Thursday, November 27, 2014

White Thanksgiving

Normally, we are happy about white Christmas, so peaceful and festive that even songs are written about it. This year we are blessed with White Thanksgiving. 14 inches of new powder, having arrived on Thanksgiving morning. Ok, so after we dig ourselves out, we will be thankful. The landscape looks like winterwonderland, the snow powdery, the sky blue and the sun bright. This combination has a significant effect on most people: they get the skis out.

While I prepare for the day, I glance through my email inbox, and humming to myself the tantric wisdom of JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out). “I don’t really need anything… I am good. I am immune. I have everything I need. I don’t even like a Canon Rebel T5, not even if it is 50% off.” Ah, yes, all those deals of all those things I potentially want. But not need. Can I close my eyes, and let this Black Friday after White Thanksgiving pass me by this year? Or will I get up electrified tomorrow morning, and jump in my car, and explore, caving fully to FOMO?

The wise plan is likely to figure out ahead of time, what I really need. Instead of being part of a swarm of shoppers, collectively tipsy from a Black Friday high, rummaging through the stores, leaves shelves look like they’ve been hit by the 8th plague.

These are things I ended up buying, before Black Friday:

  • Smartwool! I love the smartwool socks, warm, real wool, undestructible, even by washing and tumble-drying them. This fall I discovered their crew and bottom line. I have 2 tees and one base layer bottom. I could live in those (Note: when you sign up, you get up to $20 off your first order!)
  • After much ordered and returning, I settled on the Keen Wilma Lace boots. Comfortable, easy to get on, toe space and superlight.
  • They go perfectly with my new Tubbs Wilderness snowshoes.
  • This beautiful JCrew vest is still in the mail.
Then it was time for the wilderness adventure...


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cranberries in the Garden

Thanksgiving break is finally here. It is very mild today, temps in the lower 50s. This invites me to go for a walk or hike. The forecast, however, says that the weather will mess with Thanksgiving. Wednesday into Thursday morning… 10 inches of new snow are expected. We’ll have to dig out for that Thanksgiving turkey. At least Black Friday has sunshine all the way to the shops.

I have been doing much of my pro-winter shopping online this year. Several pairs of heavy duty snow shoes that can be worn for hikes or snow shoes arrived already at my house, but they were either too large, and bulky or too small, and I piled up into a tower of boxes for the UPS store since they are all going back. However, the lightbox that came in the mail is finally the right size --- and was immediately repurposed by Chanelle, who claims it as his cat house. “Tape me up, Scotty!”


I also harvested the small batch of cranberries that grow on a tree next to my house. They are a bitter, European variety (Preiselbeeren), but make a fabulous, small batch of cranberry sauce, or something more attractive for the American palate when they are mixed with regular cranberries, just adding a slightly bitter note, like a cocktail bitter/aromatic.


On a winter salad, with romaine, curly kale, sauteed mushroom and pomegranate seeds with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, they are just… a d├ęcor.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Softbatch cookies (gluten-free)

It is another week until Thanksgiving break. The weather is slowly warming up to winter (or snowing up?). It is much chillier now when hiking but still doable without snow shoes.

Today, I created another version of the candy corn cookies --- gluten-free. Replacing the all-purpose flour with King Arthur all-purpose GF flour and some quinoa flour worked out very well. Since they are for a friend, I just made half the batch with candy corn, and the other half with chocolate chips, cranberries and sliced almonds. Perfect hiking food, too….


Candy Corn Softbatch Cookies (Glutenfree)
  • 1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, soften
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1.5 cups Glutenfree all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur flour)
  • 0.5 cup quinoa flour
  • 3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix (or cornstarch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • ca. 1 cup candy corn
  • Or instead of candy corn:
    • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla extract and milk on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, salt, baking soda and pudding mix.
  4. Put speed on low, and slowly added the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute; don't overmix.
  5. Add the white chocolate chips, and mix until just incorporated. (No candy corn yet! But if you make the other version, add all the remaining ingredients.)
  6. Using a small icecream scoop, (or any size of icecream scoop you like based on the size of the cookies you would like to make) form heaping 1 – 1 1/2 –tablespoon sized mounds.
  7. Press about 2-3 candy corn inside of the cookie dough ball (if using).
  8. Place mounds on baking sheet, ca. 8 cookies per cookie sheet, and bake for about 9 minutes. Do not overbake since the cookies will firm up as they cool. Baking longer than 10 minutes will make cookies spread too thin, the candy corn getting contact with the cookie sheet and starting to melt.
  9. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for about at least 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooking. They will be sticky because of the slightly melted candy corn.