Tag Archives: The Special Cabin in the Woods

Meyer Lemon Waffles in The Woods

February 2013

My oldest sister was in grad school for speech pathology when I was learning to read, so I made quite the guinea pig for her homework. When she began teaching in public schools, I would use my days off from school to accompany her on her teaching rounds, which is to say, I went to school when I didn’t have to. On one of those afternoons when I was her sidekick, she led a classroom full of kindergarteners in a little hand-clapping song- “Associate, associate, goooes together.” Then she would hold up an object, and they would make the obvious association. As an adult, I still find myself singing that jingle every now and then.

Cabin Creek View

When I think of the Special Cabin in the Woods, there are a few associations that come to mind. At the top of my list is brunch, specifically waffles! Beyond the practical fact that the cabin kitchen contains a waffle maker, and my own kitchen does not, there is just something so slow and calming about syrup pooling in waffle basins while the creek waters flow through the valley. When that cabin view is still icy, a flavor burst of citrus can do wonders for the winter soul. Associate, associate, they go together!

Meyer Lemon Waffles

Meyer Lemon Waffles

Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 organic eggs
1 Tablespoon pure cane sugar
2 Tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1 Meyer lemon, peeled and cut into small chunks

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest and lemon chunks.

Pour mixture over the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth.

Spoon batter into your waffle iron as directed by manufacturers instructions.

Cook until golden brown, crisp, and cooked through.

Serve waffles immediately with blueberries, maple syrup and a dollop of bourbon whipped cream (recipe follows).

Meyer Lemon Waffles Before and After

Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 pint organic heavy cream
Maple Syrup, to taste
1/4 cup bourbon

Directions

In a chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the maple syrup and bourbon and continue to beat until combined.

Jack Daniels Blondies For A Plaid Weekend of Harlem Shaking

February 2013

Our common thread is a school so nerdy its mascot was Tartan plaid. When the eight of us gathered at that Special Cabin in the Woods, naturally, the occasion also called for plaid all around (and not one but two roasted chickens).

Plaid-Weekend

No matter how I describe this weekend, my words would pale in comparison to Doug’s poetic conclusion penned in the cabin’s visitor book. Thus, I am borrowing his prose:

As I sit here eating jack links premium cuts beef jerky, before shortly leaving to drive back to Philadelphia, I realize the eight of us who spent the weekend here, thanks to the generous hospitality of Jono and his family, have a great unknown future ahead of us, one filled surely with stardom and success and newfound celebrity status. And we have the cabin to thank. For it was here on the evening of February 16th that we filmed our version of the Harlem Shake viral video- the Cabin Fever Edition. Like any masterpiece, it will not be fully appreciated for its ingenuity and vivre for decades- or unless watched at least eight times. The filming of the video was not without its obstacles and roadblocks. We weren’t going to make it!…We made it! The 31 second video starring Jono, Dan, Ben, Kyle, JP, Quelcy, Doug and Diane has 251 views already on YouTube, and if my math is correct, at this rate, we should surpass 1 million votes by Memorial Day.

Clearly, the weekend at the cabin called for a Harlem Shake- A Cabin Fever Edition! Take away the plaid, and what do you get? A video worth watching at least eight times!

After all that, it was time for dessert- dessert and a nightcap in one!

Jack Daniels Blondies 01

Jack Daniels Blondies

Ingredients

16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, melted
2 cups pure cane sugar

2 large eggs (local/free-range)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whiskey (Jack Daniels)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter a 9 x12 glass pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar, and beat until smooth.

Beat in eggs, and then vanilla.

Stir in the salt and flour.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 20-25 minutes.

Cool on rack before cutting.

Jack Daniels Blondies 02

While you’re eating one of these gooey, whiskey-y bars, you might want to listen to this song. Enjoy!

The Final Ode To A Cabin in Fall: Pumpkin Muffins

September 2012

After waffles became pancakes and wanders became fireside reflections, it was time to leave that cabin we love, but before we drove away, there was time for one more dosage of fall flavors.

Nothing brings out the pumpkin and spice flavors of these muffins like quiet views and the changing colors of leaves. Best eaten when warm with a mug of hot cider and someone you hold dear. These muffins should be savored as much as the place where you eat them. In our case, this was the final ode to the cabin in fall. The next time we see it, it will be a completely different place, perhaps even a place covered in a blanket of white?

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

For The Batter

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup organic buttermilk
1 1/4 cups organic pumpkin pie filling (from a 15-ounce can)*

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
2 large eggs (local/free-range)

*You could use regular pumpkin puree, but the store was out when I shopped, so I just used the extra spice of pie filling to my advantage.

For The Sugar Coating

3/4 cup organic brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack

The Final Ode

As we wandered away, the road unfolded like a painting. The last Ode to the Cabin was a Sunday smile and a Sunday mile, and in some ways, it felt like a wander through time.

Happy Fall!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: Cookie Cups & Cartwheels

September 2012

When is the last time you really went outside and played?

When is the last time you flew through the trees?

When is the last time you ran like a fool? When is the last time you did a cartwheel?

There’s something about being at the special cabin in the woods that simplifies fun. Maybe it’s because we’re removed from typical routines or because no one is watching, or maybe because we’re just plain weird [magical]? Whatever the impetus, there we were playing outside, laughing and seeing the world from all angles. It took me back to a time when fitness was just an afternoon spent outside with friends.

Perhaps it was all the play that incited my craving for cookies. Perhaps I was transported to the time when I’d run inside with numb fingers and find a kitchen table covered in warm, fresh, gooey, chocolate-chip cookies.

One of the advantages of being a baking adult is I can make cookies when the craving hits. This time I was inspired by the ol’ cupcake form. Another advantage of being a baking adult is I can also be inspired by bourbon!

