25 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

From everyone at Doe Run Farm...

We let Christmas flow over us this year.

Here's to a very Happy New Year.

23 December 2014

Carolina Wild Fruitcake

We have been stuck in that holiday swamp! 

As you know, we are big proponents of the fruitcake.  Now every year, we think about doing our fruitcake post in September or October giving everyone a fair chance at actually making a fruitcake while giving it time to mellow.  But we never do.

This year, we have been reading on the Internet about an Australian fruitcake made with a scant three ingredients. The Internet has also given us alien autopsies and a chubacabra or two, so we were skeptical.

One day while exploring various drawers and shelves in and around the kitchen, we found a box of raisins that seemed to be full.  Upon opening it was clear this box had been the resting place of countless bags of dregs from the baking world.  The were about two tablespoons of currents, half a cup of shriveled sultanas, mealy raisins, and something else that at one time had been a dried fruit.  Not wanting to toss out perfectly good, if less than perfect dried fruit, an experiment was in order. 

Australian 3 Ingredient Fruitcake

1 kilogram dried fruit
2 cups juice
2 cups self-raising flour

Armed with my Australian recipe (above), we set out to make the three ingredient fruitcake.  Much to my wondering eyes...the cake was pretty and good!  Not to mention, way easy...easier than any other fruitcake ever made.

So we stocked up on really nice fruit and set off to make the recipe our own. 

Now we just love Carolina Wild Muscadine Juice.  It seemed like a natural.  Since there is only 12 ounces of juice we made up the additional four ounces with rum.  Two pounds of fruit is a bit less than the kilo in the Aussie recipe.  We used a mix of raisins and fruitcake mix. We also used some extra rum to doctor the cakes while warm.  After it cooled completely, we removed the paper, wrapped it in rum-laced cheesecloth and cling film.  The recipe makes one large cake like Lucinda's Wood Baking Box, or a 9-inch springform pan, or two loaf pans, or several smaller loaves for gifting.  (Remember, with less volume, you need to decrease the baking time.) Here is the recipe for our ...

Carolina Wild Fruitcake

1 pound mixed raisins
1 pound glace peel
1 bottle Carolina Wild
4 ounces white rum
2 cups self-rising flour
Extra rum for "doctoring"  (optional)

Soak the raisins and peel in the Carolina Wild and rum overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 300F.

Line 2 loaf pans with parchment or brown paper.  Spray with oil. Set on a baking tray.

Mix the flour into the juice and fruit.

Spoon into prepared baking pans and bake for about 90 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush with additional rum while warm.

 But wait...there is more. 

My goddaughter has been having an awful time with gluten.  Even rice flours have been giving her fits, so we have been experimenting with sweet potato flour.  It is quite dense and often overpowers baking, but it seemed a fine match for fruitcake.  For our gluten free cake, we kept with the lighter color scheme -- yes, baked goods can have a color scheme!  We used sultanas and a mix of lemon, orange and citron for the fruit.  We needed to leaven the flour so we used our own homemade baking powder (cream of tarter and baking soda) but you can buy gluten-free baking powder.  As for "doctoring" the cake, one tends to forget that many spirits, like bourbon are make from grainy products.  We did doctor this with some lemoncello made with a potato vodka.

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Fruitcake

1 pound sultanas or golden raisins
1 pound mixed citrus peel
2 cups apple juice
scant 2 cups sweet potato flour
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

Soak the raisins and peel in juice overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 300F.

Line 2 loaf pans with parchment or brown paper.  Spray with oil. Set on a baking tray.

Mix the flour and baking powder into the juice and fruit.

Spoon into prepared baking pans and bake for about 90 minutes.

Soak the raisins and peel in the Carolina Wild and rum overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 300F.

Line 2 loaf pans with parchment or brown paper.  Spray with oil. Set on a baking tray.

Mix the flour into the juice and fruit.

Spoon into prepared baking pans and bake for about 90 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush with additional juice or acceptable spirit while warm.

There is still time to make one and have warm fruitcake for Christmas.

 Even the fruitcake haters loved these loaves. 

 And... we hear that chubacabras are fond of them, too.

12 December 2014

Maddie Goes Home

 She is officially Madeline Bunnymellon Collins.

After a long ride, Maddie was united with her new family. 

First, I stopped at the Post Office to drop off an envelope. She got into the trash and ate coffee grounds!  (I don't have dogs so I never thought she would get into the trash.)

She was a bit wired the first few miles as you would have been if you ate coffee grounds.

