Food


Most of you know when I visit your blog, it is sporadic and I try to catch up what I have missed. This is not because I do not feel like blogging/visiting or because I am goofing off.  It is because I am busy. Granted, much of it is self-imposed busy, but busy I am.

Last week I looked at my life since Thanksgiving, and there have been THREE days since then in which I did not have a specific deadline of something that HAD to be done on a day. Now I do not have a “real job,” so my deadlines are not usually reports or presentations; they can be anything. (For my church treasurer job, I do have reports and presentations due at least monthly, however.) It may be a Friday, and those days always mean a ton of food has to be made because I cook for Friday and Saturday on Fridays.  My point is that the things I have to get done may not seem like deadline material, but for me there is always a reason something has to be done by a specific day.

So I thought I would show you some of what I have been doing for the past three months. (It is MARCH? Christmas is just around the corner!)

It started with Chic’s birthday. Since it was the Christmas season, she requested poinsettia cupcakes for school.

There are 13 children in Chic's classroom, but her teacher refuses to do cupcakes before school is out. (What's wrong with lunch?) This irritates me because when Chic gets cupcakes for a birthday, there is never one for her sister. I made sure every sibling of every classmate had a cupcake, too. (I wanted to leave out the teacher, but I was polite.)

Remember my Elf Escapades? Here are a few things I made for that.

Clockwise from top left: Napkin rings, box to hold napkin rings, "Merry" bag for the 12th night, tree bag. I made all the things shown. I loved it, but it does put a dent into one's time.

Clockwise from top left: 1) Napkin rings. 2) Box for napkin rings. 3) "Merry" gift bag for the last night. 4) Evergreen tree gift bag.

This was the best Elf Victim yet! On the 9th or 10th night, I was met at the door by this.

Sorry for the lousy picture, but I didn't want to get caught! This was the 12th night of Elf Delivery, and the front door and garage door of this house were OPEN! I took Chic with me for the experience, but it didn't help with the stealth. On the door are all the notes I left with gifts (the notes appeared on the 9th night), and there was a gift for me, too. I have never been so wonderfully welcomed!

Next is the Christmas ornaments and boxes. Since 1995 I have made a Christmas ornament yearly. It started as a gift to the infant daughters of very close friends and has grown to a few other girls (some now in high school) like my daughters and niece and some other special friends/family (aunts, etc.).

This year I made 36 "icicles" and boxes to hold them all.

For the staff Christmas party at school, there was an ornament exchange. This is the box I made, and inside was one of my annual ornaments, left over from about 3 years back.

This box was very last-minute, but I just loved how it turned out.

This is the holiday treat we give E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. They are called pizzelles and are Italian, waffle-like cookies made in a special iron.

I can't remember how many of these we made, but I know it was over 1000. I made the first 1/3 of them, then Prince Charming did the rest. (Bless him!)

Don’t forget the school treats. I made about 30 of the ones on the left for Chic’s classmates/friends plus the kids in my class at church. (She painted the sticks.) Chicklet’s class treats were on the right. I only had to make about 10 of those.

This is one of my favorite things–a gift for my nephew. When we visited Missouri in November I learned that he (who is Chic’s age, eight) is really into seeds. I was walking around my yard one day and noticed so many seeds. I started to gather them for him, then I thought I would just make that his Christmas gift. So I made seed packets (with pictures if I had them–stamped or drawn if I did not) for all of them and instructions for growing.

I never realized how many seeds I had in my own yard!

Next is the annual gift. Last year I made “winter” banners as holiday gifts for close friends/family. This year I did “spring.” (Can you guess what it will be next year?) I made 17 of these. Each one takes 2-1/2 – 3 hours. Call me an idiot!

Another rotten picture; I was pressed for time. But the good (?) news is that I have an extra of these. If you would like to be in a drawing for it, e-mail me at louisestamps at aol dot com to let me know. You have until Monday, March 8, to e-mail me.

Let’s move to Valentine’s  Day! (We left shortly after Christmas to drop off Chic in Tennessee. I was home one day before a business trip, then 1-1/2 weeks before visiting Chic. January was a blur.) These are the boxes I assembled for my Valentine’s for all the students in my art classes.

