Monday, March 24, 2008

A Little Something Sweet

Now that our scanner is working again, I can get more old pics saved. Here's a photo of my Lil' Grammy from 1940, to go with a cookie recipe from her collection. I love how her recipes are concise and presume you know what you're doing in the kitchen.

Brown Sugar Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar (light brown is best)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp b. powder
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Mix. Make into rolls. Chill in fridge. Slice & bake 350 about 10 mins (split baking time between lower and upper racks.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bunny Bread

Bunny-shaped Pulla (an Easter-time tradition for us) with orange zest, cinnamon and cardamom added to the dough, and we added a vanilla glaze to the bunnies this year too... it's actually a recipe for Finnish Nisu bread, which is basically the same thing as Pulla, Nisu is just an older word for it (and this recipe ices the sweet bread too).

Madeline is loving playing with dough, and she did agree that it tastes better baked.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Candy

Dark chocolate-dipped Strawberry Marshmallows... Mmm...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anniversario Felice A Noi!

Happy Anniversary to us (in Italian)! Northern Italian cuisine at its best — Café Juanita dinner… always wonderful, and a great way to celebrate turning 13! Plus we found a new favorite red wine. So very smooth and delicious – now to find a source for said wine…

On the menu tonight:

Aperitivi: Hendriks Gin and Q Tonic with Rising C Citrus and Fried Rabbit Livers
Clear Creek Pear Brandy Cocktail with Prosciutto Wrapped Grissini

Starters: Papparadelle pasta with Goose Sugo (sauce)
Zuppa della Sera - Parmigiano Brodo with Wagyu New York Beef and Nettles (delicious soup, like the Pho of Italy, but in a small bowl)

Fish & Game: Saddle of Oregon Lamb with Anchoiade Gratin, Warm Olive Vinaigrette and Toasted Rosemary
Seared Sushi-grade Jack Yellowtail with creamed Parmigiano Fingerling potatoes, Spring greens and Meyer lemon

Dessert: Pear Rhubarb crisp and Dark Chocolate heaven (truffle-like creamy dessert with vanilla sauce) 2/3 of the choc thing came home because it was SO rich and Grammy and the kids had it. Grammy savored – the kids inhaled it like ravenous hungry wolves and licked up every last bit… I swear they were growling while eating it.

One of our fave salads from Café Juanita is one the we have the recipe for, but Joel’s made so often, and so well, that neither of us could see ordering it there…

Pear Salad
(Chef Holly Smith)

2 large pears
1/3-1/2 c toasted pine nuts
1–2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Parmigiano Reggiano, peeled with vegetable peeler into thin strips
2 oz. white truffle oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt, to taste

Slice pears 1/8-inch thick and place in mixing bowl with pine nuts, thyme and cheese. Dress with truffle oil, lemon juice and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary with salt or lemon. Place on four chilled plates, garnish with fresh curls of cheese and drizzle with truffle oil.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Taste of Ireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! We love Ireland. Love it. And, now we could technically fly there at a moments notice with the kids (only took 11 days for them to be official). Crazy thought, right? Is it crazy? Can we take the kids in the pub there? Oh, no. I have the travel bug again. I suppose it has been almost five years...

Anyway, instead of making green stuff today, I whipped up a real taste of Ireland — brown bread. We ate this everywhere there... in seaside pottery cafes near Dingle, in all the B&B's we enjoyed "full Irish Breakfast" at, at the Guinness Brewery... you get the picture. Make this (you get four wee loaves), drink some Guinness (it makes you strong and smart), and enjoy your bread with your stout and some corned beef and cabbage (roasted in more stout) today. Mmm... Happy Day O'Green!!!

Irish Brown Bread

4 c whole wheat flour
1 c bread flour
1/3 c rolled oats
2 heaping tsp wheat germ (this makes it taste like the real stuff!)
1 heaping tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment. In a large bowl, stir together flours, wheat germ, oats, baking soda and salt. Gently stir in the buttermilk until a soft dough forms. Knead lightly. Divide dough into four and form into round, flat loaves. Cut an 'X' in the top of each loaf and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mmm... Toasty!

I've been itching to make these for months, and finally road-tested them this past weekend around the campfire. They were delicious, but for roasting they could stand to "set up" a bit more (get harder so leave them out uncovered for a day or so) so that they are not as volatile when molten.

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (adapted from recipe posted here on Brownie Points)

2 pkgs. unflavored gelatin softened in 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. water and 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract (in the bowl of your mixer)

Combine in deep, heavy sauce pan and bring to boil with lid on: 1 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. water, 1/2 c. plus 2 T. corn syrup, and 1/4 tsp. salt

While waiting, line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with oil.

Once hot mixture is boiling, remove lid and clip candy thermometer in pan. Cook without stirring until it reaches soft-ball stage (235-240-degrees F). Remove from heat, and very carefully and slowly, pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture while mixer is on medium-low speed. Once all is added, turn mixer on high and beat for a good eight minutes until light , fluffy and thick. Pour marshmallow fluff into prepared 8x8 pan and let set up for at least 10 hours. Dust with powdered sugar or mix of 1/2 pwd. sugar and 1/2 rice flour and cut with a pizza cutter into 32 squares (or you could make them smaller) . Dip all cut sides in sugar/flour or shake in gallon Ziploc with mixture.

Brownie Points blog also has variations with flavored marshmallows, etc.

Monday, March 3, 2008


The best "toys" are simple (and especially fascinating if technically involving potential choking hazards)... got this idea from my mom who put together a similar activity for her Montessori class with paper clips.

I cut a slit in the top of an empty coffee can from Trader Joe's and gave Erik five large buttons to pop through the top. He loved it, and was at it for quite awhile. And, when he got them all in each time, the can made a nice percussion instrument too.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sam I Am!

My version of Green Eggs and Ham, in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday today... without running to the store. My poor kids—wouldn't I be the mom who is out of food coloring, but happens to have organic Italian kale and dried dill on hand for "green" eggs. Hmm... if only I'd had some pesto... maybe next year. Madeline pointed out to me that they are "green and yellow eggs, Mama..." and of course the "ham" is seedless watermelon. Add some breakfast reading, and I think we're close enough.

I made muffins too since one of M's other fave books right now is If You Give A Moose A Muffin, so there you have our very literary breakfast.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Family "Recipes"...

The Recipe For Katrina

3 parts Poise
2 parts Vigor
1 part Uniqueness
Splash of Whimsy

Shake vigorously and sip slowly on the beach

The Recipe For Joel

3 parts Originality
2 parts Fun
1 part Daring
Splash of Allure

Limit yourself to one serving. This cocktail is strong!

The Recipe For Madeline

3 parts Savvy
2 parts Laughter
1 part Mischief
Splash of Intellect

Finish off with a little umbrella and straw

The Recipe For Erik

3 parts Playfulness
2 parts Charm
1 part Tolerance
Splash of Savvy

Finish off with an olive


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