Category Archives: Fun Times.

The master of my domesticity.

Here’s the sad truth about my blog: sometimes, I forget it exists. And then some nice friend of mine, who has a better memory than me, will say – hey, when are you going to update your blog? And then I’m all……ohhhhhhh yeahhhhh, the blog. And then I feel kind of like a dummy, because quite frankly, I really enjoy writing and putting my life and humor out there in the universe. What idiot forgets there is something like that in their life?

Me. This idiot.

So anyway. Thank Jesus for a three day weekend and a husband that is all too happy to wash and fold clothes if he can watch episode after uninterrupted episode of whatever is currently available on Netflix. That said, I spent the first time in ages in my kitchen. Like, the entire day. Woah. At the end of the day, I felt like an Awesome Wife. Also, a total Bad Ass. And, like I’d Burned A Lot of Calories Just Standing Around and Stirring Things.

And now, to share my goodies with you…

What magic came out of the kitchen? For starters, I was inspired by a good friend to make a weekly menu. Yes, duh, I know. Saves time and money and people have been doing it for, like, ever. I get it. For my first week, on my first day, here’s what I whipped up:

  • Cilantro Buttermilk Skirt Steak (Everyday Food, June 2012)
  • Carrot Mash with Sage and Garlic (my concoction, which I will eventually give to you…)
  • Early Summer Vegetable Love (adapted, from the Gluten Free Girl blog) with Lemon-Dill Yogurt Sauce (also another homemade concoction and pictured in the Ball jar above)
  • And some crazy good cookies, which…

The main thing that I wanted to make was this batch of cookies. They’d been rolling around in my brain for months. I’d made the Momofuku Compost Cookies a few months back, and good god, they were kind of exhausting. But. The idea of making a cookie that had different textures really intrigued me, so I’d been thinking and thinking and thinking and talking to B. about my idea for a new cookie. There are a couple of recipes I’d like to try, but for the first go-round, it was Lemon Cookies with Freeze-Dried Blueberries made with Lemon Cookie Crust.

 Lemon Cookies with Freeze-Dried Blueberries
+ Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook: Blueberry and Cream Cookies recipe
++ Makes about 18 cookies

225 g / 16 TB butter, at room temperature
150 g / ¾ c granulated sugar
150 g / 2/3 c tightly packed light brown sugar
*100 g / ¼ c glucose
____________________________________________________
2 eggs
105 g / 1/3 c lemon curd
Lemon peel from one small lemon
_____________________________________________________
320 g / 2 c flour
2 g / ½ tsp baking powder
1.5 g / ¼ tsp baking soda
6 g / 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
_____________________________________________________
½ of the total recipe of Lemon Cookie Crust (recipe below)
**100 g / ¾ c freeze dried blueberries
_____________________________________________________
105 g / 1/3 c lemon curd
***Granulated honey (optional)

* Unless you’re some kind of kitchen guru, you probably don’t have glucose laying around. If needed, substitute 35 g / 2 TB light corn syrup.
** Freeze dried blueberries can be found at Amazon.com or Trader Joe’s.  You can use more or less in the recipe, and you can also try other freeze dried fruit (strawberries, raspberries).
*** Available on Amazon or at Williams Sonoma.

Directions

  1. Before you get started, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the butters, sugars and glucose in the medium bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium high for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat for 7-8 minutes. Eggs should be added one at a time.
  4. Reduce the speed to low and add the lemon curd and lemon peel. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Don’t over-mix the dough by walking away from the mixer during this step! Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Back on low speed, add the Lemon Cookie Crust and mix until it’s incorporated, no more than 30 seconds. Add the freeze-dried blueberries, mixing for 30 seconds. Be careful not to mix the berries for   too long – otherwise, they’ll end up a powdered mess in your dough.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the final 1/3 c lemon curd and fold in gently using a spatula. Don’t mix the curd all the way into the dough – it should be like a “swirl” of curd throughout the dough.
  8. Using a 2 ¾ ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 c measure), portion out the dough onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Sprinkle the cookies with the granulated honey. Use as little or as much as you’d like. Pat the tops of the cookie domes flat.
  10. Wrap the cookie sheet in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature.
  11. Heat the oven to 350.
  12. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4” apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or, use a Silpat). Bake for 18 minutes, turning once at the midway point. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges and still bright yellow in the center. I recommend baking one test cookie to make sure the heat and timing are right for your oven.
  13. Cool the cookies completely on the cookie sheet before transferring. At room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they’ll keep for 1 month.

