On your mark, get set…

December 12, 2022

make! Now or later, it’s time to start thinking about those holiday sweet treats. While it’s easiest to just pick something up at the market, it’s just a little bit Grinchy. None of my favorites below are complicated or involved. If you make the decision to limit your selection to just one or two, the process is not only doable but will be greatly appreciated by all you share them with. As you work your way down the list you will find that there are simply no bad choices.

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Espresso Hazelnut Cookies

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Bourbon Balls

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Simple Shortbread

Molasses Cookies

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Candied Orange and Ginger Bark

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Nut Horns

photos: gp

 

 

Sweet Treats

December 9, 2021

When it comes to the holidays, sweet treats seem to take center stage. They also seem to take over, as we hurry to try every new recipe or explore every popular new trend. We end up scrambling to gather our goods and eke out the time in the kitchen to get things done. Now, with both supply chain issues and increased prices throwing a wrench into the works, it might b a good time to limit your holiday offerings to just one  or two, just to simplify things. I’ve pulled a few favorites from the last ten years that will not only give you a a great result… no one will be disappointed.

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From the top

Nothing says simple in a holiday cookie than shortbread. Sugar, butter and flour plus a little simple decoration if you’d like and you’re done. https://simplequietmodern.com/2014/12

These classic nut horns are every grandma’s secret recipe. Until now you thought it was lost. You’re welcome. http://www.afriendtoknitwith.com/2016/12/mrs-donatos-nut-horns.html

Nothing says retro Christmas like a Bourbon Ball. This recipe from Garden and Gun magazine could not be easier.  https://simplequietmodern.com/?s=bourbon+balls

While you can enjoy these Maple Glazed Walnuts all year long, they are particularly welcome with a holiday cocktail. The original recipe can be found here, http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/

A spicy Molasses Cookie can’t be beat at Christmastime. Gild the lily if you must with a bit of raspberry or apricot preserves and turn them into thumbprints.

When I was having oven issues several years ago this amazing recipe for Candied Orange and Ginger Bark kept everyone happy. What’s not to love?…dark chocolate, candied orange, candied ginger and pistachios!  http://www.canadianliving.com/food/baking_and_desserts/candied_orange_and_ginger_bark.php

photos: gp

 

 

Uncle

April 19, 2018

OK… new plan. While it’s already the middle of April and the snow, ice and frigid temperatures continue, I’m thinking a jump-start on next Winter might be a good idea. I’ve started some cuttings of yellow twig Dogwood to work into the landscape as soon as I’m able to get a shovel in the ground. The bright chartreuse stems should brighten things up when the world has gone all black and white. Added bonus…bright green leaves with white blossoms in Spring, clusters of white berries through the Summer and the bark turning bright red through the Fall.

Mid April…really?

Top two photos: gp

Bottom photo via: https://www.thetreecenter.com/yellow-twig-dogwood/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIooCriYnG2gIVl7XACh2IyAQsEAQYAiABEgIcM_D_BwE

 

In and Out

January 16, 2014

There was a time when I looked forward to the “In and Out” lists that were published at the end of one year and the start of a new. I actually helped produce many. What’s out…what’s in?  What’s hot and what’s not? It was fun. It kept things fresh. It’s time again to revive that tradition, but with a more discerning eye.There is so much information floating  about, and with things changing in the blink of an eye, there comes a need to re-evaluate. If you hear that something is “trending” the fact is that it’s ship has sailed. And, what’s now available everywhere is a knocked off to the 100th power cheezy incarnation barely resembling the distinction or quality of the original thought. So, if you will indulge me;

Cupcakes?  We know their time has passed but what’s in line to take their place? Mini pies? No, too much crust. Cronuts? Nice try. Maybe it should be a Mini Crostata ( Crostatita?)…like a pie that eats like a cookie. Hmmm…

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CFL and LED bulbs: Who would have ever thought that a government would put a stop to the use of the classic incandescent lightbulb yet still allow the production of  gas guzzlers like the Chevrolet Suburban or the Cadillac Escalade? Doesn’t seem quite fair does it?  Not much we can do but slowly shell out the incredible prices for these less than appealing light sources and pray for a better option. I’m trying to like the Plumen 001, but I’m just not there yet. Until then, CFLs  and LEDs out…sunlight and candlelight in.

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photo via http://usshop.plumen.com/products/plumen-001-screw-fitting

Mason Jars…except for the fact that I use one or more everyday, from holding a bunch of parsley in the refrigerator to shaking up a quick vinaigrette, I really think these deserve a big “out”. Most especially at events and weddings. Unless your nuptials are taking place on a back porch in Appalachia and there’s Moonshine in them, there is no reason to be serving your guests drinks in a Mason jar. Clever? NO. Cute? NO. And, don’t get me started on the” dead relatives in a jar” used as centerpieces. ( Like this photo from internetland ).

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Salted caramel?  OK, a good caramel should have always had a salty note…adding sea salt is just redundant. Hasn’t anyone ever dipped a McDonalds fry into their chocolate shake? The salty sweet thing isn’t new…the same  goes with caramel.With an exception, like the hand-made caramels from Bequet Caramels in Bozeman, MT…who have set the bar amazingly high, I think the salted caramel could use a rest.

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http://www.bequetconfections.com/

Do the homework. Now that everyone and their mother has latched onto the term “mid-century modern” the market is flooded with new “inspired by” product as well as a lot of old kitschy stuff at every auction and estate sale. The fact is that there is a lot to know and a lot more for most people to learn. Just because something was made in 1950 does not make modern…or desireable. And the new “inspired” items are even less modern…less desirable. Some classic pieces are still in production however, and at workable price-points, like this Noguchi Rudder table designed in 1947.

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photo via http://hivemodern.com/pages/product6716/herman-miller-isamu-noguchi-rudder-table

Pimenton: Smoked Paprika. How much of this can we eat before we are sick of it? I guess when it’s an ingredient in an apple pie baked in a Mason jar or dusted over a salted caramel we’ll know.  I’m thinking the tide should be shifting to the Moroccan Spice blend  Ras el Hanout.  To North Africa what curry is to India, this mysterious (and heavily guarded) blend of spices, pods, barks and aromatics is used on everything from meats and poultry to grains and vegetables. Mix up a batch of your own and you can start keeping your own spicy secret.

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We’ve sure been eating our green leafies, haven’t we? Who’d have thought we would not only like Kale, but that we’d like it raw and in a salad with Brussels Sprouts?  Don’t get too comfortable. Better start getting used to the new “it” veg…Cauliflower. You might want to start by simply roasting it. What you’d think would pale by comparison will  have you coming back for more…and more.

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Tattoos: At least you can paint over graffiti. But ink? Not as easy. Maybe it’s time to make the unmarked body a new status symbol. If not that, maybe a 2 or 3 day waiting period is in order before pulling that trigger.

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Artisanal Bitters: I want to know who has that much time on their hands. Or, drinks so much that they need a stash of blackened pineapple or long chili-chai bitters. Simply pretentious. Maybe it’s time for the classics like Angostura or Peychaud’s to stage a comeback…and maybe the Champagne Cocktail as well.

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Black is the New Black; always was. Wear whatever color you want but don’t go for mass approval by calling it the new black. Black is black. It is not emerald-green, or orchid or brown. Black = IN. Enough said.

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Change of Plan

December 18, 2013

Could there be a worse time for your oven to decide to act up than a week before Christmas? Well, better sooner than later, so there is still time to regroup.  Instead of cookies, I think candy is going to be the treat of choice this season. As long as it’s homemade does it really matter? I don’t think there will be any disappointed faces when they dive into this…Candied Orange and Ginger Bark.

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It’s as easy as gathering your ingredients and melting some chocolate. Make your candied oranges a day ahead and this is simple simple simple. You can find the Canadian Living tested recipe here:http://www.canadianliving.com/food/baking_and_desserts/candied_orange_and_ginger_bark.php

 

Would I…

June 9, 2012

like this book as a Father’s Day gift?  You bet!  It’s no secret that I love trees, logs, branches, stumps, bark. If it’s part of a tree…give it to me. Even my cocktail table is a giant slice of raw, fallen tree. And, I’ve been known to use sections of logs as side tables or stools. If I framed some unfinished birch plywood whorls to hang  instead of art  no one would be surprised. That said, this hardcover volume of woodcut relief prints by Bryan Nash Gill, simply titled Woodcut, is right up my aesthetic. For the modern naturalist or natural modernist on your list, this could be just to ticket.

http://www.shopterrain.com/new-arrivals-house-home/woodcut

Nesting Instinct

April 30, 2012

Whether it’s a Cardinal locking his sights on a large shrub  in your yard or a friend scoping out the perfect tree on a bluff overlooking Lake Huron…everyone  is looking up this spring for the ideal location. Built of gathered grasses,twigs and bark or construction cast offs and recycled product, each of these tree houses possess a simplicity and modernity that can’t be denied…both the result of design instinct and hard work.  If you’re feathering your nest to welcome a new family or looking for a place of quietude from the family you have, start with an inspired plan and you too can enjoy rewards such as these.

April showers…

April 26, 2012

make everything wet…like tree bark. Mother Nature doing it again, providing the perfect inspiration for this all season blanket I call Bark. Berroco’s Remix is  my yarn of choice for this…I love it’s rich ” wet bark” color as well as the recycled mix of fibers. While you’re waiting for May’s flowers, this might be a project to wind you down after a day of spreading mulch.

In like a lion…

March 1, 2012

March. We are nearly out of the woods of winter anticipating the new beginings that spring brings. Yet, oddly enough, among the gray skies and melting snow you can find the perfect inspiration for a new project. Mother Nature again providing a creative nudge through a small piece of birch bark blowing across the yard…which leads to the selection of a terrazzo vessel…which then leads to a new backsplash? Bath renovation?  OK, let’s not get nuts…maybe a few new towels is the simplest solution.  http://www.target.com/s/bathroom+home+spa+towels