Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Cantuccini

Full of carbohydrates.
That pretty much says it all.
It's April 15th. Tax day. Tuesday of Holy Week. And chemo day. Not to mention the morning after a "blood moon" and a COLD, rainy, windy day here in Atlanta. It's suppose to drop down to freezing tonight. Things can only get better. 

See how I cleverly pre-shaped the ends?
Biscotti by any other name is still biscotti. They were fine. I tried one or two. Would have been better dipped in chocolate. I mean, there aren't many things that wouldn't be improved by a little chocolate. OK, maybe asparagus. To save myself the torture of not eating them, I sent most of these home with our boy who was here to do his taxes. It only took 2 hours to come up with $0 and $0 on his forms. Turbo Tax asks every question in the universe. Except maybe the important ones, like "how do you plan to make the world a better place?" Or "why do people litter?"

I have other pictures but don't seem to be able to add them anywhere except at the top of this page. I'm tired of trying so let's move on. The other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers are here.

And a shoe. Happy Easter. Or Passover. Or whatever the week may hold for you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Potato Lefse

Oh my goodness.
These are amazing.
Spread with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
Of course, I haven't had flour or sugar in weeks,
but had to taste one (or two - they're very thin).
It wouldn't be right to spend two days making lefse and not know how they taste.
Would it?

For a bit of irony. My reading material today.
And so you can see that duct tape is a valid baking tool.

I didn't have all the special equipment, but I do have a special friend in Norway. When I asked for words of wisdom about lefse, she said "buy them at the grocery"! Ha. Ha. It's been a very long time since we've cooked together, but she was here today in my imagination. 

knew I had a potato ricer somewhere...

well, well, well - might have to use this more often

hanging out with all the low-carb stuff

Used a scoop to portion. Made 28 I think.
Some may have disappeared along the way.

Set off the fire alarm SIX TIMES!
It really doesn't like the smell of burning flour.
Which explains it's disdain for our toaster.

Why do men insist that bigger is better?
He is compelled to use this huge heavy pan to fry bacon.
 Even though it doesn't fit on our stove or in the sink or in a cabinet.
But today it came in handy.
with cream cheese and sliced strawberries
The other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers are here and a video of the lefse-making process is here. The original Baking With Julia video doesn't seem available online. This is Beatrice Ojakangas, who provided the recipe, with Martha Stewart. She has the same ricer I do! But I'm coveting her lefse stick...

And here's a sweet little shoe that seems appropriate for Lent. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Mocha Brownie Cake

I baked a day EARLY!
It was St Patrick's Day.
So there was no mocha in this cake.
That bottle of Bailey's begged to be used.

You know, while we're at it, I seem to remember that last year we baked a decadent chocolate thing during Lent. And I was low-carbing it then too. But I had a piece anyway. Just to taste. Figured I'd already set the precedent and had a little sliver of this one. It's a good thing my son was here. Sent most of it home with him. It could've gotten ugly for my sweet little fatty liver...

Here we go. Notes to self:
1) Read the directions. There's chilling time to consider. 
2) Be sure you have ALL the ingredients and don't have to run out for cream at the last minute.
3) A little less than 1/4 cup on the liqueur is sufficient. If using coffee, make it strong.
4) Ganache = Heaven. Would this work for dipping bourbon balls? Look into it.
5) Try making little mini-cakes. Cupcake-sized. Or even smaller for a crowd. 
6) Going to need whipped cream, ice cream, or at least a good glass of milk.

This recipe can be found in the Baking With Julia cookbook. The other Tuesday With Dorie bakers are here.

Sorry, I don't have a green shoe for St Patrick's Day. But I did see a boot out in the middle of nowhere while doing the Quilt Shop Hop this weekend. Nowhere is officially Loganville, Georgia. They even have a slogan: "Where the heck is Loganville?" Think it was my first time driving through there and it offered up a shoe in the road. I like the place already.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Buttermilk Scones

Happy Mardi Gras!

Earlier in the day, I thought about hiding a plastic baby in the scones, but when it came time to make them I forgot. Such is life. They were great with whipped cream and the first organic strawberries of the year. Thought I might as well live it up since I've sworn off carbs for Lent.

When we were first married, we lived in St. Tammany Parish, Lousiana. It's across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Good times. Good friends. Good food. No kidding. 

There are three Mardi Gras (how do you make that plural?) that I have specific memories of. Don't know what happened to the other two. Lost in the fog of years, I guess. 

We only went to the big city once for Mardi Gras, and the most I can say for it is that I was glad to get out of there in one piece. The crush of the crowds was scary and one of the girls with us had her purse stolen right in the middle of it. Trust me, I LOVE New Orleans, but I have no desire to go back to the French Quarter for Mardi Gras. Once was enough.

Another time, we rode in a Mardi Gras boat parade. The parade was in Madisonville, but we rode over in a sailboat from Mandeville. Have I mentioned my tendency to suffer motion sickness? Throw in a little alcohol and you've got trouble. All I remember is wanting OFF that boat in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain. But then we got to Madisonville, and all was well. Best gumbo in the world came from a restaurant there. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

My favorite Mardi Gras memory is the small town celebration. One year we hit the parades in both Covington and Folsom (we lived between them). Or maybe it was different years. That would fill in one of the missing years. Anyway, in Covington everyone would cheer and yell for beads, then run around the corner and do it again and again as the parade snaked through town. 

Folsom only had one major road, which was the highway, and they just shut it down for a few hours. The parade wasn't terribly impressive but, heck, it was a great excuse to hang around in lawn chairs drinking beer and eating BBQ shrimp. Low key and stress-free. And we were young. This year we spent Mardi Gras at the chemo center. All those years ago, we never would've dreamed such a thing. But hey, it could be worse. They even had decorations. Let the good times roll!

The other Tuesday With Dorie bakers are here. And if you'd like to see a video of the original Baking With Julia show, you can find it here.

Here's a shoe:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

Let's just say it's been a bad day and leave it at that.
Except for the chocolate cheesecake, whose
only purpose is to make the world a better place.
Thank God.

I thought it might be a full moon. Looked at the calendar. Not quite. Then I remembered Mercury. Have you ever heard of Mercury in retrograde? Whenever I hit a stretch of unexplainable frustrations, little setbacks, things that stop working, people who confuse me or hurt my feelings, Mercury is usually in retrograde. And sure enough, that's the case, Feb 6-28, which means we're right smack in the middle of it now. It might just be a convenient excuse. I don't care. Had myself a good little pity party today. Wallowed in the sadness. Which is OK as long as you don't get trapped there. Chocolate cheesecake helps.

I do think it might be easier, well certainly neater, to make this the normal way with the crust inside the pan. But I'm willing to give anything a try once, and the recipe specified cooking the cake, then flipping it out of the pan and pressing crumbs onto the bottom afterward. You can't make many crumbs stick that way. Which makes all that Oreo crushing seem fruitless. Wish I'd taken a picture of the ball of "middle" cream that I dug out of those cookies. Pretty nasty really. I considered using it for sculpture material. But I digress.


All's well that ends well. But next time I'll press the crumbs in the pan first. This recipe can be found in the Baking With Julia cookbook, and the other Tuesdays With Dorie bloggers are here.

Here's a shoe. Close enough for Mercury in retrograde:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Emergency Snow Day Girl Scout Cookies

Not-So-Thin Mints
Oh my goodness, how lucky we have been.
Ice? Yes.
Snow? Yes.
Power? YES!

And then cabin fever set in. One of my friends mentioned Girl Scout cookies, specifically Thin Mints, on Facebook. Why did she have to do that? Poked around the internet and found this recipe. There were other recipes out there, but they required chocolate cake mix. Not in my pantry. I had the ingredients for this one, so the experiment was a go.

My mother was the troop leader.
This is the only picture I have of
us together in our uniforms

I've been a girl scout since I was 4 years old. They don't technically have a category for 4-yr-olds, but my mother was the camp nurse that year, so I went too. Official enough for me. Oh yes, I have many happy girl scout memories. I know all the songs. How many of you know "High up, high on the mountain, they founded Our Chalet"? My first experience cleaning a stove was for a girl scout badge. I could go on and on.

A letter I sent home from camp.
It's hilarious.

Camp was a entire world to itself. The flag ceremonies, table hopping for meals, the crafts cabin! I will always associate the smell of Prell shampoo with Camp Bear Creek because they sold little tubes of it at the trading post. We washed our hair in the outdoor concrete block showers, along with the spiders and other creepy crawlies. We sent hand-written letters to our parents and received goodie boxes, as if two weeks away from home was an eternity. 
The dough scraper is a perfect
tool for cutting these. The recipe
says 1/4" but they should
definitely be thinner.

The dough is stiff!
Powerful mixer helps.

My daughter at one of her first
Brownie meetings.

I got to experience girl scouting from a whole new perspective when my daughter became a scout. Oh, the times we had. Yes, there were camping trips. Let me tell you, the first time we arrived at a camp and there was air-conditioning, I knew times had changed! So many memories. The ballet, kangaroo farm, waterfall hikes, tent camping at Stone Mountain, horseback riding ("vaulting" they call it, where you learn to do tricks), quiltmaking, river clean-ups, Thinking Day overnights, dolphin-watching, Juliette Gordon Low's home in Savannah. What a close little group her troop became over the years. I will always love each one of those girls.

The troop learning about marine life at Tybee Island.

I've managed to write lots more than you want to know and haven't even mentioned the star of the family, my sister, the overachiever girl scout who filled her sash with badges all the way up the back! She even went on a trip to California as a Senior scout by winning some kind of contest. Forgive me for not knowing all the details. Scouting prepared her to be a community leader. Last year, she was honored by the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana with the Tough Cookie Award. I'm so proud of her. I only wish our mother could have been there to see it.
Out of the oven.
They don't spread at all.
Mint-flavored chocolate chips
are definitely the way to go if you
can find them.
And did I mention COOKIES? I'd hate to think how many boxes have passed through these hands over the years. I believe they cost 50 cents when I first sold them. I could wax nostalgic about unloading a semi trailer truckload on a rainy morning, or sorting hundreds of boxes for distribution, or the variety of flavors that have come and gone over the years (does anybody remember Sugar 'n Spice?)...   But through it all, there were Thin Mints. They have nothing to fear from the homemade variety. Sure, the ones I made are free from preservatives. For an emergency craving, they weren't bad. But I'll be stocking up when the real ones come out this year. They freeze beautifully.

Just for fun, here's a video you might enjoy:

And a shoe: