuspecting little person - this from the baby who pretty much refuses to eat anything new from me;) obviously it's more fun to eat food when it's someone else's!  I have a really good feeling about this place.


My cousin's wife just had their first baby, so many friends are pregnant now, and too many of my conversations with other mamas lately are revolving around kids. And tonight I realized that two years ago was when I got pregnant in nyc. BABIES, I tell ya.


If you can't tell, I am in love with being a mama and my sweet baby girl. I can't imagine life can get any better than this very moment - but I'm comforted in how many times I've thought exactly that and subsequently been proven wrong.

Milestones:
Dropping to one nap (makes for a long hour before bedtime but it's time)
Walks with her hands down - better balance!
Starting to run after Ellis
Hugs and pats Jim on the back
LOVES Ellis. Their favorite game is chasing each other around the kitchen island.
Gives big smiles these days
Holding hands!
Waiting for someone to help her down stairs
Will jump to me in the pool on the count of 1-2-3!

Jun 30, 2014

France Family Vacation

Jim had a dream of taking our family to Provence for two weeks, to be there long enough to adapt to their pace and routines and really immerse ourselves in the life. Lee and my mama decided to join us, and so on June 8, we flew to the little village of Cucuron. 

I don't want to tell you about the travel days (both were 26+ hours and TIRING) or what it was like to travel internationally with kids. Instead, I want to remember the farmhouse in the middle of the Chateau Sable vineyard which was our home for two weeks. All the fresh bread and cheese and local wine we consumed, and line-drying the sheets on a clothesline in the bright sun behind the house. How the sun lit the sky at 5am and didn't go down until 10pm. Getting to spend two weeks straight with my mama, and eating the food Lee and Jim bought at the local village markets and prepared daily. Exploring a hilly village with (just!) Jim and the few date nights we had. Slowing down and watching Luca hold my mama's hand while walking, and listening to Ellis speak the tiniest bit of French to impress a cute French girl.

And of course, all these beautiful images.  

France 2014

Jim took all these photos (obviously;) and you can see the rest here, if you'd like.

Jun 27, 2014

Blackberry-Bourbon-Caramel-Upside-Down-Cake


Our blackberries ripened just as we were preparing to leave for France - marking the official beginning of summer, in my book. We picked and froze most of them to later turn into jelly, but for a dinner party at a neighbor's house, I wanted to spotlight them in a dessert. I used Bon Appetit's recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, simply subbing the blackberries for pineapple.  Jim whipped fresh cream flavored with Mexican vanilla to serve on top, and lo, my new favorite summer dessert.


..................

Blackberry-Bourbon-Caramel-Upside-Down-Cake (recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Caramel:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup bourbon


Cake:
20-25 fresh blackberries
1 1/3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream


Caramel-
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat cake pan with nonstick spray; set aside. Cook brown sugar and butter in a small deep heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture is bubbling and sugar is completely dissolved. Boil, whisking occasionally, until caramel darkens, thickens, emulsifies, and pulls away from sides of pan, about 3 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return caramel to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Pour caramel into prepared cake pan and swirl pan until bottom is completely covered. Let cool completely before proceeding (caramel will harden).

Cake-
1. Arrange blackberries on top of caramel in the cake pan, using as many or as few as you'd like.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in another medium bowl until light and fluffy, 5–6 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat egg mixture until doubled in volume and very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape bottom of bowl well, making sure to incorporate all butter into eggs. Beat for 1 minute longer.

3. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into pan; smooth top.

4. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife around sides of pan to loosen cake; tap bottom of pan and invert cake onto a large plate. 

5. Serve with fresh whipped cream! 



Everything else in the garden is following- squash, tomatoes, okra, basil, and corn. We had our first garden meal the night before last, rivaling even the best meals we ate in France. One of the lessons I came away with from that trip was less is more, simple is best. More to come! I love this time of year.