Author Archives: farmersdaughterbean

Halloween Cupcakes: 2008 Edition

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here. I know it’s been awhile…but it’s too hot to bake during the summers in LA, so I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. But now, with the harvest season in full swing, I figured it was time to make some goodies, and since my husband likes to say that Halloween wouldn’t be complete without my cupcakes…cupcakes it was!

First, I looked up some tasty recipes in one of my favorite cookbooks, Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans and came upon the Spiced Pumpkin recipe. Once I saw the pictures inside, I knew that I had to try these out! The batter looked so good I was dying to try some, but in my current state, I wisely resisted the temptation.

Tomás and my sister-in-law Laura — who were playing “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” all night while I baked — said the batter on the beaters was “delish”, so, I kept baking. Trust me, it took a lot of willpower to wait for the final product with Cream Cheese Frosting and cinnamon frosting spiderwebs, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The cake was very light and had just the perfect amount of pumpkin spice. I did switch it up a bit by omitting the crystallized ginger from the recipe, partly because I didn’t have any on hand, but mostly because I just kind of needed immediate satisfaction at that point. But the cupcakes still tasted great.

The other cupcakes I made that night didn’t turn out as cute. For that batch I used the Butter Cupcake recipe and the Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcakes! again. They were supposed to look like little pumpkins, but the Tootsie Roll stems didn’t really turn out as well as I had envisioned them.

They still tasted good though, but Tomás and Laura (and later Ryan!) raved about the pumpkin spice…so, I’ll definitely make those again.

For those of you who have never baked from scratch, you must try it. And with the holidays approaching, there is no better time to crack open your favorite cookbook and give it a whirl. It takes a little longer, but if you like to bake, the results are totally worth it. Just ask the nerdy gamers in my living room!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Handknit “Seaside Throw” Baby Blanket

Hey all, Farmer’s daughter bean here with another “make” post.

Believe it or not, I’ve been knitting this blanket since February! So, you can imagine how happy I was to finally finish it a couple weeks back and get it mailed off to Oregon…yeah! Even though I haven’t even seen a picture of him yet (get on the ball, folks!) I made this blanket for my new nephew Colton, who was born on April 9th. Ironically enough, Colton was born on the same day as his father, my younger brother, Mike.

The pattern was altered a bit from a larger one found in the book Debbie Bliss Home where it is simply called the “Seaside Throw.” I used Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, which helped to keep the cost of it from sky-rocketing as the pattern calls for a lot of yarn. Five skeins to be exact.

It’s also the first time I’ve knit a guernsey pattern — which is based on a traditional English pattern used to make sweaters for fishermen — which wasn’t exactly hard to make, but boy was it ever time consuming. I did get to learn how to cable and make a bobble as well, which was actually quite fun.

But again, it did take a LONG TIME to make this blanket. So long in fact that the girls in my Stitch ‘n Bitch group started giving me a hard time about finishing before he outgrew it…ha! But, now that I am done, I think it was well worth the journey…however long it took!

I haven’t heard what the family thinks of it yet, but since I’m still waiting for the birth announcement, I’m not going to hold my breath!

For now, I can just hope they can get some use out of the blanket before it gets too warm up there and then I’ll take my own pictures of Colton with his new “blanky” when I visit them in July.

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My New Obsession…Ravelry!

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here again with some online obsessing of my own…

My friends Tevana and Nic have been trying to get me to join this thing for months and this week I finally did! Join Ravelry.com that is! Ravelry is an online knitting/crocheting community where you can keep track of your yarn, tools, and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration.

The content on Ravelry is all completely user-driven and though the site is still in beta, so far it has been super easy to use. And now…I am hopelessly addicted! All I think about is adding my stash — yarn stockpiles for those of you not in the “know”– books and pictures of my completed projects to the site.

Another thing I really like about Ravelry is that you can see what other people have made from the same patterns you have or the same yarn. If you even ever thought about knitting or crocheting before, you have to check this site out…it’s quite fascinating!

