baking week & gift guides

Hope your holiday preparations are bringing you some festive fun! The last week before Christmas completely snuck up on me this year – so at the moment I am descending into flour-in-hair batter everywhere mode. It’s baking time in our itty bitty cozy kitchen.

So instead of posting photos of the disaster zone where the cookies & biscuits & jams & breads will magically appear from, here are some last-minute gift ideas:

Yes, I’m a fanatic. But really – The Art of Simple Food is a wonderful cookbook filled with basic tried-and-true recipes and makes a lovely gift.

I don’t know what the local spot is for you, but around here there’s nothing better than Scratch by Willard Beach. Use some sneaky detective skills to discover where your lucky loved one likes to grab their coffee/baked goods and pick up a gift card.

If you have a little DIY energy left in you, a photo craft is always appreciated. You can find this and other handmade ideas “for him” here. Thanks, Martha.

Love the screen printed glassware from Vital, a Colorado-based Etsy shop. You can discover more sweet Etsy finds through their gift guides.

Found these cozy mittens (always a nice warm standby) through Cup of Jo and her gift guide archives, thanks Joanna!

As my grandmother says, “You can never have too many books.” This one is from Barefoot Books, a publishing company I absolutely adore.

A non-material gift is always a fun way to go, lots of ideas (like a yoga class) can be found here. Thanks Em and Huffington Post.

If you like to give handmade presents but can’t craft for another second, Martha has plenty of edible gift ideas here. Buuuuut if you’re running low on holiday energy, I highly recommend finding a local baking company or store to support – your friends & family will be happier with your well-rested good company than with a frazzled red-eyed version of yourself surrounded by a mess of handmade holiday-ness.

(Can you tell who’s scaling down on handmade gifts this year? No more knitting through till 7am on Christmas for this girl)

Happy Holidays!

green eggs & ham

The other night I made fried rice for dinner and the purple cabbage dyed the eggs a scary green color. Luckily Graham is brave and ate it anyway – no harm done to the taste.

This is a painting class at Willard Beach that we stumbled upon during the week – we also strolled down to the beach earlier today with our house-guests for the weekend, it’s getting chilly here! And I’ll leave you with the youtube video this scene prompted us to find: Bob Ross’ inspiration…

cooking gluten free

image from here

Next week a friend & I are going to tackle her newly-discovered challenge of feeding her healthy carb-loving self some homemade gluten-free cooking. We’re diving into an epic kitchen adventure and I’m hoping to gather some recipes and tips beforehand. I’ve never even so much as looked into gluten-free food so it’s all new to me. Please toss any helpful hints or recipes this way! Thank you thank you.

back from nyc

photo from here, thanks Aubrey.

We lounged, chatted, laughed, and walked all over. We caught some park art & music, took a train to the beach, and caught up on some long-overdue girl time. I had such a lovely time with my old college friends in the city – and I wanted to share one gem of a place that we went to: Il Bambino.

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We had white wine, one of their cheese platters with the perfect fig spread, and these four crostini:

mozzarella, basil pesto, and chili oil

goat cheese, honey, and rosemary oil

goat cheese, chorizo, and avocado oil

prosciutto, basil pesto and parmesan

It was incredible and I would venture to guess that everything offered at this place tastes phenomenal. Now I’m going to attempt to recreate the crostini in my kitchen…

plotting to cook

The summer has been flying by and I’m beginning to realize that I’ll have to get back in the habit of cooking for myself soon – something I’m excited about and newly inspired to do after enjoying my mom’s food for the past few months. Above is my “recipe station” that I’ve set up on the front porch where I’ve been copying my mom’s, grandma’s, friend’s, and other people’s (Deborah Madison, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman) recipes onto index cards for my collection. I thought I’d share a few of my online sources for culinary inspiration as well:

Sprouted Kitchen

Whole Foods

All Recipes

Smitten Kitchen

Food Network

When Graham and I lived in San Francisco we received our produce through the CSA program at Two Small Farms. These wonderful farms would post a list of the contents of each week’s CSA box with a link on each item to corresponding recipes. (Super helpful when you have no idea what the mystery veggie you just received is, let alone how to eat it) I still check out their site from time to time, you can find their recipes here.

Pun Pun: In the kitchen

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The first time I had papaya salad I thought it was noodles… a shocking taste when you’re not expecting it! So good. A surprising food discovery – I never got sick of rice. Love rice.

A fellow intern, Jake, took this photo and I love it. It’s of Wok and Sung bringing harvested Roselle to the kitchen to make into incredible jam.

Lesson: Tamarind and Roselle Jam

Coconut Milk & Dried Tamarind on Heat

When it bubbles, add brown sugar and a little palm sugar

Add a big pinch of salt

A little water and sugar and roselle (Natural Pectin)

Tix and Jia-Ling stirring the jam.

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Making shampoo on the left and soy milk and tofu on the right.

Lesson: Soy Milk and Tofu

Can use blender or mill

1 part soy beans 2 parts water

soak beans overnight, keep rinsing and draining beans till water runs clear

blend or mill, catching contents in cheese cloth

squeeze out milk then boil (add vanilla, honey, etc- adding vanilla can take bean taste away if boiling doesn’t)

Use extra material to make snacks, tofu burgers, compost…

For tofu:

Bring pot to boil, turn off heat, stir in vinegar until it curdles

Put back in cheesecloth, tie up

Place in pot or mold with weight on top for at least 1/2 an hour

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Justin demonstrating his bread kneading techniques on the left and our use of the lessons on the right: pizza nights! We made pizza dough and tomato sauce and harvested basil, eggplant, and other fun veggies for toppings. We also ordered milk from the local dairy and made ricotta cheese. Later we learned how to make a mud brick oven like the one we were using: