Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Holiday Cookies

I had a long weekend, using up my vacation time before the end of the year. Decided to make good use of it and getting a head start on my holiday baking. But sometimes dreams are just dreams. Instead I ended up doing a lot for the restaurant but that's another post. 

I wanted to give out homemade marshmallows with hot cocoa mix. But I should a have started on Sunday instead of Monday. They needed time to set. With my copy of Baking from my home to yours in front of me, I thumbed through the pages looking for some baking inspiration. I usually don't like to baking holiday cookies. It gets overwhelming and can quickly spiral into madness with trays of cookies cooling and waiting to be packed. And the whole packaging/label craziness. And yes, it needs to be design-y. I am a designer. See what I mean . . .

But I decide to bite the bullet and made all my cookies from Baking from my home to yours.

Very dark chocolate-y
Been wanting to make Chocolate Crackle cookies and lots of the recipes call for oil instead of butter. [If I'm going waste my calories on cookies, then it better have butter in it] I figured Dorie Greenspan may have version of these cookies. Hello! Midnight Crackle. Where have you been all my life. But actually, it should be all my adult life, because it is more of an adult taste. More bitter than sweet. I love the all the spices in it, they round out the bittersweet chocolate flavor. I used Waialua Estate Extra Dark chocolate [what I had left in my stash] and Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate.

dusted with powder sugar
Untitled
Filled with my blackberry jam
I love thumbprint cookies and the first half of the weekend I spent jamming. I decided to make the thumbprints using my last jar of blackberry jam, lilikoi curd and some peach butter [I made those as distractions for WG so he wouldn't eat the others]. Used ground almonds instead of walnuts. These are delicate and light--no eggs in it. I think they would goes perfectly with cup of earl grey. 

WG cookie sampler--he's the official taste tester
Last in the line-up, Chocolate Almond Meringue-top right in the picture. I had egg whites to use, thought I'd just make meringue kisses but found this recipe in the book. It has ground almonds in it. I really like using ground almond in my recipes lately. It lightens up the recipe. They turned out really nice, not too sweet, a light chocolate-y flavor with little bits of bittersweet chocolate bits. 

In between the cookies, I made a batch of apple butter cake as a holiday gift for a family friend. When remembered after they were done, they were allergic to apples. I guess the folks at my office will be happy about this.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Been dreaming of . . .

of a delicious layered cake. But I haven't time to make it. I've too busy doing too many things. See my post previous post. 
Untitled
One of my finish projects for the restaurant--Gift Certificates
Most of my tasks as of recent have been for the restaurant. Though I've trying to fit in stuff for the house, making up holiday gift [trying to be on time this year as I'm seeing so many people over the holidays] and exercising. 
Untitled
Got my quince jam all done
Did I mention that I ran a mile without stopping the other day. That's big in my book. My back was aching and running seems to loosen up the tightness. I should be running a marathon with all the tightness I have. Got to love my gym. 
Got a tracker for my 15 yr anniversary from work 
But I'm getting off track and my dreams of my layered cake await. It all started with having an abundance of egg whites from the cheesecake and coconut and lime pie I make for the restaurant. I hate tossing it out. 

I know, I know, freeze it but my freezer has no space and I most definitely will forget it is in there. 

Anyway, looking for something to make with the egg whites I remembered seeing meringue like disk that is layered into a cake. I knew it's started with a "da" and had a "q" in. You got to love google. 

Dacquoise are like meringue with almond flour, kind of like a meringue cake. Can be flavored. I'm going to use try this Toasted Almond Dacquoise recipe from Zoe Bakes.

So the cake I've been dreaming of is a layered Chai tea cake, cardamon dacquoise, lilikoi curd and vanilla bean swiss buttercream. Hopefully I will have time this weekend to make it. I want to try out a recipe for marshmallow. I know what a tease, thought you were going to see pictures of the finished cake. Trust me I'm waiting for that also. Here's a picture of the last layered cake I made. 
Untitled
Mom's Birthday Cake this past May--German chocolate with marshmallow frosting 

I guess I burnt myself out

Because the last time I posted was in mid-October. Lots has been going on since the review in the NYT and the readers choice awards. Restaurant business has been picking up, seeing a lot of new faces. And we are busy creating new dishes, trying to promote the restaurant with new gift certificates and photos of our dishes for our front windows. 

