29 April 2011

Banana-oat-white and dark chocolate- pumpkin seed-pecan-cookies









The last few weeks have been tough at our house. Things have been a little out of whack, and then yesterday Jacky had to have his snaggle tooth pulled. In short, we need cookies.

Since I haven't posted a recipe in a long time, I thought if I was gonna do it, why not make it a crazy, out of control, every-ingrediant-ever type recipe?

Here is how I came up with this one. I had some rapidly browning bananas laying around that needed to be used up. I also had dark and white chocolate from easter in my pantry, as well as pecans, pumpkin seeds and the usual baking paraphenalia. I always like to use what I already have laying around the house when baking. However, after tasting the results, I must recommend that you go out and buy whatever part of this recipe you might not have- these cookies are worth a trip to the store to pick up white chocolate!

I also want to mention that I tried baking with brown rice syrup for the first time ever in this recipe. Rice syrup is an alternative to sugar that is less sweet and makes you feel a little less bonkers after eating it. I only swapped it with the white sugar- I still used brown sugar too- and the cookies were wonderfully balanced. I think the oat flour helps knock down the sweetness a bit too. The dough is chewy but tastes like banana bread, and then you bite into a big, bitter chocolate chunk and a toasted pecan... wow. The white chocolate chunks are the real sweet spots. Anyway, I think its worth trying the syrup or cutting back the white sugar just to make the contrast within the cookie extra special.

I found a recipe from Auntie Martha (it feels like we are related, anyway) for banana chocolate chip cookies, and then changed it all around. Here's what I came up with:


Banana, Oat, White and Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Seed, Pecan Cookies


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (just grind up some oats in the food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (plus more for sprinkling on top of these bad boys)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup* (or 1/2 cup white granulated sugar)
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and 4 ounces good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks (I used disks and didn't chop them up- delightful)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (about 2 ounces), toasted
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Mix butter and sugars together in standing mixer until fluffy. At a lower speed, add vanilla and the egg. In a separate bowl, combine AP flour, oat flour, baking soda and salt. Gently combine flour mix with butter mix. Then, also gently add oats, nuts and seeds. I wanted giant, extravagant cookies, so I made my dough balls about the size of clementines. I kept the dough high and tight so that the cookies wouldn't spread out too flat in the baking process. Bake for 12 minutes, turning the pan in the oven half way through in order to evenly bake the cookies. Sprinkle with coarse, flakey salt when they are hot out of the oven.


I just ate two. God help me.





25 April 2011

Easter: Not for Sissys












 This year, since I had to work on Easter Sunday, I asked my family if they would be willing to come over to our house and celebrate on Saturday instead. In the end this was a fantastic turn of events because Saturday was sunny, warm (hot at times!) and beautiful from morning until  night. Sunday was a cold and rainy day! We win! Everyone who came brought the most amazing dishes: spring salads (even a rabbit cobb salad prepared with one of Nic's own rabbits), scalloped potatoes with anchovies, asparagus bread pudding, brown bread and tomato gratin (Brown Tom), yogurt cornmeal cake with rhubarb, nutella cups, lemon bars and banana whoopie pies!
Kevin and I prepared all day on Friday (which was also our 4 year anniversary! Yowzas!). I braised a 3 pound lamb shoulder in my tagine for 6 hours with onions, prunes, garlic and meat stock. It was the most tender, succulent meat I have ever tasted. 6 hours in a tagine will do that I guess. We roasted an 18 pound ham with a maple syrup, bourbon, mustard glaze that I don't think we will ever be able to finish. I sauteed tiny new carrots with a similar glaze, adding curry for flair.  For a healthy option I made a bulgar salad with spring peas, plum tomatoes, shallots, and a shiitake mushroom vinaigrette. On Saturday I took the lamb I had braised off and layered it between to two layers of scalloped potato slices, creating a lamb pie called Champvallon. I also tried Smitten Kitchen's recipe for her "Lighter than Air Chocolate Cake" which is a flourless bittersweet take that requires a dozen eggs all separated and whipped forever. Instead of making a plain whipped cream frosting, I followed her directions for a white chocolate mint whipped cream instead. Deeeelightful. It really had a light texture with a deeply dark and barely sweet flavor. The mint was an excellent addition.
Lynne made Smitten's lemon bars- we love Deb so. They are sooo good. I highly recommend trying that recipe if you are in the mood for a lemon bar that is dynamic and lemony, not so sweet it burns the back of your throat.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Thanks for all the sweet messages about Hiro. Ouch we miss him so much!