Lemon Cookie Crust
+ Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook: Graham Crust recipe
++ Doubled this recipe without a problem

190 g / 1 ½ c lemon cookies (used Trader Joe’s Meyer Lemon Wafer Cookies), crushed
20 g / ¼ c milk powder
25 g / 2 TB sugar
3 g / ¾ tsp kosher salt
*5 g granulated honey
*2.5 g dried Meyer lemon peel (you can also use fresh lemon peel)
_____________________________________________________
55 g / 4 TB melted butter
55 g / ¼ c heavy cream

* Available on Amazon or at Williams Sonoma.

 Directions

1. Toss the lemon cookie crumbs, milk powder, sugar, salt, honey and lemon peel with your hands in a medium bowl to even distribute your dry ingredients.
2. Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients; use a fork to incorporate the wet mixture into the dry. The mixture should be small clusters and should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it doesn’t hold together, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1-1 ½ TB) butter and mix it in.
3. Enjoy! Immediately use it in your recipe, or store in an airtight container. The crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or  for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Additional uses for the Lemon Cookie Crust
For one, just EAT IT. Or…
Crust for pies, cheesecake
Topping for yogurt or ice cream
Use in the bottom of cupcakes

Let me know if you decide to give these a go. Up next? If I can make it happen, a cookie version of my Aunt Cle’s famous banana pudding.

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Hello darlin’, it’s been a long time.

Hello you.

My friend, Dolores, reminded me today that I have this thing, this blog, out there in the world that people are actually interested in (people = my Mom, Dolores, possibly one other person). And I have failed miserably to keep it even minimally updated. I won’t apologize, because it would just be followed by work/life/laziness excuses, which are all so tired and never sound as good when you say them out loud – or type them – as they do in your head. That said, here are my updates…

Since August.

2011.

  • The promotion I got last Spring was followed up with some pretty drastic changes at work. I always feel like, when people talk about work, no one really understands what you’re saying. No one really understands exactly what you do everyday, or what issues you deal with. But at a fundamental level, there’s a language we all understand, so I’ll keep it simple: I’m tired, I work long hours and don’t feel like I ever get ahead, but I’m a perfectionist and don’t know how to do my job any other way. 
  • B and I had our official 10th anniversary in September. Yay for decade 1! Yay for decade 2!
  • Roadtrip Number Two commenced at the beginning of October – a full 10 days driving through the Northeast and into Canada. It was wonderful. Special highlights include: discovering that Bar Harbor can be the Charming Old People Mecca of New England in October, folks really love their Dunkin’ Donuts around those parts (I, for one, do not run on Dunkin’), my husband still cannot navigate his way out of a paper bag without the help of one Trusty Navigator (and I don’t mean Tom Tom) (and I do say that with love), the Ben and Jerry’s tour isn’t that fantastic and most people just go for the free ice cream sampling, which is just plain silly, because they sell the full mother-lode at the Conoco down the street (but still go for the graveyard, giftshop and phot-ops), yes, Stowe is really that pretty, and last but not least, I’m pretty sure I could live in the Canadian rest stops between Montreal and Toronto without ever leaving. As long as I have money to spend at Tim Horton’s for fake cappuccinos.
  • November brought about a sudden, and slightly weird, fixation on making the best cheese straws ever. I can say – goal accomplished. 
  • Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s were all great, meeting new friends, spending time with old friends, and having my parent’s visit.
  • Which brings us to the saddest month of all: January. Ugh. January. My birthday month, but even still, I find it to be the least attractive month of all. It’s like we’re all high on the holiday spirit and then…January. The rehab month of sorts, where we’re all forced back to our regular lives and habits without the fun of parties, special drinks and copious amounts of Bon-Appetit-level food. *sigh*
  • Somewhere in there, I made the amazing and exciting discovery that marshmallows come in jumbo size now. It may not sound like news, but it is. Embrace it.
  • And then there’s my birthday. This year marked my 33rd anniversaire, and boy, it could not have been shittier. From watching my beloved Saints lose to the Niners (yes, I was there; yes, I had a distinct urge to throw a full-blown hissy fit and punch everyone in the face), to being sick for four days after. I will say that B, who is normally the nice, pleasant, calm one of this duo, matched my anger over the loss quite nicely. It was the best birthday gift, if one can say that.
  • Last but not least, I started a weaving class. I’m confident I’ll finish my project; I’m confident it will not be wearable, but that it might make a nice dusting rag. The thing I like about weaving is that it’s a process, and sometimes a puzzle. It’s good for me, so I’m okay with the rag application.

