Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2010

Bean!

bean

A bean sprout in our San Francisco back yard garden.  Peter says they keep poking their heads up.  Yay!

Can you tell from the picture?  The earth down there is practically all sand.  We had to mix in a bunch of compost before we planted.

So different from the clay here!

-a

Read Full Post »

Thought:

Scrambled eggs are best with cheddar cheese on them.

Read Full Post »

They are delicious.

eggs

The day you are planning on making macarons, get the eggs out and let them warm up to room temperature.  The book says that the whites whip up better when they’re not cold.

template

The book said to trace 1 inch circles onto the parchment paper as size guides for the cookies.  These are way too small.  Next time, I would do 2 inch circles.

sifting

Sift the almond flour and the sugar together.  Then sift it again.  Then remember that you were going to add a dry flavouring and sift it all over again.  I decided to add some chocolate cream tea as a flavouring to the cookie part.

flavour

This is my all time favourite kind of tea.  Perfect for making into cookies.  Next time I would think of this sooner and blend it in the food processor with the almond flour and icing sugar.

egg whites

Stiff enough yet?  Urm.  Nope.   Looks pretty, though.  I love  my stand mixer.

macaronnage

This is called macaronnage.  You press the dough against the side of the bowl.  Which feels like sacrilege to those nice fluffy egg whites.  In the book, their end result looks much more doughy than mine did.  But that’s okay.  They say that if you do this process less than 10 times, the macaron will lack luster, but more than 20 they will be oily.  I guess I did it the right number because mine were shiny but not oily.

piping bag

This is my improvised piping bag.  I tried to buy one, but couldn’t find one in the two places I went.  I know my dad has one somewhere he doesn’t use.  Maybe I can steal it from him.  This certainly did the job, though.

Onto the tray.  Then they dry for 20 minutes so that they get a nice crust.  I was worried that it was too humid, but it worked out okay.  It took a little longer than 20 minutes, but that’s part of living on The West Coast.

cookie

Fresh out of the oven.

The good macaron checklist:

  • not cracked – check
  • Nice luster – check
  • Has a pied (a foot) – check
  • Not oily – check

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I made a custard based butter-cream icing for the filling using a recipe from the book.  The custard base was delicious.  I flavoured it with some honey.  Then I whipped it up with some butter.  Sadly, I think I used too much butter and that overpowered the subtle honey flavour.  Next time, less butter and I will splurge and buy unsalted.  I flavoured the icing with cocoa as well to try to counteract the butter flavour.

Chocolate Cream Tea Macaron with Honey filling:

Macaron

Chocolate Cream Tea Macarons with Cocoa Honey filling:

Les Macarons!

Et voila!  Les macarons!

Next time I will try making some fruit flavoured macarons.  Maybe strawberry-orange?

The review: delicious!  Time consuming to make, but it resulted in many many tasty cookies.

-a

Read Full Post »

Realizing

The thought just sat upon me that I don’t have a mom to shower with love this mother’s day.

Read Full Post »

This seems to be my motto at the moment, and it’s working well!  The key, is choosing the right plants.

So far, I have not done much to encourage these plants to grow.  But look!  Soon I will have food!

3 year old asparagus

This jumbo asparagus is the first shoot of the 3 year old plant I planted last year.  Each asparagus crown sends up multiple shoots each year.  And as they get to the right size, you simply cut them off and the plant will keep sending  up new shoots.  You have to stop eventually and let the shoots grow so that the plant will grow back again next year.  This usually happens, so I’m told, around the same time that you get really tired of eating asparagus.

Here’s that same asparagus I showed you the other day.  Now it’s huge.  Asparagus grows quickly.

2 year old asparagus

This plant is only two years old.  I broke the rule of waiting for it to be three and ate one of the other shoots.  It was tasty and sweet.  I broke it off and munched on it.  When they’re this fresh, they don’t even need to be cooked.  It tasted very sweet with a taste that reminded me of fresh peas.

Hops

These are hops.  You can’t eat them, but you can turn their flowers into beer!  Well, at least they are an ingredient in beer making.  These vines grow so quickly that you can almost watch them grow.  They die back every year, and climb to amazing heights in the summer.

