Love these two gentlemen with all of my heart.
I’ve decided to do something fun this year to celebrate summer. We all know that I love lists, so I decided to create a summer bucket list for our family by hand. Since I love graphic design I usually just complete every project by creating something digital and printing it out, but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I am always so inspired by things that are handmade. Something about someone giving of their time and efforts to make something without the aid of a machine is so beautiful to me. My right brain rejoices in seeing creative self-sufficiency flourishing in such modern times. It’s hopeful to see people opting to use their own hands to create something which couldn’t have otherwise been digitally produced. It makes me feel like the old arts are not lost. It makes me comforted to know that there are still painters, illustrators, sculptors, chefs, and seamstresses. People who work with their hands are often the happiest, I think. I’m certainly no artist, but I definitely find creating things relaxing and a wonderful outlet and I can see how so many people find joy in doing so.
Below is a photo of the list I came up with for us. As we go through the summer and check things off of our list, I will update and post about them. Even if it’s only a picture or two, my goal is to document these fun times with my family so that we can look back on them one day. I intend on enjoying every last drop of summer this year, and I can’t wait to spend it with my loved ones. I hope that you do the same!
Let me start by saying that this is not my recipe, but it is one that we all need in our lives so I decided to share it on here and to do a recipe review of it. My mother-in-law makes a killer lemon blueberry bread that originally clued me into the fact that lemon and blueberry should just get married and stay in love forever. The beautiful combination their flavors make together is just that awesome. With summer quickly approaching and my father-in-law’s garden having over a dozen (possibly two dozen?) blueberry bushes, we are pretty much guaranteed a freezer full of fresh blueberries straight off the bush this year. (And no, that is not something I take for granted.) So I’ve spent the better part of winter in eager anticipation of said blueberries collecting recipes that will allow us to use the berries in different ways all summer long. This is one of those recipes. Make it. Love it. Eat it. Share it. Mourn its absence after the last bite. Repeat the entire process.
It is important to note that I made this for our little Easter shindig and got so busy with preparations that I never glazed it. I am certain that it will be even more magical with the glaze, but let me guarantee you that it was the bomb dot com without it. It’s moist, not to lemon-y, packed with beautiful floating blueberries (still not sure how they stay so gracefully scattered throughout the bread while it bakes), and it looks super fancy without being hard to make. Easy fancy is my favorite, so this recipe will be a regular at our house.
So go grab some lemons and fresh blueberries and pop one of these babies in your oven. You’ll love it. And so will your family. And memories will be made. Warm, sweet, delicious citrusy blueberry memories. And let’s be honest, what more could a gal ask for?
YIELD: 1 large loaf
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 50 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours
A scrumptious, moist, flavorful quick bread with a lemon syrup AND a lemon glaze.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
For the Syrup:
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of flour, the baking powder and the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter and lemon zest until light-colored, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, beating until well mixed before adding the next. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
In a small bowl, gently toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour. Carefully fold the blueberries into the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted near the center of the bread comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Turn the bread out onto the cooling rack.
Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup: in a small saucepan, bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil. Cook until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
While the bread is still warm, jab it all over with s skewer. Brush with the lemon syrup. Let the bread cool completely, about 2-3 hours.
To make the glaze: in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add more juice/sugar to gain desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled bread.
Store bread in the refrigerator.
Recipe from Portuguese Girl Cooks
I’ve said many times before how much I love to have guests in our home. About once a month or so, I get the itch to have people over and we almost always find time to host a little something. This love of entertaining, fellowship, and hospitality comes from the opinion I possess that there is nothing quite like filling our natural need to spend time with good people, while eating good food, and sharing the comings and goings of life together. It’s about more than just hanging out. It’s about fostering community among those around us.
In our world of screens and instant communication, there is something beautiful and worthwhile in choosing to spend our time with others. There is no doubt that it takes effort, but continuous hospitality is a lasting labor of love that brings people together and fortifies positive relationships. To see another person relax, laugh, and let go of their daily routine - even if only for a minute - makes every moment of preparation seem so trivial. So rarely these days do we have the privilege of witnessing others as their natural selves- relaxed, enjoying their time, laughing, crying, speaking genuinely about topics relative to the hearts of others. Friendships stand firm when built on moments like these. It is healthy and important to remember that there is always an opportunity get to know someone better, and I believe these opportunities arise far more often when we invite people into our homes and let them know we care.
