More on ze Macaron

Yes, I might be a little obsessed.

My father is a lover of all things pecan, and as I have no valentine, I figured I would see if I could rig some sort of pecan turtle macaron into existence for my poppy.

The pecans worked like a dream (and taste amazing).

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I sprinkled a little salt on the top to balance out the sweet. My family in general is not a huge fan of super sweet confections, and as you can’t really decrease the sugar in a macaron, I’ve been playing with complimentary flavors to make them a tad more subtle.

I’m planning on attempting some homemade caramel to fill these with as well as some cocoa nibs or a chocolate drizzle.

Valentine’s day is good for something.

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I will be writing a more in-depth post soon… or maybe vlog… about how I finally made macarons work for me. It’s by no means a tutorial or instruct-able, but maybe just a little encouragement. We plebeians can turn out stuffy success too.

Try something new today, my little raindrops.

And always keep your head in the clouds.

-H-

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From the Ashes of Disaster Come the Macarons of Success

Ficus cookies.

THAT is what I have taken to calling the maddeningly touchy almond cookie of the French. (If you have never owned a ficus, or have particularly good luck with ficuses ((fici?)), then you may not catch my drift.)

They are a pain in the rear end.

I have made a grand total of four batches and finally have something resembling those little Parisian crabby patties.

From the initial sifting, to the aged egg whites for the merengue, to the gentle folding, and the final patience testing rest and bake time, SO MANY THINGS CAN GO WRONG.

I think that’s why I’ve been so persistent with these. I’m not used to this sort of culinary failure. Yeast breads? No problem! Pie crust? Runs in my blood! Decadent cake? Already licking the spoon! But the macaron? First try didn’t even remotely resemble the shiny dome and bubbly feet I’d come to know and love.

As I was being razzed mercilessly by those people whom we sometimes call friends and family, (with the exception of Cousin Jennifer, who stuck by me like a champ) my resolve strengthened further. I would rise from these ashes. And finally… finally, I have skewered my standard into uncharted territory. Battle no. 1 is won.

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After discovering that these make essentially the best ice cream sandwiches ever, I may have trouble choosing an alternate filling.

In keeping with my tradition of mixing food with philosophy, (is there any better way?) I have found that in the pursuit of the perfect macaron, I discovered a persistence that is *maybe* migrating to other areas of my life. I love to learn and try new things, and I don’t do it nearly enough.

Why?

It’ll make too big a mess.

It’ll take too long.

Does it even really matter?

I will probably FAIL.

The failure is definitely a deterrent. I don’t think there’s anyone who actually loves failing, but I avoid it like Gollum avoids Elves.

And humans.

And dwarves,

And the dark lord.

I like hobbits too. Easy, happy, content hobbits. Unless they’re tricksy, then count me out.

When my first batch of macarons flopped, I wanted to give up. Really. And I know it sounds silly and pointless in relation to eternity, but I felt like crap.

I avoid any situation like that in life–any situation where I could fail or make a fool of myself or have to be corrected or taught. However, when you start chopping out opportunities that involve those things, you start to realize that you don’t have many opportunities left.

So I don’t know where that leaves me, or you, for that matter. But maybe, just maybe if we stop ruling things out because of failure, we’ll find something that surprises us.

Keep those heads in the clouds.

-H-

The Simple Things

The other day, I had a mini-epiphany. A mini-epiphany is something akin to an epiphany, but it’s not quite original enough or earth shattering enough to be considered quite the whole thing. Kind of like when you forget to register Microsoft Word, and you’re left with the reduced function version… anyway-

It was a day or two after Christmas break started, and I was enjoying being disentangled  from school. My first semester of college has been good, but I tend to be the type of person who enjoys discovering what her day brings, rather than planning every detail, then carrying it out.

So on this day, already on my mind, was the absurd satisfaction I find in having a large pile of tarped wood sit outside our house. It looks like we’re trying to hide an elephant out by our wood burner, but every time I see it, I feel a connection with every other family, past or present, that relies on an ample supply of wood to get them through the winter. My Laura Ingalls Wilder (that I don’t have to dig very far to find) surfaced with a vengeance. I almost ran upstairs and threw on my hoop skirt- yes, I do own one. However, I opted to grab some apples instead.

We have a large box of Granny Smith apples sitting out in our laundry room, and since they are probably one of my favorite baking “mediums” I started peeling…

 

I had forgotten how much I love to bake. It felt so useful. It was only apple pie and cran-apple crisp, but I felt like I had accomplished more in those two dishes than I had in my entire first semester.  I honestly believe that it is the simple things that last. The rosy red cranberries clinking into the metal bowl will be the same today, tomorrow, even fifteen years from now. It is so nice to do something you enjoy, and have it benefit others… life doesn’t always work like that, but when it does, I hide it in my heart.

In our world, we don’t appreciate the simple things. They might look silly in the eyes of the “worldly wise” or the “driven achievers” but they are the things that make life beautiful. What are some simple things in your life this season?

Keep those heads in the clouds~

-HH-

 

French Toast Forgiveness

Dear reader friends… Well I’m not really sure I have many regular readers… Regardless, I apologize for the extreme lack of posts once again!

To make up for this rudeness on my part (particularly rudeness in not posting about our beloved Anne)… Today I will be short-winded and include a recipe.

I don’t really have much of a metaphor for this recipe, unlike my posts on cake, pie, and apple crisp, but there’s a little, teeny thought to go along with it :).

