Archive for the 'Christmas' Category

05
Jan
12

Nothing says Christmas like camping at the beach

This is how we chose to celebrate Christmas 2011. For the past three years we have opted out of the tree, the presents, the stress and hassle. This year was a little different. Instead of no tree we were surrounded by trees. Beautiful, living breathing trees! And the Pacific ocean. Our gifts were the sound of the surf, a walk on the beach on Christmas Eve and a short hike on Christmas morning. Camping in a yurt for Christmas was brilliant! We were toasty warm in that yurt, sipping hot chocolate and watching silly movies on our computer.

Look at this beautiful coast! Katie wandered out on the rocks in search of starfish in the tide pools.

Beverly Beach State Park on the Oregon Coast is a perfect place to get away from the holiday hub bub. But even in the woods, people still decorated their RV’s and yurts. As we were strolling around the camp loop we passed a yurt that was totally tricked out in lights and a decorated tree.

I had never been in a yurt before, have you? It’s this totally cool already-set-up-for-you round tent. It has a locking door, a wood vinyl covered floor, a heater, a sky light, wood frame that ‘s covered in a heavy canvas. Yurts are amazing good fun! Ours had a table with 2 chairs, a futon couch, a coffee table (that became my kitchen) and a bunk bed with a full size mattress on the bottom and a twin on top.

Katie on the front porch of our yurt

We brought our bedding and camped in style with 1000 thread count sheets, a brand new mattress pad cover, down pillows and our down comforter. We were plenty comfortable.

Did you know you can make a pizza without an oven? I did it while we were camping. So easy, so cool, so tasty.

All you need is a pre-made crust and some toppings

I placed a pre-baked crust (Like a Bobali) in a wide skillet. I spread a layer of jarred pesto sauce over the crust, sprinkled some grated cheese, added chopped onion, jalapeño, soyrizo, black olives and tomatoes and more cheese over the top. The pan went on the hot plate, covered it with a lid and turned the heat on to the lowest setting.

Low heat and a lid - could not be easier

Then you just wait for the crust to get hot and all the cheese melts. The pizza will heat all the way through, the bottom gets a little toasty, but not burnt. I checked it periodically as it heated, just to be sure the bottom wasn’t getting too crispy. It was perfect.

There you go, Camp Pizza!

The cheese doesn’t get browned like in a conventional oven, but it the flavor was wonderful. After all, we were roughing it!

This is my portable kitchen, complete with 2 burner hot plate and an electric tea kettle!

We always have more food than we need!

Vampire Gran enjoying the beach on Christmas Eve - look at that beautiful blue sky!

Well, that’s the Readers Digest version of our Christmas at the Beach weekend. I hope you enjoyed the photos. You should do all of these things at least once in your lifetime: Camp in a yurt, walk on the beach and make pizza in a skillet. Happy New Year everyone!

03
Jan
11

Cookiepalooza

It seems like everyone makes cookies at Christmas time and I didn’t want to bore my audience

with a post about cookies.  But then I thought, Hey!  This is what I do.  I bake and I cook

and I blog about it, sometimes.  And maybe my cookies will be different from the cookies

others bake and blog about.

I started making cookie dough in November.  And then stocking my freezer full of it.  That

way, I could bake-off what I needed and still have plenty to see us through Christmas time.

Freezerful of cookie dough balls ready for the holiday baking frenzy

Here's a closer look

What started off to be a plan that sounded something like this “I’m going to make a platter

for Katie’s work mates and some bags for a few select, special people.  That’s it, no big

deal.”  So, it started off simple enough.  One afternoon I baked off about 6 kinds of

cookies and made some toffee. 

Some Snickerdoodles cooling

English Toffee cooling and hardening - this stuff is way addicting, right Cat?

You know how I like my close up shots

 I made a lovely large platter for Katie to carry off to work the next day. 

A platter for Katie's workmates

I had cookies and toffee left over, of course, so I put some little gift bags

together and brought them to my work.  Everytime I saw someone who I felt a special

fondness for, I would give them a bag of treats.  It felt really good to do that.  Since I

enjoy feeling good, I started baking more cookies off every few days and kept carrying bags

of goodies to work.

Color coded bags of treats, red contained vegan, blue were caramel corn and white had regular cookies and toffee

Some  treats were especially geared toward certain folks.  The Parmesan Black Pepper

Biscotti went to those few who are not sweet tooths.  I can’t imagine not being a sweet

tooth, being highly addicted to the stuff myself, but, oh well.  Let me tell you, HUGE HIT

is an understatement.  They loved it.

Savory Biscotti - who knew? Apparently these went really well with red wine

I work with quite a few vegan people.  I didn’t want to leave them out, as it sucks to feel

like the odd man out because of dietary differences.  My vegan goodie bags contained vegan

English Toffee, Orange Almond Biscotti and Ginger Molasses cookies.  I have never seen so

many pleased vegans!  Many told me I should market the vegan biscotti and the toffee as they

had never seen any, anywhere.  One friend told me that if it weren’t for the goodies bag

from me, he would not have had any treats on Christmas day, as he spent the day with his

family and he is the lone vegan.  He also said it had been years since he had toffee and he

was so grateful.

I pulled out my text books from culinary school, found a recipe for peanut brittle and whipped up a batch

I don’t even know how many bags of treats I gave out.  Actually, the very first person to

get a small platter of cookies was Dr. Alice C., our chiropractor.  She is pregnant and very

protective of her food.  She said she might eat them all herself, but later confessed to

letting her hubby have a cookie or two.  Not only did co-workers get the cute little bags,

but our mail carrier, Ken, who looks forward to his annual sugar fest, and the smart alec

cashier at Rite Aid, Gary, scored.    Our favorite waitress at Sam’s Billiard’s, Stephanie,

was presented with a large platter to take home to share with her family.  The following

week we were greeted with lots of ohhhhs and ahhhs over the sweets.  Although, she is way

sweeter than those treats.  I even made caramel corn closer to Christmas and the

ladies at our optometrist’s office practically wet themselves when they dove into the bag I

presented to them.

How about a closer look at that toffee and peanut brittle

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies and Cherry Chocolate Chip Biscotti dipped in white chocolate - yum!

So, long story short, I made tons of cookies and lots of people happy (and maybe a little

tubby!)  I for one am glad to see an end to the holidays and am truly ready for a new and

exciting year.




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