She turned 10 and had fun putting the royal icing fantasy flowers on her little cake at her party.
It’s for a restaurant in my imagination. Outside, surrounded by trees and mountains and seas. The rush of wind and fall of water.
Five Courses – Water, Field, Tree, Rain and Root.
What limits your dreams? What stops you? What if you never quit? In addition to a dozen other professions out of my reach, such as surgeon, lawyer, scientist, glass blower, architect and machine engineer.. I would love to be a chef. Here is a menu for my non-existent restaurant, Whole Earth, with some of the courses. Don’t ever let anyone stop your imagination. You never know how far it will reach.
So happy she loved the gift I made for her! Specialty Sugars for her tea and coffee and sprinkling on toast, cereal or anything else that needs a little sweet sparkle.
I bought the decorative knobs and glass jars at Hobby Lobby. It was easy drilling a hole in the corks, using a hack saw to shorten the knob bolt and gluing them together with a few beads.
~ Lavender Sugar ~
I ground up culinary lavender with a mortar and pestle, then put the lavender and sugar in a food processor. The lavender sugar was then layered with crystal sugar in the jar.
~ Lemon Orange Sugar ~
Lemon and Orange zest were placed in a food processor with sugar and ground medium fine. I’ve been making this mixture for years for use in cheesecake because it makes a very fine textured cheesecake. To fill the jar, I spooned in a layer of Lemon Orange Sugar then used tongs to place white sugar cubes against the side of the jar. Then I spooned in more sugar and repeated the layers. Next time I’ll add more orange zest for a darker orange colored sugar.
~ Vanilla Bean Sugar ~
I scraped the seeds from two vanilla beans and ground the seeds with sugar in a food processor. I used one half of each vanilla bean, split lengthwise, to place in the jar. I spooned in about 1″ of Vanilla Sugar in the bottom of the jar. Then I used tongs and a wood skewer to position each vanilla bean against the side of the jar before adding the rest of the Vanilla Sugar.
~ Pumpkin Spice Sugar ~
This recipe is something one of my sons and I made up, based on the spice ratio I use in my Pumpkin Pies. We keep this sugar blend on hand to make Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which everyone knows don’t have any pumpkin in them anyway. haha. Still, the flavor is very close to my pumpkin pies, sans pumpkin. To fill this jar, I used a small spoon and a tiny funnel I made from two straws. I can’t explain how I did the design but if you look up “sand art in a bottle” on youtube, you’ll get the idea. The white layer is Vanilla Bean Sugar. The dark brown “spots” in the white layer are pieces of cinnamon stick. I wanted to position the cinnamon stick pieces to look like hearts but the white sugar kept filling in the spaces so it didn’t work out.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” it is said. So true. I couldn’t access my precut wood pieces or run a saw so I ended up using the only wood on hand, a 30 year old piece of Sassafrass root from my parents property. It’s been in my tea collection for decades and still has a beautiful scent. I used a small craft saw to cut thin slices of the wood to make the tags. I wrote on them with permanent marker. Now I wonder if I had wood-burned the words in… could the slice of sassafrass be steeped in boiling water to flavor tea? What fun that would be! I’ll have to try it out.
It’s the most luscious Ham & Cheese sandwich ever! Definitely our favorite. The guys loved them for lunch.
Don’t these ingredients look yummy?
I followed Bon Appetit’s recipe for Croque Monsieur. So delicious!
I baked a loaf of bread the day before but the guys cut into it so I had to make the Croque Monsieur slices a little thinner. The mustard béchemel turned out perfect. The only mustard I had on hand had horseradish in it but that was great with the ham and gruyere. The herbs were from Penzey’s, Herb de Provence.
Four slices of bread were spread with the prepared béchemel.
The smell coming from the oven was sooo good… The cheese! The toasty bread! The herbes!
The middle was all melty and soft and the bottom crusts with dripping cheese had a great crunch. Oh so delicous!
Please comment if you’ve ever had a Croque Monsieur sandwich. Did you like it? This will be our go-to sandwich when we have tomato or bean soup this winter.
The plan was to get a free cup of hot coffee from “Luke’s Diner” in town. Commemorating the 16th anniversary of Gilmore Girls, and to celebrate the upcoming debut of a Gilmore Girls mini series, Netflix sponsored pop-up “Luke’s Diner” in coffee shops all over the country. Oh my goodness, I love that show!
I had every intention of going and really looked forward to it. In fact, I even walked toward the line and snapped a picture. What a special event in town!
But then I started to miss my own “Rory” so much that I had to leave. If I had stayed, I feared I would have started to cry and end up blubbering something like “Will you please be my daughter? I miss my daughter! Anyone in this line, can I please be your Lorelai because my daughter lives halfway to China and I’m missing her so much and we watched Gilmore Girls together when she was going to college and HOW can I possibly get a cup of coffee that we would have shared but can’t because she’s halfway to China??” If I had stayed, I totally would have done that. 0_0
So I left without coffee, immediately went home and did a Sookie thing – I whipped up some Sugar Crusted Orange Ginger Muffins and cried the entire time. I sure did.
I made up this recipe years ago, just because I needed a batter that fit in the big, new muffin tins. I still use my favorite batter-scooping spoon, even though the handle is broken.
Sugar Crusted Orange Ginger Muffins
Sift together in a large bowl:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
Mix together in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp grated orange rind
Mix together in another bowl:
3/4 cup raisins (I like golden best but any raisin will do)
3/4 cup candied ginger cut up into little pieces (I never buy the precut ginger because it has too much sugar sprinkled on it. All that extra sugar changes the texture of the recipe. It’s better to buy candied, sliced ginger and cut it up yourself with scissors.)
