Sunday, December 28, 2008

We LOVE sledding.

video

We were going to go to Jeff's parent's house Saturday, but then thought we'd wait until Monday instead and take a trip sledding and snowshoeing. I love snowshoeing up the canyon by our house. it's beautiful with all the bare trees holding snow in their branches, and the deep drifts all around. There's a medium hill that the kids like to sled on, so Jeff and I take turns going snowshoeing, and the other sleds with the kids. The problem with this trip was that we got the kids a Wii for Christmas, and they decided they liked "virtual fun" better than real fun. Tia got over pouting by the time Jeff shot this video, but she wasn't any happier than the others. I was afraid the neighbors would call CPS on me before I got Kai's snow pants on him he was screaming so loud ("you're GOING! -- and you're going to wear these so deal with it!").

Once we got up there, they had a good time except for maybe Kai.....
video

Friday, December 26, 2008

I use up my two family party allotment.



We went to Kira's (my sister's) house for Christmas eve. It was a close race as to where this party was going to be, because my other sister said Kira wouldn't care enough, so it should be here. Then Jeff said he didn't want to put up with me caring "too much" all day and snapping at everyone while I got the house and food ready, so Kira was up. She cared. It was beautiful. They had a big fire going all night, and the food was great --even if it was supposed to be a low key sandwich bar. My brother in law grilled vegetables for us (outside in the snow bless him), and there was artichoke chutney, and roasted red pepper spread, and fresh green onion and herb cheese spread, and three kinds of bread, and more dessert than you could shake a stick at. Really. Your stick would be all worn out by the time you finished shaking it at all the treats.

We also did our traditional nativity with the kids, which was actually kind of pathetic because half of the cousins weren't there yet, and Kai refused to do it (even when I threatened no ice cream he wouldn't budge), my Mom had to be Joseph. That was a picture. My sister's husband isn't a member of our church, and I swear thought we were all nuts, which was a fair assessment.

Then last night was the Christmas DAY family party. Jeff's limit is two, so I used up my second one the next day. We don't get to go to the extended family party on Sunday now (well I could go without him but then everyone asks the whole time where he is, and it's awkward --what do I say? He doesn't like crowds of people, it doesn't matter who the people are, just crowds. People don't understand.), but we're going to his parents tomorrow for a couple of days, so it's all good anyway.

ANYWAY, we went to my parents for Christmas DAY party as I was saying, and ate again (Jeff says all we like to do at our parties is eat), and opened presents, and the kids got too many, and are going to be unlivable with now they're so spoiled, and then we watched a movie, which everyone deserted halfway through which is also a tradition, and then we noticed the RAIN outside had turned to SNOW. Not good. In Utah, that's like a death sentence if you're going to drive. The rain freezes, and then snow falls on top so you don't know where the ice is.

The last two days I'd been congratulating myself that the big storm they've been predicting never came so I could go to my beloved family parties, and then here it hits right at the end of the second one. Now, if I had been by myself, I would have said yay, and spent the night and gone shopping with my mom and sister the whole next day, but my man likes his privacy and his own bed, and so was motivated to RUN out the door to try to beat the storm (which was already there). Tia was crying she was so scared, but as soon as we got down off the mountain my parents live on it wasn't bad at all. In fact, the roads were dry by the time we got to Point o' the Mountain (the county line).

So yeah, we're alive, and yeah, after cleaning the house all day I'm wondering if life's worth living anyway (my tub and shower are REALLY clean now, but do you ever wonder if the effort is really worth it? It's just going to get dirty again. I HATE cleaning the shower.). We're going to need something fun tomorrow. Now I'm in the party mood, I want to party on I guess. Meesha's coming, and Garret, and there's after Christmas sales, so I guess I'm going to be OK (if I don't make myself sick with junk food first).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pumpkin Risotto, and Bacon and Garlic White beans.


