Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ariadne, Arthur, & Mal

Just one and a half hours ago, I picked up three little kittens and brought them to their new (temporary) home.  On their official documents, they are called Alex, Anastasia, and Alicia.  I'm not a big fan of those names, so my sisters and I have been bouncing some names back and forth.  Brad, Chantal, Emily (but that one was a joke); Simba, Nala, Kiara; Mickey, Minnie, Daisy; Juno, Leah, Bleeker; Peter, Wendy, Tink.

But I think we've settled on one Rachel suggested: Ariadne, Arthur, and Mal.  Named after the characters in Inception.  (Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard, respectively.)  It's definitely unique and we're in love with the name Ariadne in this household.  So let's meet our latest trio.

Meet Arthur
Male, domestic short hair, grey and white, 2 1/2 months old
Name for Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Inception character as the point man


Meet Ariadne
Female, domestic short hair, black, 2 1/2 months
Named for Ellen Page's character as the architect


Meet Mal
Female, domestic medium hair, black, 2 1/2 months
Named for Marion Cotillard's character as Dom Cobb's projection of his wife


They're the oldest kittens we've brought home and now our fifth litter.  (Remember Charlie, Dexter, and Little Bear; Banjo, Mandy, and Ukie; Gena, Garrett, George, and Galena; and Holly and Polly?)

Their surgery is schedule for the 5th of April, so it looks like they'll probably only be here a couple of weeks.  If everything goes according to schedule, they'll be gone by the second week in April, but hopefully the humane society will be overflowing with kittens by then and we'll get some more right away!




Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Ultimate Ginger Cookie

This last weekend, Cady and I decided to tackle Melissa's recipe for The Ultimate Ginger Cookie.  One of my goals for this year is to try two new recipes a month, so this would be number two ever since our Sour Cherry Pie last week.

The Ultimate Ginger Cookie:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
  • Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Then, stir it together.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 2 minutes.

With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Slowly add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined. If you aren't using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, you want to switch it for this part because the dough gets pretty dense and it might bend your mixer.

Scoop the dough with a cookie scoop (or a spoon).  With your hands, roll each cookie into a ball & then roll in granulated sugar.  Place them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside.  Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

(Copy and pasted from Melissa's recipe post.)

I accidentally put the eggs in before I was supposed to, but it turned out okay.  And we powdered our own spices from cinnamon sticks and actual nutmeg, etc.

In the end, the cookies needed about 13 minutes in the oven and they turned out a little darker brown on the bottom, hard on the outside and ooey, gooey, and chewy on the inside.  Yum!  It made 40 cookies, but I ate about 4 cookies worth of dough before.

Of course, like when I made the cherry pie, I forgot my camera again while we were baking.  But Melissa has some great pictures.  I took a bag of cookies home for my house, but the pictures I got weren't in good lighting.  Definitely refer to Melissa's blog for pictures.

They taste like they would be great Christmas cookies, so maybe save these babies for a holiday treat.  But they're almost as good in the spring!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sour Cherry Pie

On Wednesday, I helped my older sister Cady with family dinner.  First I went over to her house in the afternoon to help her with a cherry pie.  I was over there for dinner the night before (cheeseburgers, fries, Brussels sprouts) and noticed a big bowl of cherries.  Cady said she was making cherry pie for dessert the next night when my other older sister Rachel and our mom would be joining us.

Pie Crust:

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut up
  • 2/3 cup ice cold water
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut in butter leaving pea sized chunks.  In a 2 cup glass measure whisk water, sour cream, and vinegar; pour, all at once into flour mixture, and quickly distribute. Stop!

Make sure dough is slightly crumbly. Divide dough mixture into 3 equal portions (about 12 to 13 ounces each) Refrigerate for 2 hours and best overnight (finish by hand). DO NOT OVERMIX- the finished dough should break, not stretch.  Gently knead in bag to bring dough together. Form into discs.

Use at once or wrap and store in refrigerator for several days or in freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator if frozen.

Cady wrapped it up in plastic wrap and let it chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes, before rolling into a crust.  Although it makes three, we only made two crusts.  The first was for the bottom of course.  The second, she rolled into a longer piece and cut into strips, the width of a ruler--about one inch.  Each strip was ten inches.

I did the lattice.  First, I placed four strips parallel to each other, evenly spaced.  I folded back strips one and three then, perpendicular to the first four strips, I placed one strip in the middle and put strips one and three back in their original spot.  Next, I folded back strips two and four and placed another strip perpendicular to that strip, halfway between the middle and the side of the pie dish.  I replaced strips two and four on that side and then folded back the same two strips on the other side, placing another strip on that side, evenly spaced.

I wish I had some pictures of the process, but I hope I explained it clearly.  After each strip was in the right place, I trimmed with a knife and then brushed the top with egg yolk.

Now, here's where I have a confession: I've never eaten cherry pie before, at least that I can remember, so I was really more into the appearance than the taste.  Cady made the filling with two types of cherries, but she kind of just made it up.  If you ladies would like, I can get her recipe from her for that too.

Soft Shell Tacos:

  • Small tortillas
  • Beef or chicken
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Purple cabbage
  • Greek yogurt

Use beef or chicken left over from a previous meal.  Heat the tortillas directly on a gas-burning stove top, stacking two on top of the flame and flipping periodically.  Make guacamole by mixing mashed avocados with fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, salt, cilantro, and chopped jalapeno peppers.

Tomato & Pepper Salad:

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced peppers (orange, yellow, or green)
  • Cilantro
  • Chopped jalapeno
  • Salt

Toss together ingredients in medium sized bowl.

Oh my gosh, they were delicious!  I have to start eating at Cady's more often.  And after dinner, when we dished up the pie, I had a half of a slice and it was great too!  I guess I've just never been much of a pie person except for banana cream pie and chicken pot pie.

It was a hit!  That's the damage of just six people--three of whom had half a slice!  (Cady says fruit pies should sit for at least two hours at room temperature before serving.  Notice how none of the filling is oozing out onto the dish; it has settled.)

They had this wine and a bottle of Abby Road, both red.
One started half full and one ended half full, don't worry.

This weekend Cady and I are going to try our hand at The Ultimate Ginger Cookie from The Larson Lingo.  And next week for St. Patrick's Day we're going to attempt Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes from Bringing Up the Burns.  So more baking extravaganzas to come.

For one more shout out...Check out this new blog I discovered via The Seattle Smiths.  It's called New Adventures and it's about Amanda and Aaron starting their life as newlyweds in Boise.  Love it!  I've already added it to "My Must-Reads" because I read every post this morning!  (Although she's new to blogging so there are only 48.)

And don't forget to check out yesterday's Ten on Ten, silver edition.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ten on Ten :: March 2011

This month I did something a little unorthodox.  I couldn't really do ten pictures for ten hours, so instead I took ten pictures of things that I encountered during my day.  Turns out they're all silver!  Check it out...

It's not as good as last month, but I'm hoping to top it next month!