February 18, 2010

Walking between raindrops


Finn and I have been taking advantage of those lovely hours between rainstorms. We've been walking a lot and enjoying the lush greenery, the swollen creeks and the squelchy mud. We don't talk much when we walk; my normally chatty little man gets very quiet and just looks around. And up, he loves to look up at the very tall redwoods. I imagine that he is experiencing awe and wonderment for the first time and I'm reminded to allow those emotions into my life again too.

So here, without much chatter, are some of the wonderful things we've been seeing.








February 13, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Arnoud's birthday was a few days ago and we had a very quiet celebration. We took Finn for a walk, talked to the continental relatives on skype, had dinner at home with my family, and lit a big bonfire on the upper meadow. It was quite a change from years past when we've done big parties with costumes or ski jumps in the backyard or brunch for all the neighbors. But there were some very sweet, intimate moments that just may become traditions, starting with these individual flourless chocolate cakes.

cake with candle

I don't usually make individual birthday cakes because there's just not enough room for the candles. But this time I put a candle in everyone's cake and we all made a wish for Arnoud before we blew out our own candle, and really what's better than your own cake and 12 wishes?

folding the beaten eggs into the chocolate

I've been playing around with this recipe for years and I think I've got it figured out now. Although the end result is impressive, the preparation is pretty easy, no double-boilers or sifting required. The recipe consists of just chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs (and a little water,) but together they are transformed into something decadently chocolate without being cloying, especially if you cut the richness with raspberry coulis and homemade strawberry ice cream like we did. And the pink fruit and dark chocolate would also be perfect for your valentine!

the cakes before baking

So happy Valentine's day to you and your love, and happy birthday to my love!


Individual Flourless Chocolate Cakes
Makes 12 small cakes
See notes at the end for a Mexican chocolate variation.

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I leave mine in the package and just bang on it with a rolling pin)
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter, cubed
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
3 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or twelve 3 oz ramekins with nonstick cooking spray (if you use butter, they will stick. Ask me how I know.)
2. Combine chocolate and butter in a large heatproof mixing bowl.
3. Bring water and 1/3 cup sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over chocolate and butter and stir until melted.
4. Beat the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form and slowly dissolve when the beater is lifted.
5. Gently fold the eggs into the chocolate in three additions.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a soft crust has formed on top of the cakes and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool the cakes 5 minutes (they will fall a bit) and then turn out onto plates to finish cooling. Serve at room temperature with raspberry coulis (raspberries blended with a little bit of sugar and then strained) and ice cream.

Mexican Chocolate Cakes: swap the water for strong coffee and add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the chocolate and butter. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream.

February 2, 2010

Acorn Cap Pattern

acorn cap 2

This little acorn cap is worked in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, so it is soft and warm, and perfect for covering your little one's ears on a blustery day. This hat is knit in a berry stitch adapted to work in the round, and the decreases for the crown shaping are integrated into the pattern.

Size 8 DPNs
1 skein Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (I used a tan color, #300029)
Tapestry needle

Gauge: 4" = 5 pattern repeats and 30 rows
Finished size: 15" unstretched. Just fits my very large six month old.

CO = cast on
DPNs = double pointed needles
PM = place marker
P = purl
K = knit
tbl = through back loop
K2tog = knit 2 together
K3tog = knit 3 together
P2tog = purl 2 together

Pattern Repeat:
Row 1: *P3, (K1, K1 tbl, K1) in next stitch. Repeat from * around.
Row 2: *K3tog, P3. Repeat from * around.
Row 3: *(K1, K1 tbl, K1) in next stitch, P3. Repeat from * around.
Row 4: *P3, K3tog. Repeat from * around.

acorn cap 1

CO 72 stitches across 4 DPNs and join to work in the round, being careful not to twist work.
Work in pattern for 30 rows. You will have 108 stitches after finishing odd rows and 72 stitches after finishing even rows.
Row 31: *P2tog, P2tog, (K1, K1 tbl, K1) in next stitch, P3. Repeat from * around. 72 stitches.
Row 32: *P5, K3tog. Repeat from * around. 54 stitches.
Row 33: *K2tog, P3, (K1, K1 tbl, K1) in next stitch. Repeat from * around. 63 stitches.
Row 34: P1 *K3tog, P4. Repeat from * to last 6 stitches. K3tog, P3. 45 stitches.
Row 35: *K2tog, P3. Repeat from * around. 36 stitches.
Row 36: *P1, K3tog. Repeat from * around. 18 stitches.
Rows 37-46: P all stitches.
Row 47: P2tog around. 9 stitches.
Cut yarn, thread through remaining live stitches. Weave in all ends.

acorn cap 3
photo by Leandra

Acorn Fairy illustration by Cicely Mary Barker
There's a bit of a resemblance there, no?