Saturday, December 28, 2013

Outtakes- Wolftree Recipes

Hello dear reader,

Today I just wanted to share some outtakes from a granola recipe shoot I did for Wolftree this past fall. Please check out the recipe and the story behind it, which can be found on Wolftree's Website! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, and that you are gliding happily into the New Year!!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas and Sibling-hood

Happy holidays my dear readers!

Today I am sharing some portraits of my brother, and, as the holidays draw near (really really near!), I find myself thinking about the way in which holidays bring families together. I remember being a child and loving Christmas, because everyone was cheerful and we naturally balanced time together with quiet time alone (usually playing with our new toys). As I got older Christmas became more tense as my brother and I began to draw apart. As our relationship deteriorated so did our enjoyment in each other's holiday company. Fortunatly over the past few years my brother and I have been slowly rebuilding our relationship, and becoming... well I like to think that we have become friends. There are still rough patches and topics that we avoid discussing, but we have gotten back to the point where we can joke around and enjoy being in the company of the other. I am looking forward to this Christmas in part because it means I will be able to spend more time with my brother, and hopefully continue to get to know him better as a friend as well as a sibling.

Is there anybody you are looking forward to learning more about this Christmas?

May your holidays be filled with joy,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Taking Back Christmas

Hello everyone and happy holiday season!!

I love the holidays, and if you are like me, you are humming Christmas carols, checking people off of your shopping list, and waiting patiently for the Christmas season to start. This year I have three Christmas', which means lots of food, laughter, and lots of gifts to be swapped. I. Am. So. Excited. 0.0

However, if you had talked to me three years ago my outlook on Christmas would have been quite different. Growing up I loved Christmas, but after working the holiday rush at Target for three years I must admit that my holiday spirit was incredibly dampened. Instead of a time to enjoy people and connect, Christmas became something to dread and be critical of. Instead of appreciating the holiday giddiness that surrounded me, I grumbled and called the shopping stupid and got frustrated at all the little silly things people do when holiday shopping/returning their earlier holiday shopping. Christmas music became annoying- not so much because of the stress of working late night retail over the holidays, but more because I was in choir and we started singing holiday tunes in October and by December I had become tired of hearing holiday jingles.* In total, my holiday joy was crippled.

And the worst part was, it took me a while to realize it. I couldn’t see the changes, because, like many changes, these ones started out small. A grumble here. A murmur there. A shared laugh over a sarcastic Christmas themed joke with co-workers. I didn't notice that what I really loved about Christmas was slipping away from me. I still had fun buying gifts for those I cared for and spending time with my family. I told myself that I was still infused with the joy of the season, but I wasn't. It wasn't that I turned into a green Grinch or was cruel to those who hadn't had their holiday spirit dampened, but I had become blind to the magic and the joyful glimmer that surrounds the season. I no longer focused on the positives, and the negatives became a source of constant irritation.

But I did eventually realize it, and for the past two years I have been working to take back Christmas. Being out of direct retail has helped, but what really helped was me making a conscience effort to harvest the positive aspects of the season and use them to counteract the negatives. So this year I started humming Christmas tunes in July (which was probably a bit too soon) and started my Christmas shopping in August (the Christmas crowds stress me out a bit, so thank goodness for internet shopping). I am looking forward to my three Christmas celebrations, to spending my first Christmas with Bob's family this weekend, my second Christmas with my immediate family and with my 'not really blood related but you are my family' family (you know who you are), and my third Christmas with Bob, my dear friend Cathy, Anne, Darrin, and my parents. I am looking forward to learning the holiday traditions of others and enjoying my own. I am patiently waiting to see the looks of surprise on Anne, Darrin, Bob, Cathy, and Bruce's faces when they find their stockings and open their gifts. For the laughter and the "oh you shouldn't haves" and the "oh no, really I should haves." I am excited to team up with my Mother and Brother (if he makes it for Christmas eve *fingers crossed*) to convince my Dad that we really do open one gift Christmas Eve every year. To wake up on Wednesday and jump out of bed and race around the house excitedly calling everyone to the tree, to see my parents purposely insist on waiting to open anything until after they have brewed fresh coffee and had a cup and a bite to eat, to pretend to be annoyed by their purposeful delays. I am taking back my Christmas spirit, and immersing myself in everything the season has to offer.

