Black Oatmeal Cookies

 
So what have I been up to, you ask?

It's two years later.  I have two kids now instead of one.  A wizard somehow turned my baby into a little boy, so I made a new one.


I built her myself.

Instead of a faceless internet I've been cooking for an audience of four.  Instead of blogging I've been recording all of my menus on an erasable chalkboard shaped like a pig.

 
Revere the pig.

For a while it was nice not to take photos of everything - it's a time suck!


But I miss talking about food.  I mean, pontificating on FOOD, you know?

What's good (harissa), what's bad (chicken), what are you eating (tacos), what do you eat in September (apple crisp) and what do you eat in March (spinach and dandelion green soup).


I missed this.

There is nothing inherently autumnal about oatmeal cookies, but I crave them every fall just the same.


You can't go wrong with a classic, but I still wanted to do something to liven them up.  These are my black beauties.  Black raisins, black chocolate chips, black walnuts and blackstrap molasses.

Do you love a touch of bitter in your sweet?  So do I.


Load 'em up, lovelies.  Heave ho here we go.

Black Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from www.allrecipes.com
makes 3 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 cups thick-cut oats (regular are fine too but thick cut are...thicker...)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening (you can do all butter, your cookies might be slightly flatter however)
2 eggs
5 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together flours, oats, soda, powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the sugar with the butter and shortening until creamed together, about 3 minutes.  Mix in beaten eggs, molasses, and vanilla.  Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.  Stir in walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips.  Dough will be sticky.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased/silpatted cookie sheet (or into mouth).

Bake for 6 minutes for soft cookies (how I like it) or ten minutes for crispier.  Allow cookies to cool on a wire rack before consuming.  I GUESS.

COMEBACK (and Toe Cookies)

 

Wow it's pretty empty in here.

And dark.


And is that dust on my interface?

I'm blowing away the dust.  I'm flicking on the lights.


It's been two years, suckas!  You all thought I was gone for good, right?

NOPE!

My arms, they are so tiny.
You can't keep a good dog down.  Don Bluth taught me that.

To celebrate the renewal and future flowering of this blog, I submit for your approval:

Okay, I had some help.
Frankenstein Toe Cookies.  Or just regular toe cookies.  They could be anybody's, really.

ARE THEY YOURS.


Get a manicure, son.  (Unless you just clawed your way out of the grave, in that case, good job all around.  The little things will come in time.)

Happy Halloween!  More to come!  Hip hip hooray!  Viva la Icy Violet's!

Halloween Toe Cookies
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 5 dozen (that sounds like a lot, but they're pretty small so don't panic)

So yes, originally, these were supposed to be finger cookies.  But my cookie sculpturing was lazy, and then I started doing it on purpose because toes are so much creepier!  It's just a simple shortbread recipe, with a very nice almond-y, monster-y flavor.  Have you stocked up on your monster extract yet?  ???

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Red decorating gel
1/3 cup sliced almond

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg and extracts.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.  Divide dough into fourths.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Working with one dough ball at a time, roll into balls and then shape balls into toes, about 2-in. x 1-in.  Using the flat tip of a butter knife, make the indent for the toenail.  With the blade of the knife make the three slashes for the knuckle.

Place 2 inches apart on a lightly-greased or nonstick baking sheet.  Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes, until solid but not brown.  Cool for 3 minutes, then apply a line of red decorating gel to the base of the toenail indent.  Press a sliced almond over the gel for the nail.  Remove to wire racks to finish cooling.




Problems

Hello, friends.  How is everyone?

I'm doing well.  I don't have a recipe for you tonight, rather I have some bad news.

At least, I hope it will seem like bad news.

I am indefinitely suspending this blog, as of now.

I've loved hanging around Icy Violet's kitchen, but it's taken some blows lately.  I got booted off my advertiser in June and lost some real cash.

I got sick and couldn't cook normally for like, four months (remember that?).

Now I'll be out of town with sketchy access to a computer for almost a whole month.

I just can't do that to you guys!  Always checking in, nothing new there, resentment growing.

I can feel it.  Resentment travels quickly on the internet.

I may come back in July and start again.  Unless I get pregnant again (maybe soon!) and get knocked out by morning sickness for three months, like LAST TIME.

Or I may start again in a year or two, some new place, some new name (I'm a little over Icy Violets, although I do still love sugared violets).  A cooking blog, or a cake blog, or something else entirely.  I can't keep off the internet for long.

We may meet again.

Until that day, I'll miss you.  Thanks for visiting my blog.  I'll still visit yours.  I love you internet!

Rhododendron Chamomile Cake


I am sooo into cake right now.

Maybe it's all those months I spent not eating sugar.

That was terrible.


Also I'm taking a cake class!  I made this cake in my cake class.

Have you seen a rhododendron before?

I'd never seen one until I moved to Oregon.  They don't grow in Utah, where I'm from.  Too dry and hot (drool).


