Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe Mashup

I never remember how I make a recipe anymore.  I’m definitely becoming my mother in a round about sort of way.  I am usually a recipe follower, and technically I still am, whereas my mother is an amazing improvizational cook.  In any case, for my pies I mix recipes because I have a favourite pie crust recipe although I always swear I’ll switch to a different one because this one is always hard to work with.  It is so flaky though that it is worth dealing with.


I use the pie crust from this recipe over on Epicurious.  It was on the cover of one of my Bon Appetit Magazines.  I have yet to make this actual pie though (some day!).

Today, I found this strawberry rhubarb pie recipe and I used it as a guide for my filling and my cooking times.  I used a mix of tapioca starch and corn starch to thicken the juices a little.  I stew my rhubarb lightly first (with Jamie Oliver’s recipe), and then I took the 2/3 of the liquid from the stewed rhubarb and mixed it with the starches.  I then mixed that slurry into my rhubarb and strawberries in a large bowl.  Then, I used a slotted spoon to put the fruit into the pie.

Sometimes, when I do a Google search for a recipe, I’ll intentially go to page 5,6, or 7 just to avoid the SEO hyped blog posts- they are not always the best recipes.  So, that is how I found the recipe.Yes, it’s a bit odd that it is from PBS, but I looked for a few and this one seemed to be a good fit.

 

Spa Getaway Experience Without Leaving Town: Linden Square Wellesley

Every summer I spend a few weeks in Wellesley and no there isn’t a Canyon Ranch hidden between Dana Hall and Wellesley College. What I like to do though, is to put together a “me day” that I like even better than spending the entire day in one building (although Canyon Ranch is definitely an exception – I’d take a day or a week there in a heartbeat).  When there isn’t time or money for a trip to Canyon Ranch a day at Linden Square is just right.  I recently went with a friend while our children were all at camp for the day (and a few overnight).

We began with a little stroll through the Wellesley College Campus.  Then, we headed over to Bella Santé for massages and pedicures (and yes I chose a Hello Kitty colour of course!).  If you can go early, just relaxing in the quiet lounge area with a glass of citrus infused water is a mini vacation in itself. 

After the spa, we headed to The Cottage for lunch.  This caprese flatbread was delicious and I went for a spa vibe and enjoyed one of their spa drinks. I had the de-stress with mango, strawberry juice and some blueberry and blackberries. 

When I was planning this day, there were so many options.  I also considered starting the day, if had been a rainy day, with a Pure Barre class, a dance class or a little workout on the machines at the Beacon Hill Athletic Club.  Depending on what time you schedule your spa treatments, a little shopping is fun too.  A few of my favourite stores at Linden Square are Sara Campbell (for me), Kenzie Kids (for Isabelle) and Magic Beans (for Henry).  

Car Treats: Summers on the Run

In the summer, we somehow find ourselves spending a lot more time in the car and a lot more time outside.  From trips to the pool and beach to carpools to and from camp, the car is our home away from home.  With hungry swimmers and campers, avoiding extra stops and getting from “point a” to “point b” in a timely manner, having a well stocked trunk is essential.  Our summers consist of Farm share pickup at Lindentree Farm, pool evenings at the town pool, coming and going to various summer camps, and a few road trips to New York City and up north.  


Part of parenting is keeping your children well fed and hydrated I’ve been told, and in the summer that means stocking a cooler with drinks.  The car gets too hot for most fresh food, so I keep the cooler full of seltzer (the cooler keeps the seltzer from getting too hot, but it doesn’t keep them cool unless I add ice every day, but who has time for that?!).  I keep the cooler full and it seems to work.  If I have time to stop at home before picking up the kids, I will fill two cups with ice so they can pour their drinks over ice.  I will also grab a few carrots, celery sticks, a pint of berries or something fresh.  As for the rest of it, I try to keep snacks that can withstand the heat in a bin in the car. 

We each have our favourite bubbly water. I like the Perrier Green Apple, Henry likes the Poland Springs Raspberry Lime and Isabelle likes the Polar Lime.

The snacks can get a bit tricky.  For most of the year, I use reusable containers and fill them up with snacks, but there are times when I give in and go for individually packed treats for convenience and as a back up for days when I’ve forgotten to stop and pick anything up.  I try to have peanut butter crackers and nuts for a little protein, I’ve started to keep the Strong & Kind Bars in the car for myself (I’m a little obsessed with the Jalapeño ones), then there is popcorn and some pretzels.  I always like to have some gluten free options, because a few of our friends are gluten free so popcorn and rice crackers usually fit the bill and we like those too. 
For sweetness we usually have some fruit leathers (the Simply Balanced fruit strips from Target are a favourite of ours) and then I like to have a little cookie or something sweet, but with the hot car, most of our sweet treats get too sticky.  I was recently sent some samples of a favourite family treat: Shortbread.  Unlike most packaged cookies the shortbreads have just a few simple ingredients which makes us all happy. 

Shortbreads are the perfect traveling treat.  They are sweet and rich, but not too sweet.  They don’t make a crumbly mess like the crunchy granola bars I used to keep around. Even the chocolate chip ones work in the car because the chips are small so they don’t make too much of a melted chocolate mess. These cookies made an appearance at our Fourth of July picnic at the pool and they were a big hit.  They are also going to be in the kids’ car kit for our long drive up north for vacation.  The cookies are packed two to a package and the boxes can be ordered on Amazon with 24 packs to a box.  For a picnic with friends I also like the Walker’s Shortbread mini fingers.  They come in a pack of 24 mini shortbread fingers.  Now if only I had thought to put one of those cookie packs in my computer bag.  I’m feeling a little peckish right now! 

Picnic Like You Have a Personal Chef: Post 390

There is something idyllic about a picnic.  From large family picnics at the local playground on a summer’s day staying up too late, and keeping cool by running through the sprinkler to a picnic for two with your boyfriend on a city picnic bench or at the beach.  You don’t need a reservation.  You can have it just about anywhere from your front stoop or your backyard or among the flowers in the Boston Garden.  I don’t, however, recommend having one by the Charles on a hot summer’s evening.  We tried that once and got eaten alive by bugs.  

What ends up being less idyllic, is trying to pack the perfect picnic.  You can never find quite the right menu or the right containers.  You always forget something (Does anyone have a fork? A drink?  A cup?).  All of a sudden your vision of the picture perfect picnic is blurred as stress about the logistics of it all begin to set in. 

Post 390, a place I pass a million times a month driving to and from Boston Ballet, invited me to try their new picnic basket offering and it just happened to be a few days before my 15th wedding anniversary.  I took them up on their offer and we had such a wonderfully delicious, relaxing dinner for two all set out in the cutest little basket. 

Whether you are in town visiting and staying at a nearby hotel, or you live in Boston proper, Post 390’s picnic are a wonderful alternative to dinner in a restaurant.   

The picnic for two comes with a choice of a salad loaded with deliciously sweet candied pecans, salty Manchego, and tossed with a nicely tangy white balsamic vinaigrette.  For the next course there is a choice of Antipasto with prosciutto americano, sweet soppressata, marinated mozzarella, pickles, stout mustard, banana peppers, and a toasted baguette with sea salt.  For those who want to go vegetarian there is a Mezze plate instead with roasted garlic hummus, za’atar spiced baked pita, goat cheese stuffed peppadews, marinated olives, spinach & feta spanakopita.  For dessert, pastry chef Molly Handon has made fresh salted caramels or mini chocolate chip cookies.  To drink, there is no Triple 8 Vodka, but the advantage of picnicking at home is that you can accessories your drinks from the liquor cabinet.  The drink choices are for your picnic are one of Beverage Director Jason Percival’s two picnic concoctions:  either a meyer lemon & tarragon sparkling lemonade or a strawberry sweet tea. The picnic for two is $50 and is a perfect dinner for two or you can bring it to the beach and enjoy it with a larger group for an afternoon cocktail hour or take it to an outdoor movie or concert and enjoy it with 5-6 friends for a late night snack.  If you need something to sit on as you enjoy your romantic picnic for two, a  blanket can be added for $15.

Red Sox and Lego: Dream Come True

This weekend and the last weekend in August the Red Sox and Lego have a few fun events for you and your little builders and batters.

This Saturday is Kid Nation Day at LEGOLAND Discovery Center, the second is LEGO Day at Fenway Park during the August 31st game.



This Saturday, August 6 from 11 am to 3 pm, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston will host the Red Sox Showcase, powered by T-Mobile, at Assembly Row!. The Red Sox themed truck includes a batting cage, pitching stations, a steal 2nd challenge and a virtual reality experience. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston’s Master Model Builder, Megan Quigley, will be conducting a live Red Sox themed build and visitors will have the opportunity to take photos with a World Series trophy replica made entirely out of LEGO® bricks! In addition, there will be brick pits, LEGO® build stations for fans to show off their Red Sox pride and visits from LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston costume characters Bertie and Kai from Ninjago. Please note that events outside of LEGOLAND Discovery are free and open to the public. To get into LEGOLAND Discovery, standard admission fees apply.
Later this month, on Wednesday, August 31 the Red Sox and LEGO Systems, Inc. are proud to announce the first LEGO® Day at Fenway Park, Wednesday, August 31 at 1:35 pm when the Red Sox face the Tampa Bay Rays. The purchase of a game ticket through this special offer also includes a limited edition Red Sox themed player build, made with LEGO bricks. 