How are you taking back your Christmas spirit?

(Sneak peek of a portrait series of my brother)

*P.S.: I loved being in choir and in no way am I trying to discourage people from participating in choirs or practicing Christmas music. I fully understand that choirs practice the compositions early because they want to perform them perfectly for their audience, and I think that is wonderful. Unfortunately, at the point in my life that I am currently referencing, I was struggling to remember those things and to appreciate the beauty and magic of the season.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Meat Pie

Hello my lovely readers,

In light of the holiday season I would like to share with you the story behind my Mom's Meat Pie recipe. This story was written by my mother, who instilled in me a reverence for the written word from a very young age. When I think of my mom I remember the sound of her voice as she read my brother and I a bedtime story and sound of her laughter as she taught us how to find our way around the kitchen. I hope you enjoy her tale. 

Grandma Francios' Meat Pie 

It is the connections; memories, moments that resonate a strong emotion, or cause you to reminisce on a special event with an important someone, that make a recipe cookbook worthy.  In our family many meal conversations revolve around where we lived when we first had a meal, who shared the meal with us, or at what holiday or event we first experienced a particular food. 

Meat Pie is a French recipe that has was brought to America with the Francios family in the late 1800’s.  I am the 4th generation to carry on the tradition of making this recipe at Christmas in America.  Some things have changed due to “food technology;” we no longer say lard, or go to the butcher to grind up a chuck roast. Instead we use Crisco, and the cut of meat is determined by percentage of fat (80% for more fat or 93% is equivalent to ground chuck).

 Anyone who makes pies from scratch will agree the crust makes the pie.  In this recipe the crust recipe was never included.  The one I include is the best recipe I have ever encountered and was a gift from my dear friend Sue Klementz.  

As a child my Christmas began with Midnight Mass, followed with opening our presents.  While presents were being opened; Meat Pie was slowly baking in the kitchen.  The warm scent of cloves would slowly permeate the living room and suddenly someone would comment “I can smell the Meat Pie.”  As an adult my family opens presents on Christmas morning after reading the book of Luke.  Yet, the meat pie still bakes while we open presents, and when the smell of cloves reaches my olfactory senses I immediately think of my Grandmother Emma Francois and this family tradition. 

                                                                                                                               - Judy Klaus

The recipe can be found in Wolftree Magazine's ebook, "Five Pies and a Sugar Cookie," which can be purchased here. Also, please keep an eye out for more updates about a holiday series Anne, Molli, the Wolftree team, and myself collaborated on! The series will be published on Wolftree's website very soon and I am jazzed to share it with you! 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pulla or Finnish Dessert Bread

Hello my dear readers,

Yesterday my family and I celebrated Friendsgiving. :) We invited those who weren't able to make it on Thanksgiving to our house for brunch, which consisted of Apple Pie, Apple Crisp, Peach Crisp, Pumpkin Rolls, Leftsa, and fresh Pulla (plus any leftover turkey, stuffing, or other leftovers from the Thanksgiving table).  It was a wonderful event, full of laughter and waves of those we love entering and leaving the house. We saw those who had been absent from our table for too long and those who we see almost daily gather around the table and connect. That's what this holiday season is about for me-it is about the people. The decorations are fun (and trust me, the Klaus house loves our holiday decorations), the food is scrumptious, but it is those who join you in decorating, baking, and eating that give the season its sparkle. So, this year, I invite you to focus not in the shiny tinsel and skillfully (or less thank skillfully) wrapped presents under the tree, but on the people who create and enjoy those items. Share dessert, make snow angels together, take walks through freshly fallen snow, or cuddle on the couch and watch a movie. Time spent with another person is a great gift, and this time of year is laden with opportunities to join in a discussion with an  acquaintance or with a dear friend. 

Below are images from the Pulla makin we did yesterday morning. The recipe came out of The Kinfolk Table, which can be purchased here. The recipe can also be found in a post on Kinfolk's website here

Wishing you the very best of the season,

P.S. All images in this post were taken with the Iphone 4s and edited with the Afterlight and VSCOcam apps.