DSC_0465

While stealing an hour with a friend today at Haute Coffee, I met Julie MacQueen, founder of Pure 7 Chocolate. She was setting up a new chocolate bar display at the counter and I was just immediately drawn to the packaging. It has a similar feel to the designs I’m working on for my stationary packaging, so I couldn’t help but chat with her about it. It turns out that she makes the chocolate. From organic ingredients. In her certified home kitchen just one town away in Carlisle. It was love at first sight.

She gave me a bar to try, which I split six ways with the rest of my family tonight. Go ahead and judge this book by the cover, because the inside is equally delicious!

 

With my husband out of town this weekend, I wanted to plan some fun but relaxing activities with the kids — art projects, homemade chocolate ice cream, a snuggly movie night. Today, we took a beautiful winter walk  — outside our back door, through the woods and up the street to one of our favorite spots by the Concord River — the stone boathouse at The Old Manse. Happy Weekend!

 

 

Getting ready for Handmade Holiday, a winter art show hosted by my friend and local artist, Holly Harrison, last Friday night in her Concord studio + gallery space. It was such a fun evening of art, food, wine and conversation – a great way to kick off the holiday season and share my work with local friends!

Hand-printed holiday stationary, gift tags and Birch Tree notebooks. See more in my shop.

 

Just wanted to share a recipe from one of my new favorite cookbooks, A Year of Pies, by Ashley English.

It’s the pumpkin pie I made for Thanksgiving last week and I can already see making it as a special treat next fall when pumpkin season starts, as the kids loved it.

We were traveling to my in-laws this year and our oven, as luck would have it, decided to die a week before. The replacement wasn’t in place until the evening before we had to leave and I was already way behind on the contributions I had promised, including one dessert. While my mother in-law is pretty much the up-at-5AM-amazing-accomplisher- of-all-tasks, she is not a baker… and I had really wanted to make a homemade pumpkin pie. But at the eleventh hour, I needed to cut corners, and the first thing to go was pie crust. This is when I discovered this incredible — yet easy — recipe. Similar to a graham cracker crust, this one is made with crushed gingersnaps. (I found good quality organic gingersnaps at Whole Foods).

Here is the recipe, and I wish I had my own picture to share, but it was devoured before I thought about taking one!  Next time…

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

{Note: As with all recipes, I use organic dairy and pastured eggs}

Gingersnap Crust
* 10 oz gingersnap cookies (about 2 1/2 cups
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

* 3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
* 2 cups pumpkin purée
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 3/4 cups heavy cream
* 1/2 cup whole milk
* 2 large eggs, beaten
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping

* 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (to toast, bake at 275°F for 4 to 5 minutes)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar {I used organic cane sugar)
* 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Gingersnap Crust

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan or spring form pan and set aside. Crush the gingersnaps either by pulsing them in a food processor or placing them in a plastic freezer bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin. Combine the crushed gingersnaps and melted butter in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until fully mixed. Press the mixture into the pan, covering the bottom fully and pressing the crumbs halfway up the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool completely before filling.

Filling

Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to blend well.

Topping

Combine all the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Using a large spoon, stir until the pumpkin seeds are evenly coated with the butter, sugar and spices.

Assembly

Pour the filling into the prepared gingersnap crust and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven. Sprinkle the pumpkin seed topping evenly over the pie. Return the pie to the oven and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or until the pumpkin seeds have browned slightly and the filling has set.

Cool at least 1 hour before serving.

Variations

Replace pumpkin seeds with an equal amount of chopped pecans for a pecan praline topping.

 

 

Yesterday was the last day of the season for Hutchins Farm, one of my most treasured places in Concord. Shopping for produce there is just an incredibly beautiful and peaceful experience.

Knowing the staff and farmers, being able to buy local, organic produce picked that morning, so close to home… not to mention, showing the kids where our food is growing.

It’s always a sad day for me when the season ends and I stopped by early to stock up. With kale, carrots, broccoli, beets, Brussels, leaks, fennel and potatoes, I’m all set to make some delicious dinners. I also picked up a winter radish, though I’ve never bought one before and am not quite sure what I’m going to do with it! Will start with one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking from the Farmer’s Market and report back. Do you have any good recipes for winter radish?

 

First, these homemade chocolates are for my kids — I didn’t attempt to make enough for the entire neighborhood since… you know, I don’t have a staff! But these will replace some of the not-so-great candies the kids will get trick-or-treating tonight (I draw a line with trans fats and food dyes, even on Halloween). We have a whole “trading system,” which I can explain later for anyone who’s interested. Right now… we have to get costumes on!  Happy Halloween!

Ghosts chilling in the fridge. Cookie cutters from a local favorite, The Concord Shop.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Popping back quickly with the recipe so it’s all in one place!

