My dad was in town for a few days and even though he bosses me around, wakes up way too early and always tells me my car needs to be cleaned, I had the best time ever. Living across the country from my parents is hard. When I see them, I see them differently, and after they leave I always tend to think a lot about my childhood.
My dad and I have always baked together. It’s the thing we share. My dad isn’t a pro-baker or anything like that—he does it strictly as a hobby, and for many years it was his favorite hobby. A few years ago, over a holiday break, my dad and I spent two days baking gougeres. We had no idea what we were doing, but we followed a bunch of recipes, tweaked a bunch of stuff and after two days we finally ended up with a batch we deemed totally perfect.
After my dad left town all I wanted to do was make something that felt familiar and something that reminded me of the man who taught me to how to change a tire and the man who taught me the value of never quitting.
Gougeres are made from pate a choux. If you’ve never made it before you may think it’s a weird and wrong.
The recipe begins by cooking butter with water, flour, and in this case, beer. And then you mix in eggs–even though they might not feel like they can actually be incorporated into the dough. They eventually do.
Wasn’t Pie Week fun?! I kinda miss it already. I’m already scheming for a possible Cookie Week in December? And maybe more pie. Always more pie.
On Wednesday I’m headed up to the Bay Area for a very short trip for Thanksgiving, so I figured some of you might actually be heading to other people’s homes, too. I love hostess gifts that have a nice personal touch, and since this time of year is so crazy, they need to be quick and easy. I looove having winter herbs in my kitchen for cooking and making cocktails. These herbs will all survive a cold winter – they’re considered “aggressive” herbs, or so they say.
Supplies you’ll need to make this lil’ quick and easy DIY:
– 3 small terra cotta pots – Assorted colors of acrylic paints – Scissors – Painter’s Tape – Acrylic Top Coat Spray – Winter Herbs: Rosemary, English Thyme, Mint, Cilantro or Sage – Paint brushs
Step 1: Brush each pot with two to three coats of paint. Allow ’em to dry completely.
Step 2: You can do any sort of patterns that you like. I figured it’d be nice to do all an assortment of patterns that all sort of compliment one another. For the first one, I cut out triangles from the painter’s tape and placed them on the perimeter of the pot.
I gave it two coats of metallic light gray paint, allowed it to dry and then removed the tape.
Step 3: Continue with a different pattern. I chose little hand painted dots.
For the third and final patter, I used a spouncer – which is my favorite tool and word – dipped in paint to make a larger polka dot pattern.
Step 4: I allowed the pots to dry completely, about 30 minutes, and then sprayed each pot with a clear top coat, which will help protect the terra cotta pots against moisture, weathering and overall handling.
Step 5: Divide the herbs between the pots and fill with potting soil.
And that’s it! Super easy and quick. Tomorrow I’ll show you a cocktail recipe to use with one of these herbs. You know, so you can give your host the gift and then use it to make something. Super classy!
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and this year I’m actually prepared. I have my menu all written out, I have my recipes written, I have a proper head count. Who am I? I don’t even know anymore.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing quite a bit of Thanksgiving recipes. For my first Thanksgiving-ish post, I teamed up with Canon and their PIXMA MG7120 printer to create some fun (and easy!) napkins for your dinner table.
Start by taking photos of your cute fall objects. Since the PIXMA can print via your mobile device, I found super easy to just take the photos from my phone.
I changed the picture to black and white and then used their app PIXMA Printing Solutions to print out the picture onto 4″ x 6″ iron-on transfer sheets. The app couldn’t be simpler to use and it’s particularly awesome because you can print multiple pictures at once.
Next, the printing! The printer’s sounds made Amelia’s head do that tilting thing that dogs do when they’re super confused. When I showed her the pretty pictures she understood, though.
Then, using my scissors I cut out each of the photos. I placed the photo where I’d want it and then flipped it over. I took my iron and set it on the setting that reads “cotton/linen” and with the steam option OFF (very important!). I ironed over the entire photo, moving the iron from side to side for about 30-40 seconds.
I peeled the photo off revealing the cute lil’ persimmon!
In my brain I wanted each photo to be surrounded by hand-stamped geometric shapes. I went to the craft store looking for a simple triangular stamp. Umm..they don’t exist! I found the most intricate of stamps. I’m talking stamps of Santa conversing with his reindeers mid-sentence but no simple stamps.
So, here I am, cutting a potato with my exacto knife to make a stamp. It was actually pretty easy.
Instead of dipping the “stamp” into a puddle of paint, I rolled it on for more of an even distribution.
Next, I stamped away. I did a few different patterns of triangles. I think my favorite is the one with the dahlias.
Here they are all finished…
And that’s it! Super simple.
Can I be honest? Before this I didn’t have a printer. If someone emailed me and said I needed to print something out, sign it, scan it and send it back, it felt like they were asking me to climb Mount Everest.
I’m psyched because this printer does it ALL. It prints high-quality photos from your computer or phone, acts as a scanner and even makes copies. I mean, you need nothing else. It’s made my life SO much easier. And I can make cute napkins and print out actual pictures, which I feel like we never do anymore. Total bonus.
I’m not sure there will ever come a day when baking isn’t magical to me. I still get giddy when I turn on the oven light, peek through the glass to see biscuits doubling in size. Or when a waif of baking banana bread skips through the house and under my little nose. Baking is my magic.
I love the trust and faith we must have in a recipe, in the ratio and in the ingredients. We trust that those ingredients will interact, react and transform into something so beautifully delicious.
Having just whispered all those sweet words of nothing, I’ll admit I’m not really a cake-maker-type girl. I’m not sure if a single layered-cake even lives on this blog. I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with me being an impatient person and thinking cake decorating is a little tedious. But when I want cake inspo, I turn to Sara from Matchbox Kitchen. She makes some insanely pretty cakes. One thing I LOVE about her cakes is how they’re all perfectly cylinder. The tops are completely flat. Flat cake tops are all the rage in the cake world.
Cake layers usually dome on us, rising right in the center and then cracking. I think doming on a quick bread is beautiful. I love it. My friend and baker, Hourie, wouldn’t think to serve a quick bread that didn’t dome. Cakes are different, though. But not to worry because baking flat cake layers couldn’t be easier!