February 27, 2009

Two Spoonfuls: The Biscuit Method

This week we're headed back into Alton Brown Territory. For me, it's The Biscuit Method, and I'll tell you right now...anything with the word "biscuit" in it is okay with me. Biscuits are my favorite, favorite food (next to cake & cupcakes with sprinkles. mmmmm, cupcaaaaakes). But the Biscuit Method isn't just about biscuits, nope, it "refers to any procedure that calls for solid fat to be 'cut' into flour." The most common uses are for biscuits and pie crusts.

I'm not going to try and explain how the science works when you make biscuits, but I will give you a few of Alton's tips from this method:

1. Freeze butter, chill shortening.

2. Rub the fat into the dry goods, rather than cutting. Alton refers to the way you'd rub a puppy's ear. awww

3. When cutting biscuits, press straight down with a biscuit cutter, then twist. Don't twist as you press down, it can cause uneven rising.

To test this method, I made the Phase III Biscuit (Alton's new favorite biscuit). I'll admit I consider myself a pretty bad baker, though my husband doesn't agree. Baking things like biscuits kind of makes me nervous. Sticky dough makes me nervous. Sticky dough is an understatement in this case.

I followed the rules. I tossed my dry ingredients in the food processor. I grated my frozen butter (which was a mess. It stuck to the grater, it froze my fingers. Yuck!).

I rubbed the butter into my dry ingredients with my fingers. Again, yuck. I suppose this is another reason sticky dough makes me nervous. I'm not a messy fingers kind of girl.

I folded the wet ingredients into the dry and then placed the dough onto a floured piece of wax paper. The instructions said to use the wax paper to fold the dough a couple times, as gently as possible, into a rectangle. This is where everything went wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. Did I say sticky? The dough wouldn't "fold" into anything but a globby mess. The dough was a disaster. I ended up scraping it off the wax paper and using an ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the pan.

I didn't get those nice, round biscuits we all love. Each one was a different size. A different sized cow patty shape, or what my dad used to call "road apples". Gross

In the end, they tasted great. I'm sure I did something wrong. Maybe I touched the dough too much. I rubbed the puppy's ear too long. I don't know. I'll try again some other time, or maybe I'll go for Alton's Chicken & Dumplings recipe instead. Dumplings are a mess, right? That's perfect for me. haha


There are several of Alton's biscuit recipes on the Food Network website.
Or, you can watch a video of the master here: Part 1, Part 2 starring the famous MaMae!

And if you're in the eastern part of the US, I strongly urge you to stop in at a Bob Evans Restaurant. In my opinon, the best biscuits on earth. I mean it. I drive miles out my way to eat them. I have a folding map of Bob Evans restaurants. It's serious.

Most people know that in the UK, "biscuits" are more like cookies. And there really isn't a British (that I've found) equivalent to the American biscuit, the closest thing is a scone. And a scone is a scone. Confusing, no?

Enough about biscuits, I want to know what Jenn's got cooking...

February 25, 2009

On My Desk February 25, 2009

I've been very slack in my On My Desk duties. Sorry about that, but I'm back with a few things in my sewing room today.

I made a tote bag for a friend using an old tea towel, leftover fabric from her son's quilt and a tablecloth. Way to reuse, eh?

I have two fabric zipper pouches waiting to be assembled and one monkey pouch waiting for his lining and zipper. I tend to put off monkeys with zippers. I still haven't come up with a great way to put a zipper in a crocheted item so I always spend a long time trying to work out a new method. Any ideas?

And this is my little bobbin and needle box combo. I use old electrical tape cases for my needles. They're a good size and the lid snaps on tight. It just happens to fit perfectly on top of my Bobbinsaver too. I don't know why I never got one of those before. It's great! It's rubber, so it sits still and the threads don't go all crazy on me. Yay!!

Now I'm off to finish dinner and make some more monkeys. Cheers!

February 23, 2009

I'm Still Crafting

I just realized that I haven't talked much about crafty stuff lately. This is a "craft" blog, right? hehe, oops. So, to prove to you that I actually do still make things, here are a few of my recent creations in no particular order....

I crocheted this cute cupcake using a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn. You have to sign up to get their free patterns, but that's no biggie.

I'm always trying to come up with new and exciting uses for my monkeys. These are 3 new styles that are now available (or soon to be) in my shop.

The French Press Monkey, or Caffatiere for you posh types. I have Jenn & Josh to thank for that idea. The one in the middle is a little trinket box type thing. The lid comes off & you can put things inside! And for those of you who have gone green, I've created the Klean Kanteen Monkey, now available for the 27oz. size. If you need to get yourself a Klean Kanteen, click here.

I'm also working away at a pattern for my zipper pouches. It's a slow, slow process, but it's coming along. I'm ready to lay it all out now. This is the pouch I photographed for the instructions. You like?

See? I've still got my craft on. What have you made lately? I'd love to hear about it.

