Sunday, March 22, 2015

Life dreams

One of the things on my bucket list is to hike Machu Picchu in Peru.  It just looks amazing and while I am there I want to buy some local wool to knit a souvenir sweater or cardi.

I would also love to bike down the east coast to Key West.

This woman is making me think about new ideas that involve a couple little girls - wouldn't it be fun to hike the Camino de Santiago with my sweet daughters.

Friday, February 06, 2015

For the love of Kale

suspicious kale activity 
who me?  I can't even jump up to the counter top... when you are watching

Friday, December 05, 2014

Meet Rose Bud Facer - aka Rosy

I blame my sister, William, and her cute dog, Gizmo.  They showed me how much my girls would love to have a dog in their life and how responsible they could be too. 

So, for Christmas this year we got a sweet little puppy for the girls.  I had no idea what getting a puppy meant.  I have not had a solid night of sleep since Rosy joined our family.  I am up at least 2xs a night to take her outside.  She has added a huge dose of extra laundry, cleaning, puppy-proofing, walks, and love.

Rosy is about as cute as they come.  She is a Cavatese - which is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Maltese.  She is mostly white, but has apricot ears and a big apricot spot on her back.  She is a cuddle bug and she already thinks she is part of the family and whines if we leave without her.
November 22, 2014, Rosy sitting on Audrey's lap in the pet store

Rosy and Meredith - Meri is always trying to hug Rosy and kisses her on the head

Rosy taking a nap on the couch - Meredith put a couple of baby doll blankets on her, including one from Gigi

My Mama came for Thanksgiving and was a big help teaching us how to take care of a puppy.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dinner in a pumpkin

aka - I lose my mind trying to carve a pumpkin.

Ryan's mom has this fun tradition of making dinner in a pumpkin on Halloween night.  So we have adopted the same little tradition.  The idea is super simple and pretty healthy.

This year at Belvedere Plantation, they had some super fancy pumpkins that are supposed to be amazing flavor wise.  So I got a medium sized pumpkin for our Halloween dinner.

These crazy little pumpkins are super thick - which I didn't know when I tried to quickly pop the top and fill it.  I ended up butchering the damned thing and cussing like a fighter pilot trying to break this thing open.

It is almost funny what things make you so mad you literally cuss - apparently for me it is carving pumpkins - good to know.

Dinner in a pumpkin recipe (more or less):
1 pound of ground beef
1 diced onion
2 T crushed garlic
2 T soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 can cream of something soup (or a white sauce - which I like better, but was in no mood today)
2 cups cooked rice
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef and onions, add garlic, soy, sugar, and cream.  Mix well and then add the rice.  Pack in a cleaned out pumpkin with a face drawn in sharpie.  Bake for about an hour at 350.  Or until the pumpkin flesh is soft.  Scoop some of the pumpkin flesh out with the rice mixture when serving.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cookie #1 - The Classic Chocolate Chip cookie

To start the 89 cookie challenge, it made sense to go with the most popular cookie in the Milk and Cookie cookbook - chocolate chip.  This recipe is an amazing twist on the quintessential American classic. In addition to chocolate chunks, the recipe calls for chocolate shavings or curls.
Chocolate chip cookies and a jeweled mason jar of milk - keeping it classy!

After reading a few amazon reviews on the cookbook itself, here is what I did:

 - Butter - I waited for the butter to get to room temp and then I beat the tar out of it, till it was super creamy. The book says to whip the bitter until light and creamy, so this isn't different from the book, it's just different from my usual throw the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter together then beat method. The amazon reviewer emphasized the importance of actually beating the butter for a good 3-5 minutes, so I did, it worked well.
 - Oat flour - The recipe called for oat flour from processed oats,I just threw the oats in my blend tech and one I had flour, I added the rest of the dry ingredients into the blender too, no point making another bowl dirty says I.
 - Ingredient variations - salted butter, chocolate chips, salt, eggs - My slight variations on the recipe based on what was in my kitchen at the time of baking: I used salted butter rather than unsalted which it calls for, I used chocolate chips instead of chunks, I are a touch more salt, I used extra large eggs rather than large eggs. 
 - Baking time - The only real difference in my preparation was the baking time. The recipe said to bake the cookie for 15 minutes, which seems like an unconscionably long time to bake a cookie. I live comfortably in the world of under done cookies and I just could not cook then longer than 10 minutes, which is the longest I have *ever* baked a cookie (on purpose anyway).  The recipe called for cookies that were big, I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup as the scoop.  For such big cookies, 10 minutes worked.  When I decided to make the cookies a bit smaller - ie my normal cookie size, my normal baking time worked well too - 7 minutes.