So that’s it. To end this on a high note, I’m going to give you a recipe I’ve been dying to make (with those jumbo sized marshmallows – I bet you’re listening now): S’Mores Bars.

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Be a Handmade Renegade at Renegade Handmade

Tricky wording, right? It’s called “attempt at humor”. It’s Wednesday afternoon, you shouldn’t expect too much at this point. 

Anyway.

This year, I’m excited to say that I’ll be attending the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. Although it isn’t the first time that the RCF has been here, it’s the first time that I’ll have the chance to go. And if you can make it, you should. If you’re not completely sure you want to attend because – and this is a total possibility – you have no idea what I’m talking about…then take a look at their site here, or their blog here. Even if you don’t live here, or anywhere that the craft show is scheduled, you can shop their store online. A-mazing stuff. Amazing. No doubt about it.

Here are a few things I’m adding to my list (Special note to my Mama: Don’t even think about it. That’s right. You heard me.):

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A summer brunch menu.

goat brie cheese with basil...

goat brie cheese with basil...

a summer brunch...
a summer brunch…
the menu...

the menu...

 

Although the weather here in the Bay Area seems more like Fall weather, it is indeed still Summer. I can’t complain, because the alternative to sunny and 60 degrees is humid and 105. This past Sunday, we had a small brunch with a few friends. Here’s the menu (Note: Not all of the recipes are linked to the references I’ve listed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them online. The recipes I’ve linked to seem the most similar, but if you want the exact recipe, just let me know!):

  • Sausage and mushroom strata (Joy of Cooking)
  • Leek tart (Joy of Cooking)
  • Marinated goat cheese (Joy of Cooking, but you don’t need a recipe for this one. Just pour 1/4 cup of whichever oil you’d like over the cheese and add fresh herbs. Bring it to room temperature before serving). These were my variations:
    • Goat cheese with fresh thyme and almond oil
    • Goat brie cheese with fresh basil, fig balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Herbed milk bread (Joy of Cooking). You can add herbs before you knead it the first time. Here are my the two variations I made:
    • One loaf: nutmeg, dill, rosemary
    • And the other: garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, black sesame
  • Smoked pork loin
  • Fruit salad with a syrup of fresh mint, honey and lime (no recipe necessary for this either – just add the right amounts until you get the flavor you want)
  • Raspberry clafoutis (So Easy with Ellie Krieger)

*Tip: I always create a menu and keep it in my recipe box. One, it’s just something I like to do because I’m nostalgic. And two, for more practical reasons, it helps to reference them when I’m making a new menu.

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A little something to snack on…

I’m back – for the moment, at least. I won’t promise to be consistent, because we all know my results with that are just lousy. And I hate being lousy at anything.