We stopped for gas and had drive thru burgers.  Her first burger.  She was so excited, I had to stand outside the car in the rain to finish my burger.

Chris was early as he was excited to meet her.

He had already gone to the doggie boutique to get her peanut butter treats.

As we passed each other, Maddie was now sitting in his lap, staring out the window.  She was spoiled from the start.

When I got home, the first night I looked out at her box to check on her and realized she was gone. 

Merry Christmas, Maddie!

05 December 2014

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

We are not Oprah!  Nor Julie Andrews.  But these are a few of OUR favorite things.  Any one of them will make you an expert gift giver this holiday season.

 Carolina Wild

I grew up in Alabama with a big ol' muscadine arbor in the back yard.  A Southern grape, muscadines have a really thick peel, a gelatinous center, and big seeds.  Once you break that skin, the taste is unforgettable.  The first sip of Carolina Wild sent me right back to that hillside in Alabama. 

When Dennis and Elizabeth Tracz returned to North Carolina to care for Elderly family, they stumbled across an excellent family business -- Muscadine juice.  And why not.  Muscadines are full of antioxidants, they make a great replacement crop for tobacco, and they remind me of Alabama!  As an added bonus, the company philosophy is ingrained with giving back to the community.

So instead of grabbing up a bottle of wine that someone will simply re-gift the next week, be wild and grab up some Carolina Wild.

The Unseen Bean

Sure buy everyone a Starbucks gift card.  Feel free to be as unimaginative as possible!

Gerry Leary loves food -- he loves the way it tasted, smells, feels on the palate, but he has never seen the food he eats. Leary was born blind. 

One day, Leary found himself in a restaurant with a rock tumble.  At least he thought it was a rock tumbler.  When he inquired, the owner said it was a coffee roaster and would he like to "see" it.  Leary became fascinated with the roaster and set out to get a job roasting coffee. His enthusiasm was not met with the same from employers who simply didn't get it.  Since no one would give him a job, Leary bought his own roaster and taught himself.  He may not see the beans but hears them, smells them and roasts some of the best coffee around.

 You know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make coffee!"

Want to be the salt of the Earth this Christmas?  You know we not big on sweets -- our palate goes to the salty and we have a pair of salts for you holiday pleasure.

Omnivore Salt

Angelo Garro is Italian by birth and a blacksmith by trade.  His blacksmith shop is well known in the San Francisco area, but not always for the forge.  In the back, Garro has an industrial stove that rivals many restaurants.  The shop has hosted many a dinner filled with food, and chefs, and wine, and salt.

A hunter and gatherer on the side, Garro often seasons his game and vegetables with a salt and spice blend he learned to make at his grandmother's knee.  Needless to say, everyone who ventured into the forge kitchen wanted their own bag of salt.  Finally, some suggested he sell the stuff...and the rest is history.

We love it rubbed on a chicken for roasting.  Try it sprinkled over olive oil with some crusty bread.  Toss it on vegetables. 

J.Q. Dickinson

For a beautiful finishing salt, look no farther than the green and rolling hills of West Virginia.  While snobs rave about Maldon salt from England, true food lovers rave about the salt from Malden, West Virginia.  Under the mountains of Appalachia lies an ancient, briny sea.  For seven generations, the Dickinson family has produced salt from that sea -- well for a brief period, the salt production came to a halt, but recently,siblings Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne came back to the family farm and began producing the most beautiful of finishing salts.  A tiny sprinkle on brownies elevated the humble dessert to a show stopper. 

Bloomery SweetShine

While we are in West Virginia...you need a drink.  Nothing is easier on the digestion than a nice glass of limoncello.  Finding a good limoncello outside of Italy wasn't always an easy task.  When Linda Losey and Tom Keifer returned from a trip to Italy, they wanted a nice bottle of limoncello to remind them of their trip.  When they couldn't find one...you guessed it...they started making their own.  They bought a property on Craig's List and set up shop.  Who knew one would find lemons in West Virginia. 

They didn't stop with just lemons -- they have added raspberry, pumpkin, black walnut, and peach to name a few.  Frankly, they have way too much fun for people who are running a business!  Buy, you know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!"

Cookbook Of The Day

What do we want for Christmas?  Cookbooks, of course.  Head over to Cookbook Of The Day for some great ideas to add to your cookbook shopping list.  Old and new, there is something for everybody. 