Additionally, this ticket package will include access to the pre-game LEGO Build Experience in the Kids Concourse from 11:00am-1:35pm – the Red Sox crew are excited to have a LEGO Master Builder on hand to join everyone for the day! 

During the LEGO Build Experience a life-sized Red Sox player LEGO model will be  unveiled for fans to see and take pictures with. Tickets are limited to the first 2,000 guests.

Too Hot to Cook:  The Foodery to the Rescue

I don’t handle heat well.  So summer cooking on a good day is outside on the grill or in a single pan. I’ll happily have some chopped up raw vegetables from our CSA, but the rest of the family usually wants something a little more than that.

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Takeout gets expensive and we easily fall into a takeout rut.  I was recently asked if I would like to try The Foodery.  I had heard of The Pantry and Just Add Cooking, but The Foodery was new to me and I decided to give it a try.  The nice thing about The Foodery is that there is no cooking involved.  I love to cook, but I hit my boiling point every once and a while and the summer heat will do that to me.


The Foodery delivers meals ready to be reheated.  You order by midnight on Wednesday, minimum of $50, and your meals for the week are delivered to your door on Sunday between 6 and 9 p.m.  Some meals are available in 4 person servings while others are 2 person servings.  Servings are generous.  This week, for example The Foodery customers will be enjoying  a Hawaiian pork with pineapple brown rice and ginger cabbage ($26/2 person portion) or the lemon chicken and orzo bake ($32/4 person portion).  Each week there is a selection of 6 meals to choose from and each meal lists potential allergens at the bottom.

We sampled the Salmon, a chicken power bowl, and carnitas tacos.  Each dish was tasty, reheated well and many lasted for a second meal for both of us (a 2 person portion).

Because I like to cook, I won’t order regularly from The Foodery, but there is not weekly commitment, so I will definitely use The Foodery when I’m burnt out in the kitchen, or I just need someone else to make tasty, healthy, different food for my family.

The Foodery is offering 20% off for 1st time orders with code: LeahLEatWell2016

Enjoy!

Family Tiki Party: Keeping Cool with Shave Ice


As summer winds down life is about stretching out the last days of summer vacation and finding fun new ways to keep cool.  Friends and neighbors come and go to summer houses, to weekend getaways, and weeklong trips to locations near and far.  Hosting a little Tiki party is a great way to keep the summer fun vibe going once everyone returns home.  When I think Tiki, I usually think cocktails, but another great way to keep cool that works for the whole family is with some shave ice.  Unlike a snow cone, shave ice is a different texture, but also a proper shave ice is more like a layered parfait of deliciousness (halo-halo) rather than a simple ball of ice topped with syrup.

Here are some fun picks for your décor and table setting as well as a recipe for making your own fresh syrups to use in your authentic shave ice.

 

Leah's Life: Pearls & Oysters

Tiki Tropical Family Party
Leah’s Life: Pearls & Oysters

 

Reusable Carafe

 

Reusable Carafe
LEIFHEIT

 

Platinum Mini Pineapple Upside Down Pan

 

Platinum Mini Pineapple Upside Down Pan
Nordic Ware

 

Pineapple Wall Decal

 

Pineapple Wall Decal
WallPops!

 

Pineapple Candle

 

 

Pineapple Candle
Birch Lane

 

Pineapple Slicer

 

 

Pineapple Slicer
Paderno World Cuisine

 

Copper Pineapple Lidded Bowl

 

Copper Pineapple Lidded Bowl
Birch Lane

 

Matney® Bamboo Tiki-Style Torches (Set of 12)

 

 

Matney® Bamboo Tiki-Style Torches (Set of 12)
GGI International

 

Stand-Ins Hawaiian Hula Girls Life Size Cardboard Standup

 

 

Stand-Ins Hawaiian Hula Girls Life Size Cardboard Standup
Advanced Graphics

 

Hawaiian Flower Beach Towel

 

 

Hawaiian Flower Beach Towel
Simple Luxury

 

Torched Pineapple Mint Simple Syrup

You can’t have Tiki without fire, so to make this version of a pineapple simple syrup, start by grilling some pineapple.

  • 1 pineapple, peeled cored and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 bunch of mint leaves, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • vegetable oil (like canola oil) for the grill
  1. Preheat grill to high. Clean grill grates and grease grates with a little oil. I like to use a paper towel dipped in oil and some tongs.
  2. Place the pineapple slices on a high heat grill and grill until pineapple caramelizes and grill marks appear and then flip to do the same on the other side.
  3. Allow the pineapple to cool slightly and then dice into pinky fingernail sized cubes.
  4. Place pineapple, sugar and 8-10 mint leaves into a pot with a lid.
  5. Cook covered on low until the pineapple juices start to bubble.
  6. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves.
  7. Remove from heat amd let stand overnight.
  8. Strain.  Add 6-8 finely minced fresh mint leaves to the strained syrup and chill until party time.

The Perfect Halo-Halo (mix mix) Shave Ice Buffet

  • Make sure you have a proper ice shaver.  The first layer of your shave ice will be shaved ice.
  • Then you need a few ice cream choices.  I think I want to try purple sweet potato ice cream for our party.
  • There used to be a chocolate dipper store in the mall that sold fresh pineapple dipped in chocolate.  At first, I thought it would be a weird combination, but I quickly learned that it was delicious. So to go with the pineapple mint syrup I’d have some shaved chocolate, chocolate pearls or chocolate chips as a topping.
  • A berry  cream based syrups, use frozen raspberries or strawberries.  Mix one bag of frozen berries with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water and prepare as with the pineapple syrup.  Leave some of the syrup as is, and to make a cream based syrup, add in some cream, condensed milk or coconut milk to taste.
  • Any other fun toppings you like: fresh fruit, mocha bits, boba (the pearl Tapioca that you can find at places like HMart), cookie crumbs, candy, and classic azuki beans.

Assembling in Somerville: A Destination for All

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Southern Kin Cookhouse in Assembly Row

Somerville is my neighbour and parts of Somerville are very close by. Davis Square is just on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue and yet other parts seem a world away. It wasn’t until Assembly Row opened, that I realised how quickly you can get there from here.  In fact, for my most recent visit, when I was invited to shop and explore Assembly Row for this post, I came in from Boston’s South End and was amazed at how close it was. In addition, with the Orange line going straight to Assembly station on the Forest Hills line, you don’t even need a car to get there.

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Legoland Discovery at Assembly Row, Somerville.

As a family, we have come quite a few times to the movies at the amazingly fabulous and comfortable AMC theatre,  for dinner at some of the many restaurants, and to Legoland Discovery, but I had never really been for a shopping day.

Assembly Row really does have something for everyone and the offerings keep expanding.  The setting along the Mystic River is fabulous.  The children always have fun at the playground and I can’t wait to enjoy a cool summer’s eve on the patio by River Bar for a cocktail by the fire pit.

There are too many facets to Assembly Row, to fit all into one succinct post so I’ve decided to break it down,  I could do it by dining options, shopping options, and activities, but Assembly Row also hosts so many events that I’ve decided to do it by type of outing.  So if you want a Day out with the Tots, Lunch with your Bffs, Date Night with your True Love, Family Night, a day of Sunshine & Errands or Rainy Day Escape or a Family Weekend Outing, I have it all laid out for you.

Family Weekend Rain or Shine

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There is nothing like a perfect summer beach day.  We’ve had quite a few this week, but then we have also had a few cold and grey days sprinkled in as well.  Some summer schedules are very flexible but others between camp and work schedules require going with the flow a bit more.  At Assembly Row, you can sit by the water (albeit not on an ocean beach) and enjoy the breeze and watching the boats go by, but if the weather turns there is still plenty to do.

Shine

If the sun is shining, a stroll along the Mystic river is nice with a little stopover at the playground.  Grab a drink or lunch al fresco at the American Fresh Beer Garden, the patio at River Bar, Tony C’s, or lounge river-side at Legal on the Mystic.  You can also gather with an ice cream cone in hand from JP Licks and enjoy some of the seating in Assembly Row’s patio space just across from Legoland.

If you plan ahead, you can enjoy a variety of activities taking place outside at Assembly Row on any given day.  From yoga classes, Friday night dancing and live music to gardening tips and Toddler days out.

Gardening

  • July 16: Taming Your Summer Garden: Learn about pest management and pruning for the health of your garden.
  • August 20: Eat the Rainbow: Come learn about how different colored veggies from our garden have different nutritional properties.
  • September 10: Apples to Apples: Discover how valuable local food production is to creating a healthier food system with an informational session that includes a kid-friendly Johnny Appleseed activity.
  • October 30: Using Your Harvest: Learn out new ways to incorporate fall harvest produce into your meals.

