Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blogher Food 14 Miami

All ready to go

This year marks my fourth year attending a food blogging conference. This year I'm going to BlogHer Food 14 in Miami. Sundresses and sandals are packed are ready to go and so am I.
Food conferences are no different than other conferences. There are  panel discussions , excursions and of course there will be food. And the SWAG, oh the swag!
One other reason to go this year is the opportunity to meet some big food bloggers that I follow. I hope that once again I can get up enough nerve and not get tongue tied and have something interesting to say and maybe get my book signed!
Unfortunately I won't have a lot of free time to explore Miami but I hope to find a good cup of authentic Cuban coffee. I may not have a lot of free time but I know I will learn a lot and come back energized.
Bon Voyage and see ya when I get back.

I'm Going to BlogHer Food '14 in Miami!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

National Apple Pie Day

 I did't want today to go by without acknowledging that it is National Apple Pie Day.  And it’s a good thing, with all the apples I had in my fruit drawer that needed attention and soon. Nobody wants to open a drawer in the refrigerator and find the shriveled apple faces or the remains of fruit way past its prime and the juice that is left behind. Ick  
 I decided to make Kelly Senyei's Caramel Apple Hand Pies I saved the recipe some time ago. It just so happened that along with the apples I also I had a block of caramel in the cupboard ready to be used before the heat of the summer got to it (of course cubes of caramel needed to be taste tested during the process. One for the pie and one for me)!  I did not make Kelly's pie dough, I had some in the freezer. It seems like cosmic alignment of baking ingredients.
 It did't take long for the apple pie assembly line to begin. I ended up with more hand pies than we could eat. The hubster trekked to the neighbors pies in hand, no pun intended, to give them away. Now, I suspect that my neighbors are also happy to celebrate Apple Pie day.  If they weren't ready to celebrate before they are now.

Apples and caramel

Let the assembly begin

That's a lot of pies

One o the many trays of pies


These did not make it to the neighbors!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's a Charmed Life

The original bracelet

Gimmicky tourist souvenirs stuffed into suitcases filled to the brim with tee shirts and coffee mugs. I'm guilty of lugging some of that stuff home too. Who doesn’t have  a metal Eiffel Tower on a shelf at home?  I usually bring home a tee shirt, liquor, lot of pictures. If I'm lucky enough to find one, a small silver charm tucked away in a small pouch will find it's way home with me.
When I was a young girl 8 or 10 I don’t really remember exactly, I was given a silver charm bracelet by my Aunt Sara. It had one charm on it already, a disk with a dogwood flower; it’sthe state flower of Georgia.
Soon after, the bracelet filled up with all sorts of wonderful travel souvenirs. My parents brought back a charm from all the cities from their European trip in 1972. A beer stein with a lid that opens, Turkish dancing shoes, and some Greek statues just some of many charms that filled my bracelet. During my dad’s business trips he rarely came back without a charm, Chicago, Texas and many other states.
I continued  that tradition of collecting charms when I lived in Europe.. Three years and many cities later, I now have 4 bracelets of my own plus the two my mother gave me. It's too much jingling to wear a bracelets, so now  I turned them into a necklace that I wear on special occasions when I get it out the box. 
I love that each charm can tell you a story. The wine cup from the Rhine River cruise I took with friends I had just met in Germany. The tri-trip hat I got in Williamsburg on a trip with my family. The Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco or the mountain cable car from Switzerland I got when my best friend came to visit.
Each little charm is part of my past. It really should be called a life story necklace. For me I will always have a charmed life.

The growing collection

It's now become a necklace

Monday, May 5, 2014

They say it's your birthday

The Irish twins celebrating together.
When my brother and I were growing up at times we celebrated our birthdays togther. It was easier for our parents, since we were a year apart. To some we are Irish twins.
In the late sixties we moved into the house where we grew up. I am not sure of the year 1969 or 1970 my parents threw us a joint birthday party. There must have been 20 or so kids running around the house all jacked up on sugar and ice cream. There were kids climbing on the wrought iron work that we had in the house. It was the sixties after all. It scared my mom to death, and I'm sure that if there was any one incident to drive parents to drink this was it. This was the last party my brother and I had together.