I needed to make kind of a quick dinner tonight, and so used packaged stuff for an easy prep. I think it turned out really good, so thought I'd share. I just found a boxed risotto mix in the store, and at the end added 2 cups of pumpkin puree (I buy Jarrahdale and Kabocha pumpkins for Halloween decor so I can use the flesh later). Anyway the risotto turns a pretty orange shade and my kids like it (anything with cheese right?), and you get a little more veggie goodness. For the beans I sauteed a red bell pepper and a small onion until soft, and then added a can of baked beans and a can of great northern beans, about 1/4 cup bacon bits, some garlic, and a little water. I let it all simmer together for 20 min. or so for the flavors to meld, but you wouldn't have to do that. Then I just added a salad, and dinner was done. Not bad, and not too much trouble. Sorry this picture isn't the best, but you get an idea of what it looked like.

continued...

My mom gave me Natalie's link: the band is Taja

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Battle of the choirs

We had "choirfest" tonight for our stake (church). My friend Wendy and her husband call it "battle of the choirs" . Jeff says it's a festival for people who like to make a big production. I enjoyed it. The thing about Mapleton church choirs, is the Mapleton Chorale.

Just about half of every ward choir has sung in or sings in Mapleton Chorale. It's a non-audition volunteer choir for the area, that really sings at a near professional level. Translation: if you don't sing so well, you'll be driven out before too long. I did it a couple of years ago, and honestly, couldn't handle the pressure. It was a major time commitment, and even when I was singing well, I never felt OK, because I would know the person next to me or the person behind me was screwing up, and we'd hear "SOPRANOS ARE FLAT!". Not so fulfilling. When people aplauded at the end of a concert, I'd feel like they were aplauding the director. I never felt like I had a part of the praise, just the criticism. It's my diva background I guess. I need some glory.

On my mother's side it seems like all my cousins are singers. Really, two have recorded professionally, and at least two others have sung professionally live on stage, and I'm probably forgetting someone. You should have heard all of us singing at my grandparents' funerals. Those poor microphones --battle of the Divas (except for me. I would NEVER do something like that :) ). I should link to some web pages that have them on it. Let's see.. here's an article on Erica., here's Stacey (I can't find where she was on stage, but she's got a major blog now), here's Nicole (it's a song she's done), I can't find Natalie. Dang. She's in some girls band.

But yeah the battle of the choirs tonight was nice. Really good sounds from almost all of them, and we didn't mess up either which was comforting. We had a major goof-up during the sacrament program. I guess you had to be there.

Sacred Season


I heard something cool today on KSL. If the hour of prayer is the time of day we stop to remember our Savior, and our Church services , our sacrament meetings, are the time in the week when we stop to remember our Savior, then Christmas is the season of the year when we commemorate him. It's the sacramental season of the year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rambling again

Well, I haven't been feeling myself lately, but, I'm up and around again today, so thought I'd say hi. I still haven't found a Christmas present for Jeff, mainly because his list is a little tricky this year (I'd really like to tell you his main request but it's too embarrassing -think Star Wars), and frankly I'm scared to go to the store this close to Christmas. I know I'm going to have to buck up sooner or later, but right now it's looking like later. Internet shopping anyone? I'm also terrified that it's going to be a disappointing Christmas for my kids. I think I get it from my Mom. I always remember her looking anxious Christmas morning, and I never remember being anything but thrilled, but those facial expressions must have sunk deep into my subconscious because they're there inside me every year.

Part of it may be all the options! Kai wants "that for Christmas" every time we see something in a store, on TV, at a friends house.... We really try to keep it small for Christmas, just three gifts each, and this year it's more like two, but it's a conscious choice that's really hard to stick to. We also have a limit of around 40.00 to give something to each other. This makes it more challenging to give something meaningful, or something the person wouldn't buy for themselves, but sometimes (like this year) I get stuck. It's all going to be OK right?

