Breakfast

Pumpkin Waffles

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I’ve been sitting on a gold mine of thoughts but I’ve had little to no mental space to sort them out on paper, on-screen or preferably with a good friend.  My heart is growing and evolving, in need of unraveling and sharing, it’s just been hard to grow enough energy to do so.  I suppose this is my attempt.

Friday night I took a dance class from a friend, mentor and inspiring teacher from my past.  Being his student again was refreshing and good for my soul.  For the first time in a long time I was not teaching, giving or serving.  I was taking, absorbing and feeling. I was learning, observing and focusing on something outside of the daily grind.  There was time and space for me to sort out the intangible.  Movement has always been the catalyst for unlocking the truest parts of myself, while connecting all my missing links.  It’s also brought out a critic, full of expectations and judgements. But two babies and some years later, I have dropped my judgements. It feels as though I have nothing to prove, even to myself, only much to feel and everything to experience.

I am not sure whether it’s age or motherhood, time or exhaustion, but perhaps one or all have given me freedom.   Some of the things that seem to stir up conflict, create a heated debate, or leave me feeling like I have to prove or explain myself, have come and gone.  My babies have been born and there is no more talk of how, when and where they will be born.  There are only stories. The decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate has already been made, and our car has been gone for well over a year now.  Whether some think it is innovative, sacrificial or just plain crazy, we already survived living in a one bedroom apartment.  All four of us.

My lifestyle choices are commonly found in the minority.  My beliefs and decisions surrounding faith, childbirth, parenting, transportation, consumption, food, and money are often under scrutiny.  In the past I’ve been quick to react and I’ve felt the need to defend myself.  But now being on the other side of a few big milestones I see how silly and exhausting it is to keep up with worrying how my life choices are going to be perceived by others.  I’m settling into a humble confidence, probably because nothing has ever begged me to know myself more than motherhood.

These pumpkin waffles have little to do with my thoughts, and more to do with the season in which I am redefining myself.  Its fall and I am letting go of the things I don’t need, and creating more space inside my head, while eating lots of pumpkin waffles and diving head first into the pumpkin craze.  Pumpkin ale, pumpkin chips, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter… how have I underestimated pumpkin all these years? Sometimes it feels good to join the masses and surrender to the seasonal indulgences, especially when they taste this good.  Happy Fall friends!

Pumpkin Waffles

Makes about 16 waffles

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 1/4 tsp, baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

4 eggs, separated

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup packed pumpkin puree

Spray oil for waffle iron

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Separate eggs.  Combine yolks with milk, pumpkin, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk the egg whites together with a stand or hand mixer, until soft peaks begin to form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until everything is fully combined.  Spray your waffle iron with oil of choice and cook as directed by your waffle iron.  As waffles cook, place them in the heated oven so they can stay warm and crispy.  Serve with maple syrup.

 

Favorite Homemade Granola

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“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call it forth its riches.” 

-Rainer Maria Rilke

The Last Granola…
(you will ever make)
Slightly adapted from Marge Granola
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 1/2 cups nuts
1/4 cup seeds
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup dried fruit
This is the basic recipe with the perfect ratios that any nut, seed or dried fruit will taste great in.  In the granola pictured above I used 1 1/4 cup almonds, 1 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, and 1 cup dried cranberries.
Preheat oven to 250.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  In a small saucepan,  using low heat, warm olive oil, maple syrup, and vanilla until it is slightly warm to the touch(3-4 minutes.)  Pour on top of dry ingredients and mix until all the dry ingredients are saturated with liquid.  Pour mixture on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Use a spatula to pat down the oats.  Keep everything nice and close together if you like clumpy granola or want to make granola bars.  Otherwise you can spread the oats and nuts out a little more.  Bake for 75 minutes or until golden and crispy.  Let the granola cool for 15-20 minutes.  Cut into bars or break apart for granola.  Store in an air tight container for up to a week.