So far I’ve listed all of my books (shown in the pic of my virtual library shelf above) and about 50% of my needles (below). As for adding my yarn stash inventory, I haven’t even skimmed the surface of that yet. Maybe that’s because doing so would require that I finally clean out my overflowing craft closet! Eek…

I think my favorite thing about Ravelry right now is that it gives me something to “nerd out” on while Tom re-watches the “Lost” Season Finale for the fifth time and obsesses over tracking down our “missing in action” Wii Fit — which still hasn’t arrived from Amazon!

So, while Tom fires up the Tivo one more time, off to Ravelry I go…

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Bean’s Roasted Beets & Beet Greens Salad w/Feta

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here again, and this time, I made something really good…hooray!

So, after my sunken cupcake debacle yesterday, I was a bit worried about trying out another new recipe, but I had picked up some really beautiful beets at the Farmer’s Market by my work and didn’t want them to go to waste. So after finally selling Tom on the idea of a roasted beet salad for lunch, I got to work…

First off, I should mention that I’ve never cooked beets before. But after scouring the internet for recipes, I cherry picked my favorite elements from each and then hoped for the best. And thankfully, my second experimental dish of the day turned out to be one of the tastiest things I’ve made in a long time.

And the healthy factor is kind of through the roof with this meal as beets — although not technically a “super food” — are amazingly good for you. I highly recommend them!

Now, the recipe below is a little time consuming, but, trust me, it’s not a lot of work and the pay off is amazing. My skeptical husband Tom liked it so much, he even had seconds! So, happy cooking!

First, roast the beets at 400º F. I used 2 bunches and cut any that were larger than a golf ball in half or quarters. You can peel them before or after they’ve roasted, but I’ve found it’s easier to peel them after. Plus, that way they retain all that juicy beet skin flavor.

Cover them with foil and cook for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes. When they are done cooking, peel them with a paring knife and cut into smaller pieces.

For the greens, cut or tear into 2 inch pieces, then thoroughly wash and dry (they can be a little wet). Mince 2 cloves of garlic and slice 2 – 3 green onions. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the greens and some salt & pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes or until tender.

Combine the beets and the greens in a bowl and add more salt and pepper to taste. Finish it off with 1 tbsp each of balsamic vinegar & olive oil and then toss to combine. Plate and then crumble some feta over the top and serve. Delicious!

Serving sizes can vary, but this recipe above served the two of us for lunch. If it was a side dish, it would probably be enough for 4 people. Anyway, let me know if you try it and, as always…happy eating!

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Almond Butter Cupcake Disaster

Hey again, Farmer’s Daughter Bean here with another “make” post. Only this time, what I ended up making was a bit of a disaster.

Earlier this week, Tom came up with the brilliant idea of making some “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” cupcakes. I would make the cupcakes, he would make tiny crystal skulls out of marzipan to put on top and we would have “Indy 4” cupcakes to enjoy while waiting in line to see the movie. It all sounded so fun…in theory. The reality was something much worse.

To start with, I have given up sugar and white flour, so I needed to come up with an alternative. Sounds easy, right? Plenty of people substitute agave nectar for sugar, so I picked some up at Trader Joe’s and got to work. I figured the white flour shouldn’t be too hard to replace either, so I used some oat bran and almond meal instead. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the cupcakes were supposed to be Peanut Butter? But since I’m not eating that either, I just switched it out for some tasty Trader Joe’s Almond Butter instead. So far, so good. Everything went smoothly and even Tom agreed that the batter tasted really good. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I was too wrapped up in everything to even think about bringing a camera into the mix.

Coming out of the oven, they didn’t look half bad. I’ll admit the tops were a bit sunken in, but they still looked like cupcakes. So, I let them cool and decided to taste one before frosting them. They didn’t taste bad, but the spongy texture was kind of strange. Tom said they tasted like “hippie” and something tells me that was not a compliment.

To me, they had more of the texture of a bran muffin than a cupcake. In hindsight, I think oat bran is just way too course of a substitute for white flour. Sadly, instead of Peanut Butter Cupcakes, I ended up with “hippie” Almond Butter Muffins, and weird one’s at that.

I did make some frosting too but that was an even bigger disaster, so I won’t even get into that. Tom called it “chocolate soup” and even I had to admit that’s kind of what it looked like. It tasted great, but when you coupled it with my sunken cupcakes, it was not a pretty sight.

As you can probably imagine, Tom never did get around to making those crystal skulls either (sorry, Indy). As for me, I think I’ll skip the substitutions in my cupcake recipes and stick to dark chocolate and fruit when I’m craving something sweet. Or better yet, I’ll just make proper oat bran muffins next time out!

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Blueberry Birthday Pie

Hey guys, Farmer’s Daughter Bean here again with a new post for our blog’s often neglected “Make” category. Enjoy…

Heat the blueberry filling! (March 2008)
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I should start by telling you that ever since Tom and I saw the movie “Waitress”, we have been obsessing over fresh-baked pie. And though The House of Pies in Los Feliz comes pretty close, we have yet to find the perfect slice in Los Angeles — though Tom is inexplicably fond of the banana cream pie at the nasty Marie Calender’s by our house, which I will never understand.

So a few months back, I bought a pie cookbook from my store, “Killer Pies: Delicious Recipes from North America’s Favorite Restaurants” by Stephanie Anderson. And although I have looked through it many times, I was still a little hesitant to take the pie-making plunge.

Finish the filling, remove from heat! (March 2008)
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I love to bake, but pie crust seemed very daunting for some reason. So when Tom requested a pie for his birthday instead of a cake, I decided to give it a go. He picked out his favorite pies and gave me the top three: Banana Cream (stop with that already!), Lemon Merinque and Wild Blueberry Pie.

Fortunately, I was able to talk him into a “seasonal” fruit pie, so he settled on the delicious sounding Wild Blueberry Pie recipe from a restaurant called Westville in Manhattan’s West Village.

Preparing the crust! (March 2008)
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Molding the crust for the filling! (March 2008)
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Even before I bought the ingredients, I was worried about the crust (this was my first solo pie venture, remember) and called my mom to get her expert opinion. She was very helpful and patient (thanks, mom!) especially when I was trying to describe the consistency of the crust over the phone!

And although I was sweating it the whole time, Tom and the rest of our guests thought the pie came out great. The crust was flakey and the filling, which consisted of half fresh berries, half frozen and some lemon juice and zest, had a wonderful tartness that kept it from being too sweet. Overall I’d say it was a pretty decent first pie. So, happy Birthday, Tom!

The finished Birthday Pie! (March 2008)
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Next on my pie making list…the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from The Ham Shoppe in Valle Crucis, North Carolina. This one’s all for me though…no occasion necessary!

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Funky Knitted Necklace & Scalloped Scarf

Wow, I know, 2 in a row from Farmer’s Daughter. I have been busy fulfilling my “Make” duties! These again are for girls I work with. The necklace was started in August. I even brought in the car on our Music Highway tour of Tennessee. It was a bit difficult to make. I’d like to challenge anyone to knit closed a ball while holding the stuffing inside it!

Funky knitted necklace by the Farmer’s Daughter Bean (Dec. 2007)

Once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t so bad, but it still was awkward. Natalie had seen the pattern in a book I checked out from the library called “Domiknitrix”. She showed some wicked enthusiasm (Tom’s words, not mine) for the necklace, so I had to make it for her.

Funky knitted necklace by Farmer’s Daughter Bean (Christmas 2007)

The scarf was crocheted for Sarah. I haven’t done a lot of crocheting, so it started off as a bit of a challenge too. I had tried to knit several different scarfs, but every one was coming out too manly. I wanted something pretty and feminine for her, so I pulled out “The Happy Hooker” and found this pattern. It’s made with organic cotton yarn and is really soft.

Scalloped scarf for Sarah by Farmer’s Daughter Bean (December 2007)

Both girls really seemed to like their gifts, so, yeah for me! Now if I could just finish that scarf for Yeti9000, all would be right with the world…

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