On a brighter note, we had our church Christmas party last night, and it was really nice! My friend Audrey was in charge, and I guess that was why it turned out. The ward had no budget this year for the party, I mean literally no budget, so everything had to be potluck. She assigned out everything, and people really came through. It was just soup, salad, bread, and pie, but it all looked nice, and the soup I had was great (so whoever brought the lentil and sausage -yummm!). She even assigned out the centerpieces. The one on our table was a replica of the Grinch's sled tipping over the edge of the mountain with all the gifts (remember that part?) --our neighbor made it. The kids did the whole nativity story on stage with songs, and then the bishop read stories to the kids, and the Primary donated stuff for a craft.

Before the Christmas party, Kai had his preschool Christmas program, and ran true to family form. He REFUSED to get up there and sing. After the thing was half over I reminded him that in the spring when his class did their program (and he did a solo with no balking ---what the?) how he wanted his class to do a show "tomorrow, and the next day, and the next". He remembered, and got up and finished the show then. He wouldn't stand up and do the snowflake dance with the other kids, far far beneath him apparently, but the rest of the songs he did. Nuts. I took pictures with my phone, but they've disappeared. He looked like a teenager. "You better not pout" --he must have forgotten that part.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas letter

ACME Generic Christmas Letter

The 2008 Christmas season’s time-saving innovation for busy people!

Easy to follow instructions: In each section we have included the most popular choices, according to a recent survey among busy people such as yourself. Draw a line through non-applicable words or circle the applicable ones. Then, fill in the blanks as needed. It’s that easy!


Part A: Salutation

Dear friends / family / dudes / coworkers / IRS employees / worldwide community,


Part B: The Opening

I / We can’t believe how quickly this year has passed.

I / We have been incredibly busy with work / school / church / home shopping network / zither lessons / soccer / baseball / football /catering/ basketball / polo / rugby / jai alai / genealogy / therapy / movies / raising rabbits / yoga./tae bo


Part C: News and Accomplishments

At work I / We / Jeff have / has received an enviable raise / been promoted to Chairman of the Board / unlimited usage of the company jet / often worked long hours / regularly received 100 emails a day / taken a second job at McDonalds / often had to take lunch off for Frisbee golf / applied for Unemployment / been serving 5-10 for embezzlement.

In my / our leisure time I / we climbed Mount Everest / played Monopoly/ took a Caribbean cruise / almost got the yard finished / camped a couple of nights in Malibu / vacationed in Maui / bar-b-q'd on the back patio / learned to ski / earned a pilot’s license / motorcycled through China / restored a 57 Chevy / piddled around as usual

I / We also volunteered our vast amount of spare time as a School Crossing Guard / 11 year old scout leader / Activity days leader / Salvation Army Bell Ringer/ Bingo Night Bouncer/ enrichment committee member / Handicap Parking Monitor / Peewee Hockey Coach / Greenpeace activist / Prison Chaplain / Neighborhood Watch Captain.


Part D: The Children

I / We am / are so proud of my / our amazing / good / wonderful / beautiful / perfect children.

Tia is not / attending school and is currently in grade /K/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/F/SJ/Sr.

I / We are especially pleased that he / she has participated in the gifted and talented program , plays the following instrument: radio, is working part-time / full-time at her etsy shop and has earned the following recognition(s): master muffin maker .

Ari is not / attending school and is currently in grade P/K/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/F/S/J/Sr.

I / We are especially pleased that he / she has gotten baptized this year , plays the following instrument: vcr , is working part-time / full-time at vacuuming the house and has earned the following recognition(s): master snowflake cookie baker .

Kai is not / attending school and is currently in grade P/K/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/F/S/J/Sr.

I / We are especially pleased that he / she has participated in the Maple Rose Preschool Christmas program , plays the following instrument: Mozilla Firefox , is working part-time / full-time at bugging his sisters and has earned the following recognition(s): certified Calvin and Hobbes look-alike

If space is needed for additional children please use back of page. See page back X .

