February 24, 2017

Brew Pubs and Popovers

On a recent cloudy, gray winter day, I convinced my husband to take me to a popover pop-up shop set-up by The Popover Lady! His reaction was, "Like really? Do I have to go?" When I told him that it was being held at a brew pub, he got a little more excited. It was all going to happen at the Gentile Brewing Company in Beverly, MA. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend you check them out! So off we drove to get there earlier that the noon start. I figured this was going to be a VERY "pop"ular event! 
 Here is the General Manager, Emily, ready to serve us whatever we wanted. She's very smiley in the morning. Since we arrived before they were technically open, (okay I guess I was very excited for some yummy popovers!) she answered my million questions.
 Other early birds arrived. The kids were excited too!
 My husband made a beeline to the pubby manufacturing center while the poor Popover Lady was still getting her health department certificate. Guess we were a lot early, but they were nice to let us in!
 The event was a PERFECT combo since it was like man-heaven for my husband getting to look at all the brewing equipment. 
We recently bought some land further north in Massachusetts that has an old brewery on it, so his wheels got turning after seeing this setup. Who knows? Maybe someday there will be "BloomingBrews"? Ha ha :)
You have to be impressed with equipment that carries the name "Psycho Brew!"
 Back to The Popover Lady 'cause I was getting hungry! She apparently has gotten some well-deserved press. And her prices were more than reasonable!
The crowds were getting unruly! Okay, not yet, but it actually got really busy. These kids were eager to get this show rolling, like me!
 The Popover lady had all these different flavors that inspired me to make some when I got home - my stomach is growling just writing this post!
 And she also sold the yummiest blueberry pies!
 So after I bought some popovers to have with our beer - I mean, isn't THIS the breakfast of champions?- we ordered a flight of Gentile's finest beers.
 Who could resist of combo like this? We stayed and ate, and drank, and then ate and drank some more. 
And on their blackboard, they listed the other upcoming popups! Which reminds me, I can't WAIT to see what an "Angry Donut" looks like!
 They even had shirts to buy! I LOVE reasons to shop!
 Back at the bar, it started to fill up with all sorts...
 …even cute puppies were welcome!
 And walking in, were guys with wool hats and more beards than I could count - it was a hipstery kind of place with super friendly people. But as a mom who battles the hipster beard of my "preppy-hipster" son, I'll tell you that I started asking these nice guys (and their girlfriends) all about their beards and how long they were going to grow them. After all, I was on my third beer of the morning and the alcohol content was higher than a usual beer, so I was chatty! The guy in the photo in the red plaid shirt had just informed his fiancĂ© that he wasn't going to shave until their June wedding! She was kind of horrified! My son better not do that to me someday! 
 After that, we decided it was probably best if we left, before I asked even more embarrassing questions, and to go home and make some of our own popovers.
I have to admit that I bought some yummy blueberry pies and some mini-popovers since I don't have any mini pans, but they are now on my must list to get!
It was a veritable popover smorgasbord and they are just so easy to make! Here's the recipe with a list of add-in suggestions you can choose if you want more zip to the already perfect treats.
All you need is some flour, eggs, milk, salt and butter. I goofed when I took this picture and omitted some things, but you'll get the idea when you read the recipe :)

Bloomingblog Popovers (makes 12 popovers):
Preheat oven to 450 degrees 
Put popover pan in oven to heat up for 2 minutes

While waiting for the pan to preheat, make the custard

3 eggs at room temperature (if you can)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 tsp of salt
3 Tbs of unsalted butter
cooking spray
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. 
Then gradually add in, to avoid lumpiness, the milk and eggs, beaten until they are lighter in color and a little frothy.
When your batter is combined, pour it into a mixer on medium speed, (or whisk like a crazy person if you don't have a mixture) for 3 minutes

Take the pan out of the oven and drop 1/2 Tbs pats of cold butter into each cup and then use the cooking spray to do a quick spray over the tops of the cups
Fill the cups halfway to the top and immediately put pan into the hot oven for 25 minutes. Decrease heat to 350 degrees for 15 more minutes

While you wait, you can look at some pretty spring flowers. 
Spring's coming, I promise!
And you can see what I constantly daydream about - sigh

Serve at once and you'll be happy, but these can also be reheated. YUMMY!!

Popovers are also FANTASTIC as "bagels or buns" for lack of better words. How about this creation of scrambled eggs in popovers? SOOOO good!
Or even a mushroom cheddar cheeseburger? Those meat juices mixing with the slightly gooey center? I've got to stop. This is like food porn!
Ahhhh, and the last comfort food must-try is gooey mac and cheese. This is WAY more fun than a lettuce wrap, I can assure you!

Here's the recipe again without all the photos and with add-in suggestions:
Bloomingblog Popovers (makes 12 popovers):

Preheat oven to 450 degrees 
Put popover pan in oven to heat up for 2 minutes

While waiting for the pan to preheat, make the custard
3 eggs at room temperature (if you can)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 tsp of salt
3 Tbs of unsalted butter
cooking spray
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. 
Then gradually add in, to avoid lumpiness, the milk and eggs, beaten until they are lighter in color and a little frothy.
When your mixture is combined, pour it into a mixer on medium speed, (or whisk like a crazy person if you don't have a mixture) for 3 minutes
Take the pan out of the oven and drop 1/2 Tbs pats of butter into each cup and then use the cooking spray to do a quick spray over the tops of the cups
Fill the cups halfway to the top and immediately put pan into the hot oven for 25 minutes
Decrease heat to 350 degrees for 15 more minutes

Add-ins :)
In the custard mixture add:

Ham + Swiss - 1/2 grated Swiss (or any cheese you like) and 1/2 cup chopped ham

Cinnamon + Sugar - 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, 2 tsp vanilla, and on top of batter sprinkle combined 1 Tbs sugar and 1 Tbs of cinnamon over tops

Carmelized Onion - finely chop 1/2 cup of sweet onions and sauté in pan with butter until caramelized and slightly brown and then add to batter


December 29, 2016

Before We Say Goodbye to 2016

I have been saying all year that I will be writing new posts all 2016, and I really, REALLY meant it! I have so many pictures that I took during trips to London and Amsterdam, a Christmas House Tour for which I did the flowers and other pieces of the year including yummy recipes.

But to be honest, 2016 was a terrible, no good, very bad year (apologies to the book on this subject). For you see, my Mum was diagnosed in October of 2015 with leukemia and then passed away in May of this year. It was a heartbreaking experience to see a little less of her every day and yet I am so confident that she's in a better place. But oh, how I do miss her!

In the midst of this, my husband suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and decided to check out the other side for as long as you clinically can, before he came back. I truly thank God that he did. He's had many scary times since, but he's a fighter and from that, I gain strength. 

And then there is my sweet, strong Dad with advanced Parkinson's and a whole host of other ailments. He fights too, despite missing my Mum terribly, and he is the best role model, no matter what the future holds. 

So, as I look so forward to a New Year and to putting this one behind me, I thank any and all of you who have taken the time to read my blog. I have taken a leave from my job helping kids get into college, so I can focus on creative and fulfilling adventures like writing my blog while I am handy to those at home who need me.

I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season and I TRULY wish you all the very BEST for 2017!! Here's another (and hopefully my last old post for a while-just click on this link below)
Cozy Post Christmas Dinner.

March 27, 2016

Happy Easter from the White House Redux and a Quick Hostess Gift

Happy Easter! Two simple words that bring smiles to faces, Christian or not, for this holiday is a symbol of hope and Spring!

This Easter is especially meaningful because of the family I have around me.  And I hope you all, wherever in the world you may be, enjoy the love of friends and family, however you define that.

Okay, enough of my sappy sermon! Easter is also plain out fun and everyone gets to dress in crazy colors, do hilarious things with bunny ears, and eat boatloads of candy all day with ZERO guilt! And because there'll bound to be parties, I thought of an easy hostess gift! And while you're enjoying drinking the gift (I know, it's a shocker that my gift includes alcohol, ha ha!), I hope you'll have fun going down memory lane with my fabulous (if I do say so, myself) Easter post from last year, Happy Easter from the White House
Here I am with my beautiful Mum. We had such fun that day, so if you haven't read all about it, click on the link above!

 So, it's 11AM and you have to go to your cousin's house for an Easter feast. What should you bring? Easy! Grab a couple of bottles of wine, labels, Sharpie pens, a piece of card stock or heavier paper if you have it, and some cotton balls. If you don't have labels, you can grab some brown paper bags and cut a rectangle about 4" x 5", kind of like in the old days when we used to make our own book covers. (It's funny to think how foreign our kids would think that is today!)
I drew out a little bunny. I wasn't so great at it as you can see by all my eraser marks. Oh well, I don't care that I'm not perfect! I think he looks like a cheery bunny!
 I cut my little bunny out of the paper to make him traceable. The heavier the paper, the longer he'll last when tracing. Then, with my sheets of labels, I traced the bunny on each label. 
 Well, 'cause you never know what awkward conversation you're going to get into with Great Aunt Bertha (I don't actually have a Great Aunt Bertha, but I do have plenty of awkward family chats), I used my pencil with a motto that's more than apt for the day, to trace. And I need my darn glasses now since I can't see close up anymore. Uggh, age!
 Playing around with the different Sharpie colors, I retraced some bunnies, and then colored them in. Couldn't be any easier!
 I grabbed a bottle each, of red and white wine and carefully peeled the labels off.
 Quickly, since I was running out of time as always, I used my glue gun and attached some bunny tails. You can't have a bunny without it's cottontail!!
Ready to get packed up for the shindig and egg hunt!
And there you have it! We are set to head to the festivities with baskets and jelly beans for the kids, and wine for me, err I mean, the grown-ups in the room.

March 19, 2016

Flower Show Mania!

