Saturday, March 24, 2012

Birthday Love

The tradition in my family has always been the family recipe chocolate cake for birthdays and celebrations. This year I decided to try something new and found a recipe for a Persian Love Cake (recipe from, from Bon Appetit June 2005).

Step 1: The Garnish
this was my first attempt at caddied rose petals
1 egg white
granulated sugar
petals from organic roses

Lightly beat the egg white until frothy
Brush egg white on petals and sprinkle with sugar
I brushed and sugared one side of each petal and then went back and did the second side
Leave them on a drying rack to dry. This took a lot longer than I expected so doing this the night before is a good idea

Step 2: The Cake
turn on the oven to 325 and prepare cake pans by putting parchment in the bottom and buttering completely.

Mix together dry ingredients
1 cup cake flour
7 Tbl baker's (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together wet ingredients
3 egg yolks
6 Tbl water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from pods)

Combine the 2 mixtures and mix until smooth

make a meringue
3 egg whites
7 Tbl baker's (superfine) sugar

Fold the meringue in to the batter mixture, divide into the two cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes

Step 3: The Frosting
put 1/2 cup cream and a pinch of saffron on the stove, when it begins to simmer remove it from the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes, then chill in the fridge

Beat together
2 cups of cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp rose water

when peaks form strain in the saffron cream and beat until peaks form again
Frost the cake and decorate with candied rose petals and unsalted pistachios
If you are not serving immediately store in the fridge

I'm usually not a fan of whipped cream frosting but it was perfect for this cake. If you make it be sure to have lots of people to eat it because it does not keep well for very long.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the sunshine and my tejas

This is how it started.
I sat in a sundress on the porch with my breakfast and coffee. The beautiful sunlight warming me... and then these thoughts... if you go to yoga you'll miss this sun it won't be shining on your porch much longer, you don't need to go let your tejas shine just let the sun in to light you up, you ran that 5k Sunday your body won't respond well to yoga today, maybe it's better to start going again in April... these rediculous excuses just kept coming. A little reason crept in, you never regret going to class...
I found myself changing for class, gathering my stuff and heading off to class. And still on the way were these excuses not to go. 'I bet we'll have to do something with a partner, I just want to have my own space and do this with me.' And I began thinking about how stupid it was to be making excuses not to do this, why was I trying to get out of going, why am I giving my fear this kind of voice? I should be convincing myself to go to class and saying things like 'what a beautiful way to welcome spring.' As I approached the studio I could see that curtains were drawn and again the voice came 'must be closed, just turn around, at least you tried...' I saw a fellow student head in so I took a deep breath and went to class.

How did it end?
It was a beautiful class. I left feeling shiny and bright. It's a beautiful thing to be able to sit in the sunshine but more important to remember that that light is always inside of me and let my tejas shine. I was full and open. I had energy and motivation. That negative voice full of excuses had disappeared.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh Reuben, you look delicious!

Looking for something to do with left over corned beef?
How about a reuben?

What you'll need
rye bread
corned beef
swiss cheese
I didn't have Thousand Island so I made my own sauce
garlic powder

I made the sandwich like a grilled cheese, lightly buttered bread put the corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese, put in a frying pan until the center was warm and cheese was melted
Then I removed it from the pan, removed one piece of bread to smother it in sauce, put the bread back and enjoy! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

the big three - Guinness, Jameson, Irish Cream

I have been thinking about St. Patrick's Day. Since we'll be heading off to enjoy corned beef and cabbage I've been thinking about what contribution I could make. I've heard a lot about baking with stout but never done it. Then I came across this Guinness Cupcake recipe that takes it one step further but including three lovely Irish alcohols. I couldn't get it out of my mind so on the way home tonight around 10 pm made a detour by the grocery store and before I knew it there I was- with huge help from my partner - baking cupcakes as the day changed from the 16th to the 17th. I think the only variation we made was to add some food coloring to the frosting and the cupcakes needed to bake for 20 minutes. 

I am now exhausted but think these lovely treats were well worth it! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bottles to Glasses - reuse

I really like the idea of reusing old bottles. I got an Ephrem Bottle Cutter. Their website has a great demo video which makes it look easy...

Use the bottle cutter to score the bottle, using a candle heat along the score, you'll hear a little cracking or popping noise, then bur an ice cube over the heated scored part of the bottle and there should be a clean break. If it doesn't break right away try heating and using the ice again. Then it's time to sand or polish down the cut edge. 

I also purchased some etching paint. My first attempt with it was the Dave Matthews Fire Dancer image as a friend had asked me if I would be able to do it. Instead of creating a stencil I printed the image and placed it inside the glass and used that to paint the image. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

What better way to celebrate Pi day than with pie. 
We got strawberries in our farm share today and I had some pie crust in the freezer. I cut the pie crust to fit in muffin tins and baked the crust for 10 minutes at 400. 
The filling
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/8 cup milk
1/8 cup bulleit bourbon
some cinnamon 
1 package of strawberries

I boiled down the syrup, milk, bourbon and cinnamon then added chopped strawberries. After that cooled, and the crust was cool I distributed it among the crusts. I made it in the afternoon and wanted to be able to eat them hot so I put the muffin pan in the fridge and in the evening put the little pies in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

it smells like spring

Snow drops are blooming, crocuses are opening up in the sun and tulips are pushing their way up, breaking out of the dirt. 
It is 70 degrees here. There is not a window in my apartment that is not open. 
It has been a very mild winter but I still find myself thrilled by the thought of spring. I can not wait to be digging in the dirt again and watching everything come to life. So today I started to plan for this year's garden and started some seeds. 
I made a map of my garden beds, took an inventory of the seeds that I have and tried to lay out what I will go in each bed. Then I filled up trays, planted some seeds and found them a nice spot by the window so they can get warmed by the sun and grow up from the dirt. 
I should have the hoop house back up and these little guys moved outside by the end of the month. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Fridge Cleaning

Walking around our neighborhood yesterday enjoying the unseasonably warm weather I was reminded how much I like where I live. I have access to a variety of things within walking distance - groceries, pharmacy, restaurants, shops... As we've been working on minimizing what we have - regularly evaluating and donating clothes, household items, etc. I've noticed a change in our grocery shopping habits as well. Because we have easy access to groceries and because we don't have a car we do smaller more regular shopping trips. We are also trying to eat more fresh produce and less packaged items - there are a few staples we keep on hand for quick meals but we are even right around the corner for two places that make fresh pasta. I would rather make a stop to pick fresh pasta up for a quick dinner than eat pasta from a package out of the cupboard. In honor of spring and starting to notice our new food patterns I decided it was time for refrigerator spring cleaning. I looked in the fridge and freezer to see what had been there awhile and needed to be used up so it wouldn't be thrown away. 

I found empanada discs in the freezer. Perfect! You can fill them with almost anything... 
Filling #1
beans, sweet peppers, cheddar cheese, chipotle powder, cayenne pepper powder
Filling # 2
cherry tomatoes and basil from the farm share, basil from our yard that we'd frozen, and gorgonzola, salt and pepper
I'll admit that the gorgonzola was a bit odd but it seemed to work 
Filling # 3 
Bag of mixed frozen berries blended with an ounce of semi-sweet chocolate, I ended up with more filling than shells so used it for dipping too 

I fried the stuffed discs in oil until the dough was cooked and golden. I dusted the fruit empanadas with powdered sugar. They were also easy to reheat in the oven for a late night snack.