Fondu Night

Some of our favorite dinners are spent at home as a family. Fondu night is one of those that we always say we should do more often. It's quick, cheap, and easy. We can pick up a packet of fondu cheese for $8 at our commissary, and then all we need are the dipping accompaniments. Some of our favorites are: fresh bread, green beans, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, shrimp, and filet mignon.

EJ likes any meal that involves dipping so she loves when she sees the fondu pot and skewers being brought out. She is very adept at stabbing, dipping and eating.

Soup and Lobster Dinner

When faced with "what's for dinner?" we often head to Joe Patties, our favorite local fish market to pick up whatever seafood catches our attention. DaddyO brought home a beautiful hand picked lobster to enjoy with my pumpkin persimmon soup.

EJ had fun picking out the lobster...

...but wasn't quite as sure about eating it:)

Here is my Pumpkin Persimmon Soup recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1 medium Sugarpie, Cinderella, Baby Bear, or other pumpkin (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 pound Fuyu persimmons
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock or low-sodium broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Directions

Cut the ends off the pumpkin and place it on a flat surface. Using a serrated knife, gently saw down the length of the pumpkin to remove the peel. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut the pumpkin into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
Peel the persimmons and remove the tops. Cut into ½-inch pieces, removing any seeds. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots, and stir to combine. Cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat with the fat. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the stock and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and add the persimmons. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a boil. If the soup seems too thick, adjust the consistency with a little stock. Stir in the cream. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve in warmed bowls.

Two Little Insects

a bee and a ladybug

enjoying the warm fall weather together

EJ and her best friend from down the street dressed up for library story time. They were the cutest insects I had ever seen. They twirled and fluttered at the library in their colorful costumes.

story time

craft time

EJ didn't want to take hers off and wore it the rest of the afternoon. Oh the joy of dressing up!

Ft. Pickens Camping

We spent part of our Columbus Day weekend camping with friends at Ft. Pickens, a fabulous park that is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

This is our second year camping during that holiday weekend and it is fun looking back at how EJ has changed since our last trip.

lighting a fire with daddyo - 2010

watching daddyo set up the tent - 2011

I think these Columbus Day camping trips will become a tradition!

The beauty of camping at Ft. Pickens is the myriad of activities there are to do together.

walk back from the beach

climbing the battery tower

and enjoying the view

We gathered together for a potluck dinner around the fire.

relaxing

enjoying some guitar playing

And the kids had a blast playing together as the sun went down.


We were prepared for a very cold night of sleep, the forecast was calling for low 40s, but the only thing we had to endure was very loud campsite neighbors.

trying out her headlamp

Fortunately EJ had such an exciting day that she slept through it all and was charged for another day with friends.

nothing better than a camping breakfast of eggs and bacon

Japanese Train Set

train day

EJ's current favorite toy is the little wooden train set I picked up while living in Japan. I knew that someday we'd have a little boy or girl that would enjoy my 100 yen purchases. Fortunately EJ is a train girl.

She is very good at connecting the tracks and asks us to "sit down" and help her build it. She never tires of directing the train around and around the track. "Uh oh" and "crash" are her usual words when she drives the train. Fortunately she knows how to get them back on track all by herself.

We have spent many an enjoyable afternoon chuga chuga choo chooing together.

McCarthy's Tea Room Irish Brown Bread


This bread recipe is from Granny McCarthy's Tea Room, a favorite of ours in downtown Bethlehem.

The delicious bread is quick and easy to make and fills the house with a wonderful aroma. I can mix up the ingredients and have it in the oven in under 5 minutes. It is great for sandwiches or spread with butter and honey. Happy baking!

Ingredients:
3 c. (unbleached) all-purpose flour
1 c. whole oats
2 c. whole meal flour
1/2 c. pinhead (steel cuts) oats
1/4 T. coarse salt
1 T. baking soda
1 qt. (4 cups) buttermilk (keep cool until needed). If you don't have buttermilk, 4 cups of milk with 4 tbs. of vinegar work just as well.

Directions:
Grease 2 bread loaf pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add the cool buttermilk.
Mix well, but do not over mix this batter.
Fill loaf pans with batter and bake immediately. This batter can not get too warm or the bread will not come out well.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes to an hour until medium brown, or an inserted knife comes out clean and sides and bottoms feel firm.

Friday Night Football


Fall is in the air and what better way to celebrate the changing season than watch a local high school football game.

sipping her steamed milk while watching the game

EJ's eyes were wide open as they darted from the field of players, up to the cheering crowds, and over to the band playing next to us.

We sat in the opposing team's bleachers and got to enjoy the band's phenomenal drum section. It reminded me a bit of Philly!

she could not take her eyes off the field

We made it to half time, which was already passed EJ's bedtime, but I'm glad we did. Part of their half time show was the procession of the homecoming queen contenders. Apart from the fun of seeing their sparkly dresses, it was especially interesting to see how the school chose the fathers to escort their daughters around the field. Of the ten girls nominated, every one of them were on their father's arm. It was just another reminder of how important the father's role is in a daughter's life.

Jay Peanut Festival

green peanuts

We headed up north after church and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the Jay Peanut Festival. I had heard about it the last couple years from friends and wanted to be sure to experience the festival before we moved. It's not a big festival, the amount of food with peanuts is disappointing, and it was a bit of a drive, but we enjoyed the unique vendors (bought $1 sugar cane and 5lbs of green peanuts), country music, and farm tractors and animals.

down south country music

The festival is held on a 15 acre farm surrounded by cotton fields on the border of FL and AL.

that's what cotton looks like

EJ enjoyed climbing onto the tractors and sucking on her honey stick.


The farm animals were the big hit!

geese

piglets

chickens

a loud rooster

pony

And of course we finished the festival off with some barbecue and roasted corn.

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