Monday, April 26, 2010

An R&B production

When toy skyscrapers, baby pictures, and sleep deprivation come together, this is the result.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Uberstix Skyscraper

I got the "Uberstix Starter Set" from the local game store (One-Eyed Jacques) recently, because it seemed like plastic construction doohickeys with a clever twist: they are designed to interlock with other plastic construction doohickeys (like Lego, Erector, and suchlike), and also work with recycled materials (like plastic bottles for boat flotation devices.)

These are just from the starter set, and aren't all the pieces. (I did use all the red and yellow stick shapes for this, though.) There's something very satisfying about a construction set that gives you enough stuff to build a freestanding structure that goes all the way to the ceiling.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

CSA Basket 2

This week we received Assorted Lettuce, Chard, Kohlrabi, Beets, Parsley, Kale, Celery, Strawberries, Carrots, Sweet Peas, Navel Oranges, Tangerines, Avocado, Lemon, Apples, Valencia Oranges, Broccoli, and Grapefruit.

We managed to eat or freeze for later use everything in the first basket except one head of iceberg lettuce, three apples, and a meyer lemon. All are still edible. I have the fixings to make a blue cheese dressing for the iceberg lettuce (I made the Classic Caesar Salad from the same article last week and it was awesome) and I'm contemplating making juice out of the remaining apples as the one I ate had a less than awesome texture. I made the fennel and celery salad from Rebecca's comment for brunch and it received warm reviews. They also seemed impressed with the beet salad, the recipe for which follows. I don't have a lot of experience with beets. But this recipe turns out super yummy. The ginger gets WAY stronger the longer this sits, but not in a bad way.

Marjan's Favorite Beets adapted from Eating for Two: Recipes for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women by Robin Lim

  • 6 to 8 small beets, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 C fresh orange juice
  • 2 t sugar
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1 handful fresh mint, minced

1. Steam beets until tender, about 12 minutes, and set them aside.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for about 1 minute.
3. Stir together the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch until dissolved. Whisk the orange juice mixture into the ginger butter and continue to simmer and whisk until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Pour the sauce over the beets and toss with the mint. Serve hot or cold.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

April's Cupcake of the Month: Tres Leches Cupcakes

In picking this month's cupcake, I noticed I hadn't make a cupcake from the first section of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes yet: Swirled and Sprinkled.

In addition to the Tres Leches Cupcakes, this section includes Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, Carrot Cupcakes, Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes, Coconut Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Rhubarb Cupcakes with Whipped Cream, Devil's Food Cupcakes, Chocolate Malted Cupcakes, Tiramisu Cupcakes, Banana-Pecan Cupcakes, Blueberries-and-Cream Cupcakes, Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes, Mocha Cupcakes, Date-Nut Mini Cupcakes, Ginger and Molasses Cupcakes, Applesauce-Spice Cupcakes, and Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes. January's Cupcake of the Month: Streusel Cupcakes were from the second section of the book: Dipped and Glazed. February's Cupcake of the Month: Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes were from the fourth section of the book: Filled and Layered. March's Cupcake of the Month: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes were from the third section of the book: Simple and Sweet. The last non-decorating centric section I have yet to try is Piped and Topped.

This recipe accurately replicates a Tres Leches cake. The only problem I had with it is coming to the realization that I don't really like Tres Leches cake. For the amount of sugar and fat, I want something less subtle and soggy. But my panel of independent taste testers at brunch seemed to really dig 'em. So if you're into Tres Leches cake, or your sweet tooth is more mature than mine, this might be the perfect thing for you. Be sure to eat them with a fork so you can scrape off the gooey goodness on the wrapper, which is the best part.

Also, a little beef with the original recipe which instructs bakers to "brush milk mixture over cupcakes, repeating until all liquid has been used." If you use a brush instead of spooning the milk mixture on you will be brushing until the end of days. Even using a spoon it took me a ton of time. This step is much easier if you adhere to the instruction to only fill the cups 1/2 full with batter. This leaves room for the milk mixture to pool on top before it soaks in, which is much less messy and more efficient than if the cupcakes rise too high in the cups.

