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J U L Y

June has just flown by so far.  The weather here is so on and off, one day it’s beautiful, hot and sunny (right now) and the next it’s grey, stormy, and windy.  I’ve been caught in the rain and been soaked through a few times.  I’m trying to be better about packing an umbrella.  

We’ve been having a lot of fun in the kitchen lately.  We made ice cream and it turned out perfectly.  I really recommend buying an ice cream maker.  It cost about $40 and the ice cream is infinitely better than store-bought.  Making ice cream is pretty simple and the ingredients are ubiquitous (milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and then flavorings).  I’m working on a batch of mint chocolate chip right now.  Rob is working on making his own starter, which is a fun experiment.  I can’t wait to try it in pizza dough, pancakes, bread, etc.  We are hoping to develop some good dairy-free ice cream, too.  I would love suggestions if anyone has any wisdom here. 

T H E   E D I T

A few things I’m interested in for summer: 

I know it seems weird to wear long sleeves in summer, but as someone who sunburns in just a few minutes, it is totally necessary.  I bought this shirt from Everlane and really liked it but returned it because it was a little too short (why is everything still a crop top?) But I think I’m going to buy it again because the fabric was so comfortable and I love the color.  Another summer staple?  Birkenstocks.  I like the Madrid sandal because I think the single strap is slightly more feminine than the double strap version.  

I am always looking for new sun screen products and this Salt & Stone line caught my eye.  I like that it is natural because a lot of sunscreen brands aren’t very clean.  I am a sunscreen everyday, all-year long kind of person, but I am particularly cautious in the summer.  I’m tempted to order this bundle and try all three of these products.  

One of the biggest bummers about living in an apartment is not having a way to grill during the summer.  This little guy from Everdure looks like a great option to take to a park.  Plus, I think it is really cute. 

Long sleeve shirt, Birkenstock Sandals, Natural Sunscreen, Portable Grill

B O O K   C L U B 

Dorothy Parker’s Complete Stories 
I love Dorothy Parker’s snarky, somewhat cynical wit.  She is so clever and cool.  I recently heard an episode of The New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast where Andrew Sean Greer read one of her stories and it made me realize how much I love her writing.  I decided to re-visit her by picking up a collection of short stories.  

Calypso - David Sedaris 
If I could only read one author for the rest of my life, it might be David Sedaris.  Calypso focuses on misadventures from his beach house.  It feels like an appropriate pick for summer.  

 

F I E L D   T R I P

Third Wave Coffee Shops in Pittsburgh
 

My favorite little pick me up is a well-crafted cup of coffee.  I know, the caffeine is literally a stimulant, so that’s why it always makes me perky and productive, but I really appreciate the care that goes into the coffee.  I like that more and more we know where beans come from, the roast date, the flavor profile, the terroir— it is a real craft.  I’m a total sucker for a cappuccino with a little leaf in the foam.  Third wave coffee shops also tend to pay attention to all the details - the thoughtful interior design, the cups, the snacks - everything, not just the coffee, is elevated.  I’m happy to spend $5 and tip 20 percent on the experience and quality.  

Since moving to Pittsburgh I have come to love all the options for craft coffee.  We are really spoiled with gorgeous, thoughtful, independent cafés all over the city.  I love venturing across town to try them all.  This is not an exhaustive list, just some of my favorites, in no particular order.  

 

Commonplace Coffee House - Squirrel Hill 
This is my neighborhood coffee shop, I love to bop in for an after dinner espresso, tack it on a trip to the library, etc.  Squirrel Hill is far from their only location, Commonplace Coffee Houses are dotted all over the city, and their roast is sold throughout southwest pa.  I love that the serve a little cookie with an espresso, because that is really common in France it feels extra special to me.  



Constellation - Bloomfield / Lawrenceville cusp 
I love this minimalist cafe.  The interior features huge windows that let light from Penn Avenue pour in.  The tin ceilings are my favorite detail.  It is a great place to study or read because it feels kind of homey.  The menu is not exhaustive, but everything I’ve ordered has been really excellent.  



Espresso a Mano - Lawrenceville 
Great espresso and atmosphere.  I like Espresso a Mano because isn’t trying too hard to have Instagrammable vibe (even though I’ll admin I always fall for that!).  Every time I’ve been here all the tables are full, so I that they have like a counter to just stand at and shoot back an espresso. 