For me, success in the kitchen usually requires a pretty straight forward recipe, but I actually made this one up after making peppermint bark last year and I’m still trying out different ingredients and shapes for other holidays. So, the amount of chocolate you’ll need will depend on how many you want to make, the size of your cookie cutters, etc. and you’ll likely need to experiment a bit. The ghosts turned out great with one simple layer of white chocolate, but for other shapes, I’ve added thin layers of dark chocolate, toasted almonds, unsweetened shredded coconut, etc.

Ingredients:

*  Approx. 1 pound of good-quality white chocolate (I used Callebaut Belgian from Whole Foods)
* Black peppercorns (for eyes)

Tools:

* Metal cookie cutters – ghosts, pumpkins, etc. Tip: Pick simple shapes
* Double boiler (or glass Pyrex bowl and pot – find instructions for how to substitute here)
* Small wood skewer

Instructions for Ghosts:

1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper; arrange cookie cutters on sheet*

2. Roughly chop chocolate into chunks

3. Melt chocolate in double boiler over low-medium heat (watch and stir so it doesn’t burn)

4. Once chocolate is completely smooth, spoon it into each shape; fill about half way

5. Use skewer to level out chocolate into the edges (e.g., the ghost’s arms)

Save some melted chocolate in case any break

6. Place tray in refrigerator for about 10 minutes so chocolate starts to set

7. Remove tray and add the black peppercorn eyes, pressing down gently so they stay on

8. Place tray back in refrigerator and chill for at least an hour

9. To get chocolates out of the cookie cutters, I turned them upside down and pressed down gently to break the seal, which loosens them. Then I turned them back over and carefully pushed the ghosts through the bottom.

If you break one, you can repair it with melted chocolate and re-chill. Store candy in the refrigerator

* I have four kids and wanted to make all of the ghosts at once, so I bought four ghost-shaped cutters plus some other shapes. They’re inexpensive and I knew I’d use them ever year.

 

 

At this point in our lives, the dining room table has to multitask as project-central — for homework, art-making, science fair experiments — whatever is going on in our house.  Not to mention, serve as a weekend desk for my husband and a constant source of curiosity for our beagle puppy.  So, neither my husband or I really wanted to invest in a piece of furniture that would make us flinch every time the kids turned up with the big metal box of crayons.  At the same time, I also really wanted to love it, as it’s the center of our family meals. At the September Brimfield, I finally found our farmhouse table. And happily, I can finally relegate the one we bought back when my husband was in law school to the kids’ new art studio space in the basement — for which it’s actually quite perfect!

Scandinavian farmhouse table – in the tent for Black Swan Antiques, Northampton, NY.
The drawer is being shipped!

A few other things I picked up:

Vintage metal pales. Inspired by this display I saw at Anthropologie last month (I love the little jars with chalkboard-painted labels too), when I spotted the same buckets at Brimfield, I started imagining what I could use them for.  Scarves and mittens?  Cloth napkins? Hand towels? Large spools of ribbon?  I bought three and am still deciding — and also whether I want to paint them.  Stay tuned…

Number 34.  I’m always really drawn to graphic numbers, so I couldn’t resist this small (4 x 5 inch) vintage bingo calling card… Big Papi is my favorite Red Sox!

 

Entire family loved this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks — Cooking from the Farmer’s Market. I’m always so much more inspired to cook when I can buy something local, bring it home and try out a new recipe. There’s nothing more delicious than fresh produce picked that morning  — like these peaches from McGrath Farm in Concord.

Grilled Peaches with Honey & Black Pepper

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 firm but ripe peaches, halved and pitted
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over medium high heat. Oil the grill grate.

In a small bowl, combine the honey, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Brush the peach halves with olive oil and place on the grill and cook until the peaches just begin to soften, 3-4 minutes. Turn the peaches and brush with the honey mixture. Cook until tender but not falling apart, 2-3 minutes longer. Serve right away.

 

Well … it’s January, but I’m staring out the window of my studio and I see a lot of brown and green. I love snow — and not just for playing and skiing and hot chocolate.  I love the relaxing days when the kids are home from school, and it just makes me feel happier and more creative.  We had about six flurries this morning and I noticed a discernible mood boost while walking the dog.

Maybe it’s the clean blank slate or the peaceful calm that quiets my busy brain, but snowy days inspire me — to make art, do projects with the kids, cook…

Since the weather isn’t cooperating, I decided to spend a little time in my photo file for inspiration.  Here are some snowy images from this year’s Christmas-tree-cutting expedition to The The Rocks Estate in New Hampshire.  It was the most incredibly beautiful day with my family.  Happy weekend …

 

Our attic fan causes the door in the boys’ room to slam shut (not great for sleeping children!)  Found this adorable doorstop on Etsy — perfect.

 

Burlap whale door stop

 

 

 
Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.