Chickens + Photography Major + Living at Home = An Enormous Catalogue of Chicken Photos.
I’ve decided to finally do something with all of the chicken photos I have clogging up my hard drive. From now on http://www.growingupjulia.com will have a featured chicken of the week. For our first chicken we have “Jenny” a four year old hen with a penchant for obsessively digging holes.
I am very late to the cupcake party.
My mother did not make them for me as a child. I would have them occasionally at a party or other festive event, but cupcakes and I rarely crossed paths. Now don’t get me wrong, I love cupcakes but they just were not a part of my family’s desert repertoire.
Then sometime in the past decade a cupcake renaissance occurred. Suddenly they were everywhere and had grown up from those Betty Crocker bake sale cupcakes of yore. There were blogs popping up left and right worshipping their common goddess, the Cupcake. Heck there was even a TV Show to boot! Now they came in all kinds of intriguing flavors and with high-quality ingredients. Many of them were miniature masterpieces of sculpture. The cupcake had gone artisan! During this cupcake boom I felt like the little kid not picked for the kickball team. I was on the outskirts of cupcake-land but still unsure how to proceed without the proper training. It was time to go to cupcake bootcamp!
Cupcake bootcamp came in the form of www.verysmallanna.com. Very Small Anna’s beautiful blog showed me what the humble cupcake could become. From her Popcorn-Champagne Cupcakes to her Smartass-Savory Cupcake I read in awe of her daring kitchen creations. Then came her Spring Lawn Cupcakes with their tempting filling of fresh mint custard and luscious looking chocolate ganache frosting. I was hooked; time to start making cupcakes.
So on a Thursday night I called up my little sister, Gaetan, and asked if she would care to come over for a cupcake party. She was thrilled and excitedly brought along her friend Julia to assist in the chaos. None of us are cupcake experts but share an extreme love of all things carrot cake. So armed with some rad cupcake supplies from Target, food coloring, an unhealthy amount of bunny marshmallows and a roll of marzipan we set out to create our very own spring cupcakes. Finally I was in on the cupcake party! (Recipes below)
Carrot Cake Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Make 24 cupcakes
- ¾ – 1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups canola oil
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¾ cup raisins (flame or golden)
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla seeds, raisins and walnuts. Mix until well combined. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, fresh ginger and cloves. Stir the flour into the carrot mixture until combined.
3. Fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake the two tins for 25 – 28 minutes. Let cool on tins for 5 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Frost cupcakes with lots and lots of cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
This recipe is a starting place. I find Cream Cheese Frosting to be an incredibly personal preference. Some like it syrupy sweet and others prefer to have it tangy. Use this recipe as a suggestion and make sure to taste it along the way!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2½ – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Beat butter and cream cheese in a mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add sugar. Taste the frosting after adding about 2½ cups. Add the rest of the sugar depending on taste and preference. Finish by adding the vanilla.
Popovers may be my favorite food, even more so than my beloved fresh pasta.
Popovers and I go way back. I have been making them since I was about nine years old. They were my original “piece de resistance” recipe.
When I was ten, I wrote Santa a letter begging him for some proper popover tins. Mom’s muffin tins were adequate, but I knew the narrower and taller shape would make the popovers even more dramatically tall. Santa came through that year, but made sure to attach a note that specified that my new tins were from Mrs. Claus. I happily ran off to the kitchen to try them out and ignored my other presents. Why was a ten year-old so intent on a piece of kitchen equipment?
The summer before, I had found a tattered old cookbook, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, in a cupboard at my godmother Charlene’s cottage. I asked her if she would bake something from it with me and we decided on popovers. The recipe was simple and in no time we had them in the oven. Thirty-five minutes later something magical emerged. What I had expected to be some muffin-like baked goods had popped over into something incredible. We cracked them open and devoured them with jam. They were eggy, warm, buttery and amazing. I was instantly smitten.
When I returned home, I found the same recipe in Marion Cunningham’s The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. A little later I was watching Baking with Julia and there with Julia was Marion Cunningham making her signature popovers. My childhood heroine with my new popover goddess! I had to learn to make this amazing food for myself! So with the determination that only a child possesses, I set out to master the popover and soon I was begging Santa for the proper equipment.
