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First things first. I realize it has been forever since we’ve posted anything about Via Corona on the blog.  The thing is, I’m having a hard time photographing all of the “afters” in a way that does justice to what she actually looks like.  Exhibit A above is clear proof of that; “hey–check out the back of my shadowy couch.”  It’s one thing to put my dubious photographic skills to work taking hazy, murky shots of “end of life” carpet and uber-low ceilings.  When it come to the ugly, bad shots are what you want.  However, photographic incompetence doesn’t work all that well on the other end of the spectrum.  I have big plans to rent a wide-angle lens but I’m not sure even that will help.  Luckily my plan has a back-up plan: we’re going to start to roll-out more reveal posts–maybe one-or-two a month with the best photos we take and then we’ll replace the photos with better ones over time (here is where my plan fall apart as I’m not really sure where the “better” photos will come from but let’s just go with it).

In that spirit, up next week: Champagne Room Reveal.  I’ll let you guess which room this is.

In the meantime, let’s make some not quite cookies, not quite biscotti.

My parents came to visit about a month ago.  In addition to immediately putting TD and I to work in the front yard (yes, I know, it’s our yard but when your 70+ year-old mother tells you to pull weeds, you pull weeds), my mom kept telling me I needed to make these not-quite biscotti, not-quite cookie creations from Dorie Greenspan’s new book.

We didn’t have time to make the treats while they were here (it’s hard to mix batter and pull rocks out of the front planter boxes at the same time).  However, I did get to work on them the first free moment I had.

These treats are called mandelbrots.  As Dorie explains in the introduction to the recipe, these oddly named near-biscotti came to her from a client at her former bake shop.  The word mandelbot translates to “almond bread” and it is thought to have been developed in the Ashkenazi Jewish community in the Piedmont area of Italy.  This particular recipe however contains no almonds.  For the record, the recipe title is ‘Chocolate chip not-quite mandelbrot’.  So, now we know what the “not-quite” part means.

While the ingredients are simple, a generous dusting of cinnamon makes them special without or without a strong cup of coffee or a nice glass of light red wine.

Now,  back to the front yard.  Here is what it looked like when my parents arrived.

This is what it looked like when they left.

I know, you are astonished about how NOT different it looks.  To be fair, the front yard did look like this for a couple of months.  So.

TD and I have since removed ALL of the Arizona rock, turned the soil and installed many cubic feet of soil amendment.  This weekend we’ll mulch and maybe by the end of May we’ll work up the courage to actually plant something.

Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot

from Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies


  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup flavorless oil, such as canola (I used grapeseed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have a smooth, glossy mixture that’s slightly thickened. Switch to a sturdy rubber spatula, add half of the flour mixture, and stir until the flour disappears into the mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir — you’ll need to put a bit of muscle into this — until it’s almost incorporated. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until you’ve got a thick, sticky dough.
  4. Starting close to one long side of one of the baking sheets, drop, spread, and cajole 1/3 of the dough into a log about 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. (Get the width, and whatever the length is will be fine.) Make a second log in the center of the baking sheet, and a third one close to the other long side of the sheet (note–I failed at this and had to use two cookie sheets). It’s not a neat job and your logs won’t be pretty, but it won’t matter.
  5. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Sprinkle some over the logs, saving the rest for the second bake. (You’ll have more than you need, so be generous.)
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet from front to back and bake until the logs are golden brown on top and deeply golden brown on bottom, 15 to 20 minutes more. They’ll crack a little, and that’s okay. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack.
  7. When the cookies are cool enough to handle but still warm, transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs on the diagonal into 1/2-inch wide slices. Transfer the slices cut-side down onto the second baking sheet. Sprinkle the cookies with more cinnamon-sugar and bake for 10 minutes more. Place the baking sheet on a rack and let the cookies cool completely.

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