Then on top of all that, I decided I wanted to open my etsy shop [still trying to get it open--soon!!!]. OYE!!

Didn't realize what I needed to do to open up. I created a logo but still need labels.I have to figure out what to do about shipping and pricing. And I have to finish up couple of pieces. I hope I can get it all done this weekend. I don't miss the holiday shopping season. 

I think I may have dug a very deep hole for myself.

But I think I have to stop complaining and get going. Here's a picture of the leaves from the neighborhood before they all came down I took on my way into the NYC. 
Untitled
Looks quiet and peaceful, exactly what I need right now!
Stay tune for news on my etsy shop.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Excited, anxious and just can't wait . . .

UPDATE: It's here! Here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/nyregion/a-review-of-cafe-bua-in-piscataway.html?_r=0. Got a "Good" for our review. I'm so happy!

till tomorrow. The New Times came to the restaurant and did a review. We are hoping it comes out tomorrow [Sunday, 10.25.14] and it's a good review. The photographer came to restaurant the friday before last and took lots pictures of dishes, the restaurant and us.

And in the meantime, we got a GREAT surprise [I totally forgot about this] and got on the The Home News and Tribune Best of the Best Middlesex County list for Best Thai Food and One of the Best Brunch. Thank you all for helping us out and voting for us to get us on the list. We are so happy and appreciate all the support. Thank you so much!

Here's the link to the the Best of the Best list.
http://localads.mycentraljersey.com/SS/Page.aspx?secid=148201&pagenum=4&sstarg&facing=false

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Feeling kind of make-y

Been making stuff like crazy. Going from one project to the next. And a lot of ripping out in between.  Most projects are one-off. I've been taking bits and pieces of patterns that I like to come up with something of my own. 


That's how my red ombrĂ© slouchy hat took form. The yarn: scraps from 7 projects; the pattern: I used from my the rib from my favorite slouchy hat, the Wurm, shorten it by half and instead of the purling, I knitted all the way working the different yarns into the ombre. I had the most of the burnt orange which I ended with. I added a partial row of darkish red of thick/thin yarn because I like the feel of the yarn and thought it gave the hat a little interest. 

Untitled
I'm going to have a hard time letting this one go.
It really came out great, the ombre is so beautiful. After a soak and some blocking, it's soft and slouchy as I wanted it to be. 

Oh! By the way, I'm working my way to opening a etsy shop to sell my goods. Most of the knitted items are one-off using yarn from stash during my stash busting year. Also thinking of sewing up pouches and totes from my fabric stash. I have a lot of vintage fabric that I should start using up. Need to figure out a name--I'm leaning towards a suggestion from a friend--aprilMADE. I'm trying to launch by end of Oct/beginning of Nov to try and get some holiday shoppers. Stay tune.

Sunday's Lineup

UPDATE: I only got 2 items from list done--marmalade and salad. Got side track with knitting and cleaning. Oh well, there is always next week.

It has nothing to do with sports but what I want to make today. I think I have I high hopes. Let's see what I can get done. 

First up--mandarin and lime waiting to boil
  • mandarin and lime marmalade--got some mandarins at a great price and guess who brought me limes again. Giant pot of marmalade!
  • a batch of lime curd
  • raspberry lime bars--with the lime curd I make and using Dorie Greenspan's recipe
  • toasted almond dacquoise--trying out zoebakes.com's recipe
  • chai tea cake
  • vanilla buttercream
  • layered cake--using the last 3 items above. Been dreaming of this cake of layers of chai tea cake, lime curd, vanilla bean buttercream and almond dacquoise. 
  • cheesecake
  • salad prep--this week's lunch

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Never Ending Stash Busting Post

Been try to finish this post for over a month. Trying to get pictures of all of my projects. Getting distracted by busier schedules of seeing friends this past month and all of my cooking, baking and jamming. 

I've stuck to my goal and I still haven't bought any yarn. Thought I'd be going to NJ or NY sheep and wool festival this year and I even tried to make plans for it but that has fallen through. I guess I'll be keeping on track.


I've shared many of finished projects. So far I've made: 

  • 3 sets of burping cloth and bib {1 skein each of various 100% cotton yarn}
  • Blue/Brown Cowl {2 skeins Paton wool}
  • Color Block hat {1/2 skein each of green and teal Stitch Nation wool}
  • fingerless sleeping mitts {1 skein celadon and a little bit of pumpkin Morehouse Farm merino}
  • my cotton cardigan I almost finished on vacation {3 or 4 skeins of Lion Brand cotton-ease} 
Not bad for a princess that has way too much to do. Knitting and crocheting is usually my quiet time when I can sit and only concentrate on my project. Mostly it doesn't last too long because I feel guilty that I'm not doing something.