Living in New England brings its own challenges, winter being one of them. So when March rolls around, we collectively let out a sigh of relief that spring is soon on its way! And there's no better harbinger of the season's change than the Boston Flower Show!
Greeted with incredible scenery such as this, you enter smelling the sweet air of fragrant bulbs, hearing the chirps of (albeit piped-in sounds) birds. Heck, even the mulch smells good! One of my best friends, Traci, and I ventured into Boston and we had a great day followed by a yummy dinner at Legal Seafood on Boston Harbor, complete with some tasty wine (obvi)!
 One of the neat things about the flower show, is the highlighting of so many garden elements, from stonework to plantings, to just plain whimsy! Here is a beautiful pairing of tulips and hyacinths in dramatic color blocking to show off the incredible stonework.
He looks like he's about to fly away!
 I love how they showcase the river stones on the right, coupled with the sectioned gravel all mixed with the wood planking  This whole set-up makes me want to have a seat with a glass or two, but all the "Keep Off" signs won't let me near :(
 This domino-style wall was so cool! The mortar, if they used any, was so well-hidden and the wall was as sturdy as could be, despite the feeling like it was a big chain of dominos tipping over.
 I can't even wrap my pea brain around this globe, or around the effort that it took to create this incredible ball! Awesome!
 And if I hadn't had eight knee operations from my days as a college lax player, I could actually bend down and show you the mushroom stems, instead of this not-so-great view from the top. Oy!
Now that I'm looking at this owl, I regret not buying him! I need a little wisdom these days! 
The way they used the twigs and vines to make what's known as "wattle", is simply incredible!
Wrapped in a spiral, the display of tulips is jaw-dropping!
 Then, there are the scenes and vignettes that just catch your breath. I write copious notes detailing the varieties of plants, take pictures and promise myself that whatever I'm seeing is exactly what I'm going to plant this year! That is, until I get home, life takes over, I lose my notebook and I struggle with the weeds. But hope springs eternal, so maybe this is my year?
 Like this? Maybe I can build a cabana with a groovy fixture, grab some China Seas fabric and outdoor rugs? Where's my cabana boy when I need him?
 I think in a former life, I must've lived in a French palace or an English estate filled with topiary, because I can never get enough!
 And living garden walls are all the rage. See the ivy planted with the pansies? Genius!

Yup, this is just what it looks like outside my window when the weather is warmer. So pretty!
 As a flower arranger, I love seeing the annual flower competition between the Massachusetts clubs. I entered one year and got an Honorable Mention. Not a surprise, since like most things I do, I work fast and close to deadline. Not my best trait, but I have fun! (plus, I hate arranging to a set of rules:) This arrangement was stunning!
 And just check out the designer's materials list!

 Some of the classes are really tricky. This one involved an arrangement suspended in the circle, and then the interpretation was left to the designer.

 I liked this the best of the three, but the judges weren't fans. This got honorable mention too. 
 Though you can't see it in this picture, this arrangement was part of a competiton class that celebrated architecture. The coolest part of the arrangement was that the protea was placed behind and in front of the glass through cut circles. The juxtaposition of glass and materials all at different angles, was a lot like Frank Lloyd Wright's famous house, Falling Water.
One of my favorite categories is the tablescape division (this is the same class I competed in). I loved this arrangement and combo of elements, but alas, it only got a third place ribbon. I met a lady who had won a blue ribbon, and she told me that to compete in this division, "less is more." Aha! That's my problem all along! Doubtful I could ever abide by THAT rule!
 Ahhhhh, and then there is the WHIMSY! The best part of the show! Don't you just LOVE this train rambling through these sweet gardens?

 I feel like little trolls or elves are about to pop out!
 This bike with (yet more topiaries) had me at "hello"!
 I really DO need a puppy! It's getting bad, as any of my friends will tell you!
I love how the designer of this bike wrapped literally every part with flowers, cord etc, all but the gears!
 I see a DIY post coming up soon with these babies! SO awesome! Octopus using sea urchins and air plants. How easy!

 Even wedding cakes made the show! The "flowers" here are constructed using cupcake liners. Super clever! And I love the daisies planted in the Oreo-covered pudding.
 Sylvia Weinstock, eat your heart out! Gorgeous!
And who wouldn't want this cake at a party celebrating spring?
 And then there is the shopping! Easter baskets? Check!
Stunning terrariums? Yes, please!

 I spy, with my little brown eye...

 …gorgeous gardens, but something else?

Stainless steel stripers! I am now the proud owner of a family of five stripers, and also some mackerel to lead the way (since that's what they're chasing in the ocean anyway!). You can find a whole slew of different fish from this incredible Maine company, Fish in the Garden. My cousin, Eliza, owns the blue fish, my friend, Traci, owns the orange fish and I, of course, have the steel. Super fun!
 And we couldn't end the show without stopping at the super-cute "selfie station"! They had all these floral frames ready for you to take a pic, so why not?