The one gift I remember was from my neighbor across the street. I parted with it long ago, but never fear tracked it down through a rare book seller. It was my very first cookbook. The recipes were very simple. In fact the mac & cheese recipe is the one from the blue box. But I remember the oatmeal raisin cookies as the best ever. I made a lot of them, beside Snickerdoodle cookies these were my favorite.

After all these years did my memory fail me? Were these cookies as good as I remember? Yes, to the memory and yes to taste. They were good and chewy. Although they were small in size they were tasty. Maybe to a kid cookies look bigger then they do when you're are all grown up.
 Happy Birthday to my brother!
My very first cookbook

Move in day. That's the famous wrought iron work

All the ingredients ready to go

The mixer hard at work mixing in the oats

One of my favorites growing up.

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies  adapted from the Better Homes and Garden Junior Cookbook for the Hostess & Host of tomorrow. 

1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbs of milk
2 cups of quick cooking rolled oats 
1 egg
1 cup raisins
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1tsp of cinnamon
1/2 cup of shortening*

*I used unsalted butter, I could not bring myself to use the shorting.

1. Set oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cooky (yes, that is how they spelled it in the book) sheets with a little bit of shortening. Or line the cooky sheets with parchment paper. Measure out the flour onto paper. Add the soda, salt, and cinnamon and sift ingredients together.
2. Add shortening or butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and milk: mix well.  Beat mixture by hand: 100 times. Ok, I admit I used the mixer for this part. So soften the butter and sugars for about three minutes on a low speed.
3. Add raisins and oats. Drop the teaspoons of cooky mixture 2 inches apart on to the lined cooky sheets and bake.
4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove cookies from the sheets with a turner Place them on a rack to cool. Store in jar.
Yup that's it but there is one thing missing. What about the dry ingredients when do you add those. Well, it turns out that step is missing so I added it after step 2 and before step 3.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

This cake is good enough for Valhalla

Suspect alliances, treachery, epic battles, and shield maidens, the newest plot of a spy novel? No, and if  you follow the History Channel's Vikings you know what I mean. Well there's only one episode left to see Ragnar and rest of his raiding Vikings. Who will survive the epic season finale?  After the show sucked me in I was soooooo  relived that there will be at least another season to follow Ragnar.
Since I am half Swedish on my father's side with 3 out 4 of my great-grandparents immigrating from Sweden, leaving their battle axes at home. So, if you dream your ancestors were royalty, good luck with that,  I'm glad mine were seafaring  explorers (that sounds so much better than pillagers) and what ever history writes about the Vikings. Maybe that's why I like show so much.
I wanted to send  the Vikings off in style. No, there's no funeral pyre (couldn't get a permit) but there is cake!  I hope Odin and the rest of the Gods are pleased. The hubster and my neighbors were.

Swedish almond cake (Toscatårta)
adapted from  Rachel Allen Cake

3 large eggs
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 (50g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100g) flaked almonds
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 23cm (9in) springform or loose-bottomed cake pan* - if you’re using a spring-form pan, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and the sugar for 5-7 minutes, or until thick and mousse-like. Beat in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and pour in the milk and melted butter, then gently fold everything in until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist but not totally clean, as the mixture will still need another 10 minutes of cooking. Increase the heat to 200°C/400°F.
Topping: Just before the 30-35 minutes are up, make the topping. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it has melted, add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, allowing the mixture to bubble away for 1 minute.
After the cake has been cooking for the first 30-35 minutes, remove it from the oven and spoon the almond mixture evenly over the top. Place it back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden.
Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen around the edges and carefully remove the sides of the pan before placing the cake (still on the base of the pan) on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serves 8-10 or two very hungry Vikings.