Raspberries

Do you see the size of this raspberry bush?  It would take over my garden if I let it.  Each year, I cut back the stocks so that new ones can grow in it’s place.  We keep having to rescue the blueberry plant from the raspberry’s vigorous  shoots that keep popping up.  I’m okay with this.  I love raspberries.  They never make it to the house.  In the summer when I’m working out in the garden, I wander over to the plant and just pop the ripe raspberries right into my mouth.  One time, a few made it to a salad.  But that was a rare occasion.

Rhubarb

When I got back to Victoria from San Francisco, this plant had exploded with giant leaves and rhubarb stocks.  I picked a whole bunch of them and turned it into a delicious crisp.  Now it’s making a come back and I think I will repeat this soon.  It’s so delicious.  This takes no management from me.  I don’t water it, or weed around it.  I simply pick the ripe rhubarb and eat it.  How easy is that!  I didn’t even buy this plant.  It was a gift from another gardener!

Apple tree

In our yard we have this small apple tree, a giant apple tree and a giant pear tree.  But the little one produces my favourite fruit.  We don’t spray our trees (some people do to control the bugs) and we have a lot of wormy apples, but I think it’s worth it to cut them up and turn into pie.  I don’t mind the bugs.  I’m sure there are natural alternatives to spraying, but I haven’t learned them yet.  Also, I should prune this tree more.  But, as you know, I’m lazy.  It doesn’t always get done.  Pruning apple trees should be done before the buds come out.  You know, when it’s rainy and miserable in February and all you want to do is stay inside curled up with a cup of tea and a good book?  Yup.  That’s when you should go outside and prune the apple tree.  Maybe next year.

Blueberry plant

I think that blueberry flowers are the sweetest things.  I have two blueberry plants.  This one is in a pot on my patio.  It does amazingly well.  This is it’s second year and it is COVERED in blooms.  I can’t wait to be out barbecuing and eat some of those ripe blueberries.  It gets a lot of sun here, and I water it when I remember.  The other blueberry plant is out by the raspberries.  It doesn’t get much sun, and is getting crowded out.  As such, it doesn’t produce much.  I guess I should move it somewhere else.  It would be much happier.

Herbs are my friends.  I plant them in pots outside my back door so that I don’t have to go very far when I want to put them in a salad or cooking.  Some take more attention than others.  My favourite herbs that seem to do just fine with my kind of neglect are these chives and their neighbouring parsley.  I use them both all the time and they keep coming back year after year and I never remember to water them.  Sadly, the parsley is under a birds nest.  Nothing quite like bird-poo-parsley.  I try to pick the leaves that don’t have any white spots.

And that’s it!  Your tour of my neglectful garden.  I’m always amazed at how much food I can grow without doing any work.  Sure, I like peas, carrots, squash, tomatoes and beans as much as the next person, but when I don’t live in the same city as my plants, there’s only so much I can do.  So, if you’re the kind of gardener that likes to have produce, but doesn’t like to (or have the time to) put in the work, I would highly suggest a garden like this one!

-a

ps.  Today I’m going to try my first batch of Macarons!

Read Full Post »

Macarons

I got this book in San Francisco and I’ve been trying to find the time to try out the recipes.

I got some almond flour at the store today, so hopefully I’ll find the time to try them this week.  I’ll have lots of volunteers to test these on, right?

-a

Read Full Post »

As many of you know, I’m back in Victoria.  There are many reasons for this, but the reason I came back so soon is that a few of my friends are having babies!  If you don’t know already, I am a doula (a birth helper) and I am planning on helping these lovely friends of mine with their babies.  As you also know, I like knitting.  Hence this post.

One baby has been born so far.  She is as cute as can be!

In celebration of cute babies, I decided to knit some cute bunnies.  I found a beautiful, organic yarn down in San Francisco and thought it would be perfect to make a bunny with a subtle stripe.  As an added bonus, the store was closing and I got it for 40% off!  I’m sad that the store is closed now, it had some beautiful yarns, but I’m glad I caught the sale.  I’m using this pattern by Louisa Harding, which makes either a bunny, a cat, or a bear.  But the bunny’s floppy ears and pompom tail won me over right away.

And so, I have for you….    Cute Bunny #1

This next one, I think, shows the colours of the yarn a bit better.  I took it with the flash to see what the best result was.  I like the general lighting in the first one, but the second is a bit closer to the real colour.  Also, look at that tail!

The next one I’m going to try something a little different, but I want it to be a surprise for that baby and his mom, so since she reads here, everyone will have to wait and see!

Happy Saturday

-a

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »