Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tea and Honey Crisps

ABJ voted for the Tea and Honey Crisps, after I reminded her. Think I am going to amp up the Earl Grey Tea by a tsp this year. Here they are pictured in a glorious wreath. You have to pick these off the cookie sheet when they are red-hot and still soft and work lightening-fast so you can twirl them around a wooden spoon handle. Once cool, you just get a bunch of tasty flat sticks, so get a partner and put the phone on mute. Only in Gourmet Magazine RIP.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Cookies

ABJ and SJ have weighed in and voted for the fried rosettes (SJ will have to moderate the frying discussion), pizzelles and the snowflake cookies. After I got their comments I went looking for the recipies and found that the snowflake recipe I used is really one for Swedish Papparkakor, which is why they are cardamom flavored (eat your heart out Martha, yours don't taste nearly as good). The frosting was inspired by Martha Stewart and I located some of the pictures. Just getting these delicate little guys out of the cookie cutter and onto the baking sheet is an art and the decorating takes at least an afternoon of pure dedication. The piping is never as straight as these are! The last time ABJ and I made these, which was around the time my father died 10 years ago, I think we gave up in exhaustion and left a dozen or so undecorated.
The last time we made Pizzelles was at Windy Hill so ABJ was younger than 11. I found a recipe that describes how long you cook them - they go pretty fast but you have to have a watch with a second hand because you can only cook them for 30-40 seconds. If you don't get them out fast enough they are ruined. Lots of discards until we got the coordination just right.
I found another candidate in the Dec 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine, which is no more :(
This is for the delicate and subtle Tea and Honey Crisps, made with Earl Grey tea leaves. Another recipe that requires two people working very fast to get the hot strips of cookie off the cookie sheet and hand twisted into just the right shape before they set.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The weather has gotten very cold here (high of 29 today) so my thoughts are turning to Christmas baking. I just finished reading the history of the Dutch in New York betweek 1609 and 1664, and solved the mystery of why we Americans say cookie, while our British cousins say biscuit. Apparently cookie is derived from the 17th century Dutch koekje, which was a small cake. This became common use in the American colonies.In any case, ABJ has requested that we also make a gingerbread house (or red barn) so that is on the agenda. I have solved the mystery of why the one we made 4 years ago didn't turn a nice rich purple - they no longer make light molasses (which the recipe calls for) so we used dark - we will just substitute Karo Syrup and the color should be fine.
We should also make Snowballs because they melt in your mouth and are really easy to make. I have already stocked up on about 8 lbs of butter for the cookie fest.
Also under consideration are:
- Cream Cheese foldovers - I already got the cream cheese on sale
- Rosettes - lovely delicate fried cookies that Nana used to make - ABJ and I always end up arguing about getting the frying just right, but maybe SJ's presence will encourage us to tone down the intensity of our discussion this year. A favorite of APJ.
- Spritz Cookies
- Orange Pistachio Cranberry refrigerator cookies that we made in 2007 and were a huge hit.
- Pizelles? ABJ and I made these when she was about 8 and found it requires teamwork and lightening coordination to get these out of the griddle in time. They are a project in themselves.
- Swedish snowflakes - Another huge project - lots and lots of delicate cardomom scented cookies that require individual painting in blue and white with glitter snow and silver dragees. They look awesome and professional.
When Uncle Paul was here for pea soup and biscuits yesterday, he wistfully said that he isn't very good at cookie making, even with the recipes I gave him, so I told him we would include him in the project. Could get a bit crowded.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Just got the January Harper's Bazaar and the horoscopes are soooo good for ABJ and me. Please God let them be true!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Birthdays

An unexpected soft wet snow with huge flakes started falling at 10 AM on Saturday but it didn't stop the family from making it to our house for my husband's and granddaughter's birthday celebration. Friday evening I made the birthday train from my railway mold and lots of candies, icings, and tiny marshmellows. It was sort of like decorating a lot of little gingerbread houses and would have been a great group project for a child's party, which I will have to remember for ABJ's children. I had firm plans for the engine, cabose, coal car and the two cars loaded with raspberry jellies, but my creativity was feeling strained by about 8PM. I wished ABJ were here because we would have been finished by then plus she always has such creative ideas. I do think the marshmellow "snow" was inspired - a last minute idea as I contemplated what I was going to do with all the leftover marshmellows once I had built the smoke.
In any case, it was a great hit with the birthday girl, and my brother (always a train-lover) took a picture with his new iphone (his newest toy).

