Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's special "Holiday: Halloween" issue. They are really quick, easy, and yummy, and you probably already have most of the ingredients. They'd also be fun with M&Ms or other candies for Christmas.

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
about 36 candy corns

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, and beat until a dough forms.
2. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly until it becomes too soft to handle). Space balls 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
3. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove from oven, and gently press a candy corn in the center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Let cool on sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Variation:
1. Reduce the amount of flour given in the recipe to 1/2 cup.
2. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 1, and proceed.

Makes 36 small cookies. I doubled the recipe.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Halloween Party

Here we are, shepherds with our sheep!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fall Foliage Trip

On Friday, our good friends Josh and Sarah came up from Virginia to visit and view the fall foliage. Sarah and I knew each other growing up in Connecticut, so we went up to Sarah's hometown of New Milford, CT. It's been really warm this year, so the foilage was not as spectacular as usual, but it was still a sight to see. Unfortunately I didn't get too many foliage shots as I was busy keeping Emma happy (Sarah, can you email me some?), but I did get some great shots of her playing in the leaves on the town green. It was a great day and I'm glad that Sarah and Josh made the trip up!

Buried in leaves!

Looking up at the falling leaves that Josh was dropping on her.

A wide shot.

She fought her way out of the pile of leaves to stand up...

Emma revisits and early infancy hobby--licking her hands.

Check out the size of that leaf! Emma with Josh

Emma did not want to pose in front of the toy store.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Halloween Preview!

My friend Naomi, who is the craftiest person I know (check out her website), threw a Halloween party for all of the Church kids today. The decor was fabulous, the food delicious, and the activities fun. The kids (those older than Emma, anyway) made spiders out of foam and pipecleaners, decorated sugar cookies, colored Halloween pictures, and trick-or-treated. The kids looked adorable and we had a great time. Thanks Naomi!

The scary-looking but yummy spread.

From left, Hailey, Ethan, Ashton, Ryder

Ryder, Michael, Christopher

Mia and Emma

Group Shot
On Couch: Hailey, Ethan, Ashton, Ryder, Michael, Christopher holding Anne
Bottom heads: Mia, Emma, Damon

Linley and Emma hanging out.

Asher the monkey

An attempt at a self-portrait

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fresh Tomato Sauce

I was feeling adventurous so I decided to try a recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food for fresh tomato sauce. I was glad I tried it, but I'm not sure I'll do it again, at least not very often. Don't get me wrong, it was fabulous, but the hands-on prep took me almost two hours. It does, however, freeze well and makes 9 cups.

10 lbs. beefsteak or plum tomatoes (or a combination)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely grated
6 garlic cloves, smashed
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water. With a paring knife, core tomatoes and score an X on the bottoms. Working in batches, carefully lower tomatoes into boiling water; when skins begin to split (30 to 60 seconds), use a slotted spoon to transfer tomatoes to ice water.
2. When tomatoes are cool, remove skins and discard. Halve tomatoes. Remove seeds with a spoon, and discard. Finely chop tomatoes.
3. In a Dutch oven (or other large pot), heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and saucy, about 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Use immediately, or freeze in airtight containers up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in microwave before warming.

I also added some herbs during simmering to add a bit more flavor.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bronx Zoo Adventure

Yesterday we had glorious weather, at least temperature-wise. Though the day started out overcast and ended up raining, it was 75 degrees, so we grabbed my friend Maile and Emma's friends Kaia and Asher and headed to the zoo. The threat of rain kept many people away (and it drove us away a few hours later), but we had a wonderful morning and felt like we practically had the zoo to ourselves.

Emma did not like being a bird, though you can see from the picture that she squawks like one.

While I ate lunch, Emma had her first french fry. She grabbed it and had it in her mouth before I even noticed. As you can see, she is a fan.

Emma on the Bug Carousel. She alternated between pure terror and pure exhilaration. I think in the end exhilaration won.

Both of us on the Bug Carousel.

Asher and Emma at the Gorilla House. They were both thrilled to be out of the strollers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Girl Was Made for Walkin'

Emma walked by herself today! She started when she was playing in her room after lunch. I was on the couch in the next room, reading, and when I looked up to check on her, she was doing it by herself! At first she wouldn't do it for an audience, so I pretended not to watch, but before she went to bed I caught it on video.

Sunday Best

I know it's a couple of days late, but here's a picture from Sunday. I think Emma looks so cute in her new fall outfit. Dave looks pretty good too. :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Great Pocono Pumpkin Festival

This Saturday we set of on Kern Family Adventure to the Great Pocono Pumpkin Festival in Pennsylvania. We don't get a chance to do things like this very often, so we were all excited. The drive through the Delaware Water Gap (where the Delaware River divides New Jersey and Pennsylvania) was beautiful, though only about 25% of the leaves had changed so far. The fair was fun--pumpkins, a carnival, a hayride, a corn maze, petting zoo, games, food, etc. Dave and I loved the hayride, but Emma's favorite was the chickens. That's right--she didn't like the bunnies, the cute alpacas, even the adorable baby chicks--but she loved the regular ol' chickens. Who knew?

Hanging out with the cows.

Dave and Emma with an old fire truck that was in the corn maze.

Dave and Emma looking at the ponies.

Dave and Emma on the hay ride.

Me and Emma on the hay ride.

Pointing at Dave and the camera after pointing at the chickens.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Exile by Pearl S. Buck

This is an older book that I've had on my shelf for a while but never read. (I think I originally got it for a book club in Manhattan...I'm trying to spend less money on books.) The Exile is the story of a woman, Carie, born and raised in America who spends the majority of her life as a missionary in China. Though it reads like a biography, the book is essentially a character study of how Carie came to be who she is. It chronicles her struggles to understand God and to remain true to America despite her foreign surroundings. (It was published in 1936 and the time period of the book covers roughly from 1850-1920ish). I really liked the focus on what it means to be an American. My favorite quote: "I think that is why America is not herself now--too many people do not understand what it is to be an American." I found the sentiments to be fitting with the attitudes of many people today. A good, quick read.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How Emma spends her day...

Emma is an independent child, and though she likes plenty of time with Mom, she spends a large portion of her time at home puttering around her room with her toys. She flits from her table to her books and back again. Though I relish the opportunity to do some reading while she's busy, I love to watch her amuse herself. It is quite amusing to me. :)
PS. I have no idea how her pool float got there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hello Fall!

Okay, so I know the unoffical start of fall was the day after Labor Day, and the official start of fall was on September 23rd, but today was the first day where we actually had fall weather (60 degrees and cloudy, as opposed to 80 degrees and sunny). I know I will be taking this back in a couple of months, but I actually enjoyed it. In celebration, we went out and bought Emma some new fall duds (also, so she wouldn't freeze).

Emma sporting her new coat and shoes.

For Brittany, a close-up of the shoes.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Asparagus

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 package cut-up whole chicken (about 3 lbs.)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
6 sprigs fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes and half the butter in a shallow roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Place chicken, skin side up, on top of potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Roast until checken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
3. Scatter asparagus, lemon, remaining butter, and thyme around chicken. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout, 5 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken, vegetables, and lemon drizzed with pan juices.

This is really easy but looks impressive!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Emma Takes a Stand

I've been a bit delinquent in posting about Emma's new accomplishments, so I'm catching up. Emma learned to pull up back at the end of July, and has been creeping along the furniture ever since. Within the last 2 or 3 weeks, she's learned to stand up from the floor. She gets in a position like she's a little frog, and then pushes up with her thunder thighs, so she usually ends up with her legs in an upside down "V". Any bets on when she starts walking?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Three Teeth!

This post comes in answer to a request by my brother Tyler, who wanted to see Emma's teeth. (Ironically, the best picture I could get of them was when she was crying, not smiling.) She has three teeth now. She cut the first {bottom left} in mid-August, the second {top left} two weeks ago, and the third {bottom right}one week ago. The third is still quite small, but you should be able to see the other two.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fun at the Park

Today for playgroup with went to the park with my friends Lisa and Kaycee (and Emma's friends Mia and Carson). We are having August in October with 80+ degree weather and humidity, so we are tying to enjoy it while it lasts. This park has a great playground that Emma will probably love in a few months when she starts walking, but for now the swings were her favorite. (Check out the video--I just love her giggles and her little legs!). Emma on the swing. Carson and Emma Carson, Emma, and Mia. (They're a bit young for a decent group shot).