But guilt hasn't stopped me starting more projects. To keep me on goal to finished these projects, I'm posting pictures of in-progress.

Mystery Yarn blanket

I posted about this earlier here and still working on it. I really like how it is coming out. Figured out the fiber content, wool blend. I used the burn method that I found on the on Ravelry Forum. 
Untitled
On my second skein, I think this blanket may be bigger than I thought
Still wondering who would like this blanket. If you get a surprise box from me it just may be the blanket.

Seaweed Shawl

The yarn is made out to seaweed and I got it a while ago [long while] from my sister as gift. Kept looking for something to take advantage of the color. But now that pick my patterns on the basis of if I put down too long, can I pick it back and start knit, this was what I could find that I thought would look good and fit within my pattern parameters. I think it will look great as winter addition for me. 

{HOLD EVERYTHING! It has taken me so long to write this post and I just realize that I'm not really enjoying this pattern. I'm going to frog it and look for something else to knit. Not that it is looking bad. But all the fun of this pattern is after you finish, when you drop the stitches and I'm too impatient.} 


Pom Pom Peds

Haven't worn pom pom peds since I don't know. But picture on the pattern link in Purl Bee look so much fun. These will be a very late bday gift. The yarn is from a vest a frogged a long while ago. I need to stop frogging stuff.
Turned the heel
Turned the heel

Chevron Blanket(s)

I originally wanted to make a colorful granny square blanket with intersperse squares that my cousins sent for a baby blanket for a cousin. But many years later, since I haven't gotten to it and wanting to stash bust, I decided to make this chevron blanket(s). If I have the will, I'll make up 3 of these blanket for 3 little girls I know. Maybe one will be that granny square blanket with the squares from the cousins. I make no promises--only the hope that I finish one blanket.

{Arghhh! Well, I spoke too soon. Another one goes to the frog. Not enjoying working on the pattern and what it looks like. So off to look for another pattern. Want a fun crochet pattern that keeps my interest. Stay tune.}

Linoleum Dishcloth
Finished the first one for a handmade gift as bridal shower. And decided to make another one because it came out great. Using my 100% cotton from Lion Brand outlet and the pattern is from Mason-Dixon Knitting. These are fun. May use up my stash of 100% cotton on these.
Wish I had more colors in100% cotton
Wedding Gift Blanket
I didn't know what I was going to get for the gift. And then I remembered that I was almost finished with my Hemlock blanket I started a while ago. The pattern was quite easy to follow and looks great from right out of the gate. I planned out to use Lion's Brand Fisherman's Wool. Had a lot issues with this yarn. Lots of breaking and thinning--lots of ends to be woven in. I hope to have the energy to make this blank again for my house. Most definitely using an different yarn but I have to wait till next year. 
D & J Hemlock Blanket
blocked and dried
Office Donated Yarn Scarf
People at my office leave me stuff--yarn, project that are started that never finished, needles, books, etc. . . I've got a whole blanket-worth of granny squares to be stitched together. Most of the time, it's some kind of boucle-type of yarn not my favorite. But it's soft and washable and everyone seems to like buying tons of it but not using it. I've decided to keep a project in the office to knit during lunch. I have frogged this project 2x so far. What is my problem with the frogging projects. Well, hope 3rd time is the charm and I'll keep this one. I'm using potato chip scarf from Krafty Kash Design. Hope I can finish it by holidays to give it as a gift. 
Untitled
 I frogged this to start the potato chip scarf
Shroom
I guess the hemlock blanket left me with a lot of creative juices flowing as I finished this in 2 days. WG wanted a tam for the winter--watching too much Outlander. Looking for a pattern and saw this on ravelry and thought this may be a good pattern. I had a bunch of this boucle [donated yarn] and thought it may have a good drape to make the hat. I double the yarn up and with a bunch of energy, tah dah! Something to keep WG head warm with his scarf from Scotland from his mom. {FYI: would look better with a different type of yarn, something something smooth without a texture. But it didn't come out too bad}
Weekend Tam
maybe I'll get a pic of WG with it on