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Posts from the ‘Community’ Category

Cranberry Crackle Tart- Tuesdays with Dorie

Cranberries come twice a year and in my mind are associated with turkey and all the fixin’s. Would I have picked this recipe and said “that’s what I want to make!”? Probably not. This is why I am enjoying the Tuesdays with Dorie group right from the start. In life, it’s great to try new things. Eating my own words as a parent “try it, you won’t know you don’t like it until you try it.” Eva asked me if I like meringue; yes I do. Then, if I liked sweetened cranberries; yes, I do. So she said “Why not put them together and try it?”

The timing was apropos for cranberries, it is Thanksgiving in the US, one of the two times a year I think about these little red bursts of flavor. And we did need to bring a special dessert to our gathering, so this is it.

Winter storm arrives

Eva and I set about pulling our ingredients from the pantry and preparing our crust.  Little did we know (or even our National Weather Service let on they knew) but winter decided to arrive all at once. Heavy, wet snow sticking to itself like packing peanuts to a fleece shirt. As those fat wet flakes congregated on wispy willow branches and fruit trees we paused our work in the kitchen. We donned our hats and rain coats and headed out to save our favorite trees from the weight of the new fallen snow. Like bears looking for honey, we shook the base of the trees as best we could to relive the branches of their heavy load. Sometimes one of us would shake it just right to get the other full of snow. That, Eva thought was the best! However, we paid careful attention to not be in their path as the branches sprung back up as though they were happy to be free.

After we were satisfied that the tree branches would make it we returned to our baking task but quickly noticed our power was out.

BCW Galette Dough

 We set aside our dry ingredients and went about lighting candles and finding headlamps.

Galette Dough Ingredients

Funny things happen when distractions changed our direction. We had put our “ice water” in the freezer to chill however, when the power went out…

Ice water/ Frozen water BCM

 Now that we have “frozen water” we prepped the dish for the crust.

Thankful -buttered dish

 I couldn’t help myself.

Galette Crust

Still thankful under the dough.

Beans for weight!

 Our first time using beans as weights for galette crust under candlelight.

Cranberry Crackle Tart

I have to agree with Dorie in her opening description about Americans in Paris, Thanksgiving, and finding all the ingredients that confirm our nostalgic senses that it is this time of year.

It reminds me of a wonderful Thanksgiving we spent in Paris. Our French hostess, married to an American, set out to make a traditional American Thanksgiving meal for her international guests. She had emailed her Mother in-law for all the family recipes and without knowing what the dishes were supposed to look or taste like she busied herself to tracking down the exotic ingredients. Our gracious hosts went so far as to borrow a friend’s flat that was large enough so they could accommodate our three families. She made many trips bringing all the provisions from it seemed, almost every arrodissement of Paris, which I thought was a feat in itself, let alone preparing the whole meal singlehandedly. Of course I am not surprised, Pascale is a Superwoman. As I write this post, I just found out that she has written and published a cookbook!

Cranberry Crackle Ingredients

The ingredients are straight forward and few.

Cranberry Crackle Tart

The finished Tart!

Cranberry Crackle Tart

This Cranberry Crackle Tart traveled well and was devoured by a large group of ski racers during our Thanksgiving Ski Camp held in Canada this year.

New traditions, trying new things and being thankful no matter where we are this time of year.

~In gratitud Rachelle and Eva @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

Palets de Dames- Tuesdays with Dorie

What fun we had making these little treats.
I have a new baking and blogging partner this year and she writes about her experience over at Jumpin Bean.

We just joined the Baking Chez Moi, Tuesdays with Dorie Group  as part of her homeschooling adventures and a fun way to spend some quality family time together. We are looking forward to sharing our new experiences with you and baking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook Baking Chez Moi as well as learning from our new blogging community!

 

Little Treats

We have cooked with Dorie’s recipes before and have always found her recipes to be clear and concise, so Eva took the lead both in baking and with the camera. I fell to as the prep chef and camera help for this recipe.

Flour starting out

 

We used King Arthur flour this time but next go we decided we would play around with Bluebird Grain Farms Einka Flour and see how it turns out. Eva wanted to do this because she knows Einka flour is packed with nutrients and that could potentially sway me when she asks “just one more, please?”