Additionally, the recipe recommends using paper lined foil cupcake liners. I didn't have those on hand so I used two layers of paper cupcake liners. Granted, these are really nice cupcake liners, not your standard grocery store liners, but they held up just fine after 24 hours of soaking. You might be fine with just one layer of paper liners if you're confident in their quality.

Tres Leches Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat


  • 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 C all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 3/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 C confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • Ground cinnamon, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together egg whites, baking soda, and salt until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low. Add yolks and sugar; whisk until completely combined. Fold in melted butter with a flexible spatula. Add flour in four batches, folding until just combined after each.

2. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately poke holes in tops of cupcakes with a skewer.

3. Whisk together evaporated milk, condensed milk, and 3/4 C heavy cream. With cupcakes still in tins, spoon milk mixture over cupcakes, repeating until all liquid has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb mixture, at least 30 minutes (or up to one day in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic once completely cool; bring to room temperature before serving).

4. Whisk 2 C heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners' sugar and whisk until combined. If not using immediately, whipped cream can be refrigerated, covered tightly, up to 3 hours in an airtight container.

5. To finish, dollop whipped cream generously onto cupcakes, and dust with ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Previous Cupcakes of the Month:
January's Cupcake of the Month: Streusel Cupcakes
February's Cupcake of the Month: Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes
March's Cupcake of the Month: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

April's Cookie of the Month: Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

I live with a monkey. This monkey eats a banana about once a day. But when this monkey goes grocery shopping, he buys WAY more bananas than he can finish before they get too ripe. When they get too ripe we throw them in the freezer with the idea that we'll make banana bread out of them some day. But I kinda don't like banana bread, so it doesn't get made. Meanwhile, our freezer fills with frozen bananas. These cookies are the solution.

Granted, the recipe only calls for one banana, and I probably have a dozen in my freezer. But these cookies are so awesome that I would happily make them eleven more times. They are not extremely banana-y. They are not heavy at all. My independent taste tester didn't even notice they contained oats. They're light and chocolaty with a hint of banana goodness.

You may recall that I've had an ongoing battle with excessively spreading cookies. I had no problem with that this time even though I used an insulated baking sheet for half of them (I put it on the bottom rack in the oven, as the book suggests). They turned out relatively thick and chunky which met with the approval of my independent taste tester.

My version of the recipe is the simplified for new moms version. Same ingredients. More reliant on the standing mixer than stirring stuff by hand. Great results nonetheless.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 8 T (1 stick) cool, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 C solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1 medium, very ripe banana, mashed (about 1/2 C)
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 3 C bittersweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together, then mix in the rolled oats until uniform, set aside.

2. Beat the butter and shortening in a large bowl using an electric mixer at medium speed until softened and of a uniform color, about 1 minute. Beat in both sugars until fluffy but still a little grainy, about 1 minute. Beat in the mashed banana and vanilla.

3. Mix in the prepared flour mixture on low speed just until a soft wet dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips just until evenly distributed.

4. Drop high, rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough onto the baking sheet, spacing the mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake for 6 minutes then rotate the baking sheets and bake for 6 more minutes until bumpy and lightly browned. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cool the baking sheet for 5 minutes before making additional batches.

Previous Cookies of the Month:
January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
February's Cookie of the Month: Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies
March's Cookie of the Month: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Furrday Augie & Izzy at the Ranchette

While the rest of us went to Atlanta and New Orleans, Augie and Izzy went to our friend Bridget's house, which has a yard full of toys and a corral full of horses, chickens, and a donkey.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Furrday Augie's Cha-Cha-Cha

First CSA Basket

Following in the esteemed footsteps of Bob and Rebecca, we have joined a CSA with Southcoast Farms. In today's basket we received Navel Oranges, Chard, Assorted Lettuce, Avocado, Beets, Italian Parsley, Apples, Potato, Kale, Lemon, Celery, Carrots, Fennel, Golden Nugget Tangerines, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, and Valencia Oranges. Any and all recipe suggestions are welcome.