April 24, 2012

blogger changes

Hmmm, Blogger had been warning us bloggers that it was going to make some changes come April,  and here it is.  Although, as the reader, you probably don't know that all this behinds the scenes stuff is different.  Anyway... I'm sure it's easy to figure out (like why the heck can't I get my signature to go BELOW this post?!), but I certainly don't have any more time today to fool around with it. 

See you again once I have some moments to get acquainted with this new system (read: maybe not til next week).  Now let's see, can I post a picture easily...


all righty, well that's a good sign, isn't it?  Hmm, now where is the publish button?  Oh, I see it up there and if I click it...

April 20, 2012

Tiramisu


Did you know that I am Italian?  My red hair* gives it away, doesn't it?  
 Maybe because of my genetics, or maybe just because I love FOOD In General, I am a sucker for tiramisu: the creamy, chocolately mocha dream with lady fingers drifting all around.  Who wouldn't like such a thing?


I wake sometimes to find myself salivating for this confection only to be stopped in my tracks... WAAAAH.  There are no ladyfingers left in the house (yes, this is indeed what I dream).  I need not enter into that nightmare any more- check it out- at this week's yard sale, I payed $1.00 for a ladyfinger pan!  Oh yes, I came right home and made up a batch of tiramisu and it was the stuff GOOD dreams are made of.  



Even if you never stumble upon a ladyfinger pan, just buy some at the grocery store, whip the heck out of the remaining ingredients and cover the whole thing with cocoa.  the.end.

TJ's Tiramisu

2 eggs                1/2 C whipping cream that's been whipped and chilled
8 oz mascarpone                             2T Kahlua
2C strong coffee or espresso          about 18 ladyfingers
1/2 C sugar                                   1/2t rum extract
2T cocoa


- separate eggs.  Beat yolks with 1/4C sugar and a pinch of salt until thick and light yellow in color, about 4 minutes.  Add in mascarpone and rum extract, blend all well.  Gently add in whipped cream and set mixture aside.  Beat egg whites with 1/4 C sugar until peaks form, but not dry.  Stir some of the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

- Add kahlua to coffee mixture.  Carefully dip each ladyfinger in the liquid then begin to cover the bottom of a small bowl or pan with the cookies.  Add enough dollops of the mascarpone mixture to cover the cookies.  Cover with ladyfingers, then add more mascarpone.  Repeat.  Depending on how wide/deep your pan is, you might get one more round of cheese/cookie layering in.  End on a mascarpone layer and dust the top with cocoa.
 
Eat your creation.  Then ask for seconds.


(*ps: remember I henna?)

April 17, 2012

2 plus 5 equals lots to read

I've returned to reading the two blogs I gave up over Lent, but with a healthier distance and detachment to them.  You see, I don't need to be as attached because in the interim, I've found other cool things to read. 

Careful now before you click: they are all most interesting:

Small Things  ok, so this almost qualified me as cheating over Lent since it reminds me a lot of Soulemama.  How was I to know?

A Year Of Family Home Evenings  I've said it before, we aren't Mormon, but I hull religious exposure from many places.  Places like this one.

Food Renegade You can't sit back and relax here..  Food Renegade is all about smartening up about the food we eat and where it comes from.  Heck, this site even got me to call my governor regarding GMOs.  It's a good, daily kick in my rear.

Cold Antler Farm Jenna is my age and lives just over the border in New York.  She has a farm!  She is an amazing writer and blogger!  She just got a goat!  let me repeat  She just got a goat!!!!!!!

Little Free Libraries- have to put this one in here as Nap mom just opened my eyes to it.  Amazing right?  Now what are you going to do about it?

*********************************************

It's again "clean up and save this month's photos" time.  The gem I found this month...


my son's not only deft with a slot machine, but he seems to be teaching others the evil of his ways.  Maybe our Family Home Evenings will be able to counteract that?


Happy day to you all!

April 16, 2012

To do

All day long I thought today was Tuesday.  I even went so far as to correct Bear while doing calendar.... but Mama it IS Monday...

the confusion stems from the fact that Champ is home with us this week.  His school has Spring Break which means we welcomed him back into our fold and said goodbye to my job for a week (can't wait to see you next week!).

                                           a path to the blocks

I think it's going to take me until Wednesday to fully transition to this out of the ordinary schedule.  Our combined "to do" list is about 8 pages long and it's just begging to be condensed as we haul the canoe down to the lake and light bonfires in the middle of the day.  A festive mood around here for sure, but there is work to be done I tell you and eventually we will set down the canoe paddles and begin.


The other news of note is that Ace turned 6 months.  A whole half a year old, oh dear!!!!!  With the 6 month marker comes food...


lots of yummy food.  I adore adore adore this stage of babyhood (except that it means he's a 1/2 year old. yikes!) and look forward to not only posting fun foodie pictures


but a little behind the scenes peek in to the method we use to introduce him to such delicious goodness.  All that can wait for now though, because there is a family right outside my door waiting for me to join them in play.  That "to do" list can wait a teeny bit longer. 

April 13, 2012

Yo, Gurt!


This picture lets you know where I stand today: unedited, a bit unruly and messy, less than thrilled and quite behind on everything (Winter?!  That's so last month).  There's yogurt there though, so let's focus on that.  It would be quite spoiled if we were to eat it since this picture was snapped LAST SEASON, but what's the difference?  You are all stuck out there in Bloggyland anyway.

                                     (a plain version)


I have a Euro Cuisine yogurt machine with those nifty glass cups which makes everything so very portable and cute!  I've tried the Mason jar way and the crockpot way, but this little pot system is my favorite because of it's ease and really, a simple yogurt maker like I have pays for itself in no time flat.


Seven jars fit in there at a time and I have a second set, so sometimes I do one round and then another and have a fridge full of yogurt.  These jars are deceiving- they seem small in the photos, but boy you can pack a lot of yogurt in there, so seven tend to last more than 7 days.

My supplies:
- 1 carton of milk (You won't use it all and I don't use raw milk because it gets to runny)
- about 1/4 C cream or half and half
- 1 small container of store bought yogurt, flavored to your liking
- sugar (optional, but honey or maple syrup tend to make it runny)
- fruit (optional) 
-flavorings (optional)

I use one of the glass jars to measure out 5 and 1/4 jar fulls into a bowl.  I then add in one jar full of cream.  After that, the container of yogurt is added and 1/4 C of sugar or so if I'm using it in the batch.  I stir everything up and when it is mixed, I divide it into each of the yogurt cups and turn the machine on for 8-12 hours.  Usually that means overnight and on into a bit of the morning.   The headspace left in the jars leaves room for me to add in the toppings later.


Once the space pod (as Bear calls it) looks like this and the yogurt seems to have set, I top them off with whatever fruit I've made, screw on their lids, and toss them in the fridge.


The fruit is assembled while the yogurt is cooking.  I gather a handful or two of berries and then cook them down with a little honey or maple syrup (those sweeteners work ok here because they are cooked with the berries).  The berries are cooked to get some of the excess water out because water=soupy yogurt.  The mixture is cooled and then dolloped over each yogurt . If I made a bit too much, we just pour it over some oatmeal.  
 
   
That's all I do.  There's no prewarming of the milk and I don't strain it after it's cooked because we like the consistency just as it is.  I'm telling you easiest.yogurt.ever.  And you can get so creative!  We've added crushed pineapple, toasted coconut, and cinnamon apple bits as flavors before and I typically add vanilla extract or bits from the bean itself to the initial mixture.  The possibilities are endlessly yummy and we ruminate on future combinations as we slurp these concoctions down.

*edited to add the proper yogurt maker name and a link

April 11, 2012

Picmonkey does Easter

Here I am looking at some laundry left over from Easter.  It's not even that much, but it presents a situation.  Namely, drying the clothes.  Dare I get in to it?  Maybe not today, but I will say that while circumstance caused our household to go dryer free, the end result has made us happy to be that much more energy efficient.  Is it efficient if no energy is used?  Anyway, I'll also be the first to tell you that there is a learning curve involved. 

Now you know I didn't do too much laundry over Easter, but I was busy doing all sorts of other lovely things.

~finally met those adorable newborns I've been itching to hold
~ made a yummy scallop recipe during Champ's FOURTH birthday party.  See the finished tomb on the table?  
~ got to visit with these guys again
~Peeps are from the same area in Pennsylvania as where I grew up.  It was about time that I took Pinterest's tip and made a wreath
~ traveled with the basically free sourdough starter I've been feeding for a month now.  It started as dehydrated bits and I've got it this far- there was no way I was leaving it behind.
~ I warned you.  This time it was for matchy matchy Easter outfits.  It's amazing what a sewing machine and container of dye can do
~Bear went on THREE egg hunts
~ As for the picture collage itself?  Well Picnik, my favorite photo editing spot, will be closing in a few days and I've been desperate to find an alternative.  Enter Picmonkey.  I have had e-mail contact with one of the program's developers and was thrilled to see what the site can (and eventually will) do..  If you are a Picnik fan, go check out Picmonkey.

And how was your Easter?

April 03, 2012

Juxtaposition

Merriam-Webster, juxtaposition: the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side; also : the state of being so placed.

You want an example?  Yesterday began Easter week, a very big deal at my house.  Yesterday began Champ's birthday week, a very big deal at my house.  Talk about mood swings...
Obviously it doesn't happen every year, but when these two paths cross... well it makes me grateful to have my birthday in November and not have to make the choices Champ must make.  But that's why he's stronger than me.  And selfless too.  It could be considered a great gift to have one's birthday on Easter and Champ handles it gracefully. 


While determining when to fast and when to eat birthday cake, we are busy constructing all the usual kinds of Easter crafts and a few rarities too.  Like the tomb of Jesus: it's baking away in the oven ready to be painted and used for reenactments in the coming days.  

 (Bear's crucifix for the tomb)

Prayer, fasting and alms giving are where it's at this holy season and so Bear has been gathering up alms like a fiend- checking under sofa cushions and plucking lucky finds from the yard.  This Lenten tradition of alms giving is in addition to what we donate for Boxing Day  and it seems he will have POUNDS of change to put in the collection basket by this Sunday!  
Do you have traditions for Easter?  Religious or otherwise? I especially am curious about Easter baskets as Mr. E Bunny hid Champ's, but mine was in a well cherished nook each year.  Does the bunny hide it different ways at different houses?  How interesting! 

Some of our newer tradition influences have come from the book "Treasuring God in our Traditions" by Noel Piper.  She has some fabulous ideas for traditions: Christmas, Easter, funerals and yes BIRTHDAYS being among them.


So we celebrate.  And then we celebrate some more


and we begin to build our own traditions among those carried over from long ago while balancing Holy week among them all.  Cake and ice cream celebrations alongside somber fasting.  Reverence for the Son of the Almighty and His great sacrifice.  Reverence always, always for my husband and daily sacrifices made not for himself, but for his family, leading me to muse again that there is something extra special about a person born on Easter.   

 Happy Birthday Champ!  I love you!
 
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