Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Liquid Gold


Good morning, friends! I have a quick and easy DIY for ya today. Yesterday, as I was literally in the middle of three other projects, I looked over at a box from my neighbor that was sitting on our kitchen table. She (my neighbor) brought the box over and said if I wanted anything in it, take it or else it's going to the curb. Of course I couldn't let that happen. The box was filled with random stuff like cups, plates, and a sad little light sticking out of the top. The light reminded me of college, since every kid pretty much has one of these guys. No frills. Just something to get the job done as you're studying into the wee hours of the night.


Then I thought, "That guy needs a makeover. Like really bad." The first thing I did was to cut the black plastic thingy around the neck of it. Not really sure what the purpose of that thing was, but I think it instantly made the light more cool. Brought an industrial vibe to it.


Then I simply took the light outside and gave it a couple coats of gold spray paint.


 I was thinking gold all along (since I just sprayed some hardware gold), but I jumped on Schoolhouse Electric's website for some inspiration and found this light. Pretty dang close to my little guy, right?


One major difference is price though. The Schoolhouse one is $189. Granted, I'm sure it's made a million times better than mine, but I'm pretty happy with how mine turned out.


Plus it was free. I mean, really...you can't beat that.


Psst...here's a sneak peek at that hardware I was telling you about...I'm excited to show you this new (to us) piece of furniture I redid for the boys' room. So that's next--a fall tour of their room.


Have a great hump day! We're going to a parade tonight...that's one way we Lancaster Countians usher in fall--our small towns have fairs which start with a parade on Wednesday evenings. Bring on the floats and candy!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Molasses Cookies (made with coconut oil)

Just in case you guys haven't noticed, I've kinda been in a baking mood lately. I think cooler temps does that to me (you, too?) 'Cause after all--who wants to turn their oven on in the summer months of 90 degree days? Cooler temperatures, heartier flavors, and spices just are another reasons to love fall. So let's continue on with our fall theme today with another recipe. This time it features a little ingredient with BIG flavor that doesn't get a whole lot of attention anymore: molasses. 


First of all, before we get our aprons dirty--do you guys actually know what molasses is? (I only know what it is because Mitch works for a molasses company...ha!) Let this former teacher indulge herself for just a sec, k? So molasses...it's that thick stuff that's slow comin' out of the bottle (hence the "you're slower than molasses in January" phrase we hear). Molasses is basically the by-product of the sugar refining process. It's the last bit of "stuff" left after the sugar crystals (table sugar) are extracted out of sugar cane. Therefore, molasses actually contains all the minerals and nutrients of the sugar cane. And until after WWI, molasses was the primary sweetner used here in America. Then after the war, the price of refined sugar drastically dropped, thus ushering in the age of white cane sugar and molasses got pushed to the back of the cupboard. Literally. 


But let me encourage you to pull the black sticky stuff out again, dust off the lid, and crack open that jar. Bring that dark sweetner back into the limelight once again by making a batch of these here cookies. They are full of flavor. And they're just perfect for this time of year. Side note: there are different types of molasses...I used the milder and sweeter baking molasses for these cookies. Blackstrap molasses would be too bitter for this recipe (go here to read more about the different kinds of molasses).


And of course they're made with coconut oil, which you should know by now, is something I love. I'll be honest with you--I'm usually an all-butter girl when it comes to baking cookies, but since the spices in these cookies are the primary taste factor, using refined coconut oil is perfect. I've actually made these cookies with butter, coconut oil, AND Crisco (three different batches), and the coconut oil version is the best one in my opinion. It results in deliciously chewy cookies.


So you're going to melt the oil before using it. Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees, making it mostly a solid in these fall-like temps, so just stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it's melted.


Look at all these delicious spices! Wish you could smell them right now. There's cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and some salt in there. (Again, you could also use nutmeg, but I'm not a fan.)


After the batter is all mixed, you'll need to wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for a few hours, so the dough is actually workable. If you were to bake it as-is, the dough would be way too soft and would spread out like a pancake while baking. The coconut oil actually has to turn back into a solid...that's the purpose of the refrigeration--to make the dough firmer/easier to work with.


