International Correspondence Writing Month

I used to be an avid letter writer in the pre- e-mail days. As I remember it, we had assigned pen pals in other countries during Elementary school. Later, during High School, my friend and I would write back and forth almost every day. We would write stories, and send confetti, and just generally write about the things that were going on in our lives. There were stickers and stamps involved too, and often I wrote with a dip fountain pen, and sealed it with a wax seal (promptly destroyed by the USPS). I had a fantastic collection of stationery, and there was nothing I loved more than finding a letter from my friend in the mail.

Then college happened and I had e-mail! In my dorm room! For free! Life happened. We still wrote, but not as frequently, resorting to e-mails and IMs and so on. After college, letter writing just stopped. I always said to myself “I’m going to start writing letters again”. We get spam in our e-mail, and junk mail and bills in the mail. We tweet, instagram, and post status updates on Facebook, and though all of that is fun, there is a real degree of personalization lost. There is something so exciting about getting a real letter in the mail, don’t you think?

Well! Imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through Instagram earlier this week, and one of the fountain pen people I follow posted a thing about #InCoWriMo, or International Correspondence Writing Month. Now THIS is something I can get behind. The month of February is dedicated to hand-writing a letter to one person a day. I know it seems like a lot, but you know me. Feast or famine.

So here is where you come in, dear reader! If you would like to receive a hand written letter in February, send an e-mail to the2nd35years@gmail.com and include the following information, with InCoWriMo in the subject line:

Your name, your mailing address, and whether or not you like confetti (I haven’t quite decided on this part yet)

Your information will not be used for any purpose other than to send a hand-written letter. If you are interested in responding, all the better!

If you are interested in joining, you can check out the website for more information.

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Baking Chez Moi – Paletes de Dames

Paletes de Dame

Paletes de Dame

I’ve been following Dorie Greenspan for quite some time, and I have to say that I am fully in love with her style of cooking, baking, and living. She’s someone I could see being fast friends with, and I am sure that all of her other devotees are attracted to her for the very same reasons.

Oddly enough I had never picked up one of her cookbooks, though they have long been on my wish list. I’d also (through Dorie’s website) found Tuesdays with Dorie, which is a really neat idea (one recipe, every other week from Baking Chez Moi, and alternating weeks are working through Baking with Julia). Of course, I am really behind the times on TWD, the group having begun their adventures in 2008, with “Baking: From My Home to Yours”. A similar group, French Fridays with Dorie is working through Around My French Table, but they are going to be done within a few months, so no sense in joining that.

So, I grabbed a copy of Baking Chez Moi on eBay, and between the last of my eBay gift card, and accumulated eBay bucks, I only spent $6 on it! Since the book was just released in October, the group has only completed 5 recipes, which is easy to make up at some point.

I started with Paletes de Dame, which was on page 272 of Baking Chez Moi, which was the group’s first project from the book. They are really simple to make, and so delicately delicious. I would be lying if I said I didn’t lick the glaze bowl clean with my finger. I literally couldn’t stop once I started. Shameful.

As you can see I did have some trouble with the glaze being pretty and even. Making these again, rather than dip the cookies into the glaze, I would drizzle the glaze over the exact middle and let it settle. Also, despite using a cookie scooper, the cookies didn’t bake perfectly round, but that is nit-picking. Nevertheless, these things did not stop my cookies from being oh so good. They would be perfectly delightful with afternoon tea, if that is your thing.

Next thing to do is pick up a copy of Baking with Julia, as well as Around My French Table. Since I am so late to the game with those groups, I will just work through them myself, unless there is anyone out there that wants to join me?

Also, it’s easy to join the Tuesdays with Dorie group, if you like — just pick up a copy, and follow the schedule on the blog. The next project is the Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake, which I will tackle next weekend.

Posted in Baking, Baking Chez Moi | Dorie Greenspan, Dessert | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Tripping the Light Fantastic, Or, My love affair with Tiffany & Co.

Such a fun phrase, isn’t it? Such a fun phrase calls for a fun post: window shopping.

My mother has always been one to purchase a piece of jewelry with every important moment or accomplishment in her life. Isn’t that a brilliant idea? I’ve always thought that I would do the same some day. Now that I am upon such a Big Work Accomplishment, I thought we should do a little virtual shopping, since the Big Work Accomplishment hasn’t quite paid off yet. We can cast our gaze on fabulous frippery without fear of leaving smudge marks on the glass cases.

