{Recipe} Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

Sometimes I just feel so blessed to live where we live! Sure, once in a while I get homesick and think about moving back to Massachusetts, or feel like exploring a completely new area of the country. But by and large, my adopted home of the Hudson Valley suits me very well. One of the things I like best is all the pick-your-own farms. A favorite is Fraleigh’s Rose Hill Farm just a few minutes away in Red Hook. Yesterday we took advantage of some free time to head over and pick a real summertime treat: sour cherries.

Sour Cherries | www.puresugar.net

Contrary to the name, I don’t find sour cherries to really be all that sour. But certainly they are not as cloying as the sweet cherries. They are also infinitely easier to pit, which makes them my preferred cherry for baking, jam, canning, and so forth. The kids were begging me to bake a cherry pie, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for the crust so we went with a cobbler instead.

I was very excited to use my Lodge cast iron skillet for something besides steak!

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler
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  1. 4 cups pitted sour cherries
  2. 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  5. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. 1 cup unbleached flour
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 2 Tbsp. sugar
  5. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  6. 6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
  7. 1/4 c. boiling water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine cherries, cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside and let everything come together.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a second bowl, adding the butter pieces last. Using a pastry tool or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients, cutting in the butter until crumbly. Carefully add the boiling water, a little bit at a time, and stir until the mixture forms a soft dough.
  3. Add the cherry mixture to a cold cast iron skillet and gently bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop spoonfuls of the biscuit mixture on top of the cherries. If desired, sprinkle extra sugar on top of the biscuits. Bake for 45 minutes until the biscuits turn golden.
  1. * You can probably use regular old AP flour -- I just prefer the unbleached flour and that's what I had.
  2. * You are probably supposed to use unsalted butter for this. I didn't have it and used regular butter. Tasted a-okay to me!
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 All three kids oohed and ahhed as I took this delicious dish out of the oven. And Mean Mommy made everyone wait until supper was finished (and vegetables had all been eaten) before anyone could have a taste. But it was worth it!  Everyone savored this yummy dessert. It might have been better if I’d had whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but I didn’t hear any complaints so I’m not sure anyone even noticed.

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

{Recipe} Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins | www.puresugar.net

Good morning, everyone! Today I was up bright and early around 5. The birds were loud and I just couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I decided to head downstairs. And bake. While scrolling through my old recipe site I found a muffin recipe that I’d completely forgotten about, so I tweaked it just a little and was very happy with the results!


Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins
A simple, quick muffin recipe.
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  1. 2 cups biscuit mix (such as Bisquick)
  2. 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
  5. 1 tsp. lemon juice
  6. 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  7. 2 tsp. lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix and 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk the lemon juice, egg and sour cream together until combined. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients just until moistened. (The batter will be very thick.) Fold in the blueberries. Fill greased or lined muffin tins half-full. Combine the lemon zest and remaining sugar and sprinkle a bit over each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
  1. Yield: 12 muffins
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As I noted in the recipe, the batter is very thick when you combine the wet and dry ingredients. Just trust the recipe! Here’s a photo of how they looked in the muffin tin. They definitely have a consistency closer to drop biscuits before you bake them. (Sorry for the poor photo quality, but this was a good as it was going to get at 5:45 a.m.)

Thick Batter

Sure enough, the muffins rose just fine and the kids were all happily surprised to have fresh-baked muffins first thing this morning. Of course, I enjoyed them too 😉 
Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins | www.puresugar.net

First Weekend of the Summer

Summer geraniums

Good morning everyone and happy Monday! It’s here! It’s here! Summer is finally here! Friday was the last day of school for the kids and we decided to kick off the summer with a backyard movie (“Airplane!“). Most of our friends already had plans by the time we decided to do this, but a couple other families came and everyone really seemed to have a great time.


This is something we intend to do all summer long and honestly — it’s the easiest kind of entertaining there is. No need to worry about about meal or how clean your house is (well, maybe the bathroom 😉 ). Everyone brings a blanket or some chairs and sets themselves up in the yard. We did have popcorn, Twizzlers, and lemonade and I think it was great. 

Saturday morning Drew and Jake went off with the Boy Scouts. His troop was having a “summer camp shakedown” — a quick overnight camp out to prepare for camp in a few weeks. Drew just went for the morning and early afternoon to help out. While they were over at the state park, I took Noah and Laura to the library tag sale. One of our patrons had a fantastic idea for a massive tag sale to benefit the library. You paid for a spot, that went as a donation to the library, and it was your show from there. There were a lot of really nice items — not just your typical “yard sale” stuff. I held back, though, and only came away with a corner shelf for Laura’s room (which I will repaint). I did let the kids get something though. Laura wanted a couple Beanie Babies and a pair of Snow White dress up shoes. And Noah was enamoured with a Domino Rally set. 

