25 July 2010

Weekly Update 7.25.10

Things to note since we last updated (what, three days ago?):

  • Scott and I each in turn got the sucky cold that Doots was spreading around. Yay.

  • Only: Doots still has a rattling chest, and it's been a week, so we're probably off to see the doctor tomorrow. Double yay.

  • We spent some quality time outside (even with the insanely hot temps; we were able to sneak it in before the thunderstorms on Saturday evening). The activity sprinkle-mat-thingie did just the trick.

  • For both of the guys.

  • I did approximately a dozen loads of laundry.

  • We hit up yard sales and I got maybe 4 yards of this vintage 1980-something Star Wars fabric. Hysterical! Now what to do with it...

  • We also hit up the Farmers Market, and got these lovely blackberries. All three of us ate about a third of the pint, in the car, on the drive home...

  • I did two separate craft projects for an upcoming baby shower I'm cohosting: one successful, one not really too successful. Tomorrow is another day, so try try again on the second one...

  • We enjoyed some bubble time in the yard.

  • If you click on the image and zoom in on the next one, you can see me in the bubble...

  • We made cookies, just got the itch to bake. They were fantastic.

  • I got my hairs did and in a moment of weakness, I got bangs. I've been swiping distractedly at my forehead ever since because OMG THERE'S HAIR TOUCHING TOUCHING TOUCHING AND ITCHY AAAAAAAAH. I'll get used to it soon. I hope.

  • Our tomatoes are almost, almost ready for picking.

  • I want these shoes. In blue. Badly.

  • Our boy has developed a deep fondess for The Sads. He utilizes The Sads whenever he doesn't get what he wants, it involves (1) making Sad Face, (2) calling the Waaaaah-mbulance, and (3) holding his hand to his eye in a sad manner while clutching his blanket. In a pinch, any household blanket within reach will do.

  • See ya next week.

      24 July 2010

      Korova Cookies

      I've been meaning to make these for awhile, and on Saturday I had free time so just went for it. They have been floating around on the Internet for awhile (also under the name "World Peace Cookies", as they are named in Dorie's Baking book). They've gotten so many accolades that really, how could I not give them a shot.

      The recipe is basically for a sable cookie, but a very chocolatey one - this recipe calls for not only cocoa powder, but bits of bittersweet chocolate as well. Can't go wrong with chocolate in any cookie, and I decided that even if they didn't turn out too well for me - you can't beat a baked good with chocolate in it, I mean someone in this house will certainly eat it.

      Well, I am happy to report that they did, indeed, turn out well (thanks to the easy-to-understand recipe, something Dorie is known for in the baking world). And I am going to put it out there and just say it: I think this is one of my favorite cookies I've ever made. Like a sable cookie, they are crumbly yet soft-ish, and buttery, with a sandy texture in your mouth. But unlike your normal sable, these have a deep chocolate flavor (almost like a brownie), with a great salty kick to boot, taking them up a notch.

      Now, when I had my food blog I used to blog about recipes that had potential, that could use a little tweaking, in short - not always the best recipe I've ever tried. But on this blog I'm only going for the good stuff, so as always - I highly suggest you give this one a try :)

      Korova Cookies
      (From Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan)

      1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
      1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
      1/2 tsp. baking soda
      1 stick + 3 Tbsp. (11 Tbsp. total) unsalted butter, at room temperature
      2/3 c. (packed) light brown sugar
      1/4 c. sugar
      1/2 tsp. fleur de sel (or 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt)
      1 tsp. vanilla extract
      5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip (or 3/4 c. store-bought mini chocolate chips)

      Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.

      Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

      Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

      Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.

      Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

      Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2-inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.

      Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

      22 July 2010

      Estes Park: Day 4

      Day 4.

      We got up early, finished packing, then headed to breakfast. After a lot of good-byes as various groups left, we headed out - Peter and I headed to the park near our lodge for one last playtime, and Scott went to the room to finish packing/loading the car/checking us out.

      We weren't able to do any of the planned activities with Peter this trip - he's just still too small to go on the children adventure hikes or bug hunting or that sort of thing. He was old enough, however, for Bubble Hour, and by god - we had missed it all week, but we were not missing it today. Doots was not disappointed, in fact we had to pry the wands out of his hands and drag him shrieking back to the car. He got over it quickly, and zonked out in the car for our drive to Denver. We had a long day in the city ahead.

      We didn't fly out until dinnertime (more on that later...), so we decided to goof around Denver for the day. We ended up in the Highlands area near downtown, it's a great little neighborhood with sweet boutique shopping, restaurants, and wine bars. Love it. There were a lot of newer lofts and it's definitely part of Denver - tons of bike shops and bikes abound in that area. Paulo would love it.

      We had lunch at Proto's Pizzeria, we had a prosciutto/capers/mozzarella pizza it was sooooo gooooood.

      Then we walked back to the car, did some window shopping.

      What brought us to the neighborhood is that it was near the one planned stop we had while in Denver - The Children's Museum of Denver. This place did not disappoint, we spent a long time in here and would definitely go back. The Denver Aquarium was right next to it and I wish we had more time in the city, as I would have loved to go there as well. Ah well, next visit.

      Our first stop in the Children's Museum was in the Center for the Small Child. It had several rooms catering to the younger set (newborn through toddler). We spent a good hour in this area alone. The best part is that shoes are not allowed, but neither are bare feet. They had freshly-laundered socks in kids and adult sizes as needed - Scott and Peter had socks. I did not. So I got to wear the weirdo socks, yay.

      Oh my gosh, he kept going back to this little treehouse with the stirring pot. He must have run back to it half a dozen times - apparently he really really really liked stirring that pot.

      They had kid-sized bathrooms, with really low toilets/sinks/everything. We went in there to change the diaper and he was so excited with the low bathroom facilities, that it took forever to coax him out of there.

      Next we went up to the 2nd floor - dudes, they have a Bubble Room. BUBBLE ROOM. He was in heaven in there. Our favorite bubble machine created these smoke bubbles, that fell down from the machine on the ceiling and turned into a poof of smoke when you popped them.

      Next we tried out the train room. We didn't spend too much time in here, because Peter spied another room down the hall...

      OMG A GROCERY STORE AND KITCHEN!!! He put on his apron and got right to work filling a cart. Apparently there was a pretend massive blizzard hitting the pretend grocery store in Denver, because the workers could not even keep the shelves stocked and the kids looked like they were playing Supermarket Sweep. Insanity!

      Clearly he missed the good sale on organic black beans, because the shelves were empty.

      This one kid there was rockin' the cashier counter.

      We filled up our cart twice before heading out. We were going to play in the kitchen but even Peter seemed too hesitant to play in that area - a pack of wild children had taken over the kitchen and let's just say they definitely were future-chefs-in-training - they were Anthony-Bourdain's sort of crazy-story chef.

      Next we hit the forest room. They had costumes hanging on a hook by the door, squirrels and rabbits and mice and... worms. Then the room was full of underground tunnels and foresty-areas and it was really meant for the bigger kids. Scott helped Doots climb around though and he had a blast.

      Next we found a dancing room. Peter busted out his inner Patrick Swayze, put on a Pilot's hat, and grabbed some ribbon-rings to go dance-dance crazy.

      It was all fun until he fell down and whacked his head.

      Lastly we hit up the Firehouse. Again, for the older kids mostly so Peter mostly watched and walked around a little bit. By this time we had been there for several hours, so he was getting kinda tired.

      We checked out the gift shop and were getting ready to buy a bottled water at the snack bar before leaving... And we realized it was raining. Boo. We booked it to the car and headed to the airport a little early. There's a lot of shopping and restaurants in DIA so we knew it wouldn't be so bad to get there a little earlier than planned.

      We had an early dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery in the airport, then did some shopping in the stores and headed to our gate. I changed Peter into PJs for our flight (it was supposed to leave
      at 6:30p), made him a bottle, was ready to put in to sleep on the dark quiet plane. Now, I should probably mention at this point...

      When we got to Estes Park, Peter was a little snotty, a little feverish, so I chalked it up to teeth (as he was also extra-drooly). Then he got a cough, but I figured that was just due to altitude. And he was very snuggly and needed lots of holding-time, but I thought to myself hey he's just away from home and needs more hugs than normal. Yeah, no.

      He was sick. Sick sick sick and we really didn't put it all together until we hit the airport. We hoped for the best for the flight home, but between a sick baby and a turbulent (and very delayed, and longer than expected, and the lights were never turned off) flight - we had quite a bit of fussing and writhing. He finally collapsed onto my lap and passed out during landing, but then woke up in the car and cried the entire drive back home. Poor little darling.

      He was still so so good the entire trip though, and even with the rough trip home I was so glad we went.

      We had a great time, and it was kinda sad to come home.