Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
home alone? not eva.
18 November 2014
yesterday afternoon, i sat down in front of one of those Hallmark channel original movies (don’t judge me). the plot: expected. but unexpectedly, laugh-out-loud funny. i looked over at your photo, perched in its prominent place on the credenza, and knew how much you would have loved watching it with me. i can’t tell you how i miss those moments. when i’m out and about, i spot something totally you. a cute, cozy hoodie. one of your favorite ice cream flavors at Snow Goose. the park in Bellevue where you generously walked Winnie, the adorable bull terrier, on our first cold, rainy mornings in Washington. surprisingly (or not, because i’m a sap), i get a little teary-eyed. on that childlike level, i imagined you’d always be here. for me. for all of us. but your little student has come to learn, you are.
oh yeah, i can see a single, disapproving raised eyebrow when i’m not quite on track. a nose wrinkle when there’s bluegrass on the radio or i serve some variation on a chocolate-chip cookie (because you just may have forgotten you’ve come to adore them). that crooked smile and knee-slap when you tell a joke that you know is completely hokey. a great blue flying by much lower than one might expect.
today, like every day, little bird, i remember you. and even though you’re not sitting on the couch right next to me, i’m never home alone. love you always. see ya on the flip side.
spice girls forever
18 November 2013
i lost my mom exactly three years ago. since little bird’s passing, the thanksgiving holiday (ever our family’s favorite) has become more of a time of reflection than of feastivity (yeah, not a typo). i stopped preparing that lengthy to-do list and detailed menu that served as the countdown to turkey time (in fact, turkey no longer makes an appearance at our table). i don’t strategize about what time the night before i need to prepare the brioche dough. or when i should bound out of bed the next morning, so the pecan rolls will be ready when everyone else rises for coffee and televised parades. what remains the same is the sense of gratitude i feel for having had her in my life.
both of my zingy girls (mom and Winnie, the adorable, devilish English bull terrier) are gone now. they each had larger-than life personalities, equally huge hearts and generous spirits. more than once, i caught mom bending down and saying to Winnie, “you are one hot spud.” even in her twilight years, Winnie would respond with much tail-wagging, a few crisp barks of agreement and several speedy laps around the family room. then, of course, would demand a treat—and take a well-deserved snooze. they loved food, me and each other. maybe not exactly in that order.
little bird and Winnie had a zest for life. i’m dedicating this little number to my two, feisty, spicy gingers. until i see you again, keep each other company. love you to the moon and back…
a recipe from flour by Joanne Chang
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
- preheat oven to 350°F.
- butter and flour a 9 x 13–inch pan.
- using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes); scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no lumps.
- in a small bowl, whisk together the grated ginger and eggs until blended.
- with the mixer on low speed, add the egg mixture, and beat until just combined.
- scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, then beat on medium speed for 20 – 30 seconds, until mixture is homogenous.
- in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, pepper, cinnamon and cloves; set aside.
- in another medium bowl, whisk together the molasses, boiling water, and baking soda.
- on the lowest mixer speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixture already in the bowl, then beat until incorporated.
- pour in one half of the molasses mixture, and continue to mix at the lowest speed until combined; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- on the lowest mixer speed, add half of the remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated.
- add the remaining molasses mixture, and beat until incorporated.
- stop the mixer, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- add the final flour mixture, and beat on low speed for about a minute.
- scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
- bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the middle.
- let cool in pan on a wire rack.
serve with vanilla-bean whipped cream. let your dog lick the whipped cream off the whisk. give your mom the biggest, bestest piece.
hearts in Colorado
30 June 2012
we’ve all been taking it kind of easy at our house this month. the temperature has been unseasonably cool and the sky gray. and that’s probably a good thing for Winnie, as she hasn’t been feeling particularly spritely. at nearly 15, her pace has slowed dramatically in contrast to when she lived in the mountains above Colorado Springs. now, those were some days.
back then, Winnie rarely slept in. she liked to hang out on the back deck, sniffing the crisp mountain air and, undoubtedly, all the native creatures who shared our property (with big cats nearby, Winnie never got to stay out on the deck too awfully long without human supervision). when she wasn’t surveying the outdoor scene, she spent her time wedged between me and the kitchen counter—every time i fixed a meal. another favorite pastime? sunning. if there was a patch of sunshine to be found in the house, Winnie would be in it. asleep on her back, with all four in the air.
a true-blue mountain dog, Winnie would hike valiantly by our sides (or pull so hard on her leash, she’d wear herself out). like that time on the Women’s Trail, when she laid down in the middle of the path and refused to go any further, forcing Tootie to carry her back to the car. Winnie’s sense of direction: as accurate as any GPS. like that time when she mysteriously got out of the yard, and got lost, and Lisa searched for and ultimately retrieved her from the home of a distant neighbor, who’d graciously corralled her. Winnie’s valor: unsurpassed. like that time we were instructed to evacuate during the Hayman fire, and she barked her butt off in the hotel room (and i was afraid we’d be ejected), until we put her up on the bed with us (don’t tell).
