Family Currents

As we begin to trade one season for another, September brings new joys. Today has been long awaited for around here! We talk about it, we plan for it, we check in on the orchard, and finally today we kick-off our cider-making season! Even Grandparents join in on the exciting time of the year when apples are ripe and at the peak of their sweetness. It’s a FirstFruits Farms pure pleasure! So, Happy September to you!

Neighbors’ peach trees are still loaded with fruit, and before the season passes, you’ll have to try these peach muffins. They can be a quick sweet bread too! I have trusted this recipe for years, and never fails. Mix 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup any milk, 1/2 cup oil or melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 cups petite diced peeled peaches. Grease your muffins tins or 9×5 loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. They freeze great in a ziplock bag! Nothing better than a peach muffin with your favorite cup of tea!

This was our first full week back to school, and it went by so fast! I think because the days are more focused and full, not even the children could believe it was Friday! Isabel gets done pretty quickly and Nora only has a little bit of schoolwork that she does with me, so often they and Providence find a “quiet” activity to do.

One of August activity that has become a family tradition and something that we look forward to every summer is the local Scottish Festival called the Highland Games. I’m not sure what we like best, the bagpipe competition, the caber toss, the sheep dog demonstrations, or the Highland dancing competitions We got pet the Highland longhaired cattle for the first time! We thoroughly enjoyed the family outing!

with love, Damaris

Save The Best For Last! – The Labor Day Pie

Is there anything more satisfying than a hearty pie slice topped with a dollop of real whipped cream? I was dreaming of strawberry-rhubarb pie as one last hurrah to summer. This pie is sweet and tart, with a side of bright. Why, it’s perfect for Labor Day!

Weeks before the first strawberry is ripe, the stalks of rhubarb have full leaves and are ready to be cut. Rhubarb grows well here in Michigan since it likes cooler climates and is a hardy, sun-loving perennial. The celery-like red and green stalks have a tangy taste but are very versatile. To harvest, cut the stalk at the base of the plant. Cut the leaves off, and never eat the leaves – they’re poisonous!

I had every intention of latticing the pie because it makes better pictures (wink), but it wasn’t working for me. If this every happens to you, and your crust isn’t cooperating, just crumble it all!

As we’re gearing up to the last weeks of summer, let’s hope a picnic and some pie are in your near future!


  • your favorite pie crust recipe (top and bottom)

  • 3 cups rhubarb, diced

  • 4 cups strawberries, quartered

  • 3/4 cups sugar

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice

  • egg wash (1 beaten egg and a splash of water)

  • sprinkling of sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven at 425 degrees. Mix cornstarch and sugar in a bowl. Combine rhubarb and strawberries. Pour lemon or orange juice over the fruit, then the mixed cornstarch and sugar. Let it rest 10 minutes for juices to run a little. Pour fruit mixture on pie crust and top with another pie crust (vented full crust, lattice, or just go with the temperament of your crust-ha!). Freeze your pie for 30 minutes (if you can). Brush with egg wash, and why not top it off with a little sugar? Bake at 425 for 20 minutes then at 375 for 45 minutes. Allow it to cool at least 4 hours before serving so the juices set. You’ll have a runny mess if you serve it too soon!

with love. Damaris

Family Currents

We wait so long for peaches to be in season here! Usually, we eat fresh peaches sliced with our meals so quickly that I can ever make anything else with them (peach pie with crumb topping- I miss you!). This week, I reserved three large peaches for this cake which we had as Sunday morning’s breakfast with plain yogurt. I didn’t add the cinnamon-sugar over the peach layers and skipped the pecans (I had run out), but it was still so scrumptious!

Baby Samuel wasn’t so happy to stay inside with his crackers, so I brought him with me to the garden. Since I couldn’t pick veggies with one hand, he sat on the grass and was delighted to watch. He watched the ruby gems drop in my palms, and he reached for the ones that fell near him.

The latest with the garden: The cauliflowers are done, only a couple heads of cabbage left. Corn, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and broccoli are still growing happily. The sweet potatoes and the Brussels sprouts will be a fall harvest, and the potatoes need to be dug up today! Kale, my friends. Kale keeps growing and growing and nothing kills it. So we eat it until no one has the courage to dig for it under the snow -because it will still be there! It has been a very sad summer for the squashes and zucchinis. Every year is different!

The days have been quite cool lately, and we have been enjoying the outdoors! Samuel is never very far from the little girls! It makes my heart happy more than it does theirs – ha!

We love to go to the farmer’s market, and I dream of the day we can have our farm goods displayed there too! I imagine the kids bagging baked goods for customers, and the children’s pleasant faces making people feel welcome. Nathan met us there since it is only a short walk from his office. We bought apple fritters, and the kids ate more samples than I thought was polite!

photo credit: Eva

Nathan offered to buy lunch at a tiny place by the market, and we shared a Korean bibimbap (rice bowl with chicken, veggies, and a fried egg on top).

