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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

 

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”

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

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