Currently viewing the tag: "creme fraiche"

It’s my favorite time of year: THE HOLIDAYS! The snow is snowing, the bells are jingling, and there is a constant buzz of excitement everywhere. The 10 year old in me still tends to get caught up in all the buzz; often forgetting to focus on the present, and enjoying each moment with gratitude. Often the Christmas season is about what we get, instead of what we give. The older I get, the more I let go of the getting aspect, and am working on teaching my littles the same. It’s a work in progress.

One thing that helps me in this regard is baking. I look for pastries with multiple steps that require some focus, and I find that the act of concentrating on a specific task not only helps me slow everything down, but also opens up an important door – the door that cares about the quality of my soul. I find myself thinking through things that often get pushed aside in the rush of life. Pie is one of these solaces; while it is a slice of self-care, it also is the best way to share. My family alone can’t (well, shouldn’t) eat an entire pie, so sharing some is a great way to interact with family, friends, and neighbors. It’s the perfect way to give.

I’ve teamed up with Land O’Lakes for a few posts over the rest of the year. I’ve been a big fan of their butter for years; I love how my baked goods turn out with it, and as they are a Minnesota-based company, it seemed like a natural fit. I often use their butter in my baking, and find the flavor to be heads and shoulders above other grocery store brands. The pie crust for this apple crème fraîche pie was made with Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter, and as usual, it was a hit. The crust was tender and flaky, and held up well to the gigantic pile of apples placed upon it. My children declared it their favorite pie, ever, which is saying something.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

Sources: Copper Sauce Pan by Mauviel || Fine Mesh Strainer by Rösle

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I know, I know, it’s Wednesday night, and you’ve probably already made your Thanksgiving pies, or have your recipe all set. I apologize for posting this so late. Several people asked for this recipe after I posted a photo of the pie on Instagram, so I thought better late than never? This is the pumpkin pie I’ve made at the last couple Thanksgivings, and it’s gone over quite well my family gathering. It is dreamy-creamy, and boasting of pumpkin flavor.

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My children are curious ones, often on tip-toe or climbing up onto kitchen stools, trying to figure out what I’m always doing in the kitchen. Sometimes they jump in and help: throwing on their little aprons and grabbing spatulas and whisks, and other times they are content with just peeking into bowls and moving on. I find their interest in that space constantly ebbs and flows, and the days I’m in a hurry and don’t need help are the days they seem to want to offer it, and the occasions I’m dying to bake with them and teach them new things, well, those are the days they’d rather be doing anything else. Every once in awhile we land on the same page. My daughter is more eager than my son; he wants to sneak cookie dough, she wants to shape and bake cookies. I’ve watched her come a long way in the kitchen, and enjoy the moments when we make something together.

I’ve discovered that while she’s come a long way, I, however, still  have some needed areas of growth. Basically, I can be a control freak. I find myself hovering and managing. I want to pre-measure the ingredients, and find the right bowl. I don’t fully trust her to dip and sweep or mix things fully. She is well aware of my tight grip while sweetly encouraging me to step back and let her try. She is sure of her abilities, and isn’t worried when she’s lacking. This is the hardest part of parenting for me: watching your child get to a place you’ve been training them for, and then having to let go, trusting they can do whatever it is you’ve been preparing them to do. I’ve spent so much time nurturing and caring and equipping, that when my child is finally ready, I want to keep tagging along to micromanage any mishaps, not fully confident in her abilities.

I’m slowly making progress.

We did have a lot of fun together, making this cake. My kids could have gobbled up the crème fraîche layers plain (I could have as well), but the berries and white chocolate buttercream take this to the next level.

Le Creuset kindly sent us this 5 piece utensil set (with crock) from their Craft Series to use on our cake experiements (or #cakexperiments, as I like to call them on Instagram), and so far I’m impressed. The spatulas are ‘made for scraping the bowl clean’, and they do an incredible job. Their smooth surface is great for scraping batter from the surface in just two strokes, and the ergonomic handle keeps hand secure when scraping or spreading. And yes, this spatula can also spread, which is a dream come true. And guess what! One lucky reader can win this utensil set! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below (along with an email). This contest is open to US residents only. Winner will be announced June 20th, 2017. (For an extra entry,  follow Le Creuset on Instagram.)