We didn’t want to say good-bye, so everybody agreed we’d walk Daddy back to the office. Such a pleasurable day!

Lastly, we have big news coming your way! It may or may not involve fluffy bottoms. We will share a full post on their arrival and how they are settling in. Look for it this week!

with love, Damaris

Oatmeal Cookies For Breakfast, You Say?

Sunday mornings are pretty harried at our house. The whole family has to be out the door, fed, washed, brushed, and look’n good – no exceptions! Although I don’t want Sunday mornings to be rushed, there is no avoiding it. Even if church clothes have been picked out and ironed, unavoidably, four girls need braids, baby needs nursed, and somehow we can never remember which pair of shoes we wear on Sundays – ugh! Needless to say, this baked oatmeal recipe has saved my Sunday morning sanity!

I enjoy serving a substantial breakfast – something that is filling and also feels special. We prepare it as early as Thursday, keep it covered in the fridge, and bake it while we get ready Sunday morning. I had never heard of baked oatmeal before, but I stumbled upon it while searching for gluten-free breakfast options a few years ago. The recipe description read, “It tastes like an oatmeal cookie,” and I knew we had to try it! After making it a couple of times, I realized that it could easily be assembled a few days before hand – anything that can be assembled in advance has my name written all over it! It’s been eight years since my gluten-free recipe search, and we still absolutely love it! We like to eat it piping hot out of the oven with a little milk poured over it in our bowls. There was never a breakfast so nurturing and wholesome that tasted so good!

It’s hands down THE MOST flexible recipe. One less egg or one more, buttermilk, almond milk or coconut milk, or any kind of sweetener, this baked oatmeal is always beautiful out of the oven! Our all-time family favorite is baked oatmeal with frozen cherries. It’s close runner-up is frozen blueberries (fresh ones don’t last long enough around here, but would work well). We’ve enjoyed it with frozen strawberries or peaches too! Raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans are some add-ons we’ve used again and again.

It’s fabulously gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free (great with maple syrup instead of brown sugar)!! Please tell us how you like it!

photo credit: Alexander


  • 6 eggs

  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter

  • 2 cups milk (any kind)

  • 1 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

  • 6 cups rolled oats

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 to 2 cups of add-ons (frozen fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, chopped nuts)

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until incorporated. Grease a 9×13 pan and spread the mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set in the middle.

with love. Damaris

Special Visitors

Being born and raised in Spain with all of my relatives still there, there are many ocean miles which separate my family! Although this wonderful technology allows us to talk regularly to my parents, my aunt, and my cousins, a visit from my parents is a celebratory occurrence. A couple of weeks ago, my dad and mom spent several days with us. Here are little snippets of happy days:

We celebrated my mom’s birthday simply, but not without enjoying a delicious carrot cake. Carrot cake has been her favorite as long as I can remember. No one can decide if it’s the butter cream frosting or the moist spice cake…or both…that they love the most – I’ll have to share the recipe with you soon!

Nathan and I went to dinner and a stroll through town on his birthday. Yayo and Yaya (my children’s names for my parents) put the kids to bed early so when we came back from our date it would be restful and quiet. Isn’t that so sweet and thoughtful?

The more time I spend with my parents, the more I realize how I sometimes underestimate their deep genuine care for their adult daughter. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I crazy love my children only because they need me so much now – will it always be this strong? I know it won’t fade when they no longer depend on me, though, because I’ve seen it in my parents.

How grateful I am for their commitment to persevere and grow in their marriage! They’re blessed to share 45 years together. Even though they’d acknowledge many mistakes along the way, with that time comes many insights as well, I’m sure.

I love to see Yayo and Yaya’s enjoyment of my children! Although many months go by between visits, everyone’s excitement, and love so obviously abounds when we’re together again. The kids need not a minute to warm up and pick up where they’d left off.

Before my parents left, my Dad encouraged me to take a few minutes daily for myself. “It will help you these days and in the future if you have 15 minutes of quiet and alone time.” His advice has helped me look for moments to light a candle, read a Psalm, add prayer requests to my prayer notebook, or make a new simple scone recipe without little floured helping hands.

Gracias, Yayo and Yaya!

with love. Damaris

…And Bowl Full Of Mush

It is a busy place – this kitchen of ours! Recipes are always doubled or tripled, and leftovers find a new thoroughfare to our table.

With the temperatures rising, our love affair with steaming bowls of oatmeal porridge begins to fade. Now, I find we have more oatmeal leftovers than ever, and that means more need to be creative! I usually just store any leftover oatmeal in a covered glass bowl, which typically isn’t enough for serving to everyone warmed up again. It’s difficult to find a good use for this stuff – even if I resort to guerilla tactics (i.e. hiding and camouflaging)!

This recipe below came to my rescue!

