Samuel is a Model

Samuel is a Model, originally uploaded by sarahhopeh.

My nephew might just be the cutest little monster to ever roam the planet.

When I took the photo above I had just taken my camera out of its box and was following him around like a paparazzi. I had no clue what buttons were what. I couldn’t even keep the flash from popping up every five seconds.

And then, I had a moment of sick. You know, when you think “Oh no! Did I just waste money on something I’m not cut out to do!?”

Fast forward 2 hours.

This photo comes up on my computer screen in Photoshop. It’s not perfect, but I wouldn’t trade catching this moment for anything.

That wild, steady stare and the arms thrown back behind his head almost in exasperation.

Capturing the essence of a not-quite-two-year-old: priceless.

Be brave my friends, you never know what the lens might capture.

Eat well and love much my homies,



Spiced Pear Preserves

Spiced Pear Preserves, originally uploaded by sarahhopeh.

I have this passion. I absolutely love canning things. I only really started about a year and a half ago, but what started as a cheap Christmas present idea has completely taken me by storm.

It is so addicting!

You spend this time stirring and tasting and adding little bits of this and that. Then when you’re done, you get to enjoy the results over the next year! Peaches in December, pears in March…the glorious fruits of…using your fruits!

James has taken to calling me the fruit bandit.

My favorite way to preserve things is by getting the fruit for free! Now you may be asking yourself “how in the name of Pete does this girl get free fruit?!”

You see, Texas actually has tons of fruit that grow wild including: Prickly Pear fruit, Mustang Grapes, Pears, Peaches, Apricots, Apples, and even Blackberries! The trick is, you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled for them everywhere you go.

Thusly, I am the fruit bandit. Bandit-ing fruit where ever I find it.

Today I would like to share a shell recipe for preserves that requires about as little hands-on time as any canning recipe out there. This is a good thing folks, trust me.

Embrace the slow-cooker my friends, embrace it.

Spiced Pear Preserves


5 Quarts Peeled, Cored, and Thinly Sliced Pears
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Lime or Lemon Juice
2-3 Teaspoons Spices


Using a slow cooker liner if you’ve got one, add all the ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker. Stir to incorporate. Turn the slow cooker on high and place the lid on half way.

Forget about the preserves for 8-10 hours.

Come back and stir the now, caramelized, reduced, and delicious preserves you effortlessly made. Taste and add any other desired spices. Ladle preserves into jars and hot water bath process for 15 minutes.

Eat well and love much,


PS- for those of you who don’t can, check out the resources from fellow blogger Food In Jars

PPS- Use what ever combo of spices suits your fancy! I use allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.


Reality, originally uploaded by sarahhopeh.

I haven’t felt like cooking much lately.
When some people grieve, they don’t eat. Me, I don’t cook. The heart just feels too raw.

I’ve been editing and perusing the photos J and I took at my grandfather’s funeral last week. As you can imagine, the task is difficult. One of Grandad’s sons is a missionary in Nairobi and was not able to come to the funeral so what we caught on film is all he will be able to absorb of the experience.

Talk about pressure.

While I was clicking through miscellaneous blurry and otherwise useless photos, I came upon a set of this precious creature.

My cousin’s adorable son.

The reality is, though I grieve…
the joy of life was right next to us the whole time.

Thank you Lord for the children.

Eat well and love much,


Del Norte Tacos

Time for a change of pace folks. Typically I post recipes (when I post typically), but today I must tell you guys about a place you are required to make a road trip to visit. Consider it homework if you will.

I ventured down south to visit family and see my Grandad for what would end up being the last time. On Saturday my brother and I escaped for about an hour to celebrate our birthday’s which are a mere 8 days apart in August. My brother decided to drive us to a new taco stand about 15 minutes away in Godley, TX.

Little did I know how life changing a $2 taco could be.

Wood-fired meats, fresh salsas, and homemade pillowy corn totillias. You can’t imagine how good this is.

Next time you head down to the little town of Cleburne or Burleson, make a side trip to Del Norte Tacos in Godley. You’ll never look at Taco Bell the same way.

101 E Hwy 171
Godley, TX 76044
(817) 389-2451

Eat well and love much,


Back Living

Well world, I am officially back from the dead. Not in a zombie sort of way, but in the I-don’t-have-any-more-school way. No more late night papers, projects, and that irrepressible feeling of knowing there is always something I should be doing that I am not doing. I do apologize to all two of you who have been reading the non-updates during my summer-school hiatus. Breaks, like school, are a necessary evil.

Today, I happily debut my new baby. Well, not an actual baby, but she’s close enough. Thanks to all my lovely family and friends, I was able to purchase my first DSLR for graduation. I decided to plan a little bit a head and not get the cheapest option, but instead I ultimately decided on the Nikon D90 after much anticipation and deliberation.

