Pancake Beauty...Blackberry, Honey, Coconut Syrup

i never really plan to make pancakes. there are just times when i walk into the kitchen, hungry, and know that pancakes are what i want. like today. and the cool thing about them is that pretty much anything can go into the batter and i always have the basic ingredients on hand: flour, eggs, milk... you know the drill. and while boxed mixes are convenient, making your own from scratch results, in my opinion, in a much heartier taste and texture. this morning i threw together brown rice flour, coconut flour, eggs, milk, ground flax, unsweetened applesauce, a bit of salt, some cinnamon and baking soda. honestly though, these were just a vehicle for what i really had in mind to make this morning. blackberry syrup.

in the last couple of weeks, i've started to pay attention to how much sugar i eat each day. a ridiculous amount, really. and even people who eat relatively healthy still take in about 30 teaspoons a day ~ over half a cup. ouch! and just a 1/4 cup of maple syrup has 43 grams of sugar which is a little over 8 teaspoons of sugar per serving! you get the picture. so, that said, i wanted to do something with the fresh blackberries i bought yesterday and some avocado blossom honey i got over the weekend. of course, there's still sugar in honey and there are also some health benefits to it, especially when it's raw. add to that the many health benefits of coconut oil, a bit of cardamom and, lovey, you've got yourself a delightful syrup.

no real recipe here. i used about 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil, melted. 1/4 cup of honey, about 1/2 cup fresh blackberries and 1/8 teaspoon cardamom. whirl it around in the blender until it all comes together and gets kind of creamy.

really, really good! sweet, creamy, flavorful. and with summer almost here there are so many fruits that would be terrific to try with this: apricots, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. go with berries to keep the sugar content down if you're wanting to lower your intake.



Glass Glitter Cupcake Toppers...

when i was about 6-years-old, my mom started taking cake decorating classes at a little store called Angel's. i remember going with her and staring wide-eyed at all the decorations stored in clear plastic boxes: ballerinas, clown heads, cowboys, sugar hearts, brides and grooms...it was kind of like being in a toy store and the whole place smelled like frosting! Angel's is still there, still owned by the same two sisters and still has a revolving white rabbit in the front window whose dress changes with the seasons. it's kind of hokey, but i love the familiarity of it and the memories it brings and, 35+ years later, i still find myself going there for boards or their raspberry filling (so good) or a special tip i might need.

for quite a while, what started out as a hobby for my mom turned into a nice little side business and she started making cakes professionally. of course, this was pre-cake boss and cupcake wars and ace of cakes.  fondant, sugar sculptures, and edible gold dust were things of the future and, that said, it's been interesting to see not only the way cakes have evolved over the years but also what's replaced traditional wedding, birthday or shower cakes. now there are candy tables, pies, ice cream bars and cupcakes. cool, right?

plus, the embellishing of said substitutes is half the fun and cupcake toppers have really taken off on this trend. that said, i thought it would be fun to make some glitzy toppers using my trusty old dictionary and some chunky german glass glitter. i'm in absolute love with this stuff, especially the coarser grit; reminds me of raw sugar.

what's neat about the glitter is that if you get the kind that is made from silvered glass, it will age to a gorgeous patina (which you can see in the front heart in the above picture) over time which just adds to the charm. and don't feel limited to only using these beauties on cupcakes. put them on mini cheesecakes, into individual pies, bowls of ice cream or fresh berries. use them as photo props. heck, you can even put them into your fabulously messy top knot for some random prettiness!


Knitting the Tuck Stitch. A Tutorial...

not long ago i was the happy purchaser of some gorgeous Malabrigo yarn in a shade called purple mystery; a delicious, variegated, deep grape color and i finally decided on turning it into a felted purse designed by Nora J. Bellows called the Bedouin Bag. it's a roomy number done up in rounds of stockinette and ridges and finished off with a thick leather strap.

the directions are simple and fairly easy to follow ~ if you can knit, purl, pick up stitches and are comfortable with knitting in the round ~ except for the decorative ridge part which was a bit confusing to me because of the way it was written:

Special Techniques: Ridge Pattern
Rounds 1-8 (12, 14): Knit around.
Rounds 9-12 (13-16, 15-18): Purl around.
Round 13 (17, 19) [Tuck Round]: *Insert the tip of the
right-hand needle in next stitch knitwise, pick up the
back of the corresponding stitch 5 rounds below, and
knit the 2 stitches together; repeat from * around.
Repeat these 13 (17, 19) rounds for pattern.

ummmm....i'm sorry.... "what the what?"

now, after 15+ years of knitting i consider myself to be more on the advanced side of things but for some reason this stumped me a bit; i couldn't visualize what i was supposed to do. a bit of brain wracking and finagled term searches on google yielded directions on the tuck stitch (which can also be called the welt stitch) which adds a decorative rolled ridge to your knitted item (note, this stitch is different from the knitted purl ridge).

here's a little photo tutorial to help you learn this fun stitch. remember, i'm knitting in the round.




i did come across a video tutorial on how to accomplish this stitch the way it's written for the pattern, but i think it's much easier to do it this way; the finished product still looks the same. all-in-all, it's a relatively simple design and i'm excited to see what it looks like after i felt it. i'll be sure to post some pics when i'm done.

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