Wish I was there . .
My passport is ready and I can be packed in minutes.

31 December 2009

The First Moon

Just a moment to reflect on the year that has passed. To remember the new places we've visited, the new memories we've made, the new dreams we've imagined.

Just a moment to remember those we have lost and the love we've let go.

Just a moment to say goodbye to one year before welcoming in another. 

Just one more moment . . .

19 December 2009

Welcome Winter!

Taken December 19, 2009
Vail, Colorado

25 November 2009

Drama, Drama, Drama - It Must Be Thanksgiving

Somehow I thought that this year would be the year we were finally past the drama that accompanies hosting Thanksgiving for PH's family. For nearly ten years, we've sent out the invitations and included everyone - PH's siblings, his mother, his father and his father's fourth wife, the step/adopted children from marriages two, three, and four (wives two and three are dead) . Sure there's been the occasional snide remark that left me and my favorite adopted sister-in-law in the kitchen downing a glass of wine while we commiserated on how we ended up as part of this motley group. And there's been a few years of rule setting, such as if you bring a convicted felon to the meal he's not to be left alone with the kids, no the Rottweiler is not invited, and if the invitation says 1:00 PM, I am not recooking and serving another meal at 6:30 PM. I have also come to realize that except for favorite adopted sister-in-law, no one will bring anything nor will they help clean up; I can hint or outright ask but there will be no response except from adopted sister-in-law and my Grandmother. I have learned to accept all this, but none of that prepared me for this year.

First, some background - my childhood memories of Thanksgiving include a meal with my Dad's large family at my Grandmothers farm. While everyone helped there, my Grandmother always hosted the meal and she made sure to include something that each grandchild liked. I have had the privilege the past few years of cooking this meal for my Grandparents who escaped the northern cold and wintered here. Sadly my Grandmother died this year in April and my Grandfather is not well enough to travel to Florida. At my Grandmother's funeral, I spoke about how difficult Thanksgiving would be this year without my Grandmother there. Now here's the important part*******I told PH's mother (MIL) this in mid-October and said I would be doing our traditional Thanksgiving. I explained how much it meant to me to carry on my Grandmother's tradition of hosting Thanksgiving. MIL never said a thing during this conversation.

Now fast forward to Halloween and what do I find in my email box, but an announcement that MIL is hosting Thanksgiving this year at her new rental home. Obviously, her ex-husband (FIL) and his various adopted/step children and current wife are not invited. And of course, my other Grandmother and my Aunt and Uncle who come to my home are also not invited. PH (and this is one of the times that he earns his name Perfect Husband) immediately emails back MIL that other family is expecting to come to our house as they have done for nearly ten years and that he is sorry but we will not be coming to her house. Then there are conversations with PH's siblings where we tell them that we understand the predicament they are in. Obviously we will not be upset with them for going to MIL's house, but obviously MIL will be furious if they come here. So one sibling will be here and the other three will be with MIL. Here's the other kicker - this holiday has been the one time all year that PH, his siblings, and their children all get together. So while MIL always laments the fact that her grandchildren are never together she has managed to destroy the one time during the year they do see each other.

So preparations are underway for our smaller Thanksgiving (still 15 people!). I'd like to say PH and I are over MIL's behavior, but we're not. I keep trying to remind myself that my own children will learn from my actions and if I cut MIL out totally, the kids will learn this is acceptable. So for now, I am going back to cooking and teaching my children the joy of preparing and sharing a meal that includes the yeast rolls my Grandmother loved and the pumpkin bread recipe from my Mother.

05 November 2009


Yesterday morning the results for elections were in. The voters in my childhood home of Maine decided to repeal legislation that allowed for same sex marriage. Whatever your view on homosexuality, denying a person the ability to marry is unfair and as marriage is regulated by the government, a denial of equal protection in this country. Yesterday's Facebook comments prompted an on-line discussion among my childhood friends - those who are openly gay and those who are deeply religious. One friend who would describe himself as right wing and religious said that if "they" would just agree to civil unions and not use the word "marriage" then he could live with it. It was the use of the word "marriage" that was too great for him to bear, and civil unions would provide the legal protections that are necessary.

But what is a marriage? Isn't a marriage more than just legal protections. Yes, marriage allows for insurance, estate, and financial protections. But most people enter marriage for deeply personal reasons and many enter a marriage with deep affection for the person they are marrying. Marriage is a way of declaring a commitment to a single person. I understand that for many there is a religious significance to marriage, but there are a good number of heterosexual couples who marry without any religious implication in their ceremony. Are they any less married?

I have friends who are married. They had a ceremony to announce their commitment to one another; they share the responsibility of a home, they work to support one another, they have made wills that leave their estate to the other, they travel together, have family holidays, fight over mowing the yard, pay bills, and in all things, share a life. Their separation would be considered shocking and a "divorce" would have to occur so entwined are their lives. Is there relationship any less of a marriages because they are two men? Denying them the term marriage is choosing form over substance, and is unfair and wrong. And while I understand that not everyone is comfortable with homosexuality, I actually thought that Maine would recognize equal protection.

****now climbing down off high horse, but still deeply saddened . . .

29 October 2009

Better Late Than Never

The October 2009 Daring Baker challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I have to admit that I failed this month. I just couldn't seem to get it together - was it the heat that kept turning the meringue to liquid, the ground hazelnut flour (what a pain that is to make), the overly sweet coffee icing? The result was not a macaron, but a flat, not so good cookie; or as my kids said, "It's okay but not very good." Seriously, that is how bad it was - the kids turned down cookies. To see how it should be done, visit the other Daring Bakers and maybe by next month I have my baking mojo back (or at least it might be cooler).

27 October 2009

Travel Suggestions

I am in need of some travel suggestions for the spring. Well, really I need to narrow down all of the places I want to go and pick one (or maybe two!) places. The parameters of this challenge: ten or so days late March/early April includes Easter weekend but not traveling that weekend, husband who will not even remember where we are going until he packs the night before leaving, two children then ages six and eight, needs to be warm enough to be outside but it can be jacket weather, not more than one plane connection between Florida and destination (sorry no 30 hour trips to New Zealand - Hubby already vetoed that idea!), if anywhere near Paris will have to stop and see family for a few days, need quaint and pretty scenery, good food, prefer that part of the time is NOT in a major city, and the perfect place to make lasting memories and yet relaxing.

I need specifics people! Not just a country but a town or area. Anyone?

26 October 2009


Feeling like I am in an alternate world this morning . . . .

21 October 2009

Culture Shock

If ever you want to see the vast spectrum of humanity in the United States travel from Seattle, Washington to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the same week. We thought the kids were ready for a National Park trip; I'm not sure we were ready for Gatlinburg . . .

We spent the weekend listening to KK, age 7, correcting spelling seen around town - "Corn is spelled with a C not a K, right Momma."

19 October 2009

Und die Blumen . . .

Bringen die Blumen in der Morgan.

Blumen, Blumen, und mehr Blumen!

Meine Lieblingsblume.

Ich habe diese Fotos in Seattle.
Oktober 2009
Please feel free to correct my limited German

13 October 2009

Pike Place Market or My Idea of Heaven

The history of Pike Place Market is as rich and colorful as Seattle itself. Its nine acres and 100 years of operation encompass thousands of unique and interesting stories — stories of immigration, internment, gentrification and urban renewal — that explain why Pike Place Market is called "The Soul of Seattle."

Between 1906 and 1907, the cost of onions increased tenfold. Outraged citizens, fed up with paying price-gouging middlemen too much for their produce, found a hero in Seattle City Councilman Thomas Revelle. Revelle proposed a public street market that would connect farmers directly with consumers. Customers would "Meet the Producer" directly, a philosophy that is still the foundation of all Pike Place Market businesses.