Bourbon, Cranberry & Pecan Cookie Cups
Makes 20 cookie cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw cane sugar
3/4 cup organic packed brown sugar
dash of nutmeg
1 cup organic, unsalted butter, browned
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 egg (local/free-range)

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (leaving a handful whole for garnishing)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries

Directions

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a cupcake pan with natural parchment liners.

Mix sugars, nutmeg, butter, extracts, bourbon and egg in large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture.

Stir in nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into lined cupcake pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until light brown.

Cool on wire rack, and go play!

weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Fall Flavored Lasagna

September 2012

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

I do find autumn to be quite delicious, especially when fall’s flavors are layered between noodles and cheese! The original Bon Appétit recipe called for broccoli rabe, which I replaced with brussels sprouts. Firstly, I associate those mini cabbages with fall more than broccoli rabe, and secondly, that’s what was available at my grocery store. I also used a brown rice noodle for the health and flavor merits, and this recipe could easily become a gluten free staple if you use an alternative flour (I only had whole-wheat pastry on hand). Extra dashes of red pepper flakes, added to the squash roasting stage, made for a kick of spice, contrasted by hints of cinnamon and nutmeg in the béchamel sauce.  Enjoy with hot cider or hard cider before your migration to successive autumns!

Squash and Brussels Lasagna

Adapted from my food publication deity, Bon Appétit.

Ingredients

Filling

1 local butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh brussels sprouts (the typical grocery store sized bundle), rinsed, stalk removed and pulled apart into leaves

8oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
1/2 lb whole-milk ricotta
1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
coarsely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Preparation

For the Filling

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place squash and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season generously with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat squash evenly.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading out in a single layer, overlapping slightly.

Roast until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Mix mozzarella and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

*DO AHEAD Squash and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Béchamel and Assembly

1/8 cup organic unsalted butter
1/8 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 cups (or more) organic half-and-half
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon
1 fresh bay leaf
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

10 oz Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles (Tinkyada)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Béchamel and Assembly

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Add flour; stir until slightly thickened (do not allow mixture to turn brown), 2–3 minutes. Increase heat slightly.

Slowly whisk in 2 1/2 cups half-and-half, 1/2-cupful at a time, allowing béchamel to thicken between additions (adding half-and-half gradually will help to prevent lumps from forming).

Add 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and cinnamon and bay leaf.

Reduce heat to low and cook, thinning with more half-and-half if too thick, until sauce is a milkshake–like consistency, about 10 minutes longer.

Cook lasagna noodles in a pot of well-salted boiling water until still quite al dente, 8–9 minutes. Transfer immediately to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; spread out noodles on a kitchen towel or baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing a kitchen towel or parchment between layers.

Ladle about 1/4 cup béchamel into a 11x9x2-inch baking dish; spread evenly over bottom. Line dish with a single layer of noodles, cutting as needed to fit (use large scraps in subsequent layers).

Layer 1/3 of squash over.

Scatter brussels sprouts leaves over the previous layer.

Dollop 1/3 of ricotta mixture randomly over greens.

Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel evenly over ricotta mixture.

Repeat process 2 more times for a Total of 3 layers, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over; top with Parmesan. Leftover noodles can be used for a freeform version with any leftover components.

*DO AHEAD Lasagna can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Return to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake lasagna uncovered until bubbly and starting to brown, about 45 minutes.

Turn oven to broil. Cook until browned and golden, 4–7 minutes.

Let rest for 20–30 minutes before serving.

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring. 
-Samuel Johnson

May you taste the fruits of delicious autumn! Bon appétit!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Shared Plate & Thoughts

September 2012

Printed words, sipped drinks, thoughts shared and a shared plate…these elements seemed to slow time in the best possible way…the way that makes me pause and question why more of my life is not this memorably simple. Every now and then, it’s inspiring to borrow someone else’s words to preserve these moments, and in this case, John Muir’s words take me back to that afternoon…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. 

“Adult Root Beers” with Art in the Age Root
& Charcuterie

With inexpressible delight you wade out into the grassy sun-lake, feeling yourself contained on one of Nature’s most sacred chambers, withdrawn from the sterner influences of the mountains, secure from all intrusion, secure from yourself, free in the universal beauty. And notwithstanding the scene is so impressively spiritual, and you seem dissolved in it yet everything about you is beating with warm, terrestrial human love, delightfully substantial and familiar. 

One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers’ plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. 

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

-John Muir

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Batter Resplatter

September 2012

Ambitious retreat.

When I think of the special cabin in the woods, I think of eating, conversing, wandering, sitting, talking, eating, sitting, warming, reading…. With the slower pace and simpler agenda, I consider each meal an opportunity for a brand new creative endeavor. I let the seasons inspire and try the recipes I’ve stored patiently in my arsenal. The meals link other aspects of my cabin memories, so heating leftovers doesn’t seem to do justice to the special cabin (instead we pack the leftovers for our return dinner). I tend to be overly ambitious in my menu planning, but sometimes a small measure can twist a leftover into the new experience I seek to create.

As my special one waffled his way through the large bowl of batter for our first brunch, his hunger and patience proved to be inversely proportional. Since we had plenty of waffles to eat, I saved the batter for a resplatter, in the form of pancakes, the following morn. Granted, this does not make me the Picasso of pancakes or a kitchen trailblazer by any means, but let this remind and with any hope, slightly inspire. With the addition of roasted kuri squash and a new whipping of cream, we had a new meal with half the steps and risked waste less.

“Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.”
-Mark Twain

Much like this avocado egg or these harvest nests, these ham cups are a blank canvas awaiting your cravings and creativity. In my case, I used leftover root vegetables from the previous night’s dinner, with a sprinkling of salty cheese, as the secret surprise ingredients beneath the egg top. Mushrooms and leeks would be delicious, par example.