Dump the egg mixture into the flour mixture and quickly stir with a whisk or wooden spoon about 5 or 6 strokes. Mixture will be lumpy and NOT mixed together.
Dump in the raisins and ginger.
Stir quickly and thoroughly but briefly using a wood spoon or whisk. Mixture will be lumpy. Make sure you scrape the dry ingredients off the bottom of the bowl while mixing. If the batter gets rubbery and stretchy, you mixed it too long and the muffins might be tough. Anyway, drop spoonfuls of batter into greased, large muffin tins.
Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar crystals.
BAKE at 400F for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 large muffins.
After I had two cups of good strong coffee and a muffin, I felt better. But since I miss my daughter so much, I’m declaring it Official Wallowing Day. Truly. At least once a year I just need a good wallow.
I miss you and love you, Heather. <3
And Texas just seems like half-way to China. ;)
It started with the figs last week. I’ve heard fresh figs are very hard to find in the market and very expensive. Now that we have two fig trees, I can see why. Ripe figs are quite perishable, being in perfect form for just a day after picking. They can be kept in the fridge a week but do get softer. Like bananas, figs can be eaten when super ripe but they turn winey.
Every year I tend to give away our little fig harvest.
I love sharing and I’m just in the right place at the right time and there are people to give figs to. But this year, there was no one. So to do the figs justice, I determined to celebrate each and every glorious one. Such richness, oh my. Figs are liquid gold, honey that grows on a tree, a king’s dessert!
The fig trees nearly died two years ago from the cold winter. I’m so thankful we have figs again on one of the trees.
We were out of town so I missed the peak ripeness of some of them and several had already dropped. I picked all the ripe figs from the tree.
Look at this basket of amazingness! I wish they weren’t so perishable.
My entire breakfast that day centered around the first ripe fig with Julianna cheese. (posted on Instagram)
But still, there truly is nothing finer than just one perfect fig.
If you only have one fig, enjoy it slowly, plain, with nothing else at all.
But if you have more figs, then it’s fun to go further. Which started my search for the perfect compliment, a flaky barquette to cradle a fig and other flavors.
…to be continued…
I don’t know what gave me the idea but I was eating a tortilla one day a couple weeks ago and thought it would be great to make a weaving of colored tortilla strips.
It took a week or so to hunt down colored tortillas. We found the green Spinach Wrap tortillas at Whole Foods and the spicy Habanero Lime tortillas at Trader Joes.
The first Woven Tortilla was made of strips of white and orange tortillas. I cut them with kitchen shears.
The Habanero Lime tortillas were a little smaller than the white Mission tortillas. I ended up using the center section of two Habanero tortillas to get enough strips that were long enough.
It was almost as easy as weaving paper strips, but tortillas are more fragile. None broke but I treated them gently.
Brushing the woven tortilla mat with olive oil helped the pieces stick together.
They still weren’t very stable though so I had to slide the woven piece into the skillet using a big spatula. Once one side was browned on medium heat, I placed another hot skillet over top and flipped it over. That was tricky! The tortilla mat still folded in half and it was a bit of work straightening out the strips.
Once they were lightly browned, the tortillas were more crisp and held together better. I slid the finished tortilla mat out of the skillet and onto the plate.
Topped with black beans in a taco meat nest, scoops of guacamole and sour cream and a sprinkling of white cheddar, the Woven Tortillas looked and tasted wonderful!
I tried another method of weaving that stayed together easily. Instead of cutting the white tortilla into strips, I cut slits in it with a knife, then wove strips of colored tortilla through the slits.
This time, I brushed olive oil on the white flour tortilla before weaving so the oil would help hold the pieces together. That worked great.
Treating the tortillas gently so the one-piece white tortilla didn’t split at the ends, I carefully wove orange Habanero and green Spinach tortilla strips through the slits.
These take time so I recommend weaving them ahead of time, wrapping air tight and keeping the woven tortillas in the fridge. Brown them on medium heat right before serving.
Lunch was festive and delicious!
You can read more about Baking for Neighbors Day on this post. Today was BFN for the 4th neighbor and I sure enjoyed it!
It has been a long time since I baked for neighbors. I got a bit derailed when we got an anonymous note in the mailbox over a year ago. An anonymous neighbor put a pretty blue envelope in our mailbox. Inside was a cute card with dogs on the front. And inside the card was written “Keep your #$%&* dog out of our yard. We’re tired of it dragging your recycled beer bottles into our yard too. You’ll be glad to know that we’re moving because of you. #*#%@ “… etc.
If that neighbor knew us, they would have known that we’ve never owned a dog. They would know that we don’t drink and we do our own recycling so there are no bins of bottles. If our neighbor knew us, they would have known that I broke my back and was doing a great job of recovering. And they would have known how much I love to bake.
So instead of being discouraged and scared of meeting that anonymous neighbor that hates us, I decided to keep going with Baking for Neighbors. Today I handed the fourth neighbor a loaf of steaming hot, fresh from the oven, Sourdough Grain Bread.
When I handed her the foil-wrapped bundle, she was surprised and delighted. That made me so happy! I guess she’s not the neighbor who put that note in our mailbox.
I’m all encouraged now to keep going with BFN Day! Four neighbors down, 67 to go. ::big smile::
Every year I save one colored Easter egg in the back of the egg bin in the fridge. All winter long it’s a nice reminder that spring is on the way.
Soon this egg will be replaced with a new one. Its fun seeing art in the refrigerator! I’m planning on hanging a little painting on one of those pristine white walls.
While it was freezing outside, this was going on in my oven this morning.
I posted about this before and you can find the recipe on my blog here.
They were soooo delicious. Oh the crunch! Oh the creamy! Something magical happens when you bake cheese on top of meringue. Please try it!