Then we came home, had a bite for lunch, and decided to go to the lake. They had a blast splashing and playing in the sand!


We had burgers outside for dinner and then let the kids run through the sprinkler.

Yesterday was really low-key. I spent the morning browsing Pinterest and shopping online for a new slow cooker. My big 6-quart Crock Pot died about two months ago and I’ve been trying to see if we could live without it, but… I just can’t do it. I need the big one for broth, ribs, roasts, etc. Add that to the list of kitchen gadgets decided to go ka-put. We also had to replace our toaster oven this month! Ugh… too bad there aren’t Crock Pot/toaster  appliance bundles. Anyway, I decided on a beautiful new slow cooker and I can’t wait to get it!

 photo slowcooker_zps839643f6.jpg

Jake got home around lunchtime and showed us what might be the most adorable bottle of Tabasco sauce that I’ve ever seen. One of the dads is in the service and brought some MREs on the camp out, and this was included with Jake’s sloppy joe.

Tiny Tabasco

The most stunning thing about the entire weekend was this: yesterday afternoon we all napped. Yes, even me! I never sleep during the day unless I’m sick, but I guess I was just really tired. No matter, it was so relaxing. Then it was Crock Pot chicken tacos for dinner (outside again, of course), a run through the sprinkler, and we did another outdoor family movie (just us) because the screen was still up.

I really can’t think of a better way to kick off summer. Of course, now it’s Monday and back to work. But it was lovely to not have to make bag lunches or put kids on a bus, so I’m not going to complain 🙂 Hope your week is off to a great start!

Lots of Catching Up

Well clearly this month has gotten away from me. Eep — it’s really been a while! As you can imagine, the last month of school has just been filled with activities. How about a bulleted entry to simplify things and get us all up to date? Yes, sounds good to me, too.

  • Drew and Jake went on a deep-sea fishing trip with the Boy Scouts. I was a little nervous about it because there were heavy winds and rain the day before they went, and I was concerned about choppy seas. However, the only issues they had were with getting to Brooklyn since they had to take a few detours thanks to flooded roads. But they got there! Drew caught a stingray (no photo, sadly) and some other fish too small to take home. Jake didn’t get anything this time but I have a feeling there will be another fishing excursion in the future.
  • Laura’s birthday party went very well! The day was lovely and I think everyone had a good time. It was nice for the kids to see their grandpa and step-grandmother from Florida. We don’t see them often, so it is always a treat for the kids when they come up to New York.
  • The 5th grade Whale Watch finally happened! Drew and Jake and the rest of the class spent three days on Cape Cod participating in a bunch of different activities. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but everyone enjoyed themselves. Visiting Plimoth Plantation was their favorite, and unfortunately they only had a couple hours there so they in no way got to explore as much as they would have liked.
  • The cicadas have descended upon Rhinebeck in full force! We had to bring the leaf blower to the Cub Scout end-of-year picnic so we could clear away their exoskeletons from the BBQ pit area. Gross! But at least the event itself was fun, if not loud due to all the background buzzing!
  • Jake achieved his first Boy Scout rank and got his patch at the June Court of Honor. He is now working on advancements as well as some merit badges.
  • We had a pretty low-key Father’s Day. After all the travelling and poor sleep, I wanted Drew to just be able to relax. The kids picked out some fun gifts for him: a outdoor skills book, a wind chime, a mug that Jake made, and a keychain that Noah made. Not exactly cohiba cigars, but that’s OK, LOL! We went to Texas Roadhouse for lunch and then just took it easy for the rest of the day.
  • Monday night I went to parent orientation at the middle school. Middle school! I never had the middle school experience because my grammar school was grades 1-8, so this is something totally new for me. I think there is a good transition program in place, though, and Jake is very excited about it. Tomorrow is his “moving up” breakfast!
  • Friday is finally, finally, finally the last day of school. Seems like it took forever this year. Summer… I’m ready for you!