Easy Breezy Baked Berry Oatmeal, Because Life Is Not Easy

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A dear friend has given me permission to simply admit that in this season, life is not easy.  I share my emotional and physical burdens, and she is the one who takes the liberty of saying it for me…  “Sister, your life is not easy right now.”  For a few weeks I’ve feared that admitting this somehow means I am ungrateful, when really, there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful.  Even in the trenches, I love my life.   And then sometimes I feel silly thinking those words, not easy, when I am aware that my struggles are relative to my culture of convenience, and circumstances.  I may not have a car, a washer and dryer or dishwasher, but as sure as do have a roof over my head, food in belly, and an incredible husband and daughter.  And while I can’t say the same about a dishwasher or washer/dryer, I really do love living without a car.  Sometimes it is just really damn hard, and being pregnant, heading into winter, we are in the thick of it.  It’s no longer some cute casual affair, it is to the very core, who we are.  It’s one thing to ride your bike for exercise or while wearing braids and a cute dress.  It is another to gain 15 pounds, and pedal a 75 lb. bike, with a 26 lb. pound baby, with $150 worth of groceries, in 35 degrees, with 40 mile hour winds.  I absolutely stand by our choice, and think it is one of the best decisions we have ever made together, but it is just not always easy.  The practical challenges of the present are easier to talk about, but really they just skim the surface of the emotional growing pains that stir inside our walls.  There is a lot of love, and there is a lot of heartache.  This is our season.

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I find comfort in the inevitable.  I find comfort knowing that nothing ever stays the same.  Whether we change or not, seasons and circumstances will.  This may be one of the few things I know, and so I hold on to this truth tight, keeping it in the most sacred and quiet place I can find.

I keep on pedaling, because it is the only choice I have.  After hundreds of rotations, something in me stirs, something in me shifts.  The tight space inside my chest opens with ease, and I let myself drown in the smell of burning firewood.  This smell is so wonderful that it brings me to tears.  Five miles later, I arrive at the grocery store, out of breath, and a little more content.  A woman and her two children stop to tell me how brave I am.  Me, brave? I couldn’t respond,  I just stared back confused.  How did she know I needed to hear that, how did she know that in that moment, I might just actually believe her?  Am I really brave?

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I keep washing each and every dish, because if I don’t we will not have dishes to eat with.  I ponder just letting things hit rock bottom.  What does a kitchen that has not been cleaned for 48 hours really look like?  My curiosity begs me to just give it a shot, but  I decide it’s best to just keep washing.  Something in me stirs, and something in me shifts.  I arrive to my last dish, smitten and pleased.  We are going to be okay.  All of four of us.  Maybe not today or next week, but in time, we will be more than okay.  This is just another truth, I bury deep inside and save for when my emotions get the best of me.

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Baked Berry Oatmeal

Slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup dark brown sugar or maple syrup*

1/4 cup flax seeds

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup blueberries

1 cup blackberries

***

2 cups whole milk or milk of choice

3 tbsp. melted butter

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl combine oats, walnuts, flax seeds, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder.  Mix well.  Add berries.  Put all dry ingredients in an oiled 8×8 pan.  Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat.  Whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, into the sauce pan with melted butter.  Slowly and evenly pour liquid mixture over oats in than pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.

*If using maple syrup, you will not mix that in with the dry ingredients, like you do with brown sugar.  Rather, whisk syrup in with the wet ingredients.  Both brown sugar and maple syrup taste great, and maple syrup is a healthier option,  it is usually just a matter of what is on hand.

Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Frosting

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I’ve been brewing for weeks, with nothing to say, only much to feel.  Melancholy has always been good for my creative soul, and yet it seems in this season it paralyzes, rather than moves me.  Each day I am lead on a melodramatic voyage, by which I see everything through the impossible lense of the present.  I am left right back where I started, but with nothing tangible to hold, write, or at the very least, eat.  It’s exhausting really, and I am left feeling robbed of the beautiful mundane that I was once so good at savoring, and celebrating.

Somehow, remembering that it’s November magically takes me out of this less than desirable state of mind, if only for the brief moments I reminisce about family tradition.  Every November I bake my first batch of cinnamon rolls in preparation for the big bake on Christmas Eve.  Maybe I like the excuse to eat them twice a year, or maybe my body and mind need to be reminded of this domestic rhythm that helps connect me to the women I never knew, but the blood that is always running through me.  It’s as if these cinnamon rolls are my access to wisdom from my grandmothers.  It’s as if this process of mixing, kneading, rising, baking, cooling, and frosting, whispers truth back into the gray.  This morning I needed to be shaken abruptly, and held fiercely.  I need to walk myself to tears, borrow brown sugar from a neighbor, and bake my way back into bliss.  I needed to smother Octave in kisses, and eat three cinnamon rolls with her.  Sometimes the little things can solve big things.

Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 18 rolls

Dough

1 cup whole milk

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 eggs

3 1/2-3/4 cup flour, divided

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

Filling

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tbsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cloves

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

A few squeezes of fresh orange juice, or until you reach your preferred consistency

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add milk and heat until it is slightly hot to the touch.  Transfer butter and milk to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add egg and beat on low until combined.  Add 1 1/2 cup flour, salt, yeast, and sugar.   Beat on medium speed until combined well, scrapping sides of bowl if necessary.  Add the rest of the flour and mix for 3-4 minutes until a ball of dough forms.  It should be soft a pliable but not stick to the bottom or sides of the bowl.  Add flour a tablespoon at a time if it seems necessary.  Place dough in a large oiled bowl and let rise for 2-3 hours or doubled in size.

Rolls dough out into a rectangle the size of a large baking sheet.  Using a knife spread softened butter on top of dough and sprinkle mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves evenly on top.  Using the longer side of the dough, start rolling dough into the sugar and cinnamon and pinch dough as necessary.  Leaving the seam side down, and with a serrated knife, cut dough into 3/4 inch rolls.

Place rolls in a buttered pan, leaving room for them to rise.  Cover with seran wrap and place in the fridge to rise overnight.  My mom always let her rolls rise overnight and I used to think a few hours would do the trick but letting them have a long rise is absolutely key to a perfect fluffy dough.

The morning you are ready to bake preheat oven to 375.  Bake cinnamon rolls for 20-24 minutes.  Make your frosting while the rolls cool for 10-15 minutes.  Frost to your hearts content.

Old Bananas, New Nest

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This week exhaustion finds rest in my bones, for good reason, and with internal excitement.   Reflections and shadows introduce a new story, a new home, and a new life.  Days are documented in numbers of trips to the big girl potty, and dishes washed by hand. Every. Single. One.  Time swells, runs and hides inside our new walls.  It has been this way all along, and yet everything feels brand new.  Creaky floors, natural light, and old smells, tell stories from the lives that once lived here.  Yet, I can still see a blank canvas, and feel plenty of new space for us, and the wildly ambitious unknown.

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Days without the Internet make room for my own real life to surge back through my veins.  I feel collected, and alive.  I have time, and space to rummage, and remember.  I have time to create.

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Dance classes fill my inquiries with complex questions, and translucent, floating answers.  For just one night a week I forget I am a wife, and a mother, yet those identities dwell inside every last breath of my movement.  I pedal home with a backpack and lazy bun, affirming that in just this one instance, place is nothing, while instinct and necessity are everything.  From coast to coast, and even in the middle of nowhere, a life long mover I am, and always will be.  I rest well in this acknowledgment.

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This week in moving I find boxes of old Polaroid’s, love letters, and journals.  I pause, and reflect honestly on the distance between then, and now.  I find the tiny box that held my time capsule ring, from Vienna, and the receipt that says I did in fact, travel thousands of miles back, without an address, only my photographic memory, to exchange my dated ring for another.  The receipt is marked 10.10.08…a date of anticipation, a date of pure magic, a date I wore on my finger for years.

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I realize that if not for moving, this would be my first October 10th, without celebrating, or at least, even just remembering.  How could I ever forget?  I promised I would never forget.  I find a box with no ring, and devastation swells.  I forget that it was lost, ironically the same week I got married, as if to say, I gladly trade in one story, for another.  But now there is nothing tangible to tell that epic story, there are only my memories, and details that I am slowly forgetting.

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Octave sits beside me, and I whisper, June 7th, I can’t believe I never went.  My heart hurts for a few minutes, but life is not a fairytale, it is crazymessybeautiful.  I feel instant relief because I don’t have to use words to make myself feel better.  Truly, I have no regrets.  I married the man I never thought existed, and because of that we made the most curious, spicy, and vivacious little human imaginable.  I have all I could ever want.  And maybe something special is still bound to happen on that day, it may just be a few years late.

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Maybe this June, I will trade in that date for something.  Or perhaps the letting go of that ring, and that return, was indeed a metaphor for choices in life.  Maybe my life became most meaningful when I had to start making choices, and sacrifices that have hardly felt like sacrifices at all.

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After toiling over what to bake first in our new nest, I choose banana bread.  The bananas are old, but there is so much new.  It seems simple, classic, and a humble way to be introduced to my new kitchen.  It says welcome home, stay a while, eat three pieces of me, (with lots of butter!)  Baked goods speak to me, and so I speak back in foodie love, eating them with the upmost gratitude, and adoration.  So, here is to something classic, in the midst of everything new.

