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Posts from the ‘Extras’ Category

Lemon Madeleines | BCM | Tuesdays with Dorie

My youngest walked into the kitchen while I was prepping my work station for the latests Tuesdays with Dorie scheduled treat from her book Baking Chez Moi. Curious, she wanted to know what I was  going to make. “Madeleines!” I said with excitement.  I’ve never made these tasty little treats and I was looking forward to trying something new. I could see she was searching for the image to fit the name in her mind. Then she said, “You know Mom, the name Madeleine is so similar to the name of the character Madeline, the lute Mandolin and the slicer Mandoline I didn’t know at first what it was you were making.”  Now, each time I think of these little shell shaped cakes, my mind scrolls through each of those images and I giggle.

 

A petite Madeline mold buttered and ready for batter

A buttered petite Madeleine mold awaiting the batter…

Later, when she sat down to taste one of the Madeleines, she said she remembered eating these after school for goûter when we lived in France. I am amazed at how our senses bring back memories so vividly. “The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it.” ~ Remembrance of Things Past (À la recherche du temps perdu), Marcel Proust

My youngest was on to something. Indeed those little Madeleines did have a lineage. Historically these little cakes were believed to be named after a young maid, Madeleine, who worked for the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Leczinski in the late 1700s from the French town of Commercy. Once these petite cakes were introduced to the court at Versailles they found their place in the heart of the French.

Mother and daughter strolling the Green Carpet- Versailles

The Green Carpet- Versailles

With my first batch of Madeleines, I didn’t notice the “bump” that Dorie described in her recipe but I specifically looked for it on my second batch. The “bump” is the gold seal symbol or as she equates it to the holy grail, that one has decidedly mastered the Madeleine and there it was, a large bump on my petite Madeleines. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered them but I do thank Dorie for spilling her learned secret with me and the rest of the BCM bakers.  Her long history of making these and then learning the holy grail secrets from Phillippe Conticini of Patisserie des Reves and Fabrice Le Bourdat of Bel Sucre in Paris makes all of us feel great from the start!

Madeleine's with a "bosse/ bump"

Madeleine’s with a “bosse/ bump”

If you would like to try your hand at making Madeleines at home so you may enjoy a little afternoon goûter, here is the recipe. Alternately, she has shared her Lemon Madeleine recipe here.

Tuesdays with Dorie and Baking Chez Moi is an open group of bloggers having fun baking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s books. Go check out what the other Doristas are doing!

 

Crocus the First Flowers of Spring

Spring is here!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean~ Weekend Cake| TWD

 

I would like to share a slice of Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake with you but there’s none to be had, it was that good. I am not sure how this can be called a weekend cake, I might aptly rename it the 12 hour, if we are lucky, cake. Because that’s how long it lasted in our home before it disappeared.

Buttered black nonstick loaf pan ready for cake mix
Buttered loaf pan awaiting a dusting of flour

The texture of this Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake reminded me of my grandmother’s pound cakes I devoured as a child. The stand out difference  between the two is Dorie’s addition of vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract and dark rum. These ingredients are an intoxicating combination that had my family sneaking in for just one more paper-thin slice.

Loaf Weekend Cake on Cutting Board

One hour into the life of the Brown Butter & Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

We found this cake to be the perfect après ski Sunday afternoon goûter/ snack and fitting, because it reminded me of family to be served on my Grandmother Ruth’s china with tea if you are me and bourbon if you are my husband.

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Cake Served Up on Maple Leaf China

Sweet Memories Through The Senses

Just today, Tuesday, my daughter asked if I would make this lovely cake again, she suggested, tomorrow. I tried to tell her about how Dorie named it a weekend cake after the French gâteaux de voyage (travel cake) and that it was far from the weekend so she would have to wait the four (well, three now) long days until the weekend and I would mix up another. I won’t mind when I do because the aroma of vanilla fills the house making it feel even more like home.
The butter (beurre noisette) is caramelized to bring out it’s nutty flavors, and I used my homemade pure vanilla extract letting it work its magic as a flavor potentiator. Complete the experience with coffee, tea or rum as recommended by Dorie as an accompaniment. I might make two next time so we can share it with friends on the ski hill and have a picnic.

