fun

Hula Hulas & other things I'm Loving

homemade hula hoops (or as they call them in Mexico, hula hulas)
(photo from here)

raw almonds that haven't been irradiated or pasteurized - soaked/germinated/sprouted

hummingbirds

the peppery arugula growing in the garden

getting vitamin d from the sun

What are you grateful for today?

Day of the Dead Skull Cookies

Happy Día de los Muertos! Here in Mexico, November 2 is a very special day, a time to spend with family and connect with deceased relatives and friends and celebrate life. I think it's a very beautiful tradition.

Traditional treats and happy sugar skulls are part of the deal too. It's funny that up north (Canada and the US) skulls are usually portrayed as dark and evil, but down here they're often cheery and whimsical.... and sometimes very sweet too. To celebrate, C and I decorated our own little skull shortbread cookies. It was muy divertido (very fun!)

I used a couple of chilled rolls of cookie dough (from my last slice-n-bake cookie experiment) and after slicing 1/4" rounds of dough, I pinched the "chin area" and flattened them a bit more with my fingers to make a basic skull shape. No cookie cutters required - and they all turn out a little different. I threw them in the oven, and 5 minutes into baking had a good idea how to define the face. So I pulled them out of the oven and worked on half of them - leaving the other ones smooth. With a fork, I pressed down gently to make teeth. Using a chopstick, I pressed the fat tip in to make eye sockets, and the small tip to make the nose cavity. Yum. ;) Since they were already partially baked, they ended up cracking - which was actually pretty cool since skulls do have cracks and fissures. Check out my last blog entry to see how they look without the icing - they're pretty nice looking plain too.

The decorating was super fun. C got in on that action. I was inspired by these cookies, and these chocolate trees (learning that the fine lines were made using a ziplock bag as an icing bag with a tiny piece of the corner snipped off). I don't have a lot of fancy kitchen stuff here - but I do have ziplock bags! I made 3 simple icings (just squishing the ingredients right in the bags to mix):

White: 2-3 Tbps icing sugar with a few drops of rose water and just enough water to make a thick paste.

Orange/Brown: 2-3 Tbps icing sugar, ~1/4 tsp cinnamon and just enough water to make a thick paste. (mine was pretty dark because it had about 1 tsp of canela)

Dark Brown: Melted semi-sweet chocolate. (This worked very well, but I wasn't able to stack these cookies because the chocolate stuck to the other cookies. For cookies that need to be stored efficiently, I'd make an icing sugar icing like the ones above, but with vanilla and cocoa.)


Senior Skull courtesy of Crispin (Gracias!)

This was seriously my first time making "fancy" decorated cookies. (Not counting the gingerbread men from kindergarten - or my recent iBooster app cookies hehe...) I was delighted with how easy and fun it was - and how effective the ziplock baggie icing bag/tip technique was.

Making funny little decorated skull cookies for Día de los Muertos is going to be a yearly tradition for us from now on - as well as remembering our beloved deceased relatives, sharing stories about them, and celebrating life. :)

What's simple, sweet and a gives you a boost?

I have something really wonderful to share. My sweetheart and I have been working on a top-secret project for the past little while - and after an intense and fun month of hard work it's finally ready!

It's called iBooster, and it's a sweet, simple, easy-to-use iPhone app that helps boost your confidence. We put together a little website that describes our app - you can also check it out in the iTunes App Store.

I made these funny little chocolate spice shortbread cookies to celebrate! I wanted them to look like the iBooster icon, which is a soft square, so I formed cookie dough into a log, wrapped it in plastic wrap, then flattened it by pressing down onto the log with a small cutting board, rotating the log a quarter turn, and then flattening it again. I then chilled it till firm, and sliced 1/4" cookies. I made a little stencil by printing the logo onto a transparency, and then cutting the shapes out with an exacto blade. I placed the stencil on a cookie, gently sifted icing sugar over it, then carefully removed the stencil. (Next time I'll try dabbing icing over the stencil too.) The cookies are made with blue maseca corn flour, coconut oil, cocoa, cinnamon... will share the recipe when it's just right - but as you may know by now, I like to tweak my recipes a million times before I share them. ;)

We'd love your feedback on our app, so please let me know what you
think! This is just version 1.0 of iBooster, and we plan to tweak it and
add more great content in the coming weeks. :)

Can you tell by the !!! and :) that I'm excited? :D

xo Patty

Goats! (great cheese)

Carmelis Cheeses
Carmelis organic goat cheeses and wonderful breads: mmm...

Early last summer, I visited Carmelis Organic Goat Cheese Farm with Manny and Crystal from Arrowleaf Cellars for a farm tour and fantastic feast.

Sweet & Fun

Marisa and Maya decorating home-made cookies
Marisa and Maya decorating home-made cookies

Thanks for the sweet pic girls!

Bikes and Blenders

The Byerley Bicycle Blender, or B3

I'm obviously not the only one who loves both bikes and blenders.

The blender: indispensable for smoothie making and great for pureeing and combining ingredients for baking.

The bike: excellent mode of transport. Great for bringing home ingredients to put into the blender.

Some clever fun-loving folks down in Berkeley California have come up with a new way to enjoy both: The Bike Blender!

Yes, it's funny. Fun too!