Summer Is My Favorite

Summer is my favorite. No, but really. Summer is my favorite season. I know, it should be fall or spring, or another season that girls love (if I hear another girl proclaim how much fall is her favorite season and how she can’t wait for it to be fall I’m going to scream), but I LOVE SUMMER and want to proclaim it and scream it at the top of my lungs.

This weekend was probably the perfect summer weekend – and that is not an exaggeration. It was warm. It was sunny. It was relaxing and yet there was so much to do. Thus the longish post that follows.

Friday night started with a walk to Flaming Ice Cube for our favorite appetizer (Buffalo “chik” dip) and my favorite meal – kalebouli wrap!

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Look at that wrap. So much hummus and kalebouli!

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And then we walked home, admiring the new artwork along the street. We may have had a detour at Rothschild creamery. This is mango twist soft serve. AMAZING.20140808_195127

New outdoor art.20140808_182657

Saturday started somewhat early. I wanted to catch the informal opening ceremonies of the International Gay Games (which are in Cleveland this year!) and participate in the 1 mile Rainbow Memorial Run, which remembers those who have lost their lives to AIDS and breast cancer, as well as others lost in the Gay Games family.20140809_083711

Everyone participating in the event got to wear a different color shirt. So we made all the colors of the rainbow!20140809_083207

Along the course were some balloons with designs on them designed by local students. The designs talked through the history of the fight for AIDS awareness and gay rights.IMG_20140809_141406

I chose a blue shirt. And made sure to wear my rainbow everywhere else on my outfit.20140809_083232

After the run, B and I did a few more miles on our own, bringing our total to 8 for the day before it got too hot to run.

Including my run on Sunday (below), I ended the week with another 30+ miles!

aug 3 running

Post-run, I met up with my friend Ali and we hit up the West Side Market. There were rainbow flags all throughout Ohio City in honor of the games!20140809_121946

And after the market, B and I hit up our CSA pickup and the Cleveland Flea. I love the Cleveland Flea. We ended up picking up a few goodies and some more produce. It was a perfect day to just walk around and enjoy people watching and all the Flea has to offer!

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Post Flea, we met up with B’s family for mass and dinner. It was a somewhat early night (after an early morning) that also ended with B and I finally participating in the ice bucket challenge. In case you haven’t been on Facebook in a year, or watched the news, or just want a refresher, the ice bucket challenge has been sweeping social media. It involves dunking yourself with a bucket of ice to raise awareness for ALS. You’re able to challenge some of your connections, and if they don’t complete the challenge in 24 hours, they must donate to the cause (and even those that participate are encouraged to donate). I’ve heard that ALS organizations are up more than 100% in terms of donations and if anything, the challenge is helping to raise awareness for ALS.  A fellow BC grad from my year, Pete Frates, was diagnosed from ALS, so many of my friends are doing the challenge in honor of him. If you’re friends with me on Facebook you may have seen the video, if not – here’s at least a screenshot.

video screenshot

video screenshot

Sunday morning I met up with Nicole for an easy run around downtown where we were able to catch part of the Gay Games triathletes finishing up their race and others start the running portion. How inspirational! It was fun to watch the athletes and break up our run. Post-run, I met up with Ali again and we walked over to Ohio to catch the North Union Farmer’s Market, which recently started a Sunday farmer’s market. We browsed through the stands, I finally got my hands on Cle Kraut (love the gnar gnar!) and some more produce.

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And when I got home, I checked out my haul. Hmmm … I may have gone overboard on the produce and farmers markets this week? I spy beets, onions, tomatoes, apples, hot peppers, sweet peppers, nectarines, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and a giant zucchini. Oh, and the canteloup and blueberries and kale are in my fridge.

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Sunday afternoon B and I hit up the beach and met up with Dave and Anson. It was the perfect beach day. We read, sunned ourselves and I even went in the water. TWICE. (well only “swimming” once) Which is a big deal for me. I ended the day with some slightly sunburned legs. My FIRST sunburn of the year and it’s mid-August. #Fail20140810_142521

Sunday night we hit up Winking Lizard for some more buffalo chicken, wings, and summer beers. Can summer last all year long? Please?

