Friday, January 29, 2010

An early Valentine

I'm not really obsessed with Valentine's Day. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love speciality chocolate and people showering me with love notes, but that's only human. I guess I don't like holidays that put a lot of pressure on your loved ones to make you feel extra loved, when it's pretty obvious they love you everyday anyway. So I was a little hesitant to make my first Valentine's Day decoration. But I like to make things. And winter is hard. There is a lot of time spent indoors, twiddling thumbs, waiting for snow. And when it doesn't snow...I have no choice but to get crafty. So here we have a Valentine Garland. Don't judge me.

It all started with red felt. I couldn't help it. I cut out some different shapes of hearts and then traced them onto the red felt. And snip-snip they were cut out.

A cozy blanket stitch bound two hearts together (am I a poet?).

And here we have a heart.

I strung the hearts onto a piece of embroidery floss and hung them on the mantle. For everyone to see.

I like it. I'm looking forward to how it will bring some cheer into cold, dark February. Happy early Valentine's Day. And if you make one too, I won't judge.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Look who's having a baby!

What? Oh! Not me, the Elephant Ear plant.

And isn't she a pretty baby? We were worried the baby-having days were over for Mrs. Elephant Ear, so this is just great.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Way up!

We went ballooning. It was pretty amazing.

Since we don't live in an awesome small town that sponsors awesome activities such as balloon festivals, I'm really glad we know awesome people that do. Thanks you guys!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ganache love

I love ganache. I love saying it. I love eating it. And coconut covered in ganache? It's pretty amazing.

We were headed down south to visit family for a few days, and I wanted to make something to bring along. I discovered the secret to being a good guest a while ago. It's so simple: Bring something sweet. People love baked goods, and once you walk in the door with a Pyrex dish full of goodies, it doesn't matter what else you do the rest of your stay. You can be a piggy at dinner and no one says anything. You can hog the baby and no one cares. You brought a treat. You are golden.

I found the recipe for these coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache in this book. It is such a lovely book. It had me laughing, crying, and really hungry the whole time. I love books about food.

Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache
From A Homemade Life

3 c. lightly packed sweeted shredded coconut
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream

Place the coconut, sugar, and egg whites in a heavy saucepan and stir well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture will look very creamy as it heats, and then it will slowly get a bit drier, with individual flakes of coconut becoming discernable. Stop cooking when it no longer looks creamy but is still quite sticky and moist, not dry. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the mixture into a pie plate or small baking sheet, spread it out a bit to allow it to cool quickly, and refrigerate until cold, about thirty minutes. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using your hands or a small ice cream scoop, scoop and firmly pack the coconut mixture into small domes. Space them evenly on the baking sheet.
Bake the macaroons until evenly golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on the pan on the wire rack.
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is hot and steaming. Do not allow it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Spoon the warm ganache generously over the macaroons.
Refrigerate the macaroons on the rack until the ganache sets, at least 2 hours.
Makes 14-18 macaroons

Saturday, January 9, 2010

His present

For Christmas, Evan got his own personal desert garden. From the top: Prickly Pear, Claret Cup, and Fish Hook Cactus Flowers. I was able to keep it a secret for six months and worked on it little by little in my beloved (and much missed) farmhouse studio.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


These cookies are so good they will keep you awake at night. (I'm actually speaking from experience. That is a lot of chocolate to eat after 8 pm, even for me) I have been saving this recipe snatched from a magazine (Sunset?) for quite a while. Waiting for what...I don't know. But they were made last night--and they are amazing. They taste like perfectly-done brownie sandwich awesomeness.

Triple-Threat Chocolate Cookies
from The Sugar Cube

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
6 T. flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

To make cookies put chopped chocolates and butter in a medium metal bowl and set bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cook, stirring until melted, them remove from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla into chocolate mixture. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into chocolate mixture until evenly mixed, then stir in chocolate chips. Wrap dough airtight and chill until firm enough to hold its shape, 50-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the ganache. Put chopped chocolate and cream in a medium metal bowl and set bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cook, stirring, until melted, then let cool. Cover and chill, stirring occassionally, until firm enough to spread, about 1 3/4 hours and up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 2 T. portions of dough onto sheets, spaced one inch apart. Press dough to flatten into even 1/2 inch thick rounds. Bake about 10 minutes and let cookies cool.
Generously spread flat sides of cookies with ganache and top with remaining cookies.
Makes about 16 sandwiches.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Sack Lunch

Did you know that flour still came in a sack?

I didn't. But it does. And isn't this an awesome bag? During our time at the farmhouse, we went through two 20 lb. bags of flour. If I'm not mistaken, that's 40 lbs. of flour. In six months. For two people. Oh boy. Anyway, now I have a couple of flour sacks hanging around the house.

I decided to use one to make a new lunch sack. The one we had been using before was one of those crocheted-hemp-fruit bag things, and Evan hated it. It kind of got caught on everything, and things fell out because of the holes...it wasn't ideal. It finally started to break, so Evan gets his wish--a new lunch sack.

Also, my mom made this. She is a knitting wizard.

And here we have a new lunch sack.

I'm sure everyone in the lodge will be so jealous! They'll be sitting at tables eating greasy ski lodge food and we'll saunter past with a true sack lunch.
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