 

All lined upI am doing my job here as prep chef.

Mix it up

This is Eva’s favorite part, mixing it up and adding the ingredients.

Palet de Dames

The Palets de Dames are ready for the oven. Sadly we don’t have a photo of the finished product, not one. They were eaten so fast and shared with friends that we forgot to snap the shot. We will leave you to your imagination or if you just can’t handle not knowing you can peek at our new blogging communities posts and I am sure you’ll see a final photo there!

happy baking,

 

Head Shot RachelleRachelle and Eva @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thank you to all the wonderful Mothers in the world who make life sweeter for everyone.

Lilac Sugar

To keep the sweet aroma of lilacs after their bloom is done, and around our house that happens quickly, gather some lilac flowers now and layer them in a jar with sugar alternating sugar and flowers. Set the Lilac Sugar in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks and then you will have a lovely scented sugar to use in tea, baking or sauces! I think using the sugar to make cupcakes with candied lilac flowers would be superb!

Whistler me 2010  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community

Parfait! A Perfect May Day Surprise!

The tradition of May Day is celebrated around the globe. Each culture has its own take but the traditions boil down to spreading kindness to another.

As a kid I remember leaving little bouquets of hand picked flowers at our neighbors door and enjoying the anonymous aspect of it, or at least I thought I was being sneaky, I’m sure they knew.

Hand picked flowers Hannah WP

Now a quarter mile from my next adult neighbor and further from those with children, no flowers land on our doorstep and well we haven’t a doorbell either, no fun meter here. Yes, life is hard here in the countryside. However, due to modern technology we no longer hike up hill both ways in a snow storm to get to school, we drive and thankfully so does the UPS truck.

Image 30 no logo WP Parfait

You see May Day surprises are still possible. May 1st I found a peculiar box at our front door. Yes, I know who physically left it and so does my dog who is now enjoying his treat.

Image 31no logo parfait box WP

I look really surprised

Peculiar because it had ICE CREAM printed all over it. Could it really be? You gotta hand it to today’s transportation system. I knew you could ship live baby chicks but ice cream too? Parfait I say, well not really but that too was printed all over the box as well.

Image 28 no logo parfait WP EVA

Giddy with curiosity that someone would send us ice cream and full of excitement my family opened the box. Front and center we find a “caution dry ice” letter. All of a sudden this gift has an added bonus, ice cream and a learning opportunity/science experiment!

Image 29 caution parfait WP

Image 25 Eva no logo WP Parfait Image 26 Image 32

Image 34 Parfait no logo Eva ice WP

Finding out what happens when…

Image 37 Eva, dry ice Parfait

Dry Ice mixes with apple juice

Image 33 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

The excitement begins!

Image 36 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

pretty fun…

Science!

Science at it’s best…and fun to watch too!

Image 14 May Day Glo WP

Or, in the sink with water!

Upon further inspection we found the packing slip which spilled the beans on the delicious flavors within.

~Meyer Lemon
What they say it tastes like: Imagine the same sweet and tangy goodness of lemon curd frozen into a smooth and creamy ice cream. We use Meyer lemons, which are thin-skinned and delicately perfumed.

~Mint Stracciatella
What they say it tastes like: Our mint doesn’t taste like candy canes, but rather fresh mint, straight from the garden. That’s because we steep our custard with real organic spearmint leaves from Marigold and Mint. Our delicate, chocolate flakes are made using TCHO organic chocolate and traditional Italian methods.

~Fleur de Caramel
What they say it tastes like: A traditional French caramel with a silky texture and beautiful amber color. We use just the right amount of genuine Fleur de Sel to bring out the deep caramel taste. Neither overly salty nor cloyingly sweet.


~ We also found out who the sender was…Thank you Ira and Courtney for sending such a fun and yummy gift!

funny factoid:

For all those who have spontaneously declared some sort of resolution and broken it before it began…I’ll add I too can sympathize. Not just 2 hours before that peculiar box arrived I had spurted the words ” I think I’ll give up sugar for the month of May”

…maybe the second half of the month of May.

Bon appetit!

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ caramelize life

“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Re-remembering To Focus On What Matters Most

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Kids Watching Impending Weather RKWeymuller Photography

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Keeping the outside world in perspective must have been what I needed to learn these past few weeks. This month my computer gave up and died.  So, I went from the autobahn of internet functionality to a small country road and, truth be told, my phone’s keyboard was not a joy to write from, hence my absence this last week from posting.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Red Tulip Lanes RKWeymuller Weymullerphotography

I’m gradually inching my way back, configuring my new computer and merging from the slow single lane dirt roads back to pavement and the fast pace of the online freeway. Somewhere along the way, I realized that sometimes an unexpected diversion, as maddening as it may be, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Seeds got started,

Garden Snap Peas with Innoculant

Inoculated Garden Snap Peas!

games were played,

Life Size Chess Game Won RKWeymuller Weymuller Photography

Wahoo!

Focus shifted and family life was highlighted.

RachelleKWeymuller Caramelize Life Weymuller Photography  Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

“Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Fondue and Football

What do you think of when you hear the word fondue? Snow topped Swiss Mountains, cows with clanging bells that we only hear at ski races and steam filled wooden clad restaurants where the air is permeated with the smell of melted cheese?

 matter bean WP24341_1383352991137_8372409_nMatterhorn WP Zermatt fondue bean 24341_1383354591177_1134405_n

We’ve experienced these warm cozy venues under the Matterhorn‘s shadow and enjoyed true Swiss hospitality high in the mountains with good friends. However, what comes to mind over all, is a crazy combination of Swiss hospitality and an American pastime.

My husband grew up with a New Years Day tradition of fondue and football. So when there are back to back bowl games playing on New Years Day, his family and friends gather and instead of chips and dip they dipped their cubed  bread into the Swiss cheese and yelled at the t.v.

IMG_1220

Wanting to continue that family tradition we now host a Methow style fondue and football New Year’s Day party. Opening our doors to friends and family we mix up batches of creamy fondue, and have the games on the tube.

Image 7ffondue & football 2013 WP Image 22 Image 5 fondue & football 2013 WP

Personalizing the party we’ve added options for those who think it barbaric to sit and holler at the little people on the screen or just can’t sit still. These folks can stand outside in the below freezing weather and warm their tushies by the outdoor fire and enjoy their brew of choice. Adults get beer, children hot chocolate, we even tried serving fondue outside with an electric pot but I think the jury is still out on that. If you are curious we found the metal pot allows the cheese to separate easier than the ceramic pots but then again it could have been the sub zero temps!

sledding fun

sledding fun

fondue to go

fondue to go

finding the hot spot

finding the hot spot

A party like this only works if everyone pitches in. We ask that our guests bring a hunk of Swiss cheese for melting and something to dip. Then everyone jumps in and helps during the party. Besides the football, sledding and skiing there are always other games to play, easy party ones such as find your boots and kids mittens, those who’ve attended before have learned to bring their most unique outerwear for easy finding.

Image 6 mud room fondue & football 2013 WP

Recipe for Fondue and Football [serves 2 or keep making it and it will serve 150 hungry folks].
A community of friends willing to bring bread, cheese and celebrate football and snow.

All that you need:

2 1/2 cups shredded cheese ( Swiss: Emmenthaler, Gruyere, Jarlsberg)
1 1/2 Tbs flour
1 clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper and nutmeg
1Tbs Kierschwasser
day old baguette style bread cubed (for dipping)
veggies broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, etc (steamed for dipping)
fondue fuel for your pot, extra fondue forks

Action:

Dredge cheese with flour
rub garlic on the inside of the pot place over stove
add and heat wine until small bubbles form
reduce heat slightly and add cheese slowly in small amounts while stirring
warm the Kierschwasser and add it to the pot
if needed thin with warm wine
sprinkle salt and pepper nutmeg on top to taste

Extras:

Make ahead: I prepare for this party well in advance, stocking up on Swiss cheese when it’s on sale or buying it in bulk. I shred the cheese ahead of time and pop it in the freezer for later use.

What to do with left over cubed fondue bread? How about bite sized French toast? Or Croutons for soup and salad toppings?
Or if you find yourself with an over abundance of shredded cheese, it’s perfect for that quick quiche recipe to speed up a week night dinner.