On August 17, 1907, Pike Place Market was born. On that first day, a total of eight farmers brought their wagons to the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street—and were quickly overwhelmed by an estimated 10,000 eager shoppers. By 11:00 am, they were sold out. Thousands of shoppers went home empty-handed, but the chaos held promise. By the end of 1907, the first Market building opened, with every space filled.

A century later, Pike Place Market is internationally recognized as America's premier farmers' market and is home to nearly 200 year-round commercial businesses; 190 craftspeople and 120 farmers who rent table space by the day; 240 street performers and musicians; and 300 apartment units, most of which house low-income elderly people.

"The Market," as the locals affectionately say, attracts 10 million visitors a year, making it one of Washington's most frequently visited destinations.

All the above information on Pike Place Market was found at http://www.pikeplacemarket.org.

And the last photo is after a day at the market - PERFECT!

09 October 2009

28 September 2009

New German Words

ein blauer Tag

Schwarz und Weiß

21 September 2009


I knew it was a matter of time, but H1N1 (or the Swine Flu) has found its way into the kid's school. KK's teacher was taken to the hospital on Saturday, but she was at school on Friday with a fever because the class had field trip. Students from grades second to fifth were on a bus with this teacher (including mine) and then spent the day with her. Parents are freaking out; administrators are being called over the teacher's decision to come to school with a fever. I have mentioned to some vocal parents that the school is no very tolerant of teachers being absent. During my brief tenure, we would receive emails telling us that there were certain days we were not allowed to be absent because they lacked sufficient classroom coverage. So how did this all come out over a weekend - Facebook.

A friend of mine is Facebook friends with this teacher. The teacher posted her diagnosis on Facebook, and my friend emailed me. I really debated what to do with the information, but I kept coming back to the fact that if I were an unknowing parent who had a kid with respiratory issues I'd want to know. I sent an email to the principal and the teacher to verify the information, and then sent an email to the few parents I know. I am obviously aware that theses parents then contacted other classroom parents until one parent with everyone's email address sent out a mass email. The teacher has been very upfront and sent me back an email confirming the diagnosis and telling me to watch my own child for symptoms. The principal did respond to my email about having the classroom cleaned, but made no attempt to notify parents. Yet another reason parents are furious. There is an available system at the school for both recorded phone notification and email notification to parents, Neither was used.

For today, I am keeping my kids home. Mostly because if the teacher passed it on to another student, it could be four to seven days before we know it. Also my son has cold like symptoms so no need to risk it; obviously KK will have a substitute for the week.

The questions for the day: am I over-reacting by keeping the kids home for today? If someone publishes a medical diagnosis, is that permission for public release? Has the school fumbled yet again or are parents blowing this out of proportion?

For today, we'll just be hanging around like this guy . . .

14 September 2009

Moving at the Speed of Light

No I have not won the lottery, abandoned my house, and jumped the nearest plane out of here (but I would if given the chance!). Since school has started, I have been on fast forward. Every weekend is filled until November. The week includes ballet, tap, two soccer practices, two soccer games, science club, and Brownies. Throw in my photography class which has begun, my German class which will start at the end of the month, a bathroom renovation that will not end, and fifteen loads of laundry and that is my life. Some of the highlights:

