Valentines

jenjoycedesign© valentine shortbread.JPG

Its that day again, St Valentine’s Day. I am leaving you with a very simple shortbread recipe that isn’t my usual recipe, but was the best sell-out from the (now locally famous) bakery I use to work at in the late eighties, and is perfect for writing on with chocolate!

The way we did it :

 Cream in mixer 1 cup unsalted butter (I use 1/2 cup of salted, and 1/2 cup of unsalted) with 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, and roll out between sheets of waxed paper, carefully flipping and releasing paper from dough before rolling more, chilling as needed. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick, then cut into shapes. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, switching in the middle top and bottom cookie tins.

Melt chocolate (I use Trader Joes Bittersweet Belgium) slowly in double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water). When chocolate is not quite all melted, remove from heat and stir until all melted evenly.  Fill cake decorator bag, and with tiny tip, write notes of endearment.

Happy V-day everyone!

valentines.jpg

moody monday

jenjoycedesign-butter-toffee-with-almonds

Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

010.JPG

( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

jenjoycedesign-butter-toffee-corrugated-ribbing

Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

jenjoycedesign-corrugated-ribbing

jenjoycedesign-emma

jenjoycedesign-edison-lights-globe

jenjoycedesign-fireside

jenjoycedesign-emma-hunkering

The Perfect Morning!

jenjoycedesign©Emma Oct 6, 2015

Its a beautiful day!  The temperature cool,  skies clear, and Emma and I had a good trail blaze this morning, finding new pathways and walking old ones. We’ve walked every single day this Autumn, and are very much on track, but just a little tired & aching too.  Back home to open up the doors and windows and let the smooth fresh Autumn air billow out the rafters ! Then I thought to get busy in the kitchen with my latest idea of potted brulee. But first some tea. . .

jenjoycedesign©037

I have been on a preserving kick lately, mostly with apple butter and small-batch jams but I have been thinking about ‘preserved’ custardy things …  just little yummy things in jars, like brulees, rice or tapioca pudding, like just pop the lid off and have something amazing & home-made sort of thing.  Yesterday I ran into town to buy a case of 1/2 cup little canning jars, and so I finally got busy  with steam baths and sterilizing jars and a good measure of inventiveness from a standard vanilla bean brulee recipe.  My idea was to cook the little custards in steamy water bath (with loose lids) for about 25 minutes, then when done, take them out and tighten lids immediately, like you do with jars of jam.   There’s no sweeter kitchen sound than the ‘ping’ of canning lids cooling with their vacuum tight seal.   Oh but I did leave one for tasting !

jenjoycedesign©potted-vanilla-bean-creme-brulee

After cooled I figure to keep them in the fridge, but will have a hugely longer shelf life as well as (I’m hoping) to maintain the freshness of ‘just made’ brulee. Well, that’s my latest experiment in any case. I can hear it begging to be slathered in home-made berry preserve. Can’t you? Or a sprinkle of raw sugar crystals caramelized with a brulee torch. Because lets face it, nothing is better.   Well, at least nothing comes to mind at the moment,  especially now that morning has become noon, and I’m hungry!

jenjoycedesign©potted creme brulee

Sweet As A Rose

jenjoycedesign©fragrant-rose

This morning a lovely fragrant rose bloomed in the garden, and promptly I cut it off to put it in a vase on the table of the big open room of our house hoping to make the house smell lovely.  Now, usually that is fine enough, but being a bit of a striving dessert chef, my tongue could just taste that fresh fragrant blossom. Yes,  perhaps in a bath of whole cream, and barely sweetened with some fine crystals of organic sugar. My creative inner cook loves a challenge, and my nose and mouth can be jealous friends.