i always imagine when Winnie dreams (and her little feet are running in her sleep), she’s dreaming of her life as a Colorado mountain dog. my heart is there, too. with family and friends. with those who’ve lost their homes. and with the fire warriors, who tirelessly fight the good fight.
not-so-pretty in pink
29 May 2012
there’s an old farm field, a mile or so south of the town where we live. when it rains, large pools of water form in the middle of it. a frequent condition in nearly-always-drenched western Washington. i never thought there was anything extraordinary about that former pumpkin patch—until one dark night in November.
my sister, nieces and i were headed home from hospice, after a visit with my mom. along the stretch of highway between the hospital and the house, we drove with heavy hearts, in silence. suddenly, a great blue heron arose from the field, crossed in front of my windshield—lanky legs dangling in my line of vision—and headed west toward the sound. the next day, my mom passed away.
mom would have found it ironic that i believe she’s been channeled by a stunningly bright blue heron. blue was her least favorite color, an aversion that seemed totally irrational to me: i just don’t like it, she’d say emphatically. yeah, i don’t like beets, but there’s a darn good reason for that; they’re completely disgusting. it took me about 10 years to coerce her into even considering wearing blue jeans. but once she warmed up to the idea—and later in life—she rarely went out in anything else on her bottom half.
now, pink. pink was a color my mom could get behind. she gravitated toward all shades of pink equally. so for birthdays and holidays, i kept an eye out for pink gifts: handbags, hats, tank tops, fleece jackets, even candy (who could resist Godiva dark chocolate filled with raspberries??). whatever the season, whatever the reason, pink was in. to celebrate mom this year, i set out to make pink cupcakes loosely based on a revered childhood snack: Hostess Sno Balls. it seemed like a fitting tribute to my mom and to a now-struggling company whose treats had been the shining stars in my Twiggy lunchbox.
lesson learned: my skill sets lay in something less demanding than cupcake creation, like making pies. but i’m sharing the recipe here, for those of you who can hold on to a pastry bag and aren’t challenged by Pantone color-matching frosting. the cupcakes tasted great, but the all-natural food coloring i incorporated lost its rosy glow.
every time i drive by the old farm field, i watch for my blue heron. sometimes i see her there. like i did this mother’s day. i break into a smile and wave. and i get a little teary-eyed. but i was always kind of a sap, right, ma?
Not-So-Pretty in Pink Cupcakes
inspired by a Back in the Day Bakery recipe
a combination of chocolate cupcake and coconut frosting recipes from Joanne Chang’s flour cookbook (as i’ve said previously, an absolutely fabulous, gotta-have volume)
makes 12 moist dark chocolatey cupcakes
for the cupcakes
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup whole organic milk
1 egg yolk (save the egg white)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup organic all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
for the frosting
3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs whites (use the egg white saved from the batter recipe)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut milk
for the topping
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- place paper cupcake liners in a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
- in a medium-size heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and the cocoa powder.
- in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water.
- over medium-high heat, whisk until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved, around 3 to 4 minutes.
- pour the hot butter mixture over the chocolate-cocoa, and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted, and the mixture is homogenous.
- then whisk the milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla into the chocolate mixture, until thoroughly combined.
- in a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- dump the flour mixture on top of the chocolate mixture, and whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated into the chocolate mixture.
- let the batter sit at room temperature for at least an hour. or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the frig for up to three days.
- preheat the oven to 350F.
- spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing the batter evenly.
- bake on center rack of oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tops spring back.
- cool completely on a wire rack.
- to make the frosting, in a small heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar and egg whites to form a thick slurry.
- place the bowl over simmering water (should not touch the water) in a saucepan and heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is hot to the touch, around 6 to 8 minutes.
- remove the bowl from the heat, and scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment.
- whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue, cool to the touch. (i whipped until soft peaks just began to form, which seemed to work.)
- on low speed, add the chunks of butter, a few at a time.
- increase the speed to medium, and mix for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the butter is completely incorporated; the mixture should look smooth and glossy. at first it looks as if it’s curdling, but don’t panic. just keep going until it smooths out.
- add the vanilla, salt and coconut milk, and whip until the coconut milk is completely incorporated, and the frosting is smooth. you may need to scrape the bottom of the bowl in the process.
- remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin.
- hollow the center with an apple corer, going down a little shy of 1 inch.
- fit a pastry bag with a round tip, fill the bag, then pipe the frosting into the center of the cupcakes.
- if you’re brave and have the appropriate kind of food coloring, add to the remaining frosting until you’ve achieved the appropriate shade of pink.
- for prettier cupcakes, fit the pasty bag with a star tip, refill with the pink frosting, and decorate the cakes.
- alternatively, spread the frosting on the cupcakes with an icing spatula. (i employed this method as it made the cupcakes look more like Sno Balls.)
- place the shredded coconut in a small bowl.
- gently roll the frosted cupcakes in the shredded coconut.
apple pick-torialthe latest from the beak
here’s the recipe!