Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little bite of Hawaii. An incredibly fattening, totally awesome, nothing quite like it bite.

A friend of a friend recently moved to Hawaii and raved about her discovery of Chocolate Haupia pie, making me crave one of my hometown favorites. Also, making me simultaneously want to kiss and kick her.

Chocolate Haupia Pie

I'm not the prettiest pie maker. But, it's darn tasty.

Haupia is described as coconut pudding, but it's really more of a jello usually. In this pie, though...all pudding. Alllll good.

I found a Chocolate Haupia Pie recipe here. Actually, I found a ton of them all over the web, and all exactly the same with the minor exception of the inclusion of coconut extract in some but not others. Weird. There cannot only be one way to make this, but apparently no one has published anything different. Which is a bummer, because frankly I would commit a lot of unconscionable crimes for Ted's Bakery's recipe.

I made a pie without the extract just before leaving for Berlin. It was good, but could stand to be more coconut-y. And the semisweet chocolate was kind of gross. Most of that pie went in the garbage. Not because it was terrible, but it just wasn't good enough to snarf the whole thing before we left.

Yesterday, I made the pie with the extract and with The Most Incredible Chocolate In The Universe in place of semi-sweet. I also added a little coconut extract when I was whipping the cream topping. It's pretty awesome. The only drawback is that - on the first go round - the filling almost overflowed the crust, so I reserved some of the chocolate mixture before adding the haupia layer. I reserved waaaay too much. As you can see.

Chocolate Haupia Pie

Still awesome.

I find it's more coconut-y on Day 2, so make ahead and refrigerate overnight.

Chocolate Haupia Pie

♥ Ingredients:

1 9-in. unbaked pie crust
1 cup milk
1 can coconut milk (14 oz.)
1 tbsp. coconut extract
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch
7/8 cup The Most Incredible Chocolate in The Universe
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
more coconut extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Bake crust for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, coconut milk, coconut extract and 1 cup sugar.

4. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in water.

5. After bringing coconut milk mixture to a boil, reduce to simmer and slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring over low heat until thickened—about three minutes. Divide evenly into two bowls.

6. In another bowl, microwave chocolate until melted.

7. Mix chocolate into one of the bowls of coconut pudding, then pour mixture into the pie crust, spread and let sit.

8. Spoon the remaining bowl of coconut pudding on top of the chocolate-coconut pudding mixture and spread smooth being careful nut to mix the two layers. (Don't pour in the middle or the chocolate layer will part like the red seas and you're Moses.) Refrigerate the pie for an hour or more.

9. Whip the heavy cream with 1/4 cup of sugar and some coconut extract until stiff. Layer the whipped cream on the pie surface.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Urlaub in Berlin, Tag Eins

^Holiday in Berlin, Day One

Last week El Niño had a swim meet in Berlin, which we used as an excuse to spend several days exploring. Berlin is newly minted as one of my favorite cities in the world. It has so much character and style and the oddest charm - kind of communist chic. So much of the old Soviet style is evident in the Eastern section, but modern sensibilities are taking over and making for a fantastically unique mix.

I need to warn you now that we did not visit Checkpoint Charlie or Das Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) or see any remnants of the wall or any of the new memorials to opposition politicians or Holocaust victims. It's not that I'm not interested in history or Nazi sites. It's just that I'm that tourist. I will go to Paris and never see the Eiffel Tower. I only saw the Mall in D.C. briefly and because I tagged along with others for whom it was a priority. I have an interest in visiting a place like Auschwitz where I believe the experience in person will be completely different than what you get from a printed account. But, to stand in line to look at the outside of the building where a handful of nutjobs dreamed up The Final Solution? Or to scurry all the way across town to get a glimpse of a place where there used to be a wall? No, thanks.

I was more interested in exploring the fabulously hip Prenzlauer Berg district and Berlin's storied flea markets. The kids were far more interested in checking out the zoo. So, we did what we wanted to do and we had an absolutely lovely time. I took a pathetic number of pictures, but here they are:

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

The sheer amount of graffiti - particularly in East Berlin - was astounding. And the quality was fantastic. I loved the way the artistic youth have absolutely reclaimed their city. Without it, the whole place would still look a lot like this:

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

Some people seemed determined to keep their spaces art free, and they were lovely too. I can't imagine the battle it requires, though.

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

There were so many cute shops and little cafes and restaurants of all different world cuisines! I wish I was less self-conscious about taking pictures inside establishments but I have a thing, what can I say.

Suffice it to say that El Niño got his sushi fix, I got my adorable eclectic shop fix and Cheeseball got very tired. After that, we hopped over to the slightly more tony Hackescher Markt. There was a cool Japanese department store called Muji of which I again took no pictures, but we loved exploring all the stuff. Their selection was definitely of the modern, sleek stylish Japanese variety rather than the kawaii, colorful adorable Japanese variety. Less interesting for the kids, but I loved it.

