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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Happy Halloween!

pumpkin cake pop

No, I’m not giving away cake pops at my door, they went to friends and family’s coworkers.  Costumed kiddos get our typical Starburst and Skittles.  Note: They come in a giant bag with Snickers and M&M’s, but somehow, those don’t quite make it to the trick-or-treaters!

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2009 in Julie

 

Building Update, Oct. 26 (Moving Forward)

Quite a bit of our time this past week has been spent at the building, continuing to hang drywall. Justin also bought a special soundproofing material, called Green Glue, that we spread between drywall layers in our bedroom.  We aren’t too worried about the noise from Main Street and The Square, but we figured that this certainly wouldn’t hurt.

justin measuring

This afternoon we spent some time cleaning the upstairs a bit, clearing out unneeded tools, extra pieces of drywall and wood, and generally getting the space ready to become even dustier after mudding and sanding.  Justin started filling in some of the larger gaps with quick-set mud, so that it will all come out even when finished.  Hanging the drywall turned out to be a much longer and more involved process than we anticipated, so it is nice to be moving forward to the next step!

justin mudding

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2009 in Building, Julie

 

Another Happy Food Memory

is there a better site than melty, glistening chocolate?

is there a better site than melty, glistening chocolate?

Another not-uncommon chocolate fix triggered yet another little wave of nostalgia, and this quick, simple, tastier-than-tasty treat was brought to mind.  I can remember the first time I had this “faux toffee,” or “graham cracker toffee,” or whatever it might be called in your family.

faux toffee = happy tummy

faux toffee = happy tummy

The edges of the details are a little blurred, like who all was there or what year it was exactly, but the important facts are crystal clear.  First, we were in Illinois visiting and laughing with family, Second, my Aunt Ruth made this toffee for everyone, and Third, I wished I could have more.  These easy, sweet, chocolate-y treats are forever intertwined in my memory with feeling happy and my Aunt Ruth.

my mom (and us) laughing as Ruth eass adventurously

my mom (and us) laughing as Ruth eats adventurously

And really, being around my Aunt Ruth and feeling happy are always intertwined.  Ruth has a pretty kickin’ way about her that makes me feel confident and loved, and want to laugh til my sides hurt.  Justin and I always look forward to spending time with Ruth, Greg, and their now-adult kids, Allison, Laura, and Thomas, because we know, whether it is a big holiday or a common meal, we will have Big Fun.  This faux toffee may not have quite the same power, but it still makes me smile.

my favorite Seuberts: Laura, Thomas, Ruth, Greg, Allison

my favorite Seuberts: Laura, Thomas, Ruth, Greg, Allison

And I bet I made Ruth cry.  Love you, dear friend and aunt, see you on Tuesday!

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2009 in Family, Food, Julie

 

Yo! Fall Simplicity

doogieI’ve been somehow sucked into a vortex that has taken me back to 1989.  This probably has a lot to do with me stumbling onto old Doogie Howser,  MD episodes on Hulu.  But these caramel apples I made last night have triggered childhood memories as well.  One of my favorite treats during the Art in the Park festivities downtown was to enjoy fresh, crisp apples chopped up with warm caramel drizzled over the top.  So easy.  So simple.  So delicious.  Especially when wearing a neon pink and yellow shirt, paired with purple leggings.

cut apples

It is a near perfect treat (considering it doesn’t have any chocolate or peanut butter in it)!   Back to present day, the honeycrisp apples are being harvested by the bushel barrels, which makes them easy to find and ridiculously cheap this time of year.  I love that these are grown just a few miles from our home!  These are among my favorite apples, a lightly sweet flavor with a great crunch.  I went the easy route with the caramel, opening a bag and unwrapping a bunch of the fool-proof cubes.  I added a couple tablespoons of heavy cream, and slowly heated them until stirred smooth.   Then (generously) ladled it over the chopped apples.  I like chopping the apples, rather than dipping them whole, because the caramel-to-apple ratio is so much higher!

caramel apples

I’m off to see which patient Doogie saves, and what positive moral message he learns, in the next episode!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2009 in Food, Julie

 

Gingerbread Cupcakes

gingerbread cupcake

Ginger Chewies have now been coming out of my oven on a pretty regular basis around here.   Besides being a favorite, the cooler weather seems to increase our demand of cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  Along those same lines, when I cracked open my copy of Martha Stewart Cupcakes yesterday, and it fell open to “Gingerbread Cupcakes,” I didn’t feel the need to delve any further.  I had all of the ingredients on hand and felt it was quite necessary to make the house smell of spicy happiness.

split gingerbread cupcake

The batter came together easily and quickly, but I was surprised that no baking powder or baking soda is listed among the ingredients.  The result is a rather dense cake, much more muffin-like than cake-like.  The flavor is definitely that of gingerbread, and the vanilla buttercream frosting paired nicely with it.  But I’m not sure I would make them again.  I think that I will try this recipe, which is really quite different, considering it comes from the same person!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2009 in Baking, Julie

 

Building Update, Oct. 18

Yesterday we started hanging drywall.  Some family came down from Wausau to help with the grunt work of lifting and holding, and our friend Jim helped direct us where to lift and hold specifically.

ken and greg

Ken, Greg, Ruth and Jim all helped make this day a lot more fun than lugging hundred pound sheets of drywall up a flight of stairs should be.  There were plenty of laughs, an abundance of “that’s what she said” jokes, and musings on the need to insulate bathroom walls.  Plus we were able to get both of the ceilings in the bedrooms and walls in the kitchen and office area done.  We were all tired by the end of the day, and we still have more to do, but it was a great day with some of our favorite people, and that makes some sore muscles worthwhile.

working on ceiling

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2009 in Building, Julie

 

Cinnamon Chip Cream Scones

Scones are something I always seem to forget about.  Except that I love ’em.  I love ’em plain… or with butter… or with cream… or jam.  I’m not sure why I forget about them.  They’re really pretty easy to throw together, and it only gets a couple of bowls dirty.  And the recipe is so easy to adapt to what you have on hand.  Some dried cranberries and orange zest – lovely!  A handful of cinnamon chips – delicious!  Heck, I didn’t even have enough cream when I made them today, and the recipe still came out heavenly having substituted some skim milk and a little bit of extra butter.  Scones are best served the day they are made, though you could easily freeze some of the wedges before they are baked, and just pull them out to bake as you like!

cinnamon chip scones

Cinnamon Chip Cream Scones
from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

10 ounces (about 2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in cinnamon chips. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Transfer dough to large bowl. Add cinnamon chips.

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to counter top and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by pressing the dough into a floured 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper.

6. Place wedges on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2009 in Baking, Julie