Thursday, May 26, 2011

Childhood favorite

Growing up Mom had three canisters sitting on the counter when you first walked into the kitchen. One had flour, one had sugar, and the other held cookies. I remember some chocolate or strawberry wafers thrown in for variety, but almost always it was filled with Oreos. I have probably eaten my weight in Oreos. Twice.
...Maybe three times if you count the chocolate covered mint ones we got special at Christmastime.  At least it got me to drink milk??

A couples days ago, SmittenKitchen posted a recipe for Rhubarb Streusel Muffins.  I salivated over them as I read the recipe and reminded my boyfriend, yet again, that he is supposed to bring me rhubarb from his garden so I could bake something to take camping over Memorial Day Weekend. But I got distracted by the link to the recipe four years ago: Homemade Oreos.  So, with full knowledge that there was no way one batch would last from Monday night until the weekend, I made them anyway.

I fully intended to take pictures, but I forgot. It was late at night anyway and pictures would have been crappy. Then half of them were gone by morning. Oops.

So, for the sake of this blog post, I made another batch last night!  And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you...

Homemade Oreos
Accidentally modified from Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar (or 1 cup plus whatever accidentally fell in from the sugar pot)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 egg

Cream filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup shortening, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

To make the wafers, preheat oven to 375. Mix all dry ingredients, including sugar, which is technically a wet ingredient.  Add butter and egg and mix like crazy.  When you start mixing it will get kind of clumpy and look like this:

But if you keep mixing.... and keep mixing.... and keep mixing, it will eventually turn into a crumbly dough:

Spoon rounded teaspoons of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press mounds flat with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup.  Bake for 9 minutes (Quicker and easier to bake two cookie sheets at once on middle two oven racks - just switch racks halfway through baking to make sure they're even).  Place on rack to cool.

To make the filling, cream butter and shortening.  Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, mixing well between additions.  Add 1 tsp of vanilla after you reach 1 cup and 2 cups.  Continue to beat filling for several minutes to make it light and fluffy.

To make sandwiches, fill a small plastic baggie with cream filling. Cut off the tip of the baggie to squeeze out filling. Pipe desired amount of cream on wafer and top with wafer of the same size. I piped a little over a teaspoon onto each cookie and had plenty of filling left over - from both batches of oreos!

Take note, this filling is delightful slathered on a graham cracker. Having extra is not a bad thing! Or instead of vanilla, you can add peppermint extract to the cream filling and have special holiday oreos! YES!

In other life news, I took some pictures of the yard I'll be moving to shortly. Not great pictures, but at least they give an idea of what I'll be working with. New raised beds may be in my future...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baby birdies

I have been very busy with my new babies...

Robin babies! Mama really wanted to built a nest on a cross beam in our covered carport.  She attempted three other nests before she settled on this one. I had been avidly watching her for egg hatching activity, and last weekend I finally saw her sitting on the nest really funny with her butt in the air. A day later I could see the tips of little beaks. Slowly I could see more and more of the baby chicks' heads.  Now they are big enough that you can see all four heads at any time, as long as Mama hasn't scared you away by dive bombing when you come out of the house.  And, like most babies, all they do now is eat and poop.

In other outdoor news, my herb farm is toodling along quite nicely. My rosemary starts are doing their thing slowly and steadily. My couple of parsley starts have defied all odds and taken hold after living wrapped in slightly damp paper towel for over a week before planting. And I have a handful of thyme seeds that have finally decided to poke their heads up.

I didn't know if my thyme seeds outside would grow, so I planted some in peat pellets downstairs in the "sunroom." Soon I'll cut off the smaller guys and just let the biggest one take over the pellet for a while before planting.

Also in the sunroom, one of my orchids is going hog wild! "Trick or Treat" orchid. I think it's beautiful. I hope the blossoms survive a little moving around in the coming weeks.

Outside, my garden is finally doing something. It has felt like February out there, not May, and my plants have been acting accordingly. Peas that I planted in the raised bed, actually IN February, are now getting little over and inch tall. The peas I planted in early April are decently big.

Unfortunately, when you have a bunch of planters that all look the same, sometimes you forget which one you've planted in and double seed....Oops. Do you think mesclun mix lettuce will do okay sharing space with peas??

I got a little over excited when there was a sale on greens at Fred Meyer a couple weeks ago and bought a few too many... But I managed to find a place for them regardless.

And I'm being quite "green" about it!

Our 3 year old strawberries are starting to bloom, and will hopefully produce sometime in June.

But the blueberries may take a while. We got three bare root blueberries last month for 50% off. Luckily, I had three large planters already available so we could pot them instead of putting them in the ground. They should be fine for a couple of years in these guys before I am able to find them a more permanent home.  One variety is supposed to produce berries up to silver dollar diameter! Yum.

We had a rare bit of sunshine yesterday, so I took the opportunity to dig up some calla lilies that were hiding in an odd corner of the yard. I was digging with a spade instead of a shovel and think I may have damaged some of the roots during the transplant, but hopefully they'll enjoy their new living conditions.

That's it for outside. I've got kale and lettuce starts in the raised bed, as well as the tiny peas and some radishes, but they aren't far enough along to warrant a photoshoot. Inside I've decided to prep for summer by planting some flower seeds. I had plastic 6-packs left from the kale starts, so I'm going to hope my daisy, bachelor button, and zinnias get an excellent start in the sunroom.  Eventually I hope to be able to plant them around the edge of the yard to bring in some bright color. Fingers crossed that seeds from 2006 are still viable....

And, I'm getting a bit adventurous. A dear friend sent me a link to the "greenest" way to start plants - in a toilet paper tube! I got some free tomato (and basil, for that matter) seeds from Sunset magazine trying to sell me a subscription. I have no clue what kind of tomato seeds they are - roma, grape, etc - but I'm hoping I get to find out. I've never done tomatoes from seed, and I've heard they're very difficult, so it may just be a fun, if failed, experiment.

I couldn't get them to stand up on their own, so I had to put them in cups. Not sure if it will be good or bad for them. Maybe I'll move a couple to between the flower starts if things look disasterous.


Proof of nurture vs nature: Ollie the Gardening Cat.