Happy Boxing Day

MIA since August – I know! I’ve been going crazy jumping full time into my business, Lou Photography, and haven’t had time to indulge in blogging for pleasure in food & fashion land. I’m going to attempt one post a week to jump back into things – today’s on some boxing day finds at RW&CO.

Since leaving my sales position in April, I haven’t picked anything up from this Canadian retailer that makes a variety of work and casual staples. They always have an amazing Boxing Day sale, at least 40%-50% off the lowest price off fall & winter merchandise. I picked up two winter coats I desperately needed since destroying a favorite a few weeks ago. The light grey will be perfect for client meetings and the second for throwing on as a loose and comfortable coat for long shoots. It’s cozy and resembles lounge-wear – whats not to love?

A Very Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas! This year was mine & Nate’s first together, and I didn’t want to miss out on a thing. We spent Christmas Eve & Christmas morning with Nate’s family in quaint seaside Nova Scotia. After a huge & delicious turkey dinner, we packed the car (to the roof) and drove to my parents place two hours away for a second & equally tasty turkey smorgasbord. Twelve hours of present opening later, we slept right through until twenty minutes before church started on boxing day. Boxing day lunch was a feast of leftovers – seafood nacho dip, chowder infused phylo cups, home rolls, escargot, turkey, cream cheese potatoes, & a variety of spreads and cheeses. I don’t think we will be able to eat for a week! We beat a nor’easter back to Halifax, and barely unpacked the car before the snow was falling heavily outside. A good first Christmas? Indeed.

Merry Christmas Eve

We got in the Christmas spirit by baking Martha Stewart’s “Ideal Sugar Cookies” and a double chocolate cookie mix Nate got from a Yankee gift swap. By “we” I mean “I” baked while Nate played Call of Duty 😉 Didn’t quite turn out like Martha’s (when do they ever)…I didn’t have a rolling pin and had to leave for work before they could chill for the entire hour, but they were delicious! Want to try? Use Martha’s recipe here. Settling in for an O’Brien Christmas in Seaforth for all of the festivities! The tree is almost buried, and all of the presents aren’t even placed yet! Tomorrow night we get to do it all over again at my parents in Amherst. Merry Christmas!

Le Macaron de Français

My first attempt at making macarons’ was a success! Last Monday night I baked up these raspberry butter-cream macaron’s for my Postcolonialism & Craft class. They were a welcomed treat as we sat through another two hours of research presentations. I ‘sifted’ through many different recipes to get to this point. They all recommended different methods of mixing ingredients, oven temperatures and tips to get the perfect macaron: crunchy thin meringue shell, characterized by the tell tale ‘feet’ that crumble outward from the edges, and moist chewy interior (without being hollow). I watched dozens of youtube videos, my favorite of which will be at the end of this post, and came up with a consistent ‘method’ to create the perfect macaron: on the first try!

Set aside the whites of 3 medium eggs (2.5 large) in a stainless steel bowl, with a 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar, 1/8 tsp baking soda bring to room temperature, and leave for 1-2 hours.

Measure out  1 cup of almond meal, process or grind into a fine powder.

Sift 1.5 cups of icing sugar and the almond meal together into a bowl, combine and set aside.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, heat oven to 295 degrees F.

Whisk egg whites into a light foam. Beat with electric mixer on consistent low speed until stiff and frothy, gradually adding 1/4 cup sugar and desired food coloring after whites begin to take shape.

Add icing sugar & almond meal in three or four portions to the egg whites, folding over from the sides to the center, never stirring until completely mixed together.

Place mix into piping bag with a #12 round tip. (or large tip in general)

Pipe 3/4″ circles onto cookie sheets, using some batter to adhere the paper to the pan if necessary.

Heavily tap the bottom of the pans to release the air bubbles from the macarons.

Leave for 30-45 minutes to dry the outsides, exterior should be tacky but not sticky to the touch (when in doubt leave longer, not shorter)

Bake at 295 F for 10-13 minutes, until feet have formed and crusts are dry. Do not over cook!

Remove from pan, almost immediately careful not to crush the outside shell.

Cool and sandwich two macaron’ s with desired butter-cream or jam!

My second & third batches on Thursday were characterized by a few failures. In the first batch I used three large egg whites, which resulted in really wet  batter that produced chewy flat (expensive) sugar cookies. On the bright side they made delicious ice cream sandwiches with our Bryer’s Cookies & Creme 😉 The second batch (with 2 large egg whites & almond meal that was still a little chunky) were cinnamon macaron’s filled with rum & nutmeg butter-cream – tasty, but a few to many had air bubbles on the surface between the crust and the chewy interior. The third batch (finished at 1:00 a.m.) were made with less then finely ground almond meal, and dried out within 24 hours. I over flavored the butter-cream (again) with mint, and called it a night. The cream was less then aesthetically pleasing (oozing off every side) so there are no pictures from that batch! I will post some more successes or failures in the future…once I figure out the perfect flavor combinations and buy a better processor for the almond meal, my macaron’s will be consistently and pleasingly perfect. Until then – enjoy!

We’ll Trim the Tree With Christmas Lights

{Hat: RW&CO}{Coat: Juicy Couture}{Gloves: Nine West}{Dress: H&M}

The Tree of Perfection!

 

Watching Carefully Where I Put the Lights...

I Spy With My Little Eye...

...Not Carefully Enough...

The Rest of the Glass: In My Foot 😦

Boiling Water

Cows Hot Chocolate!

Me & My Love

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We were debating on getting a Christmas tree this year…after all we live in a bachelor apartment, but in the end tradition won! We bought our very first tree tonight, cranked the holiday tunes, drank some delicious hot chocolate, and decorated the evening away! We bought our ornaments (so far) for $19.00, the tree stand – $12.00, 100 lights – $8.00, and of course the tree – $20.00 …all at Superstore! I’m hoping to pick up some red ribbon to add some color and a tree skirt from Winners.