Outdoor Movie Nights

Pack up a blanket, lawn chair and picnic and head out with the family for free movies under the stars. All movies are shown at sundown

  • July 16: Disney’s Cinderella
  • July 23: Inside Out
  • July 30: Star Wars: Force Awakens
  • August 6: Good Dinosaur
  • August 13: Jurassic World
  • August 20: UP
  • August 27: Ant-Man

Yoga Mornings

Let mom or dad enjoy a yoga class while the other parent takes the kids to grab breakfast and a little playtime at the playground.  Then spend the morning together getting a few errands done without having to hop in and out of the car all day.

Weekly classes are held in Baxter Riverfront Park on Saturdays at 9am. All you need is your yoga mat. Online registration for Saturday classes are be available here starting at noon each preceding Friday. Registration is required. Day of registration will be available only if space permits.

Family Fun Day

Save the date for Touch a Truck this Sunday, July 17. Attendees will be able to get up close to large vehicles they may see around town.

For a full updated list of events, visit the Assembly Row “Play” page where you can find additional information on upcoming events such as Riverfest, Mommy’s Pint out, and Race to the Row.

Rain

We like to puddle jump and play in the rain, but that only lasts for so long.  On a rainy day Assembly Row has you covered whether you visit Legoland (be sure to bring your child’s report card for $5 off celebrating the successful completion of another school year) or you run a few errands with the kids and then enjoy a leisurely lunch.  You can also stay dry and escape the grey weather watching a movie at the AMC theatre (just remember to bring a sweater if you are coming in from the hot and humid outside weather).

Parking on a rainy day is easy (especially during the week) because Assembly Row has a multi-level indoor parking garage.  You will want to bring an umbrella though as you pop in and out of each of your destinations.

Splurge Worthy Crab Cakes: Chesapeake Crab Cakes

I live near the ocean and I am very picky about the seafood I eat.  It has to be fresh, it has to be good quality, I’d like it to be as sustaineable as possible, and I don’t want the flavour of the actual fish or seafood to be covered up by any mayonnaise, masked with bread crumbs, or doused in sugar and spice.  I also like to cook so it is rare that I find prepared seafood that I like with a few exceptions.  I will gladly have the store steam my lobsters (especially if they are willing to snip the elastics for me before they go in the steamer.)  I am a fan of the poached salmon from The Fishmonger in my neighbourhood.  Full Moon restaurant makes a pretty fab pot of mussels with fries and some grilled clams from Kirkland Tap & Trotter are a real treat.  I’m getting sidetracked though because there are plenty of placed I don’t mind going out for seafood, but today I’m talking about bringing prepared seafood home to cook.  I was recently sent some crab cakes from Chesapeake Crab Cakes to sample and I have to say they are probably the best crab cakes I have ever had (my own included) bar none.  I think the reason for this is two-fold.

crab cakes-1

First, the Chesapeake Crab Cakes are made with some of the most amazing crab available.  If you start with something amazing and you don’t add too much to it, you end up with something incredible.  Second, the Crab Cakes are filled with chunks of jumbo lump crab and the rest of the ingredients work to just barely hold it all together.  The crab is fresh and hand picked from their shells and not pasteurized.  To make it even better, the crab cakes are shipped fresh and baked in the oven, which is brilliant because then you don’t worry about them falling apart and they get nice and golden with the help of the broiler.

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The crab cakes are pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for and I can’t wait for our upcoming anniversary to order some more.  It made dinner so special and yet so simple, because I just could grill some asparagus, or toss a salad together and dinner was served.  They crab cakes are also gigantic.  One crab cake is a full main course.  For a couple, you can get at least two meals out of a pack of four crab cakes which costs $45 and 8 are $85.  They are the perfect gift for my parent’s anniversary too.  They make gluten-free crab cakes as well.  Chesapeake Crab Cakes can be ordered here and ship via 2 day air.  The killer is the shipping which is $25 for 4-8 and $50 for 12-16, but you want the crab to arrive fresh and it is so worth it to have this completely fresh, unpasteurized crab so, there’s just no way around it.  Trust me, though, if you need a little simple (fabulous) deliciousness this summer, these crab cakes will do the trick.

crab cakes-3

 

fresh water ideas, cultured tips, briny, lip smacking recipes, and tiny pearls of anecdotal wisdom

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