Got the blueberry blues

Picking your own blueberries. Picking them from a bush in a field that has been bathing in sunshine so that the blueberries are lovely and warm from all that sunshine. Eating fresh and sweet blueberries directly from the bush. Eating as many blueberries as you’re collecting in your basket. Mmmmmmm.

It’s berry season! That means it’s time to make all kinds of berry-licious things – cakes, tarts, muffins, jams, syrup, cobblers, crumbles, pies, waffles, salads and breads. I think I’ve listed all the possibilities but let me know if I’ve forgotten anything. Anyway, time to get picking. And whatever doesn’t get used up you can freeze easily.

I’ve added blueberries to salads before but I haven’t really found a recipe that has wowed me. My favorite thing to make out of blueberries is cake. Ok, cake and jam. But really, cake is a the god of desserts. And blueberries fit in perfectly.

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lime yogurt cake sans blueberry sauce

I made a blueberry sauce to go with this delicious yogurt cake. It was pretty tasty so I didn’t get any pictures of the sauce before we ate it. The original sauce recipe called for blackberries, but I didn’t have any, and so I substituted blueberries. In retrospect I think I should have left out the water, or used a tablespoon at the max. I strained the sauce through a sieve but I should have used an even finer mesh sieve or a piece of muslin instead. As for the cake, it was very yummy. At least I thought so, even the rest of them weren’t wowed by it. Philistines. Oh, and I only had a smaller cake pan so I had a rather tall cake. Which meant that there wasn’t as much of the crust left which was unfortunate since that was the best part.

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The blueberries really make the cake

Then there’s this cake. Well, boy bait. Yes, you’re probably wondering why it’s named that. I have no idea. Actually, some quick googling yielded this answer from Samantha’s Bread and Butter: “Blueberry Boy Bait is a buttery, thin, blueberry cake. It is said the name of this man-luring dessert was coined by a young girl in 1954 after she stole the show in a junior Pillsbury Bake-Off. She named this dessert “Blueberry Boy Bait” because of the effect it had on boys.” Ha, a boy luring cake. How awesome. It really was very tasty – see, I didn’t even take any pictures until this cake was almost all gobbled up. I can also imagine a raspberry or blackberry version. And if you really want to splurge you could always a add a bit of a mix of yogurt and whipped cream or creme fraiche as a topping/side with the boy bait.

Blueberries are easily suited to porridge, especially steel-cut porridge, or to a quick dessert. This one was a quick, last-minute dessert made of a mix of ricotta, blueberries, and a mix of frozen berries, plus a bit of whipped cream on the side.

Blue(s)berry Dessert

I remember Mom making a blueberry cake when I was little. She was making it for guests, and the dough was just too moist so she added some semolina to the dough. The finished cake was so delicious, but she doesn’t remember the proportions since she was fudging it. But here is another cake recipe that sounds really interesting. A moist blueberry cake with light lemon icing from I adore food. It uses a lemony frosting which is great since I love that kind of frosting. And the cake itself looks moist and fluffy. Plus you can use fresh or frozen blueberries, perfect. I’ll make this asap, and I hope it’ll be as delicious as it looks!

Doesn’t this cake look scrumptious?

Next on my plate – blueberry crumble, this one with an oatmeal crust (my favorite kind). And  I’ve eaten blueberry muffins before but haven’t yet found the recipe to end all recipes. Smitten Kitchen has one, and I’ve usually like all of those recipes. But let me know if you have any recommendations!

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Star Wars (cake!)

I am a geek, I admit it. I’ve given you hints of my geekiness along the way. I could talk and talk and talk about my love of Star Wars. Not that it’s the only proof of geekiness. But this post is about Star Wars, so Star Wars is what I’ll talk about. Btw, did you know that July 13 is “Embrace Your Geekness Day?” Oh, and if you like geeky stuff, you should totally check out Geektroverted. So full of awesome.