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Browned Butter Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1 ½ cups spelt flour, all purpose works too

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

***

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and browned

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

1  1/2 cups of very ripe mashed banana (2-3 bananas depending on size)

½ cup whole milk plain greek yogurt

½ cup walnut pieces+ a small handful more for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter until it is crackling and slightly brown. Remove from heat, and stir in brown sugar until it is combined.  It will be really thick and sticky.

In a large bowl combine mashed banana, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, browned butter/sugar and  whisk well.

Slowly add in dry ingredients, and whisk until combined.  Gently fold in the walnuts.

Grease your loaf pan with butter and pour in batter.  Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Remove from pan, slice and serve with butter.

Update: The baking time has changed dramatically depending on where I have used this recipe.  I have found being at sea level requires more time, while at high altitude it has needed much less.  Check your oven frequently and know that you may need to place foil over the top of your bread if your climate requires a longer bake time.

Daily Kale Smoothie

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It is snowing, I mean really snowing outside, and I still can’t live without my kale smoothie.  Hubs and Octave completely agree.  For the last four or five months we have been drinking this smoothie every single day.  I used to jam pack our smoothies with bee pollen, lucuma, maca, tumeric, chia seeds, goji berries, ginger…the list goes on.  I love all of those superfoods, and use them when they are in our fridge, but it can get kind of complicated.  When I drink something every day I want it to be realistic and simple, and not crazy expensive.  So this simple smoothie become our daily ritual.  Octave and I drink it for breakfast, and Christopher drinks it for an afternoon snack when he gets home from work.  Between the three of us we eat two large bunches of kale each week, just from this smoothie!  While I love all vegetables, especially nutrient dense leafy greens, I have found this is the easiest way to make sure we get our greens each day.  Hopefully lunch involves a salad, and dinner some more vegetables, but the days that might not be the case, it always feels great to start my morning off with kale smoothies that make me forget I am eating kale.  I am one happy Mama to say that Octave LOVES kale too!  She threw a tantrum last week at the store when I would not buy “kales.” I got funny looks, and then started asking myself, if my kid is crying for kale why would I not just buy her some dang kale?  But any tantrum for not getting your way is unacceptable and I already had plenty in our freezer.  While the tantrum was slightly disturbing, it made me secretly smile, knowing that she craves and loves it just like her Mama.  I sometimes wonder if all the green juices I ate while I was pregnant has made a difference.  I would like to think it is because of something I did, but I am smart enough to know it is probably just luck.  The next baby we have may not eat vegetables with such enthusiasm, but for now, I am living in the bliss, as the three of us drink our daily kale.

Daily Kale Smoothie

Serves 1

2 cups frozen dinosaur/tuscan kale*

1 large frozen banana

1 cup frozen blackberries

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup filtered water

* I buy two bunches of kale from the store each week specifically just for smoothies, (one day it will grow in my future garden.)  I wash it, cut off the stems, and roughly chop it.  I place the chopped kale in two large ziploc bags, and place in the freezer.  Frozen kale works really well in smoothies and somehow really does make a difference.  I do the same thing for the bananas.  This makes it really convenient to just pull out of the freezer and make a smoothie each morning.

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Pecan Waffles With Peaches + Coconut Whipped Cream

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My in-laws were in town this weekend, and this was a good excuse to finally purchase a waffle maker!  I have talked and dreamed for far too long about owning one.  It is small, simple, and fairly inexpensive, making it a kitchen item that seems somewhat justifiable, and completely necessary if you are a DeLaney.  However it has taken us three, and a half years to own one.  This must be a physical symbol of me feeling a little more settled, and a lot more content with where we are living.  It’s waffle love, but dare I say, Casper love?  Almost.

Christopher and his dad are waffle connoisseurs, and this weekend I may have just joined their club.  In honor of Georgia, where hubs is from, I thought pecans, peaches, and coconut whipped cream would make a lovely pair.  Comforting, delicious, and perfectly indulgent.  A keeper, and soon to be DeLaney weekend ritual.

