Category Archives: months 10-12: fall

October thru December

Cookie Press Magic

“Danish Butter Cookies” is one of my favorite Christmas baking recipes*.  I like to use it as a warm-up for some of the more serious baking.

Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

YOU’LL NEED:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour

TIP: The key to this recipe is to have the ingredients at cool room temperature.

If the butter is straight out of the fridge, it’s too cold.  BUT too warm isn’t good either.

mixing the butter & sugar, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

Forget about microwaving the butter for just a few seconds to take the chill out. The result is lovely, smooth dough which mushes into a mess in the oven.

I’ve learned to keep my hands out of the dough for the same reason.

STEP ONE – Cut the butter into small pieces.  Add the sugar.  Mix well.

blending the butter & sugar well, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

STEP TWO – Add the egg, beating until the mixture is light & fluffy.

More beating is better than less.  When I think it’s enough, I do it some more just to be sure 🙂  Using the electric mixer is super easy, so I’m not exhausting my arm like I’d be using a spoon.

cookie dough mixed, firm & not too soft, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

STEP THREE  – Slowly blend in the flour.

Slowly being the trick to stop the flour from flying all over the room when the mixer paddles hit it.  No need to over do it.

The dough should be firm & a bit crumbly.  I usually feel like I’ve added too much flour, but this is the way it needs to be to go through the cookie press well.

filling the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
Christmas Elf Barbara Hansen, photo by SVSeekins

STEP FOUR – Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
(190 C)

STEP FIVE – Fill the cookie press with dough.

Yup, I’m tempted to use fingers to stuff it all in faster, but a spoon is best for keeping the dough cool.

Pack in as much cookie dough as possible, pushing out air pockets.

filling the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

Screw on the top handle & click it a couple of times until the dough oozes through the cookie-form disc.  Click once or twice more to prove it flows smoothly.  Break off the excess & return that to the bowl for later use.

STEP SIX – Press cookies onto a ungreased cookie sheet.

using the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

One click –
One cookie.

The cookies will spread out only a little bit during baking so they can be arranged fairly close to each other on the pan.

It’s the quick flick of the wrist when shifting the press that breaks the dough cleanly between cookies.  If the dough is too warm, it’s not as easy.  When it’s all working, it’s like magic.  It makes all that prep work worth it  🙂

using the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

If it’s just not working & I’m getting really ticked off, I take a zen moment & eat a little cookie dough.  An easier option is to roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball with my hands & place on the cookie sheet.
Not as fun, but it works.  Less angst.

STEP SEVEN – Bake in a 375 F oven for 8-10 minutes.

Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

Yeah, that doesn’t seem like much time, but it works.  I watch through the window until there’s just a hint of brown along the edges. The cookies at the very front of this pan are over-done.

STEP EIGHT – Cool the cookies on the pan for a few minutes to let them stiffen.  Then shift them to a cooling rack.

Enjoy some yourself while they’re still warm 🙂

cookie forming disc selection for the cookie press, Danish Butter Cookies baking Victoria, BC
photo by SVSeekins

* I copied the original recipe into my cookbook so long ago that I really don’t remember who or where it came from.  I can’t take credit for the list of ingredients, but I’ve embellished the instructions through many failures & successes. 

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November’s Pink: Kaffir Lily

To be honest, I am not a SUPER-FAN of pink.

kaffir lily, scarlet river lily, crimson flag lily, Hesperantha coccinea, Schizostylis coccinea, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

But in mid-November…
When it’s cloudy & drizzling….
I’m thrilled by a soft pastel pink.

Today it’s a kaffir lily.  Blooming right beside the deer route!  And this patch will bloom until a hard frost kick’s its butt.

kaffir lily, scarlet river lily, crimson flag lily, Hesperantha coccinea, Schizostylis coccinea, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It amazes me that these late-flowering perennials are native to sunny, South African streamsides .  Here they bloom in the light shade of our dry woodland garden.  Perhaps the thick mulch helped protect them from drying out too much this summer?

The mysteries continue… some websites call them ‘crimson flag lily‘ or ‘scarlet river lily’. But I’ve always thought those are the crimson / scarlet versions that bloom in our sunny borders in spring ??  Perhaps they’re cousins?

kaffir lily, scarlet river lily, crimson flag lily, Hesperantha coccinea, Schizostylis coccinea, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What’s more, neither are actually from the lily family.  They kinda remind me of miniature gladioli. BUT they grow from a rhizome rather than a corm.

Scientists say they’re iris.  Go figure.

Can you imagine the hullabaloo & debate at one of those scientific Naming Conventions?  I figure those folks have some serious work on their agendas,
with figuring out who first claimed a name…
checking the flower specifics…
& then all the DNA analysis…

kaffir lily, scarlet river lily, crimson flag lily, Hesperantha coccinea, Schizostylis coccinea, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I reckon it’s during the evening cocktails  when the final naming decisions happen.

Well, if you can’t choose your family, at least you can choose your friends.  I’m happy to have this friend in our garden.

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MS - Nerine Lily blooms, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

PS.  Here are some more pink fall friends:

 

 

 

Bunchberry Sightings

On a moist spring day in June, I spotted my first bunchberry.  It was blooming in the dappled shade, beside an old stump in Strathcona Park.

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

You know how it is, once you notice something, you suddenly start seeing it everywhere?

That’s what it’s like with Cornus canadensis.

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It was in an old clear-cut near Jordan River (also Vancouver Island) , I found it again.

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Even in full sun, it seems decaying wood is bunchberry’s happy place.

The underground rhizomes spread out, creating a matt of blooms – – almost a meadow   🙂    No wonder it’s also called creeping dogwood. What a beautiful transition for a logging debris field.

After getting comfortable identifying the dwarf dogwood flowers, it became my mission to find the plant in berry.  Shouldn’t be hard, right?  After all, it’s named bunchberry.

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It was 1000 km away, seeking shade from a scorching summer day at Fairmont Hot Springs in the Rocky Mountains when I found the berries.

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now I realize why the latin name Cornus canadensis makes sense.  They grow all across Canada.

The bright orangey-red berries stand out, even in the dappled shade of the understory.

Apparently, they’re edible, but I didn’t test them.  Alongside this well-travelled trail, and easily below a dog’s hip level…  ??  Nope. I was a teeny bit squeamish.

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Back on the coast, near Tofino, the bunchberries persisted.

Yup.

Berries
– – in October!

Isn’t that a good way to mark Thanksgiving?

bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry,, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Word has it that bunchberry leaves turn a beautiful red color in the fall.  I noted some autumn color, but perhaps there’s more to come?

It’s also reported semi-evergreen in the Pacific Northwest… so now I have a new mission.  Do you know where I might find more nearby to monitor through winter?

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