Ham Cups

Ingredients

Organic Maple Ham
Local/Free-range eggs
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Veggies of choice
Cheese of choice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line each muffin cup with a slice of ham, letting it ruffle up the sides.

Crack an egg into each, sprinkle with a bit of cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve immediately, on their own on a plate or set in small dishes for extra support.

Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
“I’ll take the one on top.”
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Theresa smiles and says,
“I’ll take the one in the middle.”

-Shel Silverstein

Batter Resplatter Pancakes

This Pumpkin Waffle Recipe + Leftover Roasted Red Kuri Squash = A Brand New Pancake!

Whipped Cream

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form. Add the Snap liquor and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

enjoy!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: Flax Golden Tales

September 2012

“Invitation”
By Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

As a kid growing up in the suburbs, I imagined some far fetched and fantastical worlds, but I can only imagine the worlds I would have created if the woods had been my backdrop. Fortunately, the special cabin in the woods provides an opportunity for my feet and my mind to wander. As the summer slipped away, and fall took hold, our play place was a brand new adventure! What struck me on this wander was the brilliant and bold color accents and the small glimpses of creatures in motion. As an adult child, this is what I saw…

Colorful, sculptural coral reef and the scaly skin of an old and tired dinosaur, adorned with bits of lace.

A prince charming and his longtime companion (trapped by a spell in the body of an inching caterpillar)

A magical fortune telling tool. I never knew those colors existed on acorns(?)!

An entire fleet of Cinderella’s pumpkin stage coaches!

A shy little guy…

…who found his courage.

A snooty frog who thought, “Oh bother, why won’t these fools go about their day [in a British accent].”

And best of all…French tarts! Citron flavored tarts to be exact!

Did you see extinct creatures and delicious delicacies? If so, come sit by my fire! We’ve got some flax golden tales to spin!

An Ode to a Cabin in Autumn: Pumpkin Waffles

September 2012

A humble poem for a magical cabin…

When I was a child,
I dreamed of fall,
The way I wanted it to be,
With firesides, fresh warm cakes
And mugs of steaming tea.

Then I met my special one
Who took me to his special place,
The place he loved from deep within,
And when he took me there,
My love of fall would truly begin.

Behind the grains of wood,
There’s a hush interrupted
By the crackle of a flame.
As the creek flows quietly,
This place remains not the same.

The hills are a palette in flux.
The window a canvas
Of an ever changing view.
With neither tool nor toil,
Each season builds this house anew.

From blankets of white,
To a scarcity of greens,
To shimmering willows filling the skies,
His place is a portrait,
With many a disguise.

One day, an older me,
Will sit and dream of fall,
The way it was there,
With firesides, fresh warm cakes
And the love between that pair.

I first met my special one’s cabin in the winter, and each visit has been a response to the season and a new experience. Though I loved swimming in the creek, fall might be my favorite! The combination of lingering summer breezes and fall flavors is so fleeting, but the cabin offers the perfect embrace of this transition, especially at the brunching hour.

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Pumpkin Waffles
w/ Caramelized Pears & Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup packed organic light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 large eggs (local/free-range), separated
2 cups organic buttermilk, well-shaken
1 cup canned organic pumpkin pie filling (you could use regular pumpkin puree)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) organic unsalted butter, browned

1 cup organic dried cranberries, soaked in bourbon

Melted Butter for brushing waffle iron

Directions

Preheat waffle iron.

Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with buttermilk, pumpkin, and browned butter until smooth.

Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.

Drain and reserve the bourbon from the cranberries. Fold in the cranberries.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.

Fold them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.

Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter into waffle iron, spreading quickly.

Cook according to waffle iron maker’s instructions.

Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve with cooked pears, toasted pecans and bourbon whipped cream.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients 

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons bourbon (use the bourbon reserved from the dried cranberries)

Directions

Combine everything except the bourbon in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form. Add the bourbon and continue to mix until combined.

Caramelized Pears

Ingredients

2-3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
2 red pears, sliced
remaining bourbon from cranberries
1-2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar, to taste
cinnamon

Directions

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced pears and brown sugar. Dash with cinnamon, and stir occasionally until tender. Add the bourbon, and let the liquid reduce slightly. Remove from heat. Serve warm on waffles.

A Very French Baked French Toast & Roasted Pineapple

March 2012

It was the bright and sunny brunching hour at the special cabin in the woods, but more importantly, it was the last brunching hour of the long weekend, so we treated ourselves to a decadent baked French toast!

This decadence stemmed from the substitution of croissants for bread and a layer of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut nutbutter (more wholesome than nutella!), making for a very French, French toast!  One rather rich thought entered my mind as I was making this… can you even fathom a bite of baked French toast made with almond croissants?!?!  One bite would surely be heaven, and one bite would surely be enough! Perhaps I’ll try that one day!

Baked Croissant French Toast

Inspired by Bon Appétit

Ingredients

5 all butter croissants, cut lengthwise

2 Tablespoons Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter
*1 cup homemade bourbon whipped cream (recipe below)

5 large eggs (local/free-range)
3/4 cup organic buttermilk
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon organic brown sugar

extra maple syrup

For the Baked French Toast

Grease an 11×7 glass baking dish with butter.

Create one layer of croissants using four bottom halves.

In a bowl, whip the bourbon whipped cream and chocolate hazelnut butter together until creamy.

Add the 4 croissants tops. Use the remaining croissant to fill in any gaps.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk and maple syrup.

Pour the egg mixture over the croissants, making sure to fully saturate the top layer.

Sprinkle with the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.

Let sit for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown and set in the middle, about 40 minutes.  Serve with maple syrup.

*Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
3 Tablespoons Bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon organic brown sugar

For the Whipped Cream

In a chilled bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  Add a dollop to your brunch cup of coffee while you’re at it!

Roasted Pineapple with Pistachios 
Adapted from Bon Appétit 

Ingredients

1/2 cup (packed) organic brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into wedges or chunks
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Stir first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.

Add pineapple; toss to coat.

Let marinate, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Place pineapple, one flat side down, on a nonstick skillet; reserve marinade.

Roast pineapple for 15 minutes.

Stir/flip, brush with marinade, and roast until tender and caramelized, 10–15 minutes.

Drizzle with remaining marinade; let cool slightly.

Arrange pineapple on a plate.

Spoon Greek yogurt on top of the pineapple. Garnish with pistachios and fresh mint.

The sun was as warm and golden as that roasted pineapple.  When March hands you a warm, sunny day, there is no choice but to spend as much of the afternoon outside as possible, especially when that afternoon takes place at a cabin in the woods.

Oh that big hunk o’ man?!?  He’s my lumberjack boyfriend.  No big deal.

The grasses, trees and mountains began to yawn and stretch, as they gradually awoke from their winter slumbers.  For though the sun was quick to warm us that weekend, the grasses, trees and mountains had been dormant for many a cold, wintry month.  Their warmth was yet to come!

As a newcomer to that special cabin in the woods, part of my privilege is discovering the changes the seasons bring over the mountains, valleys and wooden beams.  I can’t wait to see how the cabin gussies himself with spring flowers and bright green grasses!

(…until the next, greener, sunnier times that is)

Once Upon A Sticky Toffee Time in London

November 2011/March 2012

In the back of my mind- in the very back of my mind- I knew he was going to London with his family.  The front of my mind [clearly this post is steeped in "neuroscience"] was focused very intently on escaping my home base, adventuring and feeling very, very far from certain sad gray clouds hovering over me.  I looked at flights to Paris very longingly, but I concluded I owed it to myself to try a new locale.  That’s when London popped into my mind, and once I get an idea like that in my head, all the best to you should you try to stand in my way!

I had already set my idea into motion when the back and front of my mind began working in conjunction again [even more neuroscience].  Oh yeaaaah… he‘s going to London too! The “coincidence” of my destination choice seemed questionable since I had joked about wanting to be a member of his family (whose travel history included a family vacation on the Amalfi Coast!!!  Pick me!!!), but I am sticking to my story- his trip was unrelated to my planning!

The motives of my story became all the more questionable as the two of us grew closer.  At first, we were two friends who happened to be traveling to the same major metropolis at the very same time.  We thought we’d meet up and maybe share some London sightseeing, but as the trip approached, our friendship became something far more significant!  I had unknowingly arranged to travel to London with my SigFig to be and his entire family!

Who does that?!?  This girl!

So it was I came to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in a foreign land with my new boyfriend’s family.  With any other family, this may have been odd or intrusive, but my special one comes from a tremendous family who generously included me in their wanderings and explorations of one of the most captivating cities on earth!

Thanks to the sister/tour guide, who had been exploring London for an entire semester, I came to experience a phenomenon called “sticky toffee pudding,” which isn’t all that sticky, nor is it really pudding.  Oh those Brits!

My first sticky toffee encounter occurred at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub, which is notable for a few reasons:

1.  Its age!  It was rebuilt in 1667 after The Great Fire of London, meaning some semblance of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub existed even earlier than that!

2.  The entrance is quietly tucked away from the commotion of the street, marked by a beautiful sign and surrounded by beautiful brickwork.

3.  To arrive at the cellar requires an acute awareness of one’s body in space, as the winding stairwell is narrow, and the ceilings are quite low.

4.  The rustic wood!  There was wood everywhere, and “rustic” does not do justice to the age in those dark wood grains.

5.  The concept of the British pub is brilliant in general- good drinks and comfort food in a unique and dignified setting!  To eat and drink at a pub is like eating mom’s Sunday dinner in the den of an old fashioned gentleman (It’s the style I channeled for this shoot).

Why, oh why America, do you not adopt such a concept en masse?!?

The sister/tour guide was wide eyed and very nearly drooling as she ordered “sticky toffee pudding” at record speed (try saying it five times fast!).  Her eagerness was intriguing. Beyond my bowl of creamy corn soup (again..such delectable food for a bar!) was the answer to my question, “what is sticky toffee pudding?”  My bite from the shared bowl provided the answer:  warm, spongy cake in a pool of custard with a sweet surface layer.

Part of why I travel is to be inspired creatively and culinarily, and that bowl of sticky toffee pudding sure did inspire!  The special cabin in the woods was the perfect place for my first attempt, and my special one was the perfect partner for sharing dessert.  Not surprisingly, the recipe inspiration came from the delicious photos of one of my favorite blogs, Tea With Me.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe adapted from Tea With Me. 

Dates!  Who knew?!?  Dates are one of the prominent ingredients in sticky toffee pudding, so it’s really a wonder this traditional dessert did not come to be known as “caramel date cake.”

The sneaky Bear-Pig tried to nab the dates as they soaked, but his attempts were foiled!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

1 cup dates, pitted
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp baking soda

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup organic, unsalted butter
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg (local/free-range), beaten

1 Tablespoon AITA Snap

For the Sticky Toffee Pudding

In a separate bowl, pour boiling water over dates and baking soda. Let sit until all or most of the water is absorbed (ideal time for a forest wander).  Add a splash or two of AITA Snap for an extra kick.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream butter and sugar until lighter in color and fluffy. Beat in egg gradually.

Fold in the flour mixture.

Add the date mixture.

Mix in the Snap.

Pour in a greased oven proof glass baking dish.

Bake on the middle rack for 250 degrees F for 40 min.

