Monday, December 29, 2008

Little Christmas Cheese Poofs

For Christmas, Matthew and I wanted to share one of our new favorite recipes, Gougères au Cumin, with our families. This recipe comes from the Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook and is extraordinarily easy to make, with few dishes to clean up because it's all mixed in one pan.

We often try to make various changes but the original recipe usually turns out the best. Extra cheese makes them go flat and cooking at a lower temperature doesn't allow them to rise as well. A few large pinches of paprika is a fine addition but doesn't make them significantly better. This is one instance where I've actually made a recipe correctly the first time and haven't preferred my personal changes over the original recipe(as Matthew can tell you, that is highly unusual for me).

I've made this recipe so many times that I actually have the ingredients memorized and of course the method is just basic. You make
pâte à choux and add cheese then bake.

Gougères au Cumin

1 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) grated cheese, swiss, sharp cheddar or whatever you like
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
ground pepper

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Add flour and stir until dough forms a soft ball in the center of the pan. Remove from heat and let sit three minutes before you add the eggs one at a time, stirring each egg in completely before adding the next. This takes patience as the eggs will very stubbornly insist on remaining slimey until all of a sudden they will give up and mix into the dough. Once all the eggs are incorporated, add the spices and fold in the cheese. Allow to chill for at least 30 min or up to 8 hours(I've even let sit in the refrigerator 24 hours without any adverse affects).
Bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at 400 F for 20-25 min. When they are done baking, make sure you turn off the oven and crack the door for five min. before you remove them from the oven. This should prevent them from falling. They are perfectly reheatable and can be frozen as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a fun and joyous Christmas Day Celebration.

A photo of red berries(Lynnea's favorite)

A photo of red berries(Matthew's favorite)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowy, snow, snow

Well, it's been rather snowy for this x-mas trip home. Kind of fun, but a little scary during the seven hour(usually takes 4) drive though the snow. Chains are great but slow.

We stay busy with all sorts of toys to play with: Toby, the new cats, snow. And, we're almost done with christmas shopping and wrapping.

I found a little snow family and thought they were cute!

The little snow family walking in the snow fields

The snow family in the woods

Snow family in the trees

Friday, December 19, 2008

Persimmon Scones

The two persimmons that I packed in my carry-on did not come through their long trip unscathed. So, this morning I decided to turn the rather bruised and squished little fruits into scones. I just used my basic scone recipe and added whatever sounded like a yummy combination.

Persimmon Scones

Two Fuyu Persimmons, peeled and diced fine
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of a tangerine
1/4 cup butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla
approx. 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine dry ingredients, rub in butter with fingers, add persimmons and vanilla.

Gently toss together with hands. Add milk and mix. I didn't measure the milk, I just added it until it was a nice scone batter consistency. So, if you need more or less then adjust accordingly.

Dump batter onto counter and pat into a round. Then cut into triangles. Bake for 15-20 min.

I discovered something while making this recipe: I don't know how to remove the zest of citrus without my microplane grater. This was a rather disturbing realization; I am so dependent on modern inventions. Could I make a recipe successfully without a modern kitchen? I tried using a mini grater but it just chewed up the skin. So, I peeled the tangerine and used a knife to cut away the pith from the zest. This was way too much work, so after zesting a quarter of the tangerine that way I just gave up. If you have a microplane grater or a zester, then add the zest of a whole tangerine; it would be delicious in this recipe.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cherry Apron

Last year I was very good and made most of my Christmas gifts. This year I was mildly good and made some of my Christmas gifts(well, one so far, but I have plans for another). The little cherry apron that I'm wearing in the photos was hand stitched over the course of a couple weeks. I think it's super cute! Too bad it isn't for me, but rather for a coworker of mine who doesn't have a single apron, a sad oversight.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I hope everybody is enjoying a...

Happy Thanksgiving!

A couple of sweet little birthday gifts that are perfect for the month of November and a Thanksgiving celebration.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas list

Well, the dreaded holiday approaches and I am tired of being reproached for not making a gift list =) It just seems so crass to me, as though that's all Christmas is about. But who am I to know about such things. I'm just a little shop girl who works very hard to convince people that they need expensive gifts for every single person they know or have ever known during their life time. So, under the influence of the master list maker, who's birthday and xmas lists are really more of art than a simple list, I tried to jazz mine up. I actually did brave Adobe Illustrator in order to make the cute little tree at the top of this post. It took a surprising amount of time, way longer than I expected, to make such a plain and simple little tree. In all honesty, you should save your money, since I'm far too spoiled, and you should not even consider buying me another thing. But, for those family members who insist and who prefer to shop from a list, I've made one for your convenience. I hope it helps! =)

On to the list:

One year subscription to Bust Magazine

Socks, Socks (Sea Breeze, Sundae, Waterfall), Socks (Mid-Grey 35-38), Socks, Socks, Socks, Socks Just some examples of cute socks!

