Monthly Archives: December 2009

happy birthday to you, bloggy mcblogsalot.

ok, so one year ago today i said to myself “hey, i love food blogs, i love to cook, i love pictures of food”. so i decided to start a food blog. then my friend frank said in response, “so, do you have anything to say?”. of course i immediately said “well, of course i do, don’t be ridiculous”, then i went and cried myself to sleep because i was dumb enough to think that  starting a blog was a good idea. then i woke up and started my blog.

and that is how it all started. ever since then, my husband can’t eat until all the pictures are taken, i cook and take pictures during most of my time off, and i take pictures in my jammies when it’s 30 degrees outside because the light is ‘perfect’.

but, i have also given myself the luxury of cooking something as many times as it takes until it is perfect (to me, anyway).

i have reawakened a love for photography not felt since my early twenties (helped immensely by the canon given to me by husband-yes, he’s an enabler).

and i have met and befriended a community of food bloggers and writers in my hometown that mean the world to me.

there are countless people to thank for even a small endeavor such as a food blog. but mostly i need to thank my friends and family for their willingness to taste anything and everything, and my dear friend and photographer extraordinaire, casey, who has helped me grow leaps and bounds over the past year.

rocket and mazzie, my accidental food tasters and floor lickers (i mean floor cleaners).

and this beautiful man, who married me without knowing what was to come, what was to be had for dinner, and when i would allow him to start eating.

**incidentally, and unrelated to this whole first birthday celebration, i found out today that i have been named in the austin chronicle’s top 10 food blogs. happy birthday, little bloggy:  http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A933445**

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Filed under cake, desserts

sparkling cranberries

i just love the holiday season. i know, i know, i am a freak of nature according to many, but i just can’t help it. i love the food, the lights, the specialness of it all. as christmas approaches, i start to get a little freaked out that the holidays are winding down. honestly, i have to talk myself down off the ledge, take a deep breath, and enjoy all that is around me.

cranberries are a special holiday treat, mostly because of their seemingly short life-span (in terms of acceptability in using them after christmas anyway). and these cranberries are special. you can serve them as part of a cheese course, on top of a holiday dessert, or just pop ’em in your mouth. we tossed them in our glasses of bubbly, too! they take a little getting used to because they are essential raw and very tart but the sugar seems to tame this somewhat. they are at first sweet, then with a burst of tartness, then sweet again. live a little…try ’em out!

well, i am off to the in-laws for several days to enjoy family and friends for the holiday. i hope you enjoy yours!

sparkling cranberries (makes 2 cups)

adapted from 101 cookbooks

2 cups fresh cranberries

2 cups water

2 cups granulated sugar

plus additional granulated sugar and medium coarse grain sugar for coating

make a simple syrup by heating water and 2 cups sugar in a medium saucepan. bring to a simmer, until sugar is dissolved, then set aside to cool for a bit. pick over cranberries, discard any shriveled or soft berries, rinse in a colander and set aside in a glass bowl. when syrup is still warm, but no longer hot, add to berries. place a small plate on top of berries to be sure they are all submerged. cover with plastic wrap and chill 8 hours or overnight.

drain, reserving syrup for another use, if desired. roll berries a few tablespoons at a time in medium grain sugar. (i used an unbleached medium grain organic sugar sold at costco for this step). dry for a few hours on a cookie sheet. then roll them in the regular granulated sugar for a final dusting. allow to dry for an additional hour or so before handling. the combination of sugars does seem to do a fine job of coating them completely.

these keep chilled for up to a week.

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Filed under appetizer, condiment, desserts

cranberry buttermilk cake!

i just knew when i eyed this recipe for buttermilk cake in gourmet magazine (sniff!) this past summer that i would want to make it all year long with every available seasonal berry or fruit. first i made it with fresh, local blackberries, then with blueberries. i even tossed some diced, overripe pears in for another take on it. all were fantastic. it’s best with fruit that exudes some juice (or with aforementioned overripe fruit, chopped and mixed with a little sugar) while cooking. this is a great choice for a brunch or just a light, everyday dessert.

i had a few cups of leftover cranberry-clementine sauce that i had made from fresh fruit for thanksgiving, so i thought i’d give it a whirl in this cake for our monthly ‘let’s lunch’ group. the theme was thanksgiving leftover use. i was going to post about this fabulous turkey curry that the minimalist published just days before thanksgiving, but this cake turned out so remarkably good that i couldn’t resist. although i am a little, ahem, way late for lunch this time around, i did bring dessert, so i hope i’m excused.

cranberry buttermilk cake (serves 6-8)

adapted from gourmet

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 tsp freshly grated clementine or orange zest

1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk*

1 cup fresh cranberry sauce, strained (or fresh cranberries or other desired fruit)

preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in middle of oven. butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. cut parchment paper to size of pan, butter and flour the paper as well.

wisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar on medium speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. add egg and beat until well-combined. add vanilla and clementine zest, mix until combined.

at low-speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  mix until just combined, do not over mix.

spoon into prepared pan, smoothing top. scatter fruit on top of batter. sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar on top. bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. the time varies depending on type of fruit used, but plan on about 25-35 minutes. if top becomes browned, you may cover with foil until center is set. allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on rack. or serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*if you are like me and you don’t have buttermilk just hanging around in your refrigerator, don’t go out and buy it–you can make it at home! just add 1/2 tablespoon plain white vinegar (not flavored) or lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk and let sit until it clabbers-about 10 minutes. i usually make this in a container with a lid so i can easily shake it up before adding to batter!

see other let’s lunch folks take on turkey day leftovers here:

cowgirl chef

show food chef

a tiger in the kitchen

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