Now let me be the first to admit that I am more than a newbie with DSLR photography. I have read, and read, and read, but nothing teaches how much you don’t know like actually practicing the thing you thought you knew.

Did that even make sense?

Anways, so I can’t wait to share with you guys during this learning time for me as I get acquainted with taking “good” photos of people, places, things, and FOOD!

My first model is, of course, the cutest nephew in the whole world.

He likes to moonlight as a shaggy-haired male model. 😀

For my first new-camera recipe, I thought it best to keep it simple.

Summer is still in full swing here in North Texas, which means refreshment is always on order.

This drink delivers just that.

Strawberry Soda

1 Cup Strawberries, hulled

1/2 Cup Simple Syrup (1 cup sugar simmered in 2 cups water until all sugar is dissolved)

2 Tablespoons Lime Juice

1 Cup Soda Water

Add strawberries, syrup and lime juice to a blender and blend until there are no more chunks. Pour mixture into a glass, top with soda water and then stir.

Enjoy and feel refreshed!

I’m a little short on time this week as the summer semester has begun but I have the promised recipe! When I return with longer posts I’ll know infinitely more about wines, liqueurs, and beers. I can’t wait to share some of the fun with all of you! In a way less school-is-boring way that is :D. Well here it is boys and girls!

Rosemary Ginger Shortbread

Serves: at least 12, this is uber rich stuff!

1 lb (2 cups) Butter, softened

1 3/4 cups Sugar

4 cups Flour

1 tsp Kosher Salt

2 large Eggs, beaten

1 cup Crystallized Ginger, chopped

3 tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped (may use 2-3 tsp dried rosemary for a milder flavor)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  In another bowl sift together flour and salt to add some air. Add this mixture to the butter and sugar and mix just until combined. As always, do not over-mix. Add approximately 3/4 of the beaten eggs and reserve the remaining 1/4 for a glaze. Add the chopped ginger and rosemary and mix until well incorporated.

Spread the mixture into a 9″x13″ pan. No need to grease it; it has plenty of butter already in there! Mix that 1/4 egg mixture with 1 tablespoon of water until a pale yellow color. Brush this over the shortbread batter.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 to 45 minutes, until glaze is a light golden color and a toothpick comes out clean. Cut into 2″ bars when cool!

You might think 2″ is really tiny when you look at it, but these babies are like tasty flavor powerhouses!

Give ’em a try today!

Eat well and love much,

The shortbread girl

ps- I hope you see one of these at least once in your life!

Kefir Jam Muffins

When I first made these muffins I was really feeling rather…uninspired. The days have been long and rather dull for me as I gear up for my last two months of school. Boredom kills my motivation and inspiration unlike anything else.

I needed a simple breakfast recipe that could be made well in advance and only used ingredients I had on hand. I searched online and in my cookbook/magazine stash for nearly 2 hours before finally settling on a recipe for “Morning Magic Muffins” by Arlene Stolley. The recipe looked very simple and I had everything on the list of ingredients except for one thing: buttermilk. Usually I would have done the teaspoon of vinegar in your milk alternative but I’ve been experimenting with something called Kefir and decided to give this probiotic-heavy option a try.

This is an easy recipe for an on the go breakfast and the results are fantastic, fluffy muffins!

Grab from the pantry and fridge: flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, kefir (or buttermilk), canola oil, applesauce, an egg and your favorite jam (mine is some home made blackberry jam).

Mix all your liquids in a bowl (except for the jam).

And mix all your dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer until there aren’t any more clumps of brown sugar.

Make sure you’ve got your muffin liners ready to go right about now.

Then mix the dry and wet ingredients together just until the batter comes together.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin liner or until 2/3 full. If making jam muffins, place 1 teaspoon of favorite jam in the center of each muffin and lightly press it into the batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Oh yum. The crumb on these guys is fantastically moist! Whip up a batch today!

Kefir Jam Muffins

Slightly adapted from Cooking Bouquet by Arlene Stolley

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup packed Light Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 cup Kefir (or buttermilk)

1/3 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil

1/3 cup Applesauce

1 large Egg

Jam or Jelly


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In bowl of stand mixer mix all dry ingredients until there are no more clumps of brown sugar. In separate bowl, mix kefir, oil, applesauce and egg. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and mix just until the batter comes together.

Using 1/4 measuring cup or ice cream scoop fill muffin cups 2/3 full. If making jam muffins add 1 teaspoon of jam to each muffin and lightly press into the center of each muffin cup.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are set and golden on top.

Notes from the book: Arlene notes that you can refrigerate the mixed batter in a container for up to one week if you need to make these very well in advance. Additionally, the recipe for this muffin is easily adapted for many other variations such as blueberry, banana, cinnamon-sugar, or any other variation you can think of!

Eat well and love much,

The Muffin Woman