January 6, 2011

Cat Dog

Lola

It is not that my dog thinks she’s a cat, or even wants to be a cat. What could be better than being a dog? The dog has simply figured out that the cat has a lot of good things going for her and the dog wants in on the fatty food, warm napping spots and prime look-out points. Meanwhile, in three years, my cat has yet to learn that quiet glaring and the cold shoulder have no impact on the dog.

January 5, 2011

2010 Stats

Mendota Sunset

2010 in numbers:
– 969 visitors to this blog thanks to beet loaf (most searched) and July 20th (most popular day)
– 372 photos uploaded to flickr
– 29 tweets
– 22 books read (5 non-fiction, 17 fiction)
– 18 blog entries posted
– 10 yarn projects completed (1 crochet, 9 knit)
– 8 cities visited Portland (x2), Orem (x2), Atlanta, Amsterdam, Paris, Chicago (x2), Milwaukee, and Cable (x2)
– 3 weddings celebrated
– 1 house purchased

Moving out of Atlanta caused some set-backs and a couple years of serious dollar watching. In 2010 I finally saw a recovery from the move, both in buying our house and in our trip to Paris. These were two goals we have had since 2007. I’m a little awed that we pulled them both off this past year. We also had a lot of fun in the past year. Life is good and I’m looking forward to 2011.

Note: Don’t make the beet loaf! It is nasty!

January 4, 2011

Baby Gorilla Bread

Baby Gorilla Bread

For Christmas morning this year, I wanted to make a naughty breakfast treat. It was just the two of us so I didn’t want to make something large. SB introduced me to monkey bread a couple years ago, a cinnamon sugar coated, pull apart treat made with yeast-bread or biscuit dough. I’ve tried a variety of different types and have read about the gorilla bread variation, where cream cheese cubes are rolled into the center of each ball. There are many nice things about this mini variation. Because of the small size, the balls bake more evenly and are more fully coated with toppings. The cream cheese cuts through some of the sweet without reducing the richness and the small size helps portion control.

I recommend you assemble the bread the night before and bake it in the morning, right before serving.

Baby Gorilla Bread
Makes: 12 rolls

Dough
2 Tbs Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbs Butter melted
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Yeast
3/4 Cup Water warm

Filling
4 oz cream cheese cut into 36 cubes

Cinnamon Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbs Cinnamon

Butter Dip
4 Tbs melted salted butter

Caramel Sauce
4 Tbs butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

In a stand mixer with a bread hook attachment, combine all dough ingredients. Set mixer to level 2 and let it run for 10 minutes. Monitor the dough consistency. If it looks too sticky, add a little extra flour. After 10 minutes, transfer dough to a buttered bowl and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Butter and flour a muffin pan and set aside. Make cinnamon sugar sprinkle and place in small bowl.

After the first rising, punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 36 pieces. Roll or pat each piece into a flattened oval, place 1 cube of cream cheese into each oval, sprinkle inside with cinnamon sugar, and form into a uniform ball, encasing the cream cheese and sugar.

Once all dough balls contain cream cheese, melt butter in a small bowl. Dip each ball into the butter, roll in the remaining cinnamon sugar and place in the muffin tin. Press three balls into each muffin cup.

At this point, if you are baking these the next morning, cover tightly and place in refrigerator. If you are baking them now, let the dough rise 15-30 minutes and continue to the next step.

In the morning, take the pan out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar for the caramel sauce. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Spoon sauce over dough, distributing equally.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until the dough look firm.

Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Individually flip upside down and make sure to scoop out any remaining topping. Best served warm.

Baby Gorilla Bread
January 3, 2011

Paris

Metro

I had four good days in Paris. Here were my favorite Parisian moments:

– Black: When we boarded the metro in Paris, every single person on our crowded train wore black. It was like a parody of Paris fashion. With the exception of a couple white scarves and a gray coat here and there, everyone was clad in black from head to toe. After the initial shock, I noticed many clothing stores, racks filled with black and only black. In Amsterdam women wore tweedy skirts, tights and boots. In Paris, women work skinny black slacks and point black boots, all sleek and monotone.

– Art Nouveau:In addition to the fabulous No. 29 Avenue Rapp building, the Art Nouveau wing of the Musee d’Orsay, filled with nouveau furniture, made me itch to get back to furniture making. The furniture had a whimsy and simplicity of form that I would like to try to capture.

– Language: In our little neighborhood of Paris, hardly any shop keepers spoke English at all. I visited an Italian deli for take-out. The proprietor started with French, I asked for English, he came back with Italian, I settled for Spanish. It was tricky, but I ended up with a fantastic vegetarian lasagna, marinated mushrooms and a mozzarella tomato salad. Yum!

– Eiffel Tower: It is such an icon of Paris and yet for all the photos I’ve seen of it, I still found it compelling. I loved the finer details of the metal work and the great, side slanting elevators.

– Cousins: SB’s cousin lives in Paris with her husband and three children. They invited us over for a driving tour of the city and a home-cooked meal. It was so much fun to see their home and be taught some lessons in cultural differences between Americans and French. For instance, Emeric (14), told me that while I may think it is polite to keep my hands in my lap when at the table, in France, it is most polite to keep your hands in plain view, with your forearms resting on the edge of the table. Arnaud, the husband, gave me a tour of some “uncooked” cheeses of Normandy. William (10), presented SB and I with bird drawings. See below.

William's Owl
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