I made up about 55 of these boxes.

These are the cookies that went in the boxes above. VERY. BAD. to have these things in my house! Very bad!

I have no idea how many cookies I made, but it was about 8 or 9 batches. (I did double/triple batches in the mixer so I cannot remember.)

These are boxes I made for special people such as my friend in TN who is taking care of Chic and some special people at church. I made them from flat, chipboard hearts.

I made 8 of these boxes.

Something had to go in these boxes, so I made homemade truffles. It was a first for me. Slightly time-consuming, but really no more so than anything else I do.

The dark ones are Oreo truffles and the light ones are Italian truffles.

As I was making the heart boxes above, I kept thinking of other people for whom I would like to make some. The problem was that I only had chipboard hearts to make eight. But I had regular chipboard, so I die-cut square scallops to make four more boxes.

The left one was for someone VERY into brown, so it does not look much like Valentine's Day.

There were also quite a number of Valentine treats for classmates of which I forgot to take pictures.

The below items are also for special people for Valentine’s Day. They are super fuzzy socks wound to resemble ice cream. I made “cones” for them and packaged them. I also put chocolate oil on them. One recipient still has not opened hers because she thinks it is so cute. I made 18 of the bigger ones for adults and 6 of the smaller ones for children.

Clockwise from top left: 1) All of the socks put into their "cones." 2) The finished packages. 3) Notice the finished packages have "sprinkles on the cones. I made them by punching out holes. 4) This is some of the paper left over after the punching.

Being so industrious means that eventually the holidays will slow down and I can move on to other things. The next two are “name frames” I made for girls I visited a year ago. I took pictures of their rooms and just now got around to making the 8″ x 10″ art for them.

Clearly Kendra's mom is good at decorating!

Kayla is Kendra's older sister who had just redecorated her own room. (The decorating thing must be genetic.)

Just last weekend Chicklet was invited to a birthday party. She could not go because CHIC IS HOME FOR SPRING BREAK THIS WEEK!!!!!!! But I made a container quickly to take on Friday and filled it with craft items. I thought it turned out well.

This is a large canister that used to hold SlimFast. I love the size of these so I collect them to decorate at such times.

This week I am not doing anything of the sort because CHIC IS HOME FOR SPRING BREAK!!!! We have had several other activities already and have more on the agenda.

If you comment, be honest with me. Tell me if you love this or hate it. Tell me if you think I am insane. If you knew me in real life, would all of the above make you love me or love to hate me? (Your answers do not matter that much because I do these things because I love to do them, but I am interested in perceptions. I have all viewpoints in my “real life” acquaintances.)

Next projects? Easter!

Advertisements

I promised myself (and you) that I would not post anything but my two weekly memes until I got caught up. But I cannot help it. No, I am not caught up; not even close, but there is so much spinning around in my head that here I am, making a post rather than visiting you and answering e-mails.

And this one has very little to do with what has been going on in my head.  I have had a chaotic week filled with a sort of conflict.  No upfront, bold conflict, but mostly the backbiting/stabbing kind. Or the kind in which someone smiles and pretends to be in total agreement when I am present, but turns around and does the exact things as before, and maybe even in a harsher manner as if to punish me for even questioning something.

But today is not the day for those posts . (Though I fear I will not be able to keep quiet about it forever.)  This is a random post about some of the nice or funny things that have happened to me in the last couple of weeks.

First, to my Maine trip. I have more of that coming up by the way. I visited three states, all new  to me, on that excursion. While I was in Portland, O’Mama and Mrs. Chili were kind enough to cover considerable miles to meet me for lunch.  Do I have pictures? No,  not really. I must admit that except for my kids, I am really lousy at getting people pictures. I do not think of it, and it is not my forte anyway. So no pictures except for the lovely pizza I had for lunch at Flatbread Pizza. I had never heard of Flatbread Pizza. Generally I am mostly opposed to franchise food operations, but this was different. Maybe it was different because I had never been there before, but it was GOOD.  O’Mama and Mrs. Chili are willing to rack up some mileage for this food, and I completely understand why. There is one in Maui. I told them I would be happy to join them there for pizza as well. (In another state to which I have not been.)

