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Showing posts from October, 2011

Martha by Mail ~ Sanding Sugar Sets

The sanding sugar sets from Martha by Mail offered 6 shades of coarse & fine sanding sugar (12 bottles total) and eight 1 oz. bottles of paste food coloring, which made it possible for the baker to decorate a myriad of desserts.  These two cards were included in those sets; they show many unique sugar cookies decorated with slightly different techniques.  Take a look. ~ These are beautiful cookies to make this fall. ~   Deep-Colors Sanding-Sugar Set These cookies were made using our Leaf Cookie-Cutter Set and extra fine sugar (Pastel-Colors Sanding-Sugar Set and cutters are available through Martha by Mail), and royal icing or egg whites to make sugar stick. Raw egg whites should not be used on cookies for pregnant women, infants, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised. Sugared (leaves 3, 7, 9, and 12)  For a simple sugared effect (3), brush a think layer of beaten egg white on a baked cookie.  While still wet, "flock" or dust with sanding sugar.  Le

Fall Colors at Home

Fall happens to be my favorite time of the year.  The change in weather means sweaters, warm blankets,  delicious soups, and certainly a lot more baking & roasting at my home.  It also means that nature is about to give us one of the most breathtaking transformations during the year.  Nothing beats the colors of Fall and around our house it really is a sight to behold.  During my daily walks I try to bring along my trusted camera to capture, catalog & perhaps share what nature is doing on the property.  This is but a small glimpse of what we've been encountering here the past few days.  I hope you enjoy these pictures.   Maple leaves behind the house.   The glade on the eastern side of the house is experiencing bright shades of chartreuse and blazing yellows. The driveway.  Leaves are already beginning to fall. One of my favorite pictures.  I'm standing in front of the Barn  looking toward the driveway & the dense canopy of trees across t

Martha by Mail Revisited

 I know a Good Thing when I see it.  Over a decade ago I came across Martha by Mail and instantly became captivated by the beautiful & exclusive product line offered in that catalog.  Shortly thereafter I began to collect passionately many pieces of glassware, earthenware, copper cookie cutters, etc., from Martha by Mail , not only to beautify and enhance my home, but to create, share and gift many Good Things for the people I love most. Little did I know at the time that Martha by Mail would one day cease to exist, but alas, in 2004 the catalog came to an end.  Many of the beautifully designed products became instant collector's items in a matter of months.  I have witnessed many pieces increase in value and desirability since the catalog's closing.  Truth be told, certain items are beyond my reach now, but nevertheless, I cherish what I do own.  I also use and take very good care of my collection from Martha by Mail .  It is my wish to share with you, not only pie

Sausage & Bean Stew

When I was thinking of making this sausage & bean stew, I turned to my mother.  It isn't unusual for us to discuss food during our daily chats over the phone, so recently the conversation turned to beans.  Her favorites at the moment include black beans & Peruvian beans (also called canary beans) that are slowly simmered until tender.  What kind do I like?  I also love black beans as much as mom does, but I also crave pink beans, cannellinis, Roman, pinto, navy, garbanzos and lentils.  It's sometimes easier and more convenient to make bean dishes with canned beans, but if you plan just a bit ahead of time, dried beans are even tastier.  If I know I'm going to cook beans a certain day, I always pick them over the night before (usually after I've cleaned up after dinner) and soak them in a large bowl with plenty of water (at least 3 times the amount of beans); any beans that float should be discarded.  The bowl is left out at room temperature.  The following da

Martha by Mail ~ Owl & Bat Cookie Cutters

Now that Halloween is right around the corner, let's scare up some wonderful cookies in these adorable shapes.  The American-made solid copper cutters were part of the Martha by Mail  catalog beginning in the late 90s.  Designed for Halloween, these large (almost 8" in size) creatures provide bakers with a large canvas on which to decorate.  If you're lucky enough to own a set of these collector's items, make several spooky cookies for special trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood.  There happen to be a few little ghouls and goblins in my family who would enjoy having a few of these this Halloween, so I'm going to start baking very soon.  A photo from the Martha by Mail catalog.  The bat is covered in black royal icing & is flocked with ink black sanding sugar.  Simple white dots make up the eyes.  The sugar cookie owl is given a coffee-colored head, small tufted ears, two giant round eyes & a quadrilateral beak.  Dark chocolate wings are floode

Butternut Squash Soup

I always make Butternut Squash Soup with freshly roasted p urée and serve it in my thick porcelain Pillivuyt bowls as soon as I find great squashes.  I showed you in a previous post how simple and delicious  roasted butternut squash is, so why not turn some of that p urée into soup?  For a spectacular dinner serve this with a good piece of buttered artisanal bread and a fresh salad.  My version of this soup uses one of the basic French foundations in cooking: a delicious and easy mirepoix .  Treat yourself & your families to a bowl of this soul warming soup while butternut squashes are plentiful.  I guarantee you're going to like it.  The Ingredients 1 celery stalk, finely chopped (1/2 cup) 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (1/2 cup) 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup) 1 garlic clove, finely minced 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 sprig fresh thyme 2 cups homemade  Chicken Stock  (vegetable can be substituted) 2 cups Roasted Butternut Squash Purée

Roasted Butternut Squash

Squashes of all types, Cucurbitaceae ,  are arriving at supermarkets now and should be enjoyed without a moment to lose.  I'm always looking out for beautiful butternut squashes to roast and serve to my family throughout fall and winter.  There's something about roasting these Cucurbita muschata around this time of year that makes my home seem a little bit cozier & nicer.  A good source of Vitamin A, E, C, and fiber, butternut squashes are not only nutritionally beneficial for you, they're also very tasty.  Apart from that, roasting this squash is the easiest thing in the world.  Let me show you what I do in my kitchen.  Preheat your oven to 425°F .  Cut your butternut squash in half, lengthwise, with a very sharp chef's knife (be careful!) & scoop out the seeds.  Note : I'm roasting squashes that weigh between 2 to 3 lbs.  Place the squash cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet & roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until t

Martha's Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe is one that I turn to again & again.  It comes from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and is just one of the many great recipes found in this must-have book.  As a matter of fact, it's my brother Erik's all-time favorite cookie.  It has to be included on the Christmas table when I visit him & the family, but I also get requests for it during the year.  I think it's the combination of pure maple syrup (Vermont maple syrup is delicious) and delicious flaked coconut that makes this cookie extra special.  Martha's recipe calls for raisins, but quite honestly, you can substitute your favorite dried fruit.  The ones I made below had cranberries in the mix because they were going to my special niece, Audrey (she loves cranberries!), who needed a bit of cheering up.  Enjoy them!    Martha's Oatmeal Cookies.  Simply delicious! The following recipe & text comes from the ~ Martha Stewart Baking Handbook . ~ Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Makes about

Raspberry Sandwich Cookies

Now that Fall is here, let's fill our homes with the enticing aroma of spice.  My Raspberry Sandwich Cookies have a good dose of cinnamon & ginger, with just a touch of freshly grated nutmeg & clove.  Their flavor is very reminiscent of Austrian linzer cookies, but the inherent difference lies in the lack of ground hazelnuts.  The cookie dough itself is very easy to make and can be doubled if you wish to make a larger batch; you may just want to share some of these with neighbors or friends.  I often vary the flavor of the cookies by using different jams.  Among my favorites include: strawberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cherry & apricot.  Let's start baking because I want to have a few of them with my tea just about now. Just-filled Raspberry Jam Cookies on a cake stand.   The Ingredients 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger