Monday, March 4, 2013

aunt martha's coffee cake

Hello dear ones,

Yesterday was a particularly cool day in Florida which naturally made me want to bake something warm. Aunt Martha's Coffee Cake has long been a family favorite, spanning several generations. My mom has been making it for as long as I can remember and she tells me that her mother made it for her just the same. It has been a part of our family for so long that I hadn’t ever considered where the recipe came from. And more importantly, who was Aunt Martha?

As a side note, you should know that the women in my family have a particular fondness for cookbooks that are compiled by women's church groups. The very rustic kind of cookbook where everyone submits their favorite recipe and they are then put into sub categories of Meats, Vegetables, Breads, Sweets and Casseroles. (Yes, Casseroles get their own category.) 

My mom grew up in a small corner of New Jersey called Allentown; a very quaint little place with a little town store, an awesome old library and a delicious ice cream parlor. As I remember, it is that very ice cream parlor that was almost my demise one summer as I attempted to eat my sherbet cone while riding my bike back to my Grandma’s house. In a tragic turn of events that could be seen from a mile away, my bike hit an uneven part in the concrete, I flipped over the handlebars and my sad sherbet melted into a sugary puddle of tears. 

Ahhh, I digress. That should have been a different story for a different day...or never. Back to the cake. When my mom was growing up, my grandmother would make her way to the neighboring town of Cranbury to work in a small gift shop with her sisters on the weekends. Sometime in the early 70's, a woman named Alvarie Michael submitted Aunt Martha's Coffee Cake to the the compiled cookbook of the Women’s Club of Cranbury and my Grandmother took home a copy. She has been making this moist cake with crumbly topping ever since and so has my mom and so will I. 

Hope you had a great weekend! 

p.s I still don't know who Aunt Martha really is. Whoever she is, I like her. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

a tiny thought: it's for the birds.

"It's for the birds!" is usually an expression used to proclaim that something is silly, maybe even worthless. Our human nature is to constantly be proving ourselves and worrying about what will happen if we don't. We don't often look to things in nature to teach us something. In fact, we mostly disregard the things around us that we deem ourselves smarter than. The problem with that logic is that we are missing out on so many things we could be learning. 

For instance, I have noticed that birds have a quiet way of excelling at the things they were made for. Which got me thinking, what if today we believed that we could excel at the things we were made for? Without worry. Without fuss.We just did it. What would that look like? I say it's worth a shot. 

"Said the Robin to the Sparrow, 
'I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and hurry so.'

"Said the Sparrow to the Robin, 
'Friend, I think that it must be 
That they have no Heavenly Father 
Such as cares for you and me.'"

-Elizabeth Cheney, 1859 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

going green...for your health

Some people have trouble drinking their vegetables. I am not one of those people. My mind does this funny thing when it knows something is good for us. It turns on a little taste good switch and poof…

MPITHW (most people in the world): “Ewww. Liquid kale…nasty.”
Emily: “Liquid Kale. Hmm. Looks weird. Tastes awesome.”

It’s just the way it rolls.

Now, I’m not going to try and convince you that this smoothie is ever going to taste like dipping thin mint Girl Scout cookies in a glass of milk while you watch reruns of Friends at midnight on your couch. This is never going to be that for you. This green smoothie is for people who wake up in the morning and want to punch today in the face.  In a kind way, of course. Violence is not a part of this smoothie shenanigan.

So here’s what you do if you don’t like to drink green vegetables…you take one for the team. You remember that if you want to live long and healthy and eat lots of Girl Scout cookies, you have to balance it out with green things. So you do it, you put your healthy pants on and you get out your blender.

Who knows, you may even start to like it. 

Green Smoothie:

1 C. water
2 C. kale
1/2 C. pineapple
1/2 banana
1/3 granny smith apple
1/4 C. orange juice
1 TBS. wheat germ
pinch of fresh parsley

blend it up for a couple
of minutes. enjoy one
now & one later!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

document the joy.

"There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” 
–John Calvin

Hello & good morning to you, 

It's been a long time. Too long. I started this blog to chronicle a four month adventure to the pacific northwest and that was exactly what I did. When I returned from Oregon, I spent a long time feeling uninspired by the familiarities of home and anxious that I had made a wrong decision by not returning. After a few weeks of being home, I realized that much of what I missed was writing about my seemingly insignificant yet cherished discoveries.   

You see, writing does two important things for me. It makes me aware of the beauty that can be found all around; in nature, in friendships, in meals shared, in discovering old things and creating new ones. It also allows me to tune in to the part of my brain or maybe the part of my heart that isn't often stirred by the spoken word. When I sit down to write or type, it's almost as if a secret place has been uncovered, like a box filled with deep appreciation for simple things springs open and comes loose. Writing takes a moment in time that could easily be forgotten, brings it to life and more importantly makes it a part of the future.

Oregon was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I have been and at every turn there seemed to be something to write home about. That chapter of life's grand adventure has come to an end. There are days that pass when I miss it tremendously but before I can begin to lament, a day comes where I am standing on the beach, looking out at seagulls flying over the Atlantic Ocean and am exceedingly happy to be in the sunshiny state of Florida. I am beginning to realize that joy is not conditional on geographic location. Sure, there are times where the beauty of a place surpasses that of another but seeking and uncovering joy, true joy, can happen in a multitude of places. Near and far away. 

So here is to the continued documentation of joy and all of the mysterious places it can be found.
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