2009-10-17_12-28-21

My pizza. I can't remember it all, but it had artichokes, yellow peppers and cream cheese for sure.

I just have to say something more about the two women I met. The reason I read them is because they are honestly two of the most sensible (albeit, honest) women I know.  They each have two daughters with similar age differences as mine, but slightly older and a little older than that, and they are amazing parents. They are both teachers, and what a different place our educational system would be if all teachers had their values and principles.  I am not slamming teachers in general, and I know there are a LOT of good ones out there and even some good ones who read this blog. I am just saying that I appreciate their points of view, and they are vocal about them.

Last week was Chicklet’s half-birthday. We usually do not celebrate it because her birthday is in April, so we do not need to celebrate it. (Chic’s is at Thanksgiving, so we just do a small family party then and her friend party at her half-birthday.) But the girls are getting older and notice the disparity, so we had to have some acknowledgment of Chicklet’s half-birthday. We actually forgot, but had a dessert last weekend and remembered to put candles on it. She was elated.

Double Chocolate Cherry Dessert Pizza with 5-1/2 Candles

Double Chocolate Cherry Dessert Pizza with 5-1/2 candles.

Last Sunday morning I checked the weather and there was frost in the forecast. After returning from New England, it had been pretty much beastly hot, so it was a bit of a surprise. I always work in my garden early Sunday morning. Well last Sunday I spent 4 hours picking all the green tomatoes and peppers of any size worth picking and finding places for them to ripen. I have them on every inch of counter space and in three produce bins in two  refrigerators. I am hoping to be able to make fresh salsa with some of the tomatoes for Christmas. (Stranger things have happened.) By the way, it did  not frost that night, but it did later in the week, and Sunday is the only day I would have had enough time to take care of that, so I guess it was not a wasted effort.

Tomatoes

Cleaning out the garden before a potential frost

When I woke up yesterday morning, the thermometer said it was 19 degrees. OK, it gets cold in New Mexico, even colder than that. But NOT IN OCTOBER! One of my posts one day will be about one of my eccentricities which involves a cold house, so I was not amused by the temperature.

Then later in the day it warmed up… enough to snow. And not just a little, but coming down harder than it did when I was in Vermont a couple of weeks ago. Clearly still October. It was even sticking to the ground. Had it not been so hot a few days before, we probably would have had more than two inches sticking. The good news is that we are already returning to regular October weather.

2009-Oct-29. Seriously?

29-Oct-09 in Albuquerque. Not amusing. And the center of the picture is the cosmos bed where the picture from the last post was taken.

This week I have spent some part of every day except today making Halloween costumes for my girls. Below is what they chose. Chic is an Indian Princess and Chicklet vacillates between Laura and Mary Ingalls. Today we got a surprise bonus when Prince Charming called to say there was Trick-or-Treating at his work after lunch. I dressed up Chicklet, and she has already made a haul. We think the weather is improving enough that they will not get frostbite tomorrow night.

I have always liked Halloween, but I love it more since I moved here. Our neighborhood is quite festive, and we usually get about 200 Trick-or-Treaters. The streets are full of  parents and children, and it is wonderful.

2009-10-30_17-59-32

Chic and Chicklet in their Halloween costumes. They picked out the fabrics themselves, so don't judge me for Chicklet's apron that doesn't really match the dress.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend and a Happy and Safe Halloween if you celebrate the holiday.

Looks like it will be a while before I get back to that Utah trip.

Last week Chic’s class went to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch for a field trip. They go every  year, and we have gone on our own a couple of times. No matter what, it’s always fun.

The place is open during the week only to groups with reservations. There are less activities on weekdays than weekends, but there is enough to keep the kids happy no matter when they go.

For field trips, Prince Charming always takes a day off work, and we make it a family event.

Here is some of what we did…

The New Mexico sky is ever-changing and always beautiful. I could not stop myself from taking this picture of it over the pumpkin field.

The New Mexico sky is ever-changing and always beautiful. I could not stop myself from taking this picture of it over the pumpkin field.

