Thursday, August 30, 2012

52 cookies :: week 33 :: mexican chocolate icebox cookies

first off thank you for your kind words here and via email. much appreciated. and lots of good ideas too. things are moving forward. slowly. but forward. and that is all we can ask for. your good thoughts, as always, mean so much.

thought i'd kick it up a bit this week. i've been a long time fan of jenny's - first at cookie - and then at her blog. I have spent time poolside this week reading through dinner a love story and these caught my eye. i knew this one wouldn't be a hit with the little sister. the big sister has always had a love of heat in her food, but k likes it mellow.

52 cookies

Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies
from Dinner a Love Story :: Jenny Rosenstrach

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Sift together in a bowl: flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl cream together sugar and butter. Beat in vanilla and egg.

With your mixer, gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture until dough is uniform color and no unmixed flour remains. Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each half into a log (about 8" long). Wrap tightly in wax paper or plastic wrap and freeze inside two tall drinking glasses on their sides for a minimum of 2 hrs and up to 6 weeks.

When ready, preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the frozen dough into round (about 1/4" thick) and place on baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; until the edges feel a bit firm. Careful not to burn.

52 cookies

Store in an airtight container when cooled.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. (I baked one roll, and saved the second to bake one evening this weekend, and serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Mmmmmm...)

52 cookies

K: Spicy, delicious cookie. A little too spicy for me. But so delicious. (I have realized that K finds it very difficult to criticize my cooking in a public forum. No trouble at the dinner table though!)

E: Delish! These cookies are awesome with a hint of spiciness. They would rock with ice cream, and are super with milk. Mmmmmmm...

D: Wow, what an interesting cookie. Have you ever had chili with chocolate chips in it? Well these two flavors are great conspirators. Chocolate with every bite and chili in every breath. Added bonus, the chili keeps cookie monsters like me from eating the whole jar.

*Double added bonus...your redo on last weeks bars was s.m.a.r.t. Nobody wants to struggle through a crumbly cookie mess. It made them more delicious, the flavors coalesced better with more compression.


*a cookie so nice, I baked it twice ;) i made last week's cookie again earlier this week. this time i pushed them into the pan with more force and the help of a tumbler. i also put them into the fridge overnight before cutting. they held together much better and were still yum. they are a perfect mid-day snack cookie for me - liking that they are wheat and egg free too.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


we are dealing with someone we love very much going through a very tough time related to mental illness. explaining this to the girls has been so hard. i always want to be honest and open in the most age appropriate way.

with a very perceptive and thoughtful almost 11 yr old that is often a challenge.

with an easy-going 8 yr old, a little easier.


"Bright became dim.
Glad became gloom."

i love this book. virginia woolf is one of my favourite writers and her tragic end familiar. when i saw this over the summer i picked it up immediately. (the illustrations are so lovely.) i could not have guessed that it would be so relevant and helpful a few months later.

early light

hold your loved ones close. talk. "love, love, love."

Friday, August 24, 2012

52 cookies :: week 32 :: chewy granola bars

E and K's 3rd grade teacher - and amazing cook - wondered when i would enter into the realm of bars. with a return to school lunches, a bar sounded perfect to fit into the girls' lunchboxes.

52 cookies

Chewy Granola Bars with Pecans, Chocolate, and Cherries
via Orangette (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 c quick-cooking oats, divided
1/3 c sugar
1 c raw pecan halves
1/2 c unsweetened coconut chips
1/2 c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate of similar size
1/4 c dried cherries
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional - I left it out)
1/3 c peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to line the bottom and two sides of the dish, leaving a little overhang. Press the parchment paper into the dish. Lightly butter the parchment paper.

Put 1/3 cup of the oats in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining 1 2/3 cup oats, ground oats, sugar, pecans, coconut chips, chocolate chips, dried cherries, & salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, vanilla extract, melted butter, honey, and water. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir well, until the mixture is evenly moistened. Transfer to the prepared pan, pressing the mixture firmly to ensure that it molds to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap did help.)

Bake the bars for about 30 minutes, or until they’re brown around the edges and just beginning to color on top, too.

52 cookies

Transfer the pan to a rack, and allow the bars to cool completely. When cool, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan; then pull up on the parchment paper to lift the sheet of bars out of the pan. Cut the bars into squares.

If your bars seem crumbly, refrigerate them in the pan for 30 minutes to further set them, and then try cutting them while cold.

Our bars were crumbly. And I've store them in an airtight container in the fridge, between layers of wax paper. It has helped firm them up quite a bit.

Yield: 16 squares

52 cookies

K: Crunchy, and good. These cookies can crumble in your mouth, and in your hand! They'd be better if there was more chocolate than cherries.

