It is a well known fact (in the Pacific Northwest, at least) that summer officially begins on July 5th. Fourth of July could very well be dicey, but generally the week after is smooth, sunny sailing. This year seems a bit different — it’s been mild and even overcast in the mornings, although my evening walks with Oliver are certainly warm enough to go sleeveless. We’re drinking rosé. We splurged for some landscaping help and have a little plot of grass in our tiny backyard that’s just calling for picnics and barefoot romps. We found an outdoor table and are in the market for some string lights. In short: sunny or not, we’re doing this thing. And I have a most simple and summery recipe to share with you today … but first, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the new A Sweet Spoonful. This redesign has been months and months in the making and has a number of new features that I’m really excited about. Even more than tiny plots of grass and string lights (much more, in fact). I’d love to show you around.
The blog has felt dated to me for quite some time and as many of you know, my husband Sam is a designer. We always laugh about the saying the cobblers kids are the last to have shoes: It’s true. There have been many other things to tend to. But when I began to feel like the site wasn’t actually that useful, it was time for a change. Selfishly, there are so many recipes on the blog that I love but that I forget about because it’s been years since I’ve made them and they lurk quietly in the archives, infinitely unsearchable. Now with the new Recipes page, there’s functionality that allows you to search by type of meal, season, ingredient and dietary preference. Yes!
In addition, I created a “Megan’s Favorites” page (click on the link there or head over to the green tab on the right sidebar under “Browse”) where I’ve gathered together all of my very favorite recipes to revisit often. You’ll also notice in that little cluster on the right sidebar a “Motherhood” and “Whole Grain Baking” tab as well. When I started the blog in 2009, I hadn’t given much thought as to what I wanted to focus on. Ahhh, the dark, fresh days of blogging — most of us just dove right in. But now, I want to feature my interests and strengths more prominently: whole grain baking recipes, simple seasonal cooking, and writing about motherhood and building a home life in Seattle.
A few other features I’m excited about: the site is mobile responsive now (hallelujah!), so you can pull it up on your favorite mobile device or tablet and read (or cook) away. I added a page on Working with Me as I’m looking forward to partnering more with brands I love and selectively introducing you to products we use in the kitchen. And I’ve finally got a Contact Page so you can reach me easily with questions, ideas, proposals and the like.
But all of that aside, I’m really looking forward to the ability to interact more with you all. I can now directly respond to each of you in the comments and it’ll nest our conversation. I’m guessing that as you’re reading this post now, you likely already subscribe via email to receive new posts. If you don’t and you’d like to stay in the loop, please Subscribe (see box on right sidebar or footer). For those of you that already subscribe, you’ll notice a new option where you can Subscribe to my Newsletter. This is different than the weekly (ish) blog posts: it’ll be more of a seasonal newsletter with new content and round-ups, and I hope you’ll consider entering your email to join me there.
A big thank you to the team that made the site possible: Sam Schick and Eli Van Zoeren of Neversink. They’re incredible and design and develop blogs and websites big and small (and many other design-related things, too) — I feel really lucky to have had their talent (and patience) on this project. And thank you all for your continued readership and support; you’re the reason I am still here cooking and photographing and writing, and I’m so looking forward to this next chapter with you.
I love the bright green color of this finishing oil and have big plans to spoon it onto every single summer tomato I can get my hands on this season. If you grow chives, this is a great recipe to double. You can freeze some in ice cube trays so you’ll have vibrant pops of summer to spoon over your vegetables, salads, and soups all year round.
Reprinted, with permission, from: Brooklyn Rustic
In a small pot, heat the olive oil, chives, and salt over high heat until the oil starts to bubble a little, about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a small glass bowl and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day (if chilling for more than an hour, cover it with plastic wrap after it cools). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Refrigerate the oil for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
In a few short weeks, we're headed to New York, Vermont and New Jersey to visit family and see my sister Zoe get married. In starting to think through the trip and do a little planning, I found Oliver the cutest tiny-person dress shoes I've ever seen (and he's quite smitten with them), sussed out childcare options for the night of the wedding, and found what feels like the most expensive (and last) rental car in the state of New Jersey. I try very hard not to be one of Those People that begins lamenting the loss of a season before it's remotely appropriate to do so, but this year, as we'll be gone much of September, I've felt a bit of a 'hurry, make all the summery things!' feeling set in. So we've been managing increasingly busy days punctuated with zucchini noodle salads, gazpacho, corn on the cob and homemade popsicles (preferably eaten shirtless outside followed by a good, solid sprinkler run for one small person in particular. Not naming any names).
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
A triple berry summer crisp made with oats, quinoa flakes and hazelnuts. Summer in a skillet.
I had a weak moment on our honeymoon in Italy when I decided that I should be making gelato for a living. My enthusiasm for Italian gelato wasn't surprising to anyone. I'd done extensive research, made lists, had Sam map out cities in terms of where the best gelaterias were. I took notes and photos and hemmed and hawed over flavor choices: Sicilian Pistachio! Chestnut Honey! Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig! In truth, on that particular trip, I cared far more about treats, sunshine, and cobblestone walks than I cared about famous landmarks or tourist attractions, often leaving the camera back at the hotel in favor of my small black notebook which housed detailed jottings on dessert discoveries in each city we visited. Our friends Matteo and Jessica happened to be in Naples on the one night we were there, and we all went out for pizza together followed by a long stroll around the city. At some point the conversation turned to gelato (as it's bound to) and Matteo brought up the famous school in Bologna where many renowned gelato artisans study. My wheels were spinning. Maybe we should visit Bologna. I should see this school! I should talk to these students! I could make Sicilian Pistachio; Chestnut Honey; and Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig each and every day of our lives. Or at the very least, travel to Bologna to learn how and then come back to Seattle to take our Northwest city by storm. Well here we are six months later, back to reality, and the impetus to pack up my bags and head for Bologna has subsided for the time being ... but not the unwavering gusto to sample. That part will always be with me. It's been awhile since I mixed up a batch of ice cream at home, but the other day a beautiful new cookbook landed on my doorstep and I flipped right to a recipe for dark chocolate sorbet with toasty, salty almonds. I didn't need much convincing.