On field trips, the first thing we do is take a hayride to the pumpkin field. Everyone gets a pumpkin. Size doesn't matter as long as they can carry it. It really is funny to watch the kids and what sizes they choose to believe they can carry.

On field trips, the first thing we do is take a hayride to the pumpkin field. Everyone gets a pumpkin. Size doesn't matter as long as they can carry it. It really is funny to watch the kids and what sizes they choose to believe they can carry.

Lunch is always after pumpkin-picking. This rope maze is right outside the lunch area. It is always difficult to make the chren finish their lunches before they run to play in it.

Lunch is always after pumpkin-picking. This rope maze is right outside the lunch area. It is always difficult to make the children finish their lunches before they run to play in it.

There are lots of farm aniamls at the pumpkin patch. There is "Bunnyville" with the cutest bunnies in the world. But my favorite are the goats. This one was happy for me to scratch its head--no food required. If I lived in the country, I would have goats.

There are lots of farm animals at the pumpkin patch. There is "Bunnyville" with the cutest bunnies in the world. But my favorite are the goats. This one was happy for me to scratch its head--no food required. If I lived in the country, I would have goats.

Probably the biggest attraction on a school day is the slide that goes through this hill.

Probably the biggest attraction on a school day is the slide that goes through this hill.

From the top, the slide is steep, but I have never seen a child whose fear got in the way of their sense of adventure with this slide.

From the top, the slide is steep, but I have never seen a child whose fear got in the way of his sense of adventure with this slide.

I even went for a picture. I tried to streamline myself, but it wasn't nearly as fast as I thought it would be.

I even went for a picture. I tried to streamline myself, but it wasn't nearly as fast as I thought it would be.

Second biggest attraction is the "corn box." The kids could be here for hours burying one another and transferring corn kernals from one bucket to another.

Second biggest attraction is the "corn box." The kids could be here for hours burying one another and transferring corn kernals from one bucket to another.

New this year for a weekday was the corn maze. Prince Charming went through it backward to hide and scare the girls and their friends. I think it scared the teacher more than them!

New this year for a weekday was the corn maze. Prince Charming went through it backward to hide and scare the girls and their friends. I think it scared the teacher more than them!

It was a horribly windy day, but by 1 p.m., it was getting to be more than most of the grown-ups could handle. (The kids didn't seem to notice.)

It was a horribly windy day, but by 1 p.m., it was getting to be more than most of the grown-ups could handle. (The kids didn't seem to notice.)

Chicklet (and Chic) were on the giant tractor tires dancing... to country music.  (Who are these children, and why are they calling me "Mom?")

Chicklet (and Chic) were on the giant tractor tires dancing... to country music. (Who are these children, and why are they calling me "Mom?")

One of MY favorite things there is that they have nice, big funnel cakes for only $4! We got two for the road. One for me; one for everyone else.

One of MY favorite things there is that they have nice, big funnel cakes for only $4! We got two for the road. One for me; one for everyone else.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

The photos below have nothing to do with this post. I had no pictures to put with the post, so I just took a series that I was pretty sure would never make it to SkyWatch Friday. This is a sunrise about 3 weeks ago. The pictures were taken within about two minutes and I think include the view from every direction from my house.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Before I started blogging, I hesitated quite a long time to do it, even though pressured to do it by two of my cousins. The main reason was time. I  knew I did not have time. I still do not, as evidenced by my irregular posting and visiting. But another reason is that I thought it was a bit narcissistic. I thought WHO CARES about the daily happenings of anyone else.  Before I dove in myself, I spent several months reading other blogs. I realized they are not all self-absorbed. (I do not read the ones that I think are.)

However, I have been thinking about my blog lately because one fairly regular reader and commenter once said something like “whatever your blog is about.”  I laughed (I often laugh at his comments; he has a wonderful sense of humor whether or not he means to be humorous.) because it is true.  My blog has no theme. I knew it would not, but it is glaringly apparent when compared to the blogs I visit. Most could be categorized as something. Mine cannot. It is about me. It does not get much more narcissistic than that. And this post will probably be the worst yet. Thank you to all you who come here even though the topics are so varied and there might be three sentences one visit and an epistle the next. And for putting up with me.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Today I did not really want to say anything about September 11 because so many others have. I also find it irritating how something so tragic that drew a nation together for a few days (or an afternoon?) is now often used in a political sense to tear it apart. (Certainly not everyone, but I have seen plenty of  “Remember 9/11, and be sure you remember why this event makes me right in my political opinions.” I have seen this from opposing viewpoints. Can we just remember a tragedy without being disparaging?) I rarely mention politics in  this space because I hate politics. I hate extremes. I think all sides have extremes. I think the extreme left and the extreme right both want to take away freedom–just in different ways that appeal only to them. (My viewpoints make both sides upset, so if I really got into this, I would likely alienate my entire readership.)  I hate statements that have little other purpose than to be inflammatory. I hate it when people can dish it out but cannot take it.  So I choose to avoid the topic entirely–most of the time. Which is why I was going to avoid any mention of 9/11.  But something compelled me to tell my part of that day’s story. I was pregnant with Chic. I was at work. The tiny television in the Conference Room was on for people to watch the horrific scene over and over. (I am personally not a fan of watching the same tragedy over and over.) Then the Pentagon was hit. Just a couple of weeks before that Prince Charming had been doing an internship at the Pentagon. (Leaving my pregnant self home alone much of the summer.) What was horrible before was real then. But real for me was not, and will never be, what real was for the people who lived and worked  in New York City and Washington, D.C. on that day or who lost someone. They know real. The rest of us just speculate.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

In my car today, on the way to drop off some stamps and to pick up Chic, I suddenly started crying about my mother. There is  nothing special about today in relation to her, but maybe I was thinking about the 9/11 loss. Chicklet was talking to me, and I could not even speak. When I started blogging, I thought I would write a lot about my mother. About her life. About her death. About her 10-year dying process. But I have written very little. Some days I want to just unload it all. But part of me is afraid. The few times I  have discussed her before, the reactions have not been at all what I expected. My reason for wanting to share her story has to do with lessons learned. It is not about me at all. I do not want sympathy or consoling words. I want people to understand what happened and why. I guess I do not know how to say it in a way to make people understand, or else I am not ready. But today, I missed her.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Last Friday (or Saturday, I don’t remember when it went up) I did a post and said I would see you on Monday. I did not. The day had several totally unexpected things happen (I spent most of the day in front of the computer working on things for Art Class), but ended well (and also unexpectedly) with an afternoon/evening with our “gaming friends” playing Settlers of  Catan–Cities and Knights. (And have been behind blogging since.)

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Now for some more random (and hopefully lighter than the first two sections) things…

1– I  have decided I do not like cooking much right now. Nothing has changed, really, but I get SO. MUCH. ACCOMPLISHED on days I do not cook. I am great at multi-tasking, but I think I hate it. When I cook, I want to focus on cooking. When I cannot focus on it, I think I would rather not do it at all.

2– Our electricity has been flashing lately for every thundercloud that goes over. I realize this is common in some parts of the country (southern Missouri, for example), but it is not common here. And it is starting to get on my nerves because I am at a computer so much of the time.

3– I have two times a day when I can think–really think. Those times are when I exercise and when I cook. (And cooking might involve so many other things that it does not count.) But I am thinking about a post relating to my aerobic activity which is biking (usually to school, but sometimes in the neighborhood). It will mostly be a rant, but I cannot get it out of my head.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

4– My husband is gone. He will be gone most of the weekend at a seminar related to his position at church. I hate it when he is gone. (For many reasons not the least of which he is not here to have water boiling on the stove to add to my bath when it gets cold–because I do not like running water in the tub because the wait for hot water is too long.)

5– Tonight’s bath is scented with Black Amethyst from Bath and Body Works. I was not into that scent much during the heat of summer, but I am liking it a lot again now. (Have I told you how absolutely glorious September is in this part of the country?)

6– My biggest project of the week has been doing my taxes. No, not estimated quarterlies, but the ones that were due on April 15. The last few years we have filed for extensions (even though we always get money back) because I do not have time to do them (and Prince Charming, forgive me, is useless in this area). But they have NEVER been this late. If I were married to Daryl (which I think is impossible because neither of us are lesbians, though neither of us oppose them and their relationships, and who also has a wonderful 9/11 post today), she would have divorced me by now for how long this has taken. Prince Charming is just happy he does not have to bother with financial things.

