Archive for December, 2011

Merry Christkindlmarkt

Christmas in Germany has inspired me. In bakes. In design. And in photography. Merry Christmas!

L

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Favorite Shots: The Holly And The Ivy

I’m taking a little break over Christmas. I’ll be back for real January 9th, and I might throw in a post here and there while I’m gone (like my Christmas shots of Rothenburg?!), but as it stands, this is my last official post before we break.

Which is why I am a little sad about this shot. I know it isn’t very great. I mean, the focus is bad. But look what it is! Holly and ivy! As in “The Holly and The Ivy” English Christmas carol! It is so dang appropriate.

And now, in order to make up for that photo which isn’t technically great but involves a lot of life points for me, I wish to present you with a gift of the sort I am able to give you for our first Christmas together. You and I. Reader and writer. Hi.

This is Christmas in the form of a sheep. I named it Kringle. You’re welcome.

L

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great, to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”

Micah 5: 2 ff

How To Manipulate Royal Icing

So I have been dying to show you how easy these are to decorate. I am actually delighted that I get to tell you. Imagine how much fun this could add to your life! Minus the somewhat finicky prep work, the actual cookie decorating process is so great. And easy. And aesthetically rewarding. I saw the technique here. It was love.

First, pipe your outline of undiluted royal frosting. You can find the recipe and tutorial for royal icing and flood icing here. Remember not to overbeat your frosting, or you will end up with pit marks and weirdness.

Fill in your outline with flood icing and spread into the corners (or arc segments, in this case) with a toothpick or fondue stick or whatever you happen to have on hand.

Next, dot a different color of flood icing onto the fill. You can use a piping bag or a squeeze bottle for less mess. I used the end of a metal kabob and a toothpick. Hey…

Now comes the fun part. Using a toothpick (or the tines of a plastic fork—can I do nothing correctly?), swirl around the dots however you would like. You can make all sorts of pretty patterns. To make a heart, draw a single line straight through the middle of a dot.

Be careful not to press too far into the icing. You could get divets like the above, or the frosting colors might mix too much.

It’s a little work, but a lot of impressiveness. Winner.

Luck,

L

Pipe Dream #78: To Make Manly Treats – Heart Sugar Cookies

The unicorn sugar cookies (click here for the recipe!) were such a smashing success that I was eager to try them again. I hadn’t meant to make them so girly, but the colors didn’t turn out, basically because I wasn’t willing to really commit and use a lot of food coloring. My bad. Plus, once I discovered that I could make hearts, I just couldn’t stop. They were too for cute.

It was so fun. Every cookie was different. Pardon the edges; I know they don’t look awesome. If I had really been professional, I would have used a piping tip or a squeeze bottle to pipe the royal icing. Anyway, I wasn’t being professional, so I snipped off the end of a piping bag. Hence the untidy squiggles. It was an experiment.

Here are some more pictures. Stay tuned for the flood icing tutorial coming up!

Heart,

L

Favorite Shots: Pipe Up On Golden Moon

This landscape is super interesting to me, and there are several reasons why I like it. I’m feeling needy today, though. Do you like it? What do you like about it?

See you in the comments,

L

Update: This photo recently won a school photo competition in the Landscape category. Hello fame and fortune in the form of a 10 pound voucher for the bookstore.

Pipe Dream #77: To Distinguish Between The 5000 Accents In The UK

So besides living in rural England, traveling to Edinburgh was my first real excursion into the wide world.  As I said before, it was kind of like walking in a movie set. Half the time I felt like I was in a Bourne movie minus the intense music. The architecture was incredible—half the city was Gothic and half was Georgian. You could just feel the history in the high windows and odd-shaped rooms. All in all, it was a really full but relaxed trip, a good mix of spontaneity and planned fun. Enjoy the view!

Castle of Edinburgh

For the tourists.

The Second Advent.

Broccoli.

The Scott Monument.

Lochs of love,

L

Pipe Dream #76: To Be Uncommon(ly Good) – Best Carrot Cake Ever

I like carrot cake as a rule, but this carrot cake is exceptional. Whether it is baked into loaf pans or in cake pans, it always turns out delectably moist and bursting with flavor.  Plus, don’t you feel like carrot cakes are practically healthy? I mean, it is cake, but look at all that grated orange! It’s like a big Vitamin E, 10-calorie mountain in the middle of a vast, brown wasteland of everything that is bad for you. Carrots are the saving grace of carrot cake.

Moist cakes are the best cakes. I practically don’t even like angel food cake because it is too fluffily dry. Plus, I once had a bad experience using angel food cake mix to make muffins. Let the record show that pumpkin spice muffins should not taste lemon-fermented.

I whipped together some cream cheese frosting to further offset the healthy carrots. Ahem. Super simple. Beat together 8 ounces of cream cheese and 8 tablespoons of butter, then add in four cups of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla. If you want stiffer frosting, just add more powdered sugar. Bam.

And! I added star anise for décor. Pretty, eh? We didn’t actually eat that part, and I felt that there are a bunch of cooler things I could do with it in the future. So expect some anise coming up sometime. We picked of the stars, but the frosting around them had been licorice-infused. An interesting addition.

It’s winter. It’s ok to eat cream cheese frosting. Plus, the carrots.

Tally-ho!

L

Best Carrot Cake Ever

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

6 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins (optional–I didn’t do it)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.


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