I have been cooking popovers ever since and have tried many different recipes and techniques. This recipe always produces show-stopping popovers and the key is to start them in a warm oven pre-heated to 425°. When I first started making them I swore by a cold oven start. After all, my first recipe was from Marion Cunningham and she said to place them in a cold oven. I have tried both methods many times and seem to have the best results with a warm oven. The popovers are bigger and crispier on the outside. Still, if you forget to preheat your oven, never fear. Simply pop them in and turn your oven to 425° and follow the rest of the directions. They will still be delicious.
Popovers (Makes six to eight popovers)
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1¼ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- optional: ¼ cup grated Gruyere cheese
- optional: fresh herbs to taste
Preheat your oven to 425°. Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Butter a popover tin or six ramekins.
Mix flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, butter and milk. (Add cheese and herbs at this point.)
Pour liquid ingredients over the flour mixture. Fold until just combined. Do not overbeat. Some lumps may remain.
Fill the popover tins one-half to two-thirds full. Put water into any unfilled popover cups.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425°. Then turn your oven down to 350° and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove popovers from oven and remove them from the tin. Puncture a small hole in all of the popovers to all the steam to escape and keep the insides from getting gummy. Serve immediately.
It is a bizarre day outside right now. It is 55 degrees, foggy, gusty and the rain is coming in at an angle. I can’t decide if I am supposed to be running around in shorts or cuddled up in a blanket with a good book and hot chocolate. Whatever this weather is, it is making me crave comfort food. So I thought I’d share with you my new risotto recipe! (Yes, I am obsessed.)
Opening the fridge a few days ago, I knew I wanted risotto, but was unsure if I had the right ingredients. Staring back at me was an oversized cabbage, a link of Kielbasa and mushrooms; the last of the winter produce. But the only wine I had in the house was red. Never fear; time for drunken risotto with a distinctly Polish theme!
Drunken risotto simply means that the rice is made with red wine instead of white. In the case of this recipe, I find it adds a totally different dimension to the dish. The red wine pairs perfectly with the earthy tastes of the mushrooms and Kielbasa.
Drunken Risotto with Kielbasa, Cabbage, and Mushrooms
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups of water
- 1¼ cup Aborrio rice
- ¾ pound of Kielbasa, sliced into small chunks
- 3 tablespoons butter
- medium onion, chopped
- ¾ cup dry red wine
- half of a large cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1-cup mushrooms, chopped
- ¾ cup Parmesan
1. Combine the chicken stock and water in a saucepan. Heat till warm and then keep at a constant temperature just below simmering.
2. In a frying pan cook the Kielbasa and then set aside.
3. Melt 1½ Tbs butter to heavy bottom pot (or risotto pan) on medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender. Add garlic and mushrooms. Cook until fragrant. (You can add more butter if you would like for the mushrooms to soak it up.)
4. Add the rice. Stir for a few minutes until well coated, and then add the wine. When all the wine is absorbed add between ½ cup and 1 cup of stock to the rice. Stir continuously until all of the stock is absorbed. Then add another ½ cup of hot stock. At this point add all of the cabbage. After adding 3 cups of stock add in the frozen peas. Continue adding stock until rice is tender, about 22 minutes. (You may have some stock leftover)
5. Just before the rice is finished, add the Kielbasa. When the rice is tender, stir in the Parmesan, and glaze with the remaining butter. Garnish with finely chopped parsley, if desired.
SNL’s recent “Corn Syrup Commercial” lampoons all sides of the Corn Syrup battle. Good video for a laugh on dreary, rainy day!
The 2011 Cold River Bartenders Bash turned out to be one hell of a night. The event, organized by Maine distilleries, to showcase their Cold River Vodka, Cold River Blueberry Vodka and Cold River Gin, was a huge success. On February 28th over 500 people crammed into Portland’s Ocean Gateway to vote on the best cocktail from 20 local bartenders. For over three hours people sampled the twenty cocktails, paired with light hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants.