So today, here I am. I baked with my husband’s little sister who is visiting from Louisiana. I know, she’s technically my sister-in-law, but it’s a strange thing to call a 15 year old by that title. She’s a good, fun kid with a great sense of dry humor and a knack for saying the most unexpected things. I like her a lot. Anyway, she’s here visiting, and was telling me all about her cream puff baking odyssey which has been less than successful. I thought we would try them out here, but she can’t even look at them right now. Instead, we decided on Joy of Cooking’s Black Bottom Cupcakes with Quick White Icing (in hot pink no less). You should give them a try – they’re really good, and really easy to make.

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Easter Menu.

                                                               

For Easter, I decided I wanted to have brunch. It’s simpler, and let’s face it, a brunch just screams for a mimosa like a dinner cannot. We had friends and neighbors over, and we even had hidden Easter eggs (which, thanks to the hiding genius of our friend Shelty, we were still finding at 9:00 Sunday night). It was nice, simple and easy.

Easter Menu:

  • Glazed ham (This particular ham came with the glaze, so I didn’t make one like I normally do. Although, in the end, I did deglaze the roasting pan and add a bit of mustard and brown sugar and used that mixture for a ham “sauce”.)
  • Sausage and mushroom strata (Joy of Cooking recipe. I added sage and garlic, and I used a gruyere/swiss cheese blend.)
  • Mini quiches (thanks to Trader Joes)
  • Spinach salad with strawberries, blackberries, figs and caramelized onions with goat cheese. (My recipe, but all of the ingredients are in the name, so no secrets there. All you have to do is add a little vinaigrette and you’re done.)
  • Mixed cheese plate with marinated mini heirloom tomatoes (I just sliced the tomatoes and marinated them in olive oil, balsamic, and basil.)
  • Caramel-Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake (Bon Appetit recipe, and SO GOOD. I think the secret is the cake flour.)
  • Apple Tart (Joy of Cooking. This looked terrible – I think I did something wrong because the dang thing was so sticky you could hardly eat it.)
  • Waffles (My friends made the mix, but I thought I would add it so you could really enjoy the full brunch affect.)
  • Mimosas!

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To do, to make, to learn, to stay.

I just happened to open the latest and greatest issue of Sunset magazine last night to find some seriously great ideas.

To do: One of those great ideas was a small paragraph tucked away about Pie Ranch. Like I said the other day, you never know what you’re going to find on the Internet – and the same can be said for magazines, newspapers and books. To read about Pie Ranch, and their monthly Work Day and Barn Dance, just click on the Pie Ranch link here. If you had told my Grandpa that working in the fields, then having a potluck and a barn dance afterward would become the thing to do on a Saturday night for city-fied folks, he would’ve laughed in your face. Hard.

To make: Stuffed Chicken with Rosemary Polenta.  So not only does this recipe call for polenta (Note to my Mama: They taste like grits.), but it also has fontina in it. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with a recipe that includes 8 ingredients for the entire thing. I’ll tell you now, I don’t like recipes that call for ingredients you’ve never heard of that are priced to kill and/or will never be used again because you discover after paying the exorbitant price for the ingredient, you hate it (saffon anyone?). Anyway. We would call this chicken and grits with some cheese thrown in there back home. But the picture sure does look good.

To learn: Another great idea was taking a class at the Institute of Urban Homesteading right here in the Bay Area. From Cheesemaking 101 to Backyard Beekeeping and Butchering, you can learn about all kinds of things to do right in your kitchen (or backyard). There’s also a class there about goats and chickens, if you’re so inclined. I am not. Classes range in price, but from what I saw, looked to be pretty reasonable. For the class schedule, click here.

To stay: Tree House Point in Issaquah, Washington was just amazing to look at. Essentially, they’re hotel-room-treehouses. When we travel, we always like to rent apartments through VRBO, because we’ve always had good luck and we’ve always enjoyed the places we’ve stayed. Plus, you don’t spend tons of money eating out – and since most places have a washer and dryer, you can pack less. Anyway, washer and dryers and cooking aside, the Tree House Point is definitely a place I’d like to find myself.