A few questions for you:

  • Which is your favorite season? Summer!
  • During the summer – which do you prefer, beach or pool? Beach all the way! I do love the ability to swim and do laps in crystal clear (and often warmer) pools, but there’s something so relaxing about laying on the sand and listening to the water.
  • When at the beach are you a tanner? A swimmer? An active person (frisbee/volleyballer, etc.) Typically a relaxer/sleeper/reader. I don’t often go swimming unless it’s hot out. But if it’s hot and the water is calm, I’m in!
  • What’s your favorite farmer’s market produce? I love those mini cherry tomatoes and mini sweet peppers. Perfect for healthy snacking! Also, any fresh fruit, especially nectarines.

Meatless Monday: Roasted Fennel and Carrots

There are some vegetables that just shout farmers market or CSA to me. Mustard Greens. Garlic Scapes. Kohlrabi. Fennel.

I know, I know – fennel isn’t JUST from farmers markets and CSAs, but that’s literally the only time I ever end up getting it, meaning I hardly ever know what to do with it. Last year, I ended up keeping the fennel raw and preparing a Tomato, Fennel and Avocado Salad. It was good, but B didn’t like it that much – he didn’t like the texture of the fennel raw so I ended up eating most of his salad. (#winning!)

This year, week 9 of our Fresh Fork farm share came and once again we were faced with another bulb of fennel. I was determined to prepare it differently, in a way even B would enjoy. Enter, roasted fennel and carrots. Oh. Em. Gee. I may be overreacting, or just a little too excited, but I am super in love with preparing fennel this way. Even B tried it and liked it! The fennel softens and the strong anise-type flavor softens somewhat. I can’t wait to make this again!

Roasted Fennel & Carrots - i crashed the web

Roasted Fennel & Carrots

Here’s what you need:

  • One fennel bulb (without the stalks, but save the fronds), chopped into 1/2 inch slices
  • four large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Toss sliced fennel and carrots with olive oil.
  3. Place fennel and carrots in a small casserole dish. Toss with fennel seeds and add minced garlic, salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until carrots and fennel are tender.
  4. For added fennel taste, save the fronds and sprinkle 1-2 tsp. of the leaves on top.
  5. Enjoy! Makes 2 side dishes or one large vegetarian main dish. For a vegetarian main dish, serve with a protein-rich grain like freekeh or quinoa, and/or a side of beans like lentils. Yum!
Roasted Fennel and Carrots - i crashed the web

fresh out of the oven!

Some questions for you:

  • What food or ingredient do you think of when you think of CSAs or farmers markets?
  • Do you enjoy fennel? How do you eat it – raw or cooked?
  • Do you eat your friend/significant other/child/roommate’s food if they don’t like it? I’m not judging!

Lazy Weekends

After having several weekends in a row with plans and stuff to do, it was nice to have a weekend home with NOTHING on the schedule. Which meant, of course, making big to-do lists (cleaning! filing! working!) but getting none of them done. Which was completely, absolutely fine because what I did get done was probably much more fun. Like doing these 7 things:

7 Ways to Spend a Lazy Weekend

1. Reading.

Finished two of the books I was in the middle of! On to Orphan Train next. Any other good summer reads to recommend?

brief wondrous life of oscar wao

just finished this!

2. Running. a 7.6 miler on Saturday and a 6.6 miler on Sunday. One of these days I’ll get a Garmin so I actually run even numbers.

Mileage for the week. The 8s are mostly 7.6 - dailymile rounds them up

30+ mi even with two days off from running this week!  Full disclosure: I never ran 8 full miles or 7 full: the 8s are mostly 7.6  and the 7 is 6.6- dailymile rounds them up

3. Baking. Once again we had a surplus of blueberries from our CSA, so I whipped up a batch of Blueberry Buttermilk Scones.

as B says, Game of Scones!

as B says, Game of Scones!

4. Pho-ing. Yeah, I know that’s not a word. But Friday night B and I hit up our favorite Pho place for some salads, spring rolls and bun. Sorry, bun not pictured (but enjoyed very much!)

superior pho

5. Suiteing! Yup, again, stretching it with the word, but B and I enjoyed a fun Indians game on Sunday in after a friend asked us to join him in their company suite.

B found a twin @ the game!

B found a twin @ the game in our suite!

WINNING after extra innings!

WINNING after extra innings!

Enjoying the Suite and great weather!

Enjoying the Suite and great weather!