There were exactly nine cars, so each person got to pick out his own car, starting with the birthday girl. She picked the one with the red raspberry jellies. In case you don't know NJB, her expression is one of extreme happiness. My brother tried to get the car with the dark purple jellies, but his wife made such sad noises that he generously gave it up to her :).

My grandson took the one with the little chocolate mint candy cane logs.
Happy birthday HB and NJB!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Warped Bunnyness

Someone at Anthropologie definitely has a warped sense of bunnyness. Occasionally it comes off well, such as the necklace but the most recent ones are pretty awful. A bunny shot glass...
And just when you wondered how you would ever put it down here it is sitting on its head.

But this is the worst. It is a candle and the wick comes out of its poor forehead. Can you imaging how it would look half melted with drooping soft wax ears?

More Pebbles

I happened to look at a catalog that I had never received before and found more pebble mats.... And interesting pebble placemats...

And these are not pebbles at all but felted merino wool cushions (can't imagine they would be very comfortable to sit on, but they claim that they are) made in Province ranging in price from $298 to $595.

And of course pebble hooks - which ABJ and I talked about as a use for the Chloe Alberry drawer handles. Pretty pricy, even with the discount.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Workshop

The Christmas workshop is now open for business. All the projects that have been sitting on my worktable are now works in process.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my mom, uncle and aunt (visiting from the UP with their exchange student from Okinawa - Li). Eating all the traditional comfort foods - turkey with stuffing made with home-grown sage, parsley and rosemary, Aunt Goldie's cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes ( no marshmellows thank you) peas and baby onions, home made gravy made by my 88 year-old mom, and ending with a luscious pumpkin chiffon pie with a ginger-snap crust. But the best is the next day when everyone has gone...... and I make a stuffing, turkey and gravy casserole with the leftovers.

And we enjoy the last two pieces of the pie.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pebble Mat

I love this.....
pebble mat $44.95

Stepping stones. Pebbles washed smooth in the rivers of China threshold zen indoors or out. Naturally, no two are alike. Makes an unique bath mat.

Tasky Kakes!

I am going to Tasty Baking Company for lunch today :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Naomi's Birthday Picture

My Granddaughter sent this picture to my husband for his birthday. It is a little light, but I can't believe how sophisticated it is for someone who is 9 years old!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ebelskivers and Brunch

I completely forgot that I was going to write about the brunch we had on Nov 1. Here is the happy crowd - APJ is looking so much better and has finished his most recent infomercial on Natures Miracles. HB saw it for the first two times on Monday. In any case, a good time was had by all and everyone gobbled up the apple caramel ebelskivers, maple sausages and fresh berries with enthusiasm. I was going to take a picture of the beautiful round ebelskivers, but they disappeared too quickly, so I saved a bit of the batter and filling to make after everyone left. APJ and I went off for about 20 minutes to look at all my London and Scotland pics, as well as the pics that ABJ sent of the new flat. He and his wife left shortly afterwards, so I went into the kitchen to cook up the leftovers and this was all that was left.
I found the batter but the rather large pan with the caramelized apples (homemade caramel!!)had disappeared. I quizzed my husband who looked baffled as I pointed to the area on the stove where the pan had been. Finally he remembered that he had seen my sister-in-law eating the contents of the pan. This is the woman who made me dig out the sweet 'n low and heavy cream for her coffee because there were too many carbs in the sugar!!!
Maybe next time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


After reading my posting on the stained glass kalidescope and quilt, ABJ thinks that Anthropologie is getting greedy so I have figured out what we could do. We could start our own business on Etsy and call it ethnologie and carry much more creative knock-offs of anthropologie and other overpriced merchandise. The name would be very genuine because both of us have degrees in Anthropology. What do you think ABJ?