We wandered by this gorgeous synagogue, guarded by three fully armed Polizei.

Synagogue, Berlin

Then stumbled on this beautiful building on the river.

Bode Museum, Berlin

Bode Museum, Berlin

And that was day one!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Mustache!

I decided one thing my creations were lacking was facial hair. So, I remedied that posthaste.

Mustache Hat

Soft Merino Beanie Now With More Mustache

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Aht. More aht, dahling.

Without really intending to, I've been slowly but surely turning the fourth "bedroom" in our house into a craft room. Albeit a small-appliances-books-and-exercise-equipment-storage-accomodating-craft-room, but I like to share. And, what's this...? I have a shop! That officially upgrades this from a craft room into a studio. Aaaaand, suddenly I feel glamorous. Everybody should have a corner of their house that makes them feel glamorous, no?

Since purchasing this print by june craft for El Niño's room, I've been looking for other independent artist's prints for the rest of the house. And this letterpress print by Julie West would be perfect for mah stuuuudio, dahling.

Love, love, love.

Via paper crave

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Das Stew

On New Year's Eve, I made a delicious beef stew in the slow cooker. I started with this stew recipe, and sushi'd it up. I've been wanting to cook a stew (with carrots - in season this month!) and this was perfect!

beef stew


2 lbs chuck roast, cubed

3 cans beef consommé + water to equal 4 cups
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
dash of paprika

6 small potatoes, chopped
6 small carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped

4 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp water

I mixed flour with salt and pepper, dredged the meat in it and then browned them in butter. I browned the meat in three batches, to make sure each piece had lots of space. I think it's best to do this on a fairly high heat, so they get nice and browned on the outside quickly and don't cook too far in.

Once done, I drained off most of the butter then poured some consommé into the pan to pick up the nice little bits cooked on to the bottom. I poured all the consommé in to the slow cooker with the rosemary, parsley, bay leaves, pepper, salt and paprika then placed the meat in.

I cooked that all on high for a few hours, then added in the veggies and the cornstarch and left it on high for a few hours longer. Since the recipe was on the stove and I used a slow cooker, I ended up having to add extra cornstarch (4 tsp, instead of 2 called for in the recipe). Next time, I'll probably use one less can of consommé instead. I think I'll probably also use basil butter, add garlic and some thyme.

Holzgerlingen, Deutschland

We've had the perfect weather for stews and soups and slow cooker cookin' and I'm thinking about picking up The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World. Doesn't that sound yummy?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Sometimes the universe is in perfect alignment.

We own one soup thermos, which is a problem when both kids want to take leftovers for lunch. Or when I want to make oatmeal in a thermos for El Niño for breakfast after swim practice and send soup for lunch. So, I've been hunting for another.

Apparently, Germans don't do thermoses for lunch, because they are nowhere to be found here. And, the military post store and their stupid automated ordering system have been thwarting me for the last six months. I have looked every time I've been in the store since Back to School shopping last summer and they are always sold out. The employees keep assuring me that they have received more, but they fly right out the door.

So, I was thrilled when we stopped in yesterday and they had them in stock! I immediately threw one in the basket and did a little happy dance. Then, the fire alarm went off, the store was evacuated and we were hustled out the door. Really!? I almost could not believe it.

But, then! Then! About an hour later, I got an email from my Dad that he had spotted some thermoses he thought the kids would like and was on his way to the post office to send them to us. I don't remember if I had filled him in on my thermos woes or if it was just a completely happy coincidence. But, I just love when things work out that way. And I think it's a sign that 2011 is going to be a great year.


What are you expecting for the new year?  Good things, I hope.

Printable January 2011 Calendar

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to another fabulous year and formulating my own resolutions to make it happen. One of those is to focus our fruit and veggie buying on greens and sweets that are at their peak harvest times. Not only are they more delicious then, but it seems more natural to eat things when they are meant to be harvested!

I use a small, weekly calendar to record appointments and things to remember (so old school!) but I also like to be able to see the days of the month at a glance without digging that out of my purse. So, I'm creating printable calendar pages for the year, featuring the most prime fruits and veggies of each month. Love January because brussel sprouts roasted with a bit of olive oil, garlic and sea salt are one of my absolute faves!

January Fruits and Veggies Calendar

I print on cardstock, then trim about an inch off each side for a slightly more streamlined look. You can download the full size jpg from flickr or here.

Enjoy! And enjoy making the year fabulous!

UPDATE: Oops! It's been pointed out to me that the numbering was off. I've corrected and reuploaded. Thanks, Al!