Sunday, August 29, 2010

DC "State" fair

The DC "State" Fair
Judging the cupcakes
The start of the S'more cupcakes

Lemon bar cupcakes
Marshmallow frosting
On August 28th DC will have the 1st ever "state" fair. I have entered cupcakes. Lemon bar cupcakes and S'more cupcakes. The plethora of cupcakes filled the kitchen. I wanted to find out the best way to present the S'more cupcakes. Should the gram cracker go on the bottom or in the middle? Next, should the topping consist of homemade marshmallow or a single marshmallow? So, I will make them several ways and let my family and friends decide. I decided on homemade marshmallow. It burned nicely with my kitchen torch and looked the best. Judging begins at 12:30 and the cupcakes must be there between 11-12. I don't think that I will sleep tonight. Saturday was the big day 44 entries in the cupcake contest. Unfortunately I did not make the final cut for the ribbons. I am all ready planning next year entries.
Finished S'more cupcakes

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New work space

New work stations

My kitchen is a very awkward workspace , the appliances in one room and my prep area is another room. The house was built in 1926 so the rooms are small. The kitchen is no exception. The house was listed with an eat in kitchen when we first looked at the property. Since I love to cook and bake I decided to use the "eat in" space as a work space.  Over the years that work space became crowded and I was looking to change it up a bit. One trip to Ikea and a "few" cartons later the work space changed and it seems that now everything has a place and everything is in its place. I did have to weed through some cookbooks and give some up but it is worth it to have some room to really work and bake.   Or get new things for the kitchen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Traditions on a Sunday Morning

Our breakfast spot
Sunday morning breakfast

Sunday mornings are for leisurely reading the paper and drinking coffee. At least this is what my husband and I have been doing for the last 5 years. This doesn't happen in our home but at our neighborhood coffee shop, Cafe Sureia.
This local coffee shop has been open for as longs as we have been going. So, it has become our traditional Sunday morning routine. We love our neighborhood and were very happy that a local coffee shop opened in the Brookland neighborhood of the District. We have gotten to know the owners very well. In fact, for about the first year after we started going, our orders were always wrong. Our coffee was always the last to arrive and our breakfast order was mixed up. It became a comedy of errors to us. Then one morning Sureia herself came and sat down on the sofa to introduce herself and to apologize. We were know as the "couple whose order is always wrong". So, we introduced ourselves to Sureia and told her we did not mind waiting for our food but the coffee was the important thing and we wanted it right away. Ever since that day we have not had to order our food or coffee. They know us so well now that they hold the everything bagel just for us. Our food comes right away and  order is never wrong. And the coffee is good, strong and quick.
Cafe Sureia on 12th street in Brookland
We have come to know many of the other folks in the neighborhood and have a real sense of community. And that is what we were searching for when we moved here from Northern Virginia. As long as Suria's is open we will continue with our Sunday morning tradition.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cookbooks galore

I have been working on purging my kitchen of unused stuff and cookbooks. My love of books carries over into to the kitchen. The collection of books was taking over my workspace.  This collection has my favorite TV chefs' books, some signed. I have so many Martha books they take up several shelves. Julia Child is also prevalent. I was able to collect a 1st edition of Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Lots of french  cookbooks, books on Greece, and Italian cooking.  Books on chocolate and then there is my latest obsession- cupcakes. And so many more. I love a book with good pictures.

As I have been going through my books my memories turn to the first cookbook ever I received. It was at my 8th or 10th birthday party and it was from my neighbor. The Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Garden. I made a lot of the oatmeal raisin cookies. I remember them as the best. I had, unfortunatly, gotten rid of this book long ago. While working on a wonderful collection of cookbooks at work a few years ago I was able track it down from a book seller in Virginia. And once again it is in my collection.
As a lover of books getting rid of cookbooks has been hard but as I make room for a more organized and spacious work space it has been worth it. There may even room for new books, maybe?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When life gives you lemons make lemon bars.

When life gives you lemons make lemon curd and as much as I love lemonade, I love lemon curd so much more. You can do a lot of things with lemon curd, bedsides eating it straight from the bowl. You can spread it between crepes, between layers of cake, make tarts, spread it on scones, and this list goes on and on.
I find making lemon curd is easy. Cook fresh lemon juice, sugar, and eggs yokes. When it becomes thick stir in some butter and at the end and you have lemon curd.
Lemon bars
Lemon bars with meringue
Today I made lemon bars with a meringue topping. This recipe once again comes from Ad Hoc at home, by Thomas Keller.
The fun part is the meringue. Playing with a blow torch can but fun. ( Be careful not to set your house on fire, children get parental supervision).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's National Watermelon Day

So, cool off from the dog days of August with some cool Watermelon. Moon and Stars is making a comeback as a wonderful, somewhat seedless heirloom variety. You should be able to find Sugar Baby  available at your farmer's markets.     

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Market baskets

I had the privilege to live in Germany for three years while my husband was stationed in the Army. We lived in a very small town in southwest Germany call Baumholder. For me it was adventure, in the Army it was referred to the armpit of Germany.  I had never been overseas let a lone live among Germans for three years. There was no adjusting to a different way of life I jumped right in. "Our" town had a market on Saturday mornings where you could pick out and buy your rotisserie chicken from the chicken man, the fishmonger was there and of course the bakery. I was very fluent in asking for chocolate cake.
Most of the vendors spoke better broken English than I spoke German. I was able after 3 years to ask for a beer, chocolate cake and where is the bathroom.
Baumholder had a wonderful German supermarket, small compared to anything in the states. Of course we shopped in the commissary for most things but I loved going the German store for all different products you could not find back home. Ketchup in a tube, baking powder in packets instead of a can. There were wonderful  breads, cheeses, jams, mustard and of course chocolates. As we would wonder down to the market I noticed that the locals did not buy a lot of groceries at one time and their carts were smaller. Also they did not use plastic bags as much as we did back home. These women would have these big wicker baskets or bag the was made of  netting.
So of course wanting to look like I local and fit in,  I bought a market basket. To this day, I still use it when I shop at the farmer's  markets.
I have reverted back to my old ways of shopping for the week. But every time I use my basket I am reminded of those days buying my produce in the market on Saturdays.