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Alas, three strikes and I am OUT. While worrying about the fact that I was a couple of tablespoons short on the cocoa for my cake, I completely neglected to add ANY sugar. I think it still tastes good but I like very dark chocolate. And, I am the only one who thinks it tastes good. I KNEW there was something wrong with the batter. Oh well, try again.
My girl had a birthday and to celebrate we went to a local nature center with a bunch of her friends. It was a wonderful time and in the interest of keeping with the nature/eco-friendly theme, we made all of the party favors and decorations.
For the favors, I had a swatch book from Paper Source and decided to use it to make little tiny sketch books for our nature walk. To do this, I used a paper-cutter to take off the top inch (approximately), which left me with a rectangle of the nice card stock. I cut regular printer paper slightly smaller than the card stock and put three pieces with each “cover”. I folded the layers of paper in half and stitched with an old needle down the center. To make the little books a bit more exciting, I carved a stamp and we used a shiny silver ink. (We used the stamp on thank you notes as well.)
For the garland, I had hoped to sew the scraps together from the swatch book, but for some reason my sewing machine didn’t think that was a good idea. Everything kept getting tangled up so we laid all of the scraps out on the table and glued them to a piece of yarn instead. This actually worked out better — Eleanor was able to help me put dots of glue on the paper, which she thoroughly enjoyed. The result was sort of whimsical and lovely, definitely very colorful.
I should have taken some pictures of the garland hanging at the party, but you will just have to imagine it. Instead I will leave you with a picture of the cupcakes — I used a chocolate whipped cream (2/3 cup chocolate chips + 1 quart heavy cream, melted together in a saucepan, then refrigerated, then whipped like regular whipping cream) for the frosting, delicious. And, yes, those are Skittles in the shape of smiley faces, as per the request of the birthday girl.
I have a few pictures from ages ago that I had intended to post about but never got around to writing about so here is the quick and dirty on them:
Red, white and blue potato salad from our July 4th celebration with blue potatoes from our garden and beets from the farmers market. (Really? The 4th of July! I am way behind.)
Several pictures of liquid watercolors on coffee filters that we put up in the window as sun catchers. The kids started with Q-tips and ended up folding and dipping the filters to expedite the process. (And these pictures are from June! Gasp!)
A shot of one of my bumbleberry pies before the crumbly topping went on.
And with that, I am hoping to get to some new and more interesting stuff.
Shortly after posting about my love affair with rhubarb, I came across this recipe for rhubarb soda. Of course, I had to try it. It is fantastic for several reasons:
1) the blog intercultura y cocina (which is quite lovely) is written in Spanish — so I learned a few new words while trying out the recipe. For example, ruibarbo = rhubarb, a cognate for sure but probably not exactly what I would have guessed if I had tried to imagine the word on my own.
2) the finished rhubarb syrup that the recipe creates, can be used for many different types of beverages (and probably other things too). I tried out the soda using 1 part syrup to 4 parts Perrier sparkling water. It was pretty good. I also tried rhubarb lemonade using approximately 5 parts lemonade (we have the frozen Minute Maid kind that you mix with water) to 1 part syrup. This was REALLY good. I added a few frozen strawberries and it made a wonderful pink lemonade.
3) it is another way to use rhubarb before we get out of season!
Anyway, I’ll post some non-rhubarb things soon — either that or I’ll just change this blog to rhubarb only blog.
I love rhubarb. Some people put on weight during the holiday season, I put on weight during rhubarb season. I just can help myself from buying bunches of it at the farmer’s market. Once I have it, I can’t help but make pies. The problem is, I am the only one in the house who really enjoys rhubarb + anything pies, and I always end up eating the entire thing in just a couple of sittings. So, in an attempt to maintain control, I froze a bunch of chopped rhubarb so that I can space out the pies a bit. However, I did make the mistake of trying some strawberry rhubarb preserves using this recipe with slightly less sugar.
Paired with butter and homemade bread (with this recipe, substituting honey for sugar) — I’m in trouble again. And, I haven’t even attempted my mother-in-law’s amazing rhubarb custard dessert, because I know that would be too much for me to resist.
Not doing a lot of blogging lately, but definitely baking. I don’t exactly know why either — having the oven on as the temperature outside rises isn’t necessarily the most logical thing. Anyway, lets start with the bread.
I made my first ever batch of whole wheat bread and it was amazing. So amazing in fact, that I forgot to take a picture of the finished loaves. I used this recipe and boy, was it good. I didn’t exactly have the right ingredients so instead of white bread flour, I used a combination of regular all purpose flour and white whole wheat flour (the King Arthur kind) for the first part and some whole wheat bread flour from the local food co-op for the second part. It worked just fine — the bread was light but held together well. I think foodies would say it had a nice crumb. I was able to slice it for sandwiches for the kids, which is what really mattered to me!
Next up, booby bars. I have to credit Sarah with the name — I made some of these granola bars for her because they had several ingredients that my midwife had recommended as milk production boosters back when I was nursing Eleanor. The basic recipe I followed is here, but really I added so much stuff that I figured I should probably just share my version here:
2 cup Oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour (again, I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup soy nuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup molasses
Add anything else you like. Add more honey/peanut butter/molasses to make it stickier if it is too dry. Mix all the ingredients and press into a greased pan. I like them thick so I use a 9 x 9 or two loaf pans. The more ingredients you add the bigger pan you will need (obviously). Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until edges are browned. once cooked, I like to cut the bars before it cools and then they sort of break apart when you take them out.
And, finally, some Rhubarb & Strawberry Hand Pies a la Angry Chicken. Here is her post/recipe. I found the crust on her cheat sheet to be a bit dry so I tried a second time and added a bit more water (maybe twice as much). The second crust came out better but I put it on a regular pie, which I don’t have picture of. Instead I have a picture of my little pie volcanoes, complete with rock-hard lava flow. Ok, so they are not beautiful, but they tasted good, at least the non-hardened lava parts. I could have rolled the crust a bit thinner as well — maybe next time.
Today (obviously) isn’t Thanksgiving Day, but I figure I am still thankful so this post is not too late. We had a delicious meal with family and it was a lovely way to spend the holiday. I thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I made.
A couple of days before Thanksgiving I made this delicious Banana Pumpkin Bread from Rebecca Scritchfield’s Balanced Health and Nutrition. I made fresh pumpkin puree and used about two cups instead of using a can. I also added a pinch of cloves and a pinch of black pepper. It took a bit longer to bake than I expected but it was worth the wait. Yum.
Then, for the big day, I made an apple pie. I am not much of a pumpkin pie fan, which I realize many people would think is crazy, but if I am making it, I prefer apple. I used Nittany and Macintosh apples and it was pretty darn good. Here is the recipe:
Pie crust (I used Betty Crocker’s boxed crust, it is easy and tastes good)
7 apples (4 Macintosh, 3 Nittany), peeled and cut into chunks
2 Tbsp (or so) butter
2 Tbsp flour (I used Sir Arthur’s white whole wheat)
1/4 cup (or so) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Put the bottom pie crust in the tin. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Pour mixture over the apples and stir gently until coated. Pour apples into pie tin. Slice butter into small pats and place on top of the apples. Put the top layer of crust on and cut a few holes (I made little hearts) for ventilation. Cook for ten minutes at 400 and then turn down to 350 for another 30-40 minutes until the crust is nice and golden brown. Enjoy.