The Grower's Daughter

The Grower's Daughter

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pumpkin Loaf

I feel like, up to this point, with the exception of my quick night away, I've tried my best to not go too pumpkin crazy, but as it is officially Fall, I intend to fully indulge in all things pumpkin.

As promised, here is the recipe for this delicious Pumpkin Loaf I enjoyed this morning. It's dense, but super moist, and it doesn't have a strong spice flavour (even though I doubled the spices in the original recipe).

The recipe was found on Pinterest and adapted from the original recipe found here. I halved the recipe successfully, and immediately regretted that decision.

makes one 9" x 5" loaf

Preheat oven to 350'  and grease pan. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix:
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
2 eggs

In small bowl, mix:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix to combine. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool.

I've been looking through all my cookbooks, page marking the Fall recipes I'm looking forward to trying.

Fittingly, we spent our first day of Fall at the Fall Fair, completeing a scavenger hunt. The pumpkin loaf made a tasty snack!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Country Living Fair

This past weekend, I enjoyed a girl's weekend away (with our babies) in Ohio. I can't even call it a weekend as we left before the sun was up on Thursday and arrived home very late on Friday. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip, actually, but it was so fun. And to be honest, it was very needed.

Arriving just before lunch time on Thursday, we spent the afternoon touring about the Holmes County area. This is an area of Ohio that we've been to a few times, so we knew all the places we wanted to stop. We stocked up on homemade chocolates and our favourite preserves, drove the prettiest back roads, stopped for once-a-year pumpkin pie, and hurried through all our favourite shops before they closed at five.

I couldn't get over how much it felt like fall! The leaves had just started turning and all the farm stands had piles and piles of every kind of pumpkin, in every size. And speaking of pumpkin! I found the most delicious mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Buttercream filling that we nibbled on the entire trip. And fall candy! I never knew there were so many varieties of fall-inspired candy corn! I couldn't resist picking out some for their class parties.

After enjoying a home-style buffet for dinner (broasted chicken, real mashed potatoes and the fluffiest dinner rolls!), we made our way to our hotel in Millersburg. It was full of charm, running along the top floors of about four shops on the main street of town. This meant that every time you left one building, and the hall took you into the next, the floor level changed and the doors and windows were different. Inexpensive antique artwork hung on all the walls and the main areas boasted tin ceilings and creaky floors. The town of Millersburg is a classic, small American town, but as we left early to head to Columbus for the fair, we didn't have time to enjoy any of it.

After breakfast, we made our way to Columbus, winding up and down hills, the countryside under a thick blanket of fog.

One of the reasons I was looking forward to the show in Columbus was because I really love that it's set in Historic Columbus Village. It's a great show, but the beautiful old town makes it even more enjoyable to browse around.

The pile of Pumpkins, in every size and variety, right in town square.

I loved the simple bales of hay and corn stalks.

This little home is my favourite in the village.

And then there were all the booths. I just love the creativity that some vendors put into their spaces. Farmhouse Frocks was a beautiful shop in Millersburg that we weren't able to see, but their booth didn't disappoint.

I'm always drawn to displays of ironstone.

Findings is another favourite booth I look forward to visiting.

I only purchased a couple things for myself on the whole trip. I brought home a couple packages of these little birch leaves. I figured they would look pretty for place settings on a Thanksgiving table, but also double as Christmas ornaments.

Some great architectural salvage throughout the show.

And then there's that one thing you decide not to purchase, and then regret immediately after. You know what I'm talking about. There's always something.

For me it was a pair of these beautiful tables. It was near the end of the show, Jude was ready to eat and I couldn't fit the stroller in the booth, so I was half looking from near him. I didn't realize until later that they were a pair, and I wish I would have got them! They would have looked perfect as night tables in our master. I did contact the seller, and she was graciously going to let me know if they didn't sell at her remaining two shows. So fingers crossed!

While I loved the show, I loved driving about the countryside, stopping whenever we saw something we wanted to take a photo of (which happened quite often!). I loved having hours to get to know a new friend better - crying babies, frequent nursing stops and all!

And I especially love that I left not quite ready for summer to end, and came home ready for Fall.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Potted Hydrangeas

Anyone who knows me, even just through reading this blog, knows that one of my favourite things are Hydrangeas.

I fill my gardens with them and when they sleep for the winter months, I have a fairly regular order with our flower man for cut Hydrangeas to enjoy inside.

