Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When we first moved into our house three years ago, one of our neighbors reminisced about the teaberry she used to collect en masse in the forest just up the hill outside of town. Teaberry, also known as wintergreen, is native to Pennsylvania and is a popular ice cream flavor that, I belive, you can only find in this keystone state of ours. (It also happens to be one of my favorites--in the top four along with vanilla, coffee and rum raisin.) Pennsylvania is also the birthplace of teaberry gum which, like violet candy, can be an acquired taste.

Little did we know that after three years of trecking back and forth just where the neighbor indicated, that we would suddenly discover a patch of teaberry carpeting the floor of the wood. What a tasty surprise!

We came wholely unprepared for wildcrafting, so we just took a sample and committed to memory the location(s) of the larger villages of the creeping evergreen.

This was also the maiden voyage of my first crotcheted hat. Since I could not for the life of me figure out any of the crotcheted hat instructions on paper or online, I made it up. It's a little short and it certainly "breathes" (ie. has a pretty loose knit), but I really like the shape.

I can almost believe there are little pointed ears hiding under that blue yarn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

i heart...

Sleepy dog face (photo courtesy my lovely husband).

Hot Faux-fee (coffee subsitute made with all milk like hot cocoa...Mmmm!).

Blanket forts ('nuff said).

Lily of the valley soap by Kappus (a breath of spring in the dead of winter and the only brand I've found that actually smells like it's namesake).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"F" is for frugal

I recently wrote to some friends that I am both a feminist and a domestic goddess, and that I don't consider myself an oxymoron. Rowan agrees. To make room for his dinosaur magnets, he amazingly moved my "righteous babe" into a position of feminine power. Yes, Rowan, "F" is for female, ferocious and frugal.

And what is more frugal than a warm bread pudding studded with plump, sweet currants and glittering with coarse sugar? It seems, since I've been making bread regularly (well, at least once a week), that there is always a stray crust or leftover heal gone dry. Last week I made biscuits to go with a big pot of pea soup from my mother-in-law, and doubled the batch. Usually, they would have been devoured in short order (drizzled with honey for breakfast), but we had a busy weekend out and about and Rowan has discovered the delicious simplicity of the egg, requesting them "dippy" just about every morning.

What to do with a stack of bicuits just this side of hockey puck and four dry heals of bread? Bread pudding of course. And you wouldn't believe how wickedly buttery bread pudding can be until you make it with biscuits.

In what food category would I file bread pudding? You name it, so it be. Breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon tea, desert, midnight comfort. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest you eat it as a main course for dinner, but I could envision a version of bread pudding that would leave that stuffy old side of stuffing with his tie askew and his hair rumpled. Hmmm....Do I smell a new Thanksgiving tradition?

(Interested in the bread pudding recipe? Leave me a comment and I'll email it to you. Warning: the measurements are inexact, but the finished product is addicting.)

The letter "F" also stands for fast and I've discovered a new favorite go-to cake recipe that stands up to being fiddled with (I can never leave well enough alone). Based on the Lightning Cake recipe from the Joy of Cooking, it is quick, easy, and deliciously dense. Apparently it's a German Blintztorte. I almost love saying "blintztorte" as much as I love eating this lovely cake. I probably should have saved it for Valentine's day, but who knew it would turn out so pink? Not I.

Almond Raspberry Blintztorte

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1-2 teaspoons almond extract
1-1/2 cups frozen raspberries

Butter and flour a bundt pan. Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Beat your butter until creamy then gradually add your sugar and beat on high until lightening in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in eggs one at a time and then add the almond extract. Stir the flour mixture in until smooth then gently fold the raspberries in just until evenly dispersed.

Spoon batter into your bundt pan, smoothing out the top, and bake for 35-45 minutes--until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Dust with powdered sugar for a less-sweet version or drench with your favorite glaze or icing.

Serves 8-10