6. Cooking at home. Which meant pasta from Ohio City Pasta (via Fresh Fork) and Limoncello from Italy!

fresh fork pickup

fresh product pickup!

limoncello

7. Enjoying new flavors of ice cream. Because what summer weekend would be complete without it? Pictured below (sorry it’s somewhat blurry) is orange ginger from Rothschild Creamery!

Orange Ginger Soft Serve!

Orange Ginger Soft Serve!

Despite not cleaning, or doing the work I wanted to, as you can tell, it was a pretty good weekend after all.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you enjoy after dinner drinks like Limoncello? What’s your favorite?
  • Any fun flavors of ice cream you’ve tried lately?
  • What’s a new book I should add to my list?

Why Every Weekend Should Be a 3 Day Weekend

It’s already the last day on my amazing three-day weekend, and I can’t help but think how amazing it would be if every weekend were a three-day weekend.

Why?

Here are just some of the things that happen on three-day weekends:

Spontaneous pizza nights

pizza

Fresh bacon (from Fresh Fork!) for breakfast

fresh bacon for breakfast

Fish faces with kids

fishface

Baking

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More baking

baking

Reading along the beach

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Selfies in the park

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And that’s all before Sunday.

Don’t worry, a full weekend wrap up post will be coming – but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

C Is For …

I hate to brag, but it was another beautiful weekend in Cleveland. Sunny, 80 degrees, absolutely gorgeous.

So I did what any good native Northeasterner would do when a sunny, warm, beautiful summer weekend rolls around – spend as much of it outside as I can!

The weekend started out with a surprise parade that I encountered on my way home from work that was kicking off Jazz Festival.

And then B and I decided to sit outside, enjoy the weather and enjoy some of the live music that was happening for the festival this weekend. Oh yeah, and some wine. Wine + music meant an excellent start to the evening.

Jazz fest

Jazz fest

We had already planned our dinner – brats and salads from our Fresh Fork share. B made them with some fried onions and they were amazing.

Fresh Fork-inspired dinner - brats, salad and fried onions

Fresh Fork-inspired dinner – brats, salad and fried onions. And yes, more wine.

Saturday started early with a 7 mile run with Nicole. Nicole is starting to train for 50K (yes, 50!) and while I’m not training for anything, I was happy to have someone to do the miles with. Though it was hot, humid and we may have stopped to walk and for water a few times, I was feeling pretty good by the time the run was over and I was ready for the day. Which of course started with my favorite salad at Rothschild Farms.

One of my favorite post-run meals - Rothschild Farms salad

One of my favorite post-run meals – Rothschild Farms salad

And then a quick trip to the West Side Market for an apple fritter and other goodies.

West Side Market goodies

West Side Market goodies

After the market, we headed to Hansa Import Haus to pick up some spicy mustard and summery hefeweizens. I LOVE a good spicy mustard and they have so many to choose from!

Hansa Import Haus - SO MUCH MUSTARD

Hansa Import Haus – SO MUCH MUSTARD

Saturday also happened to be the monthly meetup of the Ladies Craft Beer Society – a few ladies get together craft and drink craft beer. Reanna hosts it in Ohio City and it’s really just an excuse to admire her cute house, drink beer, eat snacks and catch up with other ladies. I am not a crafty person and my crafts never seem to come out (don’t even ask about the mitten I tried to make) … but this one did! Look at my string art!

Me and my craft

Me and my craft (photo credit: Cari!)

I did something crafty!

I did something crafty!

After crafting, I decided to continue to hang out in Ohio City (where crafting was) and enjoy the beautiful weather by finding a patio. My coworker Cari and her fiance joined us and B walked over from downtown. Nano Brew was perfect – their patio was just filling up and I do love their food.

Patio beers

Patio beers

Love being outdoors!

Love being outdoors!

After Nano, we walked back downtown and met up with some other people who were outside at another patio. Beginning to see a theme? I’m envisioning a lot of summertime patios in my future this year.

Sunday started off somewhat early when B went to softball and I decided to be productive in his absence. It included folding clothes, some meal prep for the week (which included soaking beans, making chicken, boiling eggs and massaging kale … I love this stuff!), working out, hanging up my new craft, and some other boring stuff.

Meal prep!

Meal prep!

But when B got home – it was BEACH time! I’m beginning to love this summer tradition. all weekends should end with reading and relaxing on the sand.

