Currently viewing the tag: "ginger"

pumpkin bread

Happy Merry. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Holiday season, however it looked and was celebrated. We do Christmas here, and had a loud and lovely Christmas Eve with family, then ended up being rained in (which is very weird for Minnesota – freezing rain and howling winds, but no snow) Christmas Day. So we watched movies, ordered Chinese food (my father-in-law was nice enough to venture out), read books, and put together elaborate Lego sets.  Both days were perfect, and I felt completely content as I fell asleep.

The tree was thrown out the day after Christmas, sadly. We picked a bad one this year (I blame it on 2016) and it needed to be out of our house. I usually hang on to those green pine needles as long as I can, not willingly to let the jingle bells and the silent nights go. But it felt nice, actually, to pack everything up just a little early and start thinking about the New Year. I’m not really one for resolutions and crash dieting come January, but I do like to spend some time reflecting on what I hope for in the next year. I also like the feeling of a fresh start. After a whole month of too many cookies and too much peppermint bark, focusing on health and wholeness is a necessity.  I enjoyed adding Pulses to my diet this year (although I will admit December didn’t see as much of them), and want to carry out my Pulse pledge in 2017 as well.

pumpkin bread

pumpkin bread

This bread is another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

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holiday drinks
A few weeks ago the kind folks at Martha Stewart Living sent me their new copper bar set. I’m not much of a mixed drink kind of person, more like the ‘1/2 beer with dinner’ type, even though I do have a cabinet stuffed full of liqueur bottles. These, however, are used almost exclusively for baking. I decided to live it up just a little this December; trade the beer in for something more sassy, and put the new set to good use.

I met Ben from BET Vodka at Molly’s fabulous brunch a few weeks back, and he donated a bottle to make some drinks with. I took a fancy to his beautiful vodka bottles at the brunch (I also had a delicious drink made from it), and thought it would go well with pomegranate juice and ginger ale. Turns out it does. Then I received a few bottles of wine from Seven Daughters – I have had a good number of glasses of it over at the Faux Martha’s house, and knew it would pair wonderfully with something simple. Orange juice and Moscato happened at a recent family gathering, and everyone loved it.

These two drinks are so simple they probably don’t need recipes, but I figured there might be someone like me out there who needs a little help with making party beverages appear fancy, so I thought this might come in handy.
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holiday drinks

holiday drinks

holiday drink

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The copper bar set was sent to me by Martha Stewart Living, and can be found exclusively at Macys.
BET Vodka can be found online here.
Seven Daughters wine can be found online here.

As always, all opinions are my own.

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sugar cookies
Happy Tuesday! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday, and survived the shopping madness that followed. After working retail for 10 holiday seasons in a row (with Black Friday and Christmas Eve always days I had to work), I can’t bring myself to venture out anywhere over the after-Thanksgiving weekend, so I enjoyed time inside my house, baking and reading. I have five books going right now; I am currently rereading two books: The Hobbit, which I am reading outloud to my kids for the first time (and they are loving it!), and Pride and Prejudice, which seemed like the perfect snowy weekend read. I’m also still working through this collection of letters. What are you currently reading? I’m always adding to my book list; I’d love suggestions.

“What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”
“It ought to be good,” he replied, “it has been the work of many generations.”
“And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books.”
“I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these.”
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
sugar cookies

sugar cookies
These cookies are another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

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#bakeamericacakeagain
Today is the day! The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is now available! I’m so excited to share it with you. To celebrate, I have a new recipe and these #bakeamericacakeagain tattoos that I am giving away. The lovely FauxMartha and my husband helped me come up with this hashtag to celebrate both my book and the **Election** (remember to vote today, fellow Americans!) Details for the giveaway is below.
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cake

cake

tattoos
#BakeAmericaCakeAgain Tattoo Giveaway

Ways To Enter For A Chance To Win
1. Comment on this post below.
2. On my Instagram post tag a friend and use #bakeamericacakeagain in your comment.
3. You can also use both method #1 and #2 to increase your chances of winning. I will select 8 winners from the site and 5 winners on Instagram to receive the tattoos.
***No purchase necessary. Open to the U.S. and Canada only.***
cake
(This chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream pictured is a recipe from the new book; I made it for segment on WCCO-TV. You can watch the episode here.)