 

Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan and Baking Chez Moi is an open group dedicated to baking through Dorie’s latest books. If you would like to learn more about how this recipe turned out for the group you can find them here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Happy Baking!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

6 Quick Steps To Make Your Own Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

 

Did you know you can make your own pure vanilla extract at home with just a few ingredients? It’s not a mystery any longer and it’s a lovely gift to give to your favorite baker. As with any homemade product, there are several benefits to making your own. For one, you get to choose the quality of ingredients and know exactly what is in your vanilla extract. This means, you will have the highest quality vanilla extract available without anything artificial.

A few years back we decided as a family to give handcrafted gifts for the holidays instead of purchasing them. I was in search of what I could make that would be both fun and practical. That’s when I learned that I could make my own pure vanilla extract. Why had I not thought of this before?  Considering that nearly everything that is mass produced now were once made at home, it’s not that crazy of a thought that I could produce a gift that my family and friends would enjoy.

 

Vanilla bean pods

So what is pure vanilla extract? It is simply the extract (flavor and aroma) from the vanilla beans that have been immersed in alcohol (usually vodka because of it’s neutral flavor, but sometimes brandy or rum) over a period of time. The FDA requires;

“In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume and the content of vanilla constituent, as defined in 169.3(c), is not less than one unit per gallon.”

So that means the vanilla extract you’ll find in the store, is 70 proof (35% alcohol) and it contains 13.35 oz of bean per gallon of alcohol which would produce a single strength vanilla extract. After more research I found that some bakers prefer a double strength vanilla extract and others do not. I am guessing it is a matter of preference.  I lean toward loving the scent of vanilla and enjoy baking with it so my recipe may have a wee bit more vanilla than others but since I’m making my own and not planning to sell it I can follow whatever guideline works for our baking needs and that is a nice pure vanilla extract that flavors our baked goods without overpowering them.

The vanilla bean grows from a kind of tropical orchid. The fruit starts out as a hard green pod and the greenish white flowers (missing in this photo) and in a natural setting are dependent on bees to pollinate them, but now in modern times they can be artificially pollinated.  These vanilla beans are picked unripe and then submerged in hot water to remove their protective cover and allow for the natural liquids to seep out. They are then allowed to dry in the sunlight and ferment. When they have turned brown and covered with a layer of vanillin crystals the vanilla beans are ready.

 

Kauai'i - Green vanilla pods on the vine -Steel Grass Chocolate tour

Unripe vanilla bean pods on the vine in Kauai

 

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This Post Is Dedicated To…

To break from my norm, I dedicate this post to you; my readers. Thank you for choosing to subscribe to and support Caramelize Life, I’m glad you are enjoying our hard work.  This is not my normal story or recipe but it’s what matters most: the connection with each other about things that interest us.

 When I first thought about this blog it was an unusually warm winter and we found ourselves congregating around a friend’s table enjoying a delicious meal. It was the winter we lived in Chamonix, France and our kids brought us together. I can be shy sometimes and I am thankful for this wonderful family. I have learned so much from them and have warm memories of our times together. What came from our ritual midday espresso and blend of Russian, English and American meals prepared high in the French Alps was this blog. It is here to highlight the gems in life. Friends and community are what sparkle most, I find.

Winter Sunlight On Le Drus Chamonix France and Weymuller Photography

In my venture into the blogosphere I have jumped in with both feet (good thing I took swimming lessons as a kid!)  I love photography, writing, travel, nature and the outdoors. I enjoy giving kudos to those following their passions and searching for the silver lining in everything. It’s not easy and it takes dedication. One grumpy morning a few years back I remember having a conversation with my happy-go-lucky husband about choices. He was explaining to our then single-digit daughter that he makes a decision every day when he awakes to chose to be happy. That may not be the way he awoke but that would be his decision to go into the day positively. As with anything that is really worth something it takes practice and may not always come out perfectly.

Jumping Into The Cool BC Lakes

And this is how I see my project Caramelize Life, a way to practice making that decision each day to find the good, highlight those doing the same and enjoy all aspects of what life brings (even the not so happy parts) because we are all connected. In six degrees of separation we all overlap somewhere. It’s a learning process and I will share each one as I bumble along.

Black and White Backcountry Skiers Italy

 To better equip myself so that I am a better blogger (and so you get a better experience) I have put myself in the blogging equivalent of an obstacle course, figuring out new terms and technologies, dedicating myself to learning everything I can about WordPress and how to get the most out of the platform I am using. For what it’s worth, I give a standing ovation to those who work at WP and make it happen because they know what they’re doing and are quick and responsive to everything I’ve ever asked. They’ve created a vast community of talented people and continue to support bloggers like me to join at their table and share our thoughts. In my WordPress 101 class today we were instructed to write about a blog that we had commented on previously. Why we chose to we stop and what jumped out at us, moving our fingers to comment on their post. I couldn’t think of anything at first but that’s what is so freaking fun about blogging and the community out there in the ether. We might visualize the cloud of words up above us floating around but each one of those words links back to a human being who has taken the time and courage to produce their ideas into a form and share them so we may enjoy and experience them. When it strikes a cord I leave a comment to acknowledge their work, to learn more or simply engage.

 Weymuller Photography and Caramelize Life Appreciating Word Press Crew with a raised glass

In response to my daily assignment, my last comment that I left was on Toronto Cooks.  It was a simple statement about eating out in their about page that caught my attention. They choose to eat “in”. Which got me to thinking about why I “eat in”.  I simply do because there are few options where I live. Since there are very few options to “eat out” it has an affect on how we gather and our patterns as a community.  This small statement is really a large part of what forms our small rural community, that when described, well traveled people, say ours is unique. This got my mind linking thoughts as to what that recipe is, to make a strong community? Could it be that we gather around tables and share meals, breaking bread together so to speak that keeps us connecting? Could it be that we have perfected the potluck dinner? Or maybe it’s that we share a positive outlook to making things happen?  I’m not entirely sure but it really seems to work.

MVYC Summer Days at Patterson Lake and

So, I thank you, readers, for being a part of the Caramelize Life community connecting and engaging in making life sweeter through sharing our life’s stories here in the blogosphere. Cheers, to many more posts and friendships made.

 

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

Keeping My 2015 Resolutions, How About You?

Did you make a new year’s resolution for 2015? I did. And I’m sticking to them. Yes; them. I made more than one resolution and so far it’s going great! The Doriesta’s must have made a few too or either that, or they figured many of us would be deciding after the holidays we could use a healthy recipe to nourish and energize us into keeping our resolutions.

So as you may have guessed, I am focusing on eating smarter. I think I eat fairly healthy already but I know I could eat smarter. Over time my habit of skipping breakfast and having just a coffee has worn it’s way into my daily routine but then I forget to get a good breakfast going until that crazy clock tells me it’s lunch. In our family we use the term ‘HANGRY’ that I now see popping up on t-shirts and posters so maybe we’re not alone. Do you know anyone who gets HANGRY?

Maybe Dorie does because she has come up with a fantastic and healthy way to keep the “Hangries” at bay with her Granola Energy Bars. Dorie, my family will be writing you a personal thank you card for this one.

These granola energy bars, take no time to make and if stored properly will keep for a week (if not eaten before).  Dorie suggests to cut them up into bite sized pieces and serve them with tea (maybe a way to keep the Hangries in us, civilized). I chose to cut them a little larger and store them in a glass container so I could grab and go. Unfortunately, I didn’t cut them soon enough and could have used them on my ski this morning. At the 8k mark I was sloooowwwig down just as my good friend and I were talking about kids eating habits and helping them to make good choices. Old habits die hard and I had to confess that I hadn’t eaten a fantastic breakfast this morning…hence my slower pace. What a good friend I had who, waited for me and gave me a scolding in a motherly way of course- thanks Stew!

 

Run Boris Run- The B Dog skiing Big Valley Ranch - Methow Trails

Run Boris Run

We know who did eat his breakfast and then slyly got another family member to feed him a second. Dog wisdom, Maybe I should follow Boris’s lead.

