It took me awhile to come up with a Memorial Day menu. Nowadays, my mind tends to wander off aimlessly more often than not, and I have found that sleep deprivation affects my creativity. With summer just around the corner however, and with the local stores brimming with new crop fresh produce, I had extra incentives to work on this menu, and as I developed it I felt inspired and energized. I also experienced a great satisfaction seeing my family enjoy these dishes, which I intend to make again this coming weekend.
I made this for my mom yesterday and she loved it! This is the perfect recipe for those who lack the time to make an elaborate dessert, but still want to surprise/spoil their moms with something almost homemade. I say “almost” because you can buy some of the ingredients and avoid spending hours in the kitchen. For instance, I used store-bought cinnamon bread – if you have a recipe for it, let me know! 🙂 For the lemon pudding, I used my vanilla pudding recipe, with one small change: I replaced the vanilla extract with the juice and grated peel from half a lemon.
I haven’t been around much lately, and you may have guessed why: the baby is coming! With two weeks left till due date, the days seem to be getting shorter and the impatience is running high. There is still so much to do and sometimes I panic I won’t have enough time to buy all the things the baby needs. I haven’t slept well lately either, most likely due to the stress.
Food-wise, we rely a lot on the slow cooker nowadays because it’s easy to use and very convenient. I didn’t use the oven much after Thanksgiving, but when I did use it, the result was definitely worth it. Such was the case with the apple pie my mom made for Thanksgiving – it was so good that I asked her to make it again and again, and she happily obliged 🙂 I hadn’t had her apple pie in a gazillion years and I had forgotten how delicious it actually was!
I made this dessert a few days ago because I had a bit of time to spare and a few cinnamon & raisin bagels in the fridge (I wrote about our love of bagels in the fall here). An acquaintance of ours who lives in Tennessee makes bananas in caramel sauce regularly, and she usually serves this delicious concoction over chocolate ice cream – so yummy 🙂 I remembered her and decided to use her banana & caramel sauce recipe to bring some sweet joy to our bagels. I also had whipped cream on hand and lots of toasted almonds to serve as a crunchy element. I was thus well-equipped and ready to improvise in the kitchen while waiting for my husband to get back from work.
I think there’s no better time to bake than during fall and winter. As the days get shorter and the coldness of the new season creeps in, my body needs all the warmth that it can get, and the natural thing for me to do is to start dreaming of delicious sweets coming from the hot oven in my kitchen. This is easier said than done: sometimes, I just lack the inspiration needed to come up with something that would really satisfy my cravings. Most often than not however, I am lucky enough to have “baking accomplices” – such as my mom 🙂 – who come up with great suggestions and recipes.
I love to go apple picking in the fall! Sadly, our busy work schedules along with my ongoing exhaustion (due to the pregnancy) have made any weekend getaways impossible this year. I still hope we’ll be able to go. In the meantime, I enjoy shopping at the local grocery stores and trying a variety of fruits from the new crops of the season. Braeburn apples are my favorite: with their sweet tart core and indulgent texture, I find them hard to resist and eat them all the time when in season. They are not available to buy yet though, so I have been buying Gala and Golden Delicious instead.
Something has troubled me these past few days: the fall approaching. Lately, the weather has been unusually mild here in Chicago, with low overnight temperatures and highs in the ’70s. There’s something in the air, something that tells me fall is just around the corner. Too soon. Too fast. It’s the middle of August and I can already see the birds migrating, and I can hear their desperate cries as they fly to a warmer climate. Why does summer have to go away so quickly? I don’t know.
I tried to stay positive and to think happy thoughts as I faced this early arrival of the fall. My mom, who’s been here for about a month now, came up with the idea of doing some baking to cheer me up. She took out her recipe binder and we went over several recipes until we came across the one for jam cookies – the cookies of my childhood, as I like to call them.