Before we get to the holiday baking, I thought I would take full advantage of all the pumpkins and make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I bake cookies every week for my husband’s lunch and use Martha Stewart’s Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. The recipe for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is from Delish.com and they are/were delish. At the present time, they are almost gone—just two left for the hubby’s lunch through Friday! Hence why no picture, but I do have a lovely photo of my Martha Stewart Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on my IG feed.
The last few weeks of autumn have been busy as usual. There is always a lot of planning of my time. Thankfully my health has been great though I cannot say the same for my husband. Every year he gets allergies from ragweed–which is what we thought he had six weeks ago. Turns out he had something like a bad allergy, but not quite the flu, and it has really held on. It really is impossible not to get sick when your co-workers come to work full of sick. He has now been given a large bottle of sanitizer and a can of Lysol because neither one of us want him sick for his vacation–he takes 10 days every November and a week in December and that’s all the time he takes off from work–no sick or personal days in over 20 years. We’ve got a lot planned for his vacation time. This year we are going to be having an old-fashioned Christmas which I will be blogging about soon. I will also be blogging what products I use to stay healthy and keep a strong immune system going. Until then enjoy your family, Thanksgiving week and weekend if you celebrate it, and be well.
Cranberries are definitely not just for Thanksgiving. Cranberries work perfectly paired with ham, duck, and turkey at Christmas time too.
Last Christmas I made an Orange Cranberry Bread w/ Honey from a recipe here that was a hit. It worked great to serve it Christmas morning, and by Christmas dinner, it was ALL gone.
Every year I watch two Christmas movies from the show Little House on the Prairie–A Merry Ingalls Christmas and then the past three years I’ve made one homemade ornament or decoration inspired by these heartwarming shows. The first year we made a silver star out of aluminum foil like the one Carrie buys for a penny at the mercantile. The second year my husband made this paper garland–
this year we are making a cranberry garland like this one over at Ocean Spray only we’re skipping the popcorn.
At Thanksgiving time I don’t make cranberry sauce, I make a cranberry relish instead. I use a recipe by Tyler Florence that works great and goes well with turkey, ham, or duck. I also use it to spread like butter over bread with leftover ham or turkey for sandwiches.
So, that’s my story about my love for cranberries at Christmas time. Making homemade ornaments for Christmas is a way to incorporate something simple, yet cherished, into your holiday making. Cranberries though traditionally served at Thanksgiving look marvelous and taste great when added to bread, relish, even salsa.
I’ll be sharing my post with Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life— come on over and join the party!
Soulful Baker by Julie Jones is a loving tribute to baking made beautiful by Julie Jones. I’ve followed Julie Jones and her soulful excursions making pies, tarts, cakes, and bakes for some time. Beautifully decorated desserts made with natural ingredients, and pastry recipes perfectly extraordinaire.
There is simply nothing more beautiful than the story behind both her Instagram account and this beautiful cookery book. Both feature fabulous creations by Julie and her mum captured in beautiful photography and loving stories shared throughout. From the apple roses to the salted caramel, and the chocolate tart– this book is filled with inspiration. This is your chance to learn how to bake like a pro. All you need is your imagination and Soulful Baker by Julie Jones.
I requested Soulful Baker from NetGalley to review because of its loving tribute to the author’s mum. I simply fell in love with the recipes, photos, and stories included with each recipe. I highly recommend this cookery book to everyone!
Every summer, usually around August, my husband and I head for Door County WI. This year was no exception and we arrived during cherry picking season. Between the Cherry Cobblers and Cherry Crunch, I thought for sure I wouldn’t need another cherry dessert. That was until a friend of ours suggested Cherry Clafouti. Here is the recipe I used this past week- Cherry Clafoutis
I used our stand blender and found this recipe to be quite easy and the results–fabulous! Enjoy!
First how can you tell if your fig is ripe, overripe, or just right when you see figs for sale in the market?
Pick the fig up and smell it near the stem to see if it smells sweet–honey like. If it does it is ripe. Unlike avocado’s figs do not ripen once you get them home. If there is stickiness near the stem the fig is overripe. For the last 6 or 7 years I have purchased a dozen or so figs and found that I really like them. I wouldn’t say I could eat them all the time, but once or twice a year -yes.
This year I am going to use my figs three ways:
Figs with goat cheese and pine nuts (gluten free)
Figs and berries–just mix sliced and cut up figs with whatever berries are in season.
Figs and mascarpone and warm spiced honey
Figs are generally sold around here until early fall (Sept.)
These are all really easy recipes (10 min prep times).
Health-wise figs are loaded with fiber, magnesium and calcium. All things all people need especially women like me in their 50’s.
Until next time–be well!
This week at the first of the season local Farmer’s Markets–
Ramps are related to leeks and here in the Midwest they’re the very first thing that pops out of the ground and are usually sold at Farmer’s Markets from late April to very early May (about three weeks) and then gone. It’s hard to define what a ramp tastes like. They taste both sweet and strong- maybe slightly like a sweet earthy garlic. A popular way to enjoy them is in a salad. We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Madison WI and bought two bunches of ramps home with us. I made a ramp salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing– the recipe is here . It was fabulous, you will love it. Give it a try. Next week, perhaps two weeks from now, rhubarb will be available for sale. I’ve included a favorite family recipe for rhubarb crunch. Fun Fact- Did you know rhubarb is not a fruit. A good rule of thumb is that fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants. So botanically–the flowers you see on tomato plants, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins, and peppers make them a fruit. Rhubarb is classified as a perennial vegetable.
