Monday, July 21, 2008

More citrus dreaming

As I've mentioned before, I love citrus, especially in the summer time, when my sweet tooth craves something that's also tart and refreshing. I've been favoring cookies over cake/pie lately, so I dug through my recipes binder and found three Martha Stewart Living recipes I've been meaning to try.
First the Lime flowers, which I turned into rounds for lack of a flower cookie cutter.


lime flowers (app 2 dozen)
1. Sift together 2 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 ts baking powder, and 1/4 ts salt in a large bowl, set aside.
2. Put 1 c granulated sugar and 2 TS lime zest in a mixing bowl, mix on medium speed about 1 min. Add 1.5 sticks unsalted softened butter; mix until fluffy, about 2 mins. Mix in 1 ts vanilla extract and 1/4 c fresh lime juice. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, halve the dough. Flatten each half into a 10" disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough in freezer 30 mins.
4. Preheat oven to 325 dF. Roll out disk on parchment paper to 1/8" thick. Using a 3" cookie cutter, cut shapes from dough. Space on baking sheets 1" apart. Repeat with other disk.
5. Bake until set, about 16 mins. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. Before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over cookies.

Omitted: I didn't sift confectioners' sugar over the finished cookies. I like sweets, but I don't like them too sweet.

Next time: I loved these cookies, however, sometimes I could taste the vanilla extract and it just didn't seem to go. I'll omit the vanilla extract when I make these again.

Next up, Lemon Poppyseed cookies. I omitted the last step of adding more poppyseeds on top. Like the lime flowers, they are buttery and have the perfect texture just between soft and crunchy.


lemon poppy-seed cookies (app.30)
1. Preheat oven to 375 dF. Bring 1/4 c fresh lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced by half. Add 1 stick butter, stir until melted.
2. Whisk together 2 c all-purpose flour, 1 ts baking powder and 1/2 ts salt. Cream 1 stick butter and 1c sugar on medium speed. Mix in 1 large egg and lemon butter, mix until pale, about 3 min. Mix in 2 ts pure vanilla extract and 2 TS freshly grated lemon zest. Mix in flour mixture and 1 TS poppy seeds.
3. Stir together 1/2 c sugar and 1.5 ts lemon zest. Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1.25" balls; roll them in sugar mixture. Place 2" apart on baking sheets. Press each with the flat end of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1.25" thick. Sprinkle with poppyseeds.
4. Bake until just browned around bottom edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

Omitted: Rolling the dough balls in the sugar mixture. I thought there was already so much sugar in these cookies, more would have been overkill.

Next time: BF thought they were perfect, I found them a tad too sweet. Compared to the other two recipes, there is an extra half cup of sugar in these cookies. I'll use one cup of sugar when I make these again.

Last, and definitely my favorite, are the Lime Cornmeal Glazed cookies. I was very curious about using cornmeal in cookies, I haven't really tasted it in anything else besides cornbread. The cookies are a bit fragile (they crumble easily) but they taste amazing and are well worth the work. I often forgo glazes (too sugary), but this glaze (with bits of lime and orange rind) is so good, I even ate the leftover glaze by the spoonful.

get the recipe here: Lime Cornmeal Glazed Cookies

Omitted/Substituted: I used whole wheat flour instead of regular. It was a great choice and went incredibly well with the lime. Sometimes Martha's recipes use too much zest for my taste, here I used 2 ts of zest instead of the 4 ts suggested.

Next time: I'll omit the almond extract. Like the vanilla extract in the lime flowers, it adds an somewhat odd aftertaste I can make out now and then. I think these fab cookies will be better without.

Last thoughts: Yummy cookies, all of them. They had in common an incredibly sticky dough, but rolling it out between two sheets of plastic wrap made handling it much easier.

c = cup
ts = teaspoon
TS = tablespoon
dF = degree Fahrenheit

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bear Love

I'm not much of a toy knitter. It's not that I don't like knitting toys, but that the toys never make it to their intended recipients. Blame for this solely rests on bf, who, after watching limbs and heads and ears emerge from my needles, gets, ahem, somewhat attached and looks at me in wide-eyed terror when I try to tell him that they are supposed to be gifted....(haha, he hasn't been checking out my blog in a while, so let's just hope he's not reading this post ;-)
But, I love bears, polar bears especially and when I first saw Ysolda's Otto, I knew I had to make one for myself. I had a few balls of leftover yarn, and born was Bina
and since I still had yarn leftover, she got a younger, slightly larger brother, Rudi
they are so adorable
Pattern: Otto by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: 3 skeins total Louisa Harding Grace, Otto also has some Kidsilk Haze in his head and body until I ran out
Needles: US 3
Mods: I made the bear snout a little shorter by omitting the knit rounds at the end (I only knit the decreasing rounds). Also, I took me forever to figure out the disappearing loop cast-on. I think I’m still not doing it correctly, but fudging it worked.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Roadtrippin'

Well, actually I've been back for a week, but as always after some time spent in nature, it's taking me a while to get back into the city living groove.
BF and I spent two weeks visiting places that have been on my dreamlist for a long time. We flew into Salt Lake City, drove up to Grand Teton National Park, spent a week at Yellowstone National Park, headed through Montana to Glacier NP, traversed Idaho to check out Craters of the Moon National Monument, then finished the loop by skirting the Bonneville Saltflats in Utah to SLC. What an amazing trip! My hopes of spotting some wildlife no matter how far away were rewarded by fairly close but respectful encounters with lots of the local fauna.
I love love love geothermal areas, and Yellowstone is a great place to experience lots of different features, here's just one of many colorful hot pools
Nature's hot tub
We were lucky to not only see Old Faithful erupt a few times, but to experience some other geysers who erupt less frequently
Buffalo often wandered into the campground
Tent Neighbors
my favorite, Glacier national Park
Glacier NP
where we saw these guys, two adolescent grizzlies
Grizzly Bears
lots of moose
Bull Moose
we meet this mountain goat on hike
Mountain Goat
I loved the eerie lava landscape at Craters of the Moon in Idaho, but man was it hot!
Craters of the Moon NM
It was wonderful to spend two weeks without many creature comforts, just living simply, and in the moment. My senses heightened, I became able to spot animals at a distance that would have been a blur before, and smell and hear better (unfortunately I'm hoping to lose some of that sense of smell, the first few days in the city made me almost nauseous, what with all the paint fumes and exhaust hovering in downtown).

Some of my favorite experiences on this trip:
- watching a grizzly and her cub being stalked by a coyote at dawn
- huckleberry ice cream
- friendly Canadian border officers letting us into Canada for a few hours despite our lack of appropriate ID
- meeting a group of Hutterite people at Waterton Lakes Park I spoke German with
- hearty breakfasts at family diners in small towns
- dipping hot feet in glacial lakes after long hikes
- BIG skies
- seeing a baby moose on our last day at Glacier
- cooling off in icy lava caves after hiking in 94 degrees through black lava

I'm already dreaming about the next roadtrip...maybe drive from Canada to Alaska on the Alcan, maybe revisit the Southwest....
What have your most memorable roadtrips been?