Saturday, March 26, 2011

it's time.

I've put off posting lately. I wanted to talk more about what has gone on in my life in the past few months.

To sum it all up, both of my beautiful grandmothers passed away within the course of a month. (My Mudder in February, and then a month later, my Grammy.) It has been really hard. They both had Alzheimer's disease. I guess it should have made it easier to cope with the loss because we had time to prepare. But, I wasn't ready. When is anyone ever ready to lose someone?

I wanted to write a fitting tribute to both of them. I'm just not ready. Maybe someday.

Since their deaths, I've thought hard about how I want to honor these women who made me who I am today. I learned cooking, gardening, sewing, and countless other things from Mudder. And, I learned about cooking, sewing, embroidery, and countless other crafts from Grammy. They both taught me how to be a good wife and mother. Whenever I do any of the things they taught me, I know it honors their memories.

As you can see in my previous (albeit long ago) post, I have taken up canning. (I didn't realize how truly old I sounded until I typed it out.) Since making (and subsequently giving away) all of those original jars, I've made another batch of lemon+honey marmalade. I wasn't quite as pleased with it as I was the blood orange marmalade. But, that's another story.

I think I mentioned sewing in my previous post. Good news, I've made a top! I will definitely take pictures as soon as it's not wrinkly. (I am very proud of it.)

We also began the work for our garden. I love coming inside with dirty hands. Who knew? I can't believe I enjoy it so much!

Most importantly, these days, I feel so connected to my grandmothers when I'm doing my household work. When I'm cooking dinner for Brandon and me, when I do the laundry, or clean. Both of my grandmothers were so great at housekeeping. They ran great households so that everyone around them was able to excel. My grandfathers were both able to be successful in their careers, and they both raised strong and intelligent children.

I think many people undervalue the role that household work plays in the world. Were it not for grandmothers who worked so hard to make sure things were in proper running order, my parents might not have turned into the wonderful people that they are today. The role of hardworking women whose work is home is the most important job out there.

This post is quickly turning into a soapbox about the value placed on domestic work. That's not what I wanted to do. I mostly wanted to tell you about how much I miss my grandmothers, and how hard it has been to sit down and write since their deaths. And also to tell you about what's been going on. Please forgive my lengthy absences.

May their memories be eternal!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

as good a time as ever...

I think that right at this very moment it's a great time for me to enter back into the blogging world.

I'm inspired as of late. And, I think it's time to share some of the inspiration with you.

Brandon gave me a great book "Made From Scratch" by Jenna Woginrich. It has renewed my love of all things handmade (especially those handmade things by me!) and has reminded me of the things I truly love to do.

I decided a few months back that I wanted to start a garden in the backyard this summer. Nothing too fancy, I just want to have our own vegetables. Don't even get me started on how much I want chickens...

I've been making bread on a pretty regular basis. (On the menu this week: brioche!)

We've been eating out less and less.

I've even endeavored to make some more of my own clothing! My next project is a Pascha dress. I've got a great idea of what I want to make, and I think I've found a perfect pattern!

Believe it or not, I love simplicity. A whole lot.

Since I'll be gardening this summer, I decided to dip my toe into the world of canning. I want to be able to do some simple canned tomatoes, and jams. (Pepper jelly anyone!?) I figured that learning to can during the months when I'm not inundated with produce might be a good idea. So, I went to the store and bought a few pounds of oranges. Blood oranges, to be exact.

I have grown to love marmalade. (Especially when it's on fresh bread with some butter. Mmmmm!) I planned on making a plain and simple orange marmalade, but the beautiful blood oranges called my name!

Here are a few photos of the process.
Sterilize, sterilize, sterilize! (Please note, the supplies I used are the ones I grew up watching my mom use.)

The mixture was so beautiful and burgundy pink. Love!

My mom let me borrow her canning supplies, Thanks mom! I didn't want to invest before I knew I could do it. She gave me loads of advice and a few you-can-do-its, along with some books. Then, I went and bought a couple of jars!

I made some of the most amazing marmalade I've ever encountered. Yep, I just said that about my own food. It's sweet, and tangy, and has the right amount of bitterness. (I've grown to love that slightly bitter bite. It's not overwhelming, but it's wonderful!)

It does something to you to see your own food, in jars. Something so wholesome and wonderful about it.

Seriously, look at those beautiful jars!

Try making it. You'll agree.
PS- Here's a little recipe for you to use when you make your marmalade.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

eye candy...

