29 January 2010

Puff Oven Pancake

It is no secret that I love me some pancakes. But this one really takes the [pan]cake. A few years ago, I was introduced by my sister Amy to the Dutch Apple Pancake at the Pancake House in Savannah, Georgia. It's basically a pancake that you bake in the oven, and it puffs up all gloriously and has apples baked into it and drizzly sweet goodness all over it. Heaven.

One lovely Saturday on a brisk January morning, I was hungry for some real breakfast food. Something substantial and glorious to get my day off to a yummy start. I flipped through cookbook after cookbook trying to find something that would not require me to get dressed and go to the grocery store. And there is was. Like a long-lost friend: the Puff Oven Pancake. I looked through a couple of cookbooks trying to find a recipe that would incorporate the lone apple I found hiding in the refrigerator drawer. Generally I lean towards the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but this time Betty Crocker came to the rescue with a recipe for an apple puff oven pancake. For your culinary delight [understatement], here is the recipe:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. But 2 tablespoons of butter in a pie plate, and stick it in the oven.
3. Peel and slice an apple. (I use one of these lovelies.)
4. Once the butter is melted, make sure it coats the bottom and sides of the pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (a.k.a. edible glory) and about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in the butter. Then place the apply slices in a single layer in the goodness.
5. Mix 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 eggs, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. (Do not over-mix, or the pancake will not puff.) Pour it over the apple slices.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until it is golden brown.
7. Loosen the sides, and flip the pancake onto a plate.
8. Optional (kinda): top with banana slices, warmed preserves or syrup, and powered sugar, or whatever other combination of sweet/fruity yummyness you have on hand.
9. Do not try to conceal one ounce of your satisfaction.
(Note: it's easiest to eat if you cut it into slices with a pizza wheel.)

And that's it! The best breakfast ever (if you add a side of bacon, of course, which I did, of course), and oh so easy!! I used my strawberry lemon marmalade to top the pancake, which added a nice little zip to the otherwise completely sweet concoction. Here is a picture for you:
(Disclaimer: I promise it is better than it looks.)
Don't you want to just jump up from your desk, run home, and make one right now?!? I know I sure do. Can you tell I'm a little excited about this pancake?

19 January 2010


Notice how my makes have gone from varied and grandiose in December to sweet and simple in January? One of January's weekly makes was a crayon drawing. It had been a long time since I've colored. It seemed like I was due. So I picked up my pad of paper and my box of crayons and set out to color something abstract, something to capture how I was feeling. And here it is:

Each color and shape represents something different:
The yellow is a part of a star, signifying the light I so want to be. (You can read more about that here.)
The green is a fern frond, for growth and how I am opening myself to God.
The purple is a flower petal, for the beautiful things I want to make.
The orange is a flame, for the warmth of God.
The copper/brown is a path, leading me to new places and in new directions.
The red is a brick, for the house that I will have someday.
The deep blue/black is a music note, for my realization that whatever new inspirations my life holds, music will be among them.
The blue is a wave for the constancy of change.
The background is signifying my gray skies turning blue.

And the picture is entitled "Hope." At the moment, I can't divulge the epiphanies and the movements that are turning my spirit from despair to hope, but I can say for the first time in a very long time that I am excited about where my life is heading. I can say with confidence that God has good things in store for me. And that is giving me hope.

18 January 2010


Two of my January weekly makes have come out of Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs. Jason got me this book for Christmas, and let me tell you, it was a challenge to finish up those granny square slippers when I had this puppy lying around. This book gives charts and patterns for 144 different squares, circles, triangles, hexagons, and other crocheted shapes as well as inspirations for projects and ideas for how the pieces can be puzzled together. Pretty sweet, huh? I think so, too.

So here are the two that I've made so far:
I don't know "what they are" exactly. Trivets? Decorations? Pieces of something else yet to be made? I don't know. But I do know that I love them, and I love making them, and there will be many more of these to come, partially because they have quickly become my Sunday night "I haven't made anything yet" go-to project, but mostly because they're fun, and they satisfy my right brain/left brain, creative/mathematical desires quite perfectly.

02 January 2010

Handmade Goodness for Me

Disclaimer: I did not make either of the things highlighted in this post. But I can't help sharing them with you. They are just too cool. And they are handmade. So they still fit the genre of my blog, even if I didn't make them. End disclaimer.

This year, my favorite two Christmas presents came from my parents. One was such a happy reminder of where I've come from. The other, a wonderful encouragement for where I am going.

Over the past several years, my mom has been putting together a book of Traditions.
It includes all of our family recipes, stories, and holiday traditions from New Year's Eve to Christmas. I cannot even begin to describe how blown away I am by this book. It's all typed out and organized in plastic sleeves with blank pages included at the end for us to add our own traditions. It's all laid out by holiday and also includes a section of top secret jam recipes. This is a HUGE undertaking. My family has a lot of traditions. And I am so impressed by and proud of my mom for putting this together, for digging up all of the recipes, for the long hours in front of a computer, for documenting stories that will now never be lost to future generations....I am just overwhelmed to bursting over this little book, which is now one of my most treasured possessions.

My other favorite present was another very large undertaking. When I arrived in Jersey on December 23rd, I saw it wrapped up under the tree. I really wished I hadn't seen it because now I would be trying to figure out what it was until Christmas morning. For the next two days, my mind was a constant battleground between my incessant compulsion to figure it out and my intense love of surprises. Was it a dog house? I'm not allowed to have a dog in my apartment. Maybe my parents bought me a puppy and would keep it until I lived somewhere more pet-friendly. No, that didn't make any sense. Don't think about it. You want to be surprised. Maybe a giant bird house? But I live on the 2nd floor with nowhere to mount a bird house. Stop trying to figure it out. You'll ruin the surprise. A large manger scene? Tiny apartment = no room for a large manger scene. Think about something--anything else! Let it go so you can be surprised!!! But of course, when you're trying really hard not to think about something, that's all you can think about. Thankfully, the present was something I couldn't have imagined.

My parents made me a display cabinet for when I do craft shows. How awesome is that?!? It was my mom's idea, and she brought it to my dad. And my dad designed it and my mom improved on his design and he improved on hers and then he made this lovely cabinet for me:
I love this cabinet for a couple of reasons. First of all, its things like these that make me understand why my parents got married. My parents are two very different people. I don't think I can do justice to their differences here. Please just take it for granted that my sisters and I were always puzzled by the match. But when they brainstorm and create something together, it's nothing short of magic. From designing and building our house to staging Revolutionary War reenactments in our backyard to landscaping a garden, one of them will have an idea and the other will figure out how to make it work, and their artistry and creativity feeds off of each other until the lines get blurred and you can't tell what's Gary and what's Niki. It's just something wonderful and new.

The second reason that I love this cabinet is because it's beautiful! I knew that my dad was a gifted carver and artist, but I had no idea he could make furniture. Pretty freaking sweet.

And third, I love this cabinet because it will make my display awesome. This promotes me from casual crafter to serious business person. And to me, this isn't just a cabinet. This is my parents saying, "You can do this." And that means the world to me.

They didn't paint or stain it because they wanted me to pick the color. I knew right away what I wanted. So I went out and bought some lime green paint. When my dad saw it, he said, "If I knew you were going to paint it that color, I wouldn't have made it." He was joking. Mostly. I told him I wanted to thin the paint so the grain would show through, and then I wanted to wax it to give it an antiqued look. In my head, it was awesome. My dad needed some convincing. But it was my cabinet, and I was free to do what i wanted. So I helped him sand it. Then we wiped it down and vacuumed it to remove all of the sawdust. We mixed the paint with water, and I got to work painting it. Once the paint was dry, we rubbed minwax all over it. (This was backbreaking work.) We let the wax pull the grain out, and then we buffed it all over. (Jason helped with this part because I was too weak to get the desired buff.) And then we stepped back...and it was glorious. Exactly what I had envisioned. The wax toned down the lime green so that it turned out a perfect blend of funky-retro and classic-antique. The perfect stage for my lines of crafted goodness to come.
Here it is full of handmade goodies made by every member of my little family:

And with that, I am fully 100% caught up with Christmas posting. [Hooray! Streamers! Confetti!] So now I just have to catch you up on January... [insert the sound of a balloon deflating.] Someday I will be on top of this blogging thing. Really.