Tuesday, October 14, 2014

fall hiking in colorado + farmhand's choice granola



Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  

Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty.
- John Muir


My mother always told me to, “try try again” and more often than not those words would be accompanied by the story of the “Little Engine That Could.” I don’t believe in perfection, but I do believe in improvement, determination and getting back up. 
Though our most recent trip to Aspen didn’t go according to plan, I wasn’t going to let one failed vacation deter us from attempting another adventure. So last weekend we loaded up the car and drove west, and then north, in pursuit of mountains, roaring rivers and bugling elk. We found them all…
Enjoy your autumn adventures wherever they make take you. And if at first you don't succeed, try try again. 
xo,
Batya



Rocky Mountain National Park  (Bear Lake trailhead to Nymph Lake/Dream Lake/Emerald Lake.  The Kawuneeche Valley. Trail Ridge Road.)
Guanella Pass 
Trails near Georgetown, Colorado
* * *
A few months ago our friends Ori + Jenn came to visit us in Denver. In addition to bringing their two young daughters - Olive (3) and Sophie (5 months)- they also brought treats. 
By treats I mean really good treats like  Stumptown coffee and chocolate babka from Russ and Daughters, a NYC landmark known for its appetizing spreads and babka- which might very well be the best in the world. They also brought a giant bag of homemade granola that I couldn't stop eating. Below is the recipe for that granola…(perfect for fall hikes or most any other time). 

Farmhand's Choice Granola (Courtesy of  Brooklyn's Early Bird Foods Nekisia Davis via Martha Stewart)
Yield: Makes about 7 cups 
                Ingredients
                3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
                1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
                1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
                1 cup coconut chips
                1 1/4 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
                3/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A
                1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
                1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar (you can also use coconut sugar)
                Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.

Remove granola from oven and season with salt. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.



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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

my mom's challah bread!

Photo credit: My mom, Debby 

For me, the holidays have always been about meaningful gatherings and food. Ever since I was a little kid we would host our family and friends. My grandparents, great-aunt, and cousins would come over and everyone would get dressed up. The leaves outside would be turning colors, cooler air would come through the open windows, and the house smelled great. It was my favorite time of year. 

Since moving to Denver three years ago, we have been working hard at building our community, and by that I mean inviting our friends and neighbors over (regardless of their ethnicity or background) to share in a few of our traditions (tradition!). We've hosted some interesting Passover seders (too much wine drinking, too little afikomen finding), lit Chanukah candles, consumed potato latkes, and invited guests over to dip apples and challah in honey which is the way we start Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. 

This New Year has been hard, as it's the first round of holidays without my father who passed away in May. I was feeling a bit withdrawn and I wasn't even sure I wanted to do anything to mark the holidays. But then, about 2 weeks ago, a FedEx package arrived at my front door. In the parcel was a plastic bag which contained 2 perfectly round challah, wrapped in my mother's signature packaging of choice- aluminum foil. I didn't even have to look at the return address to know who sent them; I knew immediately. It made my day, and it served as a reminder that traditions carry on despite the difficult losses we suffer along the way.

Photo credit: My mom!
I put the challah in the freezer (because without preservatives they don't last long) and took them out to thaw a few hours before they were to be served. Moments before our neighbors arrived, I popped them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. The entire house smelled like home; not my current home, but my childhood home. It's incredible how a tickle of the olfactory nerve can conjure up years gone by. Anyway, I cut a few slices of challah, and we dipped it in some outstanding local honey. Then we made a few toastsM. ay this be a year filled with love, health, happiness, peace, compassion, prosperity and understanding. Happy 5775!