  • The bathroom is not done. I have to finish painting the closet door, and a section of crown moulding that must be put up. The outlet covers have not arrived and we still need a medicine cabinet. Oh, and lights - the light fixture still needs to be hung. I hope to have most of this done by Friday when we are having some friends to dinner, otherwise they potty in the dark.
  • The photography class - mixed feelings right now. Having to take specific photos on specific settings while trying to master aperture and shutter speed feels forced. I am not enjoying it as I keep looking around desperately for some inspiration in the scenery, but I am . . . .well, here . . . central Florida in the heat and showers of September is not inspiring. It is just hot, humid, and unattractive. Sorry - I am suppose to be finding the positive, but photography homework only makes me want to move far, far away. Maybe as I begin to understand aperture and shutter speed more, it will begin to feel less forced and I won't dread my assignments.
  • The German on-line class begins at the end of the month. I know that an on-line language course is not ideal, but it is what fits in my schedule for now. I have received my materials and have begun my first lesson which includes a DVD with hilarious skits of people dressed in late 1980s parachute pants and fluorescent colors. I am learning certain words just by association with the outfits and the dialogue. Oh and yes, I am beginning to conjugate some verbs too. Once the class starts, I think I will be pretty busy.
  • Thankfully, there are a few escapes between now and the end of the year including a long weekend in Seattle with an old friend (where we could both fly directly - me from Florida and her from Kansas- and find cheap tickets); five days in the Smokey Mountains with the kids during an October long weekend; Vail in December for a lawyer seminar; and Maine for six days at Christmas. So I better learn aperture and shutter speed because there has got to be some inspiration coming soon!

That's all folks! I'll try to post some of my least hated photos in the near future, but for now it is time run.

27 August 2009

Daring Baker - Dobos Torta or the Damn Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. This month's Daring Baker creation is a Dobos Torta or as it became known in my house - the Damn Torte. Having now survived its creation, I can say with hindsight that the recipe is not overly difficult, mostly just time consuming. Eight layers (recipe called for six but I made a smaller cake so more layers), caramel over a layer, and butter cream frosting. Yes, that is butter cream in the Florida heat and humidity - two minutes out of the frig and the damn stuff was melting. I would frost a couple layers, stick a couple strands of spaghetti through the layers to keep them from sliding around and refrigerator for a couple hours. Then pull it out and repeat until I had seven layers stacked. The caramelized cake layer had to be refrigerated too. The humidity made it tacky so into the frig with that too. I tried to throw the extra caramel on the macadamia nuts but I couldn't get them covered that why you see random splotches of caramel on the nuts. I think it is fair to say I cussed my way through this cake and swore up and down, I'd never make it again.

And then I tasted it - damned if the cake wasn't really good! As my five year old said "Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmmmm! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!" The lemon juice in the caramel was a tart contrast to the rich, sweet butter cream. And as long as I kept the cake in the frig, it stayed together for serving. And it is so rich that a small piece takes care of a chocolate craving easily. So I am eating cake, er . . . crow , I will use this recipe again once the weather has cooled a bit. Thanks Angela and Lorraine!

Dobos Torta
2 baking sheets
9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
a sieve
a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
a small saucepan
a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or
stand mixer will make life much easier)
metal offset spatula
sharp knife
a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times
Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes
Sponge cake layers
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches
a 7” cardboard round
12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:
NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)

3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.

3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.

4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.

5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!
Directions for the caramel topping:
1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.

2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.
Assembling the Dobos
1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.

3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

4. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

19 August 2009

Bathroom Update

I am no idea how those home make over shows manage to make over a room in 48 hours or build a house in a week. And they do it with their perfectly done hair and make up. Not so much here.

We are into week two. I don't think I've bothered to style my hair in all that time. While demolishing the bathroom was quick, albeit dirty (I am still finding wall plaster throughout the house), reconstruction is taking time. Hubby finished filling the holes in the wall and plastered the ceiling where the ugly florescent light used to be in part of the bathroom. I have sanded the baseboards and trim, washed them, taped off and painted them in another part of the bathroom. Today I move onto the walls in my part of the bathroom, and then I sand, wash and paint the baseboards and trim in Hubby's part of the bathroom. I also need to paint the plastered ceiling. I hope to move onto the walls by Friday. All this painting must be done and dried by this weekend when the counter top is to be installed (by Hubby and me sometime after the mini-triathlon he is doing and the five dozen cookies I need to make for a neighborhood back to school party have been baked). I've started stripping, sanding, and re-varnishing the wood cupboards (this including mixing my own wood finish to get the color "we" think "we" want!), but frankly that is going to have to wait until next week to be completed. I still need to find a new medicine cabinet, the fixtures for the sink, and a towel rack. Again, push that off to next week. Yes, we will be working on this well into week three. Where is the Design Crew when I need them?