Ear buds, two options


Salt Pig


Thanksgiving approaches

This year, for Thanksgiving, we're going to join a bunch of other people for dinner instead of having our own tiny thanksgiving. It should be jolly. I'll take a few things like sticky toffee pudding, maybe some brussels sprouts and things like that. All my favorites.

Even though thanksgiving is less than a week away, I have still found beautiful tomatoes at the farmer's market. I picked
up these big tomatoes and juicy limes a couple weeks ago.

Also, I finally got around to hanging my copper birthday bowls above my sink for easy access.

I like the coppery view of me taking the photo.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The best birthday!

I must admit that I usually have lovely birthdays. They are always a treat, but this year was really splendid. I felt more spoiled than usual, which is quite a feat, considering how much my friends and family pamper me, in general.

I actually saved my presents and cards up until the day of my birthday(something I never do, being the greedy little girl that I am) so they really piled up. I also hosted the most charming little party ever, a get together of some of my favorite people; we just sat around eating delicious snacks and drinking Belgian ales during the late afternoon.

All this added up to make my 27th birthday the best birthday I've had in a long time.

Honestly, I'm not clever enough to make such gorgeous cupcakes as the ones I've plastered all over this post. These were given to me by a very sweet and talented friend. I must say, I'm so satisfied after this birthday because, I've often given people pastries and other darling little sweets for birthday gifts but they always look at them oddly as though they don't want them(and maybe they don't). Of course, I don't usually make such beautiful pastries as she does(she being a pastry chef and all), but I do buy them from nice little places. So, after years of bringing pastries as party gifts, I finally received some at my party. Anyway, these cupcakes were incredible, the perfect lemon cupcakes. Matthew was even floored by them and he doesn't take to sweets like I do.

So, to everyone I know and love, thank you for giving me a dear, sweet birthday. I loved all my gifts and cards and well wishes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Little Flapper Girl

For the first time in 10 years, I didn't dress up as a pink fairy for Halloween. This year I decided to dress up as a little flapper girl instead. My costume turned out very well and everybody really liked it. It may be my new standard costume. How sad to replace the fairy costume, but it really is worn and old at this point. My wings are more a dull gray than the sparkley pink that they once were.

The costume idea came courtesy of my cousin, who bought the dress for me to wear at her wedding. As soon as I saw the dress I thought, "1920s...flapper...perfect halloween costume." Really, all the dresses she picked out were cute. They seemed to loosely represent different decades from the 20th century.

Halloween was fun, we passed out 1500 pieces of candy at work and all the children were so cute. I also made cinnamon cupcakes to pass out to the adults that work on our block. They really seemed to enjoy them. I certainly enjoyed making them and eating them as well.

Perhaps even more than in years past, Halloween felt like the last big hurrah! before the christmas season starts. Now it feels like the holiday ball is rolling and it isn't going to stop until the first week in January. There isn't a thing I can do to prevent it. Maybe this year I'll try to enjoy it a little more, sing a few more songs than usual, watch a few extra christmas movies and ignore the hated commercialization of it all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone is having a fun and spooky Halloween.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Useful items- Updated

Copper bowl



Fruits Basket

(except volumes 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 19, 20)

I received all the useful items on this list. They were all birthday presents. I didn't expect to get them all, but I am far too spoiled; see birthday post for more evidence of this fact.

Monday, October 20, 2008


This past week I've been getting ready for halloween and by that I mean making small fuzzy creatures.

They are really too cute.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I love fish!

I just love watching little fishies swim around with their adorable lips nibbling at everything they come into contact with.

Last Sunday we
celebrated our friend Pat's Birthday by making him go to Seaworld with us. We all enjoyed this cheerful little trip to see the strange little creatures that we don't usually come into contact with. The Zoo doesn't have any fish so we always miss seeing that aspect of the animal world.

We realized half way through our visit that we needed to start taking pictures, so some of the best animals were forgotten, such as the Penguins and the Beluga whales. Quite honestly, penguins and whales are pretty standard photo subjects and my rendition of them through cloudy glass probably wouldn't be worth the space.

Of course, I can't help but photograph all the lovely little pink creatures. They are so unusual looking.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

oh, what wee apples!

Last Sunday, Matthew and I took a day trip out to Julian, CA with two friends. It was fun and charming, if a bit cheesy. Julian is an old fashioned mountain town that was originally established as a mining town and now focuses primarily on local tourism.

We enjoyed the usual activities: apple picking, apple pie eating, wine tasting and buying nick nacks. It was a beautiful day and perfect for playing tourist.

The apples cost far more than they would at Whole Foods, and they were much smaller than anything I could buy in the store. Still, it was fun picking them.

Apple collage

Another apple collage(just because they are cute)

An apple towel adds to the autumn cuteness

Three little apples

Five apples, in order of largest to smallest