Author Archive for Kate

Little Bit Of Lentils

First up for our Taste and See Thursday series is a salad that sounded so delightful I knew it needed to be tried. It’s the “Lentilles du Puy avec un fromage de chèvre, betteraves et one vinaigrette d’aneth” from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. Sounds fancy but it’s just little french lentils with beets and goat’s cheese drizzled with a dill vinaigrette. I also knew for my family we were going to want to make it a nice simple main course, and so to add a little more oomph to it, we’ll be modifying the recipe to use a mustard covered salmon to it as well.

First you want to make the mustard crusted salmon. This is super easy. For every salmon filet you’re using (so, modify it to how many you are serving), you’ll need:

• 1 Tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil

• 1 tsp dijon mustard

• 1 Tbsp of yellow mustard seed

You’ll want to use salmon (if you can find it) that has been de-scaled but still has the scrumptious skin on. Then you simply make a few diagonal scores on the skin side and rub in the dijon mustard. The mustard seed goes onto a plate, and you will press the mustard side of the salmon into it, forming the mustard crust. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Then place the salmon crust side down into the pan and allow it to cook for 4-6 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden and crisp. Then at this point you want to determine how cooked you want your salmon. If it’s mostly cooked through and you want to keep it that way, pull it then and allow it to cool. If you like it more done, flip the salmon, and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Once cooked, set aside the salmon to cool (you can even put it in the fridge if you want to do this part ahead of time). Then we’ll move onto the salad portion.

Lentilles du Puy Avec un Fromage de Chèvre, Betteraves et une Vinaigrette D’aneth

(This makes 4 main course servings*)

Puy lentils tend to remain more firm than other lentils, but plain green lentils would work okay, just plan to check them often. You don’t want squishy lentils for your meal.

• 400 g (or 2 cups) puy lentils

• 2 bay leaf

• a couple sprigs of fresh thyme

• 2-3 cooked beetroot, peeled (I like to roast them, but you can also buy precooked beetroot from the store!)

• 400 g (approx 14 ounces) goat’s cheese (the soft kind from a log)

• extra virgin olive oil

First, rinse the lentils in a colander under cold water. Then into a pot they go (choose one that is large enough to cover them with the same volume of water as they take up), add in the bay leaves and thyme and sprinkle in a generous pinch of salt. Put them on over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid simmer, then turn down to a gentle simmer (where you see small bubbles and gentle movement). Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until tender but not mushy.

Make the vinaigrette (recipe below) while they are cooking. This is also when you’ll want to thinly slice the beetroot. You can use a mandoline if you have one, but I don’t, I just use a sharp knife and a steady hand. Set the thinly sliced beetroot aside until it’s time to assemble your meal.

Once the lentils are done, drain them in the colander and throw out the bay leaf and thyme.

To assemble you can either plate individually (dividing the lentils, beets, and goat’s cheese up evenly) or you can plate on a platter as I’ve done. I spread out the lentils, then placed the beetroot slices around on top of the lentils. Next, crumble the goat cheese (I like large crumbles for visual appeal) over the lentils and beetroot. Then I took my cooled salmon filets and placed them across the top. Drizzle the vinaigrette atop the whole thing. Maybe drizzle a little bit more olive oil. Season with some nice sea salt (I love my grey sea salt for this) and freshly ground pepper. Ready to place on the table and wait for the oohs and aahs.

Dill Vinaigrette

• 1 bunch of dill

• 4 tablespoons of either olive oil or sunflower oil (keeping in mind that olive oil has a bit stronger of flavor)

• 4 tablespoons of a white wine vinegar

• 1 tsp of sea salt

• generous pinch of sugar

Throw all of these ingredients into a blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively if you do not have any electric blender, finely mince up the dill and then whisk all the ingredients together.

* Four adult servings works for my family of 5 very well as E eats a normal portion, but the twins usually eat half of an adult portion.

This was delicious and such a nice change from all of the winter soups we’ve been having.  I hope that you’ll be tempted to try it (it would also work well with a mustard chicken if you don’t love salmon or on it’s own without a meat). If you do, please come tell me what you think!

Centering

I know I’ve said it before, but it has never been more true than it is now with 3 goofy children running around, but it is so damn easy to lose sight of how you want your life to be when you feel as if you’re in survival mode in the trenches of daily life. Throw in an international move, and multiples and it has just really hit home how far off track we have gotten over the last year and a half. Too much overly processed food, too much ignoring the clutter, and too many times of not remembering to buy wine….which may be the worst charge of them all!