Pecan Waffles

Makes 6

1 heaping cup pecans, ground

1 cup spelt flour

2 tbsp. packed brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 egg

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp. orange juice

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can of full fat coconut milk (in a can)**

2 tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Toppings

Peaches, thinly sliced

Maple syrup

1/4 cup chopped pecans

In a food processor grind heaping cup of pecans until it resembles flour.  In a large bowl mix together ground pecans, spelt flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  In another bowl mix together egg, milk, melted butter, orange juice and vanilla.  Combine wet and dry ingredients and whisk well.  Add in 1/4 cup of chopped pecans and mix together again.

Cook waffles as instructed by your waffle maker.  Keep waffles in an oven warmed to 200 degrees.  If you lay the waffles out flat, they will continue to get crispier,(which I love!) Once all waffles are made and staying warm, make your coconut whipped cream.

*Thai kitchen brand tends to be the best brand for making whipped cream.  If you have a choice, choose that brand.  You want to keep it in the fridge 24 hours before you want to make the whipped cream.  You are only going to use the solid fat from the can and discard the liquid.

Scoop out solid coconut cream and place in a large bowl.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute, but not longer or it will start to loose the texture of whipped cream.

Slice peaches and garnish your waffles with a few slices, along with whipped cream, chopped pecans, and maple syrup.

An Almond Danish Of Some Sort

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Disclaimer: These are not healthy!  Not by the furthest stretch of ones imagination.  However, they make my heart really happy.  So happy that I currently wear my hair in braids, lips in red, and feet in heels, on a casual Saturday morning, while Octave is napping, and Christopher is working.  I woke up cranky and these beauties turned it all around.  I just had to sweep the floors, fold the laundry, wash the dishes,  and eat three beautiful pasty’s first.  I have never been one for instant gratification, so the fact that they were a labor of love, makes every bite sweeter.

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I have been wanting to make my own puff pasty/Danish/almond croissant-ish, type goodness for quite some time.  I have just been intimidated, and convinced this was not a smart baking adventure for Octave and I just yet.  But the intrigue kept growing, and I found myself laying in bed consumed with thoughts of almond croissants (my favorite)…all. night. long.  I imagined myself oceans away, wearing braids, red lips, heels, and my favorite apron, learning from bakers and artists alike.  I know France is home to the best croissants, but there is just something about the Danes.  I deeply identify with the way they bake, ride, design, dress, view childbirth, and child rear.  The most basic and natural things in life seem to be viewed as normal.  I want to learn to bake where natural is normal, not weird.

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So we finally did it!  We attempted a Danish like dough, with coconut milk, and then added our own twist for the topping.  The good news is, it can only get easier and better from here.  For the first try, I was not disappointed.  Octave was there for every roll, pat, and rise, hence why I am using “we.”  However “we” did not eat raw flour and butter, that was all on her lonesome.  The girl has got this baking thing down.  In fact she asks to bake moments upon waking, and is spending her play time teaching her monkey all the things she is learning.  “Hold on.  Let’s see. Pat it. Roll it. Watch me. Turn it. Mince garlic. Ilovegarlic,” are apparently phrases I say often, because I hear her telling all her plush friends these lovely things.  So daily, we bake and daily we ride, and I hope somehow it evens itself out, because like I said earlier pasty’s make my heart really, really happy, and sometimes I just don’t care to make a healthy version of something that has been working for hundreds of years.  I am starting to think that has got to count for something.

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Dough adapted from Oh Lady Cakes

Pastry Dough

3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (in a can)

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

2 cups unbleached flour, or more as needed

2 tbsp. cane sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

1 cup + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

Heat coconut milk in a small saucepan.  Use a thermometer if you have one.  You are aiming for 105-110 degrees.  Mix milk and yeast in a small bowl, whisk together and set aside for 15 minutes.  Milk should bubble and be foaming.  If this is not the case, you may want to start over with your yeast, because the end results might not be as good.