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ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” -Andrew Boyd

The theme of Christmas is a tale of benevolence, no matter what version of the story you are celebrating. We purpose to turn to our neighbor and offer what we have: there are good intentions of shoveling sidewalks, delivering cookies, donating money. Our children are reminded there is more to all of this then receiving, although it gets harder each year to convince them. They are introduced to Rudolph and Charlie Brown and Frosty on the screen, while adults everywhere paste on a smile and try to tune out the ill-will demonstrated across the lands. ‘Peace on earth,’ we sing together, in churches and on snowy walks, while decorating sugar cookies and sitting quietly by the fire. This year the words fall flat; hands that could be stretched out to give are too busy pulling triggers and pounding on keyboards, tearing down with a disturbing ease. Our news feed promotes constant anxiety with war and rumors of war, and depressing options for future leaders.
ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog

ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog

ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog
Even as the last candle on my mantle flickers on these darkest nights of the year, my husband walks into the room and turns on a light. ‘Why are you hiding here in the dark?’ he laughs, and sits down beside me. I look around and see food and water, beer and cheese. There are piles of blankets and a roof that covers too much space; it keeps out rain and snow. I snuggle in next to him and remind myself that all is not lost. We have been given so much, more than we need. Although all spaces seem to be bombarded with hopelessness, we will still choose to do some good with our own hands, to share what we have, even if our hearts are ripped wide open* in the process. We will teach our children to do the same.

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-By Wendell Berry (Nicole from Eat This Poem posted this piece last week, and it’s been a much needed read. Her post about it is very good read, too.)

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A Trio of Summer Beverages
It’s the summer of fun! For reasons before mentioned, I am lining up guest posts for this summer. First up is Carey from Reclaiming Provincial. I somehow only recently discovered Carey’s space a few months ago, but fell in love instantly with her gorgeous photographs and recipes. She’s amazing.

Hello, everyone! I am excited to be sharing something in Sarah’s gorgeous space. I have long admired her work, and the unique sense of peace that it brings to me whenever I am here. Her hushed images and sincere words have a knack for finding their way to the very core. This is a quiet, honest, and beautiful place to be. And I am thrilled to be here with all of you today!

I have often felt a strong seasonal connection to Sarah, despite the fact that we live in different parts of the country. We seem to experience the same sort of yearly patterns—fleeting autumns and springs that give way to endless winters and sweltering summers—as well as the moods that result from dull, grey snow that hangs around for far too long, or humidity that makes you perspire with every breath then sadistically refuses to evaporate the beads of sweat from your skin. And when Nature decided to throw some unseasonably hot and humid weather at us here in the northeast the other week, I started obsessing over summer drinks filled with herbs and so. much. ice.

The weather has since cooled off, but the brief hot spell was a reminder that summer is just around the corner. And I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Sarah’s break than with three delicious beverages that are perfect for sharing with loved ones and making the heat a little more bearable. Happy Summer, Sarah!
A Trio of Summer Beverages
A Trio of Summer Beverages
“If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story—his real, inmost story?’—for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us—through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives—we are each of us unique.” —Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

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I’m terribly afraid of dying. Sometimes it keeps me up at night; I imagine dreadful scenarios of tragedy that I won’t share here. In the dark I clutch my husband’s hand, making sure he’s close; in the dark I tiptoe to the little’s rooms to take an extra peek, just in case it’s my last look. I find myself whispering frequently to the sky beyond the ceiling, ‘Why do we stop here, if we’re just going to leave?’ When the dawn comes, I find myself whispering again, ‘Well, there’s one more day in front of us. Phew.’ It’s not an easy panic to work through, because, well, I’m going to die. It’s the not knowing how and when that drives me crazy.
So, then there’s this chocolate ginger cake I made. Not a great segue, I know. I love this chocolate bundt cake recipe; it is full of intense chocolate flavor and stays moist for days. After a day of making candied ginger I decided to throw some in, and I found just what I was looking for in all the spicy and the sweet. Each bite was magical: first the chocolate dark and dreamy, then the ginger sweeping in unexpected, burning for just a moment. But then the chocolate comes back to reign things in, mixing itself with the ginger to meld the flavors perfectly. The last moments are all chocolate, dear chocolate with it’s ability to still my soul, calm my heart.
And there in that brief stillness, I realized that this humble little cake showed me something about life, and death and dying.

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This is another recipe from Kim Boyce’s ‘Good To The Grain’ cookbook that I’ve been enamored with. I had some friends coming over and happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so muffins were made. I’ve never been that interested in whole wheat muffins – they are usually too dry and dense. But I had a feeling I could trust Ms. Boyce with this one. I’m glad I listened to my gut.
As you probably guessed, these muffins are delicious. I’ve always been a fan of the ginger-and-peach-combination, and the addition of oat flour and whole wheat flour make for a very tasty treat. They are a little more effort than your basic muffin recipe, but I promise you won’t mind that once you’ve taste the honey-ginger topping that soaks over the fresh, sauteed peaches.
I would almost call this a perfect muffin: the balance of flavors, the amount of fruit, the not-too-sweet topping make for a spectacular breakfast.

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