7– I really, really, REALLY do not like word verification on Blogspot. Really.

8– When I grow up, I want to be her.

2009-08-23_08-07-04

I know, I know. This is the last weekend of summer. But at least for me, our produce (tomatoes) are right now in their fullest production mode, so we can have these things for a while yet.

My tiny garden which is almost entirely tomatoes this year.

My tiny garden which is almost entirely tomatoes this year.

Maybe I have mentioned before that we eat most things a maximum of once each year. My menu planning involves looking at what we ate this time last year and eating it again if we liked it or trying something else if we did not. I only tell you this because these two recipes are things we eat more often. They are not main dishes which partially accounts for that, but we love them so much that we crave them several times during the summer.

(My apologies that I have no idea where either recipe originated. If you saw my stashes of untried recipe clippings, you would understand. Both appear to be from magazines, but there is no indication which magazines.)

First, a salad:

Tomato-and-Cucumber Salad with Dill

Tomato-and-Cucumber Salad with Dill

Tomato-and-Cucumber Salad with Dill
-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 large tomatoes, chopped into bite-size cubes (I sometimes substitute or add cherry tomatoes when I do not have enough large tomatoes)
-2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
-2 scallions (green onions), sliced (I did not know what scallions were until I was out of college, but my mother was not a cook.)
-4 radishes, sliced
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
-1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Place all vegetables in serving bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables. Toss gently to coat. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Next, a side dish:

Yellow Squash and Tomatoes
-2 medium yellow summer squash, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/2″ slices. (For the fat part of the squash, I cut the semi-circles into wedges.)

ChoppedSquash
-olive oil (no more than 2 Tablespoons)
-16 cherry tomatoes, halved

HalvedTomatoes
-2 Tablespoons minced, fresh basil

ChoppedBasil
-1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute squash in oil until tender.

SquashSaute

Add the tomatoes, basil and salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook 1-2 minutes longer or until heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

I usually make 1-1/2 recipes of this because 1 is just not enough. One time we made it with something that had couscous. I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day over the couscous. Delightful.

Happy 3-Day Weekend to you who live in the U.S. I’ll be back on Monday.

There are so many things I want to say here. Some of somewhat importance (at least to me), and some of no importance at all. I just do not have time. Sometimes I have time to think, but usually that time does not allow to type something. (Usually it is when I am riding my bicycle. Sometimes when cooking.)

So instead of writing something meaningful (to me) that has been going through my head, I thought I would let  you in on a lot of the non-meaningful things, which hopefully might hold some fun and humor…

————————-

A week ago yesterday, Prince Charming brought home some special  Godiva chocolates for me. Do these things not just LOOK so lovely that you would almost want to put them on a shelf and look at them forever? But you cannot have your cake, and eat it, too, so I will admit to their only being two left.

1.Godivas

I am a “save-the-best-for-last” type of girl. (Which often means I do not get anything because someone else grabbed it all.) So the ones I have left are the “pretty ones.” That would be the orange one and the green one. These things have been to DIE for. They are ice cream flavors (L to R): Orange Creme, Neapolitan, Pecan Caramel Sundae (OMG!), Mint Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut.

He also brought home a little package for Chic and Chicklet to share (not so fancy for them). At 5 and 7, he is already ruining them for the men who will later enter their lives, but I thought about that a little, and I think it is good that they will have some high standards. (Hopefully in areas other than chocolate as well.)

———————————

5.ChocChipCookies

Here is the Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe Chic used to make the cookies a couple of posts ago.

1 c packed brown sugar

1/2 c granulated sugar

2 sticks butter, softened

2 lg eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2-1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 300 F. Combine flour, soda and salt in medium bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine sugars with electric mixer at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until just blended. Do not overmix.

Add flour mixture, chocolate chips and nuts. Blend at low speed until just mixed. Do not overmix.

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 18-22 minutes (20 minutes almost always works at my location) or until golden. Transfer immediately to cool, flat surface.

