For all the people who felt left out after last week’s cat popsicle post – after all, the heat is hard on us humans, too – these roasted plum, strawberry and creamy coconut popsicles are for you. It seems like most of the country has been sweltering under the same heat wave as we have, so most of you know how I feel right now: my hair is sticky, my face is sticky and the air feels as thick and hot as soup. As such, eating soup, or anything else that requires turning on the stove for long periods of time, is out of the question. Our old electric range will be a great radiant heater come winter, but for now it’s just not possible to turn it on passed 9 am without making the whole apartment roast.
I don’t want to use the heat as an excuse to fill up on things that can be eaten straight out of the package, though. Eating super-processed ice cream was starting to sound pretty darn appealing, so I figured I should hurry and make something refreshing and sweet before I caved into the refined sugar dairy monster. Luckily for me, I had everything I needed on hand to make these wonderfully creamy, naturally sweetened and seasonally flavored popsicles. In fact, I based the recipe on what I had in my cupboard already (seriously, I needed something sweet with urgency) and it’s a flexible enough recipe that you can do the same. Any stone fruit or berry would work beautifully using the same basic recipe. Peach and blueberry, blackberry and nectarines, the possibilities are endless! Continue Reading
After an unusually cool July, August in Portland has felt much more like summer. Our garden is loving the sun and warmth; my tomato plants are towering over me at nearly eight feet tall and are loaded with green tomatoes, and we’ve been snacking on juicy red strawberries from the patio for the past week. But there’s someone who isn’t as keen about the heat: Bisou. She lays in the sun until her fur is so hot I need an oven mitt to pet her, then when it’s time to head to the shade to cool off, she looks absolutely miserable when she realizes her usual cool spots around the house are hot, too.
On days like this, we all need some extra hydration and cats are no exception. I started making Bisou cat popsicles to supplement her water intake when we had several 100º days in Portland last summer. They’re made of a blend of her favorite wet food and low-sodium chicken broth, so she feels like she’s enjoying a treat while she’s also getting some much-needed hydration. When she’s been laying in the hot sun, I pull one out of the freezer and let her lick it for a few minutes at a time. It makes her happy and hydrated, and it makes me happy, too. Because what’s cuter than a cat licking a popsicle?! One popsicle will last a while, so I usually make just one or two at a time. Continue Reading
When it comes to home decorating, I’m a “less is more” kind of person. Maybe it’s due to having moved three times in two years and wondering, as I pack and unpack endless boxes of stuff, “why do we even have this!?” So in an effort to streamline, we’ve pared down on our possessions in the last couple years. Then earlier this month, we moved from a 500-square foot apartment to an 800-square foot one and found we had a shortage of things to fill it with.
Enter plants! I love how houseplants make a room feel instantly brighter and more homey. Unlike most decor items that add clutter but no utility to a room, plants are functional. They purify the air and are even said to improve focus, reduce stress and promote well-being. I’m not sure of the science behind some of those benefits, but having something green in every room makes me feel happy, and that’s reason enough for me to have lots of them around.
I picked up this staghorn fern for our bedroom, where it basks all day in bright, filtered light. Like air plants, staghorn ferns are epiphytic, meaning they grow on the surface of other plants rather than in the ground, and absorb moisture and nutrients through their fronds. Because of their shallow, rot-prone root systems, staghorn ferns kept as houseplants don’t do well in potting soil. Instead, a staghorn fern should be mounted on a plaque, which mimics its natural environment and doubles as a truly impressive art piece!
Growing up, I had a major sweet tooth. I was caught more than once hoarding chocolate in my bedroom and it’s a wonder it took me until this year to get my first cavity. Now though, I have less of a taste for cloyingly sugary desserts and instead favor more balanced sweets, like this tart that’s filled with a creamy mascarpone custard, lined with a golden crust with a hint of rosemary, and topped with fresh berries. This tart is a great choice for entertaining since the fresh fruit makes it light enough to enjoy after a big meal. Plus, it can be made in advance and will keep well in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. There’s nothing wrong with making it just because, too! That’s what I did, and between P and me, it didn’t last more than a couple days.
My favorite part of this recipe is that while it will look and taste really impressive, it’s actually very accessible. Any home baker can make it, no special bakeware or obscure ingredients necessary. Don’t have a tart pan? Bake it in a casserole dish! Don’t have a rolling pin? Neither do I, and I’m here to say a floured wine bottle works just fine. If you don’t like blueberries, you can swap them for strawberries, or raspberries, or sliced peaches or mangos. And once the recipe is broken down into a few steps, it’s pretty easy to make, too. Okay, now that you’re ready to make your very own fresh fruit tart (yes, YOU!), let’s dig in. Continue Reading
The combination of starting my garden late and the unseasonably cool weather we’ve had has meant most of my veggies are a little behind schedule. I have several tomatoes and a few peppers on each plant, but no signs of ripening yet. The same goes for my strawberries, which are still decidedly green. I’m hoping we’ll start to get some summer warmth (maybe by August?) to coax the garden along, but in the meantime there are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies to be plucked from their vines beyond my backyard!
We ventured outside of Portland this week to visit Sauvie Island, a picturesque farming community just north of the city. I visited the island’s pumpkin patch on class field trips most years as a kid, and never realized just how much there is beyond the pumpkin fields! P and I had visited an organic farm on the island for fall squash a couple years back and decided to see what we could find there in the summer season. Luckily for us, blueberry season was in full swing! We grabbed some buckets, headed out to the fields, and tried not to go overboard. In the end we hauled about four pounds of berries home. I didn’t have the mascarpone on hand I needed for the fresh blueberry and mascarpone tart I’ll share with you later, so I decided to make something for Bisou first. Did you know cats can eat blueberries? They were an ingredient in a dry food Bisou used to eat, so I decided to try including them in some homemade cat treats.