Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas baking: a dutch treat

I fully planned on skipping all Christmas baking this year until Saturday rolled around.
But we finally didn't have any plans. And it was pouring rain. And nothing sounded better than tying on an apron, blasting Christmas tunes and spending the afternoon in my kitchen.

My ancestry is dutch (amazingly, 100%). I can actually trace back to at least my great-great-grandparents on both sides of the family who all came over from Holland.
Five generations later and much of my cultural heritage has been lost, but one thing that hasn't--dutch sweets! (ok, and cute delft teacups)

I spent my Saturday afternoon making my favorite dutch pastry--banket. And of course, I have to share it with you (because it's just not Christmas without it!)

Banket (pronounced Bahn-ket) is a flaky pastry stuffed with a sweet almond paste.

1 lb butter (4 sticks)
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. COLD water
1 lb marzipan/almond paste
(you can find this in the grocery store baking aisle, usually in a tube that is 8-10 oz. or you can try making your own)
2 c. sugar
3 eggs (separate out 1 egg-white and set aside)

1. I kneaded my almond paste a little because it had started to get dried out. Add sugar and eggs and let sit at room temperature while you make the dough

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2. Cut butter into flour and break up the butter using a pastry cutter. Try to do this quickly

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3. When the butter and flour are coarsely crumbled, slowly add cold water and mix until just combined. Do it quickly and do not use your hands! In order for the pastry to stay flaky the mixture must stay cold.

Use a wooden spoon when it starts getting thick, and don't ruin your pastry cutter like I did.

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3. Cover dough with plastic wrap and deposit into freezer

4. Mix almond paste, sugar and eggs. You can use a mixer for this but I did it all by hand because I'm a traditionalist. Just kidding. I just didn't want to get my mixer out (even though using a spoon is a lot more work).

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it kinda looks gross at this step

5. Deposit into refrigerator.

6. Make fudge (or otherwise occupy your time for about an hour)

7. Pull dough out of freezer and let rest for 15 minutes. While resting, dust your counter/table with flour, prepare a small bowl of water, and grease 2 cookie sheets.

8. Gently split dough into 4 portions, by squeezing or pinching off the pieces. Roll into a rectangle approximately 8 x 14

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9. Cut rectangle in half with a knife. (You will end up with 8, 4 x 14 strips of dough)

10. scoop approx 1/3-1/2 cup of filling mixture into dough and shape into a squishy line about 13 inches long and 1 inch wide (I just eyeballed it. You could also divide into 8 equal portions)

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11. gently roll both sides into the middle. Dipping a couple fingers in the water, wet the dough where the seam is created and lightly pinch to seal.

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Fold in edges and seal.

12. Place seam side down on a greased cookies sheet. Repeat. Preheat oven to 425.

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13. Brush banket sticks with a lightly whisked egg white or milk and prick with a fork about every inch along the top. (you can save 1 of the egg whites from the filling)
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes

14. Turn oven down to 375 and bake banket for another 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

15. Cry about the mess you made in the kitchen and beg your husband to help you clean it up.

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Treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a beautiful, perfectly flaky almond-y sweet slice of banket!
(the mess will wait)



ps. you can also freeze the sticks at Step 12 and keep them to bake fresh year round!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Story of Us: The Letter

It's been a couple weeks, so if you're new--catch up on our love story.

On a blustery day in mid-March I came back to my dorm and checked my email.

I had one email. It was from E.
A nervous knot settled in my stomach and I opened the email, and then the attachment (Later, it would become a habit to write our letters and attach them to emails instead of writing in the body of an email. Somehow it felt more personal, but still instant)

The letter was a page long and I scanned it for clues before going back and reading every word. It was sweet, friendly, and encouraging. It was not my first, but certainly a strong clue that E was what I had always wanted in a future spouse.


That week, I dragged my sister on a spring break road trip to clear my mind and heal my heart. After days on the beach and lots of journaling, I came home mostly recovered.

Savannah, GA (check out how long my hair was!)

I got back to school, logged into my email and replied.

Thus began the correspondence that changed it all. E & I got to know each other better through weekly letters written in late hours in between studying and extra-curriculars.
I still have every letter saved--they are my own fairy tale, filled with spiritual encouragements, sweet reminders, and inside jokes.

Reading them again puts an instant smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach.

After a couple of months of correspondence, I was beginning to feel like this would definitely turn into something big.
But then in May--the correspondence came to a sudden halt...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

un-Christmas and looking forward

I really thought our holiday season was going to be slow and sweet.



Last year, I spent a whole day baking goodies to distribute to co-workers, family and friends.
This year, I haven't even broken out my measuring cups.


Last year, I attempted at decorating with that little we had.
This year, I haven't even had the energy at night to look for our Christmas stuff, much less put it out.


(all photos from last christmas)

Last year, I crafted cards for WB card swap, and had my 50 + Christmas cards out by now.
This year we bombed our Christmas card photo shoot and I'm not even sure we'll send anything at all.

I'm not a fan of that "Waah, I'm so busy-no one has as crazy of a life as I do" spiel, so instead of complaining I'm going to work on fixing it. Simplify.

I'm not participating in #Reverb10, but the 11th prompt was motivating so I'm picking it up for this post.
11 Things I don't need in my life

1. laziness
Why does it take me three days to wash a dirty pan on the counter or put away clean clothes--both tasks would take less than 5 minutes? Who knows, but I always postpone.
I have 4-5 half-done projects in the house. They all seems like too much work/time/energy. They really aren't.
2. thin skin
I get bugged pretty easily. Offended, bothered over really minor things. This year I want to tolerate better, and laugh more. Instead of blowing a gasket, take a deep breath.
3. Facebook
I am going to embarrass myself and admit that I spend 1-2 hours on Facebook every day. It's not just a time suck, it's a life suck. I'm obsessed with being connected, but neglecting the really important people I could be connecting with face to face or on the phone.
4. jealousy
A result of Facebook is that its easy to become discontent with life when you see all the best of other people's lives. I need to remember that no one had a perfect life, and that mine is wonderful.
5. intimidation
Especially in one particular situation, I have succumbed to being a doormat because it feels easier than sticking up for myself. E and I have both made resolutions to call people out in situations where its necessary.
6. clutter
I hate clutter, but also have a bad habit/attitude of feeling like it's my prerogative to leave things where they lay when i get home work. Sadly, I never get around to picking them up. (see #1)
7. excuses for getting in shape
I don't know what it is about getting married that has made me despise working out. I use to run. I used to love to run. something needs to change.
8. pounds I've gained since the wedding
ok, 8 lbs isn't all that much, but it is a full size, and I hate not being able to wear 1/3 of my wardrobe because of a few measly pounds.
9. sweets.
I gorge. I get cavities. I feel yucky. I love sweets. I will never say no to cookies, brownies, candy, ice cream. I'm positive that if I cut this out of my life I can start feeling much better, but sugar hurts so good.
10. multi-tasking
because i'm not good at it. And apparently, no one is. I end up with unfinished tasks, feeling like a failure, and so much wasted time.
11. selfishness
This is an ongoing project that spans most aspects of my life. But I think its really important to have a world-view that puts me third: First God, then my neighbor.

What can you get rid of in 2011?

Monday, December 13, 2010


There have been days when marriage seems boring. I can't be the only one who misses the excitement of the beginnings. I've missed the butterflies, flirting and even the drama that characterize the start of a romantic relationship. (it's probably a symptom of watching too many romantic comedies)

Marriage isn't always exciting, but this weekend I was reminded that marriage is so much more rewarding, if more subtle, than our early dating relationship.

E and I stayed up way too late talking about the future: his, mine, and ours. We vented together about difficult situations in our lives and made resolutions.


We made fun of each other over things we'd usually fight about and laughed after failing miserably at taking Christmas card photos.
We spent time apart, and missed each other.

