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the urban baker

the urban baker: October 2008

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Traditions and Fun!

The month of October is filled with lots and lots of Salzman traditions.  The first weekend in October we head out to
Underwood Farms to pick the perfect pumpkins, eat lots and lots of horrible junk and take a tractor ride.  This year, Levi was the one having the most fun.

getting lost in the corn maze

helping Levi pick his pumpkin

Isaac is happy with his choice

The biggest one for Eli!

A holiday is not a holiday in our home without "themed" cookies.  This year we made 10 dozen ghost cookies.  This pretty much covered the Halloween Fair at school, Levi and Isaac's class parties and there were even a few left over for Isaac's soccer team.

Sugar cookie (Martha Stewart Cookie Book)
Royal Icing (
(this recipe is great because it is made with powdered egg whites-it spreads great and is oh so easy!)

These cookies are near and dear to my heart.  My Grandma Rose's cookie jar was never empty.  And these were the tasty little treats that filled the special little tin that sat on top of her kitchen counter top. Half of her cookies were adorned with m & m's and the other half with multi-colored non-perils. My grandma would always take the last little bit of dough (the part that she couldn't get into the cookie press, because there just wasn't enough) and she would make little crescent shaped cookies out them and cover them with the colored non-perils.  These were always my favorite because they were really fat and super crisp.  I actually had  forgotten about those and only remembered them as I was writing this.  I make these cookies for Halloween and Valentine's Day.  For Halloween I usually only use orange and black m & m's but this year I found this color group and opted to mix it up!

20 dozen!  I can't share my grandma's recipe, but any cookie book has a "sable" dough recipe.  The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham has a pretty good one.  They are not as good as Grandma Rose's but they will do the trick.

Packed up and ready to be delivered!

Pumpkin carving is another Halloween tradition.  My mom started it when the boys were really young.  She would let the boys pick out their design and then she would do all the work.  The past two years the boys have gotten into the carving act and this year Eli spent over an hour working on his pumpkin(his is the elaborate one with the spider pattern).  He worked so hard and it shows.  Isaac was more interested in mutilating Levi's oh so tiny pumpkin(the one that Levi treated more like a ball.  He amused himself for a good amount of time just throwing it down the stair case in the back yard!) 
For the past 8 or 9 years, we have been going to our neighbors on Halloween night.  We order pizza and salads (some sort of attempt to get something w/out sugar in them before they venture out for the evening) and watch the kids become looney and crazy as the sun starts to fade.  Isaiah is Eli's best friend and this is where we all convene on the eve of 10/31.  It is, always the same cast of characters (around 4 families), however this year we were missing one family as they moved out of the neighborhood.  We all definitely felt the void.  Grabbing their flashlights and glow sticks we move on out.  What usually happens is by the time they get to the top of the street the group dismantles and breaks off into sub groups.  However, this year, they moved together in a pack!  Levi totally got the whole concept.   The candy, the tag line, the running, the whole kit and kaboodle.  He could not be stopped.  He wanted to go and go and go.  After a serious sugar high and then and even bigger sugar crash, he finally fell asleep, at around 10pm! 

The Fireman

The loot, all 9 lbs of it!  

Several years ago, Isaiah's mom, Kelly, introduced us to the "switch witch".  The kids are allowed to keep 7 pieces of their stash and the rest gets picked up by the "Switch Witch".  The bag of candy is left on the front porch along with a note from the kids.  The kids are allowed to request something in return for the candy. In the morning, the bag of candy is replaced with a little something that each child wants (sometimes it's toys, books, gift cards, art supplies, whatever ). She is a very magical and brilliant woman and we all welcome her with open arms!

me and my boys '08

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Art and Food

Onof my closest friends, Nancy, opened her art gallery tonight.  Her home is impecable and is filled with the most amazing, unique pieces of art.  She is one of the most emotionally generous people one will ever meet and this is just the perfect fit for her.  For years she has opened up her home and her heart to all her friends and family.  Her art gallery will become an extension of that and I see it as a place for all of us middle aged gals to chat and inspire one another.

