Forest Floor

Forest floor, pine trees, snow

I’ve heard that wine is sometimes described as having an earthy characteristic called forest floor. I would imagine the wine from this place to have notes of:

  • Fairy dreams
  • Foxes’ schemes
  • The tears of a lost baby bunny
  • A frog’s discarded to-do list
  • Echoes of worms’ screams from robins pulling their breakfast

Little Blue Flowers, Commelina communis

Dayflower, blue, commelina communis

I had photographed these blue flowers last summer. I loved the way they looked like they were missing a petal or two on the bottom. These grew next door to the long row of green beans I was harvesting from a friend’s garden, so I spent plenty of time contemplating the flowers’ structure as I picked bean after bean after bean.

Recently, I saw a post dedicated to these cute little blue beauties on Tropical Flowering Zone. Maria F. gives the scientific name Commelina erecta, or white mouth dayflower or slender dayflower, as well as a full explanation of the flower. I’m so happy that I saw her post. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have found out information about them.

Two dayflowers, blue, commelina communis

But after comparing the flowers in her photo, which are more rounded, I noticed my flower’s petals are elongated. Thanks to Google’s “related” suggestions on their image search, I feel pretty sure that the flowers that I saw are actually Commelina communis, commonly known as the Asiatic dayflower.

Pretty cool to finally have an answer to that question. I’ll always think of green beans when I think of dayflowers.

Happy Easter Flowers

Blue hyacinth

Hyacinths, because my Grandparents always had them at Easter.

Hyacinths and

Their small house was always overpowered by the heavy fragrance of hyacinths.

Blue and purple hyacinth

And now, each year, I make sure that my small place is, too.

Pane yellow daffodils

And daffodils, because they are like little cups of happiness.

Daffodils of many different shades of yellow, orange, white and coral

Get a bunch of them together and oh, how they gossip.

White and

They know how to enjoy life.

Yellow daffodil in afternoon

Cute and bright smiles of sunshine.

Happy Easter!

Caramelized Onion Tart

Caramelized onion tart
This pastry was made with white flour only, so it is lighter in color than the first tart, which was made with half white, half whole-wheat flour.

If you love attractive food photography, you might want to close your eyes, haha.  The photos don’t do it justice, but this Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tart is delicious.

I made this caramelized onion tart twice recently and I would happily eat it again anytime. I combined these two recipes: Rustic Onion Tart from Simply Kitchen and Onion and Mushroom Tart from The Kitchn. I wanted a tart with onion, mushroom, and ricotta, but I loved the folded crust of the first recipe. It is a bit heavy for the galette-style crust, and I can see why The Kitchn’s recipe uses a tart pan to support the mushrooms and ricotta. But it worked out fine for me, and I hope it works out for you, too!

Spread ricotta cheese mixture on the pastry
Spread the cheese on the pastry

Both times I approximated the ingredients. It’s pretty flexible in terms of the amounts of the fillings. The second tart didn’t have as many onions, but still turned out great.

There are 3 parts to the recipe:

  1. Onion filling
  2. Cheese filling
  3. Pastry (a pâte brisée recipe is at the bottom, or use premade pie crust)

Onion Filling
About a pound of onions, sliced
8-12 oz of mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
Salt, pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

Caramelizing the onions takes about 30-40 mins, so don’t heat them too high or too fast. Keep in mind that they will cook for a while. (Simply Recipes has this great tutorial on the process.)

  1. Heat oil and butter in pan, then add onions and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cook on medium until onions are translucent, up to 10 mins.
  3. Then turn heat down and stir occasionally.
  4. After about 20 mins total in the pan, add mushrooms and garlic.
  5. Finish cooking (onions will be in for 30-40 min total).
  6. Add balsamic during the last 5 mins of cooking. (or stir in afterward if you forget)
  7. Take off the heat and sprinkle some thyme.
  8. Let this mixture cool a bit before putting into the pastry.

(When you add the mushrooms, some moisture will escape and loosen up the onions. Purists may say that this disrupts the caramelization process, but I didn’t want to dirty a separate pan to cook the mushrooms and garlic. I think it turned out fine, although it may not be technically correct. You could cook them separately and add them together at the end.)

Spread the onions and mushrooms on the ricotta filling
Add the cooled filling

Cheese Filling
3-4 TB ricotta cheese
3/4 to 1 cup shredded gruyère (or cheese of your choice), reserve 1/4 c for sprinkling on top
Salt and pepper

Mix together and set aside.