When you're in love, it's hard to imagine falling any more in love.
but in silly and sweet ways I love seeing how we're growing together.

(I know E's face looks a little strange, but I still love this picture)

I'm leaving this weekend feeling sleepy, but so refreshed.


ps. I'm picking up our love story again. Look for the next installment later this week!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bomb Factory

This morning, my co-workers and I have been huddled around our receptionist desk watching a bomb factory home just a few miles away be burned to the ground.

We can see the smoke plume from our hill at work.

The house is just around the corner from a coffee shop where we meet friends every Saturday.

Things are crazy around here!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

30 for 30 roundup: It's all over!

Get ready to see way more Latte poses than you ever wanted to...
Here's what I've worn for the last thirty days:


and...ending on extremely awkward facial expressions

A few lessons learned:

1. I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a fashion blogger. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm not. But this challenge really helped me get over my morning ritual whining "I have nothing to wear!" and I'll still continue to share an occasion favorite outfit.

2. I am really lacking in the accessories department! I had planned to wear often a beautiful green scarf that I got from paris a few years ago. Right before the challenge began I lost it in the airport. (and I did not handle this discovery maturely.)

3. Planning outfits ahead of time was they KEY to my success in this challenge. I woke up in the morning, looked on my sheet (this remix guide from Kendi was really helpful) and got dressed.

4. I wear waaay too many neutrals. I picked out every bright piece in my whole wardrobe for this challenge. For the next few months, I'm forcing myself to buy more bright accessories.

Things I wore a lot:
brown pumps (8), gray flats (8), khaki pencil skirt (6)

Things I hardly wore:
bermuda shorts (2), brown flats (2)

At least 1/3 of them were 'new' outfits to me.
I'm pretty happy with how I used all the pieces I picked, but I definitely should have included more warm pieces (sweater and boots) as November was much colder than I had planned.

Finally, my favorites: Days 2, 5, 8, 13, 16, 25
16 definitely got the most compliments from others(Also, 4, 17, and 27)

I would love to hear your thoughts and/or advice! Thanks for sticking with me through this remix.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Foodie Fest

When I saw Natalie posted about this foodie fest that's only a few minutes away from us, I knew we couldn't miss out.

We planned to stop by and visit 3-4 trucks in less than an hour and then meet up with friends. But that was not to be.
There were thousands of people at this Foodie Fest/Tree Lighting. I was surprised because we live in North County, a good 40 minutes north of downtown SD.


E stood in line at Tasty Meat (a kebab truck)

and I waited at Barcelona.

After standing in line for 25 minutes and ordering, it was another 30-40 minutes for the food, so I wandered to the shortest line--LongBoards: an icecream popsicle truck and E and I snacked on them while waiting for out other food.



I order the "O.G." SO good.


We headed back to the trucks which were backed up with dozens of people waiting for food and watched the tree lighting.

Wish I'd been able to try more, but my sweet potato fries in lime salt, and spanish chicken sandwich were delish!


E got feta fries with his doner kebab, and hid from my camera.



it's beginning to feel a little like Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

30 for 30 Roundup: Week Four

2 days left, and I am anxious for this remix all to be over. Partly because I've been feeling really inhibited by my choices (and trying to not repeat outfits), and partly because I feel much more inspired to remix my whole wardrobe better--I want to get back to the rest of my closet!

I'll share my final two days and some thoughts in recap later this week.

(p.s. I'm sorry to all of you readers who don't live in a coastal desert climate. I feel just a teensy bit guilty posting all these pictures outside with the sun glaring in my eyes while some of you are suffering through cloudy, snowy days)


I realize how awkward me not smiling looks and I'm going to avoid it from now on.

Also, I completely over-wore my gray flats this week. They are just too easy to love.

Some more shots:




Day 25


ugh, I hate night-time indoor pictures

and you've already seen these
Day 24

ps. that blue striped dress is what I bought with my Shabby Apple groupon: L'Artiste.
I love it!

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