Dorie’s bars are pretty close to making granola but instead of spreading out the ingredients on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet, she instructs to firmly press the granola into a parchment lined pan and then bake it.

I absolutely loved the parchment idea because once the bars had cooled I just popped the whole thing cleanly out of the casserole dish. This was an added bonus since we are still without hot water (long story but the short version is no boiler= not hot h2o) and our “Glamping” is going on week two. Maybe I’ll write about that another time, there are a few gems to tell for sure.

 

Caramelize Life makes Granola Energy Bars with Tuesdays with Dorie

Just out of the oven!

Once out of the dish the bars were ready to be cut. At the time I chose the usual long slices but now that I think about it I could have pulled out my sweet cookie cutters and made some fun shapes. If you have a little one at home they would probably really enjoy a specialized energy bar in their lunch. I wonder if my tween and teen would? Maybe I’ll have to test it out… next time. I do plan to put these into my repertoire since they were super quick and easy to make and the ingredient list can be varied to whatever you might have on hand in the pantry. Keeping with the ratio of two cups oats : two cups of your favorite; seeds, nuts,dried fruits and sweets(chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, crystallized ginger,etc) then a binder of brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup and butter. If you are dying to know the full recipe check out page 238-239 in Baking Chez Moi. 

 

Granola Energy Bars- Tuesdays With Dorie and Caramelizelife

Yum!

 

Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan and Baking Chez Moi is an open group dedicated to baking through Dorie’s latest books. To see more of the groups experiences with the Granola Energy Bars click on the link.

 

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

 

 

Caught by Surprise – Whipped Cream!

Oh, goodness. I had it in my mind that this Tuesday with Dorie was a bye week (they were following the Seahawks schedule right?) But my handy computer reminded me that it’s a pick your own recipe (from either Baking Chez Moi or Baking with Julia) week with the Doristas. Which means this is a great opportunity for those of us who have either missed a recipe in the line up or want to make something fun that’s not on the schedule.
I was on top of it at the beginning of our holiday celebrations but this one snuck up on me. Not to worry; Doire’s books have a fantastic variety of delectable choices to pick from but my timing was the limiting factor. We already had a spiced ginger birthday cake in the works for tonight. So what goes well with cake? Whipped cream of course!

But wait, there’s more!

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

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”

Staycation-Mango Spring Rolls

RKW Spring roll wrap Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are happily in the process of switching our mindset and culinary menus from the thick layers of Winter warm to Spring layers and lighter, fresher fare. It’s at this time when I eagerly await the first bulbs to emerge from their sleep and buds to pop from the trees.

Afternoon walks linger when the warmth of the sun’s rays replace my winter down coat. Our living room view becomes its own Planet Earth series time-lapse moving from once black and white to muted grays and browns and now the Technicolor slowly pours on with vibrant shades of green and yellows.

The song birds are back and I half expect Julie Andrews to burst out from the greening fields with the “Hills Are Alive”. But I don’t think this crosses everyone’s mind like it does mine; all those car rides with my 5-year-old requesting to hear the sound track over and over again, could be the reason for my Spring memory replay.

But Spring is a time to hit the refresh button. Spring cleaning, depending on who you are, can invoke a number of ideas. First the house comes to mind but next my cravings begin to change from rich hearty foods to those that are lighter and fresher. Not much is growing for us yet, and I am aware that mangoes are not “in season” (are they ever here in the Pacific Northwest?) But I know many who traveled south…way south, for Spring break. So, for those of us who didn’t hit the Southern Hemisphere, but rather, enjoyed our staycation; here are mangoes for you!

Staycation- Mango Spring Rolls- makes 6 -10
This recipe was inspired from The Solitary Cook‘s recipe found at Food 52 made with a good friend one afternoon.

