the bookshelf

I love reading–always have.  I was one of those kids who regularly read a Baby-Sitters Club (the classic 90’s series which of course began with the fabulous Kristy’s Great Idea) book in a day, and am still a person for whom a book and a blanket with some tea makes a pretty nice evening.  Along those lines, some girlfriends and I had chatted about the idea of a book club off and on for a while now.  We thought it would be a fun way to both read some new things and get together on a regular basis.

Well, we finally did it!  We’ve got nine wonderful, smart, and interesting women in our group and we all picked books to add to the collective “bookshelf” from which we’ll choose our book each month.  The hostess gets to choose the book that will be discussed at her house, and what’s even more fun about it is that we must pick one that was added by someone else.

Personally, I’m excited to read some new things.  One of the reasons I looked forward to doing this was because it would force me to choose and read books that I wouldn’t normally pick out for myself.  It’ll be nice to have the inspiration and motivation to try something new, or to persevere through something if it might not be my cup of tea.  Plus, it will be great to discuss things together, as a group of young professional women who have diverse interests and ideas.

Our first book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  It takes place in Nazi Germany in 1939, and is about a young girl who steals books, learns to read, and shares her books with her neighbors and a Jewish man hidden in her basement during the War.  It sounds fascinating, and is supposedly great, but it’s one I may not have heard of on my own.  We’ll see how it goes!

Off to read… cheers to a fun new adventure.

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chicken dumpling soup

I think Fall may have officially arrived! (See? I said I’d embrace it eventually.)  When we had that first officially brisk day, I could only think of one thing: soup. Nothing better in cool weather.  As if by magic, I caught a rerun of one my most favorite little cooking shows, and on it was this chicken dumpling soup.  As an aside, that show is Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen on BBC (Cooking Channel shows it here in the US, too)–it’s fabulous, she’s fabulous, and I think the whole thing is just charming and great.  The food is simple and yummy, and I want her cookbook quite badly.  Pretty much, I want to be her.

Anyway, girl crush aside: this soup.  It’s super basic, but what makes it really yummy are the dumplings.  I’d never made anything quite like them before.  (Actually, I don’t really think I’d ever put chicken breasts into a blender before…) But, they come together quickly and are so light and delicious.  Plus they make the soup kind of special!  And they’re easy to do ahead of time–I made the dumplings the night before so I could just put together the rest of the soup easily the next evening after work.  This is a slight variation on the original recipe–she also adds mushrooms so feel free if you’re a fan.

Step 1 IMG_2850

Starts with a mirepoix–chopped celery, carrots, and onion, sautéing in a bit of olive oil and butter

Step 2

The dumplings–they might look a bit strange at first but they’re delicious

Chicken broth and the dumplings are added to the sautéed veggies

Chicken broth and the dumplings are added to the sautéed veggies

Step 4 IMG_2866

Served with chopped parsley or cilantro

And eaten on the porch with white wine

And eaten in the cool outside air with white wine

And perhaps the evening will turn into a lovely one with candles, wine, and a long talk on the porch

And perhaps the evening will turn into a lovely one with candles, wine, and a long talk on the porch

chicken dumpling soup (boillon de poulet avec des quenelles de volailles)

dumplings (quenelles)

  • 8oz chicken breast
  • 4-5 slice of white bread, crusts removed and torn
  • 6 1/2 T heavy cream
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg

Place all the above ingredients into a food processor or blender.  Blend until they form a paste.  Shape the dumplings into a medium-sized, football-like shape using two spoons.  This video (also above) shows the easiest way to do this, but you basically just enough to fit in the spoon, and then pass the mixture back and forth between the two spoons until you have a dumpling shape that looks like the photo above.  This is the easiest way to shape these, since they are much too sticky to use your hands.

soup

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 6 c chicken stock
  • Parsley or cilantro, chopped (or another herb that sounds good to you)

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat (I used a large cast iron dutch oven).  Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onion, and sauté until the onion begins to soften (5-10min).  Pour the chicken broth into the bot, and bring to a boil.  Gently add the dumplings to the pot, and simmer until they are cooked through (3-5min).  The dumplings will float to the top when they are done, and you can also cut one in half to check it.  If all the dumplings are approximately the same size, they should cook evenly.

Serve with chopped parsley or cilantro on top. Be cozy!

etsy

Exciting news! I finally took the plunge and did something that I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. Buy a little beach house in South Carolina? Nope. Run away to pastry school in Napa? Nope. Have white wine and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner? Possibly, but not what I’m getting at.

I opened an Etsy shop! I’ve been doing photography for years, and have recently been getting back in the swing of things. So I figured, now’s the time!

The shop is also called the little éclair, and it’s here on Etsy. The shop is small for now, but I’m hoping to continue working and adding to it now that it’s officially up and running! I’ll have photographic prints for sale there, like the ones here and this one:

Canoes on Golden Beach

Canoes on Golden Beach

I’ll keep things updated on the Etsy page of this site, and let me know if there’s anything you’d be interested in seeing there!

Exciting stuff 🙂 Happy (almost) weekend!

summer fruit, yogurt, and granola

Happy weekend!

This isn’t as much of a recipe as just a celebration of summer fruit. A yogurt parfait is the perfect way to highlight that deliciousness, particularly I think, if the yogurt is fruity, too. For these, we used peaches and strawberries–I could smell them just by walking by the farmer’s market stands and they tasted as good as they smelled.

Step 1 IMG_2441

Here in the Indy area, we have a great place to get local dairy: Traders Point Creamery. It’s a family owned, organic dairy farm and their products are sold in a lot of local markets around town. Their yogurts are particularly good–they’re the type that are quite liquidy, almost the consistency of very thick cream, which makes them great for pouring over things like fruit or cereal. (They also freeze really well into popsicles.) Traders Point describes the yogurts as European-style and drinkable–whatever they are, they’re yummy! We used raspberry for these, but my other favorite is the banana mango.

Step 2 IMG_2448

Topped with some extra crunchy granola, these make the perfect light weekend breakfast. I like the warm flavor of vanilla with fruit, so we used french vanilla almond granola from The Fresh Market for these. And I put them in my favorite glasses from Crate & Barrel (“happy” morning!).

Step 3 IMG_2454