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Hello! I have another exciting giveaway for you. Three more pieces of kitchen equipment that I absolutely love: Emile Henry mixing bowls, Mauviel Copper Sugar Saucepan, and a Lékué springform mold. The mixing bowls are pretty much a necessity in any kitchen, and this set is lovely, with three different sized nesting bowls. I use them all the time – for mixing, of course, but also for holding fruit and filling with chips at parties, among other things. The sugar saucepan is beautiful (I included it on my gift guide as well), and I find it to be a fantastic tool for making Italian buttercream. And the springform mold has been a game changer for me. I will admit I was skeptical about silicone molds when I was first introduced to them, but I have fallen in love with them after never having to worry about messy cheesecake sides. The mold peels away from the cheesecake every time, leaving perfect sides. Extra bonus: the cheesecake bakes on a white ceramic plate that is perfect for serving on as well, and I never have to have the stress of sliding a cheesecake on to a serving plate ever again.

1 winner will receive 1 Emile Henry Mixing Bowl Set + 1 Mauviel Copper Sugar Saucepan + 1 Lékué Springform Mold + a copy of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer. Participants who complete*** this form*** will be entered for a chance to win. Contest is open through 12/13 to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.  The winner will be randomly selected through and notified via e-mail no later than 12/16. The winner’s name and address will be shared with Emile Henry, Mauviel, and Lékué for the sole purpose of mailing out the prize. Thank you! (Also: don’t forget to enter my Minted giveaway as well!)


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blackberry buns
I’m in my cozy home, sipping hot coffee, listening to the rain fall gently on my roof top. A Thanksgiving Day to-do list is started before me, as well as a mile-long work list that naturally I’m avoiding. I move to my web browser, and read two news articles that project fear and anxiety; my stomach is in permanent knots lately. I gaze out the window, lost in thought. I imagine I’m on a rollar coaster of sorts, and while it’s driving me up and down gigantic hills and looping me upside down, I’m not sure if it stops all nice and neat where I got on, or if it flies off the rails into some great abyss where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I laugh at how dramatic I can be. I move to facebook, and find my inbox filled with notes from hurting friends and family. I drink my coffee, even with the tears falling into each sip. Suddenly it’s 1987 and there is a sleepy little me on a Sunday morning, slouching on a cold, metal fold-up chair. I am scheming how I can get my mom to let me go to the bathroom one more time during this never-ending sermon, where I will then read my Nancy Drew mystery (secretly tucked away in my pastel purple purse), if only for 10 more minutes. Verses fall all around me as I plot my escape. I shake my head, slightly annoyed, as the words whisper to both the 10-year old and the 39-year old, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ That old, over-used line seems to have lost all meaning, and the sentence doesn’t make sense to me in this moment. I find myself saying it out loud, chanting it slowly again and again while I write on my list: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, corn. Apple pie! Chocolate cake, too! I imagine my table piled high with so much food, and it seems to multiply in my mind; loaves and fishes with a 20-pound turkey besides, nestled between outstretched hands that overflow with excitement and hope, love and joy.

Here is enough food to feed us, and all our neighbors besides.


blackberry buns
I’m teaming up with Julia Turshen and a few other bloggers to help to raise money for No Kid Hungry’s Friendsgiving program. Julia is the author of  Small Victories, a lovely cookbook filled with “simple, achievable recipes” that emphasizes bold-flavored, honest food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Julia writes, “This cookbook, like most cookbooks, assumes that whoever is reading it has access to food and not only the desire, but also the time, energy, and means to cook. How great would it be if that were the case for everyone? I firmly believe that if you have the privilege of eating however much you want whenever you want, you should spend some time ensuring that others have the same opportunity.” To learn more and/or give to the campaign, please click here! Let’s not forget to love our neighbors, each and every day.

