This weekend my son Alexander and I took on a baking adventure. Both of our boys enjoy spending time cooking things, and it has been fun to see their different personalities come out in the kitchen. Alexander is my boy who will pull out all the things and make the best sandwiches. He takes sandwiches way beyond a simple PB&J. He will take the time to create layers of meats, cheeses, thinly sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and who knows what else! He also makes fantastic omelettes because he doesn't skimp on the fillings. So it didn't surprise me when he told me a few months back that he wanted to attempt to bake macaroons.
I told him we could give it a go sometime when we had a free Saturday. This past Memorial Day weekend, our family had a bit of a stay-cation, so it was the perfect time for Alexander and I to try to bake macaroons. We followed the recipe in Jane Brocket's book, Vintage Cakes.
I played the role of assistant, and let Alexander do all of the work. I simply read the recipe aloud, handed him ingredients and gave a few pointers here and there. The steps to the recipe where pretty simple to follow. The only change we decided we would make, if we were to bake these again, would be in the choice of almonds. The recipe called for finely ground almonds. I picked up a bag of Bob's Red Mill Natural Almond Flour to use for the cookies. I think I should have purchased almond flour that had been made from skinned almonds. The cookies ended up having little brown flecks in them. While the flecks may have caused the cookies to not quite give us the look we were going for, they did not keep the cookies from tasting delicious!
Alexander chose to keep these pretty simple. He tinted the batter with purple food coloring and filled the cookies with a vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting. Next time he wants us to have lemon curd on hand to fill the cookies with. I think that would be the perfect summer cookie!
The second adventure of our weekend was a trip to an area where we had not ever really explored. We drove about an hour and a half northeast of our home to a section of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Gifford Pinchot National Forest is home to Mt St Helens and Mount Adams as well as a million other beautiful spots. The idea behind our day was to have more of a road trip to explore the area. We wanted to stop at a couple spots but knew we would not have time for a full blown hike.
We did discover this quiet little trail just northwest of the town of Trout Lake called Langfield Falls. The elevation was high enough that there were still patches of snow on the ground. I also found some beautiful trillium still in bloom. Down closer to home, the trillium is well past it's bloom time.
You can hear the falls from the trailhead...that's how short of a 'hike' this is. I don't think you can really classify this as a hike. But, it is beautiful, it allowed us to stretch our legs, and we saw a few other trails along the way that we will want to come back to and hike some day. Finding little falls like this always make me wonder how many waterfalls are in our state. There are dozens upon dozens just in the Columbia Gorge.
On our way back from the falls, we stopped in a little market in Trout Lake to pick up something to drink. Alexander spied this sweet kitty asleep on a shelf. It looked like he was keeping the bananas company.
We took a different route home and headed through the Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We had never heard of this area and thought it would be worth exploring. We drove through beautiful farmland and traveled along gravel forest service roads to get there. While we did not see the elk, sandhill cranes, or other wildlife that migrate through this area, it was a gorgeous drive on a beautiful spring day.
All in all, I think our family had a great stay-cation of a weekend. We puttered around the garden, nibbled on homemade macaroons and explored new areas. We spent the whole weekend together, just the four of us. It made me look forward to our family trip later this summer!
I hope you had a fun weekend as well building memories and taking on some adventures of your own!