end of summer, photos and notes

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:: Friday night supper on the back porch, blueberry cornbread and a strawberry smoothie.

:: And we’ve discovered Monopoly.  Any game with play money is of utmost interest.  Today’s school (actually, today’s dayconsisted entirely of games with money.  (Or, as we discovered with the new-to-us Bibleopoly, it’s not money, it’s offering.  Whoever made up that particular knock off certainly had a sense of humor.  At least, I hope they weren’t serious.)  Lunch and supper were not eaten at the dining table, as it was holding the ongoing Game of Life.  Fascinating to see how acing worksheets of place value exercises don’t seem to make the jump to understanding the difference between $5,000 and $50,000.  They understand now, now that it matters.  I particularly loved how they love to acquire children in Life.  Children, I am informed, are what make them rich.  Indeed.

:: We did our first one-night camping trip.  (Did you see the deer?) I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the effort packing and unpacking for just one night.  It was! It was!  I loved packing only one day’s worth of clothes and one day’s worth of food.  It took us two hours to pack up and go, and everything was clean and put away by bedtime after we got back.  Without monumental effort.  Our next trip is already reserved – Joshua Tree in October.

::  I’ve picked up a total of three pairs of roller skates for $2 a piece over the last several months.  Our church’s thrift store is a gold mine of treasures with golden-hearted people who do the pricing.  Roller skates are an excellent way to get from your bedroom to breakfast.  Most days our house resembles a roller derby.  Even Kiri can put one foot in a skate and hop along to get where she wants to go.

:: We made an awesome geoboard using this tutorial.  We eventually filled in the entire pegboard with the screws.  The geometric exercise often shifts into rubber band shooting sprees (I’m sure shooting rubber bands is teaching them scientific principles).  It’s big enough that several of us can play at the same time.

:: A “This is How We Roll” photo to add to my collection.  Home Depot has awesome new car carts.

:: A photo of a lovely, lovely moment during the school day.

:: The obligatory, traditional First Day of School photo.  We go to the same lake and take a picture on the same stump every year.  After our stint as tourists this summer, we’ve taken to trying to strike some sort of pose other than Stand and Smile.  I like to think of this one as “I’m Going Somewhere”.

:: I love the last photo of me and my True Love.  Love.  Warm.  Kind of smooshed.  Happy.



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Blueberry Cornbread

One of the many delicious tidbits at our friend’s baby shower in the spring was the Blueberry-Cornmeal Muffins.  They were paired with the Pear-Ginger Muffins.  But I devoted myself to the Blueberry-Cornmeal (far left).  And the raspberry granola parfait (front and center).

Imagine my surprise and joy when I opened up my favorite The Essentials of Baking by Williams-Sonoma (source of our family-tradition-pizza dough recipe) and discovered none but the two muffin recipes side by side!

First I made it as directed, as fancy shmancy muffins.  (As Amelie would say this week since our Fancy Nancy books are currently in circulation…oo-la-la!).

But on Wednesday I was in a hurry, too much of a hurry to deal with fiddling things like filling muffin cups.  So I poured it into an 8×8 pyrex and turned it into Blueberry Cornbread.

And that was so good that tonight we doubled the recipe and made two 9×13’s.  (Now, if the math isn’t coming out right, you’re right.  Putting one recipe into the 8×8 makes a thicker cornbread.  In the interest of time…and more delectable crunchiness…I doubled the pan size as well as the recipe.  Oo-la-la.)

The recipe revealed the source of the unusual yumminess…nutmeg in the batter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar over the top.  Put that together with the surprise bites of blueberry and I’m in heaven.  I actually didn’t fill up at the dinner table tonight, just for the joy of eating another piece this evening after the children officially and irrevocably fall asleep.

As a life-long devotee of blueberry muffins from the box (I could never eat a carton of icecream in one sitting during my reckless years, but I could polish off a dozen blueberry muffins), I have to say that I might never go back to Betty Crocker.  And the praise can go no higher than that.

Blueberry-Cornmeal Muffins

from The Essentials of Baking by Williams Sonoma

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fine-grind cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries*
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 400F,  Butter 12 standard muffin-pan cups or line them with paper liners.

In a bowl, stirl together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and brown sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and butter and beat on low speed just until blended.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix on low speed just until moistened.  Fold in the berries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about three-fourths full.  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the tops.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-18 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes, then turn out onto the rack.  Serve warm.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to a month.

*To keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins, toss them in a sieve with 1 tablespoon flour before adding them tot he batter.  If using frozen berries, add them without thawing or they will exude a lot of juice.

To make blueberry cornbread, pour batter into an 8×8 pan for thicker cornbread or a 9×13 pan for thinner pieces.  For the 8×8 size pan, bake at 400F for 25+ minutes.  For the 9×13 size pan, bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes.

Bon appetit! (Which is fancy for Enjoy!)