Yearly Archives: 2015
Post by Mark T. Locker.
A Pirate’s Quest: For His Family Heirloom Peg Leg by Laura Sams and Robert Sams. Illustrated by Heiner Hertling.
We don’t read too many picture books anymore. They’re still fun to read but all the ones we have at home have been read to tatters and the boy, now a fully independent reader, gravitates to the comics and graphic novels section now. This book was given to us as a Christmas present. It’s a somewhat silly story (though you wouldn’t guess it from the very artistic illustrations) about a pirate who lost his peg leg, an heirloom handed down from one-legged generation to the next. The pirate hopes to pass it down to a one-legged son or daughter one day. So when he awakes in his boat and finds it missing, he follows the lake to the river, river to the sea, searching for his precious heirloom peg leg.
It’s a fun book to read, though sometimes it rhymes and sometimes it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, it feels like it should. But the pictures are fun, and there are a bunch of animals hidden that you are supposed to find. (Actually they’re not hidden, you just have to see them.) An entertaining read for 3-6 year-olds. Plus, there is a song you can download from the authors’ website for free!
Post by Alison Hein.
The big Game Day fast approaches. Time to think about Super Bowl breakfast or brunch. This year I chose to go with the Seahawks to honor the lovely and bountiful Evergreen State.
Washington is the source for many fine food products, including many varieties of fruit, grain, and seafood. But the local wild salmon ranks among the best in the world. Add a little smoke to the fish, and you’ve got the perfect partner for a traditional savory Breton crêpe. Earthy, buckwheat flour complements the lush, buttery salmon. Creamy crème fraîche adds a luxurious note, and fresh, green dill brings color and balance.
If you are not accustomed to working with buckwheat (which is no relation to wheat and a great gluten-free option), it may take you awhile to get used to the consistency of the batter. Thick and grainy when first mixed, it tends to separate as it sits. Be sure to stir the batter often as you cook up a batch of crêpes. Even if you’re not expecting a big crowd, go ahead and cook the whole batch. Then, lay each crêpe on a piece of parchment paper, stack them up and slip them into a plastic bag, then freeze them for future use.
Whether you’re rooting for New England or Seattle, I hope you start the day with this lovely, bountiful breakfast in bed.
1¼ cups buckwheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for frying
¾ cup milk
1¼ cups water
4 ounces smoked wild salmon
¼ cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
1 bunch fresh dill
Add buckwheat flour and salt to a large bowl. Add eggs, vegetable oil, milk and water and whisk until smooth batter forms. Add additional water for a thinner batter, if you like.
Heat a 10-inch-diameter nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Brush pan with oil. Add ¼ cup of batter to pan, tilting to coat bottom. Cook crêpe until golden on bottom, 30 to 45 seconds, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning.
Using a spatula or butter knife, flip crêpe and continue to cook until dark gold, about 1 minute longer. Keep warm, while continuing the process with the remainder of batter.
To serve, delicately roll crêpe into a long cylinder. Place about ¼ of an ounce of smoked salmon on the rolled crêpe, then top with a teaspoon of crème fraîche and a sprig of dill. Repeat with remaining crêpes.
Makes 12 – 16 crêpes.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
We have a great deal of cooking competitions here in the United States, full of weird editing to make the judges look super mad and the contestants look super dopey. Lots of drama; the more, the better. Catty female cooks and cocky male ones. Most of those shows are just too much for me. I like “Chopped” and the ones where they make awesome giant jack-o’-lanterns. But you know what I like even better? “The Great British Bake-Off”. The title pretty much says it all. It’s British! It’s all about baking!
Twelve amateur bakers face off in three daily challenges: first round is the signature challenge, in which the contestants bake a tried and true recipe they make regularly. Next is the technical challenge, wherein they are given a recipe with only general directions and must rely on savvy and know-how to succeed. Third is the show-stopper. Given a general theme, they are to make something that not only tastes great but looks amazing.
The contestants are a wide range, from an older Scottish Navy man to an adorable girl of seventeen named Martha, who always has a smile on her face. It’s fascinating from a cultural perspective as well, with Bakewell tarts and savoury biscuits and all manner of supremely British concoctions. The hosts are charming and funny and the two judges, who are top-tier bakers in their own rights (Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood) are honest but kind.
PBS is currently airing season five and it’s quickly become my favorite show to watch to unwind at the end of the evening. If you love baking, or competition, or are and Anglophile, definitely give this show a watch.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Do you have a dream bedroom? Perhaps you fantasize about sleeping in a canopy bed with rays of natural light streaming in through tall casement windows. Or maybe you prefer a dark, masculine space with rich red wall covering, deep mahogany floors and formal damask drapery.
You probably have a distinct vision in mind when it comes to your ideal room. Sweet or sassy, quaint or ordinary, bold or soothing, no matter your personal taste, if you’re a design aficionado like me, you more than likely appreciate even the most unconventional rooms.
Talk about a view! This oversized Los Angeles bedroom extends out to the deck, which overlooks the ocean. The room has no ornamentation and doesn’t need it. The exterior becomes part of the interior.
There’s nothing mundane about this bedroom in New South Wales, Australia. From the dark paint on the walls to the whimsical wicker headboard, pendant lights, and the unusual accessories, the space strays about as far as from conventional as you can get.
What is it? A micro-bedroom? A mini-loft? It’s a space-saving bedroom in Manhattan’s East Village that’s pretty darn clever, if you ask me. The room may be compact, but sure looks cozy.
“Zen minimalist” is what the designer calls this space, and with its exposure to the great outdoors and Asian influence, I can see why. Designer Vivian Dwyer wanted to “insert modern elements into this house of the earth.” The bedroom has an adjacent open bathing area and faces giant redwood trees at the rear of the property.
Post by Alison Hein.
If I close my eyes, I can smell tangy citrus mingling with the aroma of warm butterscotch. A feathery light, golden yellow cake appears in my mind, glistening with a sweet drizzly glaze, sparkling with lemon zest – my mother’s unique and lovely Lemon Bundt Cake.
My mother, Evelyn, cooked with the hands of her mother before her, and her mother’s mother before that. Flavors, methods, timing so ingrained, memories and tradition moving seamlessly from generation to generation. No written recipes required.
So, while I like to imagine I am the kind of baker who can exactly replicate flavors from memory, my cake is a second runner up to Mom’s. Nevertheless, this cake is permeated with pure, fresh lemon juice and intriguing bits of tangy rind. Nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar is needed to finish this moist, golden bundt. If you like, a sweet confectionary glaze with just-squeezed lemon juice is also lovely sometimes.
To make the glaze, pour some powdered sugar into a bowl (start with ½ cup and make more as needed) and add just enough lemon juice to make a thick but pourable substance. Pour the liquid on top of the cake, and allow it to drizzle down the sides a little without touching the plate. When set (wait at least 30 minutes), the sweet, drippy patterns are nearly irresistible and add a touch of elegance to this simple cake.
In the morning, delicately toast a slice or two and serve them with hot tea or coffee for a memorable breakfast in bed.
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
Juice and grated rind on one lemon
1½ teaspoons lemon oil or lemon flavoring
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in lemon juice, rind and oil. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to batter, alternating with milk, stirring gently after each addition until batter is thick and creamy. Pour batter into greased tube pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan before inverting. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or cover with lemon glaze.