Rhubarb Vanilla Jam

We recently spent two weeks in Ireland.

Ruins at InisoirrIreland is gorgeous, in case you were wondering. Wildflowers are absolutely everywhere, peeking through the cracks in ancient stone walls and clumping along the sides of the roads. There are rock-bordered, green fields for miles, thanks to the soft, misty rain that falls almost every day.

Ring of KerryWe loved exploring traditional Irish farms and learning about the simplicity and resourcefulness of country life 100 years ago. We loved trying to pronounce the Irish language signs posted all around. We loved that a typical playground in Ireland has ziplines for kids and exercise equipment for parents. We loved the stunning, hazy mountains and cliffs that loomed over the Atlantic ocean. And don’t even get me started on how cool it is to find crumbling stone ruins everywhere you look.

The Best PhotoTraveling with two preschoolers was basically the worst, and that’s all I’ll say about that. (Check out my oldest throwing a tantrum instead of looking at the camera. This is literally the best family photo from the whole trip. Just so you get a clear idea. I’m not exaggerating.) But if you are ever going to travel abroad with preschoolers, you should definitely do it in Ireland, because the people there are so kind and understanding and friendly. They actually love kids. And they do not give you irritated, patronizing looks when yours are screaming and losing their minds in public places.

Rhubarb Vanilla JamAnother great thing about Irish people is that they are unflinchingly generous. For example, when we were staying in Killarney, they served this rhubarb jam with breakfast, and Dave basically ate a pint of it over four days. (He must have genetically inherited his love of rhubarb, because rhubarb desserts were on almost every menu and in every bakery in Ireland. He tried all of them.) When I asked for the recipe, the kind proprietors of the inn immediately wrote down a copy for me!

So here we are. Thank you, Ireland, for your kindness and generosity, and thank you for the rhubarb jam.

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Leek Tart a.k.a. baking quiche in France!

Macarons. Beautiful fresh veg from the local market. Pain au chocolat. Comté and dijon on a baguette. Crème au chocolat with an espresso. Wine at lunch. Crème brulée. Hot chèvre. Croissants.

Good grief. Food in France is an art…and I gained 5 pounds during the week my husband and I spent there, because everything was too delicious to pass up!

But I have to tell you a secret. Even though Paris was wonderful–full of well-known monuments, tourists, and boulangeries–my favorite time in France was when Dave and I visited his brother in Fontainebleau, a little town about 40 minutes outside the city. Dan described it as the ideal French provincial experience, and almost every second of our time there was perfect.

On our last afternoon in Fontainebleau, we were invited to join the local pastor’s family for dinner, and Dan suggested we bring a quiche (which can also be called a “tart” in France). We got a huge leek from the marché, fresh French eggs, and beautiful chèvre. I got the privilege of making the crust for the tart (because even in France, where pastry reigns, a homemade pie crust is a thing of beauty).

For those of you that fear making pie crust, please set aside your worries and give it a try! I promise promise it is not as challenging as it seems, and you will never want to eat the cardboard crusts from the grocery store again. Homemade pie crust is flaky and flavorful, and it really takes minimal effort.

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