24 April 2011

He Was a Good Boy





       
He was terrified of docks and bridges!

 


Here are Owen, Mr. Man and Hiro all doing a lawn project together last spring. We miss you all!

Exactly one year ago.



The old dog club (Lynne and I not included in said club)

  

                                      
                                                                       His Favorite.

                                      

  
How those chickens taunted him!


This last week, we had to put Hiro down. He was very old. His hips could no longer support him. Getting out of bed was impossible with out assistance, and he was incontinent. When he could no longer stand on his own with out slipping, we realized that we couldn't let him suffer any more.
His last day was beautiful. We spread out a blanket in the back yard and soaked up some sunshine together. He ate unlimited snacks and got hours of ear and back scratching from his favorite person in the world- Kevin. We were so glad to be able to spend a whole day hanging out with him in the sunshine. Our wonderful vet came over in the early evening and sat down with us in the grass. Hiro passed gently without any pain. He was more relaxed in his last hours than he had been in months.
After we buried him, it started to rain right away! We couldn't believe how lucky we were. It was a beautiful thing.
It has been a tough change for us. Hiro was always with us. He was such a big dog! The house feels empty, even with Jacky still bopping around. Jacky has had a hard go of it too. He has moments of normal Jacky behavior, but is spending a lot of extra time laying low.
We have been talking a lot about our favorite memories we had with Hiro. Hiking Dog Mountain, going camping, when Hiro first kissed me in the car when I was leaving for France... Hiro pulling Kevin on his skateboard to the coffee shop every morning when they lived in SE Portland.... What a dog.

This year a lot of our friends and family have lost dogs too. Mister Man, Owen, Harry- so many special friends! They were all given really amazing lives- and gave us as much in return. They will be missed. Thank you for all the love.

10 April 2011

You think you're fancy?

These boo's are the fanciest our acre has to offer.







27 March 2011

Jam at last

You may remember last summer when Grace, Ryan, Lauren and I went extreme blueberry picking and ended up with 60 pounds of fruit with which to contend. We bought a deep freeze specifically for these beauties. I have eaten a lot of blueberry smoothies since then but still haven't made a dent in our inventory. Today I decided to do something about it: jam. I used up half of the remaining stash and got about 20 jars of jam. That's a lot of preserves. There was even a big spoonful left over that wouldn't fit in the jars, so I ate it warm with heavy cream. I can't believe there are still 3 giant bags in the freezer! Pie anyone?











25 March 2011

Ducklings!

video

Well, thanks for your imput Kylie! We decided, with out doing any research, to adopt two chocolate indian runners named Chaka Kahn and Stevie Nicks!!!!! Welcome to fancy acre girls!!!!!!
So far they have played in their water bowl and made more noise than I ever thought possible. Like, so much noise. I am trying to tell myself that nature sounds are peaceful. Crank the volume on this video and you can hear them eating lettuce leaves and being generally noisy in the bath tub. They practically sound quiet here compared to their real life volume levels! They will live in our kitchen in a wash tub until they are old enough to join the chickens in the yard. Since we already have enough poop in our lives, we have decided to build a small fenced in area around the coop for all the feathered monsters to play in.  Hopefully this will help to keep them off the porch and out of the vegetable patch.

I can't get enough of watching them play in their little home right now. They squirt water with their beaks! They also love kale, just like me. It's love already. Now if we can just get them to imprint on Jacky....


Ducks or no ducks?

Let's put this question to the public- should we get ducklings??? We both feel like the answer is YES. Jacky feels like the answer is NO. Anyone have any experience raising ducks? Is it worth it? Pros and cons?