From My Mom
Throughout the year, the traditional Sabbath bread, the Challah, is usually made by braiding strands of dough.  At this time of year, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, as well as the other High Holidays, it is customary to use round challahs.  Some say it points to the cyclical nature of the year.  It is also traditional to dip the challah (as well as apples and various other items) in honey which symbolizes wishes for sweetness in the days to come, and along those lines, round challahs usually have raisins baked inside.
I recently graduated to using a bread machine to get the dough started. 
Here is my recipe:

CHALLAH BREAD
Ingredients
1 cup very warm water
¼ cup oil
1 egg + 1 for top, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour + more as kneaded
½ cup sugar
1 package yeast
Raisins, as needed

Check out your raisins before you begin. If they don’t seem plump enough when you open the bag or box, place in a bowl, pour some boiling water to cover, and let them sit.  The water will absorb and fluff out your raisins and make them sweeter, too.

Place all ingredients except raisins into bread machine and select ‘dough only’ cycle.  Take the egg for shine on top out of refrigerator; if it is too cold it may inhibit the dough from further rising.

When the ‘dough only’ cycle completes, remove dough to a large, floured bowl.  If you want to make braided challah, you will then need to work on a large, flat surface.  If baking round challah, you can shape them straight from the bowl. 

Knead the dough till all air bubbles are out, maybe 10 -15 minutes.  Add flour to your hands as you knead, to avoid sticky dough getting glued to your hands.  Divide the dough into an equal number of portions, continuing to eliminate air bubbles and minimize stickiness.   This is the appropriate time to add raisins.  Tuck 2 or 3 at a time into a portion of dough, knead some more, add a few more raisins, trying to space them out.

Shape the challahs, either in pans or on cookie sheets.  Let rise about 1 ½ hours, possibly covered with slightly moist towel.  If your oven has a ‘proof’ cycle, that works wonders at this point. “Line” the top with egg to give the finished product a nice shine. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 35 minutes or until challahs appear done.

If you will be baking challahs often, you might want to ‘cheat.’  Go to www.thekoshercook.com and look for their varied sized challah baking pans.  They are easy to use and turn out professional-looking challah without braiding.
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Friday, September 26, 2014

friday favorites: brass




I love brass design- from planters, to kitchen utensils, to lighting - it just seems to work well in our home and I think it’s a nice color for fall too. So this week I decided to round-up some of my favorite designs in the color of the moment (at least according to me), brass!

My love affair with brass – am I the only one to get that Beastie Boys song stuck in my head whenever I hear the word “brass?”- started around the time LindseyAdelman posted instructions on how to assemble one of her designs using brass parts that cost around $100, a considerable markdown from the hefty 5-digit price tag her designs usually cost. When Lindsey let the world in on her fabulous DIY lighting system called the You-Make-It Chandelier, it went viral. I saw it hereherehere and here. And before long I found myself thinking, “If those bloggers can do it then why can’t I do the same…?” Well it turns out that some of those bloggers had partners who were electricians by profession, or they're absurdly handy, or they have a spare 18 hours- and a ton of patience- to spend putting bulbs and sockets together.  It turns out that I'm not as handy as I thought and assembling this brass chandelier was harder than it looked…it was also driving me nuts! 

Almost 6 months have passed since I posted this photo on Instagram, and in the time I’ve hardly made any progress. But last week I heard of a business in town that will assemble problem chandeliers for a small fee, and yes, I'm surrendering and having someone else take a stab at it. I’m dropping off our light on Monday and I have high hopes that there will be a fantastic brass chandelier hanging over our dining room table in no time at all! Then maybe I’ll get a brass planter to go with it and some nice brass flatware too….  

“Brass Monkey, that funky monkey…”

1. Brass Planter by Schoolhouse Electric
2. Habibi Side Table by Philip Bro Ludvigsen for E15
3. You-Make-It Chandelier (DIY) by Lindsey Adelman
4. x3 watering can by Paul Loebach for Kontextur*
5. Hikari Pendent Light by Fiyel Levent* 
6. Vega 5 Chandelier by Schoolhouse Electric 
7. Brass Flatware from ABC Home + Carpet 
8. Origami Bowls by AKMD

Full Disclosure: My firm has a relationship with Kontextur + Fiyel Levent, but this is not a sponsored post and the opinions here are my own.  Thank you to Carly Loman, of DLD PR, for putting the collage together! 
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