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ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” -Andrew Boyd

The theme of Christmas is a tale of benevolence, no matter what version of the story you are celebrating. We purpose to turn to our neighbor and offer what we have: there are good intentions of shoveling sidewalks, delivering cookies, donating money. Our children are reminded there is more to all of this then receiving, although it gets harder each year to convince them. They are introduced to Rudolph and Charlie Brown and Frosty on the screen, while adults everywhere paste on a smile and try to tune out the ill-will demonstrated across the lands. ‘Peace on earth,’ we sing together, in churches and on snowy walks, while decorating sugar cookies and sitting quietly by the fire. This year the words fall flat; hands that could be stretched out to give are too busy pulling triggers and pounding on keyboards, tearing down with a disturbing ease. Our news feed promotes constant anxiety with war and rumors of war, and depressing options for future leaders.
ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog

ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog

ginger cake with crème fraîche buttercream and sugared cranberries | the vanilla bean blog
Even as the last candle on my mantle flickers on these darkest nights of the year, my husband walks into the room and turns on a light. ‘Why are you hiding here in the dark?’ he laughs, and sits down beside me. I look around and see food and water, beer and cheese. There are piles of blankets and a roof that covers too much space; it keeps out rain and snow. I snuggle in next to him and remind myself that all is not lost. We have been given so much, more than we need. Although all spaces seem to be bombarded with hopelessness, we will still choose to do some good with our own hands, to share what we have, even if our hearts are ripped wide open* in the process. We will teach our children to do the same.

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-By Wendell Berry (Nicole from Eat This Poem posted this piece last week, and it’s been a much needed read. Her post about it is very good read, too.)

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crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blog
I’ve been making crème fraîche the same way for years: heavy cream and a little bit of buttermilk shaken in a jar, then left on the counter for 24 hours. I’ve changed my method, however, after coming across Renee Erickson’s version in her book A Boat, A Whale, & A Walrus. Here larger amounts of cream and buttermilk are whisked together, then covered in cheesecloth and left on the counter for 2-3 days. It may seem like a subtle difference, but 72 hours later I was greeted with the creamiest, dreamiest crème fraîche that I had ever made. It was rich and slightly tangy, and I was ready to dollop and smear it on everything within reaching distance.

Ms. Erickson’s book is quite beautiful, and I respected it even more after reading the introduction. “I’m…not a classically trained chef – actually, I’m not trained at all – so there aren’t a lot of rules about cooking in my kitchens. It’s more important to me that people are happy and comfortable than that they can crack an egg with one hand or slice a case of shallots in a minute flat. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t want to make someone else do it. I want my staff to have healthy lives and dynamic, interesting jobs that don’t entail someone hovering over them.” After working 15+ years in retail, coffeeshops, and kitchens I may have uttered a ‘thank you!’ upon reading those words.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of A Boat, A Whale, & A Walrus!

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roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
“Fish tacos with pomegranate salsa tucked into warm corn tortillas, happily made from scratch by the kiddos. Homemade crème fraîche. Rainbow slaw packed with purple cabbage, green apple, radish, and orange. A pot of smoky Midnight black beans. Watermelon punch with fresh lime and crushed mint. This is supper at our home. Friends chat, kids play, and we eat simple goodness…”

This is how Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper Cookbook begins. It’s a gluten-free book, but one of those special books that work for many types of eaters. The recipes are mostly simple; easy to put together but packed with flavor. As someone who can (and does) eat gluten regularly, I found this book a great addition to my kitchen.

“I see our kitchen as a place of possibility, a place of play, experimentation, and delight. I write this book hoping to bring a little extra joy to all of our kitchens, to inspire us to cook for ourselves and our families, and to remember that cooking need not be laborious, overly complicated, or full of wheat to be delicious.” – Erin Scott
roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
One lucky reader can win a copy of Erin’s new book! Just leave a comment below in the comment section with your email, and I’ll announce a winner sometime next week. Good luck!

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mixed berry scones
“How can I find the words? Poets have taken them all and left me with nothing to say or do.”
“Except to teach me for the first time what they meant.”
-Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Dorothy Sayers: A Busman’s Honeymoon

I’m not one for using expletives much in my day-to-day, but I must admit this past Monday a very loud one flew out of my mouth as my twitter notifications lit up my phone. Somehow, I had won the Reader’s Choice portion of the Saveur Food Blog Awards for Baking and Desserts. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m still pinching myself. It’s a huge honor, a dream come true, and I have you to thank. All you wonderful, lovely readers who took the time to cast a vote my way, thank you so much.

