Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clean Slate

New Year's Day
"You know how you're supposed to come up with a list of "resolutions" at the beginning of the year to try to make yourself a better person?
Well, the problem is, it's not easy for me to think of ways to improve myself, because I'm already pretty much one of the best people I know.
So this year my resolution is to try and help OTHER people improve. But the thing I'm finding out is that some people don't really appreciate it when you're trying to be helpful.
One thing I noticed right off the bat is that the people in my family are doing a lousy job sticking to THEIR New Year's resolutions."
taken from pages 1-2 Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Last Straw

And so begins the Wimpy Kid story by Jeff Kinney. The first few pages caught my attention since the story line in the first part of the book about resolutions is quite timely as 2009 draws to a close. Mr. Kinney has written a series of books for middle grade students. He was astute using a humorous approach written in a diary format to capture the spirit and interests of the middle school reader. The main character is in middle school and at times appears clueless how to handle social and school situations that come his way. Since this is an age group I have worked with his series appealed to me and has been an enjoyable read for me.
I recently hung a brand new 2010 calendar. Looking at it made me think of a clean slate. Soon begins a new year and new month. The January page hanging looks so clean and bare... no scribbles, scheduled appointments, events to attend, dates to remember or places to be at. A clean slate certainly is something to think about. Starting fresh has endless possibilities with chances to make some changes and new things to look forward to and just perhaps there may be some surprises awaiting each of us in 2010.
One thing to think about is tomorrow night. The appearance of the Blue Moon is a rather rare occasion. It is a full moon that appears twice in one month. Hopefully the skies will be clear to see this sight.
While you are planning for the New Year get yourself a cup of tea or coffee and grab a few cookies. Remember life is always better with a sweet treat!
Walnut Snowballs
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Sift first 4 ingredients in bowl and transfer 2 TB.flour mixture to food processor and add walnuts. Process till walnuts are finely chopped.
  • In another bowl beat butter until fluffy add 1-1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat well
  • Add egg yolk, vanilla and beat in flour mixture and nuts
  • chill dough in freezer for one hour
  • Shape into balls
  • Bake 10-12 minutes until brown on bottom and cracked a bit on top
  • Roll balls ( 2 at a time) in remaining powdered sugar use a bowl for this step
  • Cool on wire rack-sift more powdered sugar over the top when cooled


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Getaway

Any Winter Getaway headline will command your attention this time of the year when the flurry of activity from the holiday season subsides and the temperatures take a dip. One of my favorite Christmas cards has a picture of Santa wearing a lei on the beach doing the hula with two native women. He is standing next to his sleigh that has been beached on shore. Title on back of card How Santa Unwinds. Do you not wish you could join them for a little bit of fun...warm breezes, sunshine, Margaritas on the beach??? What more can I say!
Perhaps we all need to create our own winter getaway when it is not possible to fly off to some far away place. Now I believe that sock fairies have the right idea about rewarding themselves with some much needed downtime. Since they have worked many long hours to complete a variety of sock accessories for the holiday season it is now time for the parties to commence. I have been told that between Christmas and New Years a different fairy takes a turn hosting a gathering in their home. It is up to the hostess to choose a theme for the evening. Some foods that will be served are nutshells filled to the brim with fragrant juices, piles of hazelnut seeds and bowls of crab-apple jelly. Sprinklings of fairy dust will give the room a silvery sheen. Delicate gossamer strands woven around the room with tiny twinkling white lights add to the festive mood for decorations. Bunches of lavenders tied together with twigs provide a wonderful aroma. The music will be merry and lively to lift every one's spirits. Even if the snow keeps falling it will not stop any of their merrymaking. So my advice to you if your spirits dip in the upcoming weeks use this as an excuse to plan some type of get together with friends. Let some merrymaking be your Winter Getaway.

Cornbread Crostini Appetizers
Ingredients:
  • 1 package of Marie Callender cornbread mix (found in cake mix aisle)
  • variety of toppings:shaved ham, chopped walnuts, fig or cranberry chutney, apple slices, peppers
  • container of Boursin cheese: garlic herbs, spinach artichoke

Directions:

  • Grease mini muffin pans
  • Heat oven 350
  • Put a heaping tablespoon of batter in each muffin well
  • Cook 15 minutes remove cornbread and cool on a wire rack
  • Before serving place on a cookie sheet each cornbread muffin and re bake 375 for 5 minutes to crisp
  • Cool and frost each cornbread muffing with Boursin cheese and decorate with some of these suggested toppings
  1. strips of shaved ham and snips of dill
  2. apple slices
  3. dollop of fig chutney and sprinkle chopped walnuts
  4. roasted red peppers-cilantro or chives


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is There A Santa Claus?

In a recent blog titled Why We Should Believe I wrote about the importance of believing in magical happenings, particularly the existence of Santa and fairies, but not necessarily at the same time! Recently I read a newspaper article that reprinted that famous letter written to Virginia, by the editor of Baltimore Sun newspaper in 1897. Virginia was an eight year old girl who wrote to the paper wanting to know Is There A Santa Claus?
With Christmas Eve fast approaching, I know many children are anxiously awaiting a visit from Santa. So I thought it a perfect time to write the editor's response to her question. This is part of the letter written by Francis Pharcellus Church to Virginia O' Hanlon.
Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus
He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas, how dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he Lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now Virgina, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
So readers... to me this editorial response is a fine example of editorial journalism and supports my belief in Santa and fairies.
Merry Christmas to all of you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Minute Gift Idea

I made a huge discovery recently as I was doing some last minute gift shopping. I found an unusual but quite useful sock accessory...gloves. Look carefully at the picture. These chic gloves are really two for the price of one. Pull back the mitten top, secure it with button and now you have fingerless gloves. Pull mitten top back over fingers and your hands remain warm and toasty with no skin exposed.
The following are 10 top reasons why these fingerless gloves/mittens should be purchased for MN winters
10.You have just finished painting your nails they need to dry and its time to leave for a party
9. You have just filled up your car with gas and need to pay at the pump with a credit card
8. You will be able to use your laptop outside
7. Lacing skates at an outdoor rink will be easier in the cold
6. Can text and twitter your friends for longer periods while standing outside
5. You will be able to sit for extended time watching your favorite sport game
4. Purchasing these gloves/mittens provides a reason for fairies to collect socks
3. Keeps your hands warm while shoveling all the projected snow in the next few days
2. Makes a wonderful gift for that special someone
1. Gives me a reason to use my Herberger's coupon

The following is a new recipe I tried for a brunch. I discovered a new product called Nutella which is a European hazelnut and chocolate spread. It is located in the aisle where peanut butter is found.
Nutella Swirl Pound Cake
Ingredients:
4 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 jar (13 oz.) Nutella (warm jar in a bowl of hot water)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven 325 - grease and dust with flour a loaf pan 9x5 inches
  2. Combine eggs and vanilla and lightly beat
  3. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt mix well
  4. Combine butter and sugar and cream about 3 minutes
  5. With mixer at on medium speed pour egg mixture into bowl in a slow stream
  6. Turn mixer to low add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time
  7. After last addition mix for 30 seconds
  8. Pour half the batter in pan
  9. Spread 1/2 of the jar on top of batter and smooth over batter with spatula
  10. Pour rest of batter over Nutella
  11. Run a butter knife through batter to create marbling. Do not over mix.
  12. Bake about 1 hour and check with toothpick should come out of center clean
  13. Cool in pan 10 minutes invert and place on wire rack to cool

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why We Should Believe

Last week in the Parade section of the Sunday newspaper there was an interesting article titled Why We Should Believe in Santa Claus subtitle: Myths Make The World A More Enchanted Place by Alexander McCall Smith. He is the well known author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. What intrigued me was the unusual subject of to believe or not to believe in Santa from a man whose mystery stories usually are set near the land of Zimbabwe where he grew up. But what really caught my attention (which anything about fairies does) is when he talked about the moment in the play Peter Pan when the audience is invited to revive the dying fairy Tinkerbell and is told, if you believe in fairies, clap you hands. Mr. McCall Smith went on to note that perhaps there are times when we need to pretend to believe in things we know that are not true. We know that the world is a place where much suffering and hardship prevail and perhaps myths help us get by. I loved these following sentences in the article referencing myths. "The day they all die and we tell our children exactly how things are, the world will be a poorer, less enchanted place. So don't be ashamed to clap your hands at Peter Pan or act as if Santa exists. He stands for kindness and generosity, and those things are alive and will continue to be alive-as long as we believe in them."
FYI... I have always counted myself in as a believer of magical happenings whether it be fairies or Santa. How about you?
My holiday entertaining continues with a brunch tomorrow. This is the recipe for a quiche I am serving.
Ham Swiss Cheese/Asparagus Quiche
Ingredients:
1 /2 box Pappy pie crust mix thawed (2 pieces of dough)
2 cups Swiss cheese grated
6 eggs
1 cup whipping cream (liquid) and 1 cup half and half
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried dill
1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1 cup chopped cooked asparagus (first cooked al dente)
Directions:
  • Roll out 2 of the 4 pieces of pie crust mix and line a 9 in pie pan with it fluting edges
  • On top of pie crust place piece of foil and smooth into the sides
  • Bake pie shell 5 minnutes at 425
  • Remove from oven and remove foil
  • Sprinkle on bottom of pie crust grated cheese, onions, ham and asparagus chunks
  • In a blender place cream mixtures, spices and eggs blend till smooth
  • Around outside of pie pan crimp on lengths of foil all around to prevent crust from browning too much
  • carefully pour liquid ingredients over ham mixture
  • Bake at 425 15 minutes
  • Reduce temperatrure to 300 cook 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean from center
  • Remove foil from around crust and let stand 10 minutes before serving

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowed In

This is the time of the year when children fervently pray for a sign. Now you ask what sign? It's the one that comes at the bottom of the TV screen announcing an upcoming blessed event: Snow Day! I can assure that teachers also will be included in this fervent prayer group. But I want to add another group out there that hopes for a Snow Day...sock fairies. They want to stay inside warmed by the fire and use this time to catch up on their many sock accessories knitting projects. As the holidays draw near they have many gifts to make. Hopefully, the fairies have enough socks collected in their pile so they do not have to go out and about finding more in the frigid temperatures. Several blogs back, I mentioned a hot selling item for the season: arm warmers. These chic sleeves are also called gauntlets. An average fingerless glove with a finished thumb hole is 6 inches around and 6 inches tall. It is possible if the fairy is creative, one average adult sock can be fashioned into two arm warmers for a human or perhaps a dozen or more for fairy friends. I found online free knitting instructions if you would like to make your own. Perhaps you may tire waiting for the sock fairy to magically appear with your pair.
Check out http://knitting.about.com/free_knitting_patterns
Here is an easy cookie recipe to add to your collection
Cherry Treasures

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1-10 oz. jar maraschino cherries-well drained reserve 2 TB. liquid
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ! 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk not evaporated
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Directions:
  • In a separate bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside
  • Beat butter or margarine about 30 seconds
  • Add sugar and beat till fluffy
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat well
  • Gradually add flour mixture and beat well
  • Chill dough mixture 30 minutes in refrigerator
  • Shape into 1 inch balls place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down center of ball with you thumb.
  • Drain cherries, reserving liquid and place cherry in center of cookie ball
  • Bake at 350 for 10 minutes
Frosting:
  • In small saucepan, combine chocolate and condensed milk. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir is 4 tsp reserved cherry juice. If frosting needs to be thinned use cherry juice.
  • Spoon 1 tsp. frosting over cooled cookies to cover cherry

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bright Spots

Sub-zero temperatures and a wintry landscape with only brief glimpses of the sun could send some spirits spiraling downwards this time of the year, but fear not, I have found some bright spots worth mentioning.
This past week I went to Como Park Conservatory to check out their holiday Poinsettia display. WOW, some hundreds of plants provided a dazzling array of color. It was hard not to overdo taking pictures and I am sharing a few with this blog. The tropical plants and warmth of the building provided some reflective moments thinking how nice a tropical get-away might be.
Another bright spot for me was reading on the Internet about the huge success Susan Boyle is currently having with her album which is sailing off the charts in sales. I am one of her biggest fans. What a heart-warming story her rise to fame has been! She was quoted as saying..."I am still the person I always was the wee lady from Blackburn. I still live in the same house. I still like the same things. I have never wanted to change. I have only wanted to be a professional singer and perhaps that's the way in which I think differently about myself now. I feel like a professional. "
Susan's journey has been amazing with her big dream to be recognized in the music profession. So my word of advice to you the readers, Dream big, anything is possible. FYI, I have put a request on my Santa list for her new CD. So lets hope it shows up in my stocking, which has been hung by the chimney with care. I have tried to be good!
Speaking of stockings, are any of you missing some? I have been wondering if those threads that I have seen on the floor and near the door are ones from a Christmas sock which is missing its mate. Could those mischievous fairies be busy at work? Perhaps they have been snatching up socks for the yarn to knit sock accessories for their friends as Christmas gifts?? The weather certainly is cold enought for leg and arm warmers much needed items. I have previously mentioned them in my blogs.
I am bringing this salad to a lunch today and thought it might be an easy one for you to try
Cashew-Pear Tossed Salad
Ingredients:
  • Mixed greens with baby spinach leaves
  • 2-3 ripe pears-cut in chunks with skin on
  • 1 cup salted cashews
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 large cucumber diced
  • Vidalia Onion Poppyseed dressing
Directions:
  • Mix greens, pears, nuts, cherries and cucumbers together
  • Grate cheese on top and add dressing just before serving

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bon Appetit Blog Envy Bake-Off

Dear Readers,
I am submitting this dessert recipe for a bake-off contest sponsored by Bon Appetit magazine. This brownie dessert was posted on my Thanksgiving blog but I am rewriting and posting it in this blog and submitting a photo as part of Bon Appetit submission process. You are encouraged to go online and vote for my recipe @ bonappetit.com/go/bakeoff
The deadline for voting is December 13th. Wish me luck.