While this blossom was still opening it’s amazingly fragrant coral pink petals, I got out copper pots & spoons, and began to whistle a tune while a steam bath started to tremor. And this is how I made my rose ice-cream. . .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I broke off only petals of a very fragrant variety of (organically grown) rose flower into bath of full cream ~~ about a cup, in preferably a glass or stainless steel bowl. Heated over simmering water as a double boiler, and when cream was very warm, added about a half cup of sugar (less is more) , stirred and let cool until room temperature. All that lovely rose essence leeches out into the full cream as the fat and the sugar really help the process. After it cooled to room temperature, I strained the petals out of the cream and added a little whole milk, not quite doubling the volume. Into the churn freezer it went.

jenjoycedesign©enjoy!

As the summertime drones on with mercury rising,  its a real treat to be enjoying a  little taste of rose ice-cream !

Summer

hydrangia cuttings

This June I have become a mad propagator! These are cuttings of hydrangea I managed to acquire last week, and well, along with a bunch of citrus too…

lemon cuttings

I am keen to make a hedge bordering our garden with espalier lemons~~ from cuttings. Who’d think I would be drawn to this sort of thing, or even up for such a task? Not me! Well, I’ll not count my lemon trees before they root. Everything in the garden seems to be thriving now that we have installed drip irrigation (on some of the garden, but not all), and I am very excited to be gardening a lot of my time this summer.

Beneath my soaker-hose hydrated shelter of white sheet sun bonnet, the kale & lettuces are a bunch of partying plants, like a mosh pit of dancing leaves, along with my fragile little seedlings of new lettuces, kale, spinach, to rotate after the big leaves have been eaten or bolt, whichever comes first, as well as a few other things…

misty hydrated & covered lettuce, spinach & kale bed (seedlings too)

Mind you, I’ve never been able to grow lettuce here before, ever. I have now discovered the secret! There’s nothing like a huge salad bowl every night for dinner , of lettuces and these…

cotton yarn tomato trellis

tomatoes which I’ve trellised this year (yes, with some handy red cotton yarn I have)…. this photo taken a week ago, shows them just touching the top string at almost 6’…. but now, they are reaching up past it and the tomatoes are beginning to ripen red as the yarn!

five-foot-high tomatoes, and growing!

I do love my very rustic garden. Jeff and I have built it little by little, from a cleared bit of woods. I am considering potting shed now, as I spend the early mornings contemplating sitting next to the first-year Gravenstein which will one day be ‘under’ , and artichokes, asparagus, and perennial flowers… while the sprinkler showers us all with a pitter patter of rain. I love this time of day like no other.

I’ve also been up to doing some baking.017

Working on a signature rustic lemon-mascarpone sponge cake…

(um, but this one was an experimental apricot one…)apricot mascarpone sponge cake

because life is just too short to overlook these impulses.  This of course, is along the vein of propagating lemon trees, what is this craving I have for lemons? I will not question, but instead perfect my lemon recipes as I affectionately care for my little citrus plants. Grow…. grow… grow little lemons.

As I close this post of June’s bliss, I want to share with you a fun cake making video of Jamie Oliver’s, while wishing you all a lovely July and it’s a holiday here so Happy Fourth and all of that patriotic cheer!

In The Kitchen

jenjoycedesign©noodle-making As I mentioned in previous post, my nieces came for a visit for a couple of days.  We mostly ‘chillaxed’ around together with our EDC’s (electronic devices of choice: iphone, kindle, laptop) but with plenty of time in the kitchen, just the way the last days of summer vacation should be spent, after a very busy one they had.  Both nieces had a busy summer, but Miss Eleven had and an incredible growth spurt ~~ and this visit was special, as for the first and last time, we are all three the same height !

