there’s gnome place like home…

IMG_7587Long story short, I am staying with mom while she recovers from a fall.  While out in the yard, she fell, broke her leg and had to have a rod inserted to support the bone.  Thankfully, she is well on her way to returning to normal but it will take some time and for the next few weeks, I will be here doing all of the things she cannot do and some of the things she does not care to do, like baking cookies.

IMG_7600Leaving my garden for a month was rough.  We had really just begun to get the summer crops in and there is still much to do to eradicate the bermuda grass.  Here in PA, spring is still in the air and the trees have only recently leafed out.  In case you haven’t visited this blog before, I have posted photos of my mother’s yard before.  In her community, deer are prevalent, and as a matter of fact, there are several grazing in the yard as I write this.  Because they eat everything, including plants that they shouldn’t, mom gardens with things rather than plants.  As you walk the yard, little statues and hidden treasures will become obvious.  Of course, gnomes have a mind of there own and we never quite know where they will pop out and surprise you.  Standing stock still and looking like a statue, you will almost think that someone placed them there on purpose…

IMG_7602Moss grows all over the yard because it is shady and moist.  This little cherub spends his time watching the yard but if he knows what the gnomes are up to, he isn’t telling anyone.  He sits and stares in disbelief as raccoons and squirrels come to the basin to drink water.

IMG_7604This little guy seems to be guarding the front door.  We throw peanuts to him from the deck but he usually lets the squirrels eat them.

IMG_7607The yard is so lush and green right now that the only color that pops out is red.

IMG_7611All over the yard are these tiny blue blossoms, wish I had my wildflower book with me!

IMG_7612When you walk the yard, you really need to watch where you are going, it is easy to step on the residents.  This moon face greets all that visit the pond.IMG_7617It must be nice to have the time to lounge in the woods all day.

IMG_7576Mom is not a big fan of chocolate so I made a batch of crispy lemon cookies with a small amount of anise seeds thrown in for fun.  Since I do not have my cookbooks here to flip through, I used this recipe from Taste of Home magazine.  They really are crispy and for the most part, I followed the recipe except I used fresh lemon zest instead of the extract, threw in a half teaspoon of anise seeds and scooped them out with a #70 scoop.  Because I am unfamiliar with the oven here, I lowered the baking temp to 375 which allowed them to spread out nice and thin but I did have to increase the baking time by 2-3 minutes.  The review, mom tested and mom approved; this recipe is a keeper!

Happy baking and gardening and if I were you, I would keep an eye on those gnomes-just leave them a cookie every now and then, that should keep them happy…


lemon-parsnip cake; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_5068The cake for today’s challenge is supposed to be a tangerine-carrot cake but after a quick check in the fridge, I could only find lemons.  Then I spied the last lonely parsnip and decided that I should keep going in this direction and change it all up.   We have been trying to cut back on snacking and it has been a while since I made a cake.  The fresh eggs from our hens are stacking up on the counter and it was a chance to use a couple.

IMG_5082The change from tangerine to lemon meant that the acid level was increased and I am pretty sure that it changed the texture of the cake and made it a little denser than the description in the recipe.  Even so, it was still pleasingly moist and a little firm.  The parsnip mellowed during the baking and honestly, you wouldn’t know it was there unless I told you.

IMG_5087The only other observation I made was that the batter amount baked up just fine in my 8 inch tart pan.  After greasing the ring and bottom and dusting it with flour, I set it onto a sheet pan to prevent leakage in the oven.  It came out of the pan and off the bottom beautifully.  This was such an easy cake to make and honestly, the potential combinations are numerous so I can see myself pulling this recipe out again when I need a quick and foolproof cake!

Please consider picking up a copy of Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan and baking along with us.  To join in on the fun, visit the website and see how the other bakers made out with this recipe!


lemon madeleines: a tuesdays with dorie post


Over the years, I have tried making madeleines.  Each recipe gave me a glimmer of hope; maybe this batch will have the coveted hump…  Face it, the madeleines themselves aren’t much to get excited about.  Spongy little cakes, not so sweet and a little to dry to eat without a cup of tea or coffee.  But like any other recipe, it is all about achieving the expected results.  Baking this batch of madeleines wasn’t any different from the others in that respect.  It was all about the hump.


The only factor that differentiates it from the majority of recipes is the two chilling periods.  First the completed batter is chilled for an hour and then the filled pans are chilled for an additional hour.  Getting the batter cold and keeping it cold until the moment it goes into the oven is crucial in as far as the hump is concerned.  Cold batter in a cold pan put in a hot oven will react differently than warm batter in a room temperature pan would.  By the time the center most portion of batter heats up, the outer edges have baked and the structure is set.  The only place for that bit of batter to do is out the top which is what causes the hump.

The final touch, a lemon glaze, which each madeleine is dipped into before returning them to the oven for a minute or two to heat up so it can sink into the surface.  Most recipes just call for brushing a syrup over the warm madeleines but this recipe allows them to cool completely.  They are then dipped, hump sides only, placed on a rack and returned to a piping hot oven just long enough for the glaze to melt and turn clear.  The instructions say to remove them at the first sign of a bubble.  Obviously, I fell asleep at the wheel on that one.  My glaze bubbled a bit and formed a sweet, crusty edge on the hump sides.  

Close up, you can see the crusty glaze.  The moisture in the madeleines has kept it from being crunchy and it is flaky like a glazed donut.


Because I know how much my husband likes to have something to dunk in his coffee or tea, I made a double batch.  The recipe suggests that it will make 12, doubled that is 24 but I either under filled my pans or the yield is off because I ended up with 30.  My first batch, the ones on the right, came out a little flat and without pronounced humps.  My guess is that placing the madeleine pan onto a hot sheet pan insulated them and allowed for even baking.  For the second batch, I removed the sheet pans from the oven and placed the madeleine pan directly on the rack.  The madeleines on the left have a more pronounced hump.


Honestly, my husband does not care about the hump.  For him, it is all about dunkability.  As you can see, he did not waste any time testing them out.

IMG_3219And as far as he is concerned, these will do.  Dunk away dear, dunk away…

To see what the other bakers came up with, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and check out the LYL page.  Want to give it a try?  Pick up a copy of the book, Baking Chez Moi, and bake along with us; we do not post recipes so you will need to have a copy of the book.