Monday, May 30, 2011

Baking with Bug

I received an email from my kid's teacher that there would be lots of birthdays and events at school coming up and I should make some "safe" treats for my kid to enjoy. So Bug and I went through to find some things he was interested in. We were a little ambitious not factoring in hot kitchen with HOT humidity yuck outside. So we only did 3 out of our 5 planned treats, but I squeezed in some fresh bread at the end.

So today we made:
Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
Peanut Butter Cookie
Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle
(and a french baguette)

Left : Peanut Butter Cookie, Top: Chocolate Crinkle Cookie, Right: Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle

My little sous was very hands on for all of our baking today. He did all the measuring, mixing and assembling. All I had to do was read the recipe, guide, and all the hot stuff (melting chocolate and oven). I was very proud.

He does however need an apron or kitchen towel.....

Maybe tomorrow we'll finish our ambitious baking or we'll just enjoy some of our treats.

We used "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" as our base recipes.

We did cook a bit more the following day
Whoopie Pies and Watermelon Cookies....YUM. These recipes were taken from a cookbook a dear friend made me for Christmas- see more of her recipes at Yeast Coast Baking. The whoopie pie recipe is a secret family recipe that is locked up never to be shared, but I will happily pass along the watermelon cookie recipe- slightly tweeked from the original recipe. These are great to bring to summer cookouts!
Watermelon Cookies
2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp almond milk (yes, this is my secret ingredient in most of my baked goods)
1 tsp mint extract (orig, called for vanilla- I switched to mint for more refreshing flavor)
2 cups all purpose flour
Red food coloring
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
Green decorating sugar
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium till combined. Add baking powder and salt, beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, almond milk, and mint until combined. Beat in flour. Tranfer dough to waxed paper and knead in enough red food coloring for desired color. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough at least 3 hours to overnight. It is much easier to handle when cooled so work in small batches.
Preheat oven to 375. Stir together egg white and water, set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until slightly less than 1/4" thick. Using a floured 3" round cookie cutter, cut out dough (I did a slightly larger round cutter for above cookies and cut into quarters). Cut into half. Using a small brush, brush the egg white/water mixture on the rounded edges of each cookie. Dip brushed edges in decorating sugar. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press a few chocolate chips into each cookie for "seeds"
Bake for 5-7 minutes or until bottoms just begin to brown (do not allow to brown on top). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Queen of the Sun

A HUGE thank you to those that came out from all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia to see the screening of "Queen of the Sun" at ArtSpace, Falls Church, VA. What a turn out! I had no idea what to expect especially going into the holiday weekend, but you came out and showed great support. It sold out! In that it is also a great representation for how many people are interested in the bees. About half the audience was beekeepers and as one audience member said beekeepers keep to themselves so it was nice to see them brought together.
Also I have to give a HUGE thank you to the people who donated their resources and time. I had bought the screening license but needed somewhere to show the film. Thank you to Laura Hull at Creative Cauldron for offering the space they have at ArtSpace Falls Church. All tickets sold were a donation to Creative Cauldron and keeping theater alive so we do have venues to not only show these films, but theater, children's theater, music, visual art, etc.
Food and wine was generously provided by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Georgia Brown's, Old Glory BBQ, and Bearer Honey. They all went way beyond the call of duty! And if you are looking for any of Bearer Honey remember you can find it on the Farm to Family bus- in DC on Wednesdays. I LOVED that Chipotle brought seed packets- how great was that!? Did you know they did so much with local farmers before talking to them at the event? Chef Bryan Yealy of Georgia Brown's went beyond the call of duty providing all fresh, local, organic foods- even deboning ALL that fried chicken himself! And did you try the peach cobbler!? My sweet sweet husband who had had surgery on his shoulder just the day before was a fantastic bartender for the evening and I thank him for staying up right just long enough to serve everyone some wines from his restaurant, Old Glory BBQ.
Chipotle Mexican Grill

Georgia Brown's

Tasting Table

Bearer Farms Honey
And of course I have to thank Jeff Miller, from DC Honeybees who was brave enough to stand on the panel alone after Cy could not get farm coverage. He did a wonderful job fielding questions and I look forward to him putting some hives up on Old Glory's rooftop.

