Valentine’s Day Confections & The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet

Valentine’s Day Confections & The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet

The theme for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for the week of February 14th is sweet. Since I have quite a sweet tooth, I thought I would post on some of the sweet nothings I made last week. I guess you could say we celebrated Valentine’s Day a little early!

First, I made a batch of peppermint patties. These are made from lots and lots of confectioner’s sugar and peppermint flavoring with half and half. There are a couple of other “secret” flavoring ingredients that I am not mentioning, as well. They disappeared fast!




Then, I tried a recipe that I have had pulled out for a while. It is pistachio cherry biscotti! The best part about this Italian cookie is not the way it stands up to dunking but that the cherries were from our own yard this past summer. We picked, pitted, and dehydrated them just to have on had for a recipe like this.  So yummy! And, even though the cherries are sour cherries, the recipe is sweet in many ways!


Lastly, one of the sweetest places I know is the STAM chocolate shop in Ames, Iowa. We made a stop there this past weekend for some salted chocolate cashews and licorice! It couldn’t get any sweeter than this!


Pizzelles, The Carpenters, Coffee, & Dancin’ in the Kitchen!

Pizzelles, The Carpenters, Coffee, & Dancin’ in the Kitchen!

Saturday morning in Wisconsin it was snowing. Training camp for soccer took one son out of the house. A trip to the YMCA for a quick workout took the other son out. My husband had errands to run. This left me home alone, which is something I usually do not mind.  We had been invited to a friend’s house for dinner and not told to bring anything when I asked.  But, being brought up in a more “proper time”,  I decided that I would make pizzelles which could be taken with us for dessert.

Pizzelles are an Italian cookie. We have a pizzelle press that is part of a waffle iron – Panini combo appliance.  We did not get around to making them this holiday season, so I thought it a perfect activity for a slow, snowy, Saturday morning.  Music. I needed music to complete my kitchen experience!  Wandering over to my CD rack in our deck, adjacent to the kitchen, I immediately grabbed a new Carpenter Love Songs CD that I received last year (2016) for Christmas from my husband. I have listened to this once or twice before but was more than ready Saturday morning to sing along with Karen’s low, sultry voice, while she was either on Top of the World, looking for love, or lamenting the fact it didn’t work out. Into the under cabinet CD player went the disc. Soon, Karen was crooning, Richard was tinkling on the keys as he did so very well, and saxophones or flutes were being played for extended solos. I was reliving the 70’s all over again, only in my own kitchen – not my bedroom of my parent’s house!

The pizzelles were made, but not without a quick trip to the grocery store by my husband for more baking powder. Luckily, we noticed this before I was left with a plan but no car to find a new supply at the grocery store.  The half batch (for which I had enough baking powder) turned into a full batch and I started to put the dough onto the heated griddle form.  Pizzelles contain anise. I love anise. It is my favorite additive to baked goods. I would much rather add anise than vanilla.  But, the recipe from called for 4 Tbsp. of anise! WHAT?! Four tablespoons is a ton of a very potent licorice flavoring.

I know that not all people like anise the way I do, so I halved it.

Then, figuring out the right size dollop of dough to put on the press was a challenge. First, too much. Then, not enough! Ugh!  The iron seemed too hot at first, as they pizzelles were a little too brown and then, not hot enough after I backed off on the suggested 3 minute bake from my husband.

The Carpenters continued to croon. Soon enough working the pizzelle press was down to a science, albeit not an exact one, and I was dancing around in the kitchen, drinking coffee, and listening to some of my favorite music from days gone by.  I was, quite figuratively, on the Top of the World!  Not bad for a slow, snowy, Saturday morning in Wisconsin.



Silent Sunday: Let’s Make Dessert

Silent Sunday: Let’s Make Dessert

Berry Crostini 
Fudgey Pecan Cake
July Blueberry Pie 2017
Blueberry Pie using our own Blueberries


July Blueberry Pie 17
Slice of Pie
Apple Pie Using our own Apples
Carol’s Cherry Cheesecake Drizzle
Slice of the Crostini


Baking up Some Enrichment

Baking up Some Enrichment

A friend stopped to see me the other day.  She has three really bright, actually gifted is a better term, girls.  We have had many a conversation about how to best provide them opportunities to grow and be challenged while having a slim budget. This is a common question and I was more than ready to offer some suggestions.

The girls’ mom had similar ideas of her own about how to enrich during the summer. I think my input was more of a being an available sounding board for ideas. I know they are avid readers, learning languages through online platforms such as Duolingo, and have a plethora of vegetables growing in their own suburban yard.  Their mom is adept at providing the girls a multitude of experiences. They visited earlier this summer to pick cherries and I know many baked goods and drinks called “shrubs” were made in their kitchen. When they stopped on Saturday, a trip to the Hmong community gardens was underway with a blueberry poke cake to be made that afternoon.

Cooking and baking are great ways to enrich your children. The preciseness of measurements and ability to perform conversions are prime examples of the enrichment. Plus, you get an a product to enjoy and the children can be proud of when they are finished. My friend’s middle child, soon to be in middle school, has taken to the show The Greatest British Baking Show on PBS.  She has been turned on (read excited here) by the show and has been baking this summer as a result.  My friend is smart to support this interest.

I have had several conversations with math teachers about the fact that our local students do not really understand fractions that well.   I have wondered for several years now whether the fact that our children, in general,  do not do a great deal of cooking, baking. or sewing anymore has to do with their incomplete understanding of fractions. Baking and learning to sew were staples of my childhood. I memorized my conversion tables and know how to perform basic operations on fractions to either halve, quarter, or triple a recipe. Useful skills.

If you are looking to challenge your children, allow them to start baking or sewing. Allowing them to have real life activities involving math will add to the richness of their experience. They probably will not even realize what they are learning along the way, but you will be teaching sustainable living, especially if the products used in the baked goods come from your own yard or the community garden. You are reinforcing math skills that will be useful later on. And, you are allowing your child to produce, share, and consume a product of which they can be proud.

Baking and sewing also offers room for growth. Not everything will turn out as desired, but should get better over time. Seams will be more even. Measurements will be more accurate. The difficulty of both can be increased over time, as the skill set increases. They can be activities that allows for failure, without too much investment of time or money.  Other than a dirty kitchen, or finding fabric scraps stuck to the carpeting, there are not a lot of downsides to baking and sewing with your children.  Give it a try, like my friend has, enjoy the results and let me know how it goes!