Her first gallery event, features her dear friend, Mary Golvin's Rooftop series.  Mary is a true artist, an amazing cook and a patient, loving mom. Mary's attention to detail is present in all her work.

Nancy enlisted me to do, what else,  the baking!  I was overjoyed, of course,  and couldn't wait to create the yummies!  I thought about doing little cakes and tarts, but then I decided that I wanted things that one could just pick up and eat.  I didn't want Nancy to bother with forks, plates and all the stuff that is already clogging up our landfills.  I also decided I wasn't going to put the goodies in liners (just more trash to clog our environment).  And since her space more of an industrial space, I used jelly roll pans, lined with parchment,  as the trays.  It all just worked.

Cheers to you, Nancy!  It was a great evening.  You have a long and fabulous career ahead of you!

Pumpkin Spice Minis w/Honey-Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate x 4 Brownies (Baking by Dorie Greenspan)
Pecan Tassies (family recipe)
Lemon-Ginger Sandwich Cookies (Big Fat Cookie Book by Elinor Klivans)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eli Salzman for President

Our son, Eli, has talked about being the President of the school since he was in Kindergarten.  He had had to do a project on Martin Luther King and the homework assignment was "I have a dream..." and he had to fill in what was his dream.  His dream was to President(of his school!) when he got older.

Speech day...getting ready to take the podium

A little extra campaigning!

The week prior to campaign speeches, the student council committee had to submit their posters (of course, he told me the day before that they were due the next day).

I will post his speech on video later.  Voting results will be Nov. 5th.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We love to bake!

Baking is an everyweek(sometimes everyday) event in our house.  My husband thinks I should stop buying flour, sugar, eggs and butter when I go to the market and instead, buy some "real" food.  However, baking just relaxes me.  I enjoy the process, I enjoy the outcome and my friends and neighbors love finding the little boxes, filled with yummy treats, at their doorsteps.

This past week we made an excessive amount of baked goods.  Just went a little crazy.  I try to give 95% of it away, otherwise I would weigh 300 pounds.  I have no willpower.  I would eat it all.  So would my oldest son, Eli.  

My friend, Nina, wanted to say thank you to some of the administration at her school.  So she enlisted me to bake up some goodies.  The perfect excuse to stay home and do what I love.  I am happiest at home. I should be living somewhere where the weather stinks for 6 months out of the year-it would give me the perfect excuse to never leave my house! 

Marble Pound Cake (Martha Stewart Baking Handbook)
I made a different glaze, but I don't remember what I did!

Here is the finished product, packaged and ready to go

Mini marble pound cake, cashew bars (The Chef of the Times Cookbook),
Dream bars (Rose Levy Birnbaums, Christmas Cookie Book), Hungarian Shortbread w/fig jam (Baking with Julia)

Went to some friends for Sukkot.   Made cranberry, pistachio biscotti(

before baking

after the first bake, cut and going back into the oven

finished product

there is more, but I need some rest (baked all day today-will post later)

My First Blog Entry

I am finally doing something I have wanted to do for a very long time.  I look at creating this blog as not only a way to keep friends and family up to date with our families triumphs and milestones, yet also as a way to preserve and document our day to day life.   Ones life seems busier and more hectic as we get older and as our kids get older.  Isn't our life supposed to become simplier and less hectic as we age?  Aren't we all supposed to just slow down?

Life is just so exhausting sometimes!  Shuffling the kids to their music lessons, sporting events, playdates(I am not a big playdate mom) drama, trying to get homework done at the same time that I am trying to throw something together for dinner, blah, blah, blah.   The routine, sometimes, just feels so mundane.  So, in an attempt to return to the things that I love, I am going to try and create my own simple solution for enjoying the simplier things in my own life.

My "3 Mookies" Tierra Rejada Farm  2008