RachelleKWeymuller/Caramelizelife.com Mango Spring Rolls

Ingredients For Shrimp Steam Bath:
(this might be the spa part of your staycation, lean over to indulge in a steamy facial 😉

3 cups/24 ounces of water (enough to cover mango skins, limes and shrimp)
2 mango peels – washed (use the fruit for sauce and spring rolls 1 each)
1/2 sweet onion- quartered
1 lime- sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste
2 dried japonés chiles – chopped (add more if you like more spice, my kids don’t)
8 ounces shrimp uncooked, washed and deveined ( go for wild caught spot prawns, rock shrimp or US farmed shrimp if possible)

*Have ready a bowl of ice water  to immerse the shrimp and keep them from overcooking
For The Shrimp Steam Bath:
In a stainless steel pot add all ingredients but the shrimp and bring to a boil.
Once water is boiling add the shrimp and reduce heat to medium.
Cook until shrimp are pink about 3-7 minutes.
Drain cooked shrimp and immediately place in bowl of ice water to keep them from overcooking.

Shrimp Steam Bath

Shrimp Steam Bath

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ingredients For The Mango Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (we were out so we used Bragg’s Amino Acids and it worked well)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame oil
2 limes (zest from 1 lime and juice from 2 limes)
1 mango fruit – (from the steam bath) pit removed

For The Mango Sauce:

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth
Place in serving a dish and set aside until ready to eat

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RKW Spring Rolls

Ingredients For The Spring Rolls:

8 oz Vermicelli Noodles (Beans Thread)
**************************************
1 mango-(from the steam bath) pit removed, small cubes
1 bunch cilantro (20 stems and leaves) – chopped
1/2 a cucumber – peeled, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 cup  green onions – diced
All the cooked, now cooled shrimp – tail removed and chopped
Juice of 2 limes
*************************************

8-10 rice paper wraps (spring rolls skin)
9 inch cake pan (for softening rice paper wraps)
1/4 inch hot water (for cake pan and rice paper wraps)

RKW_0097 noodles for spring roll

Cooked Vermicelli Noodles

 

For The Spring Rolls:

Soak Vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes in hot water then drain and set aside.
Combine; mango,cilantro,cucumber, green onions, shrimp and lime juice to a bowl and toss.

Prepare rice paper wraps:
Add hot water to 9 inch cake pan
place 1 rice paper wrap at a time, submerged in hot water, for 10 seconds to soften.
*Keep hot water handy to add when water in cake pan cools.

CL-mango-spring-roll RKW_0082
Build your Spring Roll!
Place softened rice paper wrap on your work surface
Put a small amount 20 or so Vermicelli noodles down the middle of the roll/wrap
Place 2-3 Tablespoons of filling(mango, cucumber, green onion etc) down the middle leaving room on the sides to fold
Begin to wrap the spring roll (similar as you might a burrito) starting with the side closed to you, then fold each end and finish by rolling the last over the opposite side ( the only one left) and seal.
Set on a serving platter with the seam side down, I like to use a chilled metal one (Yay, a wedding gift I am happy to use).
Repeat.
I have found that if there are left over Vermicelli noodles the kids love it plain or topped with a little extra mango sauce is a great left over snack.

Mango Spring Rolls

Mango Spring Rolls

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle
Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel And Community”

Have Stomach Will Travel

It seems that traveling with a car load of people especially the majority under the age of 18, means stops are not to fill up the gas tank but rather the kid tank. I confess, I don’t meet the under 18 rule but I do get an honorary membership to this club when traveling. I make it my scavenger hunt to find new restaurants while on the road. These little glinting gems are the carrots to keep me going during long days in the car.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Yesterday we found one such sparkling gem tucked away in the Old Town of Anacortes– The A’Town Bistro.

Kids Menu-Grilled Cheese, Fries and Salad

Kids Menu-Grilled Cheese, Fries and Salad

If you find yourself cooped up in a car this Spring Break and happen to be anywhere near this sweet little town, a stop in will be a treat for the senses.

Stacked Eggplant And Beet Salad

Grilled Eggplant Stack And Beet Salad

YUM!

Tuscan Angel Hair Pasta

Tuscan Angel Hair Pasta

Le Sel De Table

Le Sel De Table

Cheers!

Head Shot Rachelle
Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

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

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