Meanwhile in a stand mixer, with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, sugar, salt, and mix on medium speed until combined.  Add in 2 tbsp. of very cold butter, cut into tiny pieces.  I put my butter in the freezer about 15 minutes before I used it.  Mix on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, or until butter has mixed into the flour, resembling tiny little pebbles.  Add in milk and yeast, and mix until just combined.  Dough should just come together.  I only needed 2 cups of flour but you may need up to 1/4 cup more depending on your altitude.  If you do need more, add in 1 tbsp. at a time, as to make sure you don’t use more than you really need.  Form dough into a square, wrap tightly in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 90 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and roll dough into a large rectangle, about 12×24.  Spread the rest of the butter (2 sticks) across 2/3 of the dough.  Fold the third of the unbuttered dough onto the middle third, and fold over once again.  Pinch the sides of the dough together and fold once again, in thirds, only this time the opposite direction.  Dough should now be in the shape of a small rectangle.  Wrap tightly in plastic and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.  On a well floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle.  I was not able to roll it out exactly 12×24 again, but it still worked great.  Repeat the same folding pattern, only this time without the butter.  This is the part I found most challenging.  I had butter coming out on the sides, and was worried I was not doing something right.  Even if you lose some butter and the dough breaks up a little, just work with it the best you can, and keep going.  Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling 2 more times, without butter, and once again wrap tightly in plastic and let the dough rest, only this time, overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 375.  On a floured surface, roll out dough one last time.  Dough should be about 1/3 inch thick.  Use a pizza cutter, cut off the rough edges, and create a new clean, even square.  Discard the edges.  Cut dough into squares, a little bit smaller than the palm of your hand.  I lost a little bit of my dough, because I had a little helper by my side but ideally this recipe will make 16-18 pastry’s.  Place pastry squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and stick in the freezer while you prepare your almond paste.  Paste can also be made ahead of time.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out almond paste and press into the center of each pasty  Garnish with fresh berries, pears, peaches, plums, or whatever else suits your fancy.  Bake for 14-16 minutes or until slightly golden and crispy.  Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and garnish with powdered sugar.  These taste best the same day you bake them but can keep in the fridge for a few days.

Almond Paste

1 1/2 cups blanched almonds

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. almond extract

1 egg white

Place almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse for 4-5 minutes until nuts are fine enough to look like flour.  The sugar will prevent it grinding into a paste just yet.  Add egg white and almond extract, and pulse for another 2-3 minutes until it forms a ball of lovely almond paste.  The aroma coming out of the food processor is fantastic!  Store in an air tight container until you are ready to use.  This recipe makes a little more than you will need for the pastries.  You can keep for a week in your fridge and use in other baking or store in the freezer.

Garnish

2 ripe pears or other fruit of choice

Powdered sugar

Blueberry Lavender Scones + The September I Met My Love

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I used to worry that I would love a man who preferred sugar in his morning cup of coffee.  I never dated much, actually, hardly at all, so my personal experience was limited, but I worked at many coffee shops, and had my theories of men who drank their coffee with sugar.  Judgemental? Probably.  Inaccurate? Maybe.  Luckily, my theory never had to be proven wrong, because I fell in love with a man who prefers his coffee black.
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This morning as I made these long anticipated lavender scones, I remembered my silly little theories.  I remembered that four years ago today I was anticipating Christopher and I’s first date.  I remember my mom calling the next day, and asking if I got a chance to see how he takes his coffee.  We had a proper date on Misssissippi street, with big burritos, and a concert, followed by a walk to my car to listen to Christopher’s new album being featured on the local radio. (He swears he didn’t plan that!)   So, it wasn’t until a few dates later that I was relieved to find he takes his coffee black.  An Americano in the morning, and espresso in the evening, just like me!  Nine months later, we were married, and he told me he never really drank coffee before he met me, but that is besides the point.  He preferred his coffee black all on his own, and that was, and still is enough for me!
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A few months into dating I met Christopher’s best friend Paul, and his wife, Emily.  We went to Paul’s family’s house for breakfast, and someone made beautiful lavender scones with raw milk and butter from a local dairy.  These lavender scones helped calm any anxiety or intimidation I felt from meeting such important people in Christopher’s life.  They may have been the only lavender scones I ever had, but they were the best!  I would argue that just like dating, you don’t need to experience a lot of something to know that it is good.  You know good when you see it, smell it, feel it, and taste it.  The people, the scones, and the man whose hand I sweetly held, were not just good, they were great!
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Every September I revisit the emotions that stirred in the season we met.  I still smell the cool fall air the night we watched the swifts fly mesmerizing patterns in the sky.  I remember the feelings of trust that grew as we drove to the coast, listening to Rufus Wainwright.  I can still feel the vulnerability of sharing my choreography ideas in my kitchen, and then falling out of my chair, flat on my face.  I still don’t understand what happened in that moment, but I feel the heat that flushed my cheeks, and the embarrassment that soon followed.  I can still close my eyes and taste those lavender scones at the Pastor’s home.  These are the moments that continue to saturate my senses.  They seem simple and insignificant, and yet they are important enough to still flood my memory four years later.
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The fall we first met smells like espresso and wet pavement.  It tastes like lavender scones, and dolcetto d’alba.  It looks like lower case letters, and run on sentences.  It sounds like The Weepies, and feels something like this…
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart )i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                          i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-e.e. cummings

Blueberry Lavender Scones

Makes 8

1 1/4 cup unbleached flour

1 cup blanched almond flour

1/2 cup cane sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. lavender flowers

7 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter

¾ cup whole milk

1 1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 cup blueberries

1 egg+1 Tbsp. milk for brushing

Turbinado sugar for garnish

About 10-15 minutes before you want to bake your scones, put your butter in the freezer.  Preheat oven to 400.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix together.  Remove butter from the freezer and using a box grater, grate butter over dry ingredients.  Fold in, and pour milk and almond extract over the top.   With a wooden spoon or spatula mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  Add blueberries and mix again until everything comes together, but be careful not to over mix.  Scoop dough onto a well floured surface and shape into a circle, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Dough will be really tacky so use as much flour as needed, and try not to over handle.  Using a butter knife cut the dough into 8 equal parts.  Brush with egg and milk, and sprinkle with sugar.  Put scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 16-18 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.

 

Fool Proof Hollandaise + Successfully Poached Eggs!

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It turns out I have been using the wrong terminology for poached eggs, and sourdough english muffins, smothered in hollandaise.  Without bacon it really can’t be considered eggs Benedict.  With spinach it is considered eggs Florentine, and eggs Irish, with corn beef hash.  I like mine with avocado and arugula, or smoked salmon, with homemade sourdough english muffins.  I still want to call it eggs Benedict, because I just love the name, but if we are to be technical, it’s not really.  In any case, I have steered away from this breakfast because poached eggs intimidate me and I have never gotten them just right.  My sister and brother in law have nailed this breakfast so many times, that I figured I should just leave it to them.  But since we live a thousand miles away, and last week I had a persistent craving for eggs Benedict, for dinner, I thought I should get serious about learning.  The tips I’ve mentioned below were really helpful.  Hollandaise, while it is super classic, can also be intimidating.  The whisking and heating it just right seems challenging when trying to cook with Octave.  So, I found a hollandaise made with a blender.  Brilliant and fool-proof, without any sacrifice in taste.  Seriously.  Give it a go, and on a lazy weekend morning dine in, and enjoy some killer homemade eggs bene.

Recipe Serves Two

English Muffins

2 sourdough english muffins.

Recipe here.  If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can check out this recipe, or save time and buy your favorite brand.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce

1 stick of unsalted butter

2 egg yolks at room temperature

1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Pinch of cayenne

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor mix eggs yolks, lemon juice, Dijon and cayenne.  Blend for 30 seconds.  Very very slowly, while blender is still on, pour butter through the top hole.  Keep blending until the texture becomes thick and creamy and the color changes to a soft yellow.  This should take about 2 minutes.  I did mine a little longer because I had timers going off for the eggs, toast, and blender, while trying to keep little hands from cracking eggs and pushing more blender buttons.  The hollandaise got slightly neglected.  I do not recommend poaching eggs or making hollandaise with a toddler trying to help.  In any case, if you decide to give it a try, I don’t think it hurts to blend a little longer.  The texture was really nice and I preferred it over last weeks, which only got about a minute of blending.  If your eggs and muffins are not ready, you can place sauce in a thermos, or if everything is timed perfectly, transfer to a serving dish or just pour on your eggs straight out of the blender.

Poached Eggs

4 eggs

Bring a saucepan to a low boil and add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar.  Crack your egg in a small bowl to make it easier to transfer to the simmering water.  Whisk water in the center of the saucepan to create a whirlpool in the middle.  Gently tilt egg into the middle of the whirl pool.  Cook for 3 1/2 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer egg to a bowl of ice water, to keep from continuing to cook.  Repeat process with the rest of the eggs.  After all the eggs are cooked, transfer each one back to the simmering water for about 30 seconds.

Toast English muffins, slather with butter and slices of avocado, bacon, greens, salmon, or other ingredients you love.  Place poached eggs on english muffins and generously pour hollandaise sauce on top.  Garnish with paprika, and or fresh herbs.  Ps. Octave garnished the eggs:)