Hello again!

February 25, 2010
Work has been kicking my bum lately, hence the no-blog-posting in awhile. Hopefully you were able to try out my scone recipe (I made another batch, and this time froze a bunch for later…Yum…), and appreciated the view of at least one room in my house that is/was clean. I can assure you with the busy days that both Matthew and I have been having, things aren’t so pretty anymore. But what can you do, but start over again, wash the dishes, fold the laundry, and sweep up the piles of Numi’s hair. (Why is it impossible to get it all? Why?)

I’ve been wanting to share pictures and stories from our latest adventures, so here you go!

Valentine’s Day 
I was shocked and over-the-moon thrilled when Matthew surprised me with a B&B getaway for Valentine’s Day weekend. We drove North to my hometown of Placerville, and stayed at the Sugar Pine Bed and Breakfast – just a block from main street. Our room was in the turret of an old Victorian home built in the early 1900’s, and I honestly felt like a princess. My favorite part: the claw foot bathtub. After arriving and getting a delightful tour from the proprietors, I immediately asked if Matthew would mind waiting for lunch…while I took a bath. In the two days we were there, I took 3 baths! Can you tell how much I miss having a bathtub at home?!
We spent Saturday strolling Main Street, popping into Antique shops, cafes, and used bookstores, and (of course) running into old friends in nearly every store. Placerville felt like a new place to me, and it was so relaxing to stroll with Matthew, having good conversation, stopping to read for a bit and get a cup of coconut coffee. 
 It was such a memorable trip, capped off with breakfast with Kaitlyn the next morning. Matthew makes me feel so blessed.

House Update!
The front of our house is almost done! It has been a grueling few months of trudging through the sloshy mud and up the back porch to get in the house, and I have never, ever appreciated a front door as much as I do now! While still in process, the floorboards of the deck have been finished so we are able to walk up our lovely new stair and through our beautiful front door. Yay for projects coming to a close!

Delicious Granola/Bars
This recipe comes again from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs. As usual, I altered the recipe a bit and am still not convinced that I found the right ratio of ingredients. I think I’ll have to make another batch. (oh darn!) It was a bit sweet for my taste, but overall the recipe was easy and can be custom-made with all of your favorites: dried fruits, wheat germ, almonds, chocolate chips, etc., etc.

Thick Chewy Granola Bars 

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I would use less next time…or possibly omit altogether)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups chopped almonds
Handful of dried cranberries
1/3 cup almond butter (or another nut butter, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, maple syrup, almond butter and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (I did not do this so well…I’m not sure I pressed them enough, so they crumbled apart pretty easily. A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool completely and then cut in squares. Again, mine turned out more like quasi-granola, but it may be to the reduced sugar too. Anyhow, have fun with mixing it up – there are so many different options!

Domestic Bliss / Lemon & Blueberry Scones

February 9, 2010
I have been feeling excessively domestic as of late. It all started with a deep clean of the house, in search of my CHW badge which in the end, is in fact, lost. No matter, what are lost badges when you have such a sparkling clean laundry room? 
Although  construction is still underway at 414, this small back room makes me so happy: everything has a place and for the moment, is superbly clean! Numi loves to curl up in the corner and dream to the sound of the dryer. 
After the deep clean, I then went on to conquer the culinary feat of perfect scones. I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and let me tell you: these scones are heavenly. I used Blueberries instead of fresh crans (I guess the stores stop selling them after January...must stock up next year) and a bit less sugar. I also brushed the tops with egg whites to give them a golden color, and topped them all off with a good dose of rock cane sugar. I think the blueberries make this recipe.

KG Lemon and Fresh Blueberry Scones

1.5 T freshly grated lemon zest (using lemons from Kathy's tree; if unable, Meyer lemons will stand in just fine)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chopped into bits
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (reserve the whites for brushing the tops of the scones before baking)
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

(I measured out all ingredients  and put them in little bowls, etc. before starting the mixing process. I love doing this - it helps me track better and decreases the chances that I'll turn our kitchen into a disaster zone.)

(While they look like Yukon potatoes, those are two freshly zested lemons, and are not the secret ingredient.)

In a food processor pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to large bowl.

Add blueberries to flour mixture.

In small bowl lightly beat egg and egg yolk; stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface (like KG's classic butcher block table) pat dough into a 1-inch think round. Cut dough into small triangles (or whatever shape you desire) and arrange about 1-inch apart on baking sheet. Brush tops with egg whites and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown. 

(If you are not planning on devouring these scones immediately--and good luck to you--I would flash freeze them on a tray before baking. They don't keep fabulously well, but will last for a couple days, or 1 week frozen. This morning I reheated a couple under the broiler, which returned them to their originally fantastic state. )

HAPPY Friday

February 5, 2010
Friday means good things - here are a few things that have made me happy this week. 

Homemade cinnamon honey butter. Enough said. Don't be surprised if you receive a batch soon...I LOVE this woman’s site and store.

Forest Bound has the most beautiful vintage canvas bags – one of these days I’m going to break down, pay the big bucks, and get a fabulous one-of-a-kind creation.

A Wake-Up Story
Regardless of whether or not children are directly a part of your daily life, this is about a larger issue. We all should be thinking about what we're putting in our bodies. If you are a parent, then this should hit home even more. Such a great cause!

happy friday!