Picture Books, Farmers Markets, and a Peach and Blueberry Crumble

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Until I became a parent, picture books were definitely not on my list of interesting reads. I think it’s because as a so-called grown-up, I assumed that books that depended largely on pictures to tell their stories were dull and simplistic, appealing solely to the youngest among us.

And then I had children, and like most of my prior assumptions about being a parent, my assumptions about the appeal of picture books flew right out the window. A picture book, I quickly learned, is a magical combination of words and art that can stir the imagination of any age.

One picture book that I especially loved to read to my daughters was Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew. It features Katie, a little girl of about six, who decides to visit the art museum with her grandmother after rain washes out their plans to spend the day gardening. Upon entering the building, Katie is immediately drawn to the warmth and sunniness of paintings by the artists Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, and Paul Cezanne. In fact, Katie is so captivated by their works that she soon climbs inside several of them. The charm of Katie’s antics as she plays with, and runs from, the characters in the paintings is matched only by the beauty of the book’s illustrations. Its pages glow with the reds, yellows, blues and greens that were so beloved by the artists whose paintings Katie unabashedly explores.

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Raspberry Lemon Bars

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Last week, after spending a fun Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, I felt as if I awoke Tuesday morning from a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber only to discover that I’d missed out on summer altogether. Despite a weekend of 90 degree highs, temperatures for the rest of that week struggled to escape the low 60’s. To make matters worse, the unseasonably cool temperatures were accompanied by overcast skies and, from time to time, a drizzly rain. Either I’d slept through the entirety of the summer season, or Washington DC had gotten stuck in a time loop that was forcing it to redo the cool, wet weather of early spring.

To put it bluntly, it was really cold. My plan to make the season’s inaugural visit to my community pool suffered a severe setback. However, mid-week, as I was running some errands wrapped warmly in a jacket I had retrieved from the back of my closet, it occurred to me that the arrival of this unfortunate weather pattern presented an opportunity. If spring had decided to do an unexpected rewind, then I would do likewise by revisiting a few spring recipes that had piqued my food blogger’s interest but which for one reason or another had fallen by the wayside.

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Cherry Oat Squares

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Are lower sugar desserts the wave of the future? According to an article that appeared yesterday on the Huffington Post, the answer for some prominent pastry chefs is an enthusiastic yes.

And they’re not doing it for health reasons, although that is a terrific benefit. Nope, they’re doing it because they are finding that desserts simply taste better with less sugar.

At this point, you may wondering how this could be possible. Isn’t sugar, in all of its sweet glory, added to foods to make them taste better? And if so, wouldn’t reducing their sugar content make them less appealing?

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Lemon Yogurt Quick Bread

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Sunshine on a plate. That’s what I think of when I make this lemon yogurt quick bread. And, boy, is it ever needed right now as large parts of the northeastern part of the United States are being walloped by a huge winter snow storm.

Fortunately, here in the D.C. area, the snow fall was limited to a few inches, just enough to close some schools but certainly not enough to raise the specter of being trapped in my neighborhood for days. I made the loaf I photographed for this post yesterday, and my kids have been munching on it all morning. They think of it as a type of cake. I think of the whole grains and calcium they’re getting being delivered in a less sugary package. Read More