Note: The recipe does not actually call for nuts, but believe it or not, I do not have a  huge sweet tooth. (Ignore that Godiva bit above.) Too much sugar gets to me, and I like nuts in cookies. Besides the texture, it sort of balances the sweet.

—————————————————-

All of the cards have been mailed for my giveaway. (To Maria, Fishing Guy and Leia.)  It was a little later than I planned because Prince Charming is the designated Post Office gopher.  He had some unexpected travel which meant some crazy work hours before that, so he just had a chance to do it.

The banner for Painted Maypole is in process. I just got the paper I wanted to use. It was not as bright as I expected, so I am going a slightly different direction with it. I hope to finish it by Monday. I just loved how these scraps looked in the waste basket, however, so I had to take a picture.

6.BannerScrap

—————————————————–

In September we will have lived in Albuquerque for seven years. Also in this house for seven years. We initially thought we would be in this house about five years, but things never work out that way. Now we are not sure we will ever leave, so I have finally decided to break down and paint. I am not a fan of white walls, but most of my walls are white because I cannot decide what color to paint them. We have painted the girls’ rooms, and I hated every second of it, so if I paint, I want it to be something I know I will love. I will NOT be painting the next phase (living room, dining room), so that will be expensive. That means I definitely want to love it. So I got a bunch of paint chips a year ago (yes, some things move slowly here), and I finally picked out some colors. I called a friend I trust to look at them for me. She liked one, but not the other. She suggested I buy samples and paint in the areas I would be painting and look at it for a while. I have. I think she is right. I love the colors, but I do not think they match “us.”  What do you think about them?

Although this is not exactly what the colors look like, this picture represents them the best. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Although this is not exactly what the colors look like, this picture represents them the best. (Click photo to enlarge.)

This is the giant wall--probably about 20 feet (6+ m?) high that I want to do in the reddish color. The art we have is four paintings that will cover most of the wall.

This is the giant wall--probably about 20 feet (6+ m?) high that I want to do in the reddish color. The art we have is four paintings that will cover most of the wall.

The rest of the living room/dining room will be in the "other color." This is the picture of the stair/loft wall which is the most noticeable wall for the color. (Ignore the fact that unnamed members of the family view this wall as a laundry hamper and shelf for anything they feel like putting on it.)

The rest of the living room/dining room will be in the "other color." This is the picture of the stair/loft wall which is the most noticeable wall for the color. (Ignore the fact that unnamed members of the family view this wall as a laundry hamper and shelf for anything they feel like putting on it.)

I think we’ll keep the reddish one and go for a brown or gold instead of the orange-ish one. Back to the store for more samples. I am also thinking a pale yellow might be OK. It sort of has to match some art we have had for a VERY long time just sitting around waiting to be put on the walls. I do not know why these things take me so long to figure out.

——————————————

There was no sand at the pool, but I liked this picture, and sand makes me think of water.

There was no sand at the pool, but I liked this picture, and sand makes me think of water.

This next part will probably alienate someone. I apologize for that, but not for my opinion.

Last week on our pool day there was an obvious mom’s club there. I was reminded very clearly why I am not a member of a mom’s club. There are only three topics discussed by most of the women in such clubs. (At least the one’s I have briefly been a part of or have witnessed. I know there are better ones out there, but it is not important enough for me to search through the garbage to find one.) None of these topics interest me, but often they irritate me. And my smug self was not disappointed because the overly loud conversations overheard were about the #1 topic–cosmetic surgery, specifically breast surgery (bigger/smaller/whatever). So predictable. So glad I was not part of it. (In case you are interested in the other two topics, in order they are “husband bashing” (my least favorite) and “one-upping everyone else on the exploits of their children.”)

————————————————-

Tonight our family went to find a letterbox. We were coming home near sunset while a monsoon storm was building. It made some fantastic clouds, but the big news is that I got my FIRST EVER shot of lightning! This photo is actually my second shot. I am saving the first shot for a SkyWatch post (probably not this week).  This is not the best picture in the world, but I am somewhat pleased with the one I will show later. It was an incredible sky!

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

————————————————

I have so many other things to say, but just cannot work it in right now. I hope you are having a great weekend!

2009-04-03sliced

A couple of weeks ago I made a bread for our Friday-Night-Soup-and-Bread Tradition (cold months only) called “Onion Lover’s Twist.”

Since mid-March our church has been having a Revelation Seminar which meets on Friday nights (among other times). Since we always have extra bread, we have been taking the extra loaf or extra whatever to church and giving it away. That week we gave half of the giant loaf (as big as a regular loaf) to the organist and music director (who are married).

They were elated.  My cooking is somewhat famous in circles I frequent, so they could not have been happier; what had made them worthy of such a blessing? (This is honestly how people treat me about my food.)

The next morning they both sought out me as well as Prince  Charming and anyone else they could find to tell their story…

They were driving home, and the smell of the bread was making them hungry. They got home and heated up a couple of slices (the slices are huge), and ate. They were in heaven it was so good. (I am learning that a lot of the population does not have homemade bread often… more than I realized.) Now let it be understood that I am not saying I did anything to make this bread so wonderful. I followed a recipe.  When people compliment my cooking, I always tell them my talent is to pick good recipes and follow them well. I am a cook, not a chef. (More on that in some other post.)

Anyway, they went to bed soon after that, and apparently all. night. long. they woke up time after time after having “the strangest dreams.” They could not emphasize enough how “strange” these dreams were. They did not seem to be nightmares, but dreams. I have no idea the content. Maybe they did not share because dreams always seem strange and unimportant when we wake up and think about them, or maybe they were just too exciting to repeat to others. I do not know, but it made me smile.

This bread has never given me extra dreams, strange or otherwise. It was more likely that they are in their 60’s and are not used to eating so late.  But whether or not it affects you with the dreams, it is great bread. Here is the recipe which I got from a cookbook called Colorado Cache. It was put together by the Junior League of Denver in 1978. We got our copy as a wedding gift 20 years later, so it must have been updated/reprinted. It is an excellent cookbook.  I think it must be a trend for this type of cookbook because the one from my hometown is  also excellent. So without further ado, here is the recipe and maybe a comment or two (or too many) of my own.

Onion Lover’s Twist

1 pkg dry yeast

1/4 c warm water (I always use 115 degrees F because it works better at my altitude which is 5000 feet AND my cold house.)

4 c  flour

1/4 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c hot water (120-130 degrees F)

1/2 c milk

1/4 c softened butter

1 egg

Filling:

1/4 c butter

1 c finely chopped onion

1 T grated Parmesan cheese (I always use fresh)

1 T sesame or poppy seeds (I use sesame seeds. I can only imagine what their dreams might have been had I used poppy!)

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

Grease cookie sheet (I always use a baking stone that is well seasoned and does not need to be greased). In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water. Add 2 c. flour, sugar, salt, hot water, milk, butter and egg. With electric mixer, blend at low speed until moistened. (If using a heavy duty mixer, do whatever you usually do for bread. I would not even bother with bread if I did not have a heavy duty mixer.) Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough. (Again, I leave it in the mixer and let it do the work.) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size–45-60 minutes.

2009-04-03fillingonstripsTo prepare filling, melt butter in saucepan and add remaining ingredients. (I think this is important to do right away so the ingredients can have a little time to saute, and then it can cool and solidify a little. If you do this at the last minute and the butter is liquid, it is much harder to fill the bread.)

2009-04-03rollingstrips

When dough has doubled in size, punch down and place on floured surface. Knead until no longer sticky. Roll into and 18″ x 12″ rectangle. Cut three strips lengthwise (18″ x 4″ –I sometimes forget and do it the wrong way–like this time–and it turns out fine.) Place 1/3 of the filling in the middle of each strip. Roll up each strip and seal the edges and ends. On the prepared cookie sheet (or stone which is always so much better in my opinion), braid the three rolls together. Cover and allow to rise until doubled–45-60 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm (best) or cool.

2009-04-03sealedrolls

If you would prefer two smaller loafs, just cut the filled rolls in half and braid separately. (I personally find it easier just to make one big one and give half of the loaf away.

2009-04-03braided

This bread is great for a couple of days when heated in the microwave.

Enjoy, and let me know if it gives you interesting dreams!

2009-04-03baked

Next Page »