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Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

Contrasts

This past week has been one full of contrasts; of ups and downs, of highs and lows, of gains and losses.

It has given us both loss and love, grief and joy, sorrow and happiness; a death and a marriage.

After moving him into hospice this past Monday, my father-in-law, Charles Hollander passed away on Thursday June 5th, he was 81 years old. Although we were all well aware that this day was looming, expecting it and experiencing it are two different things.

Charles Hollander

Two days later, on Saturday June 7th, my stepson Steven and his lovely fiancée Eileen got married. It was a beautiful happy occasion.

SteveEileen-Cake

Contrasts

Although I often hide it, I am an emotional person (disclosure) there were tears, some at the most inopportune time (thankful for an empty ladies room). You see, mourning a loss and celebrating a union put me in great conflict and their collision, it turns out, was harder to take than I anticipated it would be.

Dad-1

My father-in-law was a loving and creative man who passed on his curiosity and inventive nature to both of his sons. He didn’t slow down until his body said otherwise. I have fond memories of family gatherings and working craft shows in New Paltz, NY…and pointing out “trac-toors” (winks at mother-in-law and husband). He will remain in my heart, always.

Although this week began on a sad note and was punctuated with the loss of a life, it ended with the beauty of a new life for two, joined at the heart. And it is my heart that both aches for dad and swells with joy for Steven and Eileen.

SteveEileen-Dance2

SteveEileen-Kiss

The newlyweds are now on their honeymoon in Hawaii and I hope they are having a wonderful time.

Despite the sad start to the week, for my husband and I, it ended on a happier note.

Us-Laugh

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Rosh Hashanah falls really early this year beginning the evening of September 4th, right after Labor Day, yikes!

So we’re doing a kind of weird celebration, combining our numerous August birthdays with Rosh Hashanah. This was the only way we could get everyone together in one place anywhere near the holiday. As a result we are having a pre-Rosh Hashanah celebration this coming weekend at my in-laws and then a much smaller gathering on the second night of the holiday at my home.

I think I’ve pretty much got my menu worked out, finally, but in case you’re clamoring for some ideas, here are a few I’ve cooked up (pun intended) over the past years.

Chopped Liver 
ChoppedLiver
Tzimmes  
FruitCooking

Whole Wheat Challah
and
Apple Stuffed Challah Rolls

Maple Challah
Roasted Butternut Squash &
Apple Soup

Butternut Squash Apple Soup
My AWESOME
Not Too Sweet
Honey Cake

Honey Cake

L’shanah tova!

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For Chanukah this year my sister in law asked me to make the challah which I foolishly didn’t take a picture of before we tore into it. Six Strands! Ugh! Anyway, she also asked me to make some cookies, a request I am always happy to fulfill. I wanted something simple but tasty. Once again Cookiepedia by Stacy Adiamando came to the rescue. The last wonder I made from this book was my Orange Cardamom Cornmeal cookies.

The Honey Lemon Drops are petite little cookies but don’t let that fool you, they provide a wondrous little burst of lemon and honey flavor. Originally I pretty much followed the recipe as written (unusual I know) but although tasty I felt they were too salty; my family agreed. So the second time around I fiddled with the recipe, cutting the salt and tweaking the sugar.

Lemon Honey Cookies The end result is a chewy, flavorful little cookie.

This batch, well okay some of this batch, was packaged up and given as gifts to a few people at work along with a little knitted ornament I made for each person. Here it is on a co-worker’s tree!
Knitted Christmas Ornament

The trick to getting these cookies even in size and shape is to use a small cookie (mini ice cream scoop) and drop the dough onto the parchment lined sheet pan.
LemonHoneyDoughBalls

To flatten them I simply used one or two fingers to gently press them into disks. They will expand some but not much. Tip: If your fingers get a little sticky you can wipe them off or dip into a little water, just be careful not to transfer the water to the cookie.

ShapingCookies

Once they have completely cooled lay them out on a piece of parchment paper and drizzle the glaze over the cookies. I just used the whisk I blended the glaze ingredients with to do this.

These cookies are particularly tasty with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea…just in case you were wondering.

Glazed Lemon Honey Cookies=Min's Plate

Honey Lemon Drops
Adapted from “The Cookiepedia” by Stacy Adiamando
Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
3. In a small bowl or measuring cup combine the egg and honey, stirring until well combined. Set aside
4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest.
5. With the mixer running, add the egg/honey mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
6. Slowly add the flour to the wet ingredients in three increments, blending until mostly combined between each. After the last addition blend until the dough looks smooth.
7. Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto one parchment lined sheet pan about an inch or so apart.
8. Gently pat each cookie ball down into a disk.
9. Bake for about 11 minutes or until you just see a light brown tinge around the edges. Let stand on the sheet for about 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
10. Repeat with more dough and the second sheet pan, allowing the first one to cool before reusing.