Two days, one night, and four times we flung flour. jenjoycedesign©making-noodles The first time was making noodles (flour & egg) for upon their arrival they were good and hungry and I had some home-made chicken soup all ready for their expert noodle work.  By the way, Miss Fourteen could easily win a chicken-noodle-soup-eating contest … hands down! jenjoycedesign©bakers Second time, made Amish moon pies ( flour & butter) with apple filling I had made ahead of time waiting in the freezer , and came to life good & proper with their very experienced moon-pie-making magic touch.  How many moon pies did I personally eat? Don’t ask, I lost count! jenjoycedesign©making-moon-pies jenjoycedesign©moon-pies! Third time, pizza for dinner (flour & yeast) which means of course, pizza dough… and lots more flour (sorry , no photo of pizza) .  Fourth time, next day repeat noodle making for to finish off the chicken soup. Thats about it, a whirl-wind couple of days flinging flour and exhausting relaxation.  We three girls thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and that’s certain.

What totally killed me was in our last hour before I had to bring them back to Calistoga to meet their mom,  Miss Eleven says ” Lets bake something ! ”  Can you believe that? C’mon kid ! She cracks me up. Anyway,  we will leave you with our humble little noodle recipe . . .

jenjoycedesign©moon-pies

~ My Niece’s Way of Noodle-Making ~

Crack one egg into bowl. Add a pinch of salt, and maybe pepper and other herbs & flavors ‘to taste’~ whatever strikes your fancy. Add flour and stir with fork until ball forms. Add only enough flour to keep very moist wad of dough so that you can pick it up with your hands, the rest of the flour will be added from well-floured hands and surface. Break off small chunks and roll out with your hands. When all rolled out, into a pan of rapidly boiling water, or chicken broth, or soup, add all noodles quickly and at once,  Stir , then let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Eat and savor the hand-made goodness.

A Little Something of Lace

 jenjoycedesign©lace-edge

I’ve been working steadily on a project , “A Little Something” ,  for The Wool Box.  I  talk in my previous posts   Posted From Italy  and   Yarn Whisperer  about Northern Italy’s  “The Wool Box” , of Biella’s heritage wool mill and yarns, and of specifically Oropa 1-ply with which I am working in a design.   I’ve changed course a couple of times, with piles of little half-lace mitts strewn about my loft room, I have worked and reworked,  and now I’ve pretty much nailed it.

In the process of experimentation, I’ve come up with a lovely eyelet-icord-rib hybrid edging for the Little Something I’m designing. I pretty much thought it up for myself, and I don’t know what to call it (I’ll come up with something soon).  Love how the single ply’s frisky & playful personality punctuates the edge !  This is after washing and blocking too.  So crisp, Oropa 1-ply is anything but tame . . .

jenjoycedesign©lace-edge2

That said, I have discovered there is a ‘tender underbelly’ of Oropa 1-ply. Being a 1-ply, it does not have the support of another strand keeping it together as much, so when one picks up the end to knit, one must do so delicately, as the end does lose a bit of twist and becomes easily broken (but that’s a no-brainer with any single ply wool). I compensate by taking up a good 12 inches before knitting from an end. Did I mention that this sensitive side of Oropa is just really… well… ‘kitteny’.  . . is that a word?

Better said I suppose, as noting it’s shyer downy quality.

Upon examining the fluff at one of the unraveled ends I noticed  a small percentage of strong & slippery longer hairs and proportionally a lot more of shorter downy wool.  Definitely Old World wool.

*  *    *  *    *  *

On another note, I haven’t been able to knit much today (yet) as I was at a sort of Lady’s Social for the day,  held over at  my neighbor’s, here in the woods.  I actually made a lovely creme brulee from a big fat perfect Meyer lemon growing from our tiny tree in a pot.

jenjoycedesign©creme-brulee-to-go

I packed the three brulees (there were three of us) into a little basket , covered them, threw my knitting bag over my shoulder, kissed Emma good-bye for a while and headed out into the woods (sadly) without her, for what was actually a short five-minute walk through back-country. I felt just like a fairytale character, like Red Ridinghood or Goldilocks.

Meyer Lemon creme brulee to-go, with carmelized sugar and all, delivered back-door style.

  In my opinion, beauty is in the small things, novelties as this. Little pots of golden tastiness !

jenjoycedesign©Meyer-lemon-creme-brulee

The recipe, for those interested, with just three ingredients, it’s incredibly easy and fast to make . . .