Party Prepping

So we are having Laura’s birthday party tomorrow, and today I have been getting things organized. Ugh, the only problem is that I have a couple stains on the living room rug that need to be removed and I just don’t feel like lugging out the ammonia (I hate that smell)! I should look up a local version of carpet cleaner concord nc and get the job done right. Of course, even if I did, it’s a little late now, LOL…

Luckily tomorrow’s weather looks promising so we should be outside for most of the party. It’s just relatives, so it’s not really a big deal, but I’d love to have it done! At least after tomorrow I have a couple months before we need to entertain a big group of people again. Maybe I’ll get the carpet cleaned for next time!

How A Pot of Beef Barley Soup Brought Me To Tears

Birthdays make me emotional. But right now it’s not (just) because my kids are getting older. It’s because of the people who aren’t still here to celebrate with us. 

Yesterday I decided to make beef barley soup. I’d had it a few weeks ago at a local diner and I’ve been craving it ever since. So I threw together some stew beef, carrots, onions, celery and simmered it with beef broth. Then I added corn, peas, and I decided to throw in some leftover string beans I had in the freezer. A can of of tomatoes. Some sauce. Oh, what the heck, some more frozen corn and peas. And, of course, the barley.

I blame the barley. I don’t recall my Babci ever making beef barley soup, but she quite often used barely in her homemade chicken soup. As well as whatever was leftover in the fridge for vegetables. Something about that pot simmering on the stove… the smells just made me remember her tiny little kitchen in Western Mass. We lived next door to her for many years and after school, in between finishing my homework and playing outside with my brother I would stop in and chat, see what she was making for dinner.

It seemed, and I think my brother will attest to this, that there was always some sort of soup. At least a little cup to go with whatever else they were having. “They” being my Babci and my (Great) Uncle Frank. I can still see the table. Her little plastic placemats (that I always hated). Her dessert cups with fruit and Jell-O, topped with Cool Whip. Her gas stove (for which she had a special gas tank — there were no gas lines to the house, at least not in the 1980s.) I remembered the green wallpaper. The light above the kitchen table. The chipped soup bowls. The black kitchen chairs (and then I glanced at my own black dining room chairs).

So I thought of all this and suddenly I was bawling, uncontrollably, in my kitchen. I quickly retreated to the bathroom and had a good cry before anyone would ever notice.

Is this normal? Does this happen to anyone else? It’s been 13 years since my uncle passed away, and will be four years this fall since my grandmother passed away. Maybe it’s because we’re having Laura’s birthday party this weekend. Maybe there’s no real reason at all.

And truthfully, I’m not sure what the point is, writing this and publishing it here on my blog. I just think it’s interesting — this connection to food and memory and family. And how it takes such a long time to really appreciate it all and connect all those dots. And maybe that’s why I love cooking. Because it makes me feel close to those who aren’t immediately here with us.

Or maybe I’m just crazy. Which is also entirely possible, LOL!



June starts with a couple of big celebrations: our wedding anniversary and Laura’s birthday. This year we kept our anniversary very low-key because it’s such a busy time in general. We celebrated our 12th anniversary and Drew gave me this beautiful necklace (the pearls are strung on silk threads — he loves finding something that follows the traditional gift guide). Isn’t it lovely?


We ordered Chinese food for dinner and he was zonked out by 8:30 because the night before he and the rest of our Cub Scout pack had been on a trip to Battleship Cove. They all slept on the ship, in bunks four-deep! Although it was tiring, the trip was fantastic. Drew, the boys, and my Dad (who also went) learned so much about WWII naval history and made some great memories together.

The night before the trip, however, Drew was running the projector at an outdoor movie at the kids’ school and didn’t get home until nearly midnight! They had to leave at 7:30, so needless to say, he was beat.

Then Monday rolled around and it was my sassy lady’s 4th birthday! As usual, we had the birthday kid’s breakfast place setting decorated and the presents out.


Buying gifts for a 4-year-old is great! The simplest things made her day: a new Barbie, some Play-Dough, new watercolors, a Hello Kitty headband, and some play jewelry.


After lunch we had to get some groceries, but our first stop was Toys R Us so she could pick something out with her $3 birthday coupon. All she wanted was “kitchen stuff” — she beelined straight toward the toy kitchens and picked a basket with lots of play food in it. She wanted to make dinner for her stuffed animals, she said. Too cute!

Of course, the birthday girl got to choose dinner, which was pizza. There were cupcakes for dessert, too!


I think she had a great day. So hard to believe that four years have gone by and she will be going to pre-school in September.

We’re having a party for her on Sunday and I’m just praying that the weather holds out. Right now it looks to be perfect, so my fingers are crossed that we’ll have a nice day for her!