Caramel Sauce

1/3 cup organic, unsalted butter
1 cup organic brown sugar
4 tbsp organic heavy cream

For the Caramel Sauce

Melt butter in a pan, add sugar and cream, stirring all the time for about 3 minutes.

Cut a slice of pudding, serve with a dollop of whipped cream and drizzles of caramel sauce.

Snap Whipped Cream

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons AITA Snap

For the Whipped Cream

Combine all the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

More To Come…!

I’m not about to offer the sister/tour guide my first ever attempt at sticky toffee pudding, especially since this version reminded me more of my mother’s banana bread than my afternoon at that wooden table.  Thus I see much more sticky toffee experimentation on my horizon.  There is also so much more of my London wanderings I intend to share, so…

Stay tuned!

Progress and Persistance (Cabin Weekend, Part V)

March 2012

More years ago than I care to admit, I found myself staying in an enviable adobe house in the Arizona desert as part of a volunteering trip.  Each volunteer was in charge of one dinner.  College freshman me was not the With The Grains me, and I was completely out of my element.

My dinner “menu” was a sad “taco” comprised of a canned trio of beans, salsa from a jar and a sad excuse for cheese (I was still under the impression “low fat” was something I should seek on a label).  Though the diners were positive in their reviews, I can only assume that taco meal was lackluster to say the least.  Fast forward to a dinner at the special cabin in the woods, and I do say so myself- I have progressed tremendously!

While I was busy in the kitchen witnessing my full progression, he was busy proving persistance pays off…

… pays off in the form of 1000 pieces forming a sea bass(?).  ONE THOUSAND PIECES!  He did it allllll by himself too!  I literally did not help in the least bit, and my dorky heart fluttered a bit at the sight of his nerdy puzzle persistance [bordering on obsessiveness].

Beef Enchiladas
(A far cry from sad “tacos”)
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Review 

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon organic brown sugar
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Salt
~1 lb local beef chuck flat iron steaks
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 red onions, chopped (~2 cups)
1 (15 oz) can organic tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
8 oz organic cheddar and monterey jack cheese, shredded (~2 cups)
1/3 cup cilantro
1/4 cup chopped canned pickled jalapeños
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Directions

Combine the garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, sugar, cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Cook the meat until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes.

Transfer the meat to a plate. Cut the meat into strips and set aside.

Add the onions to the pot, and cook over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil.

Return the meat and juices to the pot, cover, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer until the meat is tender and can be broken apart with a spoon, about 1 ½ hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Strain the beef mixture over a medium bowl, breaking the meat into small pieces; reserve the sauce.

Transfer the meat to a bowl and mix with 1 cup of cheese, cilantro and jalapeños.

Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a cast iron skillet (I used an 11 inch skillet).

Spread 1/3 cup of the beef mixture down the center of each tortilla, roll the tortilla tightly, and set in the skillet, seam side down.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas and beef mixture (squish if need be).

Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and spread to coat evenly.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over the enchiladas.

Wrap the baking dish with foil, and bake until heated through, 20-25 minutes.

Remove the foil, and continue baking until the cheese is bubbling and has browned slightly, 5-10 minutes.

Serve to a puzzle pro (who may be convinced to take a break in order to mash up some guac), and enjoy how far you have come in life!

Header_Mt-Shelves

A Waffle Powered Wander (Cabin Weekend IV)

March 2012

Butter and cream are not your enemy as long as your legs and feet are you friends [and as long as that butter and cream come from honest intentions].  That’s how I guide my choices, so after digesting our delicious, savory-sweet brunch of ham and cheese waffles and nestling into cabin activities, we trailed the sunshine as it began to retreat from the bark and moss and gurgling waters.

The trees looked like giants emerging from their slumbers.

When he balances there, his mind reverts to a time when he nearly toddled right into the path of a snake.  His mind also plots ways to scale vertical walls, but sometimes the flowing waters change his mind.

Despite the remoteness, traffic laws still apply…

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One For You & One For Me (Cabin Weekend, Part II)

March 2012

There’s a certain quiet that is felt.  This type of quiet is not defined by a lack of sound.  This type of sensory quiet is defined by a calm… a slower pace… a lack of “shoulds” and “woulds.”  This type of quiet accentuates small details… the endless appeal of a flowing creek, the rapid changes of the sky, the flickers of light cast on an array of textures and minutes marked by light and not by schedules.  I’ve only felt this type of quiet a few times, but they have been magical, memorable times, and this cabin weekend was one of them!

Like a long, quiet scene in a film, I watched myself float through the weekend with my special one.  We swayed back and forth on that swing, with its perfectly framed view.  We watched the flickers of light, felt the warmth of the sun and sipped slowly on drinks that added their own textures and patterns to the moments, as we quietly escaped reality.

One for Him

Negroni
1 part gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part bitters

One for Me!

AITA Snap + Organic Birch Beer + Organic Orange Slices

For Us!

A French wine connoisseur once told me tasting wine is not about elitism or fancy terms.  Wine tasting is about remembering your grandmother’s kitchen or recalling a meadow in spring.  It’s about memory and experience.

Smoky ash on goat cheese and fingertips.

The creamy taste and smell of asparagus?!?

A bite that made me think of eating the real deal at a port, while watching sailboats prepped for a major journey.

These were the characteristics of cheese tasting on a sunny afternoon, and future hints of asparagus in a creamy cheese will recall a weekend quietly slinking by a window view.

Forest Fools & Forest Grains (Cabin Weekend Part I)

March 2012

I like going to his cabin in the woods, where the window shows a quietly passing creek, where mountains look like cluttered, blue shelves stacked with trees.  I like concocting in the kitchen and sharing the creations in front of the crackling fire.

I like the special cabin in the woods for the departure it offers, but I like it most of all because it’s really special to him!  It protects his memories, fosters his creativity and connects him to the people he loves, and I feel special when he shares that haven with me.