 Omnivore Books On Food

Need a really special cookbook.  Something out of print?  Something signed by a favorite chef? Something unusual?   Pop off an e-mail the Celia Sack at Omnivore and your search will come to an end.

Heifer International

Last but not least -- in fact -- last but should be first...

This is a season of giving.  What do you give the person who has everything?  A gift for someone else.  Instead of doing that last minute shopping at the drug store -- log onto Heifer International and make a donation of chickens, or bees, or goats, or stoves and tuck that into a stocking. 

We have always been big supporters of Heifer International, but you live in a community and there are folks who need help.  Drop off a toy, buy a coat, donate to a food bank.  the wold will be a better place and you will be a better person.

Happy Holidays!

02 December 2014

November 30th

This is my November 30th post.  Yes, it is a bit late.  I could tell you about the inclement weather and power outages, but my guess is a bit of old-fashioned laziness!  My bad.  But the power did go out!  Anyway...

November 30 has two odd, but cool anniversaries.  Both events should have been windfalls for the people involved, but as fate often has it, both individuals died broke. 

On November 30, 1858, John Landis Mason invented the Mason jar.  Well, technically, he invented a jar with external screw threads that allowed for a metal lid with a hermetic seal to be screwed onto the jar.  This make canning much more safe and accessible.  If it had not been for Mason, no one in Brooklyn would have anything to drink out of, not to mention all those canning blogs that would have to fold! 

I am sure you get at least one link a day on Facebook telling you all the nifty ways one might use a Mason jar. ( FUN FACT:  All Ball jars are Mason jars, but not all Mason jars are Ball jars. ) Still, John Landis Mason died broke.  His patent expired in 1879 and and he expired in 1902.  Sad but true.

On November 30, 1954, Ann Hodges became the first and only person ever hit by a meteorite. ( Well, maybe there was a kid in Africa, but we like "first and only" better and we have never seen his bruise.) I am rather fond of this story because it occurred in Sylacauga, Alabama, my sort of hometown.  I often drove past the actual house where the meteorite crashed through the roof. 

So this particular day in 1954, Ann Hodges was napping on the sofa when she heard a crashing noise, the meteorite came through the roof, destroyed the radio and hit Hodges, leaving the enormous bruise; after all the space chunk was a good 8 pounds!  After much Cold War paranoia,  the rock was returned to Hodges, who could have sold it for big bucks...but there was a glitch. She rented the house and the owner claimed the rock was hers.  So they fought over it until no one wanted it.  Hodges ended up giving it to a museum and then having a nervous breakdown, leading to and early death.

Needless to say, this was about the biggest thing that ever happened to Sylacauga... until Jim Neighbors became Gomer Pyle!

The moral of this story is:  if you get hit be a meteorite and you are a renter, share the wealth!

29 November 2014

Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger is the puppy formerly known as Bunnymellon.  This is her Thanksgiving story.

I got tossed out by some mean humans.  They hit me and dumped me out and I had no where to go.  I found this little house that was kinda warm and I slept there.  That next morning, Lucinda came out to get the chickens, whose house I was sharing.  The chickens were scary and made me cry.  Everyone had been so mean to me...

Lucinda was nice but really didn't want me.  She has stupid cats and they were not nearly as nice as the chickens. They wanted me gone.  But Lucinda never hit me or yelled at me.  She just wanted me to go, but I didn't have a home.

Lucinda called everyone, but no one would claim me.  The cats shared some of their food and then Lucinda bought me a bag of food just for me.  I was so hungry I would have eaten the whole bag, but I would have gotten really sick.  So now I eat healthy portions a couple of times a day.

So there is this thing called the Internet, that I am not real familiar with, but it lets things fly through the air.  Lucinda made a picture of me and sent it on the Internet to her friend Ann.  Ann sent the picture to Barbara in Vermont, she sent my picture to Neville back in Virginia, and she sent it to Chris and Maria whose recently lost their dog.  Unlike the cats...they loved me and want me to be their dog!

I am very thankful this Thanksgiving that I am getting a home.  I will have plenty of food, a warm house, and no one will every hit me again.
Monday, Lucinda is taking me to the vet to get some medicine so I will a tip top dog and this weekend, she is driving me to meet my new puppy parents.  They are making a list of great dog names for me.  While I am getting a new name and a new home, I will forever be an Alabama fan, thanks to Lucinda.

So I hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as I did.  Please don't be mean to animals...if you don't want them, take them to a shelter.

One last thing....
Rooooooll Tide!

18 November 2014

Our First Snow

A tad undramatic, but still snow!

12 November 2014


I love Sissinghurst.  If had all the money in the world, I would find a way wrench it away from the national trust and I would live there with an army of gardeners.  Well, that's not going to happen, so the next best thing is reading about it. 

Vita Sackville-West's grandson is married to gardening expert and cook, Sarah Raven.  They live in the family apartments at Sissinghurst and with her love of gardens, Raver spend a great deal of time in the gardens.  As one might expect, she has also spent a great deal of time with Vita's writings about Sissinghurst.  In a hybrid work of garden writing, Raven has taken Vita's writing and combined it with her own story of the garden.  

As Raven points out, "Gardens do not normally survive their creators...."  Sissinghurst is a rare example, perpetuated by surviving family, gardeners and vast, detailed writings. The gardens have retained the influence of vita Sackeville-West, while moving forward to become one of the premier gardens of the world. 

This book offers up a historical look at the garden combined with the modern work being done today.  The book combines old photos along side current photo, displaying the ever changing nature in the life of a garden.

Vita wrote about gardening:
The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows.
Little did she realize that her vision for the garden would be taken up by her children and grand-children. The beauty of Sissinghurst, what make this garden eternal is remembering the past while learning more each day.  If Vita Sackville-West were to visit Sissinghurst today, she would find it very much as she left it...and magically transformed.  That is the nature of a garden.

04 November 2014

Curator of the Refrigerator

You know how you read something and it strikes you as true and very funny.  I have always coveted a refrigerator with a glass door.  I just love the way they look.  I was reading an article a while back (and I regret I have no idea who wrote it, and I am sorry) and the author made the point that having a glass front refrigerator was a stupid idea as one would not want to spend time curating their refrigerator.

Of course, this made perfect sense.  On any given day, my refrigerator resembles Fibber McGee's closet, one of those sitcom closets where everything in the house is stuffed into it only to fall out when it is opened. So recently, after unloading a grocery run, I looked up to notice that I had a rather nicely "curated" refrigerator that was worthy of a glass door. 

But only for that afternoon...still...I could get used to a $15,000 Sub Zero. 

02 November 2014

Edith Sitwell?

I know Halloween is over, but doesn't this pumpkin bear a striking resemblance to Edith Sitwell?  It is actually named Agatha and is from an outfit called the Invisible Underground.  They are a professional fruit and vegetable carving business.  Who knew?

31 October 2014

Greetings From the Great Pumpkins

Happy Halloween!

Today is the third anniversary of the Halloweener cats coming into our home.  Trick (far left) and Treat (in the middle) joined Teddy and Kitty Carlisle in our little family.  Kitty Carlisle is far too dignified to dress up!  Even thought they were supposed to go to the kitty jail and be put up for adoption, they somehow prevailed in joining the family.   They have been fun!

30 October 2014

Halloween Eve Supper

Twas the night before Halloween...

We made a nice chicken stew with blackened cornbread...

It was bootiful!

28 October 2014

Blue Hill Yogurt Cakes

Here is our yogurt rant. It always comes up when yogurt commercials come on the television.  One large yogurt company did a commercial bragging about REMOVING high fructose corn syrup from their yogurt.  Wait?  High fructose corn syrup?  When did that become an ingredient in yogurt?  Well, of course, it is not, but then neither is sugar.  The other pet peeve is yogurt bragging about "putting" probiotics into their yogurt.  Wait -- isn't that what yogurt is?   If you produce some over-pasteurized, over sweetened, milk by-product in a cup with spoonful of candy -- it ain't yogurt -- don't tell us it is!

When we first saw Blue Hill savory yogurt we fell in love.  It is real yogurt.  Who wouldn't love savory yogurt?  We also pulled out all of our yogurt cookbooks, because we knew we had a goldmine in these little dark containers. 

Then, we had to find them in stores.  We lucked out at one of the Wegman's in Virginia.  There is always a cooler positioned in the back of the Element to smuggle goodies into West Virginia. 

Our last batch, we decided to make a couple of yogurt cakes.  We had never made a yogurt cake before.  After looking at dozens of recipes, we came up with a recipe that used a six ounce cup of yogurt, since we didn't want to mess with measuring the the yogurt.  The other thing we really wanted to use were some really big raisins that we had on hand.  None of the yogurt cake recipes we looked at featured an addition of fruit  into the batter, but we wanted to give it a try.