Tart Assembly

  1. Put parchment paper on baking sheet
  2. Roll out pastry dough to about 14 inches across
  3. Spread cheese in middle, leaving about 2 inches at edges
  4. Place onions and mushrooms on top
  5. Fold dough over edges of filling in sections, working your way around the tart
  6. Sprinkle additional cheese on top

Baking Instructions

  1. Bake at 450° for 10 min
  2. Turn down to 350° for 20-25 min until golden brown
  3. Let cool slightly before cutting
The pastry is folded over the filling and cheese is sprinkled
Fold the pastry over and sprinkle with gruyère

Pâte Brisée
1 1/4 c flour (I mix all-purpose and whole wheat)
1/2 c butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3-5 TB ice water

Cut butter into flour, salt and sugar until mixture resembles course meal. Try to handle it as little as possible. Add water, one TB at a time until mixture will hold together. Do not add too much water. Flatten into disc and refrigerate at least 30 mins before using. Let sit for 5 mins after removing from fridge and roll out.

Caramelized onion and mushroom tart
The pastry is made with part white, part whole-wheat flour

Happy Belated Pi Day

Turkey pot pie and pumpkin pieYes, Pi Day was Monday, or 3.14. It’s a wonderful excuse to bake pie and it’s good motivation to teach the kids that math is fun. This post is late because I’ve been sick this week.

Carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion in a pan for pot pie filling

But I’ve been sick for a while now. Just feeling like I’m fighting off a cold, it comes and goes. Then I started feeling really bad, realized that I’ve been “fighting it off” for more than a month now, and finally went to the doctor.

Pot pie filling with gravy

He said I have bronchitis, and I left with a prescription for cough syrup and an inhaler. I feel like I’m 12, haha. But I’m happy that he didn’t give me antibiotics because he couldn’t be sure that I needed them.

Pate brisee dough ready to roll out

So here’s the turkey pot pie that I made for dinner on Monday and the pumpkin pie for dessert. All in the name of math education 😉

Flaky pate brisee pie crust
I’m getting better at working with the pâte brisée pastry to make it flaky

This photo below is from last year’s Pi Day, but we used these again to talk about circles.

circles, fractions, geometry for kids

Photo Challenge: One Love

Heart-shaped celery root, celeriac

I know it’s actually two different celeriacs that had grown together, but at first glance I got so excited to think I saw a heart-shaped celery root. Does it really matter though? Let’s embrace the “One Love” concept and agree that they are all beautiful and delicious.

For the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: One Love

Photo Challenge: Harmony

Coffee and a nutella crepe

What’s better together than coffee and a crepe?

Nutella crepe and coffeeeeeee, sit together in perfect harmony,
Side by side on the table let’s try, oh my, so yummyyyyyyy!!!

I’ve had “Ebony and Ivory” playing in my head since seeing the photo challenge on Friday, and I’m not complaining. I like that song, and love Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

And taking a note from the challenge post about the museum’s music that was both chaotic and melodic, I thought about Times Square in the same way. It’s made up of so many people, each trying to get to a different place, all at the same time, yet somehow it works out in its own unique way. One moment a guy is pushing a nuts cart down the middle of 7th Avenue, and the next minute he’s back up on the sidewalk and traffic resumes.

Times square at night

I love the music and energy of Times Square. For some people, like my dear friend, it’s practically cause for a panic attack. I suppose I get energized and inspired with the possibilities found in New York. It is full of surprises and potential. This concept seems to be distilled and exaggerated in Times Square, but I love it anyway in all its loud and neon glory.

Things That Are Wet: Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge

shower head

I’m kind of a procrastinator, so here’s my entry for Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Things That Are Wet. I took this photo before I went to the hardware store so I would know what I needed to replace when I was there. I always kind of liked the composition, though, even though it was a total accident.

Mossy rocks and the creek in the Delaware water gap recreation area

This is from my post on the Delaware Water Gap.

blue crayfish in pet store fish tank

I saw this little creature at the pet store. More fun underwater friends are here in the post Colorful Ocean Creatures.

water fountain on a sunny day

Here’s a fountain, doing a special dance for the sun.

old town canoe at the lake on beach chained to a fence

Here’s an old canoe by the lake.

Pond with water lillies at the arboretum

This is from the rose garden that I visited last summer.