Masa Cookies, gluten and dairy free . . .

Simple, if you have the ingredients . . . Yummy, when you want something different . . . 
Snackish, if it is morning . . . And almost winter, lets turn our ovens on . . .
 These can be rolled, even iced if you want a healthy Christmas cookie . . . 
 The kids were thrilled to make “shape cookies” as they call them . . .
 Golden so fast it wasn’t hard to wait . . .
 So here is the recipe . . .
Masa Cookies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large bowl mix:
3 cups masa flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom 
1 cup brown sugar
Add and rub with your fingers until forms crumbs:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 eggs
1 cup almond or coconut milk
Roll out between sheets of parchment paper, oil if the dough sticks.
Cut into desired shapes and lay on oiled cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
                                                                ~ Marica

Pear Heaven, Building Benches and good ol’ Thanksgiving . . .

Well lets start off with Happy Thanksgiving . . . Yesterday was a busy day of food making, house cleaning, bench building, and then of course feasting. We spent our morning building benches so we could eat outdoors at our big table . . . 
The kids were very helpful, really truly, and so they went together pretty quickly . . . 
They also gathered tons of persimmons which are weighting down the big tree out front
 of our kitchen window. I’ve never lived with a persimmon tree before, the fruits sure are beautiful,
 but it is going to take some inventiveness to come up with a way I actually will 
enjoy eating them . . . 
We did a few firsts yesterday:
Firsts biscuits baked in our oven . . . We finally have our oven hooked up . . . 
First fire in our outdoor fireplace . . .  
First Thanksgiving here . . . First Pear Heaven . . . Yes, you all must be told about the Pear Heaven . . . 
It was something gnawing at me . . . needing to be made . . . 
and almost included apples instead of pears, 
which I have to say would have in no way been the same thing

So to make Pear Heaven, first bake a batch of:

Almond Short Bread Cookies:
I do want to say, I am not entirely sure of the temperature, 
but I think I baked them at 400 degrees.

In a large bowl mix by rubbing with your fingers until 
all the butter is in crumbs :
2 cups unbleached white flour
12 tablespoons very soft butter

Add and mix:
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cups brown sugar
dash cinnamon
dash salt 

Add and mix gently until combined:
Zest from 1 lemon 
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Roll out carefully into a rectangle on wax paper,
 then chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Slice into 1″x 4″ rectangles, but leave it as one large block while it bakes. 
Poke with a fork evenly to prevent buckling. 
Leave on wax paper and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden at 400 degrees.
Let cool before removing them from the pan.

While they bake make a small pot of: 

Brandy Sauce:
In a small pan heat and mix until sugar is desolved:
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest from 1 orange

The Pears
Now, sauted in a large pan with 1 tablespoon of brandy sauce,
covering and letting them cook until just tender then turn off stove: 
1 tablespoon butter
6 pears sliced, and cored
A dash of:

Serve Pear Heaven in a small dish with pears on the bottom, 
a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, a bit of brandy sauce 
over the top, and an almond shortbread cookie tucked in for good measure.
 I decided this year I would do more delicate desserts, 
figuring after such a huge meal it would be a more enjoyable concept . . . 
But then, after we all ate, only the kids really had room for proper 
dessert eating anyway.

                             How was your thanks giving?    ~Marica

An excursion to the outdoor bookstore . . .

I have always taken for granted that our small town has an outdoor bookstore. It wasn’t until this year, when our very good friend who works there mentioned the rarity of such things, that my mind went click click and I realized you just couldn’t maintain an outdoor bookshop in most climates. Where we live has its rains for sure, but most of the year the sun shines and the clouds stay at bay. Of course, those of us who grow up here yearn for more “weather” but there is a certain charm to the flexibility of indoor/outdoor living . . . 
So last Monday we decided a mini fieldtrip to the outdoor book-haven was a perfect opportunity to enjoy one of our favorite places in this town, and take advantage of our 
“Inside” connection . . .
It was fun seeing the kids walking through the endless corridors of bookshelves . . .
We were given the exclusive tour . . .
From Anthropology to Science Fiction . . . 
They searched and weighed their options . . .
 Finally to each pick out a book or two to take home . . .
It was a lovely bit of time in the world of sunshine and books . . .

                                                                                                                  ~ Marica

Quilting Girls . . .

Nine patch quilts are something that rings through my head when I think of eight-year-old Laura Ingalls, tucked in a make-shift cabin with her family, braving the trials of pioneering across the vast United States. So why not have our group of seven and eight-year olds make their first nine patch quilts. Of course we have a speedy sewing machine to aid us in the process, but there was still the careful measuring, and cutting, and chatter chatter chatter that went along way in making it feel just right. 
 They each carefully decorated their cardboard measuring square . . . 
Chose out their fabric from our endless scraps . . .
Did lots of ironing . . .
 Laid them out just right . . . 
 Used the sewing machine all by themselves . . . 
 Sometimes with a little help from a fellow quilter . . .
 And tada . . . A mini nine patch quilt just right for a doll . . .

                                                                             ~ Marica

Pictures from the kitchen . . .

Autumn food . . . The red red pomegranates our friends brought us . . .
 Warm quinoa salad with chard from the garden, walnuts, 
lemon juice and fresh crushed garlic . . . 
 Our sole strawberry . . .
 Red, red, red . . . 
 Anaheim chilies . . .
 For long over due tamale making . . . 
 I always forget about tamales and then am so happy when they cross my mind . . .
 Dinner after dark, now that the time has changed and the days are getting shorter . . .
                                                     Happy Cooking ~ Marica

Quote of a five-year-old . . .

After seeing his very strong muscles I state:
“You are so strong, if we ever have an elephant in our house that needs to be 
moved, you can pick it up and bring it outside . . .”
Ridiculous I know, but sometimes this is the way conversations go.
Five-year-old answers: 

“No . . . we would probably need to invite all of our friends over to help be able to pick 
up an elephant . . . they probably way two thousand pounds!!!”

                                                       ~ Marica

More clicks of the camera . . .

Click click click, thank goddness for digital “film”. 
This is a post I found from a few weeks ago that somehow I never posted. 
The kids were so charming I decided to post it anyway . . .
Very concentrated, tackling heavy corduroy . . . 
Four kids tucked at one tiny toddler table . . .
Eating . . . 
A rose picked . . .
One piece of fire wood cut to perfection . . .
Round table braiding . . .

A snack in the teepee . . .
Lovely autumn weather, not too hot, not too cold . . . Just right.
                                                                        ~ Marica

October 31st and Pumpkin Donuts . . . Gluten and Dairy Free . . .

Do you remember being a kid and waiting for halloween? Do you remember the ideas and 
plans and so much excitement that it spun from you head to your toes, back up to you head 
and singed out through your hair? 
 Well as we all are overly aware, yesterday was that holy day of days where dressing up is 
not only acceptable but also encouraged. Though in all honesty, it seems like most grown-ups 
rev up for the extreme night and then sigh with relief once it has all passed . . . 
What a hustle and bustle . . .
We started our evening with a light potluck dinner. . .This next picture is of my friend’s sweet children readying them selves for the evening 
by first eating carmel dunked apples . . .
The night finally wound to and end . . . Feeling very complete by the time we got home and everyone had dumped their sweets onto the counter, picked out their few to save and brushed their teeth with the strongest tooth paste in the house.
Hope all your Halloweens were truly wonderful . . . Cheers ~ Marica
P.S. Here is the Pumpkin Donut Recipe:
Pumpkin Donuts 
Gluten and Dairy Free
In a lare bowl mix:
2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1    15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1 + 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 + 1/2 cups sweet rice flour
3/4 cups almond meal
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon guar gum
In a large pan over medium heat pour 1 quart vegetable oil .
To test if oil is ready, drop a pinch of dough into the oil and if it rises to the top it is ready.
Shape into one inch balls and fry several minutes, until golden brown,  turning as needed. 
Drain cooked donuts on a paper towel.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below . . .