First, when we make our oatmeal “bowl full of mush”, we use two parts water and one part rolled oats. It’s everyone’s favorite when we add maple syrup or brown sugar to the pot as it finishes thickening. If your normal oatmeal recipe is not sweetened, then perhaps the recipe below may need a little more sugar.

photo credit: Alexander

Oatmeal Muffins

These oatmeal muffins are wholesome and satisfying! The crumb is light and smooth, and the oat’s texture is unidentifiable. These golden muffins will be fluffy in less than 15 minutes! I like to make them in the afternoon so we snack on them while they’re warm. If I can successfully fend of the insatiable boys, I save some to pair with dinner. Any extra ones freeze well too!


  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup milk (any kind)

  • 1/8 cup oil or melted butter

  • 1 cup leftover oatmeal

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc)

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees or 350 on convection setting. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until incorporated. Line or grease a muffin pan and spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick in the center comes out clean. Makes 18 muffins.

We can’t wait until they cool to eat them, and I’m sure you and your family won’t either! If you enjoy oatmeal porridge like we do, I would love to hear your oatmeal leftover creations!

with love. Damaris

Family Currents

Sometimes we let the kids “camp out” on a Friday or not-to-busy week night. They beg to sleep in the living room all the time! The children talk and tell stories far into the night, and the boys’ voices are the last noises we hear before they’ve all fallen to sleep. Of course, in the morning, there is no waking them .

My heart bursts to see all my babies asleep together!

Yesterday was National Donut Day, and we made Old Fashioned Buttermilk Donuts! We doubled the recipe because they are so good! Now you know that donuts are a favorite treat at our house! Over the years, we have made several recipes, but this Williams-Sonoma one is the best-loved. Sometimes we have dipped them in a glaze (powdered sugar and milk) – probably the kids’ preference. It is also delicious to coat them with cinnamon-sugar while they are still very hot. These donuts reheat well the next day, and they can even be frozen to enjoy another time. I think you’ll love making them!

I never realized how much I appreciate color in nature until now that my children are charmed by it. Their fresh eyes are the first to notice a blue birds feather against the green grass or these red poppies “popping” along the fence row. – God’s gift of Spring is so captivating!

with love. Damaris

My Spanish Indulgence

Growing up in Spain meant Nutella was a staple…although we called it ‘nocilla‘. All children can count on this glossy chocolate spread to be in the pantry for merienda (afternoon snack). Nutella made schooldays sweet! My heart swells with national pride to see my children love it as much as I do! lol

In a gaggle of women, you can spot me as the Spaniard right away . But really, my family is all from Spain as many ancestral generations as we can recall.

If you know me, you know that I don’t like to make cookies – I avoid it all expense. And before you feel sorry for my deprived children, I disclose that their tummies are full of delicious cookie bars.

Now you understand why this recipe is perfect! My childhood’s favorite chocolate spread in a bar! These come together very quickly and bake in no time. While hazelnuts can sometimes be hard to come by, you can usually find them in the by-the-pound section of your local grocer.

Photo Credit: Eva


  • 1-1/2 cups Flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • 1/2 cup softened butter

  • 1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar

  • 1 Egg

  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

  • 3/4 Nutella (or as much as you need to cover the dough)

  • 1/4 cup chopped Hazelnuts (optional)

  • Salt (for sprinkling on top – optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8 inch square pan. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the Nutella and the hazelnuts. Gently press half of the dough onto the bottom of the pan. Spread the Nutella on top of the dough. Then sprinkle the remaining dough over the Nutella. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the crumbles of dough and gently press it all down. Sprinkle a pinch of salt, if you’d like to – yum. Bake @ 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the bottom crust looks golden brown.

Buen Provecho!

with love. Damaris

Mother's Day Maple Muffins

photo credit: Alexander

These blonde beauties are pure maple goodness! Gena, a sweet friend, brought Nathan and me a dozen of these muffins the night when I first became a mom. I was overwhelmed, in love, and ravenous, and these maple muffins were manna to me.

Since this Sunday is Mother’s Day, I made four dozen blonde beauties today. One dozen was for Nathan to take to his office. They rave about them. I was delivering another dozen to a friend, so two dozen would stay on the cooling rack to be enjoyed with our dinner…and hopefully breakfast too. Of course, we had to “try” them before we left for the delivery, then we came back and had to have just a little-snack-muffin…or two… or three. The warm maple scent filled the house (and our tummies).

When Daddy came home, the littles were still holding on to the last of the tender crumbs.

photo credit: Alexander


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cups any milk

  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees or 350 degrees for convection setting. Line or grease your muffin pan. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until well incorporated (no need to over mix). Spoon the batter into the muffin pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

If you’re looking for a Mother’s Day brunch treat or yummy breakfast for the kids (& Mom in bed!), these will satisfy everyone. Do you enjoy delivering little baked blessings to friends, too? Tell me how they turn out for you.

with love. Damaris