Friday, November 11, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's been a while, so stay with me as I ramble away at what has happened in the last few months.

Apple season! Almost gone at this point, but when these pictures were taken, it was full blown, get to an orchard quick, apple pickin' time. Since I'm no longer at a year round school I couldn't make apple butter. There just wasn't time to stir a pot for 4 hours while reading a book. Sad, so sad. So what's a person to do with 2 large bushels of apples? Bake, bake, bake. I have made three apple pies, some of the best I've ever made. Practice makes perfect. I used Martha'sPate Brisee because it's all butter for the classic apple pie, but my favorite, and the one Matt requested for his birthday, is Bon Appetit's Apple Pie with Oat Streusel. It has a sweet spicy apple flavor, and the streusel combined with a regular pie crust on bottom is perfect. Hannah captured Matt's birthday pie lovely. It's my new favorite picture. However, I have to warn the public. Do not stick candles into a warm apple pie. They will melt blue into your beautiful pie. It reminded me of when Matt and I were dating and I attempted a surprise birthday for him at the little red house he shared with four/five/six some guys. I made these horrible pumpkin pies. You had to eat them with a spoon they were so gummy. But, since then, pie has been a birthday tradition for Matt. This year he requested the Chocolate Stout Cake from Smitten Kitchen, but I couldn't abandon tradition, so he just had two birthday desserts.

A new tradition I started this year is Apple Latkes. For the past couple of weekends, I have grated an apple and fried these heavenly pancakes. I love the taste of freshly grated apple, deep fried of course.
*Image from Food Network- not me!

Back in early October, Matt and I blew our budget and went to the mountains for two days (with the main purpose of picking apples). How does one blow their budget in two days? You stay at the amazing bed and breakfast, The Sourwood Inn, and you eat like gluttons. It was an amazing time. The inn is located at the very top of a mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is so quiet and peaceful. Nothing, but a 360 degree view of nature. The weather was warmer than I had hoped, but sunny and cheerful.

We ate dinner at Zambras, a tapas bar, and had all kinds of amazing creations. My favorite dish was Pork Belly glazed in a chocolate sauce, with homemade marshmellows, nutella, and persimmons. Sounds like a crazy mixture of ingredients, but it was unforgettable. Matt tried skate wing and lamb kidney. We then headed to the French Broad that does hand crafted chocolates. As we were leaving our one night stay, and winding down the mountain, we spotted a black bear crossing the road. The cherry on top of a wonderfully short trip.

Can you see him?

A lot has been happening in the garden. Matt is working on getting us into a local farmer's market this March. We'll hopefully be selling eggs, honey, pecans, and produce. Here are a couple of pictures that sum up our joy:

One last thing I forgot to mention. There was an addition to our Coble family! Megan gave birth to a perfect little baby, Colton Ray Lyon in September. Here's a picture along with the dinosaur I made him. It was my first attempt at sewing a 3D object. It was much harder than it looked! But, for a little boy so precious, it was well worth the frustration.

Having the day off allowed me to take the time to write. I hope I can do it again, maybe for Thanksgiving. We'll be with the Ballard's this year.
Oh, I almost forgot! New blogs I'm addicted to:
*She makes me want to have babies now!
*I have a current obsession with everything UK related.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Finished Quilt

Picture it: I was struggling to make it up the stairs with my birthday balloons, flowers, and presents from a terrific class who I love more than anything. I couldn't imagine the day would get any better, but then I spot this adorable kitty outside my door. I assumed that once it got over the shock of seeing me with all my bags and balloons it would scamper off in the opposite direction. It didn't. It pranced right up to me, oh so confidently, and wanted nothing but affection. It started to paw at the door and walked in like it owned the place. She quickly became part of the family. She's a terrific cat and well worth the vet bills and cat fights with Olive (they do get a long now). She is currently in heat, which is taking it's toil on mine and Matt's sleep, but she gets fixed tomorrow morning bright and early. Her name is Iris the Tigris and I love her.
Easy Turnovers: I adapted a Barefoot Contessa recipe (Apple and Dried Cherry Turnovers) from her Back to Basics book.
Thaw puff pastry, roll out into large rectangle, cut into four squares. Mix an egg wash - one egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Chop apples into small dice, add a cup or so of your choice of frozen berries (I used blackberries), lemon juice, a little lemon zest, 5 or so tablespoons of sugar depending on how sour or sweet your fruit is, 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, pinch of salt. Put a spoon full of the fruit inside the square, turn over, press with a fork and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 400 degrees for 20 minutes. I freeze mine once I've pressed them before brushing with the egg wash. I love one for breakfast or for dessert with ice cream. Fruit desserts are by far the easiest and most enjoyable.
I finished my farm animal quilt. I love everything about it but the bias tape that goes around the edges. I made the mistake of not sewing the right sides together, but I was confused about what to do with the batting. If anyone can figure that one out, let me know. It's really much prettier in the sunlight. The colors look blah with the camera. I like the rooster patch the best. We're getting chickens this spring. We've already bought our seeds for this year's garden and dad is going to start them in a window. Matt wants us to do a biointensive garden, which is hard to explain, it's best just to google it. Part of the reason I went into garden is to learn the traditional gardening style that I've always seen my dad use, so I could carry that knowledge on to my family. However, traditional isn't always the best method. I'm having a little trouble giving up control over my baby garden, but I will reluctantly try this new type of garden out. Just one more month before it's time to start the garden process all over again. I've missed the soil.