11 August 2009

First Day of School

Today my baby started kindergarten and my oldest second grade. After much discussion and thinking, they went back to the private school. We know the kindergarten teacher and Hew will have a fantastic year. It's my job to make sure KK gets a challenge this year. I have to say for all my worrying, today went well. First day, best behavior, reconnecting with friends - no tears or regrets. We've made the best decision for this year, and next year I'll worry about later!

In case you are thinking I'll be bored now that the kids are in school, have no fear as I have made some plans. First, I signed up for a photography class at an art school - don't expect much as it is once a week, but it will force me to finally finish that 400 page manual. Second, I demolished part of the kid's bathroom and am currently stripping and staining cupboards, spackling, priming, and painting walls and ceilings, and putting in a new counter top (of course PH has to help with some it!). Once that is done, PH and I have discussed doing the same to the cupboards and walls in our bathroom and then possibly the walls in the family room as they are beginning to crack under the strain of doubling as the play area. And finally, I am desperately trying to get signed up for a German I class just because I want to learn it. And with the normal laundry, cooking, and cleaning, I should be busy until December. I know none of this is directed at finding a job or getting us out of Florida. We are still looking, but it was decided I needed to do some things just because I enjoy them. I also decided that I need to find things that make me happy here (thanks to Frau M. in Austria for reminded me that my happiness is my responsibility). In this economy, we may be here awhile and life is too short to always be looking forward. And I am lucky to have the time to do these things.

For us summer is over (yes it is still is hot as Hades but I am trying to remain ignore it) and it is back to "work" but that doesn't mean I won't share some of my pictures from this summer! These were all taken wandering through Vienna. I should have paid attention to where we were, but we were having too much fun just walking.

10 August 2009

24 hours . . .

. . . until then, just smell the roses.

03 August 2009

Eight Days

Eight days until I am able to write a full post.

Eight days until the kids go back to school.

31 July 2009

Happy Friday!

Taken by PH with his cell phone while having dinner at Joseph's in St. Wolfgang, Austria.

27 July 2009

Daring Baker

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

As I have been away for most of the month, I knew I was a bit pressed for time for this month's Daring Baker. Plus, it was PH's birthday and a birthday cake was needed. So what's a girl to do but make a Chocolate Cheesecake with a Milan cookie crust. That's right - Daring Baker and Birthday Caker Maker all in one.

I crushed the Milan cookies and mixed them with butter to make a cookie crumb crust for the cake. Then, I dipped the Milan cookies in chocolate and crushed nuts. The kids actually helped with the cake so it more than a little messy (warning for photo). The result - the cookies on their own were good, and the cookie crust was good but not great. The lemon flavor in the Milan cookies really comes through. The crust would have been perfect with a plain or lemon cheesecake. Overall, a successful Daring Baker/Birthday Cake Medley.

My Assistant shows off the final result!
And this Assistant conducted several taste tests!

A quick quiet cup of tea.

Happy Birthday PH!

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows
Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested (I used lemon and it was fine)
1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

25 July 2009

A Hike Up Schafberg

From Wolfgangsee, there is a cog train that transports you 5850 feet to the top of Schafberg

But why ride, when you can hike!

And with views like this, I'd say we made the right choice!

Here's where we are going! Really it's not that far - just another hour straight up!

And through some cows who are clearing the path for us!

Cows and alpine mountains - just call me Heidi!

Not far now and look at how far we have come!

We made it up Schafberg!

And here's the reward (along with a little lunch from Hotel Schafbergspitze, accessible only by cog train or hiking trail!).

But the fog begins to roll in . . .

. . . and then back out again!

Let's ride down just to experience it (and save my knees).
Until our next visit!