Decadent Brownies
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (10 oz.) Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate squares (62% cacao) plus half of another 10 0z. package
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 2 TB. of coffee(liquid)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour plus 2 TB. of flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 2 TB. Kahula

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Line a 8 inch pyrex pan with foil and grease
  • Heat in saucepan on low heat: chocolate, sugar ,butter, coffee stirring until smooth
  • Pour into a medium bowl and whisk in eggs one at a time till mixed.
  • Add vanilla, flour and salt and stir well.
  • Add chopped nuts and stir well
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes clean from the center
  • Cool pan on wire rack and remove cooled brownies from foil
  • Serve with whip cream or dust with powdered sugar
  • For a festive holiday touch sprinkle peppermint chips over whip cream

This recipe was adapted from one called Nestle Chocolatier Grand Chocolate Brownie Wedges found in a magazine.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Twas The Night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there.
A Visit from St. Nicholas 1822
written by Clement Clarke Moore
But while... those children were nestled all snug in their beds...the sock fairies, like St. Nicholas, spoke not a word..and went straight to their work. Their gossamer wings made not the slightest bit of flutter as they gathered up socks and sped through the night hoping to just stay ahead of jolly old St. Nick. As we all know, Christmas socks are colorful, come in variety of sizes but often are mismatched and generally are not hung in pairs. Fairies are quite careful at each home to leave at least a sock or two behind so St. Nicholas has something to fill. This story is shared to you, the reader, in case you hear of any unhappy children whose Christmas stocking has gone missing. Try to assure the child that the sock fairies are indeed on an important mission doing their job. They are doing their best to make sure every home that has a child snug in their bed while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads has a stocking out for St. Nicholas to fill.
So if you should spy out on your lawn any bits of fuzzies and loose threads know that the sock fairies are out and about doing their best to make the holiday season just a little brighter for others.
Note that the feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6 and it is a custom to leave a your shoe outside your door before going to bed. Warning: I said shoe, but no socks!
This past week I have been on what I call a wisdom diet... soup. Since my jaw is still quite sore soup is easiest to handle. This recipe is quite tasty and makes a satisfying lunch/dinner.
Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice
  • optional: shredded cooked chicken or chunks of ham
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2- 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 32 oz. container of chicken broth (Swanson low sodium)
  • 1/2 tsp. of the following spices... curry, dry mustard, paprika, marjoram, parsley flakes and 1/4 tsp.pepper
  • 4 TB sherry or white wine
  • 3/4 cup half and half

Directions:

  • Saute onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms in butter and set aside
  • In a soup pot on medium heat add chicken broth, whisk flour into broth with spices
  • Cook till slightly thick about 8 minutes
  • Add cooked wild rice, celery, onion, carrot, mushroom mixture and chicken or ham
  • Reduce temp. to low heat and stir in half and half and sherry or wine cook for about 30 minutes

Tips:

  • Do not let mixture boil and if need soup to be thicker can add 1-2 TB flour using a whisk
  • If making ahead add sherry or wine right before serving

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

GOT WISDOM?

Wisdom the ability to perceive or determine what is good, true or sound, common sense;sound judgement
Yesterday I mourned the partial loss of my wisdom which has carried me up to middle age. One of my impacted wisdom teeth was extracted and considering the discomfort I am currently experiencing the tooth fairy should leave a rather huge chunk of cash as a bit of consolement for the inconvenience.
Wisdom Tooth last molar tooth on either side of of the upper and lower jaw usually appearing between the ages of 17 and 25.
Interesting that I have been one of those rare people who at my age would still have a wisdom tooth to lose which then got me to thinking a bit more about the other meaning of wisdom and how some strive for it and others just naturally gain it during the course of life.
I found on the Internet some quotes about wisdom attributed to certain people and thought I would test your knowledge. But need to mention how disappointed I was that that out of all the questions on this one trivia test not one women was mentioned so I had to look at other sources to present a balanced sampling.
1. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
Alexander Bell
Gandhi
Freud
Thomas Edison
2. Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
Frances Scott key
Ben Franklin
Thomas Jefferson
3. A picture is worth a thousand words
Napoleon
Leonardo da Vinci
Michaelangelo
4. Speak softly and carry a big stick and you will go far
Franklin Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Theodore Roosevelt
5. You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do
Henry Ford
J.D. Rockefeller
W. Vanderbilt
6. Because men and women are the complement of one another we need a woman's thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Sarah Palin
Eleanor Roosevelt
7. We are pencils in the hand of God -writing love letters to the world.
Emily Dickerson
Golda Meir
Mother Teresa
8. You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled then something has been lost.
Whoppi Goldberg
Martha Graham
Amelia Earhart
9. Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long as your values don't change.
Jane Goodall
Abigail Adams
Hillary Clinton
10. Sometimes questions are more important than answers.
Maya Angelou
Margaret Thatcher
Nancy Willard
Answers: Just in case you need them
1. Thomas Edison 2. Thomas Jefferson 3, Leonardo da Vinci 4. Theodore Roosevelt
5. Henry Ford 6. Elizabeth Stanton 7. Mother Teresa 8. Martha Graham 9. Jane Goodall
10. Nancy Willard
Recipe request for using a slow cooking pot/crockpot
Three Bean Casserole
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef cooked and drained or pork sausage can be substituted
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans of baked beans in tomato sauce (21 oz.)
  • 1 can (150z.) lima beans drained
  • 1 can (150z.) kidney beans drained
  • 1 TB. dry mustard
  • 2 TB. white vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 can chunky tomatoes basil/garlic/oregano
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • about 8 pieces of bacon cooked crisp

Directions:

  • Fry bacon and set aside
  • Cook hamburger or sausage and drain
  • Mix the meat mixture with all other ingredients
  • Place in slow cooker and cook on low heat 1 1/2 hours covered
  • To serve sprinkle bacon on top

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Writer's Notebook

Ralph Fletcher is one of my favorite authors. He has published children' s novels, poetry books, short stories and books on the writing process for teachers. One of my most treasured books he has written, besides Fig Pudding, is a very small compact book called A Writer's Notebook Unlocking The Writer Within You. He notes in this book that keeping a writer's notebook is one of the best ways he knows to live a writing kind of life. He does emphasize that it is not a diary, but a place where you can jot down the important little details you notice or hear in daily life. Mr. Fletcher suggests that having a writer's notebook provides a good place to include personal entries, poems, lists of books you have read, favorite words, interesting quotes, goals, artifacts and photographs. He feels a writer's notebook is like a scrapbook to be a gathering place for your writing and at a later date provide you with inspiration. It is quite possible you might even have several notebooks/journals on going at the same time.
Over the years, I have kept many notebooks/journals. My current one is a fairy journal in which I have collected lots of fairy information, documented some observations, listed fairy books and valuable internet sources. So all of this brings me up to the Fairy Handbook, which I would like to put in the beginning of my sock fairy manuscript as an introduction, or at the end as a glossary. This would give the reader some information and answers to any questions they might be thinking about. Some ideas planned are definitions for the following words: fairies, fairy circles, meeting places, fairy gifts, fairy wands, fairy lights, fairy wings and information on how fairy messages are sent and some creatures they fear. What I would like is some input on placement. Would it be better placed in the beginning of my story as an introduction or at end as a glossary. If you have any thoughts on this please send to me by way of the comment box.
This is one of my favorite Ralph Fletcher quotes..."I have often been asked how to become a better writer. I always say, go out and live the most exciting life you can, and never quit writing about it. Don't mix up the order."
If you have any special requests for recipes you would like to see included in this blog please let me know.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 8,000 Calorie Poem
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plumb
May your gravy and potatoes
Have nary a lump
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs
Anonymous
Thanksgiving gives us a chance to express our gratitude towards our family and friends and even strangers for their help. Here is wishing you and your family a wonderful day!
Brownie Chocolate Wedges
after you have worn off your Thanksgiving dinner
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (10 0z.) and 1/2 of another (10 oz. package) Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (62% cacao) that come in squares
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 TB. coffee(liquid)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour plus 2TB.
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 TB. Kahlua

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 and line a 8x8 baking dish with foil that has been greased
  • On stove heat on low heat sugar,chocolate, butter and water. Stir constantly till smooth and chocolate is melted
  • Pour into a medium bowl and stir in eggs one at a time
  • Stir in vanilla, flour, salt, nuts and Kahlua
  • Mix all ingredients using a spoon
  • Bake 25-30 minutes
  • Cool and cut in wedges and remove from foil

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sock Forum

Several blogs back I let readers know about the Bureau of Missing Socks that can be found at http://www.funbureau.com/. If you recall I wrote about my findings that this organization is devoted to looking at all aspects of the phenomenon what really happens to single socks when they go missing. I am sure there are many people who will always remain optimistic that their missing socks will someday show up and be reunited with their mates. I have read a variety of humorous theories that speculate where these missing socks could be... like sucked under agitator of the washer to a black hole, or beamed into space, or gone through time travel to sock fairy land.
So when I found The Missing Bureau had a sock forum called: The Laundry Basket I was quite interested in reading what other people had to say through online discussions. But I was disappointed that this site has not recently been updated. So I decided I would offer readers my own forum and look forward to your responses. The topic: Where do missing socks go when you do the laundry? At the end of this blog click on Comment and post your thoughts. If this comment box does not work (sometimes it is temperamental) please try it again later in day.
The countdown is on for the Turkey meal. I will be serving cornbread along with sausage/cranberry stuffing. Will post that recipe next time..
Cornbread
Ingredients:
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
2 TB. brown sugar (packed)
4 large eggs separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley flakes
chopped green onion
optional: jalapeno pepper chilies
Directions:
Preheat oven 350
Grease 9 inch round cake pan with 2 inch high sides or 8x8 glass pan
Separate 4 eggs
Whisk first 5 ingredients in bowl and set aside
In another bowl using mixer beat butter, honey sugar till pale
Add yolks one at a time beating well add spices, peppers, onions
Mix in dry ingredients, alternating with buttermilk in 3 additions
In another bowl beat egg whites adding a pinch of creme of tartar (spice)
Gently fold into batter
Bake 25-30 minutes till toothpick comes clean at center

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Season's Must Haves

I am posting a recent photo of me in one of the season's hottest items: Orange Gear. It is available in sizes S-M-L-XL and found at most sporting goods stores. Its flamboyant color offers security and high visibility when out walking in the deer country. These coats and hats are insulated for warmth. An added benefit to owning this outfit is using it early in the season as a Halloween pumpkin costume. Only a green stem is needed to be sewn at the top of hat to complete the look. I know it can work, since my husband did wear it one Halloween!
The second hot item of the season are arm warmers. They are both functional, stylish, lightweight and scrunchable. These chic sleeves have a finished thumb hole and are available in different textures and color choices. In addition, these arm warmers can be mixed and matched depending on the look you want to achieve. Please refer to a recent photo I posted of a fairy labeled Some Wishful Thinking. This sock fairy is enjoying wearing her new pair.
Several blogs back I did alert readers that with the fall and winter seasons approaching, fairies are busier than usual. Which means for you, more socks could be missing. Fairies have been spotted as of late, snatching socks and hurrying off to the sock bank. I suspect sock fairies spend many evenings by the fireside making arm warmers, leg warmers, sock monkeys, and other sock accessories. It has been thought that fairies can fashion at least 3-4 arm warmers from one adult sock for themselves or their fairy friends. Perhaps when fairies gather for their nightly meeting, they exchange their wares with one another.
So... if you happen to find any of these new sock accessories around your house just maybe... you are the recipient of a fairy's good deed. I would like to add in case you are impatient waiting for arm warmers to magically appear, they can be purchased at a local Macys store or online at sockdreams.com
I am cooking again trying out another recipe I might serve for Thanksgiving. Let me know what results you get if you try it.
Apple Cake with Penuche Frosting
Ingredients for frosting
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 3-5 TB milk
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted)
Directions for frosting
For best results use a whisk

  • Melt butter in saucepan
  • Stir in brown sugar
  • Boil and stir over low heat 2 min.
  • Stir in milk
  • Bring to boil, stirring constantly
  • Stir in confectioner's sugar
  • Additional milk can be stirred in a few drops at a time to get the correct spreading consistency
Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water ( could substitute apple juice)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 apples cut in 1/2 chunks (use Haralson or Granny Smith)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Directions:
  • Grease a 13x9 pan
  • Heat oven 350
  • Use a whisk for this recipe not a mixer
  • In a bowl whisk together- buttermilk, oil, water, brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, baking soda,salt, spices, vanilla until smooth
  • Whisk in flour
  • Stir in apples and nuts
  • Bake in glass pan 13x9 for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center
  • Cool before frosting




Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Recently I came across a series of books written by Susan Wittig Albert called The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter for adults. The author's style is quite clever. She mixes fact with fiction, so the reader learns more about the life of Beatrix Potter, children's illustrator, countrywoman and conservationist. Each tale has a mystery added. There are problems to solve and the animal characters from Beatrix's books are woven into the storyline as problem solvers. The tales have a fairy like quality about them as the author draws the reader into the village life of the Lake District of England with her descriptive writing. One sentence that caught my attention was the curling mist rising over the marshes and fields like wisps of fairy webs. It reminded me of a photo I posted several blogs back with the mist rising over the lake in the early morning. As I was reading one of the tales, I found a helpful hint: if you carry a small bible in your pocket it can be a good luck charm against any possible fairy abductions. Well that's in case it is a worry to some readers out there!
With the holidays coming up perhaps you will be doing some entertaining. This is an easy appetizer your company will like.
Cherry-Pecan Brie
Directions:
Stir together in bowl
  • 1/3 cup cherry preserves
  • 1TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
Drizzle over 1( 80z ) warm Brie round (rind removed from top)
Top with toasted pecans
Serve with crackers
To Toast Pecans
Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan until lightly roasted, stirring occasionally about 8-10 minutes

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fairy Magic

I have a feeling that childhood has been robbed of a great deal of its joys by taking away its belief in wonderful, mystic things, in fairies and all their kin. It is not surprising that when children are grown, they have so little idealism or imagination, not that so many of them are like the infidel who asserted that he would not believe anything that he could not see.
These words were spoken by author Laura Ingalls Wilder adapted from an essay she wrote in 1916 Fairies Still Appear to Those with Seeing Eyes.
Probably few people know that in addition to writing the Little House on the Prairie series, she also wrote columns for the newspaper. Laura Wilder and her daughter Rose collaborated on a collection of fairy poems. Several year ago a friend, knowing how the lives of fairy people interested me, gave me a book called Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems. Stephen Hines introduced and compiled this book.
It is a sweet book and I would like to share one poem
The Fairy Dew Drop
Down by the spring one morning
Where the shadows still lay deep.
I found in the heart of the flower
A tiny fairy asleep.

Her flower couch was perfumed,
Leaf curtains drawn with care,
And there she sweetly slumbered,
With a jewel in her hair.

But a sunbeam entered softly
And touched her, as she lay,
Whispering that 'twas morning
And fairies must away

All colors of the rainbow
Were in her robe so bright
And she danced away with the sunbeam
And vanished from my sight.

'Twas while I watched them dancing,
The sunshine told me true
That my sparkling little fairy
Was lovely Drop O' Dew
Not only was I was drawn to this poem because of its lyricism, but the college I attended had a small pond called Dew Drop!
February 1915

Au unexpected warm fall day calls for celebration: Bavarian Apple Cheesecake
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 TB. shortening
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 cups apples cut in thin slices
  • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Directions:
  • In a bowl beat 1/3 cup sugar, margarine or butter, 1 TB shortening, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon till combined. Blend in flour and salt till crumbly. Pat into 9 inch springform pan and set aside
  • Place apple slices single layer in a shallow baking dish. Cover with foil bake at 400 for 15 minutes
  • Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, 1/2tsp. cinnamon beat till fluffy, add eggs all at once beat on low just till combined
  • Pour over crust
  • Arrange warm apple slices on top
  • Combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and almonds, sprinkle over apple slices
  • Bake 400 about 40 minutes till golden
  • Cool then remove sides and chill 4-24 hours before serving


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moon Magic

Tonight the moon certainly stood out in the night sky much like Monday evening. It was a celestial show and a perfect time for fairies to gather for their evening meeting. I imagine they discuss their work and make plans for next day. Perhaps tonight they might help each other spin fine threads of gossamer to make wings. It is a fact not all fairies are born with wings and it is important each fairy owns several pairs. Sometimes when it is real quiet outside late at night I can hear strains of music. To me that is a sure sign fairies have finished their work and are enjoying dancing by the light of the moon. The following recipe is a tasty treat fairies would love to serve for their evening gathering.
Mashed-Potato Casserole
with smoked Gouda and bacon
Ingredients:
  • 6 slices of applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 lbs russet potatoes,peeled cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs that have been mixed with 2 TB parsley flakes
  • 2 cups (8oz) coarsely grated smoked Gouda cheese

Directions:

  • Butter a pan 13x9
  • Cook bacon till crisp drain on paper towel, crumble and mix with chopped onion
  • Place potatoes in pot and add enough cold water to cover
  • Sprinkle with salt cover and boil till potatoes are tender-about 20 minutes,drain
  • Return potatoes to pot cook over low heat till potatoes are dry and light-about 2 minutes
  • Add sour cream, milk and butter-use potato masher, mash till smooth-better yet try a ricer for this step
  • Stir in 1 1/2 cup Gouda and 1 cup bacon/onion mixture
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Spread in pan, sprinkle rest of cheese over potatoes
  • Top with bread crumbs
  • Bake 375 uncovered until cheese melts and edges of potatoes are bubbling about 30 minutes

Monday, November 2, 2009

Captured...The Moon

My early evening walk was a bonanza in terms watching the spectacular rising of the hunter moon. I was able to get several good shots which I am posting for you to enjoy. I numbered them in the order which they were taken 1-5 but they are posted in opposite order. It is amazing how quickly and EARLY it gets dark. Note on # 5 picture a slight wisp of cloud is covering the moon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Moon Escort

A moonlit night was an inspiration for this free verse
Note: a work in progress
Moon Escort
The moon was following me
every place I went.

A constant companion
that kept me safe
with its visible light.

A gem of jewel
that can out shine
even the brightest star.

This autumn moon
followed me home
on a cool November night.

It pays to be attentive to nights like this when the moon is almost at its fullest. It can be a sure sign that fairies will be out dancing in the woodland. But remember, I have warned you before that people who are lured by their enchanting music and get too close to the fairy rings can disappear from human life for seven years!
I did not have a moon photo of a November night, but thought you'd enjoy thinking about the photo I took of the moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean.
I suppose now that November is upon us you are gearing up for the holiday season and looking over your recipes. I have already pulled out my cranberry/cherry sauce that is great over turkey slices. Try it and see how much better it is than canned cranberry sauce!

Cranberry and Dried-Cherry Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1- 12 0z. container of frozen cranberry juice cocktail thawed
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick broken in half
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1- 6 0z. package dried cherries
  • 1- 12oz bag cranberries( found in produce dept.)
  • 1/4 cup merlot wine
Directions
  • Bring first 5 ingredients to boil over medium heat, stirring till sugar dissolves
  • Add cherries and cook 2 minutes
  • Add cranberries and cook till berries pop, stirring occasionally about 9 minutes
  • Pour into bowl and stir in merlot
  • Cool and then cover and chill
  • Can be made ahead one week
  • Discard cinnamon sticks
  • Serve at room temperature



Friday, October 30, 2009

Fickle October Weather

My journal/writer's notebook is a continual work in progress. It is a keeper of my thoughts, new ideas to think about, recording of memorable events and even some sad times. I have written down hopes, dreams and even my To Do List. I usually have several journals going at a time. Recently I was rereading some pages and came across a poem I had written, rather appropriate for today. I borrowed the first line I sit by the window from a poem called Wind Song by Mimi Brodsky for inspiration. This is my poem...
Rain
I sit by the window
and watch the raindrops fall.
DRIP DRIP
SPLASH SPLASH
Across my window pane.

I sit by the window
and wish the rain would stop.
Grey skies
rumbles of thunder
flashes of light
move across the sky.

Rain, rain
pools and puddles
I think I'll finish my book
and enjoy my inside day.

How true this is for me since I am reading furiously to finish the book Driftless by David Rhodes with book group meeting tomorrow.
The following recipe I make every year to serve on November 1.
Tombstone Brownies
Ingredients:
1 package brownie mix
1 6 oz. package chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 package candy orange mini pumpkins
3/4 cup coconut tinted green
black and grey sprinkles (baking section-look little pebbles)
plastic grave markers that say RIP Over The hill (baking section @Joan Etc. or Michaels
Directions:
  • Line a 13x9 baking pan with foil, extending foil beyond edges of the pan, grease foil
  • Prepare brownie according to direction, spread in pan and bake at 350 about 25 minutes
  • Cool pan on wire rack
  • Frost with prepared chocolate frosting or try this homemade frosting which is really yummy at end of this recipe
  • Starting at shorter end of pan space RIP markers three across and work way down pan making about 12-15 total rows
  • Sprinkle a little tinted green coconut in front of plastic marker
  • On top of coconut place a little pumpkin
  • Sprinkle grey/black sprinkles over whole pan
Fudge Frosting
  • In a medium saucepan combine butter or margarine with chocolate chips, sugar, milk and salt
  • Bring to a boil stirring constantly and simmer 3 minutes
  • Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla
  • Beat in saucepan till smooth may have to add a few TB of milk as needed
  • An added 3 TB. of Kahlua really heats up the flavor

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Showy Piece

Tonight the moon was a showy piece. Its half moon shape gleamed porcelain white against the deep blue sky. It certainly was a lovely night to take a walk around the neighborhood. The crisp cool air was invigorating and I enjoyed looking at all my neighbors' autumn decorations. This time of year is one of my favorite times. I have had fun decorating inside and out plus adding a bit of entertaining to the month. I am posting a picture I took over the weekend. Through the lens I was able to capture a lake view as well as Halloween decorations on the table. Perhaps some of these recipes will put you in a festive mood as you approach the bewitching night. Later in the week I will post Tombstone Brownies just in time for Day of The Dead, November 1.
Carrot Cake
this recipe can also be baked as cupcakes
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 TB. cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple drained
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut
Directions:
  • Beat all ingredients till mixed well
  • Pour into a greased 9 x9 pan. I find a glass one works the best
  • Bake 350 for 30 minutes-check: make sure toothpick comes clean from the center
Frosting
  • 3-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • start out with 1/4 cup of milk beat and keep adding milk till right consistency for spreading
  • use black sprinkles on top of white cream cheese frosting
Warning: Guard this dessert carefully since fairies have been known to leave their footprints behind in the frosting. It is one of their favorites!
Pecan Appetizer
Ingredients:
  • 1 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
  • 1/3 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 to 1 cup finely chopped pecans
Directions:
  • Beat all ingredients
  • Grease a glass pie pan with PAM
  • Spread mixture in glass pan
  • Sprinkle parsley flakes on top
  • Add chopped pecans
  • Bake uncovered at 350 about 15 minutes
  • Stir after 8 minutes
Serve warm with assorted crackers

Sombrero Spread
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 TB. chili powder
  • 1/2 can vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 jar chunky salsa mild or medium
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lb. hamburger cooked and drained
Directions:
  • Brown meat with onion and drain
  • In a medium saucepan on low heat add all ingredients and cook till smooth and warm for 10 minutes (uncovered)
Serve in a bowl with chips



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gone Missing...The Sun

Do you ever feel like we are living in Seattle or Portland with these relentless days of clouds and no sun? I decided to find a picture of one of my favorite sunny places and post it as another day brightener for you to enjoy.
Awhile back I wrote a blog:Why Fairies Do Not Like Rainy Days. One of the readers brought to my attention that just because fairies do not like to get wet doesn't mean they can't enjoy some indoor time being productive. Perhaps they use their skills to mend socks to take to the sock bank or create leg warmers, arm warmers, headbands and other sock accessories. This way any coins they earn from the sock bank can be saved up so they can go to Bureau of Missing Socks. It is here that anyone can buy, trade and sell on the sock exchange. If you go to www.funbureau.com click on one of the drawers that says: Rare and Strange Socks. Also just for fun click on drawer Dr Coconuts. You can listen to new hit single I Lost My Sock.
I had expected that the trip back to Northwoods would be disappointing in terms of lack of color and leaves on the trees. But the Tamaracks were at their showy best in vibrant golden yellows. Many trees are trying their best to hold on to their colored leaves despite the rain and wind. The road though caked in mud, provided some leaf fossil surprises. I am posting some of my recent snapshots.
For any readers out there who like to write children's books I came across two interesting websites filled with helpful information.
The Purple Crayon website http://www.underdown.org
Write4Kids website http://write4kids.com
This past weekend I made chili and homemade caramel sauce with apples. The chili recipe can be found on one of my earlier blogs.
Caramel Sauce
Bring to a simmer and boil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
Whisk in and cool
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Stir in
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  • Bring sugar, water, lemon juice and salt to a simmer in saucepan.
  • When bubbles form, cover and boil 3 minutes. Uncover and boil until mixture turns the color of iced tea, 5-6 minutes
  • Whisk in cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, reduce heat to low simmer 2 minutes
  • Cool to room temperature
  • Serve with apple chunks that are more on the tart side such as Haralson
adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine October 2005


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Needed Support System

I wrote a blog awhile back Determination and Hard Work: Pay-Off (September 16th) on the work ethic of the sock fairies. I noted that these fairies are constantly busy and can be mischievous snatching socks from laundry baskets, clotheslines, inside boots, under the covers and many other numerous places. They are desperate to collect socks hurrying off to the Sock Bank for their big pay-off. Now, I know many readers out there are still hanging on to those lone socks hoping the other sock will magically appear. I figured that help must be out there somewhere so I have been doing online research. I am happy to report some success. There is an organization solely devoted to solving the question what happens to missing single socks. It is called Bureau of Missing Socks. This bureau explores all aspects of the missing sock phenomena and the best part they offer a support system for those sock deprived individuals who just have to have their socks match. Check out the photo I posted with their website for more information. My research also bought me to a store called Sock Dreams in Portland, Oregon. After reading their list of sock accessories, I suspect some of these mischievous fairies are one of their main suppliers!
Another gray rainy day in the cities motivated me to find a photo of something fun to brighten up our day. This scarecrow sits in my backyard and always has a smile on his face. Guess he doesn't mind all the rain!!
Dinner tonight was so easy to prepare. I know many of you are looking for something quick so try this and let me know what you think.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag of frozen butter squash ravioli (can be purchased from Buon Giornio Market-two locations: Downtown St. Paul corner of University and Misssisssippi St. and Sibley Memorial Highway Lilydale next I Nonni Restaurant
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 5 TB. heavy cream
  • 4 TB. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. sage
  • 1 TB. chopped parsley flakes
Directions:
  • Saute shallots in butter for 1 minute (medium heat)
  • Stir in cream and cook for 2 more minutes adding sage and parsley
  • Turn heat to low add cheese and stir till melts
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Set aside to cool
  • Boil ravioli according to directions on package
  • Drain and drizzle sauce over the ravioli to serve


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn Reflections

Several years ago one of my co-workers gave me a beautiful poetry book called Caroline Kennedy A Family of Poems My Favorite Poetry for Children. The book is such a treasure that over the years I have given copies to friends and family members. Caroline is quite a gifted writer who has created this anthology of more than 100 poems cherished by her own family over the years. She has divided the book into different sections and written an introduction for each part. I was intrigued by the section: Seasons where she included an original poem by her mother Jacqueline Bouvier. Caroline wrote that she always liked her mother's poem Thoughts because it captures the feeling of sitting in school daydreaming about a life of adventure. I thought I'd share the poem since it seems rather fitting for this time of the year.
Thoughts
I love the Autumn
And yet I cannot say
All the thoughts and things
That make me feel this way.

I love walking on the angry shore,
To watch the angry sea;
Where summer people were before,
But now there's only me.

I love wood fires at night
That have a ruddy glow.
I stare at the flames
And think of long ago.

I love the feeling down inside me
That says to run away
To come and be a gypsy
And laugh the gypsy way.

The tangy taste of apples,
The snowy mist at morn,
The wanderlust inside you
When you hear the huntsman's horn.

Nostalgia-that's the Autumn,
Dreaming through September
Just a million lovely things
I will always remember.
Jacqueline Bouvier

I have posted a picture called Autumn Reflections taken from the boat while out on Baby Lake.
Today I was out shopping at an antique store and the owner had the best crispy peanut butter cookies to sample for customers and she won me over..it's a keeper! here is her recipe.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Bake 375

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter plain or chunky
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 3/4 tsp. soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Directions:
  • Cream butter, peanut butter and both sugars
  • Add vanilla and egg blend till smooth
  • Sift flour, salt, baking soda
  • Add to creamed mixture and blend well
  • Chill bowl in freezer for one hour
  • Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in white sugar
  • With a fork that has been dredged in flour flatten each ball with a Coriss cross pattern
  • Bake 10-12 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet







Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snow Treasure

Recently I hosted a girl's weekend Up North at the cabin. Despite the interruption of fall with wintry weather our time together was a lot of fun. One of the best parts was an unexpected discovery near the fairy cottage. I am posting a photo for you to see. If you look very carefully on the right side of the picture you will see something truly amazing. Suspended on a stick like a flagpole was my white-yellow ducky sock. This is the mate to one of my many missing ones. I have been holding out not throwing the other one away thinking some day perhaps it would magically appear. This discovery has totally confirmed the presence of a fairy home on our property. The other exciting thing that happened was a friend gave me this exquisite book on how to find fairies in our world. The author wrote about some of her mysterious encounters which have led her to believe fairies really do exist. Cicely Mary Barker has done a lot of painstaking searching for fairies and shares her wisdom on five special places where these creatures might make their homes. Her notes in the book affirm my discoveries that it is possible to capture glimpses of fairies as they explore our world. One of the five places she suggested to look for fairies is the forest floor. Of course I already confirmed the fairies existence with the recent discovery of the fairy cottage down near the lake at the foot of an old oak tree. Some signs that might indicate the presences of fairies include: looking for hidden entrances such as a hollow in an old tree stump, the foot of an ancient oak, any unusual tiny patterns carved in a tree trunk, ripped leaves (fairies often use arrangements of torn leaves to pass on messages on to fairy friends), and mossy trails that might have been sprinkled with a bit of fairy dust to guide others to their homes.
BoldI am also including some photos taken on a recent fall walk.
Good conversations with friends need good food and drink to nourish the soul. Try this one!
Lasagna Rolls
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis: Italian Fast Food
(Food Network
Show) Makes about 12 rolls
White Sauce:
2TB. butter
2tsp. flour
1 1/4 cup half and half
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
pinch ground nutmeg

Lasagna
1 container (15 0z.) ricotta cheese
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/4/ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1-2 TB. olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noddles
1 jar of prepared marinara sauce
1 (15 oz.) can chunky tomatoes basil/onions/oregano
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or Mozzarella
1 cup pine nuts
3 oz. chopped prosciutto
Directions:
  • In a saucepan add marinara sauce and tomatoes and simmer on low heat while making the rest of lasagna recipe
  • Heat oven to 400 and lightly grease a 13x9 pan
  • To make white bechamel sauce: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk till bubbly, then whisk in half and half turn heat down to simmer adding cheese a few handfuls at a time. Whisk in nutmeg, salt, pepper and stir till smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large pan heat water with olive oil for noodles, when bubbling add noodles criss/crossing pieces as added to water. Turn heat to medium and cook till only al dente (just till tender) then drain.
  • In a bowl mix ricotta, spinach, 1 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, prosciutto, pine nuts.
To assemble:
  • Spread white sauce on bottom of 13x9 pan reserving 1/4 cup
  • On each lasagna noodle place large tablespoon of ricotta cheese mixture in center and roll noodle up and place in pan seam side down. Continue till all cheese mixture used.
  • Spread marinara sauce over top of the rolls and drizzle last 1/4 cup white sauce over red sauce.
  • Then sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the rolls.
  • Bake covered with foil 45 minutes and last 5 minutes or so uncover. Let set a few minutes before serving.
This recipe does have a lot of steps but is well worth it! Can be refrigerated and made a day ahead.
Marietta Old Vine Red Lot # 49 or Cline Cashmere would be good wines to serve with meal.