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup & 2 pats of butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
I’m joining Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life for her 373rd Inspire Me Tuesday! Until next time be well!
This weekend my husband and I are looking forward to celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. Wow, you know sometimes when I say that it seems like just yesterday, and then other times when I remember everything we’ve been through together I think ” No, 21 years is about right.” We’ve actually been with each other 22 years come this July, so ya a long time. We know each other very well, and I think as compatible couples go we are right up there with the best. We want to celebrate this special day with friends that feel like family but I don’t want to do any cooking. So we’ve hired a local catering company- Upstairs Downstairs Catering -to do it for us. One of the desserts they’re serving is a beautifully simple and delicious lemon tart. We’ve had this tart at another party they catered that we attended. The recipe for it is here. We’re ordering box lunches from their business menus, and although it is a bit pricey we feel it is so worth it.
When asked what I wanted for an anniversary gift I paused about 2 minutes and said -” All three season’s of A Chef’s Life“. It’s a series I found on PBS that features a couple who relocate to South Carolina and start up a farm to table restaurant. Every episode features a new ingredient and how it fits into southern cuisine.
Another show I found quite interesting is called Steak Revolution and it’s on Netflix right now. The narrator’s of this documentary (two chef’s) take tours through different countries in search of the most mouth-watering steak. I liked this documentary because it featured sustainable farms and ranches, responsible breeding and gourmet cuisine. They were able to locate the best steak in the world. You’ll just have to watch it to see where it’s at. 🙂
And last but never least this week I began watching Cooked, a documentary featuring Michael Pollan, adapted from his book (one of my favorites) of the same name. This documentary features different cuisines and the elements of fire, water, earth and wind in cooking. One of the main points of the documentary is how little time Americans are spending in the kitchen cooking. More and more Americans are letting restaurants feed them their daily meals.
My husband and I eat in a restaurant on average once a month so it is hard for me to relate to the statement above. About 60% of our diet is homemade food that I create from locally grown organic fruits/vegetables, and grains. The other 35%-meat, produce, and dairy is produced for us by local farmers. A mere 5% of our diet comes from eating at restaurants that are not farm to table and/or locally grown organic and the occasional snack food (i.e. candy bar, chips, popcorn).
This week my husband and seven of his fellow co-workers were honored for perfect attendance. In my husband’s case he was honored for 16 years of perfect attendance. There are three things that I feel strongly are responsible for this admirable and fascinating feat – 1) My husband has a strong work ethic 2) he is in excellent health- so he doesn’t need to call in sick 3) His commitment to eating better food and living a better life(cutting down on processed food and sugar) is paying off (see #2).
I’m growing lavender! This statement makes me so happy. Literally, I grin from ear to ear mainly because I’ve spent so much money buying other people’s lavender. I’ve accomplished growing quite a lot of lavender, from seed, in containers on my deck. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s very rewarding.
The lavender I planted is called Munstead lavender- a perennial herb. I learned all about growing lavender for cooking from Renee. Her website is here and is filled with a lot of important information about growing culinary lavender. Here is another wonderful website that explains the differences between culinary and ornamental lavenders.
The first thing I made with a few of my flowers was lavender ice cream.
Can I tell you that eating lavender ice cream really relaxes you and it’s best eaten shortly before bed.
Summer is sure flying by for me. I sat looking at my lists for things to accomplish this summer, on Monday, and quickly checked off the following things-finished 80% of Christmas shopping by July 31st-check, lost the 30# that’s been hanging on forever- check, vacation-check, remodeling with friends- check, camping in a cabin- check, biking- check (WI and MN), Ikea and MOA-check twice, Lake Harriet picnic-check (besides our bike trip and occasional trips to Ikea we hadn’t been in MN for so long) graduate from university-check, preserve peaches, raspberries and strawberries and so much more- check, edit two chapters of my book-check, submit at least three writing assignments-check, research relocate-check, keep up both blogs weekly-check. Oh and yes- clean clean clean. I did spring cleaning and I currently fall cleaning. So I truly needed something as relaxing and soothing as lavender ice cream at the end of my busy days.
My husband and I have spent the last two Saturdays walking at the Necedah Wildlife Refuge. He took this beautiful picture this past Saturday.
It’s so peaceful here and for avid birdwatchers like us a virtual paradise. I have a lot more time on the weekends to walk, birdwatch, even bake now that I am no longer buried in homework. Of course besides picture taking, chatting with my husband, and birdwatching, walks are good for planning what we’ll have for dessert with Sunday’s dinner. My husband is a lover of all things cheesecake and I love all things fruit. So, once home I perused Pinterest and discovered this yummy recipe again. I believe I have made this one before, it’s so easy and so good. I followed the recipe to the letter but omitted the optional food coloring because we don’t do food colorings in this house.
Friday we leave for our week-long stay in Door County so I will not be posting until I get back. That said I do have a couple of drafts I may schedule to publish before I go. Until next time– enjoy June!