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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

 

 

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

 

Turning Lemons into…

 

It seems as though the downpour of the four letter word, the one starting with the 18th letter of the alphabet, the one that rhymes with pain and shall never, in a ski town, be spoken out-loud during the winter has arrived, unceremoniously and uninvited. Our little mountain valley is begrudgingly receiving copious amounts of this four letter word. It would have been very welcome this past July when we were on fire. However, when given buckets of  **** in December, it has us all out doing our special chicken dances in the snow…or what’s left of it anyway.

 

First, we need to get our yodels fine tuned so we can wake up Ullr and remind him he’s slacking on the job. Next, we need to find whatever social media scheduling app Boreas is using to remind her that she is, after all, in the snow business and that, yes, we need more snow. Ullr, please blow this tropical pineapple express outta here. Heck, one of my children even double checked to make sure our rain stick was placed in the freezer for the winter just to seal the deal.
Rain Stick in the Freezer

In the winter we are a ski town and with that comes the need for snow. This summer we were metaphorically dealt lemons and I watched our community make lemonade by the helicopter load. Yesterday, it felt like lemons were falling from the sky in so many ways. That snow we depend upon, was being washed away by the ****. When the snow arrived unannounced in November we were thankful. Thankful to have a starting base for our skis to slide upon. However, with its über heavy, moisture laden load, the storm also took out beautiful old trees and in turn, our power. Again, like before, I was hearing from those who lost everything this summer, comments like “fitting we are having thanksgiving by candle light”. By now, one has to begin wondering “how much lemonade we can consume here in our little valley?” As I gaze out my windows, another damp gray day is holding on like a soaked towel that fell in the pool. The fact that it’s so very close to being winter, I’ve decided to make limoncello instead. Maybe Ullr will swing by for a nip!

 

Lemoncello

 

 

 

We formally invite Khione, goddess of snow, to join us for the holidays. We’ll set up the guest room and she can stay until March.

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”

It’s A Garden Work Day Today!

It's A Garden Work Day

It’s A Garden Work Day

We’ll be out in the garden working as hard as the ants do this weekend, our family is just a wee bit smaller than theirs. Happy weekend to you!

Head Shot Rachelle
Rachelle Weymuller @ 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

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”

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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