home.alone.

These images are from the project 100 Abandoned Houses.

Kevin Bauman started the project 10 years ago, photographing abandonment in Detroit (a city experiencing a mass exodus of people). The project has grown from there, resulting in a series of hauntingly beautiful images.

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novemburr.

November is my favourite month.

Not because of my birthday–which actually is in June… not November.

Not because of Thanksgiving or it’s proximity to the holidays.

Because autumn is my favourite season, and more-so than October do you see the foliage change colour (in glorious Portland, Oregon that is) in November.

Duh. (Just kidding)

 

Anyways, today I have treats for all you lovelies who read my blog.

My famous pumpkin cookie recipe.

Which is perfect for a lovely November day after you’ve stomped your way through piles of crunchy–or in Portland’s case, wet–leaves.

 

Today I made them into muffins, which I’ve been super fond of lately, because of their ease of transport and clean-up after baking. However, I did not change the recipe in the slightest, so you can make them which ever way you fancy.

 

*side note: These famous pumpkin cookies were actually Carol’s famous pumpkin cookies. However, I don’t know who Carol is, and I am famous for them among my friends and family. So, sorry Carol if you’re reading this and thinking this is your recipe… because… it is, but hey, your cookies are great!

 

Famous Pumpkin Cookies

Yields: 3 dozen cookies or 2 dozen muffins

Ingredients:

COOKIES

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup un-spiced pumpkin

ICING

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • 0.5o cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

COOKIES

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients first.
  3. Add butter, egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix well. (It’s okay if the mixture is still a little lumpy, they won’t bake that way.)
  4. Drop teaspoonfuls onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Place on cooling racks after baking.

ICING

  1. Combine butter, milk and brown sugar in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil stirring CONTINUOUSLY. (If you don’t it will turn to caramel and ruin your saucepan).
  3. Take off heat and let cool completely.
  4. When cool add powdered sugar in small amounts, stirring continuously. Add vanilla during this process. (If you have a flour sifter or a small strainer it would be best to put the powdered sugar in there while adding it to your butter, brown sugar and milk mixture. If the powdered sugar is super lumpy, your icing will be lumpy and the sugar will not be distributed properly.)
  5. Spread icing on cooled cookies. **Hint: if you don’t want icing to get all over the place, put newspaper underneath the cooling racks because the icing will drip off of the cookies**

 

For some interesting flavor profiles you can try adding 2 tablespoons of curry powder to the icing, or use maple syrup instead of vanilla extract.

See how lumpy the batter still is? It’s okay though, the cookies come out as light as air.

Because my father is diabetic I made these pumuffkins (pumpkin muffins?) sans the icing, and as always used spelt flour as opposed to white. I’m thinking of topping one or two of them with some delicious nutella as a sweet treat for myself though.

 

Happy baking!

 

(oh, PS. the images are mine)

layer.by.layer.

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

I recently celebrated my brother’s 24th birthday and my parents 28th wedding anniversary.

This Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake, featured in Bon Appétit‘s June Issue, seemed the perfect compliment to such a sweet occasion.

Of course I had to change the recipe a little bit, since my brother is allergic to wheat products and he prefers blackberries. I will share my revised recipe here, but the link above is for the original.

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

Yields 10 to 12 servings (but I think you can get more mileage out of it because it’s so rich)

Ingredients:

CAKE

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour*
  • 1.75 cups sugar
  • 0.75 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 0.25 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 0.75 cup buttermilk
  • 0.75 cup vegetable oil*
  • 3 large eggs

CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND RASPBERRY TOPPING

  • 18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cocoa), chopped*
  • 2.25 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 6 table spoons seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided*
  • 2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries*
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

* Because of my brother’s wheat allergy I used 1.75 cups of Spelt flour and 0.25 cup of Rice flour (the spelt is really dense and the rice flour helps lighten the consistency); we were fresh out of vegetable oil, so I melted down some margarine instead. I couldn’t find bittersweet chocolate without almonds or whatever else in it, so I used dark chocolate and instead of the fresh raspberries and jam, I used fresh-picked blackberries and marionberry jam.

Directions:

CAKE

  1. Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F.
  2. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high-sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. (You don’t have to do this step, my cakes didn’t stick too bad and came out pretty flat and lovely from the oven.)
  3. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl; mix together.
  4. Whisk water, buttermilk, oil and eggs into dry ingredients.
  5. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each–it really did help to measure this out to insure cakes were even.)
  6. Bake cakes for 30 minutes. You will know cakes are done when the edges have started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. If the cakes do form domes place a kitchen towel atop the cake and gently press with palm of hand to level. These can be made up to a day ahead of time.
  8. Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND RASPBERRY TOPPING

  1. Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl.
  2. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan.
  3. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute then stir until ganache is melted and smooth.
  4. Transfer 1.25 cups ganache to small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. (TIP: I put the ganache in the fridge for an hour and it still hadn’t set, so I put it in the freezer and it set up faster. I would also put more of the ganache in the freezer than the recipe calls for because I found it a bit easier to work with in it’s frosting-like consistency than the messy-liquid ganache.)
  5. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Release cakes from pans by carefully running knife around edges.
  2. Place 1 cake layer onto desired serving dish.
  3. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top–make sure you loosen beforehand!
  4. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, the spread evenly.
  5. Invert second cake layer and carefully place onto frosted cake layer.
  6. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer.
  7. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes. (TIP: it’s okay if the ganache doesn’t cover the sides at this point. When it freezes, the pools of ganache at the bottom can be scrapped up and spread over the sides of the cake, because of the frosting-like consistency.)
  8. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over side if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes.
  9. Arrange berries in concentric circles atop cake; sift powdered sugar lightly over top and serve. (TIP: Berries will NOT stay in place, so if you’re planning on bringing this somewhere, assemble right before serving.)

The cake received great reviews, many said that it was rich, but the fresh fruit helped cut some of the richness. I personally found the actual cake part to be a bit underwhelming, it wasn’t particularly moist but that could have been because I was using spelt/rice flour.

Unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to photograph the cake, I was lucky to even get a piece before it disappeared, but it was quite beautiful. It was a lot of work, but for a big occasion, it was worth it.

Bon appétit!

pillow.talk.

I. Love. Pillows.

This is not a new obsession. I have had a love affair with throw pillows since I could sew at the age of 5. All of my dolls had hand-made pillows ever before sweet frocks were given to them.

Today I am rekindling my love/obsession/passion for sweet pieces of heaven.

Vintage Love - Throw Pillow Covers - 16x16 Inches Silk Pillow Cover  with Ribbon Embroidery

This romantic pillow-cover with ruffled dupioni silk embroidery is quite a lovely addition to a wistful bedroom.

Birds and pillows… kind of a no-brainer. This lovely Chinoiserie throw pillow from Dwell has a sweet graphic without looking too punchy.

Reminiscent of the tchotchke-kitsch of my Grandparents house, this Velvet and Lace round has a vintage feel without the musty colour palette.

http://www.blisslivinghome.com/product_thumb.php?img=images/1046-latham.jpg&w=312&h=411

The geometric design is toned down with a beautiful mustard colour in this Latham throw pillow from Bliss Home Living. Check out the site for some more fabulous fluffs.

AHH!!! Look at these pillows! Like a paint-by-number, the design on these You & Me Euro Shamscombines numeric and organic lines to give an overall feeling of child-like imagination to the set. I’ll be dreaming of these beauties tonight!

avant.gardens.

Upon reading an article about his work in Sunset Magazine, I was very intrigued by the work of Andy Cao.

https://i1.wp.com/greayer.com/studiog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/picture-70.png

His beautiful installation Cloud II in Malibu, CA–which was featured in the article–was so beautiful and ephemeral that I had to find out more. After doing some more research I discovered a video of Cao himself discussing his work.

(Yes, I stole the title, but I thought it was too clever not to use myself)

Lullaby Garden, Corner Stone Gardens in Sonoma, CA, 2004

I love the wistful feeling the fishing-line fence lends to the piece; enclosing the plants but still leaving an air of vulnerability to the work.

lily 2

Jardins des Hesperides, Metis Festival of Gardens, Quebec, Canada

The beautiful lines of the work Cao and Perrot produce is just breathtaking.

For more inspiration on garden spaces check out Pocket Gardens.

your.sconeful.eyes.

For Father’s day, since I’m poor, I decided I would make each important man his own pastry because the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

My father is diabetic and has a slew of food allergies to boot but he loves scones. I have a great and simple scone recipe, but for father’s sake I used some special ingredients to suit his dietary needs.

Yesterday’s batch was blueberry and almond–his two favourites–but I’ll post the original here so that you can make your own combination.

Simple Scones
Yields 12 scones

  • 1 cup Sour Cream*
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 4 cups Flour*
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 0.25 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 teaspoon Vanilla Extract*

* I substituted 12 oz of Whole Soy Blueberry yogurt for Sour Cream, Spelt flour for regular, and Almond Extract for Vanilla. I also added a cup of frozen blueberries to the batch. I also added almond slivers at the end for an extra tasty crunch.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together sour cream, egg and baking soda. Add vanilla extract. Combine this mixture with the dry ingredients.
  4. Cut in the butter.
  5. Mix together–not too long! Spread mixture out onto a floured surface and knead lightly.
  6. Flatten out into a half inch thick round. Cut into wedges.
  7. Bake on un-greased cookie sheets for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges.

Scones have the tendency to be dry, although with this recipe they usually aren’t, but if handled too much during the mixing/kneading process and they definitely will be.

Coming up next: Quick Peach Turnovers

shadow.play.

I think I mentioned once beforehand that I’m a resident assistant at the University of Oregon. I’ve been doing this for three years now, and upon graduating I think one of the things I’m most excited about is living outside of the box (quite literally). Well, today is the first day the residents have all been completely vacated from the halls, and I took their absence to my advantage by photographing their empty rooms.

I know that right now I could never think that someday I would miss these hallowed halls, but I know I will in the very distant future. These photographs are small mementos for myself, to remind me that my current living situation–in the future–is so unimaginably better in comparison.