March 18, 2015
We recently enjoyed this documentary film that focuses on people that live and work in Antarctica. The film touches on some odd bits of science, and shows beautiful scenes of the continent’s seas and landscapes, but it’s the people that take center stage.
Herzog: And how does it happen that we are encountering each other here at the end of the world?
Stefan Pashov (Philosopher, Forklift Driver): I think that it’s a logical place to find each other because this place works almost as a natural selection for people that have this intention to jump off the margin of the map, and we all meet here where all the lines of the map converge. There is no point that is south of the South Pole.
Pashov: And I think there is a fair amount of the population here which are full-time travelers and part-time workers. So yes, those are the professional dreamers. They dream all the time, and, I think, through them the great cosmic dreams come into fruition, because the universe dreams through our dreams,and I think that there is many different ways for the reality to bring itself forward, and dreaming is definitely one of those ways.
March 6, 2015
My corner // we live in a rental right now so sooner or later we’ll move on from this place. When that happens, I will miss our cozy kitchen, and the natural light that we get plenty of in this house.
E’s corner // nice and neat while she was napping. The second picture shows how it really looks most of the day (and she was just getting started).
This morning I saw one of my friends on Facebook making cheese muffins with her daughter and thought that it was a great idea. We needed a mid-morning snack so it was a good time to whip up a batch of savory, cheesy muffins. I threw in an apple for an added twist. They came out moist and fluffy with just a hint of sweetness and cinnamon. E polished one off in record time, and kept eyeing the ones cooling on the table. I enjoyed a couple myself with a hot cup of tea when the little boss took a nap. I think this one’s a keeper.
Apple Cheddar Muffin
yields: 8 muffins
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/6 cup sugar
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 apple, peeled and diced small
– Preheat oven to 400F. Grease or line muffin tin.
– Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and cheese in a large bowl.
– Beat egg, milk, oil, and apple in a separate bowl.
– Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
– Spoon into muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.
– Bake for 18-23 minutes, until light golden brown and tops spring back when lightly pressed.
March 4, 2015
I tried to make pignoli cookies last week and it was a huge failure. All the recipes I found online used almond paste and I decided to make it myself instead of using store-bought. The almond paste turned out well and I was excited to move forward. After picking a well-reviewed recipe for pignolis, I hesitated because it mainly consisted of almond paste (which was ground almonds, egg white, sugar, and almond extract) plus more egg whites and sugar. It seemed excessive to use a total of 2.5 cups of sugar for a dozen cookies. So I did more research. I read more recipes, reviews, and people’s experiences using homemade almond paste but there was no clear answer. Despite my doubts, I followed the recipe for pignoli cookies using my almond paste. I ended up with overly sweet, meringue-like confections. Blech. Nothing like the cookies that we used to get at an Italian bakery in our old Brooklyn neighborhood.
I had leftover almond paste and thought that it was dough-like and tasted similar to the cookies I was trying to make. So I cut up my almond paste log and stuck it in the oven. These cookies came out too dense but with the right flavor and just enough sweetness. Back to the drawing board.
After much obsessing, I gave it another attempt based on what I learned from the previous mess-ups, and finally ended up with cookies I liked (happy dance!). I started out with raw almonds so I added a bit below on how to blanch and ground them.
How to blanch almonds:
– Bring a small pot of water to boil. Place raw almonds in boiling water for exactly 1 minute. Longer will soften the almonds.
– Drain and rinse the almonds in cold water. Use a towel to pat off excess water. You will notice that the skins shriveled up.
– Squeeze the almonds out of their skin. They should pop right out!
For the ground almonds, I used a food processor to grind up the blanched almonds.
yields: 12-14 cookies
8 oz. ground almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp. almond extract
sliced almonds/pine nuts, for finishing the cookies
– In a large bowl, mix together ground almonds and sugar.
– In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.
– Fold the egg whites into the almond mixture gently, then fold in the almond extract.
– Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
– Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking sheet (I used a 1.5 tbsp. cookie scoop). Leave enough space between each cookie to allow for spreading.
– Press sliced almonds or pine nuts into the tops of the cookies, covering the tops with nuts.
– Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cookies and nuts are light golden brown. Cool before serving.
I’m collecting cookie recipes for the holidays (whether I’ll have the time or inclination to actually bake them then is a different question). So far my favorites are:
Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies
These almond cookies will be a part of the collection. Next up, oatmeal-raisin or lemon cookies.
February 24, 2015
Feb 2012 – Delaware Water Gap – a hike up the Mt. Tammany summit and hanging around the Appalachian trail.
Because I love the four seasons, I usually don’t mind winter at all. There’s a beauty to the bare trees and the snow-covered landscape. I associate it with warmth and coziness – thick scarves, blankets, baking, hot chocolate, home. But as we all know, the northeast is having a crummy winter this year, and even my patience is wearing thin.
My biggest issue is that E and I are stuck in the house much more than I would like. There are limited places we can go for walks and with piles of snow everywhere, it’s hard to go anywhere. It’s also a challenge to keep E warm outside. I used to carry her around in an Ergobaby but now that she’s older and bigger it doesn’t work for us anymore.
In an effort to put a little color and cheer in our present situation, I dug up old photos from a few years ago. Different places, landscapes, moods. All good memories.
Feb 2013 – Atlantic City, NJ – it was a cold and blustery day. I loved the empty beach. Just sand, sky, and water.
“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”
– Regina Brett
February 4, 2015
I’ve been in a funk for a few days and it’s proving hard to shake off. Other than feeling down for no apparent reason, it’s so hard to get anything started. I like to get the busy and tedious chores (laundry, cleaning, etc) out of the way early in the week and that frees up the rest of the week for more enjoyable things like working on projects, experimenting in the kitchen, walks, or more involved one-on-one time with my little booger. Well, Wednesday is almost over and the vacuum is still standing behind the couch.
I haven’t been sleeping well for the past couple of months and I think it’s catching up on me. Our former good sleeper started having trouble at bedtime and waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning every other night. We don’t exactly know what’s going on but in the mix would be holiday travels, getting sick, and teething. We’ve been trying different things – changing nap times, length of naps, bed time, co-sleeping, crying it out – with no consistent results. I’m trying not to stress about it too much. Like every challenging phase we’ve seen so far, this too shall pass.
A short list of new recipes I want to try :
Whole wheat bread (this could be fun!)
Apple Dutch baby
Spaghetti with parmesan, pine nuts and brown butter sauce
Carbs, carbs and more carbs :)