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.

Cake Class II

Cake class!  This is my second project cake, basketweave trim and royal icing flowers.

The roses were fun, the lilies were fun.

The white primroses with inadvertent pink trim were fun (there was some rose pink leftover in my piping bag when I put in the white, and they came out like this!  Which is great because, primroses really look like that!).

But my heart really belongs to those little blue violets.  Such unassuming little fellows, spending all of their time making their companions pop.

But without them, this cake would be a mess of pink and orange.

Shine on, little blue violets.  Shine on.

Sweet Pea Pasta Alfredo

It's time for some springtime treats!

You know what kind that is?

It's the green kind.

Fall has caramel and cinnamon, in winter you get clove and orange.

In spring, there are peas.  Nature's candy.

Have you had a fresh pea before?  I think my first experience of them was joining forces with my cousins to eat each and every one off my aunt's pea trellis.

She uh, she wasn't pleased.

This is a simple springtime pasta dish.  Easy to make, easy to eat, easy to love.

You may have to sit and shell peas for a while, but you know what?  It's not that bad.

It's actually kind of fun.  I got my husband and toddler in on it and turns out it suits all ages!

Well, the little one did a lot more tasting than shelling.

An important job, really.

In fact, I think we should all just follow his example.

Sweet Pea Pasta Alfredo (adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perlman)
Serves 4

Salt to taste
1/2 pound dried pasta
1 cup fresh shelled peas (from about 1 pound in the pod) (you can use frozen or canned if you want, but you'll miss out on the floral sweetness of the fresh)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.  Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside.  Drain the pasta and the peas together.

Dry out the pasta pot and pour in the heavy cream.  Bring it to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the butter and stir it until it has melted.  Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper; add a pinch of salt and the lemon zest.  Add 3/4 cup of the Parmesan and stir it until the sauce is smooth; then toss in the drained pasta and peas.  Cook the pasta and sauce together for 2 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed if the sauce becomes too thick.

Divide the pasta among bowls and garnish with the remaining Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired.