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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

When was the last time you remembered to do this?

I took time out to nurture myself. It can take me awhile to realize that I need to refill my cup and a little longer to act on that realization.

I joke that life is either moving at warp speeds or trudging along. As I write this, the cartoon bubble pops up within my mind and I’m visualizing myself as a stick figure pushing and pulling at a life-size round clock with the large roman numeral numbers painted on it. By the time the clock begins to roll, gaining momentum it’s moving too fast and I can’t keep up!  That’s typically when I realize I need to reassess my life strategies and take some time to nurture my being. So, I can keep up with all that life throws at me… sometimes I  just need to go get a new pair of running shoes other times more is needed.

 

stick person and clock art

This (stick figure) is the limit of my artistic ability!

So, when three separate weekend opportunities popped up, I said YES to all of them! Then, it hit me that all three were right in a row and that was going to take some planning, help from friends and forgiveness on my family’s part.

How did I chose to refresh?

First, I sought out a way to feed my creative side. I did this by surrounding myself with others who are also passionate about writing, photography and food. This was  an extended weekend of excursions, workshops and inspiring speakers who were only a short drive away in emerald city of Seattle at the International Food Bloggers Convention. A creative stay-cation of sorts.

ifbc 2015 badge

Then, to nurture my adventurous spirit I couldn’t pass up a chance to road trip with girlfriends and celebrate a close friend’s 60th birthday in Canadian Kootenay Rockies of Nelson B.C .
Lakeside in Nelson B.C 

Finally to squeeze it all in before my luck ran out, I packed a bag (a rather too large and heavy one) and hit the trail with a couple of friends, where we immersed ourselves in nature. This wasn’t hard to do with the technicolor views of the North Cascades Mountains framed with fiery berry bushes and golden rods of high alpine larch trees. This delight for the eyes combined with the indian summer temperatures we couldn’t have been more lucky.
Tamerack and Bonanza

So, if you are feeling like you could use a refill go ahead and hit refresh. Feed your creative side, nurture your relationships, follow your adventurous side and immerse yourself in nature. Start daydreaming it’s your gateway to adventure!

Caramelize life when you can and take time to nurture yourself.

 

 

~Rachelle

“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

 

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

 

 

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

 

Are You Serious About Biscuits?

 

Biscuits are to my father in-law as cribbage is to my father; serious business but with a little bit of luck thrown in too. When we visit, our mornings gravitate towards a slower pace and the early coffee becomes a second pot and brunch more often than not.

<img src= "http://www.caramelizelife.com rachellekweymuller width= "3872" height= "2592" alt= "Caramelize Life   Grandpa trys Dahlia Bakery and Tom Douglas's Biscuits"/>

I’m not sure if it could be called a tradition just yet but I love the connection the mornings bring. My youngest can be an early bird, as is her Grandpa, so they have found a sweet rhythm in the early morning hours. She wakes and waits fairly patiently to hear his footsteps in the kitchen above.  She runs upstairs, out pacing our equally excited four legged friend, to enjoy some one on one time with her Grandpa. I know they have great conversations that span more years than she is old. I believe there is a childhood window for these opportunities.  I think back, to our oldest who used to enjoy these same early mornings but now as a teenager, she rarely stirs before the sun and is more in-tune with the moon and the stars. These windows of opportunity allow for precious light to warm us and connect who we are as individuals. I know my girls share their thoughts with their Grandpa as he shares his passions, in those morning hours, they have learned to oil and watercolor paint from him and all three equally share the love of baking, eating and trying new recipes together.

Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Last year we all received (I think it was at Christmastime) a new cookbook, full of delicious Tom Douglas and the Dahlia Bakery recipes. I can’t think of one dish I’ve experienced at a Tom Douglas restaurant that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  So, when I heard Grandpa and the girls were planning to make biscuits in the morning and TD serious biscuits at that, I had no doubt they would be good.  Even our teenager was present and at the ready to help with these.

 

Serious Biscuits With Grandpa

Sunday Mornings Biscuits

 

I was not disappointed, they turned out beautifully, light and buttery. I think next time they would go well with a little Southern Gravy! 

 

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little 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”

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”

Potato Leek Soup

Today I sat down to write but found myself procrastinating by looking through my iPhoto library reminiscing about an Ireland trip we took a few years back. This trip ranks high in my all time favorites. We shared it with family and good friends, where we traveled through rolling fields following rainbows start to end, finding our Irish luck in the form of sunshine mid March.

That year my husband turned forty ceremoniously on St. Patrick‘s Day. We learned about falconry, bog ponies, and I found one of my favorite cookbooks The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. We enjoyed our share of Guinness and sampled potato leek soup along the way.

My littlest, is a connoisseur of potato leek soup, she has a discerning palate for the tastiest homegrown potato. She is also privy to the whole process, kudos to Tess Hoke, founder of Local 98856 and the Methow Valley Community School Locavores lunch program where she learned the garden to table journey.

Years later and I am still trying to perfect that tasty soup and win her nod. Until tonight, when I received that approvingly tilt of her towhead and a unanimous two thumbs up from the rest of my family. Nothing feels so good as a warmed bowl of soup steaming with flavor, a local brewed beer in a handcrafted glass to finish off the evening.

Close Up Potato Leek Soup 2/1/13 WP

Potato Leek Soup (serves 6 but I usually double it for left overs and lunch boxes)
[inspired and introduced to me from “around my french table”  and Stew Dietz Event Planning and Catering]

What you will need:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large organic onions chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, germ removed and crushed
Salt, freshly ground white pepper
3 organic leeks white parts only spit lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 large organic russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs
1 teaspoon dried sage or a couple fresh leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (we have a mixture of folks around our table so I play it safe and go veggie most of the time but any stock or water will work).
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (you can omit this and use water, or any combination of dairy just remember it will be lighter).
4-5 croutons per serving

What to do with your scrumptious ingredients:

melt the butter adding onion until coated then add in garlic, salt and pepper, cover and cook until onions are soft 6 minutes or so (making sure not to burn them)
Add leeks, potatoes, thyme, sage, stock and dairy
bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes and leeks are soft

Serve in warmed bowls topped with croutons

Options:

let soup cool and puree into a thick and creamy soup, then warm and serve
top with cheese or add some colorful chives
serve cold and top with pear or apple

Funny little fact:
In the nineteenth century potatoes were accused of leading housewives astray due to the fact that potatoes required so little time and effort to prepare that it left female hands idle and primed to do the Devil’s work. [good thing I’m too busy for any of that! ;-)]
~Rebecca Rupp

Bain sult as do bhéile! (enjoy your meal)

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @caramelize life

“making life a little 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

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

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