It appears that fall is coming…

My pinterest feed has erupted in boots/sweater wardrobe combos and baking. SO MUCH BAKING.

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 3.34.36 PM

Baking in a temporary apartment is totally do-able, which is what R. reminds me of every time I vocalize my desire (i.e. whine) for a homemade chocolate chip cookie. But it requires investment. Not only ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda – but at least a cookie sheet and some foil. Having just packed up our Boston apartment and systematically parceled off the pantry’s contents, I’m reluctant to rebuild the stockpile.

Mmmm but then again….

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 3.44.59 PM

I might just have to get over it and do some baking. For now I get my fix from the Pumpkin Lattes at Starbucks. I feel compelled to apologize for being the expat seeking out Starbucks abroad…but that was only after giving many local cafes a taste. The lattes and cappuccinos elsewhere are just as pricey and very weak. Blech. Like a hot glass of whole milk.

Here’s a progress shot of my Stonecutter’s cardigan. I’m getting ready to split for the front/back. Soon I can be sitting on the roof drinking a fall-smelling latte and wearing a sweater. P1080564


DIY Candied Ginger (and related cheesecake)

When we moved to Boston in August we  spent nights watching Netflix and singing remixed songs to our pets (i.e. the chart-topping hit  “Teddy Boy” sung to the tune of “Danny Boy”). Don’t get me wrong – these evenings had their own special appeal – but I started to go a little nuts. I wished so hard for a way to fast-forward the friend making process, but how do you make friends as a working adult?

No really. Do you have any advice? Besides the obvious don’t tell them about the remixed pet songs??

My mom’s answer for finding a girlfriend/boyfriend and finding friends is the same – go to church. To mom’s credit, the two searches do have a lot in common. Read and I chatted with a friendly dog-owner in the park this fall who just moved from Cali, and when it came time to leave both sides awkwardly hesitated. “Um, so…if you ever want to walk dogs together…I mean…do you maybe want to trade numbers?”

Kitty love

O Teddy boyyyy, the pipes the pipes are callllllinggg..

Slowly but surely we’ve been been able to swap out nights at home with social activities. Drinks after work with coworkers. Watching the Rose Bowl with the neighbors. This past Friday Read pointed out with pride that we had something scheduled for each weekend night. Don’t laugh at us…we were genuinely proud. Friday was a burlesque show in Back Bay (his classmate was the fully-clothed singing act at intermission), tonight is watching the Oscars with neighbors, and last night we  cooked dinner at my coworker’s apartment. The theme was Moroccan-(ish) and Misty and I combed food blogs last week to develop the menu:

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas and Mint

Carrot Salad with Harissa

Mini Ginger Cheesecakes topped with Lemon Curd

Carrot Salad

I couldn't find Harissa so I substituted a little siracha

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas

Between the Le Creuset pot and the stainless steel range, I had a bad case of kitchen envy

I fell in love with the cheesecake recipe before reading all of the directions and realizing that I was committing to an extra step: DIY candied ginger and ginger syrup. It took a while to cook the syrup down so we were late to dinner, but the final product made up for it. A little sweet, a little zing, and just the right marriage of ginger and lemon. We didn’t have a mini muffin tin so we used a 9″ springform pan and the cheesecake was thin like a tart. I ate a leftover slice for breakfast this morning and then scrubbed the stovetop free of hardened sugar syrup.

DIY candied ginger and syrup

Getting ready to peel and slice 1 lb. of ginger

DIY candied ginger and syrup

Cooking down the ginger and sugar syrup until it reaches 225 F

Ginger Lemon Cheesecake

Ginger Cheesecake with Lemon Curd

The best part was that there was enough leftover ginger and syrup for two pint jars. How pretty is that?

DIY candied ginger in syrup

DIY candied ginger in syrup


Date Cake

Today is our six-month anniversary! I think because so much has changed in the last six months, Read and I agreed that it seems like the wedding was longer ago. It was fun to look back at some pictures…

My "borrowed and blue"

My "borrowed and blue" for the wedding was this ring from Grandma. My mom wore it on her wedding day too.

Cutting peaches for pie

Cutting peaches with mom for the reception pies

first dance

first dance

We celebrated today by sleeping in, taking the bus to Harvard Square for a movie, and making dinner at home. I tried a date cake recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks – Cook Something by Mitchell Davis. I told Read it was “date nut bread,” but with two sticks of butter I think it’s more accurately classified as cake.

