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I have been ignoring my dear Marshmallow Dreams site lately as i have been focusing my attention on my photography and graphioc design site, http://mphotographress.com! Take a peek! Website was created from scratch and i think its a great way to showcase what im up to! In addition, I finally met my first and only related-by-blood cousin yesterday – Little Ava. SO CUTE 🙂

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I’ve been rather absent lately, OBVIOUSLY, as my last post was quite some time ago.

The quick update?

Spring 2010 yielded nine baby goats in total, five boys, four girls; I’m keeping one doeling, Falafel who was a triplet out of Waffle. Twins Bridget and Gidget still are looking for homes as is Falafel’s sister Taziki, all the boys have left as did one mom, so goal for winter 2010 is just five goats; Falafel, Waffle, Hula, Picante and Acorn. I’m still working at the paper like crazy, writing real estate offers, battling the dirty dishes in the sink and hoping that my FREAKING TOMATOES will turn red, despite the weird cool weather. Garden is flourishing otherwise, as are windowsill plants. Updated photos soon, I pinkie swear!

On a more exciting note, my website design knowledge has increased about 100x since we last…spoke and I have been feverishly working away at two sites;  my personal budding photography business, Mphotographress.com and an online business endeavor with Josh, MendoList.com – the first of which I just finally completed today, the latter, well, it’s still in progress.

Go take a peek, at mine tho, eh?  🙂

http://www.mphotographress.com/index.html

The Willits Rotary Club holds their annual Crab Sale on two winter morning weekends. Through my job as a photographer and writer for our local newspaper, I went over and took some photos of the festivities.

Coming from a vegetarian, it was pretty gross.

Coming from a photographer, there were a bunch of great shots 🙂

Here’s a few below, and you can check out all of them here

a cooked crab smiles at the camera

Bill Jack of the Willits Rotary quickly hauls freshly cooked crabs to the washing station

Willits Rotary members pose with the sea of crabs

More goofy crab moments 🙂

the sea of crabs

first of all, my first experience with the DB,

FAILURE!

ok, now that i’ve got that out of my system – let’s talk macaroon, and Daring Bakers:

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S.

She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

THE PLAN:

Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

THE TRUTH:

THE_BEGINING

getting ready for the macarooning

things are looking good – eggs separated, nuts and flour awaiting addition…things are on the move toward macaroons.

WHISK_IN_MOTION

whisking those egg whites

fun with slow shutter speed, no? good ‘ol Kitchenaid!

STIFF_PEAKS

victory! that looks stiff to me!

whoo! still lookin’ on track!

UHHH

hmmm....things start to go askew?

looks a little chunky, no? this is where i start to worry a little…

DALLOPS

all piped out

i forged ahead though and here we have little dallops…fingers were crossed!

BOTTOMS

hmmm....underdone and overdone bottoms! now that's talent!

so after the initial bake and then the second bake – both as scheduled in the recipe – the ones on the right came out first. what happened? well, the ones on the right were, well chewy and underdone. the ones on the left spent a bit more time in the oven – and they look oddly like pancakes – no? they came out CRISP. drat. drat indeed.

neither the done or underdone were puffy or airy.

too heavy flour/nuts?

not beaten enough eggwhites?

crappy oven?

baker gene-less?

im still baffled.

….

then…

i had an epiphany – (not only on how to spell the word epiphany after a weird series of text messages this morning with an ex boyfriend) but also on what to do for the filling.

what does one do with five egg yolks one wonders?

CURD_BEFORE

yeah there were five, i broke one, oops, i know! 🙂

well, that my friends, i certainly know what to do with that:

MAKE LEMON CURD!

i don’t know about you, but i LOVE lemon curd. with deep abiding passion i love lemon curd.

like it was fate, five egg yolks is exactly the number needed for my tried and true lemon curd recipe permantly mounted to my fridge after a renegade lemon heist from a stranger’s ignored and “fruitful” lemon tree last spring.

GOSEPEL

ladies and gentlemen, i give you the gospel.

the gospel that is, in my own slightly skewed way of writing recipes.

Also, i dont know if you know, but i write for a newspaper for a living and spend a lot of time writing so when it comes to recipes – im lazy and just want to remember the highlights and highpoints of the task at hand (note the constant leaving out of letters, combining words and symbols and flurry of abbreviations throughout the written recipe)

i will decipher for you though the method as the ingredients are rather legible:

“2x boiler” =double boiler.

“yoks+sug – add juiezest” = combine yolks and sugar in top of double boiler, whisk over low heat, add juice and zest …

WHISKING

whisking away

… whisk until thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon (reaches nappe).”

NAPPE

ahh...nappe!

“buttr 1x” = once thickened, add small pieces of butter one at a time until incorporated taking bowl on and off heat as necessary.

CURD2

so beautiful!

CURD

ok, one more beauty shot 🙂

ok – SO – i waited for the curd to cool a bit, but it never gets super jello-like with this recipe anyway, (a fact i appreciate!) and so i went to fill the done-er macaroons and, well, it wasnt quite as i’d hoped.

MACAROON_FILLED3

hmm...filled, but not quite puffy 🙂

MACAROON_FILLED

it looks like a drooling clamshell, no? i know that wasnt the challenge point, but i cant help but giggle at it...?

so, after biting though my model, i just ended up with the following as my method of eating thereafter:

SOLUTION

it was just as good 🙂

ahh well, maybe next month’ll be lemon curd, eh? hey, a girl can dream, cant she?  🙂

CURD_RED_POT

ok, one final lemon curd love photo, even better in the cute little red pot, no?? 🙂

The next installment of my mom (code name “DQ”)’s handiwork – the Chocolate Tulip!

Can anyone guess what DQ stands for?!   🙂

The chocolate tulip

The chocolate tulip

it was another of the bite-sized desserts that went to the fundraiser…this was a really bitter sweet ganache in a buttery crust – almost like a truffle in a tart pan 🙂

Here’s the group shot:

a field of tulips? :)

a field of tulips? 🙂

Foodgawker has also picked up my hegdehogs photo – this is the first one that they have gone for!! Whoo!!!! What a nice Saturday morning surprise!

TasteSpotting and I have an on and off again courtship – we get in apparently one-sided tiffs, disagreeing on image composition, center of focus and whatnot, but we’re back on the ups again since they decided to accept my Hedgehogs photo – a masterpiece from my mom who created tons of these little critters for a fundraiser for our new hospital.

Thanks TasteSpotting!!

and of course,

thanks to everyone who comes and checks it out! 🙂

My mom is an incredible chef and more importantly, baker.

She was commissioned/volunteered to make tasty treats for a fundraiser for our local hospital.

She made chocolate tuplips, hedgehogs, pumpkin purses and caramel chocolate cups – all were divine!

Check out her handi-work – I’ll post them all over the next few days … (See the second post here)

Here are the …

Hedgehogs!

HEDGIE_ON_RUN

A little hedgehog - this one was on the run!

The Hedgehog Army - I think there were over 200 individually

The Hedgehog Army - I think there were over 200 individually

After a few failed attempts at submitting photos … my cinnamon rolls recipe was accepted at TasteSpotting! So exciting! : ) A big thanks to everyone who came and checked out my page from there and for my two sweet first comments! Yay! : )

I entered three photos into a contest at Fine Gardening.com in their summer bouquets contest. I have a small clustering of Naked Ladies (at least that’s what we’ve always called them in our family) in my yard and I brought a few in to set on my window sill above my kitchen sink. They looked so elegant in the glass pitcher that I got a few years ago from a past landlord that was filled with a homemade liquor — I hope I do well!

Vote for me?? 🙂

Here’s a sneaky peek:

ladies1