We drove with a car full of food, menu plans and conversation.  We settled into the warmth of the fire and the quiet of the cabin.  Wine nestled us into the night, and the next morning began simply.  The morning was two pastries split for the sake of variety, fruit for the sake of keeping the doctor away and an early[ish] start for the sake of adventuring!

I like him because he’s pretty foolish.

I like him because he fancies my own follies too, which makes us pretty lucky because lots of others would find us too ridiculous!

He led me across the cable and to the top of a mountain.  All the while, he told me the tall tale of Chimney Rock, where he would soon be perched precariously.  I’d tell the tale, but it’d spoil all the fun!  Then there’d be no trick once you arrived at the top, and it’s especially humbling to arrive at the top of a mountain, stare for miles and miles and know, deep down, he had you for a few minutes there!

I like him for that too!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Addendum)

January 2012

The last bits of the NYE weekend included an all out dive into the deep end of Twin Peaks, while snuggled in front of the fireplace, with one last cocktail in hand.

We were in the Appalachians after all, so we found inspiration in this concoction…

Mmmm… this one is a winner!  Tastes like a delicious milkshake!

I could have stayed on that couch, watching that madness and drinking that deliciousness for a lot longer, but reality was reaching for us.

Alas, bring on 2012!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part Four)

January 2012!

As I said, the idea first hatched when colored leaves were falling, and I added a splash of Rhuby to a cinnamon roll recipe- what if an entire weekend of meals were dedicated to the Art in the Age herbal elixirs?

What if that weekend took place in a setting removed from everyday routines, frenzies and fits?  What if that weekend ushered in a brand new year?  A special someone and I schemed “Art in the Age of a New Age:  Ushering in 2012.”  With a rustic crate of alcohols and bags of groceries, we escaped to a memory filled cabin.  I dare say, it was pretty close to perfect!  There were gingerbread waffles, Rhuby roasted salmon, roasted Root veggies and an adult Root Beer cake and some cocktails in between!

On Sunday morning, the first Sunday morning of 2012, the sun was shining and the waffle maker was calling.  Waffles were the bookends- the last brunch of 2011 and the first brunch of 2012.

As a baker who somehow does not own a waffle maker, I was eager to put the cabin’s apparatus to use, albeit two days in a row.  Day two’s waffles had a brand new twist:  root vegetables that hadn’t made it to the roasted Root medley of the NYE dinner.

The First Brunch of 2012

Last night’s root vegetables become…

The Next Morning’s Gingerbread & Roots Waffles

Waffle Ingredients

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
*Small Sweet Potato, peeled and sliced
*Small Beet, peeled and sliced
(*enough to make about 1 cup combined when mashed)
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon Snap
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron

Apple Topping Ingredients

2-3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
1 pink lady apple, chopped
A handful of dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons organic apricot fruit spread
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Snap

Whipped Topping Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons Snap

For the Waffles

Preheat waffle iron.

Boil the sweet potato and beet until soft.  Remove from heat.  Drain liquid.  Use a fork to mash the potato and beet together.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy.

Then beat in mashed sweet potato and beet mixture, fresh ginger, buttermilk, molasses, Snap and melted butter.

Stir the wet into dry until just moist.  Do not over stir the waffle batter.

Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook waffles.

For the Apple Cranberry Topping

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add the apples and cranberries, stirring frequently.

As the apples and cranberries soften, add the apricot fruit spread and spices.  Continue to stir.

Right before removing from heat, add the Snap.  Stir to combine.  Remove from heat and serve with waffles fresh off the waffle maker.

For the Whipped Topping

Place a medium-sized bowl in the freezer until chilled.

Combine all of the ingredients in the chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Delicious to the last maple laden crumb!

What’s really going on here…

A Brunch Breakdown

A:  Someone decided to have a little Absinthe cocktail with brunch.  Fortune favors the bold!  Not sure if wormwood does though.  B:  Maps for the days adventuring!  It’s amazing there are maps for some of the “roads” in those parts.  C:  A brand new sketchbook for a brand new year and adventures together.  Part of the cabin companion’s Christmas present handcrafted by yours truly.  D:  Our Art in the Age provisions.  E:  I once made the mistake of thinking I had seen enough of Star Wars to characterize myself as someone who had “seen” the film.  I was wrong.  I’m trying to make up for my great offense through Christmas offerings that shoot out gross candy.  F.  Waffles!  Waffles!  Waffles!  The thrill of having a waffle maker!  G:  Champagne.  Of course!  H:  Only the real maple sweetness for my brunches.  Isn’t it lovely how the label matched the table?!?  I:  That would be the baked applewood smoked bacon in that blue glass dish.  J:  Unprepared for absinthe in the a.m., I chose a brunch staple:  the classic mimosa.  K:  Snap whipped cream.  Lessons from the first batch led to an extra splash of Snap in batch number two.  L:  (as in Lovely view) That window showcases a lovely view of the creek’s flowing waters.  Across the creek is a house I first viewed in its gingerbread iteration (part of why I was craving gingerbread so badly).

M:  (as in Mug) Adding a dollop of Snap Whipped Cream to a mug of good quality coffee is like sipping a divine latte without the expense of an in home espresso machine.  Try it!

N:  (As in fiN!)  It was time to clean up the cleaned plate club dishes and do some more cabin lounging and outdoor exploring…

(Disclaimer: for moderate consumption at a summit, not for drinking while driving)

That’s the road that leads far, far away from reality.  It’s a really wonderful road!

Cheers to brunching in 2012!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part Three)

The Last Bits of 2011 & The First Bits of 2012

The Cakewalk.

“Hey Quelcy, I have an idea of something we could do!  Let’s go check out this bridge.”

[comforting]

“C’mon Quelcy, it will be fun!”

That’s the “bridge?!?!”  That’s not a bridge!!!

Ok, fine.  I’ll cross it.  No big deal…

What do you think the going rate for bridge repairs is?

My guess is $0.00 based on the decrepit tree suspending the bridge from the opposite bank.  Good thing you only see that “secure” system after you’ve gone too far, and the only way back is the bridge again.  Good thing.

A few bucks should do it.

Conquering nature and leaping over mountains.  It’s what we do.  We also wear plaid.

Then we eat cake (on plaid)..!

“Adult Root Beer Cake”
Chocolate Chip Quick Bread/Cake with Root Glaze

Much like the makeshift methods of bridging over bluish-green waters in the center of nowhere, the making of this cake was less than the standard operating pastry procedure.  Without proper measuring cups, this was a grand adventure in Grandmother style baking (my favorite method) and trusting my judgment of proportions.  When in a quiet cabin with a view of a flowing creek, a crackling fire, cocktails and a cakewalk companion for the big countdown, missing measuring cups are the last thing to worry this little fleece-hatted head.  As for nomenclature, people say “quick bread,” but let’s be real, calling a slice of this “bread” is just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  Call this what you’d like. Eat it whenever you’d like.

Cake Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks organic unsalted butter
1 cup turbinado sugar
4 large eggs
2 Tbs bourbon (1792)
2.7 oz Taza Stone Ground Organic Cinnamon Chocolate, chopped

Glaze Ingredients

½ cup turbinado sugar
1 cup Root
1 Tablespoon Orange zest

For the Glaze

Combine the turbinado sugar and Root in a saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolve.

Add the orange peel and continue to simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 9×5 inch glass loaf pan or an 11×7 glass pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Use a mixer to beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating for a couple of minutes in between additions.

Add the bourbon.

Fold in the dry ingredients by hand with a spatula.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake the cake for 40-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot, use a skewer or fork to poke holes into the surface of the cake.  Pour the glaze over the cake.

Let the cake rest for about 15 minutes before you remove it from the pan to transfer to a cooling rack.

Slice it. Eat it.  Enjoy it.  Meet someone new.  Share it!

Happy 2012!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part Two)

The Last Bits of 2011

After brunch, muddy mountain roads led us by chipping paint and old barns to the top of the world!  Well, to the top of Pennsylvania?  To the top of a mountain rather.

I used to play in an old red barn as a kid, and someday, I hope to refurbish an old barn into a home/studio space.  For the 2012 cusp, I simply admired the old barn beam colors against the gray December skies.

We passed almost as many buggies as we did cars and trucks on the wet and winding road that day.  Things were mostly just still and quiet.

We hit the vista as the last bits of light were fading, and the temperature was dropping, which made the promise of a fireplace, champagne and a home cooked meal all the more enticing.

The transition to dinner started with a little cheese spread to energize our cooking endeavor.

Might I suggest…
(clockwise from the top right corner)

Humboldt Fog
Gjetost Norwegian Brown Cheese
Brilla Savarin Cave Aged (similar to brie with a little less stink)
Drunken Goat
Trois Petits Cochons Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto
(decent, but nowhere near as good as freshly made…note to self:  add pate to my kitchen To Do list)
Ossau Iraty Pyrenees Brebis
(a harder cheese- award winning according to the Whole Foods Connoisseur)
Whole Wheat Bread
(Unfortunately not made by me.  I was too busy staring at barns all day)

Patient hands waited for my camera clicking fingers to snap a few photos before diving into the spread.  That patience and understanding is only part of why I like him so much!

I recently read Le Voyage Créatif’s thoughtful and dreamlike post in which she returned to the cheese of her childhood, a brown Norwegian cheese I had yet to come across in my fromage journeys.  I was quite surprised and excited to find a half wheel at the grocery store that provided our last provisions before entering the quieter countryside.

There’s something really hopeful in how the internet and a world of food lovers can inspire new associations and memories in readers and writers far, far away.  Thanks to Le Voyage Créatif, I will now think of slivers of this mild and subtly caramely cheese against a backdrop of cold air, blue-tinted, mountain views, a warm fireplace, a new furry blanket, bubbling libations and a brand new year!

Dinner landed on the table just in time to curl up our fancy dress clothes underneath a warm blanket (bc even in a remote cabin, it’s fun to wear something fancy), watch Lady Gaga lead the ball drop effort on the big screen and toast some bubbly to 2012!  As per the theme of the weekend, dinner was a tribute to our favorite historical elixirs- Art in the Age Root & Rhuby.

Art in the Age of a New Age
The Last Dinner of 2011 & The First Dinner of 2012

The Menu
(see *recipes below)

Rhuby Moyo” Cocktails

Roasted Salmon with Rhuby Apricot Mango Reduction

Roasted Root Vegetables

Chocolate Chip Cake with Root Infusion & Whipped Topping
(more on dessert to come here!)

Not only were our champagne cocktails ushering in a brand new age, they were commemorating both a lasting friendship and a brand new friendship.  Once upon a college time, I spent six unforgettable months in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I lived with four really special ladies from all over the world.  One of those ladies, Rumbi Moyo became a best friend dear!

My beautiful friend Rumbi is wise beyond her years.  She manages a challenging full time job, raises twin boys (no easy task!) and still manages to spend a night dancing every now and then.  She’s a remarkable lady, and this little paragraph fails to do even the slightest justice to how I fortunate I feel to have her in my life (albeit it remotely).

On my first ever journey to London (more on that to come, I really do promise!), Rumbi treated Jono and me to seafood and champagne at St. Pancras station.  It was a really lovely time and fulfilled another friend’s predictions for my life- the universe raining champagne and pearls upon me (my time is now, dear friends)!  Can you imagine a better way of passing an afternoon than having two of your nearest and dearest meet at an old train station in London for champagne and seafood?!?  I cannot!

