Sunday, July 14, 2013

Throw Out Your Measuring Cups

Ever come across a recipe that called for ingredients by weight rather than by volume?  It's an interesting idea, but one I was very skeptical of, until I tried it for the first time.  It was actually so easy, required less clean up, and yielded a perfect cookie (since precision is so important in baking).  All you need is one mixing bowl and a kitchen scale.  Place your bowl on the scale, hit the tare button and pour in 198 grams of flour, hit tare again and sprinkle in 9.1 grams of baking powder, tare again and add 106 grams of light brown sugar. . . you get the idea. Using this method is easy with flour, but image how it will change your life when used with molasses, peanut butter, or corn syrup.  No more trying to scrape them into and out of a measuring cup.  The recipe for these Better Nutter cookies can be found in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook.  I'm not giving you the recipe here, because while they were good cookies, they aren't nearly good enough to warrant the time and effort required to make them.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Coincidentally, as I sat down to write a post about rainbows, the IZ song started playing in the background, wafting through the resort, just audible over the two other prominent sounds - wind through palm trees and waves crashing on the beach.

This trip to Maui has revealed some of the most spectacular rainbows (as well as an interesting introduction to laughter yoga, and a parasailing conductor named Dragon, but those are stories for another time), pictures cannot do them proper justice, but here's an okay shot just to give you an idea.

I went out surfing earlier this week and as I was sitting out in the ocean with Akima (Maui native, father of two, Retitred Navy, and current surf instructor) waiting for the next good wave, a vibrant rainbow appeared over the mountains in front of us.  He told me that when he was little he didn't buy into all that "gold at the end of the rainbow" stuff.  Instead he believed that there was a big pot of chili at the end of rainbows.  Good food for thought as you're trying to remember to look straight ahead at where you want to go, look behind at the wave, paddle hard, don't pop up too quickly, keep your feet parallel, maintain your weight towards the back of the board, don't flail, try not to worry about hitting the kids out there because their instructor will move them out of the way (not always true), and don't die (I added the last one, but seems like good advice when you're being constantly assaulted by waves and a surf board that seems to have it in for your face).  

What would be at the end of your rainbow?  

The Flight of your Life

Ever think you'd have the nerve to go hang gliding?  Just riding Soaring Over California at the Disneyland Resort brings tears to my eyes and puts butterflies in my stomach.  Picture yourself running and jumping off a cliff at an elevation of 7200 feet, and this time the fresh pine scent is the real deal.  The reward for your bravery is what is surely an amazing flight over Yosemite Valley - Half Dome, a dozen different waterfalls, the Merced River, and El Capitan.

I'll just have to be content with the views from the mountaintop.  Which, let's be honest, are pretty amazing.  The trek up to Glacier Point is one of my favorites.

And I stand corrected, an experienced hang glider told me that he's not jumping off a cliff, he's taking off for the flight of his life.  I can only imaging the thrill!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Welcome to the Desert

Last week I ventured out of San Francisco for a work related field trip. Needles California was our first destination.

Daytime temperatures of 108 degrees (50 degress warmer than San Francisco on this particular day), preserved mason work marking the famous route 66, beautiful views of the Colorado river and surrounding mountains, and 4 o'clock safety ice cream aren't the only noteworthy aspect of this small dessert town on the Arizona border.

There is also a "terrible" McDonald's:

With "clean" bathrooms:

And motel rooms starting at $29 a night:

Oh how I love to travel and visit new places!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Spring

The days are longer, the farmers market abound with tulips, and my garden is exploding with new growth.  So happy!
Even my iphone is outfitted for Spring.
Shall we throw on some pretty dresses and head outside?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Strawberry Bars with Meyer Lemon Drizzle

Strawberry Bars with Meyer Lemon Drizzle

These strawberry bars are close to heavenly and pretty easy to whip up too, especially when you have 14 jars of tantalizing homemade strawberry jelly that your Grandmother lovingly packed up and sent home with you last you saw her, as though you had nothing else to do but sit around each afternoon and eat crumpets with strawberry jam while sipping hot tea. Well, if you have such a grandmother and no time for tea, like me, you are in luck. Otherwise, I'm sure they will be just as good with whatever strawberry jam you have but they won't be have that extra dose of loooovvvvee, if you know what I mean.

I made these for my mother-in-law's birthday "cake" since I  must still avoid dairy and they looked good enough to tempt her away from her low-carb diet. They are on the French Skinny diet so I wasn't worried (my slice was the size you see cut on the left, perfectly satisfying)! They were easy and looked pretty too. I wish I took a picture before I cut into them, but, you know how that goes, when I have something sweet and delicious in front of me, a camera is the last thing on my mind, and boy, did these go fast!
If you want to see some fantastic pictures of them finished bars, go here.

Here is mine:

Meyer Lemon & Strawberry Jam Crumb Bars
1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam
6 Tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1/4 tsp Meyer lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Beat butter and sugars in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy; add Meyer lemon zest. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture until just combined; dough will resemble coarse meal. Reserve 1 cup dough for topping; use a sheet of parchment to press remaining dough evenly into bottom of prepared baking dish.
Place jam in a small bowl and microwave briefly (about 10 seconds); whisk to loosen. Use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread jam over dough. Toss remaining dough with 2 teaspoons water to form large crumbs; sprinkle over jam filling. Bake until top is golden, about 23 minutes. Cool completely in baking dish on a rack, then cut into bars with a sharp knife.
To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, Meyer lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over bars and let set before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Yield – 12 bars (serving size: 1 bar)
Calories – 190
Carbs – 31

 We enjoyed them with the bottle of New Clairvaux Syrah that I purchased when you were here. It was a delicious pairing.

Happy Sunday to you!

Your Big Sister

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More Pecans

I absolutely love Mexican Wedding Cookies and, as previously noted, we have an abundant supply of pecans at our disposal.  So get baking!  This recipe was adapted from one found in Tyler Florence's Family Meal cookbook.  Next time you're in town we should try out his San Francisco restaurant, Wayfare Tavern, or visit his kitchen essentials shop in Mill Valley.
1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Big pinch of salt
1 tsp. water
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
Powdered sugar for dusting

1.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Beat together butter, sugar, vanilla on medium speed until smooth.  Stir in half of the flour and the salt, then add the water.  Mix in the remaining flour and the chopped pecans.

3.  Form dough into 1-inch balls and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

4.  Bake, rotating the sheets midway through baking, until the cookies feel almost, but not quite, firm, about 12 minutes.  Let cool completely on the baking sheets.  

5.  Sift some powdered sugar into a bowl.  Toss the cooled cookies a few at a time in the sugar until completely coated with a thick layer.

6.  Enjoy with a strong latte.

Stay tuned for a really easy and yummy chocolate pecan pie recipe!