Endless Summer

January 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

We took a vacation to Kauai, Hawaii.

Here are just a few of the photos from the trip. It was great to get away for a few days and attempt to relax. Not too easy with a baby and a toddler, but the change of scenery was enough to keep us happy.

2 year aches.

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Avery is feeling a bit under the weather, his 2 year molars are making an appearance, so it’s an evening for snuggling on the couch and not really getting anything done. I’m not complaining.

Gingerbread Bunnies.

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have had my heart set on making some gingerbread men lately. I decided to enlist Avery for some help as he was solemnly driving “loud” Thomas around the kitchen floor. Pretty quickly he impressed his own personal tastes on the process and we were suddenly making gingerbread bunnies instead. Fine by me!

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I have always struggled with my gingerbread recipes in the past, I have always found them too bready, too sticky, too bland, or they just rise too much. Very frustrating. This time I was determined to get it right and ended up combining a few different recipes (mostly this one) and sometimes just winging it. I am really happy with the results (and Matt and Avery instantly ate three each, so I must be getting something right). I have put together the basics on what I did, mostly so I don’t forget and find myself back at square one next time!

Avery’s Gingerbread Bunnies

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses (not black-strap…I’ve tried both…)

1 egg yolk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

For the frosting

1 egg white (perfect, right?!)

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Make cookies. Go!

Cream together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy. Add in the egg yolk and molasses and keep mixing.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices, make sure they are well mixed and then slowly add them to the wet mixture. At this point I switch my KitchenAid from the whisk attachment to the paddle, it made it a lot easier to mix the dough enough to make it less sticky.

Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and sit in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 and flour a work surface to roll out the dough. Cut the dough with the cookie cutter of choice (bunnies!!) and place on a baking sheet. I like to just place a layer of parchment paper over my sheet to save on cleaning and greasing. Give a little bit of room between each bunny, around an inch, these guys shouldn’t rise too much but you want to give them a bit of breathing room. Bake for 9 minutes! Let sit for 1 or 2 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

While the cookies are cooling, it’s time to make the icing!

Whisk the egg white until frothy, then add the lemon juice and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until thick and lump free.

ICE THOSE BUNNIES!

I have discovered a nice trick for handling the bags of icing while working. I use ziplock sandwich bags with a small hole cut in one corner to do my icing. To set this up with minimum mess, I take a couple of rocks glasses and place the uncut bags inside them, rolling the ziplock over the edge.

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One glass and bag for each color you want to use (Avery specified green and white). Then fill the bag, as much as you like, take the bag out of the glass, squoosh the air out and zip up the ziplock (this stops the icing from accidentally smooshing out all over you….not that that’s ever happened to me…of course…). Cut the hole in a corner, always start with a hole that you think it too small, chances are, it isn’t.

Enjoy! YUMMY!

jellies

June 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

My talented husband

Once again Matt got Photo of the Day over on Gadling. I love this shot, taken on our recent trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

simple and perfect strawberry jam

June 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

something sweet on your toast

So, since moving out to California, we have been taking full advantage of the local farmers markets and I’ve been busy devouring organic strawberries at every possible opportunity. I have also been thinking about how, in less than 3 months, our lives are going to get turned upside-down once again and the luxury of spending a day pottering around the kitchen will become a thing of fantasy (for a while at least). So, I decided to set to work squishing some strawberries into delicious jam that I can smother on whatever I feel like, whilst balancing new baby and toddling Avery. Phew.

I haven’t made jam since I was about 12, in a kitchen with my mother and grandmother, and then I was mostly just eating fruit. I certainly can’t remember that recipe so I dug thorough a few on the internet and decided that I would combine a few to come up with my own.

Here is the result:

Strawberry Jam

4lbs of strawberries cut into halves or quarters

1/2lb of small whole strawberries (I just picked out the smallest in my box and set them aside)

4 cups of sugar

(simple, no?)

Start out by popping a small plate into the freezer. You’ll use this later to test the readiness of your jam.

You might want to enlist some help prepping all your strawberries, but be selective with your helpers, mine mostly wanted to eat my stash!

Place the 4lbs of cut strawberries into a large pan or stockpot over a low to medium heat. Add in about 1/4 cup of the sugar and cook until the sugar has disolved and the strawberries start to get sticky and juicy. Stirring with a wooden spoon.

Turn up the heat to medium high and add the remaining sugar 1 cup at a time. Keep stirring between each addition of the sugar, making sure that it is all well disolved before adding the next cup. This should take around 10 minutes total, but make sure to keep up with the stirring, you don’t want anything to stick and burn!

Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Boil for 15 mins. At this point, all the recipes I read tell you to skim off the foam that forms on the surface with a metal spoon. I did this a tiny bit, and then decided I wanted to keep the foam in there (!) so I just went with it.

Add the remaining 1/2 lb of whole smaller strawberries. I like to add these in so you get a few soft but still whole-ish berries in the final jam. This is probably one of my favorite things about strawberry jam, but if it’s not yours then, I guess this part is optional?

Boil for another 15mins.The jam should be thickening up nicely.

Take the plate from the freezer and place a small spoonful of the jam on the plate. Pop it back in the freezer until the jam has cooled. The jam is ready when the cooled sample wrinkles slightly when pushed with your finger.

When the jam is done, remove from the heat and place in prepared jars. Seal, label and you’re all done!

This made 6 nice full jars, of which, a week later, we have already eaten one. Avery loves it on his toast in the mornings…and then he licks it all off, and spits the wholewheat toast out….my baby.

oops

June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

My bad….

I guess I have accidentally taken a 6 month hiatus from this blog. I do have a legit excuse though! Since the last post we’ve moved to Orinda, CA! AND I’m cooking a new little peanut! Due end of August. Weeep!

There are a million projects ongoing at the moment and I want to try and keep up-to-date on this blog. Like I say…try….

spoilt rotten

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

We’re already 12 days into 2011

but these were my favorite gifts from Christmas. I’m a very lucky lady!

Gorgeous Hayden Harnett bag from Matt ❤ (I’m still really impressed by this gift, I couldn’t have picked out a better one myself! Best husband.)

Moleskin Recipe Journal from Flynn. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have one of these! I have been secretly lusting after it for months now.

Now, it’s not this exactly, it’s one of these little sterling silver wolf heads strung on a thick and beautiful chain. From Cristalle, by Species by the Thousands. Keiko!!