Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I grew up on a small little farm in the state of New York. We had apple trees and peach trees and plums and cherries and berries and currants and rhubarb. They had all been planted by someone, but by the time I came around they just were sort of there. I loved eating anything that I could get my hands on. We made black cap (black raspberries to some) shortcake and rhubarb crisp and elderberry pie. And my grandfather had made a neat little tool out of a lacrosse stick a V of metal and a broom handle that we used to pull down the ripe plums and peaches that were out of reach. He was a crafty guy. Needless to say I still have a great fondness for all things fresh and off random trees, bushes, etc. This may be one of my favorite parts of Germany. Not all the fruit trees are "claimed." There is a whole row of plum trees on a path near our home that isn't harvested by anyone. They are up for grabs. And I am only to willing to grab them. Mind you they aren't giant like store plums, closer instead to the size of a large cherry, the are nonetheless DELICIOUS! If you ever have a chance to eat some...DO IT! I leave you with the fruits of my labor. Not all the fruits. Just some of them actually. Lol.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July Daring Bakers Challenge!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

As this was my first daring bakers challenge, I decided that maybe some restraint was in order. So since making only one of the cookies was an option, I made my husband decide which he wanted. He chose.....the Milans! I would have rather had the marshmallow ones, but since I'm the baker in the house I can make them whenever I have the urge. I've never been part of a baking/cooking challenge of any sort and at 22 thought that this was the right time to get involved! I apologize for my crummy pictures sense photography is far from my forte, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Milan Cookies
**Recipe courtesy of Gale Gand from the Food Network website**

350* oven for 10 minutes

--12 Tbsp unsalted, softened butter
--2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
--7/8 cup egg whites (about six eggs) **I bought egg whites in a carton and actually measured out 7/8 cup**
--2 Tbsp vanilla extract
--2 Tbsp lemon extract
--1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

--1/2 cup heavy cream
--8 oz semisweet chocolate chopped **I used semisweet chocolate chips**
--1 orange zested

Cream together butter and sugar with a paddle attachment. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts **While 4 Tbsp of extract seemed like a lot, I followed the recipe, and they tasted fine, not overly lemony** Add the flour and mix until just well mixed. With a small (1/4 inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan, spacing 2 inches apart as they spread. **I don't have pastry bags here, I think I mistakenly left them in the states when we moved to Germany, so I followed the advice of another baker and used a spoon to make "appropriately" sized cookies. I failed miserably, and think it would have worked much better if I'd followed directions.** Bake in a 350* oven for 10 minutes or until they're light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan. While waiting for cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium heat, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl. Whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well. Set aside to cool. (The mixture will thicken as it cools.) Spread a thin line of the filling onto the flat side of the cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

These were my cookies on their way into the oven.
I thought they were plenty far apart, I was wrong. They didn't form one giant cookie, but they tried hard. None of them kept their pretty shape. All the edges were bumpy and not so smooth. Meh, life goes on, who really likes pretty cookies anyway? The large ones were the cookies that made it off the pan without running into each other. The little ones on the bottom are about an inch long egg shaped cookie cutter that I used to make the cookies that had not survived the oven in good shape. See? Here is the excess cookie that I cut off to make my pretty little oval Milans. "Full size" milan and some little baby ones so you can compare. Not so impressive pictures, but overall they tasted good. The filling was delicious and I saved the extra to make the husband a special treat with my cookie discards. The cookies were slightly shiny and somewhat sticky. Maybe I used a little too much powdered sugar? Possible. Great first challenge and I'm super excited to take on the next one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh how things change.

I started this blog about a week ago for all my food exploits. Since that day, my computer bit the dust and I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I do have some posts waiting to be posted (No that anyone other than me currently reads this) whenever my laptop is returned to me. Until then, wish me luck as I start watching my diet even more carefully and hopefully make it through the remainder of my pregnancy with a well controlled issue.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I have another blog over at here, but decided that they may not give a hoot about my food explorations and bonanzas. And MRE vs Me was born. For the non military out there an MRE is a meal ready to eat. Possibly the sketchiest food ever created to feed out husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers as they go of to do their duty. Hopefully I can beat MRE's hands down...even on the bad days. Wish me luck and here goes nothing!