Archive for April, 2012

Pipe Dream #104: To Stop At 14ths – Cream Cheese Party Mints

I can distinctly remember the first time I had these mints. It was at a grad party, and they were in the shape of little grad caps and diplomas. I was probably 16 or 17, so it was somewhat embarrassing to return to the food table the amount of times that I did that day, but I couldn’t help myself. Seriously, I was like my own personal German granny, “You look thin. You really should eat some more. Here. Have a fourth helping.”

These babies are approximately as addicting as the homemade peppermint patties I showed you before, and twice as simple because you don’t have to dip them in chocolate. So there is absolutely no reason that you should not make them now and give them away immediately to your neighbors. They’ll appreciate. Also, they are the perfect party mints. Any occasion will do. Just buy a mold and set to it!


Party Mints

Adapted from the Clever Culinarian

6 cups powdered sugar

½ teaspoons peppermint extract

¼ cup butter, softened

4 ounces, fluid cream Cheese

sugar (for rolling)

Mix ingredients well and form one teaspoon of mix into a small ball. Coat in sugar.

Push the first mint ball into your candy mold. If there is too much mixture, remove the excess. When finished, roll back into a ball use as a size example to make the rest of the mints.

If you don’t have actual candy molds, you can use any small clean, food safe item that will work or just roll them into balls and coat with sugar. Then you can make several at a time and coat them in sugar.

Finish each by pressing into the candy mold and placing on a tray to dry out.

Makes about 8 dozen marble-sized mints. If your event has a colorful theme, you can add a few drops of food coloring when mixing.

Favorite Shots: Vicarious Pemberley

When my family heard I was going to be visiting Lyme Park, the site of Pemberley from the BBC’s version of “Pride and Prejudice,” they flipped out a little bit. And let’s be real, I flipped out a little bit too. After months of living in England, it just felt so right.

The house was fabulous, clearly, and I so enjoyed taking in the house from a number of different angles. The above shot makes me so happy. It is a favorite shot of favorite shots. The composition is a bit out of the ordinary for me, and I love the reflection on the pond.

This shot is of the front side of the house. To me, it looks really imposing. Broad and steep and forbidding.

Ever and always,

I remain your loving


Pipe Dream #103: To Sparkle – Flower Fondant Cake

At school I had this beautiful German roommate. Obviously, all Germans are beautiful, but Franzi is especially so. She has the most beautiful long red hair and musical ability to make you swoon. So clearly, when her birthday came round, I felt she deserved something extra special.

Coincidentally, the kitchen staff was making the tiniest mini cake that day with some leftovers, and they said I might help with it and give it to Franzi. It worked out pretty well. :]

We used a Dr. Oetker ready-to-roll fondant, as opposed to the homemade marshmallow fondant I have used before. It was was easy to prepare, but I felt that the fondant was prone to cracking. Dr. Oetker is a common baking supplies brand based in Germany. You know chocolate chips? Like Nestle ones? They taste like wax next to Dr. Oetker chips. Chocolate standards in Europe are just so much better over all.

To make the flowers, we cut out individual petals from rolled fondant and stuck them on with a bit of water. I’m not sure if that is the most kosher way of sticking fondant together, but it seems to work. You have to be pretty careful, though.

And then. The edible glitter. Easily the best part of this cake. It was so festive and birthday appropriate. Never mind that I found glitter hiding on my face for the next two days; the overall effect was worth it. Do not do what I did on one side of the cake and splash a bit of water on and then throw the glitter. It will look like the big splotch that you can probably see on my cake.

Shine on,


Pipe Dream #102: To Spend Time Around The Table – German Waffles

One thing that really astonished me when I visited my friends in Germany was the amount of time we spent around the table. It didn’t happen every meal, but occasionally we would sit there for hours grazing on food and chatting. One more morning we started breakfast at 9:30 and didn’t get on the road until noon.

And I was bothered! I’m embarrassed to admit it, because obviously I’d like to paint a picture of myself as extremely chill and happy to be around people making small talk for hours like I don’t have a care in the world. Probably one part of my unease was that much of the small talk was actually in German. And the other part is that my culture is messed up and we rush around like crazy fools for the better part of the day. So nurture, not nature.

Anyway, I eventually relaxed and had the wonderful feeling that I really didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything. It was very nice.

We spent one of the nights in a flat drinking Christmas tea and making waffles. German waffles, from a cookbook that all good German girls have, so my friends said. If you can interpret the recipe, feel free to look at the ingredient list. Otherwise, translation follows below.

Auf Wiedersehen meine Freunde,


German Waffles

Adapted from German Linda’s recipe

250 grams butter

250 grams sugar

5 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

500 grams self-raising flour

500 milliliters milk

Cream butter and sugar with a stand/hand mixer. Add the eggs, mixing to combine. Next add the flour flour, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Pour batter into a hot waffle iron, and use as directed.

Favorite Shots: Bluebook Essays

It’s finally finals season. For all of you who have to take finals, please  accept my most sincere condolences and well-wishes. I’ll eat some mediocre pizza and chocolate so I can empathize with you more.

Given the fact that I don’t have to take finals this year, I have been finding myself waxing nostalgic about my old bluebooks. I think they look charming.

Don’t read my writing. This class was not charming.

Best of luck,


Pipe Dream #101: To Not Cop Out If I Can Help It

A friend of mine once said that editing photos so that they are black and white is kind of a cop out. Black and white makes everything look better. It hides flaws—no color noise, better contrast, and the subject is more clearly defined.

The problem, he said, is that it makes a lot of photographers look like they’re more talented than they really are. “Not a quality photo?” these lesser beings query, “I’ll just put it in black and white and instantly feel better about life.” Truly good photographers work with color because it is harder to get right.

It’s true, monochrome might be a cop out. But can you honestly imagine these sheep looking any other way? I LOVE the way this sepia-ish black and white looks. And I am not ashamed.

A workman approved,


Pipe Dream #100: To Simplify Your Life – Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Scones

Pumpkin. Cinnamon Roll. Scones. Three real happy things squished into one recipe. Although the recipe looks a bit finicky, I tried to include a few tips along the way that should simplify things. Let’s begin, shall we?

First off, I found a lingering feather on one of the eggs I was using. I wasn’t really grossed out; I was more pleased that the eggs I was using were fresh and farm-ish-looking.

Tip #1: Don’t bother rinsing your eggs; you are just cracking the shell off them anyway.

This recipe is one of those wet/dry ingredient recipes. I made up some buttermilk from scratch with a little lemon juice and added maple syrup to the eggs. Ah maple syrup, just another one of those interesting ingredients that makes this recipe unique and my life delicious.

Tip #2: Make your buttermilk from scratch.

I used my hands to rub the butter into the sifted dry ingredients this time, but feel free to use your favorite method. Knives, a pastry blender, whatever does the trick. I recently read about grating frozen butter and mixing it in. You can read about that here if you want. Might simplify your life a bit, and heaven knows I am all about simplifying your life.

Tip #3: Grate your frozen butter.

Easily the trickiest/coolest part of this recipe is rolling the dough so that your scones are cinnamon-swirled. It is difficult to roll the dough because it is so delicate, but once it is rolled, slicing it into scone triangles is a snap. Be careful to use a lot of flour on your work surface so that the dough doesn’t stick and crack.

Tip #4: Use lots of flour when rolling out your scone dough.

You can whip up a little cinnamon glaze for the top, which bakes up a beautifully shiny finish. These scones were not at all sweet, so I made up a quick glaze of icing sugar, vanilla and milk for the top.

Look at how fabulous that looks! The swirls! It was like eating at Cinnabon sort of not really. But if you want cinnamon rolls, please look at this.

Simply sated,


Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Scones

Adapted from Naturally Ella

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons butter, divided
2  egg whites
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
¾ cups pumpkin puree
¼ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2  egg yolks
½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 425ºF and cover a sheet tray in parchment paper (or a reusable Silpat mat).

In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Cut in 12 tablespoons of butter (using pastry blender, two knives, or your hands) until butter is in little pea size pieces. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg white, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, pumpkin, and buttermilk. Stir into dry ingredients until dough pulls together.

Scoop out onto a floured surface and carefully pat dough into a rough 20×8 rectangle. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and combine with 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and cinnamon. Brush about half onto the rectangle. Starting with the end closest to you, roll the dough (like you would a cinnamon roll).

Once you have a round log, carefully shape into a rectangle log that stands about 1 1/2″ high and that has a width of about 3″. Cut log in half and divide each half into six triangles.

Whisk together any remaining filling mixture with egg yolks. This gives you a nice golden color on the scones. Place on the baking tray, brush with the butter/egg mixture.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the scone has a harder outer shell and has browned. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before icing.

To make icing, combine powdered sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Add milk if it’s too thick or powdered sugar if it’s too thin. You want to reach a thick yet pourable consistency. Drizzle glaze over the scones.

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