I have no idea how often I’ve seen the original trilogy. Not as often as as my friend Mark, who used to watch one of the original Trilogy movies as a teen. I camped out for the Phantom Menace. I heard Anthony Daniels talk, who really is tall and skinny. No wonder he fit into that C3PO outfit. I haven’t seen the 3D version, but I have DVDs of both the revised version of the original Trilogy as well as the unedited one. I like that one better anyway – errors and fudging, and Ewok dancing and all. Btw, don’t you love those little Star Wars chibis? These were made by Joe Wright, over on Deviant Art.

Why is there no Yoda chibi? Lando Calrissian? And if there’s a Govenor Tarkin chibi, what about Admiral Ackbar?

My birthday cake is a classic mocha cake. I love it. It is delicious. It’s only made once a year, for my birthday, so I always look forward to it. I’ve seen some of the cake shows on TV, and have been pretty impressed with some of the cakes that people whip up. I actually once thought of getting an Ace of Cakes cake for my sister’s baby shower, but the waiting time was 1(!!!) year. Whoa. Yeah, that wasn’t happening. And apart from that you have no idea what the cake actually tastes like. You see the the amazing features, but then there are all these pipes and styrofoam elements – you wonder how much cake is actually left. And then there’s all that rolled fondant, which I can’t imagine tasting good. Does anyone know what it tastes like?

But I’ll gladly throw out all my cake prejudices for a Star Wars cake. Or even a Star Wars party. I mean, check out these cakes featured on Geektroverted:

late adopter

Are you guys using Instagram? Am I one of the few people who aren’t using Instagram? It’s funny, I added that app to my phone a while ago. I just haven’t been playing around that much with it. Probably because I’m primarily photographing with my SLR, so I’m not modifying the images on the phone. Instead I have the computer and iPhoto and Photoshop – although I try to think about my angles and lighting beforehand so I don’t have to do too much in the way of editing. Actually, most of my images are shown the way they were taken.

But the Instagram images by Whodunnknit were the ones that were the kicker. Plus, even though I’m not much on Facebook, I can see that many of the photographs of friends are modified using Instagram. And for bloggers, you can use Followgram that makes it easy for people to follow your blog and website. Pretty neat, actually.

Digging a hole - literally

Digging a hole – literally

I would however like to make individual images private. Apparently there is no easy way to do that . One of the otion is to set up two separate accounts, and then sign out every time I want to switch to the other account. Sigh. Oh, Instagram, why can’t you make my life easier? Although now that you’ve been acquired by Facebook, you probably want to keep track of as much information as possible. Double sigh.

For now my Instagram account is private, and I share individual images only. I’d prefer to share my images per default, and then opt individual images out, that way I could share my Instagram pictures with you by default. But at least I have a few Instagram images to share since I just started using Instagram.

Lock in a fence

Keeping someone in, or keeping people out?

Nutella Tarts

Nutella Tarts. There is a heaven, and it has Nutella in it 😉

You done?

You done?

True dat.

True dat. (Knitting project bags)

Cherry, corn and fennel salad

Cherry, corn and fennel salad

Peppermint Princess

Glaubst du an den lieben Gott oder an Guevara
ich glaube an die Deutsche Bank denn die zahlt aus in bar au
Liebling lass uns tanzen hast du noch ‘nen Pfefferminz ‘nen Pfefferminz
so und nun gib mir ‘nen Kuss mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz

– “Mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz” by Marius Müller-Westernhagen

Clapotis in Wollmeise

You know how you sometimes just fall in love with a skein of yarn due to its name? Yes? No? Well, that was the case with me. When I’d just discovered Wollmeise yarn, I was looking at colors on the Wollmeise website, trying to figure out what colors I’d like. That was before I discovered how challenging it is to order Wollmeise yarn, and that you won’t easily find the color you like in stock. No, you just have to hope that the color you want will be available at that update, and you’ll have to hope no one snaps it up before you can checkout with it.

Wollmeise in blue-green

Pfefferminz Prinz above, Tiefer See below

Well, I was looking at the blue-green color family, and I immediately fell in love with two colors: “Tiefer See” which is the blue-green as ‘the blue and green of a deep mountain lake,’ and “Pfefferminz Prinz,” which must be inspired by the song above that is titled “With peppermint I’m your prince.” Well, I like that song, so I just had to like the color. The skein is lighter than the Tiefer See colorway – a very pretty turquoise and light green.

Thankfully I managed to score a skein of Pfefferminz Prinz thanks to a fellow Raveler. And when you finally get ahold of a yarn color that you’ve been hoping for, oh, forever, you of course have to find a project that will show off the colors.

One of the most frequently knit patterns using Wollmeise is the ubiquitous Clapotis scarf/shawl, second only behind the Hitchhiker pattern. I wanted more of a skinny scarf that would be light enough to wear during the summer, so I modified the pattern into a narrow scarf. It’s super easy to modify the pattern to the desired width and length. So many Ravelers have already done that, there are many many helpful project notes out there. In fact, there is an entire group dedicated to knitting your own Clapotis.

The best suggestion is to weight your yarn skein(s) before casting on, to then weight it again after the increase section, before knitting the straight part. Then you know how much yarn you can use for the straight section, and not run out of yarn. The scarf itself is knit on a bias, and stitches are dropped at regular intervals to created the lacy effects. You have to get used to dropping the stitches – normally I’m so super careful not to drop any. It’s a really fun scarf, and I understand why many people knit multiple Clapotis scarves – but that endless straight section is somewhat mindless. I’m not a huge fan of projects that are endless. I’ll be knitting a bunch of other scarves, but I can see myself knitting another Clapotis again sometime in the future.

Clapotis knit in Pfefferminz Prinz

Waiter, there is pepper in my cookie!

So, my cookie post the other day was all about oatmeal, chocolate and pomegranates. Since this is a good basic cookie recipe, I decided to make oatmeal cranberry cookies. The recipe itself suggests other modifications like raisins or Pretzel pieces. My original plan was to add a little bit of sea salt on them. I was going back and forth if I should add some dark chocolate. Or with hazelnuts in them. And perhaps a bit of espresso? Oh the possibilities… And there are also so many other great oatmeal cookie recipes – including oatmeal raisin cookies by Smitten Kitchen. Mmm.

oatmeal & cranberry cookies

Stacked!

Oh look, I actually set up a mise en place!

This time around, I decided to make Oatmeal Cranberry cookies. After all, that’s a great combination in your cereal or in porridge. I followed all the steps of the original recipe, substituting one cup of dried cranberries for the one cup of pomegranate. And then, then I got creative. I decided to add pepper to my cookies. Many people add flakes of salt on their cookie, so why not pepper? And the Pfeffernüsse cookies contain pepper (as well as other spices) anyway. I added freshly ground pepper, and tasted the dough regularly to see if I could taste a bit of the pepper.

But I just didn’t get the slight spicy taste, so I added more pepper. Which was a mistake. Because now the cookies had a bit of afterburn. You didn’t taste it so much in the cookie dough, but more in the finished cookies. Oops. I was fine with the cookies – but for a Western palate it was too peppery. Or at least for people who aren’t that adventurous, taste-wise. And that, that was the problem. You see, the cookies were supposed to be my little gift for meeting a bunch of friends. I don’t think they eat much spicy food, so I figured that all those cookies would just have to stay with me. (Yum!)

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pepper in action

Fortunately I had more brown sugar and enough oats. So, I made another batch of cookies, this time dark chocolate oatmeal walnut cookies. One the one hand, I was very sad that I was going to give away most these delicious cookies – but at the same time I was rather relieved – I already had another batch of cookies I was going to enjoy.

cookies, fresh from the oven

chocolate oatmeal walnut cookies – fresh from the oven, and in little gift bags

The lesson? Be careful when using spices in dessert-esque food, including cookies. I will be making the peppery oatmeal & cranberry cookies again, but this time I’ll use less pepper. Dark chocolate & oatmeal & walnuts are a great combination. And cookies crumbled into yoghurt are awesome!

Pfeffer Kekse mit Rosenblueten Joghurt

pepper cookies & yoghurt