I share the category with the amazing Izy from Top With Cinnamon (who won Editor’s Choice), and I am excited that in just over a month I get to meet her, along with so many other favorite bloggers.

But in the meantime, scones! My family went out Monday night to celebrate with dinner, but I just had to bake something, too. Mixed berries, crème fraîche, and lavender seemed like a good combination, and they might be my favorite scones to date. The berries are tart, the lavender subtle, and the crème fraîche smooth and dreamy, rounding everything out. A perfect way to start the day.

Also, a few things:
Michael Jackson. Amazing.

Great writing advice, all in one place.

The Office Stare Machine.

-I can’t wait for Kimberley’s new book! And, Erin’s too!

-I’m now contributing over at Wit + Delight! You can check out my first post, for Strawberry-Basil Smoothies.

-I also have Chocolate Sugar Cookies up on Handmade Charlotte.
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waffles with fig compote and orange-honey crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blog
As soon as you announce to the world you are going to have a child, the world responds with its wisdom. It’s a lengthy monologue, a blast of ice cold wind in your sweet, glowing face; sentence after sentence of contradictions insisting that you heed its warnings. Vaccinate! Don’t vaccinate! Breastfeed! Formula! Co-sleep! Never! Cloth Diapers! Disposables! Let them cry to sleep! Don’t let them cry to sleep! Snacks! No snacks! Television! No television! (And on and on and on and on…)

But while the world may know about its own children, it doesn’t understand mine; the height and depth of these two tiny beings that reside with me. It may even have an arsenal of books with facts and statistics, but still it never took any time to distinguish my daughter’s hurt cry from her tired, or figure out that when she formed her mouth to look like a tiny bird beak there was exactly 49 seconds to feed her or she would rage. The world never saw my son successfully wiggle his way out of swaddled blankets each and every time I attempted to wrap him tightly, or saw him cry himself to sleep though I held him so close. The world didn’t watch like I have, instead it took every opportunity to shout answers while I whispered questions that had none. All I could do was wake each morning and gather: every laugh, every cry, every breath; hoping that by doing so I could somehow make sense of things. waffles with fig compote and orange-honey crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blog
waffles with fig compote and orange-honey crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blog
waffles with fig compote and orange-honey crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blog
waffles with fig compote and orange-honey crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blog
waffles with fig compote and orange-honey crème fraîche | the vanilla bean blogAnd the good news is, I can. Days have passed, even years, and all those collected moments have started to fit together, slowly connect. I know so well why my son has growled at older kids in the park, why my daughter freaks out every time she puts on socks, or why she is terrified when someone is sick. I know why they will both laugh until they cry at the word ‘goobertubes’ and why three chocolate chips can heal all wounds. They are little things, responses that make no sense to an outside observer; they are moments easily judged by someone passing by. But I know, I know so well, how we got there.

So hey, sweet world, I see your What To Expect and raise you my handwritten journals, my stack of photographs, my folder of Mother’s Day cards and unicorn-princess drawings. I’m confident, terribly confident, I’ve finally got this hand.
It’s a virtual shower for The Faux Martha! And these are her most amazing waffles, all jazzed up just in time for cool fall mornings. So much love to you, Melissa! My only advice is to trust yourself, and watch quietly, carefully. And, for more waffle-shower love, check out these posts:

Whole Wheat Chive Waffle with Poached Egg from Sonja and Alex of A Couple Cooks
Almond Chia Seed Waffles from Nicole of Eat this Poem
Banana Nut Waffles from Kathryne of Cookie and Kate
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Waffles from Alison of This Homemade Life
Yeasted Waffles with Berries and Cocoa Sugar from Kasey of Turntable Kitchen
Vanilla Vegan/Gluten Free Waffle Ice Cream Sammies from Laura of The First Mess
Monte Cristo Waffle Sandwich from Heidi of Foodie Crush
Whole Grain Vegan Flax Waffles from Jeanine of Love and Lemons
Spelt Waffles with Cinnamon Peaches from Naturally Ella
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