But suddenly we feel like we can breathe. G and I sat down over a dinner while the kids played and hashed out how to get back to living a life where we feel relaxed and can say that we’re living well to our standards. Setting out to have bubbly Fridays again. Establishing a weekly date night in where we can connect while the kids entertain themselves. Working on branching out to entertaining in our home. Getting back to whole foods and enjoying meals more. And decluttering so that the next move goes smoothly.

We’re also working on establishing a rhythm to help us with these goals. Everything from a cleaning schedule to days that we do certain things. For instance, brunch and the market on Saturdays. And working on communicating better so that we can pick up slack when the other has more on their plate.

One of the biggest things we’re doing to get back to the way things used to be is something I had wanted to do before but failed because I was not handling having infant twins well. I want to work through all of my lovely French cookbooks as well as learning how to make things like a good spring risotto. What that means for you lovely readers is that I will be working on sharing what new food we’ve made, as well as any modifications I might have made or recommendations for change. I will be posting a Taste and See Thursdays series so that if the meal sounds good you’ll have time to pick up ingredients for the weekend to make it if you’d like. If you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook I’ll be posting little previews of what we’ve had to get your mouths watering ahead of time.

In a nutshell things are going to change around here, but only in the best possible ways. And I cannot wait to share it with you all!

Too Long

I’ve missed writing this blog. Missed having a place to gather my thoughts. I truly believed that I would begin again last spring, but in May, after G’s surgery, we learned that my MIL wasn’t given long to live (surprise, she’s outlived their timeline by quite a bit), and my focus turned to that. In June we made an emergency trip back to the States so that she could meet the twins and we could say our goodbyes. And after….we were both an emotional wreck. After some scary moments for me, I began seeing a therapist for a short time who said that the biggest thing he noticed was that I was perfectionistic and that I didn’t know how to prioritize things in my life. Basically what I already knew. But he also gave me to the tools to begin to be what he called a “good enough mom” and to really make time for me and what I cared the most about. And since the holidays are over and it’s a clean slate, here I am.

To be honest I feel like I blinked and went from just G and I to suddenly 3 little (very BIG personality) ones. Eleanor turned 5 in November and I just felt so overwhelmed with how quickly that happened. The Twinkles turn 2 in a couple months. TWO. Every time I wonder why I haven’t written anything in forever I realize it’s because the days are so long, but these years are flying by. But I really want to slow things down and find my way back to writing regularly and with purpose.

I always make goals for the new year. Goals sound so much more manageable than “resolutions.” And I also choose a few words to represent what I want to focus on. This year the words are: simplify, intentional, perseverance. I want to simplify our food choices, our errand running, our evenings in. I want to be intentional with my time, money, and living my own truth. And I want to maintain perseverance as we find our way back from “survival mode” to “living well.”

I am sure this year will be an interesting one, and I’m glad to have this space to ruminate and hold myself accountable. For those who have stuck around though my crazy long absences, thank you. I’m very happy to say that I’ve worked out a schedule where this should be regularly updated. So, feel free to grab a mug of tea and stay a while.

Four Year and Five Months

4 years + 5 months= how long I nursed E. I sometimes hesitate to talk about this because full term breastfeeding can be controversial a lot of the time. But in early April I told her that it was time to say goodbye to nursing. She was nursing max of once a day (sometimes going days without) and I just wanted to finalize it in a beautiful way. I never in a million years imagined going so long, and though it had it’s ups and downs it is something I am incredibly proud of and will cherish the sweet memories.

So we had a little celebration. I made cake. We bought her a bicycle. We had a tea party with her favorite foods. Yes, it was hard work on my part so maybe I should have chosen my favorite foods, but have you ever tried to tell a 4 year old that a celebration about something to do with her isn’t all about her?

goodbyenursingparty

She requested a strawberry cake with pink roses. Friends, I made the whole thing from scratch, cooking down strawberries and then topping the cakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting. It was beautiful if I do say so myself, and it tasted delicious.

eleanorbicycle

E got a bicycle as a gift.

We had strawberry raspberry tea (it’s by Twinings and it’s delightfully pink and fruity) and salmon with cream cheese sandwiches. And oh yes, I bought her her favorite pink roses. She was really pleased with it all, and it was such a sweet way to say goodbye to that part of us.