E: Crumbly and crunchy. These cookies are AWESOME! They would be better if they stuck together more though.

D: Man this powerbar made me go out and run a mile. Nice idea and good flavor combo. I really liked the cherries and chocolate. They are a bit crumbly but that's ok for something so good for me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

music to run by

d signed me up for a 5K challenge. i have been spouting off how i want to run (inspired by friends in the last marathon) and he is holding me to it. you have to know up front i am not a runner. never have been. lots of walking, hiking, yoga and pilates. but never have i ran. except maybe to catch a bus back in graduate school.

but i am excited by the challenge. (he knows i love a challenge.) i have enlisted the advice of a close friend to follow this program. of course "there is an app for that". i love it. and e has joined me in the adventure.

she made a great mix to run to too:

do you love me :: guster
girlfriend :: matthew sweet
kick drum heart :: the avett brothers
kids :: MGMT
our lips are sealed :: the go-go's
video killed the radio star :: the buggles (our song of summer 2012!)
every night is friday night :: old 97s
sick of myself :: matthew sweet
we got the beat :: the go-go's
radioactive :: kings of leon

i am traveling a lot over the next two months. but i am confident i can pull this off. we will see how it goes.


totally unrelated picture. but it makes me smile. k drinking d's famous chocolate milk and doing her homework. this kid never fails to crack us all up.


cookies on the horizon :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

malibu wedding

malibu wedding

malibu wedding

malibu wedding

malibu wedding

malibu wedding

malibu wedding

perfectly beautiful wedding of one of d's college roommates at rancho del cielo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


hello :)

back to our schoolyear routine. i can't say enough how we love ending the hectic week out at the ranch. {this is our friend kayawa}

we've had a great first week. looking forward to a weekend filled with friends & fun.

sending good energy out into the world.

:: wedding :: birthday :: soccer :: meeting for mayoral candidate :: gardening ::

Thursday, August 16, 2012

52 cookies :: week 31 :: lemonade cookies

52 cookies

we are settling in very nicely to the new school year. e has declared joyfully that middle school is "like camp. but lasts longer!" she is taking french and thinks it is her favourite class. k has a wonderful teacher - and i know third grade will be a big (and great) year for her.

52 cookies

i am close to getting the carpool pick-up down. close but not quite.

52 cookies

the heat hasn't let up. we've been doing homework, playing in the pool, staying cool. just right for these:

Lemonade Cookies
from a few shortcuts

1 1/3 c flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
1 tsp lemon zest (I used 2 tsp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In small bowl combine all the dry ingredients.

In the stand mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until just combined, scraping the bowl with a spatula. Stir in the lemon zest.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons (or a small icecream scoop), 2 inches apart on a silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until just brown around the edges.

3 c powdered sugar (I cut down on the frosting and only used 1 c here)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp light corn syrup (I used 1/2 tbsp)
2-3 tbsp water (I just added water until I was happy with the consistency)

Instead of following the directions I veered off here and left out the food colouring (the organic confectioners' sugar made the icing kind of yellow) and dipped each cookie in half way.

52 cookies

K: This cookie is good for any kind of day. It has really good flavour and texture. These are good to share with friends at school. They are the perfect size. The end.

E: Cool and refreshing these cookies are awesome. They are as refreshing as a glass of lemonade. Not only will they make you feel good on a hot day, they would make you feel good on cold days too. These cookies are great.

D: Good cookie. Kinda like a lemon butter cookie. It's soft but not soggy, and lemon fresh but not too strong. I think it would be best with a cup of tea. Oh yeah, it has the lightest little glaze on it making it special.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

back to school!

back 2 school

3rd grade & 6th grade

i know it will be good :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

last hurrah

a favourite beach

last hurrah

last hurrah

last hurrah

last hurrah

and a favourite restaurant

last hurrah

last hurrah

last hurrah

with some favourite people.

last hurrah

last hurrah

tomorrow we begin the first day of the next six year of the girls going to different schools. we have been very spoiled by the little school at the end of our street. and by my working from home. and very lucky too. very.

i know this next chapter will hold just as much joy and adventure.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

these days


the heat hasn't broken. our reprieve is in the pool.

but we are still checking things off the list.

closets cleaned.
backpacks ordered.
first day outfits ready.
lunches planned.
middle school carpool arranged. (middle school!)

school resumes tuesday.

summer has gone by too quickly. actually with these temps, summer is on.

it is just summer vacation that has been too short.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

52 cookies :: week 30 :: lemon-zucchini cornmeal cookies

its hot here. I think its hot everywhere. but it is especially HOT here right now... (my Canadian family, so you don't have to do the math: 107 F = 42 C)

those who know me know how much i dislike the heat. but we are persevering. thanks to the ac and the pool. and late night cookie baking.

i thought i wanted to do a lemonade cookie of some sort - then in my search i found this one.

you can guess what we have a lot of on hand right now. 'tis the season for...

52 cookies

Lemon-Zucchini Cornmeal Cookies
from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, September 2009

1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp packed finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp coarse salt
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c fine cornmeal
1 medium zucchini, grated on small holes of a box grater (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Add flour and cornmeal and mix until mixture is crumbly. Add zucchini and stir until a thick dough forms.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are light golden brown at edges, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

52 cookies

K: sugary, crunchy, nice, good cookie!!!!!! you can not taste the zucchini in it. i cannot believe that the crunchiness is cornmeal. i love the lemon and the taste and the cookie.

E: These cookies are good. They r very lemony and crunchy. They are not good left in hot spots though, because they will lose their crunch.

D: To quote Will Ferrell in Anchorman, "Milk was a bad choice". These cookies in this heat...bad idea. Now I'm sure there are defenders of the cookie that will now say how --- I am. Well, eat my cookies, I'm jumping in the pool with my beer and my wine. ;-)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

new doors!

D likes to take on a project while the girls and i take our annual summer break.

this year - it was the doors. he put in all new birch veneer doors. beauties. it wasn't easy. our home is far from the right angles that make hanging doors easy.

new doors

these have been on our list for a long time. (we also celebrated 11 years of being in this house in july!) the old doors were original to the house - and showed their age badly. they had been refinished without washing first and had dirt embedded in their surface, along with dings and dents that drove me crazy.

i loved the old brass handles, but most of them were unsalvageable. so we got new hardware too.

new doors

a little change that makes a huge difference.

new doors

before back-to-school: the closet doors.

conduct happiness

we helped out our dear friends robyn and joe yesterday with a photoshoot for their business, conduct happiness at their amazing home.

conduct happiness

conduct happiness

conduct happiness

the girls had a blast. check them out soon at :)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

horse camp

on the last day they performed a dressage routine. there was thunder so each girl had a runner with them in case a horse got spooked. it was hot and the girls hosed each other down before the awards ceremony. they had represented Great Britain and received silver medals.

then we headed home and the girls spent the night at the ranch. a night ride; bonfire; and sleeping under the stars. and early morning chores. we just picked them up and they are very tired. and very very happy.

update 08.11.12! camp awards dinner was last night: e was presented with a certificate for best dressage and k for jumping! they can't wait til next year.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

52 cookies :: week 29 :: animal crackers

yes, a week on the road had us miss last week's cookie day. alas, i just couldn't pull it off.

further, i still haven't done a big shop since our return. our csa subscription started up again today so i haven't meal planned until tonight. the cupboards are pretty bare, but i promised the girls cookies for camp!

they are attending horse camp - riding every day, learning more about showing and dressage, and mucking about the stalls. they are (not surprisingly!) loving it.

so horsey cookies it is. an animal cracker recipe dedicated to their equine (and other farm) friends.

{This recipe also looks very good - but I was out of too many ingredients, so...}

52 cookies

Animal Crackers
via Williams Sonoma

2 1/2 c all purpose flour (I used 2 c all purpose and 1/2 c whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp mace (I didn't have any mace so just doubled the nutmeg)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (I finished up our 1/2 c granulated and added a 1/2 c light brown)
1 egg (from our new chicken Miss Cavendish!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and mace. Beat butter, slowly add sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat. Add half the flour mixture and beat until combined, add remaining flour mixture and beat. Divide dough into 2 equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using - I chilled overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line cookie sheets with silpat. Lightly dip each cookie cutter in flour before cutting out cookie. (I decided to forgo the frosting and instead sprinkled them with a tiny bit of orange sanding sugar before baking.) Bake cookies for 14 mins or until light golden brown.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies. (I used our little farm cookie cutters and made over 100. Oops! Good thing they are yummy by the handful.)

52 cookies

K: I love these cookies!!!!!!!!
The only thing about them
Is they are too small!! I would eat 1000 a day if I could! Mmmmmmmmmm
Yum yum!!!

E: Mmmm,mmmmm,mmmmmmmm, they are awesome!!! They are a great size enough to eat ½ a cookie to 10 cookies.  They’re delicious.

D: I'm whack for these animal crackers. They are sooo reminiscent of a cookie that my neighbor's gramma would make by the truckload. We would eat bags of these in the hot valley sun, floating in the pool. They are a simple, flaky, super delicious shortbread, topped with a citrus wash and a slight nutty flavor. But it is the perfect toasty crunch that makes me want to eat them by the truckload. Omg goOd times.