Fried Dough Discussions

It’s summer, and that means that I’m destined for at least one discussion involving the nuances between summer foods that are seemingly the same… but not. On the East Coast I’m usually caught up in a conversation about shaved ice of some sort. That might be snowballs, sno-cones, or “shaved ice”.


Just to clear this up: both snowballs and sno-cones are shaved ice, though around the east coast some people seem to call sno-cones by the name of “shaved ice” and some people seem to call snowballs by the name of “shaved ice”. But in Baltimore, they’re snowballs. They aren’t hard, they’re in a cup, eaten with a spoon, you can usually get over 50 flavors and they’re best topped with marshmallow (not Fluff, the good kind) or chocolate syrup.


With new friends come new discussions however, especially when that friend is from the Pacific Northwest. Apparently things just aren’t right over here in the Mid-Atlantic… So I found myself discussing fried dough. Specifically funnel cakes and elephant ears. You can see where this is going.


Fried dough can be perceived as many different things and comes with many names, but here in the Mid-Atlantic we eat funnel cake. We eat it at fairs, festivals, outdoor concerts and really anywhere else there’s a large crowd. It comes with powdered sugar and sometimes fruit toppings (like the kind you would find on pancakes). It’s delicious, no problem, right? Wrong.


My friend Sarah from Where My Love Takes Me argues that funnel cakes are just not right. Where are her elephant ears? Why can’t she get them here? Why does she have to go to a fair, and if she goes why will there only be funnel cake? Well it’s simple really. Because we’re in the Mid-Atlantic. We’re not in upstate NY, Michigan, Idaho or Washington. You just can’t get that here. And what’s wrong with a funnel cake?


So what IS wrong with a funnel cake? And what’s the big difference? Well, there’s nothing wrong, but it turns out there is one major difference. Generally the ingredients are similar: flour, salt, milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs, butter, shortening. Every recipe has it’s own variation. But the difference comes in with two ingredients:


Funnel cakes are made with baking soda (or baking powder according to Martha and some people use both)

Elephant ears are made with yeast.


Once you figure that out, you’re golden, (pun intended).


So what’s it going to be?


Funnel Cakes: (Images and recipe via A Beautiful Mess)




Funnel Cake Batter

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
oil for frying (I used vegetable, but canola oil or shortening is fine too)

Whisk together the first five ingredients. Now stir in the water, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour into a squeeze bottle (can be found at most grocery stores in the baking section).


In a heavy duty pot (I always use my dutch oven when frying) heat a few inches of oil to around 375°F. Oil never stays at the perfect temperature (at least, not for me), so feel free to let it hover a little on the cool side of 375°F.  I found that when my oil was too hot, the funnel cakes fell apart while cooking more easily.


Once your oil is hot enough use your squeeze bottle to pour the batter. A few tips: Keep your squeeze bottle close to the oil (but watch out you don’t get spattered with hot oil!). If you hold the bottle farther away from the oil as you pour, the batter is less likely to stick together. Also try to squeeze the batter in circles quickly. You don’t want too much to start cooking before you have pour all the batter for one funnel cake.


Wait 20-30 seconds then use tongs or a slotted spoon to flip the funnel cake. Let it cook another 20 seconds and then remove to plate lined with paper towels (to remove excess oil). Repeat until you have cooked all your batter into cakes! Now you are ready to sprinkle on the powdered sugar and serve immediately while they are still warm. If you’re making a big batch, you can pop them in the oven (at a super low temp) to keep them warm while you cook.



Elephant Ears: (Images and recipe via Stick to Your Hips)



2 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup milk


Toppings: melted butter, cinnamon-sugar, powdered sugar, jam, honey


In a large pot heat 1 inch vegetable oil over medium heat. (Turn down if it starts to smoke.)


In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and milk just until combined. On a liberally floured counter or board gently knead the dough 10 times. Pat and roll out into 1/8th inch thickness (or as thick as pie crust). Cut into any shape or size.


Test oil with a small piece of dough…it should sizzle and start turning brown with in 20 seconds or so.


Drop 3-4 pieces into the hot oil and turn when golden brown. Drain on wire rack or on brown paper or paper towels. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar or spread with jam.




Beaver Tails, a Canadian version of elephant ears… kind of. (Images and recipe via Kitchen Trials)



¼ cup warm water, 110ºF
2½ tsp active dry yeast
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup cup warm milk, 110ºF
3 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1¼ cups flour, divided
vegetable oil for frying (1″ depth in dutch oven)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon, or to taste


Mix the warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and let stand until the yeast begins to foam and get creamy layer, about 5 minutes.


Stir in the milk, 3 tbsp sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, and 3 tbsp vegetable oil until the sugar has dissolved.


Mix in about half of the flour, and knead with the dough hook until it pulls away clean from the sides of the bowl. If it’s too sticky add more flour, a tbsp at a time. Form the dough into a rough ball, place it into an oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.


Punch down the dough and tear off pieces about the size of a golf ball. Roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/8″ thick.


Heat 1″ of oil in a dutch oven or deep skillet to 375ºF.


Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, an set aside, along with the melted butter.


Gently lower the dough into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on each side, about 1 minute per side. Remove to paper towel to blot dry, then brush one side with the melted butter and dip buttered side into cinnamon sugar.

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The Blessing of Sponsors Part 1

Last year when DomiCile was still just a dream slowly coming to fruition, I was attending blogger conferences for the fist time. The fact that I’ve never blogged about these before is still crazy to me considering how obsessed I am with having gone. But DomiCile took over and blogging went on the back burner. And here I am a year later pining after an experience I had just a year ago. So, what has me all worked up?


The two conferences I attended were Blogfest and ALT Summit. Or as I like to refer to it, Blogger Heaven. Last year both were held in NYC. Blogfest was held at the Hearst Magazines headquarters which was awesome. The views from the building are some of the best in the city, and meeting Thom Filicia and Aerin Lauder was very very cool.







Meanwhile ALT was held at my mecca Martha Stewart Headquarters, also with a pretty sweet view.






At Blogfest I met wonderful ladies who I’ve remained friends with and who I’ve watched launch new parts of their careers in the last year. After attending ALT though, I can’t say I’ve ever been to another event where I felt as connected as I did with the bloggers I met there. And it didn’t hurt that I was in the front row when Gracey Bonney and Martha came out. Again, more pictures I’ve never posted.





When I got home I was astounded by not only what I had gained in knowledge, friendships and social experience, but also what I had with me. Large and small I had collected a massive amount of sponsored goods. From bags to bottles to shower heads. Yes, that’s right. I have an extra brand new shower head lying around in my office. Blogfest is like that.



Blogfest Sponsor Swag


ALT Summit Sponsor Swag (Coincidentally there’s a lot of swag at ALT that comes from the host and the participants. The ALT bloggers bring their branding game. I’ll have to do another post about them, their swag and their amazing business card designs).


The thing is, I haven’t been able to bring myself to use any of these things. I have two medium size bags and a large box filled with these items that I don’t dare touch. I think I’ve taken out one thing, drawer liner paper which has a floral smell. I used this to line the mid-century nightstand I picked up at a yard sale when we first moved in our current place. It was slightly musty and the liner paper did it’s job and completely overpowered it. I only wish it was lilac scented.


Now that I’m between DomiCile issues and attempting to get back to blogging, I’ve decided that the best way to honor these sponsors is to show at least one if not a few items each time I post. This shows the items off and gives the sponsors a nod for what an amazing blessing they have been.


Why do I think they need honoring? Well, during the course of three issues of DomiCile I’ve realized that sponsors part of what make products, and some experiences, really great. They’re sometimes the difference between an 90% great time and a 120% amazing time. Sponsors donating is sometimes the difference between what images you see and those you don’t. They’re the difference between running a cool article and not running one at all. And when it comes to DomiCile they’re critical.


While we don’t have “sponsors” per se, we have had many products donated to us for photo shoots. While the purpose of DomiCile is to support small businesses, it’s also important to note that sometimes donations aren’t easy to come by. We scour markets, send emails and message Etsy sellers to find the best products to show. Since we only show locally made and sold goods sometimes we end up talking to vendors more than once. This can be because we really love their product or because it’s the best we’ve found in the local market. So I can’t imaging how large conferences like Blogfest and ALT decide what to give to their participants out of the million products available to them.


