Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Trip to the Mountains

One of the great things about living in the foothills is how close we are to the mountains. If I look out my kitchen or bedroom window, I can see their beautiful snow capped peaks. In fact, the picture in my blog header was taken from my bedroom window.

Yesterday we decided to take a trip to the mountains. We were actually scouting out locations for a Search and Rescue training course but we thought we'd also take the time for a weiner roast as well.

This is the highway that heads past our house to the mountains. Today we're going to see how close we can get to Devil's Head Mountain. It's the one the arrow is pointing at.

Pretty small now but it'll get bigger!

West of town there is some pretty clear evidence of our province's main industries - cattle and natural gas.

Longhorn cattle aren't very common around here but their horns are certainly impressive!

Once we left the highway, the road narrowed considerably...

And then it narrowed some more...

And then it became icy/slushy in places where springs were located close to the road...

(We went around this spot)

Finally, we drove across the river and were treated with a beautiful view of Devil's Head mountain.

We had our weiner roast:

We learned that cowboy boots aren't the best footwear when the snow is deep:

We gained a greater appreciation for indoor plumbing. (No pictures of this thankfully!)

We learned how to use the camera's timer function:

Heading west of town is one of my most favorite thing to do around here. I'd love to see what other's love about the area they live in!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How to Make French Macarons in 10 Steps

I made macarons a few weekends ago and I thought that sharing my experiences would be a perfect way to resurrect my poor neglected blog.

Before I start, I want to clarify - I'm talking about French Macarons made with almond flour and egg. Not Macaroons which are yummy little coconut treats.

Here's a picture of my result:
Yum - Almond macarons with lemon custard filling!

Since these are often refered to as one of the most difficult pastries to make, I thought I'd share my technique.

1. Take a class from a French chef who makes Macaron baking look like the easiest thing in the world.

2. Make a special trip into the city to buy almond flour. Accidentally buy almond meal.

3. Try to make almond flour out of almond meal. Get frustrated.

4. Have a nap.

5. Make a special trip into town to buy a flour sifter.

6. Realize that the almond meal is still too coarse to go through the sifter and that you only have enough icing sugar for a half batch. Refuse to go into town again and half the recipe instead.

7. Use the almond meal and hope for the best. At the very least you can make an interesting trifle.

8. Discover that cheap aluminum cookie sheets result in mutant macarons and that expensive double bottom cookie sheets result in nice looking ones.

9. Run out of parchment paper. Refuse to make another trip into town since the stores are all closed anyway. Discover that macarons stick to parchment paper when it's used more than once. Also discover that sticky macarons = mutant macarons.

10. Eat the mutant macarons to hide the evidence.

That's it! You now should have about 10 perfect macarons to show for a whole day of baking! Easy right?