Then just scoop it out and roll the balls in cinnamon sugar




The outside is a little crispy--crispy enough that it kinda snaps to a certain extent when you break it apart. And the inside is nice and chewy.


The only thing I would do differently next time is I would make a double batch. Since I used my large cookie scoop, this recipe only made 17 cookies, which, let's be honest, is never enough. ;)


Molasses Cookies (made with coconut oil)
adapted from here

Ingredients:
1 large egg
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (light brown sugar may be substitued)
1/2 cup coconut oil, in liquid state 
1/3 cup molasses (I use Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Molasses)
2 TABLESPOONS vanilla extract (yes tablespoons, not teaspoons)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I omitted the nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cinnamon-Sugar Coating
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
Directions:
For cookies
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the egg, brown sugar, coconut oil, molasses, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-mixed, smooth, and glossy about 4 minutes.

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and beat on medium-high speed until combined and smooth, about 1 minute. 

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Scoop out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap dough up in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking.

Preheat oven to 350F, and grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper lined on cookie sheet (I used Pampered Chef stoneware); set aside. 

For cinnamon sugar coating 
Add granulated sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl and stir to combine. Roll each ball of dough through the coating, liberally coating all sides. 

Place coated mounds on baking sheets, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if undercooked and soft center. Do not bake longer than 9 minutes for soft cookies because they firm up as they cool; bake for 9-10 minutes if you like firmer cookies. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

In between posts, follow MLST (Kat Hertzler) on Instagram here or Facebook here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Board Butter (AKA Wood Butter or Spoon Butter)

For those who have been following MLST for any length of time, you know how much I love my bread boards. Ever since Mitch made some for me for Christmas a couple years ago, I've loved using these boards in my kitchen every day. They're practical and beautiful. Not only do I use them in my kitchen, but I also love using them in decorating as well. This time of year is a great time to layer with boards...anywhere, really. Whether they're stacked in a basket in your kitchen, or layered into a mantelscape, bread boards are beautiful.





If you're going to be using your boards on a regular basis, they need to stay hydrated to prevent cracking. In other words, you have to occasionally oil your boards. This also includes any wooden utensil, like spoons. (Side note here--if you have coated cookware like teflon pans, bamboo/wooden spoons won't scratch the coating off, so they're a good choice for that kind of cookware.) So that brings us to today's topic: making board butter. 


Board butter is also called spoon butter since people use it to oil their spoons. I have yet to do mine, but that's definitely on the list.


There are varying opinions when it comes to oiling your wooden utensils (whether it's a board, spoon, or wooden bowl). Some people use mineral oil. This is probably the most popular choice since mineral oil won't spoil. I've used it in the past (before I made up some board butter), and it's fine in my opinion. Some people are leery of it though since mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum. Another option is using olive oil. But I know that olive oil, over time, goes rancid, and I definitely don't want my boards to start smelling five years down the road. So how did I make my board butter? Two ingredients.


Good ol' coconut oil and beeswax. I'm a huge fan of coconut oil. I've replaced all other vegetable oils (minus olive oil) with coconut oil. (To learn more about the benefits of refined coconut oil, Mitch wrote a blog post here that answers a lot of questions you may have.)

Here's my stack of thirsty boards (that Mitch made) waiting for some butter.


The process is super simple. Simply chop up the beeswax into small chunks (or if you get the small pellets of wax, you're good to go) and put in a glass canning jar. Add some coconut oil to the wax and heat it up either on your stove (in a water bath) or in the microwave. I did mine right on my stove.


After the oil and wax are melted, remove from heat and wait till it's a solid again.


Then simply put some on a cloth and wipe down your boards, working the butter into the wood.


Let it set over night, and rub off any excess with a clean cloth in the morning.


And let me tell ya--this stuff smells so good! It has a slight sweet honey scent to it, which is all natural. It even gives your hands a deep condition as you use it on your boards. All in all, it's good stuff! You'll want to use on your boards once every couple months, or as needed. 


We started selling our boards at a local vintage shop, so that's where all those boards up there went last week. Exciting times!



Homemade Board Butter
Ingredients

1 part beeswax to 3 parts coconut oil (I used a cup of oil)

Directions

Fill a mason jar with the beeswax and coconut oil and place inside a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water until it reaches halfway up the jar. Turn stove to MEDIUM-LOW heat and allow the oil and wax to melt. Once melted, give it a good stir to help emulsify it and then carefully remove the jar from the water bath, add lid and allow to cool completely. Scoop out and rub the butter into your wooden utensils, letting it set in overnight, or for several hours. Take a clean cloth and wipe off any excess. 

For more fall-related stuff, go here and here.

And to follow MLST on Instagram in between posts, go here (kathertzler). 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing


So since it's fall (or at least I'm acting like it is), let's continue with all things fall-like (you can catch the first installment of this series here) and talk about food. Because one of the best ways to add some fall to your home is with baking, right? The smells and the taste of fall should be in our homes just as much as the look, am I not right? So food...cookies, to be precise. There are some favorite flavors that go along with fall, which include one of my favorite: pumpkin. And when you combine pumpkin with (another one of my favorites) brown butter, you, my friend, have an unstoppable combination.


Yes, I made those (yesterday). And yes, they're really good (and almost gone). Think super moist cake, like the kind that sticks a little bit to your fingers when you pick it up because it's so deliciously moist, and then add a carmel-y tasting glaze of sorts to the top. Yes, my friends, these cookies are delicious. And you should totally make them this weekend. You will be breakin' in this fall season like a champ and you'll, no doubt, be #1 in somebody's book.


So, here we go...let's break it down. First I sifted all my dry ingredients together. And little side note here: one time when I was growing up, my Mom thought it'd be fun to add a "secret ingredient" to her normally awesome-tasting chocolate chip cookies. Any guesses as to what that ingredient was? Hint: it goes along with this time of year...nutmeg. Yeah, I'm not quite sure what Trudy was thinking because to this day, I can't stand the taste of nutmeg. And it almost ruined chocolate chip cookies for me. Okay...fine, that could never happen. But yeah, nutmeg!?! So in pretty much all recipes I omit nutmeg altogether, but feel free to throw it in this one...you just won't see me using the stuff!


Then I creamed my butter, sugar, eggs, etc. I added some yogurt to the mix for some added moisture. 


I made these guys on the larger side, because that's how we roll. I flattened them out a bit on top with the back of a spoon.


They turned out like this. Perfect for slathering icing on top.




The icing...oh the icing! Butter takes on a whole new flavor when you brown it...it has a caramel taste to it that's amazing. So this icing recipe is pretty much the same as a traditional butter icing recipe (as far as ingredients go), with the exception of browning the butter. I added some vanilla to mine, but you probably wouldn't have to, since the butter has its own amazing flavor that really stands out.



Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (if you so desire)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree

Brown Butter Icing
4 cups powdered sugar
10 Tbsp salted butter, diced into 1" pieces
Half and half, as needed

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, set aside. In the bowl an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and set on medium speed, whip together butter, light-brown sugar and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until combine. Mix in sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla extract, then mix in pumpkin puree. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined (be sure to scrape down bowl throughout entire mixing process).
  • Scoop out cookie dough with cookie scoop, spacing cookies at least 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven about 12 minutes until tops spring back when touched. Allow to cool several minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely then prepare icing and spread icing over cookies. Store in an airtight container (I layered mine in the container by using parchment paper in between the layers, to prevent the icing from sticking to the other cookies).
  • Browned Butter Icing
  • Measure 4 cups of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl, set aside. Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until you see brown bits in it (or I just do the smell-test. You can tell when butter has browned; it has a distinct nutty smell to it). Carefully pour browned butter over powdered sugar in mixing bowl, use a rubber spatula to scrape any excess butter and browned bits from pan. Add half and half and mix on medium speed in a stand mixer until smooth. Spread over cookies, adding additional half and half, about 1-2 tsp at a time, to icing mixture to thin as it will thicken as it sits.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Falling for Fall

'Tis the season, folks. Fall is upon us and it just happens to be my favorite time of year. So I'm pumped. I'm ready to get my autumn on! So...what comes to your mind when you think of fall? Perhaps college football. That was always the case in my family growing up (Go Nittany Lions!) but alas, marrying a Canadian means you're pretty much into one sport: curling. Ha...just kidding...although curling is fun to watch, hockey is the sport of choice. Sure, Mitch likes following other sports too, but college football isn't one of them. My family keeps me up-to-date though with what's going on in the Big 10, so don't you worry. (I know you were really worried there...)