The beach was a lot less crowded this weekend

The beach was a lot less crowded this weekend

And of course, after beachtime it was dinnertime with B’s family. This week were at his brother and sister-in-law’s house and enjoyed a super summery meal, followed by strawberry pie on their front porch. Dinners and nights like this make me almost ready to move to the suburbs. But then I remember how much fun we had Friday and Saturday going out and walking around downtown and Ohio City and the feeling quickly fades.

Turkey burgers, quinoa and potato salads = perfect summer meal

Turkey burgers, quinoa and potato salads = perfect summer meal

Some questions for you:

How was your weekend? Tell me something fun you did.

  • In your opinion, what’s your favorite summery meal? Turkey burgers or ribs. Plus a nice salad, pasta or quinoa salad with fresh veggies, corn and sweet potato. 
  • Meal prepping  -yay or nay? Do you enjoy planning and prepping lunches and other meals in advance? Yes – if I have time, I love it. I love preparing the food, getting them ready for the week and the whole planning element.
  • What’s your favorite summery beer? I need suggestions!

Meatless Monday: Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

B is one of those people who doesn’t like cilantro. He doesn’t mind it in moderation (as in 1-2 sprigs in a salad or guacamole), but that’s it. So when we received a few bunches of cilantro in our Fresh Fork summer share, I knew I’d have to make something pretty amazing that would help us use the cilantro fast. And then when I only ended up using half our garlic scapes in a stir fry one night the idea came to me – cilantro garlic scape pesto.

Looking online, I was surprised to find quite a few pesto recipes featuring cilantro, garlic scapes, and other CSA-friendly ingredients. I chose/created this one because these were the ingredients I had on hand. It’d certainly be delicious with another type of nut and an added sprinkle (or two) of parmesan!

Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

Here’s what you need:

  • 10 garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch cilantro (roughly about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut up garlic scapes into 1-2 inch pieces. Add sliced scapes and cilantro to blender. Mix well.
  2. Add in slivered almonds, continue to blend until a thick paste forms.
  3. Add in olive oil, one tablespoonful at a time and continue to blend until paste becomes somewhat creamy. Add in extra salt, scapes, cilantro or oil to taste, as necessary.
  4. Enjoy! Makes about 1/3 cup pesto- perfect on top of some pasta, zoodles, or even chicken (for a non-meatless dish).

Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have a CSA? What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve gotten?
  • What’s your favorite pesto recipe use? I love the basic pesto with pignoli nuts and basil. 
  • Are you a cilantro fan? Yes I am! Love it on chicken, salsa, seafood (especially raw seafood – hello ceviche!), and more.

 

When Life Gives You Strawberries … Make Strawberry Bread!

B and I have started our second year of our Fresh Fork CSA and we’ve been having a blast each week with our new bags – we already roasted our first chicken (ok, well B roasted it), cooked up our turtle beans, and enjoyed our chorizo with an amazing fajita salad. In fact, the one thing we still hadn’t really touched this week were the strawberries we got as a bonus. I noticed they were starting to go bad, and while I would’ve loved to eat a pint of fresh stories in a day by myself, I didn’t know if my stomach would appreciate it. So, I scoured the web and my cookbooks for some strawberry dessert recipes.

I didn’t want to make a cobbler or a pie. I do like cobblers and pies – but not as much as I like breads and cookies. So I was pleased when I came upon this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. I made only the most minor tweaks and am so pleased with how the recipe came out. The next time you have extra strawberries laying around – or just want a new bread/muffin to make, try this out! It’s a perfect summer recipe.

strawberry bread - i crashed the web

Strawberry Bread

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I have dry buttermilk on hand – this was 8 TBS + 2 c water)
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hopped, and tossed in 2 Tablespoon of flour and 1 Tablespoon sugar

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 2  8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together until combined and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and sugars together until combined. Add in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently combine until there are no more lumps. Do NOT overmix, this results in a tough bread. Fold in the strawberries.
  5. Pour batter into bread pans. Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick poked into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool completely.
  6. Batter can also be made into 24 muffins; bake muffins for 15-18 minutes at 350 also.

 

strawberry muffins - i crashed the web

 

 

Some questions for you:

  • Do you participate in a CSA? Or buy your produce, etc. locally?
  • What’s your favorite strawberry-themed food? Is it a pie or cobbler or ice cream?
  • Favorite muffin or bread? Zucchini bread – love my mom’s recipe.
  • Muffins or bread? Usually bread-  like banana bread or zucchini bread. But muffins help with portion control  – and sharing!