It may be moist and cool here all year round, but the rhodies almost make it worth it.  Big sprays of blossoms covering ten foot trees.

They're awesome.

So I made some out of gum paste, and stuck them on a cake.


The cake isn't rhododendron flavored (poisonous!), but I wanted to do something floral so I went with chamomile.

The taste is mild but very lovely and soothing.

This is a cake to eat before you go to bed.


But then, what cake isn't?

Rhododendron Chamomile Cake (inspired by Joy the Baker Cookbook)
Makes 1 double layer 9 inch cake

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 pinches of salt
6 tablespoons dried chamomile (I got mine from tea bags)
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 9x2 inch cake pans.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pinches of salt, and chamomile leaves.  Mix on medium speed until the mixture is slightly coarse and sandy.  This takes about 5 minutes.

While the mixture beats, in a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

Pour half of the milk mixture into the flour mixture.  Beat until just incorporated.  Pour in the remaining milk mixture, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 1 minutes, until well blended.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake for 17-25 minutes (I know that's a big range, mine took longer than I expected though), or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pan to cool completely before frosting. 

For frosting I used this buttercream coated with fondant.

What I Did in San Francisco


I love weddings.

And the wedding of a dear friend is even better.

Especially when you like the groom (not always the case, right?).

Especially when that friend has great taste and knows how to throw a good party.


But weddings are also kind of tough, because they are sort of like goodbyes.  Goodbye to a way of life.

But they are also hellos, too.  Hello to a new way of living and a bright future.

In other words, I never really got why people cry at weddings until I watched my best friend get hitched under some redwoods one California evening.

Anyway.  Don't lets get all sappy now.  This blog is about food, after all.


And I got to make the cupcakes.

Lime, berry, vanilla and lavender.  Fun with frosting colors, and something for everyone.

Plus those little edible pearl things.  Edible pearl things!  Brilliant!

Happy wedding, old friend.  Thanks for letting me be a part of it.




Maple Blueberry Buttermilk Scones

 

What can I say about maple and blueberry together?

Smoky sweet and juicy bright?

Are those names of My Little Ponies?


I had so many of those when I was a kid.

How is everybody doing?

I'm all right.  A bit chilly.


Can you believe this cold snap is happening?  In May.  Ksh.

Also:  I am looking for a house.  Because we are getting kicked out of ours (the university MUST have a WOODSHOP!).

Anybody have a house for me?


I will trade you scones for it.

I will pay all my bills in scones.

I'll let you know how that works out.


Maple Blueberry Buttermilk Scones (adapted from Joy the Baker)
makes about 12 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, but into small cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons buttermilk for brushing the tops of the scones before baking

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pinch of nutmeg, and salt.  Cut in butter (using your fingers or a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Work the butter into the dry ingredients until some of the butter flakes are the size of peas and some are the size of oat flakes.   

In another bowl, combine egg, maple syrup, and milk and beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.  Fold in the blueberries.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times - use a light touch, try not to melt the butter.  Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into 2-inch rounds using a round cutter or cut into 2×2-inch squares.  Reshape and roll dough to create more scones with excess scraps.    Place on an ungreased baking sheet.     Brush lightly with buttermilk.  

 Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Serve warm.  

Simple Asparagus Pizza


Friends, I am in and out like a bad radio station.

I'm sorry, it's trip season!  What do you think?

Should have given warning though.

I have been in San Francisco.  Via Ashland, Oregon and Redding, California.


What phenomenal little towns!

Ashland, with its country folk and lush green parks and academics and performers, the usual combination of sophisticates and drunks.


Redding, with its hot sun and palm trees and olive oil and citrus fruit.  Who are you, California!

I don't even know.




And of course the wedding, the reason I traveled.  My lovely friend getting married under towering redwoods in the evening.

Then taking friends to the airport, a stop in San Francisco and chowder in a sourdough bread bowl on the dock.

Back in the car, books on tape, thirteen long, long hours and boom.  Back home again.

I love my life.

Simple Asparagus Pizza (adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman)
I love simple food in spring and summer.  No late nights up alchemically combining, stirring the sorcerer's pot.  Just good, easy food.  Eat those vegetables, eat them!

Yields 1 thin crust 12-inch pizza.

1/2 pound asparagus
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds of black pepper
One 3/4-pound pizza dough, ready-to-go (here's a recipe for a good one)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 lb mozzarella, grated
1/4 lb cheddar, grated
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature - about 500 degrees in most cases.  If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven.

Wash and chop your asparagus.  Discard the woody ends.  Toss the pieces in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12 inch round (mine wasn't exactly round...).  Transfer to a floured or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or a similarly prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the dough with all three cheeses.  Pile the asparagus on top.

Bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes, until the edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly, and the asparagus might be lightly charred.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with scallions, and eat.