Thus as we celebrated the grand adventures of 2011 and the hopeful 2012 horizons, Jono mixed what he called a “Rhuby Moyo” in honor of my dear friend.  We anticipate more experimenting on this cocktail, but in the meantime, cheers to you, dear Rumbi!  Come visit us soon, and we’ll add a third glass to the table!

The Rhuby Moyo

Champagne
Simple Syrup (from demerara sugar)
Art in the Age Rhuby
Peychaud Bitters
Orange Peel

Combine 1 jigger of Rhuby and 1/4 jigger simple syrup in a champagne glass.  Fill with champagne, and top with 2-3 dashes of Peychaud bitters.  Garnish with orange peel and toast to good friends and a brand new year!

As the NYE programming slowed, we switched to a the glamor of a past era via Sunset Boulevard.  The champagne bubbled, the fire crackled, and the black and white film ran its dramatic course.  With such a perfect start, 2012 must be bound for good things!

The Recipes

Roasted Salmon
w/ Rhuby Apricot Mango Reduction

Ingredients

1 pound salmon, cut into 2 equal-sized fillets
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 shot Rhuby
5 oz organic apricot fruit spread
~2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
1 small orange, chopped
1 mango, chopped
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan over low heat, mix together the maple syrup, garlic, ginger and balsamic vinegar. Heat just until hot and remove from heat. Pour half of the mixture into a small bowl to use for basting, and reserve the rest for later.

Pat the salmon dry. Place skin-side down on the baking sheet. Brush the salmon with the maple syrup mixture.

Bake about 10 minutes, brush again with maple syrup mixture, and bake for another five minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 2 Tablespoons of the balsamic sauce, Rhuby, apricot fruit spread, orange and half the mango.

Continue to baste and bake the fish until flakes easily, about 20 to 25 minutes total.

Cut the remaining half mango into chunks and mix into the apricot sauce.

Transfer the salmon fillets to plates. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and top with reserved maple syrup and the apricot sauce.

Roasted Root Vegetables

The Root flavor in this root vegetable mix is subtle, but it definitely added a little extra spice to the taste.  Most diners would probably have a hard time guessing the source of the extra flavor.  This was my first pass, but I’m eager for more experimenting, especially when the recipe entails a pun.   

Ingredients

2-3 Tablespoons Organic, unsalted butter
1 parsnip, sliced
1 small sweet potato, sliced
4-5 carrots, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium beet, sliced

Root Sauce

½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Orange peel
½ cup Root

For the Roasted Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large baking dish or skillet.

Remove from the oven, and add the sliced vegetables.  Roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, after about 30 minutes of roasting, combine the maple syrup and water in a saucepan over medium high heat until dissolved.

Add the balsamic vinegar and orange peel, and continue to stir.

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer.

As the vegetables finish roasting, add the Root to the sauce, stirring to combine.

Remove from heat, and remove the orange peel.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the Root sauce.

Serve just in time for a brand new year!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part One)

New Years Eve 2011

The idea first hatched when colored leaves were falling, and I added a splash of Rhuby to a cinnamon roll recipe- what if an entire weekend of meals were dedicated to the Art in the Age herbal elixirs?

What if that weekend took place in a setting removed from everyday routines, frenzies and fits?

What if that weekend ushered in a brand new year?

Thus friends, a special someone and I schemed “Art in the Age of a New Age:  Ushering in 2012.”  With a rustic crate of alcohols and bags of groceries, we escaped to a memory filled cabin.  I dare say, it was pretty close to perfect!

Having just come from a home FILLED with the scent of fresh baking gingerbread with no spare bits for sampling (all pieces were destined for an epic gingerbread house building endeavor), I had an immense craving for gingerbread.  With a waffle iron at my disposal, the delivery of my craving was obvious!

New Year’s Eve Brunch Menu

Gingerbread Waffles
with Caramelized Snapples, Whipper Snapper Cream & Pure Maple Syrup

Snap Candied Bacon

Chai with a Snap!

The very best bite…

The Brunch Recipes

Gingerbread Waffles with a Snap!

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
3 teaspoons Snap
3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup organic, unsalted butter, melted

Directions

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they’re light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the sugar, molasses, buttermilk and Snap and mix until blended, about 1 minute more.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ginger, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in the butter.

Cover and refrigerate the batter overnight or cook immediately in a waffle iron until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream and apple topping.

Snapple Topping

1 pink lady apple, sliced
2-3 Tbs organic unsalted butter
½ shot Snap
cinnamon
nutmeg
organic brown sugar

Sautee the apple slices in melted butter until softened.

Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar over the apples and continue to stir.  As the apples caramelize, add the Snap.  Serve warm over waffles.

Whipper Snapper Topping

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 shot maple syrup
1 shot Snap

Place a medium sized bowl in the freezer until chilled.  Remove from freezer and add the whipping cream, maple syrup and Snap.  Use an electric mixer to combine until stiff peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Snap Candied Bacon

Ingredients

Maplewood Smoked Bacon
Organic brown sugar
Organic maple syrup
Snap

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly butter a small glass baking dish or stone.

Arrange bacons in strips, and avoid overlapping.

Brush each piece of bacon with maple syrup, followed by Snap.

Sprinkle brown sugar over each piece.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, then flip each piece of bacon.

Continue to bake to desired level of crispness.

Enjoy!

Chai with a Snap! 

Tazo chai concentrate
Organic whole milk
Snap

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine one mug’s worth of milk, one mug’s worth of chai concentrate, and bring to a frothy boil.

Divide between two mugs, and add one shot of Snap to each mug.

Stir and enjoy!