Thursday, October 8, 2009

Something to Think About

Recently I saw this quote in a magazine "Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." by Elizabeth Lawrence. I loved the quote but did not recognize the author's name. So I did a little sleuthing and uncovered some interesting information. Elizabeth was a pioneer in her field of horticulture. She felt passionate to write about her garden and share these insights with other gardeners. Elizabeth Lawrence has written six books. The first one was published in 1942 called A Southern Garden. I encourage you to google her name and read a bit more about her life.
The cold rainy weather with a possible frost tonight is sure to hasten the color on the trees. This quote inspired me to take my camera as I walked around the neighborhood. I am posting one of the photos I took. Perhaps this might inspire you to take a photo walk in the next few days despite the cool temperatures and note some of nature's changes.
And...after you return from your walk I'd like to suggest a cup of hot tea and a yummy cookie to warm you up.
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
makes 12
recipe from hersheys.com/kisses/recipes/detail.asp
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter note:I used 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 stick margarine softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tb. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Hershey Cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. expresso powder (can be found in grocery baking or coffee aisle)
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 12 Hershey kisses unwrapped save rest for snacking
Directions:
  • Chop nuts finely in blender and set aside
  • Beat butter,egg yolks, milk, vanilla until fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl stir flour, cocoa, salt, expresso powder
  • Combine both butter mixture and dry mixture beating until blended
  • Refrigerate dough in freezer for an hour
  • Heat oven to 350
  • Lightly grease cookie sheet
  • Shape dough into 1 inch balls
  • Roll each ball into chopped nuts
  • Press thumb gently in center of each cookie
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until set
  • Press Hershey Kiss in center of each cookie and cool







Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Fairies Do Not Like Rainy Days

Fairy houses are cleverly concealed in the woods and built in more sheltered areas. I have heard that fairies prefer to be hidden away from inquisitive human eyes plus they do not like to get wet. I certainly was lucky last week to discover a fairy cottage in the woods by the lake as I was taking fall pictures. With all the rain we have had lately that might explain why I have not even caught a glimpse of a fairy. But I know for a fact they are out and about because I am missing more socks. Actually I now have four pairs of mismatched socks. If you go back to the blog dated: September 6 Determination and Hard Work Pay Off I had written seeing a few sock fairies hurrying along the road carrying bulging leather bags. I suspected those bags held socks. Perhaps these fairies were in a hurry to reach a brick building at the top of a hill. Could this building be some type of sock bank? What do you think this building could be?
I would like to take the time to answer some reader requests. One person would like to know which wines from the first blog I wrote in September would work with some of my recipes.
I would choose a red wine for the Chili recipe (Blog Oct. 2)
Cline Ancient Vine Mourvedie (Italian)
Chianto Classico Riservia (Italian)
Old Vine Red Lot Number 49 (California)
I would choose a white light wine for the Mango-Peach Chicken recipe (Blog Set.16)
Nobilio Sauvigon Blanc 2008 (Australian)
Zeller Schwarze Katz 9 (German)
Pinot Grigio Vento Incanto (Italian)
Another reader was looking for a pumpkin bread recipe. Since today seemed like a good day to bake I experimented with several recipes and will include my final result. But you might be interested to note that I changed a few ingredients from some of the bread recipes I looked at to make it more healthy. Example: Decreased sugar from 3 cups to 2, 3 1/2 cups white flour changed to half white and half whole wheat and cut 1 cup oil back to 3/4 cup and added 3/4 cup chunky cinnamon applesauce. My family really liked the recipe so let me know what you think.
Pumpkin Bread Recipe
Bake at 350 45-50 minutes or when toothpick comes clean from center
Ingredients:
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup chunky cinnamon applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cup white flour
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups raisins
grated carrots optional
Directions;
Grease and flour two loaf pans
Beat together puree, eggs, oil, applesauce, sugars, spices till well blended
In a separate bowl whisk flours, salt, baking soda
Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture just till blended, stir in raisins and walnuts
ENJOY



Friday, October 2, 2009

Harvest Moon

The weather has not been too cooperative for doing any moon watching with all the rain and cloudy skies. But if we should happen to get lucky the Harvest Moon (a full moon) is supposed to make an appearance this weekend October 4th. This is the time of the year when the full moon is nearest the autumnal equinox. I decided to be productive being inside so much and find some moon poems from this wonderful book I have called
As Long as the Moon shall Rise
Reflections on the Full Moon
Eleen Moore Anderson, Editor.
The Harvest Moon
It is the harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, in woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The crimson Moon, uprising from the sea,
With large delight, foretells the harvest near.
Edward Hovell-Thurlow
English writer 1781-1814
From the poem Moonlight 1814

Autumn Night
That there is only one
is unbelievable tonight.

This harvest moon.
Oshima Ryota
Japanese Haiku writer 1718-1787

All night I could not sleep
because of the moonlight on my bed.
I kept on hearing a voice calling:
Out of nowhere, Nothing answered "yes".
Zi Ye

from a collection of popular Chinese folk songs

What better time than a rainy day to try some comfort food
Chili
Tastes the best if made 1-2 days ahead of serving
Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cups of chopped celery
  • 2 Tb lemon juice
  • 2 Tb. brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard
  • 2 Tb. chili powder
  • 1 jar of prepared marinara sauce (1lb. 8 oz)
  • 2 cans of light kidney beans drained (15.5 oz0
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes (oregano- garlic-basil)
How to prepare:
  • Brown ground beef, onion and chopped celery and drain
  • In a bowl, mix lemon juice, chili powder, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, salt, vinegar, mustard, water ketchup
  • In large pan with high sides add browned hamburger mixture, lemon juice chili powder mixture, 2 cans of kidney beans drained , 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1/2 jar of marinara sauce
  • Simmer on low heat for an hour uncovered