4121 Main - Bloomfield 
This place has the most gorgeous feel to it.  Plants everywhere !  Artisan chocolate / goods!  Dreamy music ! (Deerhunter’s Desire Lines was playing when I walked in, It instantly put a smile only face to hear an almost decade-old song that I love).  I wouldn’t expect to find 4121 Main where it is, because frankly it is kind of on a dumpy street.  It mixes parts of old world glamour, shabby-chic, minimalist and wabi sabi.  That doesn’t make it sound cohesive, but it is.  


 

The Bureau - East Liberty 
The Bureau is an outpost  of one of my favorite Pittsburgh restaurants, The Vandal.  It is  located within Schoolhouse, one of my favorite stores in Pittsburgh.  I always seem to order cold brew at The Bureau, probably because I got it the first time I went and it was so good I keep ordering it.  


 

Arriviste - Shadyside 
Arriviste takes a very technical approach to brewing. Everything is precise, measured, made to order - and thus takes time.  Expect to wait for it.  The cafe has a midcentury-inspired interior, with a friendly / collaborative atmosphere.  I think it is nice that people share tables. 

I N   T H E   K I T C H E N


Pantry Clean Out Granola 


 

A few weeks ago I decided to repurpose some of my oatmeal / oatmeal toppings into granola.  I almost always have oatmeal, dried fruit, and a variety of nuts in the pantry.  Because it has been so hot out, a bowl of oatmeal isn’t really that appealing.  But granola?  Absolutely.  I love it as a snack because it’s so filling and packed with nutrients.  I also like that once you have a basic formula down you can customize it and make it with anything on hand.  It’s also vegan, if that is important to you.  

The basic formula is oats, nuts and/or seeds, shredded coconut (but you could leave this out!), a binder made of olive oil and maple syrup, some kind of seasoning, and dried fruit.  It then gets baked at a low temperature, cooled, and then broken up into pieces.  I love that this recipe is kind of basic because I always have this stuff on hand.  I always rule out granola recipes with weird binders like brown rice syrup because I don’t like buying speciality ingredients that are kind of uni-taskers.  I also avoid granola recipes that are overly sweet.  This one really isn’t!  The only sugar is natural - from the maple syrup and dried fruit (and honestly that may have added sugar — so if this is a concern, read the label before buying).  It could even go savory by changing out the spices. 

I like my granola to be full of little clusters, and I finally realized that the way to achieve this is to really pack it into the sheet pan and not spread it out at all, and then avoid stirring it until it is completely cooled.  

I have adapted my recipe from one from Carla Lalli Music’s.  It is so good that I’ve been making it at least once a week and eating it dry, as cereal, or as a yogurt topping.  I’ve adapted the recipe by cutting it in half (because it’s just a more manageable amount and I’m really just making this for Rob and myself) and adding ground flax seeds.  I like this addition because I found that it helps bind the granola.


Recipe 

Ingredients 

1.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup of seeds and nuts 
1/2 cup shredded coconut 
2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds  (almond flour would work, too)
1/4 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup maple syrup 
1 tsp sea salt 
3/4 tsp cardamom or cinnamon 
3/4 cup dried fruit 


Method

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Start by mixing together the oats, nuts, coconut, flax seed, salt and cardamom.  Don’t mix in the fruit yet.  It is going to get mixed in after it comes out of the oven.  I made this mistake the first time I made this granola and had to painstakingly rake golden raisons out of my mixture.  They look sooooo similar to walnuts.  Don’t do this to yourself.  Add the olive oil and maple syrup and stir until everything is well-coated. 

Pack the mixture into a sheet tray, only use about half the pan, don’t spread it out.  Pull the granola out of the oven when your kitchen starts to smell like toasted nuts and everything is sort of golden brown - about 25-30 minutes.  The cooking time really depends on your oven.  I would play around with lower/longer cooking.  


Once the granola is out of the oven, sprinkle the dried nuts overtop and press them in.  Do not stir our break up the granola until it is completely cool.  Resist picking out little clusters and snacking on them because it will be like molten hot and really not enjoyable.  


So clustery! 


So far my favorite combos are golden raison / walnut, cashew / cranberry, and pecan / dried blueberry.  I have also just done a mix of everything.  I really like flavoring it with cardamom, but cinnamon would be fine, too.   Let me know if you make this or if you have any interesting flavor ideas! 

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