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee:

1 very large and ripe Meyer lemon , 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup organic sugar

Finely zest lemon and squeeze juice from it.

In small saucepan slowly heat pint of cream, while stirring, until it begins to boil.  Keep at ‘barely boiling’ for a couple of minutes, while stirring, then take off heat.

Add lemon zest , stir, and then slowly stir in the lemon juice.

Fill about 5 or 6 ramekin cups and let cool. Refrigerate for at keast 4 hours. Rest assured, it *does* set up !

About 20-30 minutes before serving,  sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sugar on top of each brulee,  and with a hand held torch ( or under broiler flame)  carmelize sugar until bubbles and darkens to a deep gold ~~~ while  creating a crisp layer on top.

Eat & Enjoy !

Now Reading . . .

jenjoycedesign©breakfast (1)
Birthday cake for breakfast?  You bet ! As last night we were too stuffed from dinner out, we couldn’t eat even a bite, so birthday cake was waiting to be cut into this morning.   ((My top-secret-recipe cake, which I made myself for myself (I know!) … only as I love to have an opportunity to keep practiced.))

I now am a proud owner of a hand-made book stand,  and  Jeff  made it for me, and on very short notice !

(Miss MacLeod , thank you for the epic read with which I am about to test out my new book stand ! xx)

jenjoycedesign©book-&- stand

The best thing about this book stand is that it has a very wide base and I can easily perch it on the half-wall under the skylight and read-while-knitting-while-standing. Its been a lovely birthday, thank you much for all of your sweet birthday wishes yesterday .

I really couldn’t be happier, because as I post this . . .  it’s raining!

Six Days

030

Taking a break from the yarns,  and before I get into the next big project, I thought I’d make a batch of cranberry jam !  The mountain’s freeze-drying wind is keeping me from walking today, and so here I am, with cheery sing-along Christmas songs , a fire in the woodstove,  and more still to make.

 Just feeling rather cheer’d by the seasonal dazzle of colored lights and sentimental old ornaments.  Some are very old, as this doll’s doll that was my mother’s as a child, which I made into an ‘ornament’ years ago,  and the little sheep given to me by a friend back when I just started learning to spin and got a spinning wheel  . . .

jenjoycedesign©xmas2
And the little ‘teazle mouse’ given along with a really generous gift certificate to a lovely spinning shop, now two decades ago (does anybody remember the one in Jack London Square in Sonoma??)  I remember I only got to spend a little of it before the shop sadly went out of business.

051
I’ll be making some peppery spiced cocoa a little later today so do hang around !

Sair Heidies

I’ve been posting a flurry of things last two days, this being my second post of the day ! In a post about a package from yesterday I mention some new cookbooks, and a recipe I wanted to try, particularly today, since it’s Easter Sunday. Well, here is my first attempt at making ‘sair heidies’meaning ~~ ‘sore heads’ ~~ which are absolutely darling little cakes inside parchment with broken aspirin-looking sugar cubes imbedded on top (thus the sore head, needing aspirin?) . . . and then tied with kitchen twine. I had neither sugar cubes, kitchen twine,  nor proper baking rings… so I improvised, as I do everything.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I wish you all were here with me to enjoy a couple of these with tea right about now, because they are absolutely delicious and hitting the spot !!!  Kelly, I thank you again for giving me this creative opportunity in the kitchen, and I look forward to experimenting lots more with authentic Scottish cooking ! 🙂

Edit in ~~ Now all of you may try making them if you like, as I’m posting the recipe from the book , via photos !
002 (2)003

004 (2)
Helpful Note : I did not have sugar cubes, so I cooked a little sugar in a pan, and then tossed the goo with some more sugar and made ‘lumps’. I recommend doing the real thing, and buying sugar cubes (so they can look like broken aspirin too). Also, I did not have ‘self-rising flour’ so I added 1tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda to the flour, worked well !