Big cookies - only 6 per sheet.

The result was amazing! I liked it better than the one i had at the milk and cookies store itself - probably the extra salt and the underdone softness.  Seriously one of the best cookies I have ever made and I am known for my cookies. The shaved chocolate gives melted yuminess in every bite. The oat flour gives it a nutty taste and a heartier texture. It is really good. The other thing I like about the recipe is the amount of vanilla - 1/2 tablespoon. I wanted to shout amen! I *always* add substantially more vanilla than most cookie recipes call for because it is such an important ingredient. And my vanilla is already stronger than most store bought vanilla because I make it myself with good vodka and hand scraped Madagascar vanilla beans.

I loved this recipe, but the ass pain associated with grating 2 while bars of chocolate may keep me from making it as often as other cookies in my repertoire. Perhaps I'll source some chocolate curls and then it will be in my regular rotation for sure, it is that good.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The 89 Cookie challenge

Many years ago my dear sister William went on a food tour in New York and discovered a lovely little place called Milk and Cookies. She loved it so much that I had to visit that cookie shop the next time I was in town. It was really amazing. The cookies were delicious and the milk was so fresh. 
Naturally, I was thrilled when I happened across the cook book written by the proprietor sharing her famous cookie recipes and gave it to Will for Christmas. 

The cookbook of 89 Cookie Challenge
Last weekend as William and I were cleaning out her kitchen and she was getting rid of cookbooks I asked if I could take the Milk and Cookies cookbook off her hands, she gladly agreed and said, "I'll probably get more use out of you having the book anyway."

Apparently, she has prophetic tendencies...

I was just perusing the book this morning and there is such an amazing variety of cookie recipes and I love making and eating cookies.  Honestly, I think cookies are my favorite dessert. So I decided to take on a challenge. I am going to attempt to make *every* cookie in this book. There are 89 different cookie recipes, so this challenge will take me a bit of time, but I am excited!!

My neighbors already call me the Baker neighbor, I think they will be willing taste testers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ohio visit to Lehman's

Weary traveler looking into the sun for a selfie in front of Lehman's
My trip back to DC from Chicago was a great adventure. I took small country roads through most of Ohio and it was breathtakingly beautiful especially this time of year.  It was not a fast drive.  If I ever have time to just drive through out the country, I hope to take lots of small country roads.  That is when the drive is really pretty.  I certainly appreciate road trips via the highway for speed, but the beauty found down the country roads can't be beat.

Cast Iron Cafe - seriously cute!
I finally pulled up to Lehman's and was super excited, hungry, and a little weary.  This place is huge! I immediately headed towards the "Cast Iron Cafe" but was a bit disappointed that they were out of soup and the specialty was hot dogs.  I asked what the most popular item was and purchased a bratwurst with swiss cheese and sauerkraut along with potato chips made with lard and a Lehman's brand root beer.   Whether it was my hunger or the food, I don't know, but it was all surprisingly good.
Made with Lard Potato Chips - quite tasty.
The store was organized like no store I have ever seen, it was amazing.  The sections I saw: gardening, dairy, canning, stoves, sewing, laundry, lighting, oil lamps, soap making, cleaning materials, toys, books, food, clothes/hats, kitchen, grain milling/grinding, and a fudge counter. There were real Amish people there too, with their horse and buggy parked out back.  Lots of people in overalls (it made me really wish I hadn't cut mine up into a denim quilt...).
Dairy section - above the for-sales items, displays of antique items
I thought the dairy section was neat.  They had milk pales, cheese making supplies, butter churns, butter presses (which I almost got to make cute designs in butter for holidays).  

There was an exhibit of wood relief art.  I wish my photography were better, because this art was truly amazing.  These pictures do not do it justice.

I think my favorite section was the wood stove showroom, which was rather warm with a couple of the stoves lit. 
This is an old fashioned look to mostly modern appliances - they had it in red too!

Dreaming - me and my homesteading stove

The dream stove in all its own glory.
The section I did not take a picture of, but should have, was the laundry section.  They had a variety of washboards, glass, galvanized steel, and several sizes too.  I almost got one - just for the coolness of a washboard.  They had all kinds of drying contraptions - and that was a real temptation (but I did not have the room in my vehicle).  Well made drying racks are hard to come by and they had so many sizes and types and they all folded down, some attached to the wall and folded into a nifty shelf.  

After a good meander through the store, I ended up purchasing a bag of white popcorn kernels, a thick square yardstick, a stainless steel colander, and a paring knife.  Practical souvenirs from an impractical visit to a practical store.