Photography ~ Cooking ~ Life

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Credit for the recipe goes to Martha Stewart.

If you like gingerbread these cookies are to die for!

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 granulated sugar (opt)

1. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Hand mixing works fine. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.

3. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

(*I placed the mixing bowl in the fridge for half an hour, which was plenty.)

4. Heat oven to 325°. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Roll in granulated sugar if desired. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*As usual I made alterations to suit us. I vary the flour, usually splitting it between unbleached white, and and either white wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. However, the ones pictured above are made with 100% whole wheat and are fantastic.

I also cut the molasses slightly, add 1/2 tsp. extra cocoa powder, and use dark chocolate (Vahlrona, Extreme Dark Endangered Species, or something similar). I also omit rolling the cookie dough in sugar.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another month fades away...

The twilight hours like birds flew by,
As lightly and as free;
Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
Ten thousand on the sea.

~Amelia Coppuck Welby

Where did June go?

This year is slipping by in the blink of an eye. Before we know it the holidays will be upon us again (I know, bite my tongue). It really is true that the older you get the faster time goes. I always thought that was silly when I used to hear that saying as a child, but it's true, or at least it seems true.

Perhaps it's because as adults we're always so busy, cramming as much as we can into each day, rarely taking a moment to breath, let alone just be. Whereas a kid, out of school for the summer, and with days that are their own, have no particular schedule but to hopefully be a kid. Gosh, sometimes I miss those days! When our parents told us to enjoy being a kid while we could, they knew what they were talking about.

We've been getting some spectacular sunsets the past few evenings. The colors have been so dramatic, so vibrant. The photo above doesn't seem real, though I can assure you that it is. I sat on the front porch, camera on tripod, remote in hand, and snapped several pictures as the sun set further behind the mountains. The image is totally untouched, no digitial enhancements. I was so thrilled that it came out looking just like what I saw with my eyes, and through my lens.

Another gorgeous summer evening.

Sunday Postcard Art

I'm running a little behind on challenges this week, but I had to make two for this one. The first has the words from the song God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood.

And this one was purely for fun. Since I live near a town (two actually) where July 4th rodeo's are a big deal (and I recently came across these boots pictured in a magazine), I had to make this one in honor of both rodeo's and the USA.

See other July 4th examples at SPA.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I love this time of year...

Fruits and veggies are starting to come in and it's so nice to have fresh local produce, some of which will eventually come from my own garden.

The lettuce (can you believe that's one head?) is from a local produce farm/nursery that I recently discovered. For $1.59 I can get a crop of lettuce like this.

The stand (which is also a nursery) is close enough that I think I'll visit quite a bit over the summer. I've been missing the farm stand I used to go to. The owner passed away a couple of years ago, and though someone else bought the business it's just not the same. When Marino owned it the produce was almost always local (Oregon and/or Washington grown or grown right on the property), was fresh and fabulous, and was such a great price that I often shopped there two to three times a week. Whatever I found is what we'd have for dinner. I could usually walk away with a full bag of produce for less than $6. Going there made trips to the grocery store quick and easy.

His place is was what I imagine shopping the open-air produce markets in Italy is like. It also made me think of my Italian grandmother, and gave me some connection to a woman that I didn't know very well.

So I look forward to seeing if this new place works out. Between it and the farm we've visited for the past ten years or so, we should do pretty well for the summer.

This afternoon I had a visitor. This young lady walked right by the office/studio window (excuse the quality - it was taken through two thicknesses of glass). She was staring towards the house and I couldn't figure out what had caught her attention. Then I saw two of the barn cats, not sure what to make of her, make a run for the front porch. She jumped back in surprise. When the third cat ran past she ran behind the sweet gum trunk and peeked out. lol Eventually she made her way to the back yard and the field beyond.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sour Cream Cocoa Cake

I was asked to share the recipe for the cake that hubby made for our anniversary. Here it is. It's from Better Homes and Gardens Cooking for Today - Cakes (click on the recipe to view larger).

Since we nearly always adjust recipes, hubby did make some alterations to this one. He cut the butter to 1/2 cup, the sugar to 3/4 of a cup, and he used plain yogurt in place of the sour cream.

Fabric Addiction?

I'm starting to see signs of a dangerous trend....

Fabric collecting.

Yes, fabric collecting.

And for someone who doesn't sew all that much, collecting fabric is a dangerous thing. I mean, what do you do with it all? It's pretty, but come on, how much fabric can one seldom-sewing girl need?

I've been to Goodwill twice over the past week looking for stray pillowcases and vintage fabric. Why? Because I've discovered that I can find some fantastic fabrics, vintage and otherwise, for much less than I can buy at the fabric store. And let's face it, there are some things that simply can't be had at the fabric store.

And, I've decided that I will sew some things this summer. I've got lots of ideas....Now to implement them.

Still, I need to slow down on the fabric collecting.

I've never considered myself a particularly addictive personality, but where pretty fabrics, papers, and art supplies are concerned (and hubby would argue decorative pillows, dishes and glassware), I've got a serious problem. Okay, and maybe add dark chocolate into the mix....

What I need to do is to actually sit down with patterns, scissors and sewing machine. And since I've got lots of books checked out of the library about sewing....There's plenty of inspiration. One such book is French General Home Sewn (KaariMeng), which I just checked out over this past weekend (actually I checked several books out, but this one in particular I've waited several weeks to get my hands on). A few months back I saw it in the bookstore and decided it was worth a more serious look (the jewelry book is lots of fun too).

There are some great looking projects (30 in all), from lavender filled hearts to throw pillows. And the book is just fun to look at.

Okay....I'm off to look at my pretty finds of the day.....which are already washed and hanging in the sunshine to dry.
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