During the weeks leading up to Spring, occasionally I'm lucky enough to get my hands on giant potted Hydrangeas from Costco. These are the largest, most gorgeous potted Hydrangeas I find anywhere. Some years we have them at the shop, but they're pretty rare, and usually the customers get first dibs.

I was so excited this week, while popping in to grab some staples, that I probably squealed out loud when I noticed them in a few buggies! I quickly made a bee line over to the single cart they had and then spent the next twenty minutes trying to decide which were my favourite. I had two white ones, but after much deliberation (way more than a decision like that should have required), I settled on one white and one light pink. I actually really like the pink, especially in an all white room.

See how large and full they are?

I made sure to pick one with lots of new growth, and tighter buds, and I water it regularly as it needs a lot of water. I do love the various shades of pink.

But of course, I love the white too. This one is sitting in our family room in a giant basket by our media cabinet. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Easy Entertaining

This past weekend was Jude's dedication, and to celebrate, we had our immediate family over after the service for lunch. I wanted to share with you how I entertain for something like this because I feel like many people over estimate how complicated entertaining can be. Really, it's as complicated as you make it, but it can also be as simple as well.

When I planned this lunch, here is what I had to keep in mind:

First, I didn't want to have to do anything the day of as there just wasn't time. We needed to be out of the house by 7:45 in the morning, and everyone would be coming back with us, so there would be no time before guests arrived. I also wanted to sit down and enjoy the afternoon with my company, so little work the day of was key. This meant things needed to be able to be made in advance, or prepped the day before, and simply placed out on the table before enjoying.

Second, given everyone would be back around 11:30, I wanted something lighter that people could enjoy at their own pace. If they wanted to enjoy a coffee and something sweet first, they could. If they were hungry for lunch, there were plenty of options. 

Third, I wanted people to be able to move about as they wished, and that meant food people could just pick up and carry around on a small plate.

Here's what I ended up serving: 
- A simple cheese plate with a variety of breads, crackers and preserves for on top. 
- A meat plate with different pickles and olives and things. 
- Some easy vegetables and dip. 
- And then sweets - some homemade, some bought, but all delicious: Ina's Chocolate Peanut Butter Globs, Cream Puffs (bought), Chocolate Chip Cookie Wedges, Palmiers (with store bought pastry) and a simple bowl of strawberries. 
(And of course, for every party something is forgotten... In this case, the nuts for my nut bowl!)

Everything was assembled on trays the day before and then wrapped and refrigerated, or set out on the table. The only exception was the cheese. They stayed in the packages, but were placed on the plates before I served them. When I arrived home, I simply had to set the trays out and unwrap them, fill the milk and cream pitchers for coffee and add ice to the punch. It's so easy!

And even though the prep work was the day before, I didn't spend hours doing it. It was simply arranging things on plates. The most time consuming thing I did was bake! And if that's too much, you could easily come up with a gorgeous dessert plate with a variety of baked good from your favourite bakery.

When I serve food this way, I use our chairs in the living room as extra casual seating. This frees up the dining room and gives people plenty of room to walk around (and hang out by!) the food. Everyone comes and goes as they please, and I think that feels so much more relaxed and enjoyable.

Another trick from the Barefoot Contessa? Use Hydrangea or fig leaves to make platters look prettier. I just wiped the leaves down with dish water to clean them as food was touching them.

These cookies are super easy to make, and seriously, they are divine!

I worked with the flowers I could get my hands on - mostly from the grocery store. I made one arrangement for the living room and tucked other blooms around the house to brighten it up. A little arrangement in the family room where other were sitting, some little vases on the vanities in the bathroom, others by the sink and by the coffee and punch. Nothing complicated.

We were so thankful to have all our family come and support us. It means the world to us. And poor Jude, he was so tired by the time everyone left! 

So that's it! Try to keep things simple. A little effort in how you present things makes anything feel more special, even if it's just a bowl of strawberries! And do as much as you can ahead of time. No host wants to be so busy running around that they miss the party. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Day of Spring

Happy first day of Spring.

The sun made a short appearance this morning, blessing us with a beautiful sunrise, and the sidewalks were clear enough to walk to the bus stop with the boys. The canal is officially open and I watched the first boat slowly roll through as I walked back home.

Warmer temperatures are promised later this week, and despite the white patches here and there, I saw some bulbs poking their way up through the ground. Spring is indeed here, and we couldn't be happier.

Soon enough the orchards will be in full bloom and Winter will be a faint memory.