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Grand adventures in my own backyard.

Hey there folks. I’m back (I’m tempted to include “and better than ever”, but that’s simply not true). 

Let me start by saying that work has been a beast and is keeping me busy as a bee. It hasn’t been fun, and I’ve missed taking the time to do something personal (like update my blog, or get home before 8:00 at night). I decided today would be the day that I didn’t work through lunch, but took a half-hour (okay, I worked through half my lunch) to give you an update. It feels good to do this. 

So last weekend, we took Woodreaux out for a spin in the Bay Area. Grand adventures and all. Brandon was initially in a dark little mood, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend quality time with him. As we drove over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and easily found parking in the Marina (miracles do exist), he relaxed a bit. We had some lunch and Brandon had another obscure star-sighting (as usual, he recognizes some guy from a show on the History Channel, or National Geographic or Discovery or something). We hopped back in the car and headed over the Golden Gate. Earlier in the week, I’d done an off-site meeting with work at the Marin Headlands, and I wanted to share that with him. We ended up in an even better spot than I had been in, with 360-degree views of the city, the ocean and the headlands. It was beautiful. 

What was even more interesting was the history behind the Marin Headlands. During WWII, several batteries were built into Hawk Hill (part of the Headlands) to protect the Bay Area from aerial bombardments. The batteries were never used, but they’re still there. So so interesting. 

Here, take a look for yourself: 

View from the lower level.

View from the lower level.

 

Woodreaux and Golden Gate.

Woodreaux and Golden Gate.

  

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

  

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

  

Marin Headlands.

Marin Headlands.

  

Marin Headlands.

Marin Headlands.

  

View from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

View from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

  

View of the Pacific from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

View of the Pacific from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

  

View of Golden Gate (and Brandon) from Hawk Hill.

View of Golden Gate (and Brandon) from Hawk Hill.

  

View of the Pacific coming down from Hawk Hill.

View of the Pacific coming down from Hawk Hill.

  

View of the Headlands leaving Hawk Hill.

View of the Headlands leaving Hawk Hill.

  

Last view.

Last view.

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Woodrow becomes Woodreaux. And the Saints win big.

It’s been a very long two weeks since my last post. 

A very.long.two.weeks. 

Highlights include: 

  • Woodrow making the trek from Northeast Oregon to the Bay Area with no hiccups.
  • Me not killing my husband during said trek.
  • The Superbowl party of a lifetime.
  • The Superbowl win of a lifetime.
  • Woodrow miraculously passes crazy California emissions test and gets a high-five from our mechanic, Robert.
  • Woodrow makes another trek – this time up to Tahoe – with only minor hiccups.
  • I rediscover that Brandon is MacGyver when he fixes the back window (after taking the entire thing apart) – and has the patience of Job when he has to put everything back together again.
  • I don’t completely lose it when I have to spend two hours registering Woodrow at the DMV this morning. TWO HOURS. This included one of the ladies talking to me like a four year old with a listening problem. I don’t have a listening problem, by the way. I have a you-are-a-dummy-and-no-two-people-that-work-here-give-the-same-information problem. It’s like you need a secret handshake, an archaeologist and a Bible to uncover the mysterious ways of the DMV.
  • And last but not least, Woodrow officially becomes part of our Louisiana family – and therefore, he is now Woodreaux.

Hope you guys didn’t miss me too much. But dang, I missed you. 

A few pictures from the last couple of weeks (I’ll upload all of them in the next couple of days): 

From Ashland to Oakland.

From Ashland to Oakland.

 

From Eugene to Ashland.

From Eugene to Ashland.

 

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Woodrow is coming to California.

Exciting news in the Panepinto household: Woodrow is coming to California. Say hello to Woodrow:

Woodrow

Woodrow

Woodrow is a 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. We’re flying out to eastern Oregon tomorrow morning to pick him up and drive him home.

Up next: Woodrow (fingers crossed) passes stringent California emissions test.

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