En Guete!

34921_1516141470766_1451349916_1355781_1679178_n_21  Rachelle@ Caramelize Life

We

We

We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.

Cheers!

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagne

We live the lives of busy Moms, friends, entrepreneurs, wives, community members…the list of hats grows long. So it is important that we use our time wisely while the kids are at school and the house is quiet by combining our get together time. Focusing on sharing and connecting, creating new recipes and learning from each other are all great ways to build lasting relationships.

We set up a plan to meet once a month and share new recipes, try each others favorite recipes and expand our regular “go to” menus for our families. Our goal is to prep and make a dinner for that night and then something to put away in the freezer or “put-up” in the pantry to be enjoyed in the future months as a tasty reminder of our day together in the kitchen.

We decide menus by what we have in our refrigerators. For me that is easy; a quick check, since I have just one. But Stew, she has four refrigerators I’m told so she always comes ready for a multitude of options. On our most recent get together, her car was packed and each time she pulled something from her bottomless box of goodies, like a magician, I was pleasantly surprised at what she emerged with: squash, spinach, fresh squeezed lemon juice, herbs picked that day a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I have to confess, Stew Dietz is not your ordinary super mom (a title I think all Moms carry in this day and age) like the rest of us but she is also a caterer extraordinaire so she has menu planning down to a science.

After taking stock of our potential ingredients, we decided the plan was to make a Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne, Potato Leek Soup, Parsley Pesto and Apple Butter. These days in the kitchen are very productive. For the Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne, Stew found inspiration from a Bon Appétit magazine but we didn’t have all the ingredients they called for and staying true to our creative spirit we improvised and tweaked their recipe to what worked for us:

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

10-12 Servings            9x13x3” pan

2#            Butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded & cut ¼ “slices
1#            Spinach
1               Large Yellow Onion,  diced small
1#            Fresh Mozzarella, grated or cut into small strips
16oz        Skim Ricotta
1c            Grated romano cheese
Zest from one lemon
4              Sage leaves, minced
1T            Fresh Rosemary leaves, minced
2T           Fresh Thyme leaves, minced
½ c         Fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Bechamel

¼ c            Unsalted butter
¼ c            Unbleached all-purpose flour
3c               Whole milk
2c              Half & half
¼ tsp       Fresh grated nutmeg
1                Bay leaf
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1#              Lasagna noodles
½ c            Parmesan

Toss sliced squash pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake on sheet pans in preheated 400 oven until cooked, but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

In 10 qt stock pot heat water until boil and cook lasagna noodles until done.  Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil to keep from sticking and lay out on extra sheet pans, wax paper or parchment.

Heat 3T olive oil in 8 qt heavy bottom stock pot and saute onions until tender but not colored, about 8 minutes.  Add rosemary, fresh thyme & sage and cook adding salt & pepper to taste.  Add spinach in handfuls stirring it in until wilted.  Cook over high to finish wilting and help evaporate liquid (or drain in colander, reserving liquid for soup!)  Stir in lemon rind and fresh parsley.  Once cooled blend with ricotta & Romano set aside in a bowl for assembly.

In heavy bottomed 5qt pot melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook not letting it brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in whole milk & half and half.  Add bay leaves & nutmeg. Slowly bring to boil and simmer stirring almost constantly until thickened, about 10-15 minutes depending on your heat. Season with salt and white pepper.  Pour through mesh strainer.

To Assemble:

In 9”x13” pan spread about 1/3c béchamel in the bottom of the pan.  Top with layer of lasagna noodles, butternut squash slices, Fresh mozzarella, spinach/ricotta mixture & ½ c béchamel.  Keep repeating for a total of 3 layers of “filling” ending with noodles/ last of béchamel and ½ c Parmesan.

Bake @ 375 for 45 minutes, turning to broil for additional 5 minutes.  Let rest before cutting and serving.

*Freezer Tip:

I usually cover the lasagne with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and write on the foil; What is inside, the date it was made, and date it should be eaten by as well as baking instructions, incase I am not the one making it for dinner. I also add a reminder to remove the plastic wrap beneath the foil.
Other ideas would be to add suggestions of what side dishes to pair with it.

