Happy Monday! And to my East coast friends who are about to ride out the Frankenstorm, please be careful. (And remember to stock up on the essentials...batteries, blankets, pet supplies, cookies, brownies, and rum!)
Can you believe that Halloween is this Wednesday already?! I love Halloween. I just wish that we could relish the autumn season a little bit longer instead of having to run face-first into a barrage of holiday paraphernalia. As soon as Halloween is over it's a crazy-mad race until the end of December.
I still want to be enveloped by shades of orange, and russet, and earthy browns. And I want to inhale the smoky scent of burning leaves, spiced apple cider, and warm cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. My finger-less Oliver Twist gloves are not ready for retirement. Nor is my desire to bake with pumpkin, and butterscotch, and caramel.
Yes, caramel is an ingredient for all seasons. But it's sultry-burnt flavour will always procure swirling images of falling leaves and cadet blue skies tinged with a smoldering, hazy sun.
Peanut Butter & Jam Bars
A few weeks or months ago (time feels so surreal this year) Kristy, of The Wicked Noodle, introduced me to Shop Sweet Lulu. With eyes as wide as saucers and with legs curled up on the chair (my "nesting" pose), I made my way through every square inch and pixel of Lulu's sweet shop.
Straws, cupcake wrappers, cupcake toppers, milk bottles, tableware...they have everything a baker-blogger could ask for, including twine!
I'm not sure what it is about twine, but I love tying it around Everything lately. I didn't realize the intensity of that love until I edited the photos for these PB & J bars, and last Saturday's cookies. Somehow twine made it's way into just about every picture.
I even tied a long piece of twine around the tail of a toy mouse and pulled it from room to room. Of course my cats remained blasé during my run around the house, which only made me start giggling, which led to more deadpan stares from the cats, which eventually brought me to a state of rolling around on my back in a fit of laughter.
Twine. Who knew it could be so amusing?
Lemon & Thyme, Olive Oil Cookies
Last summer's sultry, tropical heat unearthed a lost respect for the lazy ease of flip-flops, as well as a Pandora's box of otherworldly insects. I think it was either July or early August that I had an uninvited, eight-legged visitor in my late night shower. Even though I have an intense fear of them, I try to respect spiders. But the creature clinging to my shower curtain (the very curtain I'd just drawn back with my hand!), was no ordinary spider. It was the colour of creamy coffee and instead of having nice, evenly-spaced legs, the four front legs were spread above it's head, whilst the back legs stretched out below it's torso, leaving a creepy space in the center. Plus it was the size of a small gerbil (maybe). In a moment of sheer panic, I washed it down the thankfully-wide drain and proceeded to take the fastest shower in the history of showers (because I think we've all seen Arachnophobia!).
Apparently the incident left a mental scar because I recently had a nightmare about a pulsating nest growing in the cellar. And just like real life, Niles, my 20lb cat, was completely useless when it came to catching anything. After one of the dream spiders ran across his tail, all he did was clean one of his front paws, yawn, stretch, and then go back to sleep.
After the leggy nightmare, I needed something to calm down. And nothing calms me down quite like baking and cookie eating. Especially when my beloved lemons are involved.
Caramel-Chocolate Apple Tart
Smitten taste buds are intoxicating.
I can't dig deep enough into my eclectic bag of vocabulary to find the words that will properly convey the jaw-dropping elation that your taste buds will encounter upon biting into this tart.
If you're familiar with the delirious, beautiful anxiety that's felt just before seeing someone you're madly in love with, it's kind of like that...only the epic story is unfolding inside your mouth.
And before you know it, the excitement, that giddy feeling of walking on clouds, has spread to your stomach and your hands and finally your toes. Chairs are no longer chairs, but dance partners. Dance partners who won't mind that you're waltzing around with a forkfull of sticky caramel tart. And you won't mind the sticky caramel that's falling on the newly-washed floor, because you'll be too busy listening to your humming taste buds.
You might even be convinced that it's May, and that the sunshine outside is hazy, not icy. And that the coloured leaves are just tree confetti, because the trees are so that You're happy.
Isn't being in love wonderful? Even if it's brief, and especially if it's a caramel-chocolate apple tart.
One of the many ways I'm trying to save the planet is by jotting down recipes and ideas in a little journal. Unless the recipe includes a fantastic Cirque du Soleil feat of baking acrobatics, all I really need to know are the ingredients. (I've also been out of printer ink for months.)
Apparently I need to read what I've actually written down, instead of allowing my mind to fill in the pot holes with panic-induced images of recipe Fail hashtags.
When I made the butterscotch filling for these cookies, it seized up on me. Twice. The third time wasn't quite the charm, but I somehow managed to pull it off. It wasn't until I took another look at the recipe this morning that I realized I'd forgotten to add cream.
It was in my notes. I just overlooked it...the same way I sometimes overlook silly editing errors in my blog posts. ;) Sometimes my brain only sees intentions, instead of what's actually There.
Apple-Cinnamon Hand Pies
When it comes to spelling and dialect, I've always been an idiosyncratic smorgasbord of a French father and a New England mom. When I was little, I once ran up to my second grade teacher telling her how excited I was about having had my hairs cut the previous day. (I was still trying to grasp the nuances of the English language.) Even today, unless I remember to correct myself, I sneak in an errant 'u' when spelling certain words (a letter my dad always forgot to omit too). And thanks to my mom, I'm convinced that the word 'idea' should have an 'r' at the end and that 'quarter' should be pronounced as though one is about to squat down upon something. ;)
Happily, and much less confusing, I also inherited an appreciation for all things homemade (from both sides of the family).
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
I inhaled 3 of these rolls in one sitting. Oh, Mylanta.
And oh, over-sized nubby sweater weather, I'm so glad that you are here to help me cover up my gastronomic sins.
To me, cinnamon rolls are the ultimate comfort food. At least in the breakfast-y world. Eating one (or several) feels like slipping on a pair of fresh-from-the-dryer, soft-wool knee socks after a cold day spent playing in the snow. The cosy warmth is instantaneous.
This pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe is the recipe to end All cinnamon roll recipes.
I am now officially addicted to "making" wood backgrounds for food photos. *help*
The first background took an unnecessarily long time to construct. I bought bead board, clumsily glued things together, and waited 24 hours before painting...only to have it fall apart as soon as I moved it from the floor.
I've since found an easier method which involves
Without the hassle of putting stuff together, I can just focus on the best part, the painting and crackling!
My current favorite background is the one that I used in these photos. The colour was called "stormy sea." How could I resist?