Category Archives: winter

Fall Book Sale!

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It is definitely fall here in Portland, Oregon.

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Air is cool and dry. Trees are popping into beautiful colors. Kids are back in school.

In honor of the changing of the seasons, something we do pay attention to at Taste Life Twice, I’m putting on a book sale!

No, not a book swap, although that’s an excellent idea too! But a sale. A big one. As in:

YOU CAN GET MY NOVEL FOR FREE!

That’s right. For 3 days at the end of this month, the Kindle version of Memory’s Hostage will be available for download from Amazon for free. So if you’ve been futzing around wondering how to get that Kindle app for your Android or desktop computer, do it now! Get ready! It’s a-comin’!

In other news, I’ve been doing some research for my third book, ruminating on what I saw and heard in Scotland and England on my trip there last month, and piecing together a whopper of a good story. For more details, sign up for the Book Newsletter (or should I say MUSE-letter), where you’ll soon be getting more nitty-gritty on the book development process.

~Otherwise, stay tuned here for more travelogue details to come!~

Gingered Lemon Pie for Pi Day

Shadow Puppet Pie Theatre!
Welcome to the Pi Day Post! Working with engineers and following Gesine’s blog made me very excited about the possibilities for this day which honors… an irrational number.
Happily, Pi Day this year coincided with a Green-themed Potluck at work, so I wasn’t forced to eat the whole pie myself. (Wouldn’t that have been awful?)
What’s so green about a lemon pie, you ask? Well, lemons are in season in winter, and ginger is easily frozen, making both of these organic choices great ones for this March (even though this winter has hardly earned its stripes). Add in the fact that I was using crushed Ikea ginger cookie leftovers and the final sweetened condensed milk can from a Costco raid a couple years ago, and it becomes also a thrifty and economical use of my pantry ingredients! Ah, happiness found. :-)
I was excited to use such a great recipe from Leah at So How’s It Taste?, whom I met through the Food Bloggers’ Cookie Swap last Christmas. She has crafted a pie with many layers of both lemon and ginger flavor, for a fantastic result! Her recipe follows, with my adaptive tweaks.
Gingered Lemon Icebox Pie
makes 8 servings 12 modest slices

Ingredients:

Crust
1 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Triple Ikea ginger cookie crumbs (or gingersnap cookie crumbs)
1 tbsp. crystallized ginger
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
6 tbsp. melted butter (could’ve done with 5 tbsp, I think)
Filling
1/2 cup 1/3 cup was fine fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons, mailed from the backyard tree at home in California!)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 egg yolks
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
zest from 1 lemon

1. For the crust, preheat oven to 350°F. Blend the cookie crumbs and the crystallized ginger in a food processor until well blended and no unappetizing chunks of the ginger remain. Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl and add the sugar and ground ginger; mix well. Add the melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.

Down to the bottom after baking, cooling
Up the sides before baking…

2. For the filling, in a small saucepan add the lemon juice and minced ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, add the egg yolks to a medium bowl and whisk. Add the sweetened condensed milk and the lemon zest. Strain the ginger lemon juice mixture over the same bowl, pressing on the ginger to release its flavor (save to flavor tea). Whisk all ingredients until well combined.
4. Pour lemon mixture into baked pie crust. Bake at 325°F for 30-35 minutes, until filling is set. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Place pie in refrigerator and let set for at least 3 hours (I made mine 2 days in advance and it wasn’t adversely affected). Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

The behind the scenes shots show my battle array:
From window to wall…
From wall to window!

And from this you can understand why each and every baking effort of mine results in a sinkful of dishes! From Left to Right: egg yolks being whisked, sink starting to fill, open can of sweetened, condensed milk, ginger-lemon juice mixture steeping on a burner, pie crust awaiting filling, zesting accomplished. Phew!

Lots of steps and utensils, but sooo worth it!

Did you make a pie for Pi Day??
Do you have advice about how to stop a cookie-crumb-crust from sliding down while baking?
Are you laughing at the size of my kitchen?

Let me know in the comments so I can laugh along. :-)

And make this pie. You won’t be sorry.

where she admits Spring is here

What a disappointing winter…
The height of DC’s snow: Shaw Recreation Center on Feb. 12th
I repeatedly humored the so-called winter weather, preferring to think that all the mild December and January temperatures presaged a violent dumping of snow to occur in mid-March or *gasp* end-of-April (birthday). But the climate appears not to have heard me. I think I can finally declare to myself that Spring (and temps in the 80s) are here to stay. Cue groaning about DC humidity here
Unfortunately this gives me a good excuse to gripe about my running schedule as well. Progress in training this week has been irregular, and I am comparing myself to the early-peaking cherry blossoms in reproach. It’s not ME! It’s the CLIMATE!
That’s okay, though. If I’ve learned one thing from my mature years, it is that one dip does not mean the end of the streak. No, we shall just go bumping along, like many other fearless creatives who are risking it all for their happiness.
Well, folks, it’s been a tough week, with the runs falling a bit short, and having to face several goals that are not being met (pages written, healing accomplished, enlightenment achieved). One morning, I woke up decidedly against running. Daylight savings had it completely dark outside during my usual run time, and I was tired from the time change. I didn’t want to run, so I decided…
To Bake.
That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Maybe not. Well, it’s like this: my body didn’t feel like running, but my mind craved the satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment, that come from putting in the effort toward a worthy goal. So I made these cookies, from the blog, Coconut & Lime. They were pretty good. And I got to conduct a science experiment.
Ingredients:
6 oz semisweet chips

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature*

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, the spices and oatmeal. Mix until well combined. Fold in chips. Place tablespoon-sized blobs of dough on the lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes or until they look “set” and the bottoms are just golden. Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
The experiment was this: you know how some cooks recommend you squash down the tops of drop cookies before baking? What’s that about? Instead of Googling it, I did half spheres and half smooshed spheres of cookie dough and observed their behavior in their natural habitat.
Squished on the left, Round on the right

The smooshed spheres of cookie dough burned on the bottom faster than the regular spheres, which even got an extra minute in the oven. After combing the Googels extensively for 20 minutes, I found this article that stresses the amount of baking soda as key in how much a drop cookie will spread when baking (more soda, more spread). However, I’m having difficulty finding the cause of the tradition of flattening the drops of dough. Does anyone out there in Blog Land have an idea? Please let us know in the comments- your help would be much appreciated!

The cookies were gobbled up to general satisfaction, but it will be good to get back to running.