Sponsors really are a blessing, and their donations are more appreciated than they probably know. Both the sponsors at Blogfest and at ALT Summit gave the participants an overabundance of free goods, and I hope that by showing these products they’ll receive more business and continue to grow so they can support more blogging events in the future.


Today’s feature: Handleless Aladdin Mason Jar Plastic Tumbler

Received through: Blogfest


This bottle is awesome for a few reasons.

1) Who doesn’t love mason jars? If you haven’t hopped on this trend then welcome aboard. Mason jars and mason jar crafts are everywhere, and are possibly the #1 crafting element on Pinterest.

2) The straw. This straw actually won’t slide all the way out and fall on the floor. IT has a little ring slightly larger than the hole to keep it safe and secure in the jar.

3) It’s double-walled thick plastic. While I wouldn’t put boiling water in this bottle, I wouldn’t be afraid to put it in the dishwasher.

That brings me to 4) The labels on the bottom say that it can in fact go in the dishwasher (not the microwave though). It’s also BPA Free which makes it cool AND safe. Plus it says it’s “Ethically Made in China.” I’m not sure who’s making the ethics call, but the fact that they think that’s important enough to print on the product is saying something in itself.

Oh and reason 5 why this water bottle is super cool) The last label says “Not for Canning”. I love it. I’d also love to see what happens if you do try to can anything in this. Please no one try this at home.



I’ll try to add at least one item each week, and when things are small I’ll double or triple them up. Did I mention that once I blog about an item I’m finally giving myself permission to use these things? So, these sponsors blessing me in more ways than one. They’re also giving me another good reason to keep blogging.



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The Months Between



Tonight I’m feeling less than inspired, and not about this blog for once.

Our summer issue came out June first and so we’re here again in this limbo, the first of the three months in-between. Looking for writers, looking for products, looking for commitment. These three months are the hardest for me out of the year. June, September, December and March. When everything seems uncertain and the possibility of complete failure raises its brow at me, smirking.

I’m sure there are moments in every entrepreneur’s life when they consider quitting on their dreams. This moment has come more than once for me this year already, and it seems to be happening again.

The long and the short of it is that DomiCile, while a publication I love, and one that I feel others are growing to love, cannot be supported by a few $20 ads, and a staff that is on continuous burnout. Like any business it needs to be profitable to stay afloat. It also needs dedication, and currently that’s not something I’m feeling we have much of, at least on the back end of things.

I’m so thankful for our writers, those who have chosen to write consistently, and those who have written just once. And I’m so thankful for the friends who have devoted countless hours of their time to the magazine. I’m truly thankful for all of them. But the question remains, is that enough?

Unfortunately my answer tonight is that is isn’t. Maybe tomorrow I’ll change my mind. Maybe tomorrow something amazing will happen.

What I do know is that I can’t run and create an entire magazine on my own. It takes a team, and a team isn’t something I have much of anymore. It takes full dedication, from more than one person, and that isn’t something I see much of. Those things make me question my own dreams on a daily basis.

And while I’m questioning it tonight, I think of all of the small businesses that I want a publication like DomiCile to exist for. I think of businesses I want to feature, those I want to see survive, flourish, and grow. And I see DomiCile as one of those businesses at the same time.

So tonight I’m full of questions—of how to move forward, how to go on, and how to grow. And as usual, I’m open to suggestion.


I’ll also try to remember this (something that’s been on my desktop background for quite some time).





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A Birthday Wish

On this blog for my birthday I have a habit of posting products I want, but this year I want to do something a bit different.

As a huge focus of mine lately has been growing our own food, cutting back on GMOs, and getting the word out about GMOs to others. I’m asking for anyone who reads this blog to watch this video about GMOs and to take into consideration all of the points presented. Cutting out GMOs is hard, and may actually cost more, but the health benefits outweigh the sacrifices.

Medical Documentary on Genetically Modified Food – Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives from darth Jesus on Vimeo.


