I will take any excuse for cake making I can. I love planning flavors, scheming stylings, the stress involved in stacking layers, & of course eating it… everything about it to me is fun.
So when I was asked to make a girlfriend’s baby shower cake with “make it something chocolate-y” as the only stipulation, I wholeheartedly agreed.
I knew the frosting I would use, a delicious buttercream my friend Beth taught me. She learned the recipe from her grandmother, who despite having passed away years before, people still say was the best baker they ever knew. As for the cake recipe, I have a go to for this sort of thing, but needed something to bump it up a notch. Something extra… Continue reading
Brunch is a completely under appreciated meal time, and so for this New Year I’m bringing it back. The hobbits had it just about right with Elevenses. Breakfast has already been had, perhaps twice if you live in Middle Earth or you have toddlers afoot, with any luck you are still enjoying some hot coffee and not quite ready for lunch. Likely it is a weekend or holiday so there is no reason not to visit with friends, share a good meal, and perhaps kick the day off enjoying a bubbly mimosa. A new twist on that old favorite we came upon this holiday season was to mix champagne with Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Cider topped with a cinnamon stick garnish for a Sparkling Cider Smash.
In fact brunch is the new dinner party once you have kids, at least I feel it should be. Being invited to dinner or hosting dinner is always fun but by the end of the evening my children are melting down and often it takes a day or two to recover our schedules but with brunch – naptime ticks along on time, the morning stretches blissfully on, and routines remain intact. Continue reading
It’s the holiday season as everyone is keenly aware. I successfully finished nursing school last week and with my free time I now know, I have since thrown myself head first into holiday projects, trying to get the most out of everyday. Today in particular is the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year daylight wise and the best time in my opinion to embrace the dark and cold of winter. It’s a time to cosy up by a crackling fire, a good book or knitting in hand, light some candles, drink some hot cider perhaps with a little extra cheer poured in, and enjoy the quiet that the dark enfolds you in. So many people have a hard time with the darkness but if you can give yourself some healthy doses of what in my mind is the season’s best medicines – outdoor adventures and of course cake – I think you’ll feel a bit better!
Now not just any cake will do, the kind of cake I’m talking about is a maple glaze drenched gingerbread bundt cake that takes the spices winter is warmed by – ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, & nutmeg – and wraps them into a moist, not for the faint of heart, gingerbread delight. Best served with a hot cup of coffee in hand, maybe brewed with a few dashes of cardamom in the beans, and a wisp of cream stirred in. And this recipe is so easily pulled together it is a perfect one to include little helping hands in the making of.
For get togethers that call for cake, such as that office holiday party you have coming up, family dinners, ladies nights… I have dreams of quiet childfree breakfasts…. whatever… I like to create table-scapes to dress up my cakes and thats where the outdoor adventuring comes in.
Pull on your xtra-tuffs and tromp out for a few fresh cut spruce bows to tuck in under the edges of the cake and to line your holiday table with, maybe a few pine cones, stalks of dried cow parsnip flowers. Just because there isn’t green abounding doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty in the earth lying dormant. Watch for something to catch your eye and bring a little back home with you. Something else I like to do is sprinkle low bush cranberries from the falls harvest that have been rolled in sugar onto the platter to add a pop of color.
Holiday gifting is officially in crunch mode with Christmas, Slavi, & Hanukkah all just around the corner. If you haven’t found the perfect gift to wrap up for your loved ones, best friend, secret Santa, or that upcoming Eskimo Bingo game … don’t fret I have a holiday roundup of my favorite local Bristol Bay small business goods to get you inspired! Continue reading
Lately I’ve been feeling a little off kilter. The snow has begun falling blanketing the earth in its stillness and while all I want to do is embark on my skis, hang twinkling lights, and bake holiday goodies, the final throes of nursing school still beckon. We will graduate in December and prepare for our boards just after. It feels a little surreal to finally be here! So despite the holiday season being upon us, with Thanksgiving just past and the hustle of the upcoming month’s festivities looming, I am trying to stay focused for just a few more weeks.
However, I can’t study all the time and my mind has been wandering when I’m studying and even when I’m not… proof is I have had a few debacles over the last month in the kitchen and otherwise. I lost my only set of car keys which have yet to turn up, I burnt two loaves of bread (something I never do), made too sweet salmon curry, awful pumpkin waffle batter, a pie crust that I lost count of flour in and couldn’t salvage… All of these events + more than I can relate, had me despairing that come Thanksgiving morning nothing was going to turn out, that Life in general would overwhelm me… I tend to be a bit maniac about things you see. So maybe you can feel my relief that lo and behold Thankgiving came and went with mostly success.
Now after the big day, I was left with a pie crust still in the fridge, one large sweet potato in the bin, a smidge of goat cheese remaining from the cheese platter, and an urge to create. I love galettes they can be sweet or savory, basically anything in a buttery, flaky crust is a cause to cosy up. So today with a blizzard swirling outside, one strand of white lights hung, and another quiz down I decided to slow down and roll out some dough… my happy, calm place. And then share it with you…
Sweet Potato Chèvre Galette
- One all butter pie crust
- One large sweet potato
- 4-5 tablespoons Chèvre
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Province (a blend of thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, marjoram, & lavender)
- Sea Salt to taste
- Olive oil, for brushing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and slice the sweet potato into discs or half circles no thicker than 1/8 inch. On a sheet of parchment paper roll out the pie crust to roughly 12 inches round. Arrange the sliced potato across the dough, slices slightly overlapping. Leaving an inch or so of an edge all the way around to fold up once the filling is assembled. Brush the potato slices with olive oil and crumble the chèvre a top, sprinkle with the Herbs de Province and a hearty pinch of sea salt. Fold up the edge and brush it also with olive oil. Slide the galette with the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet or baking stone. Bake for 30 minutes, give or take, until golden brown.
The slow and misty mornings this time of year seem to stretch half the day with the sun not cresting the horizon until nearly 9am, and it’s only going to get darker as we creep through the season. Spruce grouse are most visible at dawn and dusk and the belated changing of the light offers them security to come down from the trees to peck in the underbrush later & later in the day. Making them the perfect wild game for ambling walks with our children.
These birds are relatively small and do not spook very easily allowing one time to get very close to observe them. We have had in our neighborhood lately a very demonstrative male strutting about flaring his plumage and showing off to the gaggle of females that linger around him. Bronwyn enjoys watching the birds dance around each other, pecking at gravel and jostling for the best position. Continue reading
Hiking, baking & berrypicking are near the top of my favorite activities list, and when they are done with family it only enhances the pleasure. This past Monday, we caught a few rays of sun and found some very late harvest plump wild blueberries on a hike up China Cap here in Dillingham. China Cap is the biggest view for the shortest mountain hike in town and Bronwyn calls it a hike that is “just her size”.
Last school year Bronwyn attended a local preschool for a few days a week, for her as a social butterfly school was a positive, but our values and expectations were not met regarding outdoor play and curriculum. So this winter, at 4 1/2, we have decided not send her to preschool. Instead she spends her days with us when we do not have nursing class obligations and with a good friend, her kids, & Gretchen when we do. In making this choice I feel firmly it was the right decision for us. That being said I want her to still be learning and expanding her knowledge through outdoor exploration, play, and helping us with household and subsistence activities. Continue reading