Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
- 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour 
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda 
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt 
- 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter (note: If I only have salted butter on hand, I use 1 teaspoon regular salt instead of 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt) 
- 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar 
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar 
- 2 large eggs 
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract 
- 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (note: you can use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips here, but if you can find disc shaped chips, it is pretty awesome…you end up with layers of chocolate in the cookies, which is heaven.) 
- Sea salt 

1. Sift both flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. 

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. (note: I usually make the dough balls and THEN refrigerate the dough in a ziploc bag. I think the dough should ideally be refrigerated at least a day the texture comes out better, but if you really can't wait and cook a few cookies when you make the dough, they'll be good, just not best.) 

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside. 

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. (If you do smaller cookies, adjust cooking time accordingly.) Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. 

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Dreaming up my future home with this fragrant flowering tree. Read more here.

Found this beautiful raised bed of salmon and pink Agastache flowers:

Vintage Names

1. Blanche
2. Myrtle
3. Ethel
4. Barbara
5. Mildred
6. Agatha
7. Phyllis
8. Beatrice
9. Marge
10. Ruth
11. Gretchen
12. Gertrude
13. Martha
14. Opal
15. Rose
16. Eleanor
17. Marlene
18. Gladys
19. Josephine
20. Ilene

I don't like most of these names for girls (above) and let's add to the list of outdated unattractive names: Bertha, Ethel, and Mabel...  On the other hand, if I had daughters I might give them old-fashioned names - like Phyllis, Opal, Marlene, and Eleanor - these particular names have a certain distinction about them. For example, Phyllis is sort of hipster, Opal is ethereal, Marlene is strong, and Eleanor sounds like the name of a novelist. Ilene is cool, too.

Okay, here it is: the list of the most popular female names as of May 2012, based upon Social Security Administration:

1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Abigail
8. Madison
9. Mia
10. Chloe
11. Elizabeth
12. Ella
13. Addison
14. Natalie
15. Lily
16. Grace
17. Samantha
18. Avery
19. Sofia
20. Aubrey

Interesting that these names (above) are sweeter and a bit lighter, yet many are vintage names.  So... Rose is out and Lily is in... Agatha is out and Avery is in...  Notice the numerous names that end in the feminine "a" or "ia"... or in "y" or "ie" (14 out of 20 to be exact). The names that do not end in the "a" have the "a" sound incorporated: Madison, Addison, Elizabeth, Grace. And notice the absence of "er" sounds or other "rrr" sounds. 

Okay, now let's look at male names that are headed for extinction:

1. Walter
2. Percy
3. Norman
4. Herald
5. Ernest
6. Herbert
7. Clifford
8. Frank
9. Arnold 
10. Leonard
11. Alfred
12. Abraham
13. Jeremiah
14. Augustus
15. Ignacius
16. Emmet
17. Nathaniel
18. Mortimus
19. Frederick
20. Wilbur

Let's add Humphrey, Herman, Julius, Waldo, and Eugene. But, shortened names like Wally, Gene, Harry, Clif, Leo, Abe, and Arnie are popular; as is Nath instead of Nathaniel.  Maybe this is similar to the female names in that the shortened versions are younger and friendlier than their old fashioned versions. If I were to have many sons with vintage names i would be outrageous by naming them Ignacius, Emmet, Augustus, and Cyrus. They would be a "team" - and hard to beat.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Some new words I learned today:

flexitarian: one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish (or more generally, one who eats flexibly); includes more whole grains and fruits and vegetables than the standard American diet (i.e., a flexible vegetarian)

fruitarian: one who just eats fruit

nutarian: one who just eats nuts

plantarian: one who promotes a plant-based diet as a healthy lifestyle choice

locavoresomeone who seeks to consume only locally grown food

opportunivore: a person who eats whatever is around

freegan: eating food that's been discarded

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Social Media Charts

So far I use Vimeo, Flickr, Blogspot, Tumblr, Wordpress, Diigo,YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, Delicious, Pandora, Google+, Google hangout, Wikis, Linkedin, and I am sure there are more, just forgot...

The above charts can be found and purchased here.

The website showing the Social Media Ecosystem, above, can be found here.

The Global Online Perspective article can be found here.

p.s. A comprehensive list of Virtual Worlds can be found here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I think my mother... made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected.
— Caroline Kennedy

Look at you. You're young. And you're scared. Why are you so scared? Stop being paralyzed. Stop swallowing your words. Stop caring what other people think. Wear what you want. Say what you want. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Play it as loud as you want and dance to it. Go out for a drive at midnight and forget you have school the next day. Stop waiting for Friday. Live now. Do it now. Take risks. Tell secrets. This life is yours. When are you going to realize that you can do whatever you want?
— unknown

What other people think about me is none of my business.
— Deepak Chopra

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I have scents

Bourbon French Perfumes on Royal Street in New Orleans
Oh, how I miss New Orleans! First stop is Royal Street. Then Cafe du Monde for chicory coffee. Just thinking of New Orleans makes me hungry...

Apple Charlotte

Finally, I have found my favorite recipe for Apple Charlotte - a New Orleans dessert!


For the filling:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 medium Granny Smith apples
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the batter:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for greasing ramekins
2 tablespoons sugar, for ramekins, plus extra for top
20 slices brioche bread, crust removed
Cinnamon sabayon, recipe follows


Begin by making the filling. Set a large saute pan or roasting pan over medium heat and add butter. Peel and cut cheeks off apples then cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Once butter has melted and just starting to foam, add apples, scraped vanilla bean and pod, lemon juice, and brown sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat well and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until apples are just tender and liquid has evaporated. The sauce will caramelize slightly and should be a nice, rich dark color.

In a shallow dish, make the batter by combining eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir with a whisk until fully combined.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and generously butter and sugar 4 (1-cup) ramekins.

Invert a ramekin, or use a round cutter, on half of the bread slices to use as a guide to cut out circles. These will be the bases and top of the charlottes - you should have 8 in total. Cut the other slices of bread in half lengthwise.

Working with the circles. lightly coat in the batter and place in the bottom of each ramekin. Lightly dip the other rectangles of bread in batter as well, then use them to line the walls of each ramekin - standing them upright around the perimeter leaving an overhang that you will later use to fold over and seal the charlotte. It should take about 6 strips per ramekin. Fill each mold with apples and some of the caramel from the pan. Fold over the edges to seal it up completely and sprinkle the tops with a little sugar.

Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If the tops brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil. When done, the bread will have puffed up slightly, the edges will be brown and the sugar on top will have caramelized. Allow to cool slightly, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto individual plates. Serve with cinnamon sabayon.

Cinnamon Sabayon:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup calvados or apple liqueur
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Splash water

To make sabayon, combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set over a pot of boiling water on low heat, i.e. a double boiler. Whisk (you can use an electric whisk to make it easier) until the mixture becomes light and fluffy and the volume almost doubles.

Watch video here.