This is a recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts, french toast. I LOVE FRENCH TOAST. Even better, it is STUFFED french toast.

This morning I almost didn’t eat it because I have been watching my waistline. Yes, America, I am a 135 pound, 19-year-old girl and I’m watching what I eat… sad isn’t it?

Even my little 12-year-old brother felt guilty for eating it. That was what hit me… what kind of TWISTED society do we live in? 12-year-old BOYS feeling guilty for eating a decadent breakfast? Wrong wrong wrong!

Note: I do not condone unhealthy eating habits or lifestyles.

BUT! I don’t want to have to beat myself up for eating my favorite breakfast every once in a while! So I FORGAVE myself for eating the french toast, FORGOT the whole thing, and ATE another piece! HUZZAH!

SO! In conclusion of this diet liberation… I say MAKE this french toast, EAT it with fervor, and GO find Jillian Michaels and shove a piece in her face. ;P

Keep those heads in the clouds y’all!~

-HH-

A Hayley Recipe Original: Double Berry Stuffed French Toast

Start by making regular french toast. 6 eggs today made around 10 or 11 single pieces of french toast. I add about an 1/8 milk to help the eggs go further. Sometimes, I also splash a little vanilla extract in the egg mixture.
Heat your skillet to about 350-400 degrees, I used an electric skillet but you can use a pan skillet too. Plop some butter on when the skillet is good and hot. Take your bread (any bread) and dip each side in your egg mixture. You want to make sure each side has a good coating, but don’t let the bread sit in the mixture. Place two pieces of the dipped bread on the skillet. Sprinkle cinnamon and dried cherries on the exposed side. (It helps to push the cranberries down into the bread.) Flip bread after 2-3 minutes… it’s not an exact science, when the bottom starts to brown, flip it.

Allow the side with the cherries to cook completely, but not get too brown. When both pieces are cooked through, place a dollop of filling (filling recipe below) in the center of one of the pieces of french toast. Place the other piece in top to sandwich the filling in… leave on skillet until filling warms, flip.

Place completed stuffed french toast on plate, put a dollop of strawberry jam on top and lightly drizzle maple syrup over it all.

Filling Recipe:

How much filling you make will depend on how many full pieces of stuffed french toast you decide to make. One serving is as follows

3 Tbsp cream cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp any kind of berry jam, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, etc.

Whip cream cheese and jam together.

Experiment with different kinds of dried and fresh fruit inside

Bon Appetite!

Pie Crust and a Perfectly Lovely Legacy

*Apple* *Cherry* *Blueberry* *Lemon Meringue* *Pecan* *Pumpkin* *German Chocolate* *Strawberry* *Peanut Butter* *Butterfly* *Key Lime* *Raspberry*

I could keep on going… pie. I love pie. Pie is an integral part of my being. My great grandma made pies, my grandma made pies, my mama made pies, I make pies.

Don’t get me wrong, cakes, cookies, and cobblers have their place, but pie; pie is home. Not the “pie” you can buy at any Walmart or Meijer, or the sad attempts created from metal cans and plastic bags… but TRUE homemade pie.

One of my fondest memories of my younger days was going to Grandma’s house, walking down to the cherry orchard, and picking cherries for pies. We would then carry our full buckets to the house and proceed to pit the cherries into a bowl.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter all conjure up images of numerous pies laid out on tables, all their fillings just bubbled out from the crust enough to beckon a taste. Like so many jewels, red, yellow, blue… but better than jewels because, we all know that you can not eat jewels.

Ironically though, in all the days of learning to make pies from my grandma and mama, never was the filling the most important part. There were tips here and there… slice the apples thinner, pile the cherries higher, etc. etc. and so forth. But always the step of pie making that required the most attention and dedication was the crust!

Regardless of whether the pie was lemon meringue, cherry, strawberry, pumpkin, or apple; the same crust always applied. It can’t be handled too little or too much. It can’t be too moist or too dry. It can’t be too thick or too thin. It has to be just right.

As a child I never really cared for the crust. I imagine most children do not. It always boggled my mind when an adult would call it “the best part” of the pie. I imagine that is why I consider my own transformation of mind on the matter, a right of passage of sorts. The crust is an absolutely necessary element of the pie.

If it is too thin the filling falls. If it is too thick it over powers. If it is too tough… you have failed 🙂

Anyone who has ever made pies from scratch (the proper way) knows that the most precarious moment is when relocating the crust from being rolled out on the counter, to the pie pan. So much can go wrong in this short amount of time. But once the crust is in the pan a collective sigh is released, and the baking can begin.

So how does this all connect to legacy? Well of course there is the legacy of pie making being passed down our generations… but I had in mind something much more substantial. Legacy is like pie. We tend to want to put the emphasis and importance on the filling… the stuff we DO. All the fluff and fun we have, the world tells us to let that be what we are. But legacy is not only that. Yes the filling is fun (and delicious) and definitely part of our lives (and pie), but something is lacking.

True legacy is the crust; the foundation we build our lives upon! The carefully and tenderly crafted structures we put in place to hold the fullness of our worlds. Without crust we would be left with only a jumbled mess of sticky goo. Delicious sticky goo, but sticky goo nonetheless.

So in conclusion dear friends, pick your filling. Pick several! But make sure you take the time to craft… not buy, not pull out of a package; but carefully craft a crust for your perfectly lovely legacy.

Keep your head in the clouds~

HH