Girl Scout Cookie Season!

Quincy locations to buy Girl Scout Cookies
It’s been Girl Scout Cookie season for a while now. But I haven’t randomly encountered any cookies for sale. This is a problem.

One of the best things about this time of year is eating those delicious cookies! So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands and gotten intentional about finding some. Their website lets you search by location to find upcoming cooking sales.

This is the weekend! Have you had any Girl Scout Cookies yet this year?

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Screenshot: Girl Scout Cookie Search Results

An Artist Date at Italian Cafe Gelato

If you’re a writer, then you’re probably familiar with Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and the idea of Morning Pages. I’m not a morning person. So writing first thing was never something that appealed to me. But the Artist Date. Now that’s something that I can get with. And so I did.

An Artist Date is supposed to become a weekly habit. Weekly may not happen. But I can try. Visiting cafes is one of my favorite things, so it’s definitely an easy way to get that date in. I’ve also ventured out a lot more since the pandemic, so I’m getting used to or maybe creating a new way of being out in the world again. I still wear a mask indoors at many public places. But I’m also eating out now, obviously without a mask. It feels a bit strange, but it also felt a bit strange when I first started wearing a mask. Doing the reverse will take an adjustment period too.

Last week the weather was more like July than April. So one night after work, I decided to take myself out for a gelato at Italian Cafe Gelato here in Quincy. They have so many delicious flavors to choose from. I taste tested a few and settled on the lemon ricotta. It was so good! Sweeter than I expected, and so creamy and cold. Just perfect.

One thing to be aware of if you go. Most places you can get a cover and take your gelato to go. You cannot get a cover to go unless you buy a pint. Rather odd. Oh well.

So I sat inside, and savored my gelato while looking outside the window at the pretty lights in the alley.

It was such a lovely night out, so I took my time heading back to my car and looked around the area. Over the past several years, I’ve noticed so many places going out of business. Noticed trees being cut down. The landscape of cities and towns changes every few decades. The stores that you see and go to everyday probably won’t be around in 25 years. It made me think that I should have taken more pictures of the ordinary 25 years ago.

Since I don’t have the option of time travel at this point, I figured I’d start taking those ordinary pictures now. Future me will be glad that I did.

This Sully’s sign is from a bygone era and probably won’t be around for too long. According to Eater Boston, the bar opened soon after Prohibition ended and closed in June 2018. I love these old signs, so I’ll try and capture them when I can.

A little past the Sully’s sign is Sergeant George Montilio Square. As someone with a huge sweet tooth, I immediately though of George Montilio of Montilio’s Bakery. But it seemed that he would be way too young to have served in World War II. Maybe it was his father?

So after taking this picture, I did some research. George, the famous baker, just recently turned 70, so that definitely was not him. His father started the bakery 76 years ago, but his name was Ernest Montilio. The Square is named after an Army Sergeant who “died of wounds” on April 17, 1945. Well, that’s odd. Just realized that today is April 17th as well!

The Hall of Valor Project website states that Sergeant George Montilio received the Distinguished Service Cross, “[F]or extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company H, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, in France. As a volunteer scout, Corporal Montilio carried out an assault on a footbridge under intense machine gun and small arms fire. Though the bridge was held by a superior number of the enemy, his daring and aggressiveness forced them to withdraw and thereby permitted his unit to organize and hold their objective.”

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When I decided to go out for gelato, I didn’t realize that I was doing an Artist Date until afterwards and I thought about it. This type of practice really does bring about creativity and some learning along the way.

Since George Montilio is not a very common name, I wonder if he was part of the same family. Considering he was from this area, it seems likely that he could have been a relative. Maybe the current George was named after him? I guess it’s family history that he probably knows.

Rest in peace, Sergeant Montilio, and thank you for your service.

Daddy’s Dairy Is a Real Place

 

Daddy's Dairy ice cream

A few weeks ago, I was out and about somewhere and overheard a conversation. Two people were talking about ice cream places and one mentioned that someone told them about a place called Daddy’s Dairy. They didn’t believe it was a real place and said the name sounded fake.

I thought this was hilarious and was cracking up — in my head. Also, I was thinking about how my super extroverted brother who talks to everyone and can strike up a conversation anytime anywhere, would have definitely walked over to them and gotten into the conversation. My introverted self did not.

First, let me tell you that Daddy’s Dairy is a very real and wonderful place. Actually places. Daddy’s Dairy has five locations: Braintree, Brockton, Stoughton, Randolph and Norwood. I’ve visited the Brockton locations several times. I’ve driven by the Braintree location dozens of times, but never went inside.

I love this place! There are so many varieties of ice cream and it’s delicious! I must admit that the first time that I heard of it I thought the name sounded funny too. Maybe that’s why they picked it. Because it’s a name that you won’t forget.

A friend and I did some catching up yesterday and cooling off over some ice creams at their Brockton location. I had a regular Funfetti Cake ice cream in a cup. I forgot that they pile the ice cream high and should have gotten a kiddie size. It was a lot!

But yesterday was a scorcher, so the cool sweetness was appreciated. Summer is here finally and visiting ice cream shops, along with cafes, is on the must do list for the season!

Coffee Breaks & Other Food Thoughts

coffee breaks and confections

Days and events over the past month have me thinking. About food. About family. About friendship. About time. About what is normal life. About coffee breaks and cafes.

Is this now normal life? COVID numbers remain high and the pandemic continues. But government policies and the actions of most people indicate that society has moved on. I still have not worked in an office building in more than two years. Working from home is easier in many ways and cheaper. Impromptu coffee breaks with colleagues are what I miss the most. I also miss randomly stopping by coffee shops alone.

A few weeks ago, I had a chai date with a friend from law school that I hadn’t seen in about twenty years. She returned to India within a few years after we graduated, so there weren’t that many opportunities to connect in person. One of the last times that I saw her, she made me chai from scratch at her house. Of course it was delicious. One of my favorite memories of her is how we would share snacks in class too. Bonding over food and the law.

This time, we were only able to meet for a short period of time, so we had chai at a Starbucks near me. She looked the same, but had cut her hair and I remembered how she has the best laugh. It was also my first time taking my mask off in a Starbucks since before the pandemic.

A few weeks before, I attended a rehearsal dinner and then a wedding the next day. It was the first time in more than two years that I had eaten in a restaurant and attended a truly large gathering — mostly unmasked. The dinner was delicious. The wedding was amazing. I saw family that I hadn’t seen in years. We talked and danced and laughed. My cousin was the groom and he and his wife are perfect together. I’m so happy they found each other. Our family adored her from the first time we met.

I’m fully vaccinated and double boosted. I timed my second booster with the week of the wedding, so I’d have the highest immunity for this very large gathering. It seems to have worked. Now I’m inching toward whatever this new life is. Will we ever be post-pandemic? Maybe not. So this is it. I’m still uneasy about it all. But I guess I’m starting to move on too.

Since cafe visits are no longer tied with where I’m working, I’m attaching my errands with coffee breaks. I had wanted to visit French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham since 2019. I’m not usually in that area, but suddenly I needed to be and had a little time to relax. So I enjoyed a cold brew and an almond croissant sitting outside in the sun. I love this place! The area is adorable and full of other restaurants and shops. It’s not too far from Quincy, so I’ll definitely return.

A few days later, I needed to be in Hopkinton, so I paired the errand with a visit to Muffin House Cafe. They also had outdoor seating where I enjoyed my iced coffee and blueberry muffin. This place was jumping! At a certain point, there was a line of people waiting to get in. It’s definitely a favorite local spot!

What’s next on my food journey? Well, it’s not a cafe, but I learned recently that H Mart will soon be arriving in Quincy. I’m so excited! It’s a Korean grocery store and I’m looking forward to trying some different foods. During the pandemic, I started watching a ton of Korean dramas and following several Korean YouTubers. I’ve learned about many Korean dishes and ways of cooking, so there have been foods and ingredients that I’ve been looking for. Now I should have an easier time finding them.

Have you noticed shifts in your daily life to bring back what you’ve missed from before the pandemic or new things you’re bringing in?

Winter Weekend Baking Recipe: Apple Cranberry Fig Crisp

fruit crisp

We’re deep in the heart of winter — the end of January heading into February. As part of my practice of leaning into each season, I’m contemplating the feeling of winter. This past weekend brought bursts of big puffy snowflakes, rising and falling with the wind. It was very enjoyable watching from the inside, wrapped in a blanket on my couch, cozy sipping a hot drink with thoughts of a fruit crisp.

For me, wanting to bake is a natural result of this cozy winter feeling. Baking for just myself, instead of others, always feels a bit decadent. Over the years, the fruit crisp has started to grow on me. Before, I barely considered it a dessert, but things have changed. This recipe is adapted from the “Cran-Apple Crisps” in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Baking: From My home to Yours.”

The exact circumstances of my particular take on this recipe are mostly on purpose and partly a series of happy accidents. I only had two (way past their prime) apples, so I made half the amount called for in the original recipe. The measurements are estimates. I kept the skin on since it’s quicker and healthier.

I bought almond paste a while ago and had never used it. For some reason, something said just squeeze a whole bunch onto the filling. I didn’t have enough cranberries, so I needed to add another fruit. Raisins were suggested, but something said to use figlets, which are sweeter than raisins. They had been around for a while as well without being used. I added salt and vanilla extract to the filling, because why not? They make everything taste better. I served this crisp warm with whipped cream and it is over the top delicious!

I’m always shocked when people say that they have fruit for dessert – like an orange or strawberries. My mom is one of them. Fruit is not dessert! We will never agree on this. However, this fruit crisp is one mighty fine dessert and maybe breakfast too.

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Apple Cranberry Fig Crisp

(3-4 servings)

INGREDIENTS

Topping:

1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 stick butter (cold, cut into pieces)

Filling:

2 apples (cut into pieces)
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
1/4 cup figlets
1/3 cup sugar
2 T almond paste
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T flour

INSTRUCTIONS

Butter a medium sized baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Put all the topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse for about a minute until the texture is big formed pieces.

Spread the filling in the prepared baking dish. Place the the topping pieces onto the filling. Bake for about 45 minutes. After baking, let sit for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream and enjoy!