Just looked at my emails again and they have gotten truely nervy! Now they are doing these pretentious bits they call theanthropologist. net for "inspiring works and inspiring individuals". What advertising wiz came up with this one? Hmmm I can think of candidates for the from our real lives. This could be fun.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Christmas Crackers

Liberty has some awsome and very expensive Christmas Crackers. I would never spend this much on something that will get torn apart in seconds, but I seem to remember that you could buy kits to make your own crackers when we lived in the UK. Nothing like that here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ABJ come home and go into business with me

I know you could do this and so much more ........ (anthropologie at $368) And doesn't this really remind you of the poof quilt squares on Naomi's dress, but bigger and much easier and not quite as nice as I would make..........(anthropologie $498)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Circular Vest

I was going to write about the brunch I made for my brother and his wife today, but my camera battery needs recharging so I will save that for tomorrow. This weekend I got a chance to look at my new issue of Threads and this article on making a circular vest is my favorite. You can create it in an hour and it doesn't take more than a meter of fabric unless you are very busty. The binding is made of ribbed knit and getting it right is the trick. There are additional instructions about how to measure the armhole length and sew the binding on, but this gives you the general idea........

Saturday, October 31, 2009


It has been a rainy, warm Halloween evening. I guess we don't have a lot of little kids in Penn's Greene these days, because the number of trick or treaters has fallen off significantly. Among our visitors, there was a Death Eater, two Little Mermaids, and one little girl who told me she was a renaissance princess. One whole family, including the parents, came dressed up and kept asking me "don't you know who we are?" Unfortunately I had no idea at all.
When Adam was little we lived in West Chester and I sat on the steps of the porch and handed out candy for hours to endless streams of children. Adam and Aaron would come staggering home with massive bags of candy, which we carefully screened and rationed out, to their chagrin.
When ABJ was little, there were only six houses within half a mile of our house. I would put her in the car in her costume and drive her from house to house. With so few children, our arrival was a major event for the occupants of these houses so they usually had an elaborate basket or decorated bag of candies and goodies waiting for her. They often invited us in and spent an inordinate amount of time admiring her costume. No one would come up the 1/4 mile driveway to our house, so we didn't see a trick or treater for about 6 years, when the houses in Penn's Greene started to be built.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Colors of Autumn

Picture taken outside of our house this morning. It is going to rain for the next two days so I know that a lot of the leaves will fall, so I wanted to catch the brilliant colors of the maples.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Weekend

The past four days have been dismal and rainy - more like late November than early October. It hasn't gotten above 47 F the whole time, with a wind chill of 36 today and we have been blessed with 2 driving Nor'easters with high winds in three days. Pretty soggy . I was in the mood to make some comfort food so I tried a recipie for cheddar-apple bundles and got about half the way there. What I would change about the recipe:
1. Use Nana's pie crust and don't ever try to make a crust in the food processor , no matter what the recipe says. The crust was too thick and not at all flakey.
2. I couldn't taste the cheddar at all, so I wouldn't bother with it.
3. There weren't enough apples so it wasn't juicy.
4 Maybe try putting the apricot jam on top after they come out of the oven like they said.
After this summary, it sounds more like I got 25% of the way there. I guess the real message it to just wing it the way I usually do instead of trying to follow someone else's recipe - especially for pastry - since it rarely turns out as good as my own instincts.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another Small-Town Store Goes Under

