Monday, August 31, 2009

latest cake making...

It was Sarah's wedding shower and she wanted a cake made for the occasion with cupcakes.
I immediately thought of the gorgeous book by Martha Stewart that I had and I decided to give a go at these beautiful "TUILE" cookie banners that I had been eyeing for a while.
Now the problem with Martha is that her recipes, whether craft or baking tend to have gorgeous photos that inspire and you feel you "MUST" try them but she always... always... tends to leave out something... and that is the disappointing part.
(who knows... maybe its me... i need things explained kindergarden style...)
but I do wish she was more specific ... added more information to her HOW-TO"S...
Less headache for me...

Here are the Tuile banner cookies I was tackling from her book...

she called for "foam board" and this is what I found at the store.
(I should have known that what I bought was foam core!!!!!!)
after some soggy experimenting and sloppy cookies that were smeared,
I head back to the store to investigate this foam board issue...

My bad penmanship comes back to haunt me and notice the smeared edges of the cookies...

OK!!! Found the proper foam board... Its that foamy material you find at craft stores that those foamy stickers are made out of...
Third attempt... not bad ... too bad about my handwriting...
Much better!
Oh you do have to use the silicone baking mat. I tried parchment paper and it was messy.

I begin the fondant sculpted figures

Cupcakes are decorated with hand sculpted flowers and doves.
Ready for the cookies on top

All finished!

Now for the cake...
sculpted love birds

The bride

Yes... the groom forgot his pants!

All done!
Here's to many many years of love and happiness Sarah and Jason!!

And OF COURSE never one to be left out!!!
Honeypie plays cake decorator with left over frosting and a cake layer I saved for her to decorate. A really fun project to do with kids. Sampling all the decorating "tips" for my piping bags. Stars, swirls, spaghetti!

TADAHHH! she had alot of fun! YUMMM!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Making pizza

Found this pretty useful tiny pizza book at the sale bin at Barnes and noble. Plenty of variety of pizza dough options and toppings.

Todays garden bounty.

watching the dough rise

Patting it down on the pizza stone

and yes... zucchini!

Making pizza with kids is a wonderful easy way to get them involved in the kitchen and being aware of choosing good ingredients for their food.
I used to be very intimidated by the idea of making my own dough and fiddling with yeast and the rising of bread. But actually it is quite easy. And if you check the ingredient list on what actually goes into most prepackaged dough or pizza crusts you buy at the supermarket you'd be a bit alarmed. (not all... but most)
This pizza crust had flour, oil, water, yeast and a bit of salt and sugar. Thats it. oh, and a bit of corn meal.
Honeypie had a wonderful time watching the yeast bubble. Seeing the dough rise and having a choice on what went on her pizza... fresh heirloom tomatoes and zucchini from the garden!

I have been listening to NPR's food podcast for a while (great food website too) and this week they had a guy named Jef Varazano who claims to have THE BEST pizza crust recipe in the world...
check it out here and maybe test it out yourself to see if he is right....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


One of those blah days.
Trying too figure out life with too much thinking on this AM...
There are a couple of blogs I follow that always take me to far away places.... mountains and creeks, beekeeping, and cheese making, tending sheep, wrangling cows, dying wool...
homeschooling... unschooling...
I am feeling here in my space half between a city life and 2 miles close to as country as we can get for now....
I know, I feel how fast life is moving.
At night we talk about quality of life and remind ourselves
we are doing the best we can for today...
but what is it we want for tomorrow?
and can we just leap
and grab it?
what are we waiting for?

there is only right now

Some blogs that bring me to a better place...

Monday, August 24, 2009


Currently reading...

Great crepe pans...

thinking of jaffa cakes...

Only I ate this one...