Elevate the every day indeed.

Goodness Kate, Get It Together

familyatabbey

I start this blog back up. I say it’ll be a regular thing. And then….life. I am horrible about taking time for myself and scheduling in time to write. I always say I need to but there always seems to be something else that takes priority in the moment. But damnit, that’s enough. I miss writing. I miss just laying thoughts down and letting them breathe.

G had double jaw surgery about a week ago and it’s been rough because he’s been in pain. But the good news is that it means he’s home for a bit and I have time to work out a schedule where I can write. We’ve been back in England for 10 months and to be honest it’s been rough. All the things we used to love got a lot more complicated with 3 young children. Also, I’ve never found it easy to just jump in and be friends with everyone and their mother, so it’s slow going finding my community/tribe here.

I waffle between not jumping in, or just laying out who I am and letting a person take it or leave it. But too often if you say, “This is me” it’s easy for the other person to instead hear, “This is how I’m awesome and if you do things differently you suck.” People have a bad tendency to take what someone says about who they are and internalize it into a critique of their own value. Dude, I’m just telling you what I’m into. I don’t really care if it’s how you do you. Sure, I want everyone to eat real foods and whatnot because that’s something I’m passionate about. But you want to order takeaway 3 nights a week? Good for you. Takeaway is damn delicious.

I think that’s why I love writing this blog. Because this is me. Imperfect. Spouting strongly held opinions. Aiming for daily pockets of beauty and joy.

Oh The Days Are Long…

…but the years are short.

I recently read a quote that simply stated, “I remember the days I prayed for what I have now.” And it’s so true. Those days of calling out to God, wondering why we weren’t able to have children. They are blessings. Even if they are plague and pestilence.

lookingoutonfam

Since moving here it’s been one cold or illness after another, not just for the children but G and I too. It’s made keeping house, cooking whole meals, or even blogging difficult. I’m hoping that warmer weather brings an end to it. (Then again, Amelia was throwing up last night. Ugh.)

familyloungingoutside

Last weekend it hit 57F so we went out, mowed the lawn and played in the sun. The twins had never seen bubbles before, and were both slightly terrified and slightly in awe of them. We hung diapers to dry in the sunshine, drank coffee on a picnic blanket, and enjoyed the promise of more sunshine to come.

grinningcharlotte

The Twinkles need hats to protect their fair skin. I try and rub sunscreen in, but I’m always afraid I’ll miss a bit since they’re so squirmy.

ameliaopenmouth

All in all, a beautiful day with my beautiful family. Here’s hoping there are many, many more sunny days to come.

eleanorham

For The Love Of Vegetables

We’re already big produce consumers. My whole family loves fruits and vegetables and it’s the biggest part of my grocery bill. Which is why I’ll be attempting an insanely large garden this summer (more on that soon). So some might find it strange to hear that one of my New Year’s goals was to have our family eating even more.

In both the U.S. and the U.K. they recommend eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But research is showing that 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables (with an emphasis on vegetables) is a better way to go for your health. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a good way to naturally get necessary vitamins and minerals, and help yourself stay healthy.

I like to choose a variety of colors for their nutritional differences and because a rainbow of colors is appealing. Prepping ahead of time helps. We usually have carrot sticks and sliced peppers in the refrigerator. And a cucumber is quick to slice up and a perfect cold teether for the babies. Here’s how we rocked the veggies recently:

Starting with lunch.

veggieplatter

Platter of sliced vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, celery, and cucumbers) with avocados mixed with hummus for a dip.

Then after lunch I went ahead and prepped for a couple other meals this week.

grilledpeppers

Grilled peppers to go with lentil tacos on Wednesday night. Chopped these up.

grilled corn

Grilled corn for the tacos. I sliced this all off and tucked it away in the fridge.

carrots and parsnips

This was pre-roasting. These carrots and parsnips went into the oven to eat with roasted chickens later in the week. Also, roasted zucchini slices, not pictured.

Then I may have gotten a little crazy. I grabbed the pumpkin E had picked out for her Halloween decoration. Pumpkin is a squash that can last months when kept properly. So I sliced it open and got all the seeds out to roast with some Old Bay. And then, realizing the pumpkin was pretty meaty, sliced it up, peeled it and put the flesh in the oven to roast.

pumpkin seeds

Yummy pumpkin seeds. These were gone while soup was cooking.