You see, this is the path that was laid out for us. This is the model that Jesus gave us for fellowship. We are meant to gather together and do life together. We are meant for sharing life’s burdens with one another in person, not via a virtual community where we send polite messages across space and hope that someone feels their warmth. Although virtual communities can be a wonderful way to keep up with those who we cannot visit regularly, and encouragement in any form is always appropriate and meaningful. Please do not misunderstand. I only mean to say that a physical gathering of people is often so much more impacting.
We are designed to need one another. To celebrate joyful occasions, to sit around and talk about the normal everyday topics, and possibly the most important- to share in one another’s sorrow. How can we successfully relate to one another if we are not being intentional about it? Will our children grow up watching us model the importance of fellowship and helping to build communities? Or will they think back on their childhood and find that we were unapproachable, distant, and focused on other things as a family?
I sometimes fear that we are growing so comfortable using social media in place of personal social interactions that our children will have no one to teach them (or their peers) the importance of social skills. If we are not careful, the next generation is going to be even more self-centered and unaccustomed to the real matters of life than we are. How can our children learn how to face life behind the guise of Facebook, SnapChat, and the now old-fashioned but greatly abused text message? The things people will say and do on social media are things that they would never say and do in front of another person. This is not healthy or right. Giving them (and ourselves, I suppose) the ability to skirt life’s social situations via screen camouflage is not only detrimental to the individual’s own social skills, I fear that it is going to be detrimental to our nation’s future generations. What are our children going to do when faced with a real trial? Financial issues? Health problems? Marital issues? A death in the family? Contrary to what our current social structure is telling us all, there are very few life situations that can actually be resolved through a screen. Almost always, you have to go somewhere to resolve a problem with the help of another person. The bank, the hospital, a counselor, a preacher, a teacher, another family member, etc. I challenge you to think of a single large problem within society that you can resolve completely on your own at home on your phone or computer.
To my knowledge, there aren’t any. And yet we are surrounded by a society that is teaching us all to hide shamelessly behind screens and view life from the comfort of our homes. I am guilty of it. We are all guilty of it. But in my use of the conveniences of today, I refuse to buy into the lie that this new method of communication is better than personal interaction. I refuse to be allow my heart and brain be tricked into accepting that an hour on the internet is time better spent than an hour with family or friends. Sure, I surf the internet on my couch at home. We all need downtime and relaxation. Some days more than others- especially if you are a caregiver. I am not saying that we should all view fellowship as the ultimate form of relation. I know that different temperaments need different things. I am also advocating the complete abandonment of our iPhones and macs. I am advocating balance and warmth. I think all good things are meant to be enjoyed in moderation. No one wants to spend the rest of their life with their iPhone. Can’t we all agree to that? Do our children think otherwise?
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person to which this is important. Fostering community through making intentional choices is such a simple and easy thing to do. So why aren’t we all making more time for it in our lives? The answer is blatantly obvious. Healthy forms of socialization and fellowship aren’t an expectation of us anymore. Fifty years ago, there were still social events that were expectations and norms in our society. Things like neighborhood block parties, Sunday Lunch with family, community service days, family game nights, Fourth of July watermelon eating contests, country fairs, youth group bake sales (seriously, when was the last time you’ve seen one of these?), etc. Nowadays, we have completely opposite scenarios. It is far more common to not even know who our neighbors are than to organize a block party or let them into our homes, Sunday lunch is viewed as the same as any other day and is rarely eaten with family, community service days are motivated by filling out college applications and gaining business tax write-offs, families are lucky to get their children all at home at once and rarely have a familial structure that allows for game nights, the Fourth of July is rarely a wholesome American celebration anymore, country fairs are often viewed as unsafe and dangerous, and youth groups are selling wrapping paper because there are too many allergies and diets to warrant the trouble of a bake sale.
What is happening? Where is the version of America that I know once existed? Is this also how the rest of the world operates?
If anything socially redeeming becomes important to our generation in the next decade, I hope it is this: The return of hospitality and warmth to our social structure. The balance found between technology and relationships. Homes being opened to others on a regular basis. Relationships forming sans screens. And most importantly, that we model these things for our children and include them in the process. We owe it to them. We owe it to our families. To our communities. We owe it to ourselves.