We made one cake with butternut squash yogurt and one with beet yogurt.  In the butternut batter, we added raisins.  In the beet, we added chopped, candied ginger.  We cooked them in one of our wooden cake boxes, so we cooked the cakes for nearly two hours at 300 degrees.  The surprise was how much these cakes resembled an old-fashioned pound cake, but with not nearly the work that goes into a pound cake. Here are some thoughts:

These cakes were mixed in a bowl with a fork, no mixers were used.   A definite plus.

The ginger was a bit too chunky. The raisins were too big. Next yogurt cakes will feature a glaze on the outside instead of fruit on the inside.

Here is the basic recipe for one loaf cake. This is the butternut squash cake, with instructions to change it to the beet cake.

Blue Hill Butternut Squash Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 6-ounce carton Blue Hill Butternut Squash Yogurt (3/4 cup yogurt)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, and yogurt and mix well.  Fold the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the olive oil until just incorporated.  The oil likes to float on the top, so make sure it is incorporated.  Finally, stir in the raisin.

Pour into the lined loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

For the Blue Hill Beet Yogurt Cake replace the butternut squash with the beet yogurt.  Replace the raisins with chopped, candied ginger.

Next time out, we are leaving out the fruit and going with a glaze.  We are already working on a beet and yuzu glaze for the next Blue Hill Beet Yogurt Cake are looking forward to more time experimenting in the kitchen with Blue Hill Yogurt.

23 October 2014

Pickle Brine

Since we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, we are always getting gifts of produce.  We love getting produce.  The problem is, most of the time said produce needs to be dealt with expeditiously.  And we are not always expeditious.

Last week, we got large bag of jalapenos.  My friend, Art, is friends with the boys that run the farmer's market and he rarely misses a trip.  It is his one weekly outing.   After pickling several jars, Art left the rest of the bag for me.

We were in that period of time that the peppers had to be dealt with or we would lose them...so the pickling began.  (Yes, we know we should have made the pickles the day we got the bag, but we were too tired and it was pickle now, or toss the bunch by the weekend!)

Every time we pickle, we go through the same process: we look at 15 or 20 recipes and are happy with none.  Seriously, a brine is vinegar, water, salt, a bit of sugar, some spice.  It's not rocket science.  Making refrigerator pickles is simple, but the abundance meant that we would have to process them, as there is no way to eat that many peppers in a few weeks.

We sliced the jalapenos, onions, carrots, and chopped several cloves of garlic. We ended up with about six cups of cut vegetables.

Pickle Brine

2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons canning salt (or kosher salt)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Place everything in a non-reactive pot and bring to just boiling, stirring to make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Pack the vegetables, tightly,  into sterilized jars.  Pour the hot brine over the vegetables, leaving a 1/4 inch of heard room in the jars.  Place the lids on the jars, and hand tighten.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

With every recipe, there is a brine and with every recipe, there is almost, always, too much brine.  (Actually, too much brine is a lot better than trying to pickle something and finding out there is not enough brine.) The great thing about a brine is that one brine can brine most anything.  We had our bowl of jalapenos, carrots, and onions.  We made the brine.  Filled sterile jars, poured the brine and sure enough there was about a cup left.  We let the brine cool, as the jars processed.
In a pint jar, we stuffed slices of cucumber and red onions.  Poured the remainder of the brine over them, and in addition to the canned jalapeno peppers, we had a jar of refrigerator pickles, too.

Waste not, want not.

22 October 2014

Bet You Can't Eat Just One!

This year in the garden we tried to grow delicata squash.  We had one little squash.  During the height of summer, care and concern went into the summer squash and by the time, we realized the winter squash was up, it was consumed by weeds.  So while we were on the road, we bought a couple of lovely delicata squash, returned home, found a leak, ran errands for the sick, and crashed for a couple of days, and then we thought of the delicata squash and knew we needed to cook it soon. 

This morning was one of those rainy, cold, dreary days; a sad precursor to the coming winter.  It was a kind of nesting day and there was much to do.  First we turned on the oven...

This may seem like a simple thing.  Most ovens are set to offer the very general 350 degrees.  We rarely cook ANYTHING at 350 degrees.  We cook hot!  We cook low and slow.  Several years ago at Cookbook Of The Day, we wrote about The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper.  As we said then (and it still holds true) it had the best advice we have seen in a cookbook which we will paraphrase (and you can read the review later): when you walk in the door, turn the oven to 450 degrees.  So while you are contemplating what to cook, an staring into the fridge, by the time you do decide, the oven will be ready!