I would love to hear from you. What did you think of the film? Have you seen it yet? Thank

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

My kid has been begging for strawberry shortcake, so yesterday I picked up fresh strawberries at the farmers market and came home to make the cake. There are countless cakes you can use for strawberry shortcake, in our house the following recipe won. It's based on the traditional style with a scone like base (have you ever made fresh scones? nothing like you buy in the store). There is the also popular Scotish version with  a sweet bread, cookie like cake.

1 2/3 cups self-rising flour
scant 1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2- 2/3 cup milk
(dairy substitutions- earth balance, almond milk- work great)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 8 inch cake pan.
Sift flower in a large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until a breadcrumb consistency, about 5 minutes. Add milk a tablespoon at a time, mixing in with hands, until you have a soft, but smooth dough.
Gently press dough evently into pan. Bake 15-20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

4 Tbsp milk
1 lb marscapone cheese
5 Tbsp sugar
1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered

Beat milk and marscapone cheese together, adding 3 Tbsp sugar, until smooth and fluffy. Put strawberries in a separate bowl and pour over remaining sugar. Let rest so juices run from strawberries.

Spread topping on cooled scone base. Pile strawberries on top, pour any juices from bottom of bowl over cake. Enjoy!

*Feel free to use a white frosting for those with dairy allergies

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Farmers Market Goodies

I love the Farmers Market I go to on Sundays. When it started up a few weeks ago after a winter break it was like seeing old friends, with to my pleasant surprise the addition of our Thursday/Sunday Farmers Market meat farmer who we also bought our freezer full of cow and chicken from for the winter.
This week I was on the phone while doing my lap to see what everyone had this week (Tip: always do a lap before starting to make your purchases- it allows to see what everyone has, prices, specials, quality, etc) I was chatting away looking over stalls, knowing my usual spots, but taking it all in when I hear "Kate, over here! Quick! Look what I've got for you!" and see a man in a beige apron dancing and flagging me down from halfway down the aisle. I usually get there right when the whistle blows, but was running 15 minutes late this morning. I told Gabora I had to go and there is Jeff holding up precious fresh chicken! Yay! Fresh chicken! I have paced our family on chicken all winter, we had 10 to get us from November to this day and we had one left, but frozen bird is no comparison to fresh chicken. I knew he had done a slaughter the day before as he had done an educational invite to come see how it was done, but usually, especially this early in the season leave them at the farm store for purchase. I was so excited! Jeff had just made my day and had me breaking my cardinal rule, always do a lap first. I bought two chickens and two cartons of eggs (one being in a carton I had given to him- I always recycle my containers and cartons to the farmers, hate thinking that they have that extra expense on top of everything else). Jeff and I shared our normal Sunday chat and then I moved on.

I waved to my cheese lady (yes she raises the animals herself that produce the milk for the cheeses) determined to finish my lap so I could start really buying and she yells out "Hey Kate, I have mozzarella today!" And I stop my lap and walk over. Talked a bit with her chatting about how I had been using her herbs de Provence goat cheese in asparagus omelets all week. She told me she would have cream cheese next week. I told her awesome! I had been telling Marko (the bread/bagel guy two stalls down) to team up with someone and sell butter and cream cheese. I was really excited. The Sunday Farmers Market is great for produce and meats, but still has some room for improvement on craft/specialty foods.

I continued on my way picking up the first tomatoes of season- yes they were hot box, asparagus, pecans, romaine, onions, strawberries- who the farmer knowing my son and knowing how we had chatted about how he takes a bite of berry then puts it back and made me a pint container of  "bite size" berries and set it aside for when I came by this morning. I love knowing my farmers and love knowing that they are looking out for me and my family.

We did enjoy the fresh chicken, grilled, and a tomato, mozzarella and basil (from the plant my son gave me for mother's day) salad for dinner. All local. All delicious. All provided by farmers who look out for my family.
Mozzarella on the side, due to my kid's dairy allergy