Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts on Plants

I came across this meditation on gardening the other day, thanks to Botany Photo of the Day, and I thought I would share with you. The folks in British Columbia post lovely photos of all sorts of pretty, interesting, or important plants, and talk a little bit about each one.

I know some of you out there in the world have gardens of one sort or another, and I thought the essay did a nice job of putting words to feelings. I'm not a pathologist, and I certainly don't have to deal with those stresses, but my plants certainly make me feel better. You?

These unscented white flowers are blooming on my Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides).

Side note:
Don't forget to vote! Friday is Giveaway Day!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Giveaway Coming Soon!

This Friday there's going to be a giveaway. Here. On this very blog. I haven't decided which treat I'm going to be giving, so I'm asking you, dear readers, what would you like to win? Check out Short and Sweets on Etsy and cast your vote in the comments!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

$2 Pretty Project

Do you like lists? I do. A lot. But at least I don't make lists of my lists. The only downside? I constantly have little pieces of paper floating around. This project helps fix that!

When I saw this post on paper n stitch a couple weeks ago, I had one of those *slap on the forehead* "Duh!" moments. Why haven't I thought of this before?!

I didn't have a scrap of paper or fabric an appropriate size, so I went to my favorite thrift shop and found a lovely embroidered linen for $1. I have no idea what it was originally intended for (tabletop decoration?), but I love how it looks in my $1 garage sale find. Mom will be proud.

The only real change I made to the original tutorial is that I stapled the fabric to the cardboard in the frame instead of using tape. Now it's hung (please don't blame the paint color on me. I rent) and I can leave helpful To-Do lists for Official Tester, er, me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Soliciting Thoughts on Ice Cream Makers

So lately I've really been wanting an ice cream maker because I keep seeing delicious sounding recipes that call for one. They are jumping out from pages of old Gourmet magazine issues, new cookbooks, websites, the works. I've never been a huge ice cream eater, what with it being a dairy-centric food and all, but I do really love sorbets. My reasoning that has kept me from actually buying one is that our very small kitchen is very small and there's not really any room for one.
But then my resolve was tested. I saw these popular Cuisinart ice cream makers in fantastic colors. And I really want the orange one. it's so cute!

Do you have an ice cream maker? Do you use it a lot or has it been sitting in the back of a cabinet for the last several years? General ice cream thoughts?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fabric-Inspired Cakes

These Fabric-Inspired Cakes over on Martha Stewart Weddings took my breath away. They're just gorgeous. Go look.
The amount of time and skill and eye for detail blows my mind.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Raspberry Pancakes

We have a lot of raspberries right now. Luckily, neither I nor Official Taster have a problem eating a package-full at a time straight out of said package. But this beautiful Sunday morning I had a hankering for pancakes, and then it came to me. Raspberry pancakes! Why have I never thought of this before? I've had blackberry and banana (separately and together) pancakes, which have been quite tasty. I've also enjoyed the crunch of granola, the goodness of chocolate chips, sweetness of peaches, and the fall flavors of apple in pancakes.

So I set out to make these mouthwatering treats. I wasn't sure which method - dropping on top or mixing into the batter - would work best, so I tried both. Of course, for the benefit of you, dear readers, and not because it's fun to play with food.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flower Power

Sorry I've taken such a long break from posting! I've been kept busy by summer school and the job that (sometimes) pays the rent. Today is Friday (yay!) and even though I don't have any more Friday Morning Flowers at the moment, I do have something related. Edible flowers! On cupcakes!

The other week, one of my friends here, E, turned a year older (and a year wiser, right?). To celebrate, she invited a few friends to a laughter-filled brunch. Now, E is someone who has both fed (pun intended) my baking interest and benefited from it. A couple years ago, she gave me 1000 Cupcakes for my birthday. I haven't tried all 1000 recipes yet, but I've been meandering my way through. Anyway, for her birthday, I made her chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Pretty standard, right? So to jazz it up, I added some fresh pansies from one of my many container gardens. Unfortunately, I was already running late to the birthday brunch, so I didn't have time to photograph them, but I did save a couple for me!
I really love how fresh flowers add that extra wow factor. I even got an actual "wow" from the birthday girl! It's the easiest way I've found to decorate quickly and impressively, and you can use large flowers to quickly cover a big area, like a cake.

Of course, not all flowers are edible, and you should always use organic, chemical-free flowers. I found this website to be pretty helpful. There are even some recipes to try.
In this picture, I have two colors of pansies, a miniature rose, a mint sprig, geranium, lavender, and a day lily. Below is a hibiscus. All of these are edible and plucked from my garden. If you choose to use day lilies, be aware that their name is true. Each flower only lasts one day.
Some flowers and herbs can even add additional flavor, so if you use mint leaves, lavender, geranium, scented roses, etc. make sure the flavor they add complements your dessert.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Etsy Love - Cupcake Toppers

Today's treasures are super cute cupcake toppers, which I think are such a fun way to quickly and easily decorate a bunch of little cakes. See something you like? Time for a party! The butterflies above are completely edible and completely awesome! I love how lifelike they are and the little bit shine on their wings.

I'm not really a circus kind of gal, but I couldn't resist these adorable animals! They each have their own personality. The lion is my favorite.

Now these? Customized edible icing decals? Sweet! Kids (and not kids) love having things made just for them. It's even better when there is sugar involved.

Sad, but true. These toadstools make me think of Mario Brothers and I want them.

Edible Butterflies
Circus Animals
Edible Icing Decals
Fondant Toadstools

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Free Recipe Card Maker

This recipe card maker from Skip to My Lou is great! There are two different templates to choose from, and then you simply follow step-by-step instructions that have you filling in the blanks. Voila, you have a recipe card! You can choose to print out either two or three to a page, which gives you two size options. Short recipes, like for my jam, work best, I discovered, as long ones get cut off. This seems like it would be a fun tool if you want to do a recipe collection for a bride or a mom-to-be. With minimal effort, you can create a cute, cohesive, and neat recipe book.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Basil and Garlic Marinade

Visiting the farmers' market inspired grilled vegetables for dinner, but I wanted to do something more exciting, so I made this pretty darn delicious marinade. Part of the reason I wanted to marinate the veggies is that Official Taster and I don't always see eye to eye on which vegetables taste good. Mostly he likes things that I don't, like eggplant. and squashes. So I'm hoping this concoction (I'm writing as it's working it's magic) will help me....appreciate....the yellow squash and Japanese eggplant we picked up this afternoon. Also included: tofu, green pepper, and onion. I'll add in heirloom cherry tomatoes when we skewer everything.

As usual, please consider this recipe to be a guide, not anything set in stone. However, I would keep the proportion of oil to vinegar at about 2:1. I used avocado oil because we had just enough left, I think it works better for the high heat of grilling than olive oil, and it's something pretty readily available here in Southern California. Certainly olive oil would also work. I really like balsamic vinegar, so I chose that, but rice, wine, apple cider, etc vinegar would also work, as would lemon, lime, or another citrus juice. It just depends on what flavor you're aiming for. Fresh herbs are also up to you. I happen to have some basil growing outside my front door, so that's what I picked. Maybe later in the summer when I have more mature plants I'll try my rosemary. Also, I really like garlic, so if you don't like it as much, lessen the amount you use, because, as written, this is very garlicy.

1/2 C avocado oil
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
8 cloves of garlic
1/4 C loosely packed basil leaves
salt and fresh ground pepper

Smoosh, chop, dice, or press your garlic. Chop or tear up the basil. Combine all ingredients, preferably in a jar with a lid so you can shake them up well.

Pour over veggies, and let them marinate for a while. Stir occasionally.

Because I'm not marinating meat, I can use the marinade again while the veggies are grilling by brushing it over them, and again over the rice I'm serving them with.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


According to most Americans, summer has begun, no matter when the season officially changes. Today I'm finding it hard to disagree. The sun is shining, the sky is a perfect blue with a few ethereal pure white clouds, and the scent of the jasmine vine on the back porch is wafting through my home. It's probably a remnant of childhood, but the beginning of summer always feels like something wonderful will start. It's been hibernating over the winter and uncurling this spring, but, now, it's ready to really begin.

What is it?

I have no idea.

Summer has always been a time of exploration, a time to stretch my wings, and a time to see what the world has to tell me. I spent months away from home perfecting my technique for many summers, I wandered around Paris, and drove across the country. Each adventure provided a chance to learn, to see, and to wonder.

A few weeks ago, I was confident that starting a new path through the plant world was right. I love flowers! It should be a perfect fit. Last week I was going through some old clippings, papers, magazines, etc. sorting and discarding. I have been collecting recipes and food related tidbits since I've been collecting things. Oh sure, there's flowers in there too, but food, food is everywhere. What's a girl to do?

While there are no lightening bugs here to light my way, I have my web of friends and family always ready to provide a glimmer of an idea, a laugh, or a listen. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Until I find that path through the woods, I will have a fresh peach for breakfast each morning and then explore what the day has to offer.

I recommend you do the same.

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