Here's a little bit of something gorgeous to look at. My in-laws gave me several Fiesta Ware place settings for Christmas. In addition to my existing set of red place settings... This Fiesta Fan is in love.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I think this is the first Christmas of my adult life, where I feel truly grateful. (Although, I'm sure my smattering of gratitude isn't nearly enough for all that I do have.)

Here are the things that I'm thankful for this Nativity season:

This list goes without saying: I'm thankful foremost that God became a man.

1. My wonderful husband. I am so excited to spend our first Christmas married! We're both excited to be together on Christmas. But, Brandon is most especially thankful for the logistics of our marriage! He's going to save many hours of extra driving to and from on Christmas day.

2. Sweet friends. Although it doesn't seem like I ever have enough time to spend with them, they're still there. I am so grateful for friends who are willing to always pick up where we left off!

3. A beautiful tree full of gifts. I'm so very thankful that we are able to have gifts to give. It's such a wonderful feeling to have a tree jam-packed with handpicked gifts for all your loved ones!

4. A refrigerator covered in Christmas greetings. I get so excited to see photo cards and the sweet sentiments on everyone else's cards. This is my very first year to be able to make a photo card. Hooray for wedding photos! Also, we did a card for our puppy Peppercorn to send to all her buddies.

5. A refrigerator full of food!

6. Feasting. While we haven't been able to feast just yet (the Nativity Fast is still in full swing) I have begun my preparation for the feasting. We feast for 12 days. And, I've started the baking and making. I'm baking homemade croissants for Brandon. He loves a croissant. And, he's quite the connoisseur. I can't believe I agreed to tackle this baking giant. But, I can't wait! I started a test batch of mini croissants this morning to see how they turn out. I'll freeze these and enjoy them next week. I'll make a batch of full-sized croissants on Friday to serve on Christmas day.

7. Spiced Tea Mix. This mix has saved the day multiple times this season! Some of you may be familiar with this, it was really popular back in the 1960's. It's sometimes called Russian Spiced Tea Mix. Because, the mix contains Tang drink mix and, during the space race, Tang was associated with Russian astronauts. I don't think it really has anything to do with being Russian.

I plan to give this away as Christmas gifts. I've also been drinking this like it's been going out of style. I think the high concentration of vitamin C has helped keep me well this fall. I accidentally bought twice as much of the mix as I needed, and was able to share the recipe with my mom for gifts. This recipe has saved the day so many times!

Instant Spiced Tea Mix:
1 1/2 C Instant sweetened iced tea mix. (I use lemon flavored tea.)
1 Container Tang orange flavored drink mix
1 C Instant lemonade mix
2 C Sugar
3 Teaspoons Cinnamon
3 Teaspoons Cloves
3 Teaspoons Allspice

Mix all the ingredients together. Add 3-4 heaping teaspoons of mix per mug of hot water.

Here's hoping you have a wonderful week leading up to Christ's nativity. And a very full Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

your theme is: sugar...

Lately. Things have been sweet. Seriously, ridiculously, insanely SWEET.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. My family wasn't able to come to town. We were all very sad.

Brandon and I had our traditional Thanksgiving morning bagels and lox along with Irish coffee. Bliss.

Then, we went over to my parent's house for feast #1. My grandfather was able to join us. Later that afternoon we went over to my in-law's for yet ANOTHER feast. It was a very full day.

Check out the spread at my parent's house:
Green Bean Casserole
Corn Pudding
Devilled Eggs
Cranberry Relish
Sweet Potatoes
Yeast Rolls

In non-Turkey day news:

I have had a major hankering for sweets these days. I made this recipe for vegan fudge last week.

Then, over the weekend I started missing the pecan pie from Thursday. So, I made this recipe for vegan pecan pie. It turned out really well. Like I usually do when making pecan pie, I substituted bourbon for the vanilla.

Last night, while Brandon was out for a guy's night, I made homemade cinnamon buns. I had a really bad cinnamon bun experience when I was a teenager. I haven't really liked them since. But, I started wanting some more than anything! So, I did some research and found that Lauren Ulm from Vegan Yum Yum had a recipe. She even has a video demonstrating the steps.

This was my first SUCCESSFUL yeast dough attempt. I couldn't be prouder of how they turned out.

AND I was able to use two of the fabulous gifts from my sweet goddaughter Cailyn. For our shared name-day, she gave me a jar of Chinese cinnamon (it's out of this world!) and also some Mexican vanilla. These are extremely worldly cinnamon buns! (C also gave me some glorious Dutch cocoa, and I have already enjoyed several cups of hot cocoa!)

They are sweet. Super sweet. I could only eat a half of one for breakfast. It was a perfect breakfast on this dreary morning at home with my sweet husband.

Yep, Brandon had the morning off, so we enjoyed a leisurely morning together.

After our breakfast we watched "Seraphine" on instant Netflix. It's about Seraphine Louis the French painter. It was a great movie. I highly recommend.

Overall one very sweet day. Part of one very very sweet life.

Monday, November 22, 2010


This post will be brief- I just can't wait to talk about this food! I can't believe it's Thanksgiving again! One year ago (on my Name-Day, which also falls on Thanksgiving) Brandon proposed to me. It has been one insanely wonderful year!

Thanksgiving is in just a few days- and my cooking frenzy has begun!

My cousin Liz is coming to town from Chicago and staying here at our place. I'm so excited. She gets to participate in mine and Brandon's tradition of eating bagels and lox on Thanksgiving morning!

Here's what I'm making: (The items in bold are linked to a recipe)
Sweet cranberry and pecan conserve topping for brie (An appetizer. I made this one up using orange juice, honey, dried cranberries, and pecans.)
Pecan pie (For the celebration with my husband's family. My aunt Susan provides our pecan pies when she's in town.) (See recipe below.)
Sugar-free pumpkin cheesecake (Mostly for my mom, who has diabetes. But, it looks INCREDIBLE!)

So far- I'm done with 4 of these. Just two items more to go!

PS- I'm sure I've given you this recipe many many times before. But, here's the recipe for the pecan pie again:

(This is the one we served at our wedding as the groom's cake.)

Bourbon Pecan Pie (From my Aunt Susan)

1 stick butter, melted

3 eggs

1 teaspoon flour

1 cup pecans

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 cup light Karo syrup

dash of salt

deep dish pie crust

Mix butter and sugar together, then all other ingredients, adding pecans last. Pour into pie shell and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Bring on the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

what i've been up to...

In the past few weeks I've been a little distracted. The CaitlynCosm has been on the back burner, because of this:
I've been working hard at revamping my business. I have had such a fun time doing personal chef work under The Ruffled Apron. I wanted to add some other services as well.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to talk to people. A lot. So, after a fun evening of coaching a friend through how to make a roast chicken dinner, I had an idea. I decided that I love to cook, and love to teach others to cook.

Now, in addition to personal chef services, The Ruffled Apron now offers two new services:
1. Private Cooking Instruction
2. Group Cooking Parties

Much like piano lessons or golf instruction, my cooking instruction will spend one on one time teaching you the basics of cooking. (Based on your existing skill level.) If you've read my blog for long, you understand that I have a definite food philosophy. I believe that people should be able to cook without the burden of recipes. This doesn't mean that I cook with an utter disregard for them. It simply means that I know how to read recipes and look for the techniques used, and can skim for ingredients. It means that I don't panic if I don't have all the ingredients for a dish. I learn what can and cannot be improvised. It's really a freeing way to cook.

I will work with students on a regular basis to teach them these basic skills. For each appointment, I will supply the groceries and give them a hands-on lesson. At the end of our time together. They will have a healthy and delicious dinner to share with their family and friends.

Much like the popular "paint parties" going on these days, a cooking party uses the same concept. Gather a group of friends (5-10) and I will bring all of the groceries, tools, recyclable storage containers, and even the aprons. Pour everyone a glass of wine and let's get cookin'! For around 3 hours we will gossip and sauté our way through two complete meals. I'll show you all my tricks and tips to create delicious food.

Then, the best part, at the end of the evening everyone goes home with two complete four serving meals created by them!

Consider hosting a cooking party for your annual holiday party this year. What better way to be productive, and have fun with your friends?

The other BIG thing I've been working on, is my website! The Ruffled Apron FINALLY has a website!!!

It includes a great listing of all The Ruffled Apron's services and prices. And, it also includes a new feature: seasonal menu selections. Now, personal chef clients can choose the meals they want prepared from this list. Then, I will prepare them to your specifications etc. This new feature allows The Ruffled Apron to serve my clients even more efficiently.

I am so excited for everything that's going on! So you'll all have to forgive me for my recent blogging absence. Thanks for all your support of The Ruffled Apron up to this point. I honestly couldn't have done this without you.

PS- You can now become a fan of The Ruffled Apron on Facebook too. Become a fan and keep up with news and special promotions from The Ruffled Apron.