Fall is an exciting time of year for us Hertzlers. You see, all the boys' birthdays are this time of year. Sept, Oct, and Nov (and mine's in Dec), so it's a season of celebration for us. The cake requests have started coming in. Ry wants a Mario cake, Bryce wants a Minion one, and Finn will be happy with anything tractor-related. So yeah, it's the season for fat pants too.

As I do with each season, I have changed out some things in my home to reflect this glorious time of year. Packed away are the watery blues and greens that I love to surround myself with during the summer months and in comes texture and warmth, both literally (with throw blankets) and visually with warm wood tones. So as I'm in the process of switching things up here, I thought it'd be fun to do some posts showing you ways that I add fall into my house. So this will be a little series that will include decor-related stuff as well as recipes (hello, pumpkin anything!) plus we'll be showing you our latest DIY project--the painting/finishing of our deck all decked out (yep, pun intended) in fall splendidness.


Let's jump right in here...like we're jumping into a huge pile o' leaves...

Here are some ways that I've added some fall into our living room.

1. Blankets/throws

Adding throws to a room automatically "warms" up the space and just makes it cozy-looking and inviting. Who wouldn't want to curl up on a chair and read a book blogs? (Let's be real here.) 


The past few years I've been collecting plaid throws to add to my collection whenever I'd see a nice one at a thrift store. So if you want to start your own collection, I recommend scouring second hand shops for them--they always have plenty!


Side note: my neighbor was giving away that blanket up there (it was in a "free" box by the side of the road that I had to peek into). It looked so seasonal, so I snagged it. One can never have too many throws! So, thanks, Marilyn;)


2. Pillows

Switching out pillows is an easy way to transition into seasons. For those (like me) who have a pillow fetish, it's pretty easy to build up a collection over time and change them out according to the season. A great way to do this (and not have stacks upon stacks of pillows shoved into your closets), is to initially buy good quality feather inserts, then collect pillow covers. I didn't go too crazy with pillows this time around...just pretty much added that tiger pillow 'cause it's fun, unexpected and well...orange.  


3. Texture

I'm all about texture, whether it's in a basket, rug, art...wherever you can add texture, you're adding awesomeness (in my book, anyway). 



The antlers are no new thing here at the Hertzler house...I have these guys up all year long, but they especially look "in season" this time of year. A recent addition to our mantel is the canvas of our family. It's from Tiny Prints. The picture was taken last spring, but to me it looks fall-ish, so here it is. 


The "give thanks" sign I bought last week off a local lady. I love it. I painted the "5" sign on a piece of scrap barnwood Mitch had in his shop. Hertzler 5--that's us:) Do you see the texture in those pieces? The rusticness of the wood, chippiness of the paint, even the random pinecone all bring texture to the space. 


BTW, I love using natural elements inside. We've been known to collect rocks, sticks, shoot...even a root was dug up and is now in our living room. 




4. Flowers

Speaking of natural elements...


You can't ever go wrong with adding fresh flowers to brighten up a space. I picked up this beautiful bouquet at my discount grocery store yesterday for $2.99! Seriously...you can't pass up a deal like that. But even if you can't afford store-bought flowers, you can always bring in some from your garden (sunflowers are a great choice) or even break off a branch of colorful leaves from your maple tree...you really can use anything to add some color to your space.


So have you started making the switch over to fall yet? It's as easy as adding some throws, pillows, texture, and/or flowers in those rich fall-like colors. Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year...ahhh

Be sure to stay tuned as I bring more fall your way in the upcoming days!

To see my fall tour from last year go here
And from way back to 2010 here
Making the front of our house more fall-like here
And one more outdoor fall post here

And to stay connected in between posts, follow me on Instagram here.
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