And since I absolutely own being drawn to the most expensive item in whatever place I am, we will go big or go home.

Come dahling, shall we enter?

For a cool $100,000 you, too can own this gorgeous brooch from Tiffany & Co.

For a cool $100,000 you too can own this gorgeous Schlumberger Arrows clip from Tiffany & Co.

No price listed. Move along quickly.

No price listed. Move along quickly. Fish Bracelet from Tiffany & Co.

Absolutely stunning.

Absolutely stunning. Sheaves Necklace from Tiffany & Co. Necklace seems too dainty for this knockout piece.

For real though, this is probably the piece I will buy once the Big Work Accomplishment pays off. Also from Tiffany & Co, it’s a Citrine (my birth stone) with small diamonds on the side:

Citrine RingOr maybe I can offer to plug Tiffany’s on my blog for the next million years in exchange for some jewelry. I wonder how they would feel about that… Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

So, what would your investment piece be? Do you celebrate important moments in your life with a momentous purchase?

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WIP Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Excitingly enough, I have a new start to share today: the beginnings of my Clouds Factory Zodiac SAL! As anticipated, the pattern is an easy change up from Teresa Wentzler’s Tradewinds… With the exception of the border, of course.

The border is stitched in DMC’s rayon/satin floss. As anyone who has used the stuff knows, it’s a bitch to work with. It tangles very quickly. I was planning on replacing it with something else, but the sheen is just irreplaceable. Although my LNS didn’t have the Satin floss, I did replace it with Anchor Marlitt. Thread Heaven helps to minimize the tangling, but doesn’t eliminate it altogether. It’s pretty slow-going between maintaining the tension and fixing tangles. But it is so pretty!

As previously mentioned, I am working on 32-ct Lugana in “Dream” by Sunny Dyes. I thought it would be challenging to work because the sparkles are painted on top, but it really isn’t at all. And the effect his exactly what I had hoped for. I took this picture with my lovely new DSLR and it is a perfect representation of the color.

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Nothing much to say about Trade winds except that I have filled in more of the sails. I think that after I finish this installment of the Zodiac SAL, I will actually pick up Plight of Fancy, put on my big girl underpants, and just move the snaps around. It has been calling my name, so look for some progress on it next week!

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#BreadBakers – Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa)

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In an effort to make good on some of our leftover Holiday Ham (and because this month’s #BreadBakers theme is Rye), I thought this would be a perfect bread for Ham sandwiches. Since this has molasses AND rye AND anise seeds, it’s a very strongly flavored bread. So, I thought dijon, rye bread, ham… you get the idea. Honestly though, it became a little much to eat after a while. (Was it the ham, or the bread… hmmm…)

Being from NYC I am a sucker for Jewish Rye. Of course it would be entirely predictable of me to make Jewish Rye, so I thought that making a Swedish Rye would be a great way to expand my bread baking repertoire. (And isn’t that the point of this anyway?) It was an easy bread to bake, and it yielded 2 loaves. The whole thing was quite picturesque — snow falling, winter break, and Chopin playing on the stereo while I kneaded away. Ahhh…

The recipe is from the Gourmet Magazine cookbook. They have added it to their online arsenal here.

Anyway, I hope you will take a moment to visit each of our lovely #BreadBakers’ posts this month, as they have a number of great things going on with Rye too!

    Tangzhong Rye Bread

    by Stacy at Food Lust People Love

    Sourdough Rye Bread

    by Ansh at Spiceroots

    Potato Onion Rye Meteil

    by Karen at Karen’s Kitchen Stories

    Rye Fennel Crackers

    by Renee at Magnolia Days

    Caraway Rye Crackers with Reuben spread

    by Jenni at Pastry Chef Online

    Artisan Dark Rye Bread

    by Cindy at Cindy’s Recipes and Writing

    Chocolate rye bread

    by Rocio at Kidsandchic

    Pain d’Epice

    by Laura at Baking in Pyjamas

    Danish Rye Bread

    by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm

    Hapanleipä – Finnish Sour Rye Bread

    by Robin at A Shaggy Dough Story

    Banana Rye Muffins

    by Adam at Bakers and Best

    Boston Brown Bread

    by Holly at A Baker’s House

    Rye and Whole Wheat Bread

    by Kelly at Passion Kneaded

    Slow Cooker Boston Brown Bread

    by Mireille at Chef Mireille’s East West Realm

   

So join us! #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers
Posted in #BreadBakers, Baking | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Sous Vide Steak with Red Wine Sauce

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Sunday night was the last recipe that I will do from Chef Steps’ “Cooking Sous Vide: Getting Started” class — Steak with Red Wine Sauce.