The pumpkin turned out to be less flavorful than I was wanting for soup. But never fear, I pureed that up, added cinnamon and maple syrup and some half and half and cooked it in a cast iron skillet until it tasted like heavenly pie. I whipped up some cream and that was what we had for dessert Monday night.

Dinner that Monday night was my Butternut Apple Bisque. The babies had never had it, and they each ate an entire cup of it for dinner! Then they ate a small bit of the pumpkin dessert.

So for that Monday alone we had: bananas as part of breakfast, the vegetables with hummus (along with some oat crackers, cheddar cheese and a chili chutney ), butternut squash, apples, pumpkin (in the soup and dessert), onions, garlic, and oranges. If you count each bell pepper color separately (and I like to since the different colors can offer slightly different nutrients), we ate 14 different types of fruit and veggies!

I know it’s easy to get into a rut with vegetables. I grew up on basically corn, canned green beans, and iceberg lettuce. So I’ll be sharing some of my tried and true vegetable recipes here as well as ones I’m trying out. If you have any to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Mardi Gras Pancake Day!

shrovetuesdaypancakes

A week ago we celebrated Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Pancake Day is huge here in the UK with displays at the grocery stores and even a tasting last night as we walked into Tescos!

I had originally planned to do pancakes with breakfast sausages and maple syrup. But we found a Forest Berries Coulis that sounded delicious, so picked up raspberries and blueberries to pair with.

mimosashrovetuesday

I juiced some oranges for mimosas and sliced some up for our plates. Cut up some kiwi and we were set! I recently found my new favorite pancake recipe ever at Oh Sweet Basil, and they don’t need any help being delicious!

We enjoyed a fabulous and simple meal as we got ready for the season of Lent. I’m looking forward to see what growth occurs as we center ourselves a bit more and reflect on life during this season!

Style Saturday: Be Bold

messyhairredlips

I love a bold lip. It pops against my pale skin, and adds a bit of color to my mostly neutral wardrobe.

berrylipscarlipstickasstainYSLlips

From deep berry to a bright red, I think it’s the perfect perk up for winter.

lipsticksfront

These are my current favorites (from left to right): Rimmel As You Want Victoria, Rimmel lasting finish Kate 30, Wet n Wild Sugar Plum Fairy, Wet n Wild Stoplight Red, Vincent Longo Americana, and YSL glossy stain 9 Rouge Laque.

lipstickswatches

I picked up the two Wet n Wild colors because they’re a perfect dupe for two MAC colors that I wanted to try before spending more money. Sugar Plum Fairy is a perfect match for MAC Rebel. Stoplight Red is the same color as MAC Ruby Woo. I love them both and wear them often, so I’ll be picking up the MAC ones that I have heard have a better texture soon.

YSLlipgloss

This lip gloss is divine in texture and I love the spade like applicator. I’ll be purchasing more colors soon.

Bold lips don’t have to come across as super out there. If applied with the finger gently pressing into your lips they become a nice stain as well.

I think these colors are the perfect way to brighten up winter. Are there any bright colors that you love?

Pancake Perfection

pecanpancakes

I want to be that family that has pancakes every Saturday, preferably with a nice fruit salad and mimosas. But we’ve been in this house 4 1/2 months and I still hadn’t braved pancakes. My grandmama’s cast iron flat pan I always used for pancakes has a ring on the bottom, so wouldn’t work for the glass cooktop (we won’t even talk about my antique cast iron waffle pan). I’m still getting used to an electric hob anyway, so I’ll admit I was a bit afraid.

However, today I woke up and told them, “We’re having pancakes.” I quickly looked up a new buttermilk pancake recipe, which can be found here. They were so tasty I’m writing it down as our new go to. I switched pans after the first pancake was a bust, but finally one of the old cast iron pans was the right size. Sure, there were a couple ones with hints of being cajun (i.e. blackened). In the end, though, we ended up with enough pancakes for all 5 of us. While the pancakes cooked I made coffee, heated up a saucier of butter and maple syrup (we don’t have a microwave), and toasted pecans in the previously too small pan. Sliced a few bananas, and suddenly there it was: brunch.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was just right. We ate in the conservatory, with the sun streaming in and the babies enthralled with their first taste of pancakes. Not a bad way to start a Saturday at all.