We got a flyer today announcing our local family-owned home and hardware store is going out of business after 90 years, the year my father was born. Our local newspaper ran front page headlines on the topic and it occupied the editorial column. From the time that the groundbreaking for a mega shopping center containing a Lowes was announced a few years ago, I knew with great sadness that Pyles time was limited. The family fought on heroically for a several years trying to match the pricing and overcome the new traffic pattern that made it difficult and dangerous to access the store, but this fall it looked barren and shabby. The owner said that he was just tired out. I sadly remembered the days when it was bustling with home improvers and its glittering and extensive Christmas shop was full of every kind of ornament you can imagine and wistful children. I used to come there with my daughter to pick out a few special ornaments every year and still have the fragile peapod, ear of corn, frosted plum and bear that we picked out so many years ago.
A month ago, I was in the nearby community of Oxford and stopped in at the home and farm supply store. It was bright with wooden floors and the lumber yard was full of life. It radiated the warm friendly family atmosphere that Pyles once did and they were starting to put out the Christmas displays. I have heard that the developers of another big box store have finally decided to start construction nearby, but I hope that Oxford Feed and Supply lasts long enough to give another generation of children the joy and excitement of small town life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween Treats

The grandkids are taking a break in their busy weekend social schedule and coming over for lunch on the Sunday before Halloween. I am thinking that maybe we could decorate cupcakes for dessert.....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn Leaves

I love the colors of autumn. I remember when I used to collect leaves as I walked home from school and press them between 2 sheets of waxed paper inserted in a heavy book. These are leaves collected from our front yard this evening. It is definitely getting to be really autumn. It went up to 68 sunny degrees today so it was enjoyable doing the fall garden clean-up, but it is very chilly this evening.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christmas Again

I am running into some difficulties with my Christmas ideas. Number one is that I can't find the type of wooden hanger I need anywhere. I have 3 that I bought in the UK about 10 years ago and that's it. They have to be a simple skinny almost straight piece of wood that has the hook attached to it. I have searched the internet and I can't even find anything close. Martha Stewart had an article on how to make stuffed hangers but no hint of where to get the bases. A couple of people wrote in and asked where to get them and someone else replied that she found lots of hangers in Target and Walmart. I don't know what Target and Walmart she has been shopping at but it sure isn't on their websites or in the stores around here. Looks like I am going to have to buy some cheap padded hangers, rip them apart and recover them.

The other issue is with the dried lavendar - but is solvable with money. I found some great sources on the internet and also found that a pound contains 15-18 cups, which is close enough for me. The only issue is that the tax, handling and shipping for a pound of lavendar costs about the same as the lavendar itself. I can't bring myself to order it yet but I will probably give in.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ideas for Christmas

While ABJ and I were shopping in Liberty we saw these great (pricey) lavendar sachets, tied together in sets of 3, that would be great for Christmas presents. When I got home, I checked and I have the velveteen, ribbons, ribbon roses and of course lots of Liberty fabrics. I found a place that sells bulk lavendar on the internet and now I am just trying to figure out how much lavendar is in a pound. I think I have some laminating plastic that I once applied to seat covers, so that should work for the luggage tag, but I am concerned that they will be too thick to stitch with my machine. I have some leather needles that I need to try out.
I used to make belt buckles and belts for my dresses when I was a teenager. This is neat but I am not sure who I would give it to. I think I still have the belt forms around somewhere so I could try making one, but I also need to think about what I would use for the belt itself.
Then I remembered that one year when I was living in the UK, I made some of these for presents. Mine were gathered and cushier. No idea who I gave them to that year but I know I made them and I sure don't have any around. Still have a few of the wooden hangers, but need to get some more. This could definitely do for any woman on my list.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Camel Coats This Year Again

More from the October Issue of Harper's. They were even nice enough to write a horoscope suggesting that my money (job) worries would be resolved in October. This would mean that I could do more than just post pictures of lovely camel colored coats for the second year in a row.... They really fell down on hats in this issue though. These look like the hairdresser didn't show up for the shoot so they had to grap a rain hat from a passer-by.
Lovely jacket but what is the little shmata doing on this poor model?! - not many of us could get away with a towel thrown casually on our heads and she is no exception. Reminds me of the old Russian women who used to sweep the streets of St Petersburg with twig brooms back in the mid-90's.

And I love the color of the lovely soft sweater in the Coach ad.. maybe I could knit it (a little less baggy though) with all the spare time I have on my hands.