The Glaze
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half and half or milk.

Once the cookies are cooled, combine the sugar and half and half with a whisk until well combined. If the glaze is too thick add a little more half and half one teaspoon at a time. You want it to remain a bit on the thick side.

Place the on some parchment paper and drizzle the glaze using the whisk over the cookies. They will need to set for about an hour or so, then you can place them in an airtight container.
Glazed Lemon Honey Cookies

NOTE: The glaze may be made and drizzled over the cookies the next day.

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RicPlayingBanjo

Today is my husband’s birthday and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love him. There are no words in the English language that can even come close. He holds my heart ever so gently in his warm comforting hands; he knows me like no other, sometimes I think even better than I know myself. He is always there to soothe my oft frazzled nerves, he’s there to lend a helping hand when I need it. He’s my enabler when it comes to my creative pursuits and enjoys (truly) joining me on that journey. He is my rock. He makes me swoon.

I am so incredibly proud of him and in awe of his amazing talents as a musician and an artist; he plays guitar and he builds guitars; he plays banjo (and trust me, you’ve never heard banjo music like this before…no “Beverly Hillbillies” around these parts), he repairs and restores instruments; he draws with both graphite and pixels. He’s been making beautiful music longer than I’ve been on this earth.

We met at work…the second time. I can’t really say that the first time we met we actually saw or spoke to each other but we were in the same place at the same time and as far as I’m concerned it was destiny. You see, when he was in high school he was in a band and among other far warmer places, they played at a local ice skating rink on Long Island. I grew up in Queens but every so often my friends and I would convince our parents to take us to that same rink for several hours of icy fun. I’m several years younger than my husband so we needed a chauffeur. I very clearly remember there being a band and watching them play as we skated. It was an unbelievable moment when we realized that it was his band that played there during that time period so many years ago. See, destiny.

I cannot begin to do his story or his journey justice so the best way I can introduce you to him is by sending you to this wonderful interview!

Do give it a read, oh and there are audio samples too!

Happy birthday honey, I love you with all my beans! XOXO

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Happy blogiversary to me,

happy blogiversary to me,

happy blogiversary dear KNITSTAMATIC…

happy blogiversary to me!

Happy 1st Blogiversary

Yea!!!

Wow, can you believe it’s been a year already?

I’m looking forward to another year full of yarn, food, new friends and new discoveries; come join me.

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This post has special meaning for my entire family. Six months ago my father-in-law was very sick and though we didn’t really talk about it, there was a chance he wouldn’t be here right now. Luckily, he was a perfect candidate for a special heart study; this surgical procedure saved his life. We are all very thankful.

About ten days ago we celebrated his birthday!

Because this was such a special day, I wanted to make something different and unique rather than a traditional birthday cake with a heavy buttercream icing.

I had this big box of clementines sitting on my dining room table and it suddenly occurred to me to use them in a cake where I might more traditionally use orange or lemon.
Clementines in a Basket

Looking through my archives, I found this recipe for a glazed lemon cake by Chef Nathan Coulon in Cooking Light. I decided this would be a perfect candidate for substituting clementine for the lemon, just what I was looking for.

I made a few additional changes by substituting low-fat sour cream for the buttermilk and some of the white flour with white whole wheat flour. Incidentally, this was the first time I tried King Arthur Flour’s white whole wheat and i must say I was pleased, as I always seem to be with their products. The next time I will try replacing more of the white flour. I also cut the number of whole eggs, replacing one of them with two egg whites. Because the sour cream is thicker than buttermilk I upped the juice to add a little more moisture and since clementines have a more subtle flavor than lemon I thought it might need a little extra umph.

Clementine Cake Side

I was also inspired by this beautifully simple recipe for candied clementines by Brian Samuels, the mastermind behind the beautiful blog, athoughtforfood. When they were done and I popped one in my mouth there was such a wonderful burst of flavor I almost couldn’t believe it, I had to stop before I ate them all.
Cooking Clementines

You can get the recipe here. I used these beauties as a garnish on my cake. They’re also great with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce (as Brian mentioned) and with my favorite Chobani yogurt, and in oatmeal and in a cup of tea…okay you get the picture.

Aren’t they pretty on top of the cake?
Clementine Cake Top

I tweaked the glaze a bit too, substituting clementine rind and juice, of course. I also increased the amount of juice to get a stronger clementine flavor and added a bit more powdered sugar to get the consistency I wanted.

Dripping Glaze

I was going to put a whole bunch of the candied clementines on top of the cake but I was afraid that it would get soggy by the time I got the cake to my in-laws house and we had dessert. I also needed to take pictures of it before I left but next time, there will be a strategically mounded bunch of these gems on top of this cake. Hmm, I wonder about adding them between the two layers…what do yo think?

Clementine Cake

Here is my Celebration Clementine Cake, enjoy!
Adapted from Nathan’s Lemon Cake in Cooking Light

Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 cup low-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons finely grated clementine rind
3 tablespoons clementine juice

Icing
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon clementine rind
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons clementine juice

Candied Clementines (recipe here)

Instructions
1. Preheat 350 degrees.
2. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment with cooking spray. Dust with flour and set aside.
3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Add eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating after each addition.
6. Alternating adding the flour and sour cream to the sugar mixture, ending with the flour.
7. Add the clementine rind and juice, mix well.
8. Pour batter into prepared pans. Rap pans on countertop once to remove air bubbles.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 32 minutes or unit a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
10. Cool in the pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To Prepare Glaze
Combine the powdered sugar, butter, rind and juice in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Assembly

  • Place one layer on a cake round or plate spread about half of the glaze on the layer, letting it flow over the edges.
  • Place the second layer on top and spread the remaining glaze on top, again letting it naturally flow over the edges.
  • NOTE:
    Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When ready, top with candied clementines if desired.

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    Friday was my birthday! I have always enjoyed celebrating it I think because I see it as my special day. That’s not meant to be a selfish thing (well maybe a little), I just see birthdays as a celebration of oneself…so that’s what I did, I celebrated ME by embracing what I love. I did say yarnieness, sweets, culinary delights and pictures in my post that day, didn’t I?

    Interestingly enough most of these pictures (the out and about ones) were taken with my iPhone. Because of my achy back and all the walking I knew I’d be doing, I just couldn’t handle carrying my real camera because of the type of bag I currently have. I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised and relieved to see how well those pix turned out. Of course if I had I the right bag…

    Okay so since my husband and I live on Long Island we took the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) to the city (read: NYC). Our first stop was the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. We got there just before it opened so we had to wait a few minutes (we were not the only ones there). I walked in to see a wall of color:
    Lion Brand Yarn Studio

    There was a nice lace pattern scarf knitted up on one of their displays made with a wintery yarn. I liked the pattern so I bought this to make it: Lion Brand Cotton Bamboo It will be more of a springy thing.

    I also got this baby alpaca because, well… Lion Brand Baby Alpaca

    And they were/are having an in-store special 15% off sale for my birthday…no, just kidding about it being for my birthday. They really are having a sale for the month of July, you just have to say the magic word, really.
    Leave me a comment and I’ll let you know what it is via email. 🙂

    From there we jumped into a cab and headed down to the Soho / Nolita area and stopped into “The Little Cupcake Bakeshop” for a sweet snack. Fondling all that yarn made me hungry. I had a “Mott street” cupcake:
    Mott Street Cupcake
    It’s a cupcake that tastes like tiramisu, what could be bad? Sticking with the Italian theme, it was accompanied by an iced Illy coffee.

    My husband had a peanut butter and chocolate cupcake (a favorite flavor combo of his):
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake
    and fresh lemonade.

    From there we had planned on going to the Crumpler store in Soho but apparently it’s not open yet…wish I’d known (no worries, we went to a different location, more on that later). Anyway we continued onto my next stop, Purl Soho. Ok, um, if you do anything with yarn, if you quilt, sew or do needlework you MUST go there. They were so nice and incredibly helpful. Purl Soho Wall of Yarn

    There was one thing in particular that I knew I wanted when I got there, Shelter. Brooklyn Tweet Shelter I know exactly what I am going to do with it too! (Not telling yet.)

    I also saw this: Manos del Uruguay Wool Classic my husband took one look at the color way and said you have to get it. Who am I to argue with such logic!?

    I’d been looking for just the right summery yellow… Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton Yarn

    By now we’d worked up a serious appetite so we walked over to Antique Garage for a late lunch. This place was originally an actual garage, as in car repair garage, note the front door!
    AntiqueGarage-2

    The entire place is decorated with an eclectic array of antiques, including the tables and chairs. Unfortunately we were so hungry I totally forgot to take pictures of our food and by the time I realized it, it wouldn’t have been a pretty picture (pun intended). Anyway, I had the Turkish meatballs and my husband had the chicken kebob, both Delicious!

    Between the cupcakes and lunch we needed some exercise so we walked about 1 1/2 – 2 miles to the other Crumpler store. Jackpot! I found exactly what I was looking for in a non-camera bag looking camera bag and my husband also found a camera bag he liked so we both scored.

    A cab ride back uptown to Penn Station and a quiet train ride home completed this wonderful day. But you know what really made this day special? Spending it with my best friend, my soulmate, my husband who in his words, enjoys sharing in my creative pursuits…and I in his.

    I just love birthdays, don’t you!?

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