our messy table

Category: Decadent Old School

windows

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It had been a goal of mine to write more this summer. In fact, I began the summer with a list of goals which were, for the most part, achievable. I had hoped to wash every one of our dusty farm-house windows. To keep a tidy garden blooming with vegetables and herbs. I wanted to run… “lots!” and work my way down the slow-moving book list.

I threw that list away a few days ago. And not because every speck of dust remains laced along the panes of our windows. Or because our meager garden is a wild jungle of weeds. But because it seemed that the list didn’t matter anymore. I knew I could not find value in achieving these goals that could match what has already come with this summer.

My son and I have spent lazy mornings walking around the over-grown yard, feeding the rabbit grass clippings, holding kittens, chasing chickens back into their pen. Our family has sailed on a river in an old fishing boat. We have picked wild berries and made cobblers and grilled our dinner outside. We have driven miles and miles to spend time with people we love. We have stayed up late watching TV shows.

I am so thankful it does not have to be more than this right now.

. . .

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I found the original recipe for frozen blueberry margaritas at the beginning of the summer and have been tinkering with it ever since. I loved the idea of it. But I am not a fan of slushy drinks, particularly slushy alcoholic ones. I am also not a fan of blueberry skins wedged in my teeth

I removed the ice from the blender and whipped out my fine mesh strainer. Mind you, I have never made more than one serving of this drink at a time, so I image staining out the solids straight over the glass would not work as well with multiple servings. If you wish to double, or triple this recipe, try straining out the solids over a pitcher to pour over iced glasses when ready.

Blueberry Margarita

Yield: 1 cocktail

Per margarita, multiply as necessary

  • 2 ounces 100% agave silver/blanco tequila
  • 1½ ounces fresh orange juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or simple syrup, more to taste
  • ½ cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Garnish (Not Pictured)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Small lime wedge

First, prepare your glasses: Pour the salt and optional chili powder onto a very small plate. Run a small wedge of lime around the upper outer rim of your glasses. Roll the dampened rim into the salt mixture. Fill glass with ice.

In a blender, combine the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, agave nectar or simple syrup, and blueberries. Blend until smooth.

Taste and add more a bit more agave nectar if the mixture tastes harsh or just doesn’t quite sing, then blend again. Place a fine mesh strainer over your prepared glass. Pour the mixture over the strainer and allow solids to separate. I use a small spatula or spoon to help release all the liquid. Carefully drop one big ice cube or a few smaller ice cubes into the drinks to keep them cold. Serve immediately!

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real cookies

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It’s such a dreary scene out there. The grass in the grove outside our living room window is long and yellow and brown, which I would usually consider beautiful. But there is something about wet, winter grass after the ground has warmed enough to melt the snow around it. It looks so heavy. Two tire swings sway lullingly through it, back and forth, back and forth.  Nearly colliding once in a while. All the lights are off, and our house seems very dark in the cold, gray, afternoon light.

My husband sleeps on the couch and my son in his crib. And I have a very pressing list of things I have been re-writing obsessively over and over for some odd reason. But I feel the need to give this space a little love. So the list will wait.

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Last week, after returning from a Thanksgiving weekend trip, my husband brought the stomach flu home with him. He gave it to our son later that week. And then to me on my last scheduled day of student teaching. Needless to say, the timing was quite bad.

Last night, when we were all nearly healthy and had somewhat regained our appetites, my son proclaimed that he needed “coo-coos” (his term of endearment for cookies). So I unwrapped his BelVita golden oat biscuit and plopped it in his yogurt like I usually do, to which he replied by running to the corner of the kitchen to squat and cover his face. I was very confused by his reaction until it dawned on me how long it had actually been since we had made real cookies.

So we made plans to stay in last night for “The Rescuers Down Under” and make cookies. And since we had no chocolate (and due to the opinion of one member of this household, all cookie recipe’s require chocolate), I turned to Molly Wizenburg for her salted peanut butter cookie recipe.

Now, my husband lamented for the duration of bake-time that cookies without chocolate are dumb… or whatever. But once he tasted one of these fresh from the oven, his weary eyes seemed comforted. My son happily ate three, no kitchen-corner squatting included. These cookies were perfect.

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These cookies are quite soft so long as you don’t over-step the bake-time. The saltiness is not at all overpowering and compliments the flavor of natural peanut butter very nicely. The only thing we changed from Molly’s recipe was that we melted our butter. There is something so nice about just having to melt the butter to make a cookie. And I am happy to say that this method works perfectly in this recipe.

Stay warm and cozy. Make cookies and hold the ones you love very closely. And happy holidays from “Our Messy Table”!

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Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

Yield: about 20 largish (4-inch) cookies

2 cups plus 1 tsp. pastry or all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp.kosher salt
2 sticks plus 3.5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup, packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup plus 2.5 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup natural salted creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the pastry flour, baking soda, and salt, and whisk well.

In a medium, microwavable bowl, melt the butter in 30 second increments, swirling between. Once melted, mix in the sugars until well combined, scraping the sides when necessary. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the peanut butter and vanilla, and beat with whisk or on medium-low speed to with electric mixer. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, folding slowly by hand or mixing on low speed until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Using an ice cream scoop – mine has a capacity of about ¼ cup… the batter will be a bit goopy – scoop the batter onto the prepared sheet pan, taking care to leave plenty of space between cookies. (I limit it to six cookies per pan; if you add more, they run together.) Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and pale golden around the edges, but their tops have no color. (The cookies will not look fully baked, and this is important! The chewy texture of these cookies depends on it. They’re not nearly as good when baked until golden and crisp.) Transfer the pan to a rack, and cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan. They will firm up as they cool.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: This dough freezes beautifully. Scoop the dough onto a sheet pan and freeze until hard, then transfer the dough mounds to a freezer bag or other airtight container. Do not defrost before baking, and plan to add four or five minutes to the baking time.