Who needs fast food, Starbucks, or soda anyway? Well, need is a strong word, but I certainly can’t say I’ll never have them again. This is why I choose to say I’m “cutting back”. The idea that GMOs are everywhere is a scary one, and the fact that the largest enterprises in our country are accepting of them is sad to say the least. Will I never go to Starbucks again because all of their syrups and pastries contain GMOs, probably not. Will I stop going more than twice a month? Definitely. Will I never eat from Chick-fil-A’ again or Wendys again? Probably not. I’m already trying not to eat fast food in general, but going one a month is probably the least I can do right now. Until Sweetgreen has drive thru, this is going to be an issue. Until GMOs are labeled, this is going to be a problem.

My Birthday Wish: Education for the masses of the overabundance of GMOs in our food supply, and the public’s demand to know where their food comes from and what’s in their food.

Your dollars count, Use them wisely.


Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.23.47 AM
Infringement on who? Those whose right it is to know what they’re eating?

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A Fresh Start

When I decided to revamp Under A Peacock Moon I did so with a lot of trepidation. Changing my blog of five years meant a lot of things to me. It meant furthering my commitment to something I had seemed to walk away from. I meant making more design decisions; would I keep it the same or visually make a change too? It meant making a decision about my posts; would they remain categorized the same, would they become more personal, would they reflect my new line of work. And would I take this blog completely local. These were all ideas I tackled when I started thinking about UAPM, and they all were going to take some serious consideration if the revamp wasn’t going to be a waste.



So Fresh & So Clean

I have long despised the blog with the white background. I’m a colorful person and I like dark things. My favorite photos are chiaroscuro. My favorite colors are cerulean, jade, charcoal and navy. And my favorite websites are dark themed. Or at least they used to be.

When the blogging millions began making their switch from highly personalized color schemes and the clean lined trend hopped from interiors to fashion and into the world of graphic design, I shuddered a little bit. Gone were the days of black backgrounds, bright fonts which were once only hard to read for those over 50, and images that didn’t look like a professional had photoshopped them before posting them. I have fought with all my might not to make the change to white, a color I scarcely wear, a true lack of color. I tried many themes, many layouts, many color palettes and have ended up with white after all. I know it isn’t a huge deal, but a little bit of me feels like I’ve joined the herd, and wonders if tiny particles of my creativity haven’t gone to slaughter.



A Post By Any Other Name

I have decided to keep my post categories. The nature of my blog is my lifestyle, and while some groups might get some tweaking, I believe they’ll still exist and other posts are bound to end up fitting in one of these thought pods.

I cannot however ignore that my new work on DomiCile has effected me in more ways than I had guessed, and my posts will be more locally driven, if only to say that nothing local exists, or to compare a local product to the big box store. I won’t lie and say that my ode to Target posts are a thing of the past. I’m still buying the bulk of my clothing there (can’t seem to find a lot locally in my size), and until I can afford a high end Johnathan Adler piece from his store or an original Nate Berkus, I’ll have to settle for their low-end lines.

A definite addition in my posts will be more personal information. Usually we stray from this when it comes to the internet, but I’ve found myself in the last year really struggling to post without getting personal, and that has kept me from my blog. As I don’t want to continue treating UAPM as a place I can only go when I have a commercially interesting piece to show or something accomplished to share, I need to allow myself to open the floor to more sensitive material. This will be a big step for me, and one I have of openly taken in over 7 years via the web. So while it’s scary for me, I hope to continue in my efforts for transparency and let a few more eyes in on who I really am.


Going Local

I’ve decided not to make UAPM a locally focused blog for several reasons, the main of which is that life does not occur on am island. While I do like to buy local and shop local, It doesn’t take much of a reality check to snap me back into looking for a specific product online or working on a project that requires visiting a store for which there is no local competitor. Plus, as I said, I don’t buy everything local. What I will do is mention when things are local or made by a small business. I’ll be sure to point it out, and I’ll do my best to include more locally grown, locally made, locally founded, products as my expansion into a locally focused life is not just one i dream of for DomiCile, but also for my personal life.

I hope you join me as I continue to travel under a peacock moon and find new constellations worth exploring above.


images via catina jane graypinterest and quaillanepress

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