I was there to cheer on Carly Lowell, from Clementine Restaurant, and her “Cold River Shimmer” Cocktail. Carly had some intense competition on her hands. There were only two cocktails that I would not drink ever again. The other 18 cocktails were delectable and some of the best I have ever had. My top three from the event were Roxanne Dragon of Hugo’s and her “Gin Ginger Fizz”, Leah Chamberlain of Old Port Sea Grill and her “Cucumber Martini” and of course Carly and her “Cold River Shimmer”. I would be content drinking those three cocktails for a long time!
Also worth mentioning were Dorothy Baxley from Gritty’s and Eddie Costales of Havana South. Both Dorothy and Eddie created drinks that were out of my comfort zone and challenged my perception of what a cocktail should be.
Dorothy created the tastiest desert drink called “The Needham Martini”. I am not a fan of overly sweet or creamy drinks, especially if they are labeled martinis. A true martini to me is a wondrous mix of top quality gin and sprinkling of French vermouth, but enough with the snobbery. “The Needham Martini” was delectable creation that lived up to its namesake the “Needham” a potato candy dipped in chocolate.
Eddie created “The Scorned Woman” a spicy drink that fit its name. The cocktail is a combination of habañero, jalapeño, and serrano chili peppers, and passion fruit purée. The drink tasted like what I imagine the fury and smack of a scorned woman would taste/feel like. A drink that was certainly worth trying but not something I could drink more than once.
The top honors of the night went to Leah Chamberlain and her “Cucumber Martini”. Second place went to Roxanne Dragon and her “Gin Ginger Fizz” and 50 Local’s James Ferguson came in third with his “The Local Greyhound” cocktail. Carly and my beloved “Shimmer” did not place but two of my three favorites made it to the top.
All of the drinks featured were intriguing and memorable. I loved the wide range of bartenders but twenty seemed like a large playing field. Last year there were fifteen bartenders and I think that is a better number. The drinks are small but even twenty small drinks can get to you quickly! (The rest of my night can attest to that. Ask me about the elevator incident sometime!) My two major complaints were the lack of enough food and the overly loud band. The advertisement for the event bragged about heavy hors d’oeuvres. This statement was far from the truth. The food table was constantly wiped clean. There was simply not enough food for everyone there. With twenty different bartenders it would have been nice to have enough food to balance out the cocktails. The band, while good, was too loud. It was near impossible to hear the bartenders describe their drinks or talk to the person next to you. There were so many people at the event that it was noisy to begin with, the addition of a band made it just too loud.
Despite a few glitches, the 2011 Cold River Bartender’s Bash was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I’m looking forward to next year’s
Drink recipes from my five favorite bartender’s:
“Gin Ginger Fizz” created by Roxanne Dragon from Hugo’s
1½ oz. Cold River Gin, ½ oz. ginger cardamom simple syrup, ½ tsp. ginger juice, ½ oz. fresh lime juice, club soda
Combine ingredients and top with club soda.
“Cucumber Martini” created by Leah Chamberlain from Old Port Sea Grill
1½ oz. Cold River Gin, muddled mint, 1 oz. cucumber simple syrup, splash fresh lime juice, sparkling sake float.
“The Cold River Shimmer” created by Carly Lowell from Clementine Restaurant
2½ oz. Cold River Gin, 1 oz. elderflower syrup, 3 oz. Prosecco
Shake and strain gin & syrup, top with Prosecco, garnish with candied ginger.
“The Needham Martini” created by Dorothy Baxley from Gritty’s
2 oz. Cold River Vodka, 1 oz. coconut cream, 1 squeeze chocolate syrup
Topped with chocolate and coconut shavings. Shaken over ice and strained straight up.
“The Scorned Woman” created by Eddie Costales from Havana South
1½ oz. Cold River Vodka infused with habañero, jalapeño and Serrano chili peppers, 1½ oz. passion fruit puree, ¼ oz. fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 dash Tabasco hot sauce.
Shaken with ice and served straight up, garnished with a Thai chili.