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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hello! Goodbye.

I've got a little surprise for you (or maybe not). If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you won't be surprised.

I've decided to pick up this blog and move it to Wordpress. I've also decided to open a full-time baking business. Thistle.

With luck, Thistle Confections will be up and running with a new blog, an online shop, and a whole lot of sugar. It was a hard decision to rebrand my business, start a new website, and make my creative pursuits a full time gig. But I’m doing it. I’m doing it because YOU- my family, friends, and readers encouraged me. Follow me, stumbles and all, on the next big adventure of my life.

You must be asking, why Thistle?

Thistle is understated, warm, and natural. Thistle is the blending of cultures; a place where Scottish shortbread is appreciated alongside heirloom Italian cookies. Thistle is where memories and reality fuel creativity.

Thistle is not about flashy. We don’t believe in couture brownies and the next must have! ingredient. We search for the highest quality, best tasting, natural and locally sourced ingredients. We are Dayton proud. We strive to build lasting relationships with local farmers and honor their hard work in our products.

But most of all, Thistle is about taking chances. Thistle is the opportunity to grow, and grow, and grow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Valentine's Loves

The holiday of love is upon us, and I'm baking all this week to ensure Valentine's Day delivery for my wonderful customers. And I am so thankful! Thank you for placing lots of Valentine's orders. Thanks to my friends and family for encouraging me to bake on. Here are a few things that are making my Valentine's Day super sweet.

10. Vanilla Bean Paste. I use paste in the filling to my Black & White Faux{reo} cookies. It's a one-to-one substitute for vanilla extract, and it leaves gorgeous black speckles throughout. I like Beanilla.

9. Valentine's Downloads from One Charming Party.
8. The Swell Season. All of their albums + the movie Once. Seriously, incredible.
7. Divine Twine I love this baker's twine. I love to use it to package my orders for an extra special touch.

6. Woodlands Headband from Princess Lasertron.

Megan Hunt is an amazing artist, blogger and Omaha native making a difference in her community. I admire her fearlessness. And who couldn't love those adorable button and felt flowers? A refreshing change from a bouquet bound to wilt.

5. A cute dress, with a touch of flippancy. Somebody tell Betty Draper that she is relieved of her duties.From Modcloth.
4. Hearts on a String necklace for her. From Lost & Fawned

3. Wingman Tie.
Obviously for Mr. Radar. Planes? Check. Argyle? Check. Meets Mr. Radar's standard criteria for good dress. This isn't the first time Mr. Radar has donned a Toybreaker tie, either.

2."I Freaking Love You" print from Hillary Bird. Beautiful screen prints, and she also has a pretty good name.
1. A date. Isn't that what everyone wishes for on Valentine's Day? Fortunately, Mr. Radar has got this one covered. He'll even be on the same continent this year. Major Bonus.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cold? Chicken & Dumpling Soup!

Cold? Me too! Here's something that will warm you right up. Chicken and Dumpling soup, with a twist. I've thrown in some ginger & turmeric, to add depth & spiciness to the soup. The turmeric makes the broth a beautiful golden color. You can add a bit of cream (I didn't) to add body to the soup.

I recommend making this soup the day after you make roast chicken. You can save the carcass to make the broth, and shred the left-over meat for the soup. If not, I would cook off the chicken in some oil, and then proceed with cooking the carrots, leeks, and onion.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Adapted (a lot!) from the Pioneer Woman
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4-5 medium carrots, cut into coins on the bias
2 leeks, cut into thin rings
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
2 sprigs fresh Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2-1 teaspoon ginger (depending on taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
6-8 cups chicken broth, homemade preferred (use low sodium if not)
½ cups Apple Cider
2 cups shredded, pre-cooked chicken
1 cup frozen sweet peas
½ cups Heavy Cream (optional)
1 bunch green onion, diced.

1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1cup Half-and-half
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of Cayenne
Sea Salt to taste

Combine the butter and oil in a large stock pot. Heat at medium, until melted and well combined. Add the carrots, leeks, onion, thyme, turmeric, ginger, and white pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent and carrots are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Pour in the apple cider, then the stock. I scrape the bottom of the pain to make sure all of the bits are incorporated into the mix. Add the shredded chicken. Simmer on medium-low for about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the dumplings. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne and baking powder. In another container, combine the half-and-half and egg. Beat to combine. Slowly add the liquid to the flour mixture. Set aside.

