Melissa is the Oregon-based mom of four and cook behind the all-American recipe blog Lulu the Baker, where she shares her favorite family-friendly recipes, weekly menus… and fun projects around their home and small farm.
Today Melissa shares a bit of her farm-life and two light recipes just in time for spring!
Our farm was meant to be…
it waited for us for many years. We first saw it on a late-summer evening drive, and four years later we bought it. I love to sit at the kitchen table after the kids have gone to school, eat breakfast and enjoy the view (and the quiet).
We have a big garden and grow lots of food during the summer months–corn, tomatoes, zucchini, berries, apples, cherries. I try to have our meals revolve around what we’ve just picked. We usually make a simple entree and then pile on the fresh-picked garden produce. And I make cobblers, jams and cakes as a yummy way to use up all of the leftover fruit each summer.
Family farm chores
My kids feed the chickens and the bunnies, and collect eggs. They also love to help out in the garden, digging in the dirt. And they help plan our dinner menu every week and participate in cooking the dinners they choose.
A busy spring
Once the rain dries up and the sun starts to peek out again, there are endless projects to do in the yard. We are talking to our neighbor about buying his barn and leasing a pasture so that we can start raising sheep. We’re thinking of putting up a greenhouse between the orchard and the garden. We’re getting ready to sow spring seeds like radishes and peas and strawberries.
Down-home American cooking
A lot of what I make is classic, American cooking: chicken pot pie, homemade cream of tomato soup, tall chocolate cakes, etc. My favorite food is Tex-Mex, so I make a lot of tacos and enchiladas. Lately, though, I’ve become intrigued with learning to make Indian food.
Check out our weekly meal planning!
Our kids help plan and cook our dinner menu every week. I just started a new series on my blog where I post our weekly menu. I know lots of people are looking for inspiration for easy weeknight meals for their families, so I hope these posts will provide great ideas.
Melissa’s Fast and Fresh Spring Lunch
This is a great recipe for brunches, bridal or baby showers, Mother’s Day dinners, or whatever spring parties you might have coming up.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped onion or shallot
1/8 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon paprika
1 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
sugar snap peas, optional
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Chill until ready to serve. Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups dressing.
To make the candied almonds, combine slivered almonds and sugar in a small skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar is melted and almonds are coated. Cool completely, then
break into small chunks (and try really hard not to eat them all before you even get to the salad).
To assemble the salad, put baby spinach in a bowl, and top with candied almonds, sliced strawberries, diced avocado, and sugar snap peas (if using). Pour dressing over salad, toss, and serve immediately.
I’ve always loved strawberry shortcake – make it with lightly sweetened biscuits, yellow cake, angel food cake–I love them all. But, I always feel like I need more sauce. Not necessarily more strawberries, just more sauce. So I had the idea to add crème anglaise to my strawberry shortcake, in addition to the strawberries, cake, and whipped cream. And I have to say, it is divine!
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
pound cake, angel food cake, or shortcake (your choice!)
lightly sweetened whipped cream
To make the crème anglaise, begin by splitting the vanilla bean down the middle; scrape out the seeds using the tip of a paring knife. Combine the vanilla bean seeds with the half-and-half in a medium saucepan, and bring just to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar. While whisking constantly, pour the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and continue heating, stirring constantly, until thickened and 175°F. Pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce. Refrigerate until cold.
Slice the fresh strawberries, sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and let sit for about 15 minutes. To assemble the shortcakes, slice the cake, top it with sweetened strawberries, crème anglaise, and whipped cream. Simple and delicious!