Date Cake

Date Cake

When I panned out to get a different angle, I noticed a certain little black dog. His expression is too much.

Date Cake

Sam wants a date with the cake

the birthday photo recap

My birthday was Wednesday…except it was more like a birthWEEK thanks to all of the fun things that helped stretch the fun from Saturday to Wednesday.  Here’s a randomized recap:

Tea Cup: I’ve been oogling over my roommate’s tea cup ever since she moved in. It’s an enviable blend of form and function, and the removable tea diffuser is so much easier to clean than the little round mesh diffusers you drop into a cup. Read was so kind and got me my very own pair – one aqua and one red.  Take a look at the company’s website – you’ll end up wanting a whole tea set.

Homemade potstickers: The roommate doesn’t just own nice teacups – she also makes some killer homemade potstickers. I’ve had a veggie version and a pork version and they’re both DELECTABLE. I’ve seen potsticker recipes but for some reason the process always intimidated me…it just seemed like a doughy disaster waiting to happen. Sandra’s recipe is mostly in her head (i.e. some of this and some of that) so I can’t really share it. But maybe a few notes on the process will be more helpful anyway, and will help convince you to try making them if you do have been intimidated. Here’s what I’ve learned:

– fresh ginger &  fresh garlic. You need plenty of both
– use an iron skillet, put in a healthy coat of vegetable oil, and heat it to medium/high
– brown the potstickers for a few minutes, then pour in a quarter cup of water and cover with a lid
– repeat the water/steaming process until the wrapper is translucent. You don’t necessarily have to flip them.
Sandra got me a pair of rice bowls for my birthday (see above). They’re so elegant and just the right size for noodle and stir fry dishes.

Shortcake: I’m not a big cake fan…but shortcake is a whole ‘nother story. I use Better Homes & Garden’s recipe from the classic red & white checkered book. Usually with Cool Whip but this time my friend brought over whipping cream.

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten & 2/3 cup milk

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in egg and milk; stir just enough to moisten. Spread dough in greased 8 inch round or square pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into two layers and alternate cake/cream/strawberries.

mmm cookies!

ok generally i tend to stick to the familiar aka i don’t like change. but lately i have been stepping out of my box… trying some new things. so how about a new cookie recipe?! peanut butter chocolate chip cookies – mmm mmm good.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup butter *i always split my butter with crisco

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 3/4 cups chocolate chips

some granulated sugar




directions: preheat oven to 375 degrees. combine flour and baking soda in small bowl. beat butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.


(nothin better than butter & sugar)

(nothin better than butter & sugar)


gradually beat in flour mixture. stir in morsels.

mix mix mix

mix mix mix


drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. press down slightly with bottom of glass dipped in granulated sugar. bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still soft. cool and consume.




mmm cookies!

mmm cookies!



success! beautifully yummy peanut butter cookies with chocolate delight hidden inside. a great alternative to Grandma June’s famous plain chocolate chip cookies. try them out – best eaten warm with a large glass of milk!

For the Love of Lois

This past weekend I went with friends to Detering Orchard. They’ve got all the major fruits available for U-Pick: apples, peaches, pears, and blueberries. What are some of your favorite blueberry recipes? It’s been hot in Eugene, so cranking up the oven was a bad idea, but I couldn’t resist making a pie. 

For the Love of Lois

For the Love of Lois

Every baker has their fall-back pie crust recipe. I’m including mine here. It’s from “For the Love of Lois,” a recipe book from the former cook of  a local retreat center (local=northwest ohio). My great-grandma passed this book on to my mom. I don’t know much about the author; an internet search just turned up this old photo from my hometown newspaper. 

Never-fail pie crust

Never-fail pie crust

The recipe is my fall-back because it’s easy to mix up and handle and it freezes well. I’ve had good results replacing half of the shortening with butter…you get the flakiness of shortening with the better taste of butter. Don’t attempt to replace the fats with margarine or weird shortening substitutes though. I was talked into it once (not good).

Cutting in the butter

Cutting in the butter

I love crumb top pies. For one pie’s worth of crumb mixture, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup oats, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in one stick (half cup) softened, not melted, butter. 

Roll out

Roll out

My mom rolls out her crust using a floured countertop and rolling pin. She’s mastered the art, but I never seemed to get it right. The rolling pin stuck to the crust, the crust stuck to the counter, flour got EVERYwhere. Now I roll my crusts out between sheets of saran wrap. You’re not supposed to handle pie dough very much (preserves the flakiness) so this allows for minimal man-handling.