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December 27, 2009 in daring bakers29 comments

daring bakers: gingerbread house

the only decent full view i shot - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

This post dedicated to the memory of Aunt Alice, who made a gingerbread house and brought it to family Christmas (Mom’s side) every year. And every year the kids gleefully demolished it. Read more on daring bakers: gingerbread house…

December 25, 2009 in notfoodno comments yet

happy festivus


i mean, merry christmas :)

Clearly, there’s no Festivus pole here!

Wishing all of you a lovely holiday. May you be warm and cozy this Christmas, with good food and good company.

Read more on happy festivus…

December 23, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian3 comments

chewy oatmeal cutouts

chewy oatmeal cutout cookies, dusted with cinnamon sugar

Time now to quit with the endless family stories and begin slamming out these cookie recipes. Today I made progress on this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. It’s a secret, to be revealed on the 27th. Which is a shame, because it’s sort of festive. :p

cutting out some chewy oatmeal cutout cookies!

Also began filling the chocolate mint cookie sandwiches. Damn, those little chocolate disks taste just like Oreos. And I learned why Grandma made them so honkin’ big (I made them about 1-1/2 inches round instead) — the recipe made approximately 270 cookie halves. Yes, that’s 135 sandwiches. I’ll post a final total when I finish and get the recipe up. Of course, it will be a tad off due to shrinkage. Shrinkage in this case being little (and big) hands snatching them up and popping them into mouths during the filling process.

bake, gingerbread man, bake

ohnoes, the gingerbread man in searing 350 degree heat!

And tomorrow evening I’ll be decorating these chewy oatmeal cutouts with Justin and Maggie. What a pleasant surprise these were. Thumbs up from kids and adults alike, and that was just the ones I tossed cinnamon sugar onto. Crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, easy to roll and a good deal of whole grains inside. Read more on chewy oatmeal cutouts…

December 18, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian2 comments

nutty crescents

nutty crescents

Man, the Christmas cookie recipes and pics are piling up. Hmm, I seem to have developed an obsession with them this year.

see? six inches!

I had some trepidation about posting this particular Christmas cookie. As I wrestled with rolling out endless walnut-sized lumps of dough, making crescents seemed a lot fussier to me than it did last year. I distinctly remember the dough being a joy to work with: smooth and pliable, not like silly putty, but better. Read more on nutty crescents…

December 14, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian11 comments

whole grain mexican wedding cakes

mexican wedding cakes, russian tea cakes, made with whole barley flour

Guess what? I actually got off my arse and did some research for y’all this time.


See, the cookie we call Mexican wedding cakes, or Russian tea cakes, or polvorones in Spain, or melting moments in Australia actually has a common descendent: the “sandie” type cookie first developed by the Moors in the Middle Ages, medieval Arabs being very fond of sweets.

mexican wedding cakes, russian tea cakes, made with whole barley flour - notice how they're a bit darker than those made with all-purpose flour

Most commonly known as Mexican wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes here in the U.S., they’re a buttery, not-too-sweet cookie made with finely chopped nuts. The cookie is shaped like a ball, and rolled twice in powdered sugar after baking. The first dusting of sugar is done while warm, which allows the sugar to absorb slightly into the cookie and keeps its crust from getting hard. Since the first sugar dusting usually melts into near-invisibility, a second coating of sugar is applied to make the cookies pretty.

ooh, dramatic!

It’s important to note that Mexican wedding cakes are never baked until browned (else they’d be dry and overdone), so one has to trust one’s recipe for the time and one’s nose for clues as to when they’re done. It’s amazing how many things, when cooking, are “done” when you begin to smell them. Read more on whole grain mexican wedding cakes…

December 6, 2009 in salad, vegetarian10 comments

the best coleslaw


Two things, and then the recipe for the best basic coleslaw you’ve ever had.

cabbage, to be sacrificed to the food processor gods

First, we went to Hello Sushi tonight. You may recall that I became a bit cranky on my last visit. Tonight, however, was delightful. Just like last time we were coming off a day working at my aunt’s house, but this time I was with my aunt, Linda, instead of my cousin, and this time we’d changed clothes and cleaned up a bit. We had futo maki and Alaskan soup to begin with. The Alaskan soup was a fishy broth with crab and fluffy cooked egg floating around. Next we had one of the specials, mushrooms stuffed with spicy tuna and deep fried. This one had a lot of flavor and texture going on: salty, umami, creamy, chewy, and then little teeny pops from the roe that was sprinkled on top. To finish Linda ordered a spider roll and I ordered a yellowtail nigiri, both also awesome of course, and she had ginger ice cream (ick) for dessert.

And I didn’t take a single picture. Yeah, I bet reading all that was real exciting. Apparently food writing needs pictures. Read more on the best coleslaw…