Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Trader Joe's Pfeffernüsse Cookie Mix for Gwenny's Hermit Holiday Cookies

I love Trader Joe's. It's the best snack store in the world! There are really specific items I go there for-Korean Green Onion Pancakes, Plantain Chips, Olive Tapenade and Cocobon Wine and this little goody around the holidays - Pfeffernüsse Cookie Mix. The cookies are ok, but I made a recipe with this box mix that is knock your socks off, holiday magic! But it all starts with the mix! 

There are these cookies from New England called Hermit's. I have wanted that taste and texture all winter long. I made a recipe from Cook's Illustrated that I got years ago for Hermit cookies. But they weren't really the soft chewy texture I was looking for. Instead, they were more like plain old Ginger Bread. Don't get me wrong! I love Ginger Bread. But I was going for the taste and texture of something else so it was kind of a let down. 

Then I remembered that I had this little mix in the cupboard. I added this and that, a little bit of love and whole lot of holiday magic and voila! I had a really hard time deciding on a name for these little treats. So I made sort of a mash up title. Either way, it all starts with this special mix from Trader Joe's.

Gwenny's Pfeffernüsse Hermit Holiday Cookies


Trader Joe's Pfeffernüsse Cookie Mix 
1 Large Egg
1 Stick of butter
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup currants
`1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup candied ginger


Preheat oven to 325
Whip butter until creamed
Add Egg and Cookie Mix, beat again with mixer
add heavy cream and molasses and beat again
fold in currants, raisins and ginger
Create evenly sized cookie balls 
put on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sanding sugar
and bake in the pre-heated oven for exactly 13 minutes!
Voila! You will have the chewiest, tastiest Christmas cookies ever!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Winter Reading List


While none of these books scream "wintertime," there is something about the subjects of all of these reads that do, in fact, scream "wintertime." They all deal with the nebulous characteristics of time travel, re-life and/or choices. Something about winter gives us hope. Perhaps it's the short days, perhaps still it is the darkness and death all around us. As humans we tend to forget that we die or worse yet think we can cheat death. Memento Mori! All of these books, at least tough on the subject of everlasting life on earth and how that can be it's very own imprisonment. 

The Midnight Library is a fascinating book where the heroine try to kill herself but instead is put on each path she could have chosen. It is amazing and so well thought out that when it ends, you wish it hadn't. Matt Haig is an accomplished author and not one of his tomes have I completed and then found a waste of time. Never! He is a talent and this book will not disappoint.

Addie LaRue is another book where everlasting life on Earth takes precedence. Sadly, it is done by an unwitting and naive young girl who simply wants to avoid marrying a man with whom she is not in love. The thing is, is that when you bargain with the devil, hell is what you'll have. Such a great read! Like The Midnight Library, I couldn't put it down.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a book that was so profound to me that I read it several times and suggested it to just about everyone. It is captivating as we see the struggle of good and evil, crossroads of choice, moral flexibility and a story wherein you sympathize with both the protagonist and antagonist at some point. During this time of Covid, I should revisit it again as the topics seem poignant as our lives have been turned upside down.


Once Upon A Kitchen was an accidental treasure! I was looking for an oracle deck for my sister for Christma and came upon this little diamond! The photos are superb and the recipes are super with little stories and film histories accompanying them. I'll have to do a post about the things I have tried from this beautiful book. This is a crossover gift that doubles as a cookbook but also a fun read! And Leslie Bilderbeck is an amazing chef with an outstanding curriculum vitae! It is so worth the splurge.


How to Eat a Peach is an amazing book that was suggested to me by the same friend that suggest Harry August and what a dream cookbook. I love a menu and this book is a cookbook of menus! Fully planned menus that are calculated with panache and sophistication and the photos and food styling are unmatched. And everything is planned by season. Plus, the cover is fuzzy - like a peach!

If you have a book lover or a chef that still needs Christmas gift, Amazon has two day shipping and I bet you have a Barnes and Noble nearby.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Another Brilliant Bread Recipe by My Husband - This Time Sourdough


Well, he did it again! If I wasn't already struggling with the COVID19 -- 15lbs, I sure am now with all this delicious sourdough bread! My husband, an avid and accomplished bread baker already, he has been working tirelessly to create his own sourdough bread recipe for our new environment here in the hills. 

Moving from California left us wanting a few things that we took for granted. One of those things was a good crusty sourdough bread! We loved heading into Tartine for a good loaf to bring home and devour. They have several really fantastic books, like this one, this one and this one, too.

My sweetheart, (Bu or Brett for those of you who don't know him, yet), was at a hardware store here in the country and found, of all things,  "Homemade Country Sourdough Bread," which had been made locally but was $10.00 for a small loaf. 

I went home to California in September and was so missing sourdough that I bought three loaves from Acme in San Francisco, because I couldn't reach Tartine without an expensive Uber ride. I shipped them all home where Bu sliced them and froze them.

At the time he was perfecting his recipe and his starter had already been used on two loaves. But, he was struggling with rise and consistency but the flavor was top notch!

I think he was sort of miffed by having to slice the ones I sent home and also was determined to create his own so we wouldn't have to miss the crunch of a freshly toasted and buttered piece of Sourdough bread. 

He's done it! And, he has written it out for me to share with you! If you try the recipe, please let me know how it went! I'll also post the pics on Instagram.

Above and the three following photos are the first successful loaf using his fine tuned recipe. It is his own recipe! 

This one (above and below) is his second successful loaf using the recipe down below. It is no fail recipe although it will take patience. Good Luck!

Oh, it's delicious. A toasty, buttery warm hug in your tummy!

Brett's Sourdough Bread Recipe 

90 grams sourdough starter
552 grams flour (He uses a combination of a  1/2 cup of whole wheat flour plus bread flour).
346 grams of water
2 tsp. salt

Based on all of his trial and error, he has found that measuring by weight is better for the end result than just measuring by cup.

*Mix starter and water together
*add flour
*add salt
*mix all in a mixer with a dough hook for 10 minutes
*cover and let rest for 15 minutes
*use the stretch and fold method for 2 sets of folding and turn it seam side down (autolyzing)
*Cover it and let it rest another 15 minutes
*Stretch it again for another two sets and turn it seam side down again (autolyzing)
*Cover and let rise for 12 hours ( an overnight rise is ideal)
*Stretch and fold two times, again (autolyzing)
*cover to rest for 15 minutes
*Stretch and fold for another 2 sets (final autolyze)
*place the dough on parchment in a bowl and cover it to rise for 2 1/2 hours
*Sprinkle flour over dough after 2.5 hour rise
*heat oven to 500F with the dutch oven in it (this will be your baking vessel)
*Place the parchment/dough in the dutch oven
*Score the dough to your liking (Brett has used several designs - see the photos above for examples)
*Bake in the dutch oven in the 500F degree oven for 25 minutes with the lid on the dutch oven
*remove lid from dutch oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes (Internal temp should be 208 F)
*Remove dutch oven, remove bread from dutch oven and place on cooling rack
*Once cool, slice and eat!