February 17, 2009

Around the World

We're back! Nick and I flew home late Sunday night and were so glad that yesterday was a holiday. We were beat. I spent most of the day lounging on the couch, not a normal activity for me at all. So, I thought I'd share a couple photos from our trip...

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, one of our favorite resort hotels on the Disney property. I love the attention to detail, the theming is great!

We had enough time to hit all four parks on this trip, here are a few snapshots.

Cinderella's Castle is beautiful and the weather was too.

We love the Jungle Cruise.

I'm not brave enough for Splash Mountain, Nick had to ride this one alone.

EPCOT is my favorite, I love to check out all the different countries at World Showcase. We loved the updated Circle Vision film in Canada.

In the end, it was a great trip. Nick and I had a wonderful time and we barely thought about work. I can't wait to go back.

February 13, 2009

Two Spoonfuls: Travel Treats

I'm still on vacation but that doesn't mean I can't still blog about food! I haven't been in the kitchen since I left, but I have been enjoying some yummy treats while I've been away. Check it out...

At Walt Disney World, there are lots of chocolate dipped apples, strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels and probably some other things too. Don't you love the little sprinkles? Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Nick and I bought an all-inclusive package for the Disney portion of our trip. The package came with a meal plan that turned out to be a bargain. I don't think I can eat another thing! Each meal included a drink and a dessert. ugh I never get dessert, but these little chocolate cakes were easy to bring away with us & they were so yummy too!

Let's talk coffee now. The coffee at our hotel is made from liquid concentrate rather than ground. It has been my experience that coffee made this way is generally divine. I love it. I've looked forward to a cup each morning we've been here. Yesterday we discovered cappuccino floats at the Magic Kingdom. What? Ice cream on top of iced cappuccino? Yes, please! I've always been an advocate of ice cream and coffee but I never thought of a float.

I couldn't leave you without at least mentioning cupcakes. I haven't had one, but they look pretty darn good.

Wait a minute, I think Jenn mentioned something about cupcakes. Let's see what she's been up to this week.

February 06, 2009

On Holiday!

Hooray!!! Finally a vacation where we can relax. I'm closing my shops, packing my bags and heading to Disney World. I might even leave the yarn at home!!

To prepare myself for the fun of getting away, I went into the city on Thursday to do a little shopping. Here are a few things that jumped into my bag...

A monkey spatula!!! I couldn't leave this guy behind. Gotta love Williams-Sonoma.

Polka dot cupcake liners...thank you Martha!

I won't tell you how much this tiny assortment of goodies cost me. Ridiculous, but fun!

And when I got home, my Moo Mini Cards were here! Aren't they the coolest? I can't wait to add them to my packages.

Now, I must say goodbye and finish packing. Have a lovely week, see you on the flip side.

February 04, 2009


With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to get all sweet on you and talk about one of my favorite things...cupcakes!

Nick and I will be in Florida (and not alone) on Valentine's Day, so I did my cupcake baking early. I kind of told you about these on Monday, remember? We've got one left to fight over tonight. hehe

Lucky for me, there's a new vendor at my local farmer's market for when I don't have time for baking!

Yes, imagine my delight when I saw the new cupcake girl setting up right across from me at the market back in December. I called Nick right away. I texted Jenn. I was so happy!

Tina is super nice and so are her cupcakes. The pink ones are vanilla cakes with the lightest strawberry frosting. Delicious. And the vanilla with vanilla buttercream are pretty great too. She's got pretty pink cupcake fabric on her tables too. A girl after my own heart I tell you.

It was Christmas time when Little Piggy Cupcakes arrived on the farmer's market scene, so Tina also had these adorable gingerbread cupcakes. Aren't the little gingerbread men cute?

I can't leave out the chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. Yep, it's as good as it looks. Sadly, I'm not selling at the market any more, but I definitely have a reason to shop there. And the best part is, we walk! It's okay to eat a cupcake if you have to walk to get it, right?

Check out Tina's website to see more of her yummy creations. And if you're ever passing by the Marin County Civic Center on a Sunday...stop by the market and say hi (and eat a cupcake or 7).

February 02, 2009


I'm usually not a big shopper, but lately I've gone a bit nuts on Etsy.

This little gnome is going to hang in my sewing room at some point. Not my first, or my last, purchase from Creative Apples.

Sometimes I buy things I need. I get my promotional buttons from marajane01. She's absolutely wonderful. Lightning fast, affordable and the quality is always excellent. Aren't my monkeys cute?

This adorable card holder is from my friend Lee Ann, the lovely proprietor of The Cherry Stem. It will be perfect for holding gift cards and frequent buyer cards. Don't you think?

(Click to have a closer look)
I'm a sucker for paper cupcake liners & cake decorating supplies. Check out HeyYoYo for lots of fun little things to add to your cakes and to bake them in. I love all the cute little extras she threw in.

I did a little baking this weekend. I used some of my tiny heart sprinkles to top these red velvet cupcakes. (I sent most of them to work with Nick this morning, sadly.)