Enjoy!

making life sweeter…from Rachelle @ Caramelizelife

Caramelize Life Cooking Class @ Sun Mountain Lodge

It was a perfect time of year and a wonderful opportunity to work with a fantastic group of women in a garden to table cooking class.

Caramelize Life was kindly invited by Methow Arts Alliance and  Sun Mountain Lodge  to bring local produce and share simple recipes that could be made quickly at home with a lovely group of women visiting the Methow Valley.

It happened to be perfect timing for the class as the garden was in full production and ingredients were as fresh as could be.  On stage were succulent Heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, a selection of creamy chèvre from Sunny Pine Farm and locally sourced salmon

We all had a splendid time whipping up seasonal fair and an even better time sampling from our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ~cheers Rachelle@caramelizelife

Best Place to Live in the Wild West

I feel a little like that proud Mother who can only see the positive in my own child despite the realities that we are all human. Truth be told, this is how I am feeling about my community right now. This last week has been eventful.

My family and I were just returning from a vacation we enjoyed with friends at lake Tahoe and witnessed other close friends tie the knot atop of Squaw Valley. Both places were incredibly gorgeous and filled with laughter and good friends but our trip was cut short on our return to Seattle when I happened to scroll through some Facebook postings and saw that a neighbor had just exclaimed”Somewhat disconcerting when the Smokejumpers are jumping above your house and three fire trucks are sitting on the road.”  What? Did I read that correctly? Turns out that 4 smokejumpers landed on our hill to fight a blaze that had been ignited by a lighting strike. Have any of you felt that sinking feeling when something happens and you are too far away to do anything about it…personally?

We cut our visit with Grammie short and hustled (read: 4 hours) home over the North Cascade Scenic (not today) Highway to take care of our home and animals. All along the way our friends were keeping us updated, <I love the internet> on the positive aspects to the event “they didn’t send a whole smokejumper crew just 4 guys so that is a good sign” said Sarah Berns.  Our neighbor, Hannah Dewey, gave us the hourly play by play complete with photos texted to us of the blaze that her smokejumper husband, Patrick, was fighting behind our home. They dug fire lines along with ground and air support teams to make sure the already brittle and dry sage and bunch grasses didn’t ignite with a gust of 90 degree August air.

We had luck on our side, the winds died down and an early response from a seasoned fire crew saved our bacon. All is well and we quickly returned to our bucolic country lifestyle.

So grateful we are to the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for their fellow men, women and children. You all make a difference in our lives and we are thankful, thankful for the nation wide community of firefighters who travel all fire season, thankful to our community for keeping us updated and thankful for our community beyond who checked in.

That country lifestyle is just part of why we live here, but I am sure we all have a part of that wherever we live. It’s the individual who chooses to make a difference.

Have you ever left a community event feeling inspired, maybe with that Ah ha! moment of satisfaction “this is why we live here”? Each year I search out Sunset Magazine’s annual “best towns to live in” issue, curious to see who out there is raving about their slice of paradise.

Community makes a place and each of us has the ability to enrich ours, and in so doing, make life just a bit sweeter.

The other  night I had one of those Ah ha! moments at Spring Creek Ranch‘s first Celestial Cinema evening of the summer. The stars aligned and I felt like I had just walked into that idyllic country life set only seen in Hollywood.

83 degrees, a slight breeze, familiar faces, local eateries selling their goods, children playing on the lush green lawn. Listening to friends connecting and catching up by sharing summer vacation stories. Ahh… this is why we live here.

It is the people that make the place.

So fittingly, let’s collectively create a Recipe for Community. Like the story of stone soup, tell me the qualities you feel make a place special to you. Just add your ingredients in the comments and I’ll update the recipe.

Here are a few thoughts to start…

A group of dedicated people
Energy
Action
Curiosity
A desire to connect
Caring
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Related Posts:

Rocking Horse Bakery

How about a shout out for the 70 firefighters working the fire in the mtns above Falls Creek!
Organized by the North Cascades Smokejumpers, The Rocking Horse Bakery is proud to have been able to provide an air drop of muffins, scones and other tasty treats for the crew’s breakfast this am!

Seattle Times
A sign of community and neighbors making a difference

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