Add the peas to the soup mix, cook for 1-2 minutes. Bring the soup to a simmer on medium-to high heat. Once bubbling, drop tablespoons of dumpling mix into the soup. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Make sure to turn the dumplings half way, so that tops and bottoms will be cooked.

Top with green onion, serve, and enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

New at PRESS!

Hello, friends. Two weeks since last update. Oye. I'm terrible, aren't I? At least this update brings cheerful news!

Two of my lovely products will now be sold at PRESS coffee shop, at Wayne & 5th in the Oregon District.

My Fudge & Cookie Dough brownies and 3C's Granola Bars will be at PRESS. I'll offer more brownie flavors in the coming months.
I'm working on new packaging, and recently got a wonderful seam sealer for Christmas. (I think Mr. Radar is more excited about the sealer than I am). But I am excited about the shiny packaging.

I'm now focused on meeting new goals and expanding my product line in time for Valentine's Day. I'm working on creating better labels, opening at Etsy shop, finding an inexpensive kitchen space to work in, and identifying local retail establishments interested in my products. While I'm working, rest assured that I'll be sipping a cappuccino at PRESS.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meyer Lemon Pizzelle

Last week, I was invited to a dinner party and told to bring dessert. After all of the rich food at Christmas, I did not want to bring something heavy, chocolatey or laden with cream. Enter my pizzelle cookies. Orange is by far the most requested flavor by my friends, family and customers. But I was out of oranges last week. Meyer Lemons turned out to be the perfect substitute. The cookies are light, crisp and flecked with golden zest.

This recipe requires a pizzelle iron, and a large amount of patience. Each cookie is individually pressed, making a batch of 46 requires a good amount of time.
Makes 40-50 depending on iron size

* 1 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
* 6 Large Eggs, room temp
* 2 Sticks of Butter, melted and cooled
* 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
* 1 teaspoon Pure Orange Extract
* Zest of 3 Meyer Lemons
* 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
* 4 cups All-Purpose Flour, spooned into measuring cup

1. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. The eggs must be at least room temperature. Cold eggs will result in an unworkable batter.
2. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture, while mixing on medium speed. Add the extracts then the zest.
3. On low speed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Alternate between medium and low speed while beating in the flour. (I turn it to low while pouring in the flour; medium to incorporate the flour before adding more).
4. The batter should have a satin sheen to it, but should be light and stiff. If your batter is too liquid, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the batter is stiff.
5. Using a tablespoon scoop, place dollops of batter into the iron. Repeat 20-25 more times depending on iron size. The cookies take about 25-30 seconds in the iron. Fresh, hot cookies can be rolled or shaped into cups.

And on Food52.

PS: I do recommend the Palmer Pizzelle iron- I have two irons, one is a Palmer and the other is CucinaPro. I only use the Palmer...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Philosophy And Vegetables, too.

JANUARY. A month made interesting by our resolutions and wishes. A miserable, gray month, changed by our fervor and zeal. In January, food is our enemy. We strike the food we love from our minds, ignoring our cravings and making our way to treadmills en masse.

But not me. I steadfastly ignore all the advice and rabble rousing, in favor of a gentler philosophy. You will not see any dieting tips, admonitions to eat grapefruit every day! or lamentations about the state of the American waistline here. In the New Year, I've resolved to do one thing for food. To approach it with appreciation.

Appreciation because food is a blessing of life. Appreciation because I have the good fortunate of having food. Appreciation because I am educated to know about the production of food, the preparation of food, and the nutritional value of food. Above all, appreciation for the hard work and sacrifice that is required to grow and raise the food that I eat. Appreciation for what a luxury that truly is.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

White Christmas

We had a white Christmas, which does not happen often around here. Growing up in Michigan, I cannot remember a Christmas that was not white. I was thrilled this year with the ample snow. Per usual, I insisted on enjoying the snow. I expounded its virtues to anyone that would listen, and there are few Daytonians who agree with my assessment of snow. Proclamations of "Snowmageddon" and "Snowpocalypse" are frequent. I cheerfully ignored all the naysayers, determined to enjoy snow. Thank goodness, too. Or else I would have missed this amazing scenery.

Buddy really enjoyed the snow. He frolicked, found sticks, and even attempted to jump out on the ice.

At lunch last week, my mother-in-law was adamant that snow was an evil inconvenience, and that it shouldn't exist at all. I reasoned that if it wasn't snowing, it would be raining. And rain could not look this beautiful:

She reluctantly agreed.