So we turned the oven to 450... cut the delicata, added a bit of salt and olive oil and into the hot oven it went.  In about 10 minutes the kitchen was filled with a carmely aroma, so we turned the oven off, turned the squash rings, and let them sit.  About 15 minutes, they came out of the oven and there was still no clear plan as to how we might serve them, but they were cooked and then...

Well, the title of this post is from an old potato chip add -- a phrase to make you think about how addictive chips are.  The squash rings were just that addictive.  Every step past the pan, was followed by another ring gone.  Needless say,  it was a delicata brunch!
 And since we live on a farm, we saved the seeds.  Next year we will be more diligent with our winter squash!

21 October 2014

Florence Nightingale

Several years ago, I wanted to buy a very expensive rug from Britain that bore the 1939 propaganda phrase: "Keep Calm and Carry On."  I am now soooo glad I didn't.  Alas, a perfectly good propaganda statement has been so abused that when I see the words, "Keep Calm" together, I do want to punch someone!

I have recently been thrust into the role of Florence Nightingale.  That and a big deadline have kept me from keeping clam.  But now we are back on the farm, deadline met, patient on the mend, cats happy, and I have a new found respect for Ms. Nightingale and all those men and women who actually choose nursing as a profession.  Bless them.

04 October 2014

Cookie Rings

 Baker extraordinaire, Dorrie Greenspan, is famous for her cookie jammers.  Basically they are shortbread cookies with jam and streusel on top.  What makes the cookies very distinctive is the way Greenspan baked them.  The cookies are baked in individual ring molds, giving them a uniform shape. They were so popular they spawned pop-ups, a cookie shop, and even a set of individual cookie baking rings. 

As the owner of a couple of dozen 2 inch baking rings, I though a lot about Greenspan's jammers.  I though, if one could cook shortbread cookies in individual rings, could you cook other cookies that way?

My personal cookie preference is chewy, neat cookies.  I was never one for those cookies that spread out on the cookie sheet leaving crispy edges.  I hate it when baking cookies run into each other.  I was that kid who wouldn't eat if the food touched each other! 

My "go to" cookie is a peanut butter, chocolate chunk.  When a visiting friend asked if I would make them, I thought it would be a good time to experiment.  I had tried before with good results, so I thought I would give the rings a try.

I have two dozen 2 inch rings.  I set them on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat.  Filled the rings and baked.  The cookies were perfect little 2 inch, fat, soft cookies.  I have toyed with idea of getting another dozen of the little rings and filling the tray.  I don't know if being that closely aligned would change the baking time, but it would be nice to bake an entire recipe of cookies all at once.  Right now, however, 24 at a time is fine.

02 October 2014

Happy Birthday Chuck Williams

Today is Chuck Williams' 99th birthday. 
  As the founder of Williams-Sonoma, he has transformed the way we cook.

Not to mention, the way we set a table.

From a personal standpoint, there are so many tools in my kitchen that I didn't know I needed until Chuck Williams told me I needed them,  Really, everyone needs a folding fish cooker!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Williams. 

17 September 2014

Happy Birthday Willy Wonka...

and Charlie and his chocolate factory.
The year marks the 50th anniversary of two of Roald Dahl's most endearing characters.  In the final analysis, Roald Dahl was perhaps the most enduring Roald Dahl character.  If one could step back and take a long look at the truly great children's authors, one might be quite shocked.  Frankly, they are not the kind of people one would actually leave children with.
I imagine that the very thing that makes children continually adore their work is a darkly violent undercurrent that is not always visible to the adult.  To be a truly great children's author one needs to retain the petulance of a child, a trait not greatly admired in the adult population.  Roald Dahl retained his childish petulance.  He was no paragon of virtue, but he innately understood the evil that lurks in the mind of a child.
He rarely let anyone in his writing hut, but once a year it was opened as children flocked to see the inner sanctum of Dahl's creativity.  A favorite object was his hip bone, removed during a hip replacement.  While adults seemed bewildered, children loved it.
This week, to mark the 50th anniversary of Willy and Charlie, 50 Irish bakers gathered and created cakes in honor of Dahl.   The Telegraph featured a large selection of these amazing cakes here

11 September 2014

Requiescat in Pace -- My Darling Clementine

Little did I know when I picked up this little sprite of a kitten, with ribs like fish bones that she would grow into the big bruiser of the cat she did. 
I've had Clementine for nearly 20 years, which is longer than most of the people in my life! 
She will be missed.

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