Friday, December 31, 2010


I like resolutions. I especially like that once a year I am reminded to make a few. I can be quite cynical, and part of me laughs at myself. However, I can't deny the other part of me that admires the ability to stick with something and the ability to change one's self for the better. My friend Whitney came up with one for each month, which was a brilliant idea. A year is a long time to set a goal for, so why not make a goal per month. One month she would not allow herself to wear a t-shirt out in public. You might think that's a silly goal, but if you knew how much Whitney liked to wear a good comfortable t-shirt, then you would understand the challenge.
Here are a few small goals I would like to make for the month of January:
Bake a loaf of bread every Saturday...that starts tomorrow! Start journaling about students at school to keep track of growth, observations, concerns, etc. Wear my hair down two days during the week (that will be hard), and say a prayer every morning and night.
As a teacher I think of a goal as something very measurable, since I am constantly setting goals for students and having to measure them with an assessment. So to keep my self accountable I will use a calendar (which I need to buy) and mark days of made bread, wore my hair down, journaled, and prayed twice a day. Is that good enough? I should probably inform the husband for support.

Thanks to my mother-in-law I finished my first quilt in 2010, which is the date I had embroidered on it. I was so relieved that it was finished finally, months after I had started it (June). I spent hours hand stitching each row and the border. I haven't decided if it will be a blanket for the house or our picnic blanket when the weather turns warmer. It seems I would get to show it off more hauling it around to concerts and parks. And that's exactly what I want to it off.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Cat That Ruined Christmas

Olive loves the Christmas tree. She zeroed in on it the moment we put it up. Chewed the bottom lights, knocked ornaments off with her paws, chewed on the branches with her pointy teeth. She has ruined the Christmas tree...well the bottom of it at least. Then I finally wrapped a few presents and placed them joyfully under the tree. She saw a white shinny bow and attacked it like a barn cat would a mouse. I should have been more concerned when I saw the world ferrel on her paper. So now the presents are in the closet. I've been humming a tune lately with the lyrics, "The Cat that Ruined Christmas." The best part is we're going to Charlotte for Christmas to stay with Matt's family. I can only imagine what she will do with their tree.

Matt made another amazing meal. I should just give up on cooking. Honestly, I have quit making most of the savory things we eat. We order a meal at The Gulf Rim that has stewed pork, black beans, and sweet potatoes. Matt recreated a vegetarian version of it. Delicious.
Two Saturday's ago it snowed a little, very little, and Olive freaked out. I did too, but only because it was Harry Potter weekend on ABC family, I had been Christmas shopping earlier, and I had tomato soup for lunch, and it felt like a perfect winter day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I was, no I still am, so proud of myself for completing 3 pies in 3 1/2 hours on Thanksgiving day. I'm a slow, drawn out baker and I tend to not completed what I start. But I popped up early that morning determined to get three pies knocked out. It required a lot of thought and planning, which is what I love about baking. I had already made my crust and froze them.

First up was the chocolate custard tart from The Craft of Art and Baking. I was worried at first because the word custard freaks me out. If you cook it too long the delicate texture will curdle and the texture will be like scrambled eggs. If it comes out too early then you've got a runny mess that doesn't slice well. I baked it a little longer than called for, but once the center was set I pulled out a perfectly cooked custard tart. It was dark and rich and one of the best chocolate desserts I've ever had. Next was the apple pie. I used the recipe from Bon Appetit's November 2010 Apple Pie with Oat Struesel.

I loved rolling the oats into the pie crust and the crumb topping was better than a regular pastry my opinion. It was fun too! Last I made Ruby Bowman's pumpkin pie, which I wrote my very first blog post about. I put too much sugar in it this time, but loved cutting out fall leaves and placing them around the edges. After all my hard work, I caught the tail end of Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving day special where she showed how to correctly crimp a crust. It was a great "Aha!" moment...about three hours too late.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Remembering Granny

My granny passed away Friday night around 11:00 pm in her sleep. She's been longing for her departure for years. Mom's prayer last night was for God to grant her peace and her prayer was answered. The news came as a shock. She has rebounded time and time from news of uncertainty. I thought we were all prepared for her passing, but I bawled upon hearing she had died, mostly out of guilt because I have been so absent from her life and how I could have provided comfort for her. She was skin and bones, but always had her mind and sense of humor, along with her many memorized sayings and songs. The last time we visited she commented on my red shoes, "When I was young I wore red shoes, now I'm old I wear black." That's not exactly how it went, but something like that. Then she laughed.
Memories of her have flooded my mind all day. She taught me how to sew by hand. We used a shirt sleeve that belonged to Poppy, sitting in her kitchen with the setting sun shining through the window. I remember countless stories of her and her childhood, the history of her family, farming, journaling, shoe making, sewing, church going. She was charming, simple, frugal, sentimental, imaginative, and smiling always.