We have a lovely butcher here in Cottonwood – Snider Brothers – which is where I purchased my 2″ thick New York Strip Steak. I scaled the recipe down since it is only me and my husband, and we only eat red meat once at week, if that.

The potatoes are my usual pureed potatoes, with chives added in this time (recipe below). My favorite are Yukon Gold, which are just so creamy. Then again, I never met a potato I didn’t like!

Oh. My. Goodness. This steak was just so delicious! And the red wine sauce?!?  And, the thing I love the most about Sous Vide cooking, is that aside from the quick sear before and after, it is largely hands off, which frees me up to do other things, ensuring that the timing is well coordinated.

Anyway, I am going to switch gears in the kitchen for a moment. I got a copy of Ruhlman’s new book “How to Roast” for Christmas (autographed!), so I want to dive into that for a moment. Not that I don’t know how to roast, but I appreciate his technical approaches to cooking, and I always learn so much. Sometimes it is helpful to step back and focus on the “right” way to do things in the kitchen, so that we can master everything else.

Also, I should soon receive a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking Chez Moi”. I got it for $6 after eBay Bucks and the remnants of my eBay gift card. I’m really excited! Stay tuned for those reports.

Pureed Potatoes

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes

2 cups heavy cream

6 tbs butter

salt and pepper to taste

Peel each potato and cut into 12 pieces. Add your potatoes to a pot, and add enough water to cover by an inch. Salt the water well at this point, and you will need very little seasoning later on. Personally, I think that salting the water at this stage makes the salt easier to control than if you salted them after cooking, and the flavor is more innate.

Anyway, bring your water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until fork tender. Once fork tender, drain.

Set a pot with your heavy cream and butter over medium heat, and heat through just until the butter melts. Don’t let it boil or even simmer.

While your cream and butter are heating, pass your potatoes through a food mill (fine or medium plate) or a ricer.

Once your butter has melted, add your cream mixture a half a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated to your desired consistency. I personally prefer my potatoes very creamy, but it your choice how soft you make them.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Posted in Meat, Modernist Cuisine, Sides, Sous Vide | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Equilibrium Brining Follow Up

I know that last week’s I left a few questions about Equilibrium Brining in the parking lot, awaiting a response. Since I received a follow up to my questions, I thought I would share the answers for anyone who cares to know.

My questions were as follows:

1. Normally you put oil in your bag prior to cooking it in the sous vide, so do you sub out your oil for the brine and then cook it in the sous vide?

2. Can you hold your protein in the sous vide long enough to go the length of the brining time?

So I guess I was under the the impression that you would just brine your food at the same time that you sous vide it, which left me seriously confused. While you can’t over cook your meat with the sous vide process, there are recommendations for hold over times that you don’t really want to go beyond, so the idea of brining and sous vide-ing didn’t really jive, since brine time would take it way past the recommended hold-over time in the sous vide.

Anyway, the response indicated that you essentially still brine your item prior to sous vide. You just don’t have to take it out of the brine and put it in a new bag. Here is the direct response:

An equilibrium brine is calculated to basically leave your final product at a desired salinity. With that in mind, you will never be able to over salt your product this way so the brine would essentially be no different than adding a liquid to the bag or oil as you say. It won’t continue to brine as it cooks. Now I wouldn’t do this for long cook times as I tend not to salt products that cook for more than 18H.

So TL;DR, nothing changes other than you not wasting a bag if you are cooking for a shorter period of time.

Pretty neat, huh? His response the second time made a heck of a lot of sense. The lightbulb went on, if you will.

Posted in Brining, Modernist Cuisine, Sous Vide | Tagged , , | 3 Comments