I have been reading Alice Water's biography by Thomas Mcnamee. (So far i am up to her adventurous ways with LSD in the mid-sixties in Berkeley, California... the epicenter of free-love...WOW) But seriously, what a wonderful woman. Not only did she define and revolutionize the way we think about food, how it is grown, how we cook and how we eat but I admire her politically conscious approach to cooking, her commitment to using seasonal, organic products from local sources and her focus on the pleasure food brings. She was influenced to create her well known restaurant "Chez Panisse" by the time she spent in France as a student in her youth and though I have never visited her restaurant, her books have influenced my cooking here at home tremendously.
The book I would like to read next is a book I heard about on NPR's "A chef's table" called "Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters" based on the real edible schoolyard project in Berkeley, California. (
The Edible Schoolyard (ESY), a program of the Chez Panisse Foundation, is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for urban public school students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. At ESY, students participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce.

Classroom teachers and Edible Schoolyard educators integrate food systems concepts into the core curriculum. Students’ hands-on experience in the kitchen and garden fosters a deeper appreciation of how the natural world sustains us and promotes the environmental and social well-being of our school community.

This program sounds amazing!

When I was about 17 years old and my father gave me one of the best gifts that I could have received in my youth. He gave me a month by myself in Paris, France.
It was the summer before I was going to enter college (art school) and I had been taking french in school for a while (though I spoke it terribly). He knew a family I could stay with there and I eagerly took on the opportunity to see the Louvre, the D'Orsay, Rodin's home, with my own eyes. It was daring, adventurous and so liberating for me.
I came back with such a passion for art, food and fashion ... my world opened completely and I was left with this intense need to travel and just soak up all that life could offer.
I remember my parents must have given me something like $200 bucks in spending money. ($50 bucks which I actually spent on food and $150 which I spent on a insanely expensive pair of shoes I bought on the Champs-Elysees.)
I woke up in the outskirts of paris, took the bus to the city and picked my agenda for the day. I spent my days being seduced by art and lured by delicacies. The bakery aromas of pain au chocolat, croissants and fresh baguettes.... mmmm.
My palette had been simple then. I knew fish as battered and fried, mushrooms or asparagus from a can, lasagne was a staple dish. But being in a typical french home and my french being so terrible, I could not bring myself to say... "sorry, i do not eat that". Couscous, escargot, camembert cheese, home cooked cassoulets, they all gave me a new culinary outlook. I took my coffee black because I could not pronounce the french word for sugar correctly and learned how to taste the richness of black french pressed coffee. Delicious.
Walking the streets of paris I encountered street vendors selling one of the most delicious things... crepes. Ham and cheese, orange zest, honey and my favorite to this day... a crepe with Nutella chocolate spread and sliced bananas.
This weekend I introduced Honeypie to the wold of "crepes" and the chocolate Nutella ones were a hit! Daddy liked the ones that were "british jaffa cake" inspired with chocolate and orange marmalade and I preferred mine with spinash and fresh parmesan/romano cheese.
Below is the recipe we used for our basic crepes from a pretty good book called "Crepes" by Lou Seibert Pappas. I have 2 great french crepe pans I bought at Williams-Sonoma (here) and it makes it easier to make them but I am sure a nice omelette pan will work as well.


2 large eggs
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup of water
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tablespoons of butter melted

(I add a tsp of vanilla and a tablespoon of sugar for the sweet ones and fresh minced herbs on the salty ones)

Blend all the ingredients in a bowl either by hand or you can use a food processor, until the mixture is smooth.
Refrigerate the batter for at least 2 hours.
Bring it out of the refrigerator and heat a non-stick crepe pan over medium heat.
Brush some melted butter on the pan and pour 3 tablespoons of batter but no more than a 1/4 cup ... depending on the size of the pan. (A traditional pan is normally about 6-7" .)
Tilt and rotate the pan to spread the batter all around the perimeter of the pan. The batter should be thin.
Cook until almost dry (about a minute)and gently loosen the edges with a spatula. Flip over and cook the other side.
Repeat the process with remaining batter. I like to stack them in between wax paper until ready to eat. But eat them right away! They taste best warm. (You can warm them in the oven).

You can get creative with what you place inside...

Nutella and banana
honey and warm apples
spinash and aged gouda
ham and gruyere cheese
berries and yogurt

Alice Waters likes hers with Orange Zest (Crepes Grand Marnier) like she had during her visit to Brittany, France. They are made with Buckwheat flour.
I haven't made these yet but they are on my to-do list!


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