Part E: The Invitation

Please feel free to call / visit / stay overnight / move-in indefinitely if you are ever in the area.

Part F: The Closing Blessing

I / We hope that this Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / season is one of perpetual debt / love / joy / hope / peace for you and yours.

Til next year, love / warm regards / bah humbug Amara Tia Ari Kai Jeff


For a personal touch, and to let your recipients know how really busy you are, gently sprinkle your ACME generic Christmas letter with water, dust lightly with flour and crumple slightly.


ACME - A Christmas Made Easy

See our 2004 catalog for more timesaving holiday products

2004 MorganFamilyChristmasLetter

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookie Factory!


Jeff said it looked like a cookie factory in our kitchen. I said "It is". They turned out really cool this year, even with my non-discouragable helpers. That was a little hard for me sometimes, to let Tia and Ari help, and we did have a few casualties because of it, but I probably would still be working on a bunch of stale cookies now if it wasn't for their help.
I added a light blue flooding icing this year to some of them (inspired by Kuidaore).
Of course they didn't turn out nearly as sharp and perfect as hers, but then I don't think she was making 24 dozen (I know I told you only 23 dozen Kira, but it was 24), and trying to get them all done for neighbors before they were stale. She probably didn't have a ten year old and eight year old helping her either.



I finally found some sanding sugar in Orem (I went to 6 different stores, SIX!), and also found some small chocolate jimmies made by Guittard that tasted SO good --they were pure dark chocolate -I'm convinced. We also had our usual white non-pariels.



I also sent away to Amazon for a cookie decorating how-to book, and a new set of snowflake cutters that have the neat insert cutter pieces , so that was a fun new twist (until Ari made a whole batch of miniscule flakes that ended up driving me crazy to decorate).



All in all, it was a fun -but hectic- time. We did a marathon session Saturday from 9:00am- to midnight, and finally finished. Nothing has gotten me in the Christmas spirit like that though (really.). I was in the kitchen working with Tia and Ari up until their bedtime, and we're snitching pieces of dough, listening to Christmas carols on the radio (that "shmaltzy Christmas music" my Dad's so fond of --Jeff had to leave the room), smelling those good cloves and spices --I ground my own cloves this year- what a difference, and looking at these beautiful things we were creating while the snow really fell in Mapleton for the first time this year. We even had the fireplace going most of the day. Idyllic. This is what I dreamed of when I told my Aunt lynn I "just wanted to be a mom that made cookies with my kids". We used the rolling pin, and cookie recipes she gave me for my wedding present.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Halfaway there.


This is why I'm not posting. All the dough and icing is made, half the cookies are baked (hopefully, I did have a couple casualties I may have to replace), and none are decorated. WHIRL WHIRL WHIRL!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gingerbread kit


Well we did our traditional "cheap gingerbread house kit from Wal-Mart". After a big argument about how we did it last year (I maintained we decorated the pieces first and then put it together, as this only makes sense, and Tia insisted we put it together first --Tia won-- that's what the box says), the kids got going and managed to put it all together before taking it apart again and eating it. By the time I got home from my hair appointment (thank you thank you Sadie --what a miracle worker you are! I was grey grey grey), it was completely gone. Jeff maintains he threw it away, but I looked in the trash (so what? I was curious!) and the only thing there was the base. I think Jeff ate the remains!

OK this little guy looks like he's been through 'Nam. My favorite kind of gingerbread guy.





You can see Kai probably didn't get his fair share of helping time. My girls are a little OCD about baking stuff. Kai still had a little fun I think.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why real photographers use a tripod.

I was thinking it would be fun to show you how my tree turned out, with thanks to Stacy's idea of the 7.00 Costco ribbon, but then I reallized I was a little short on equipment to take the pictures properly. I wanted to show you how everything really looked with the lights off, and the tree and Christmas village lights turned on, but that needs a longer exposure time, during which I am prone to breathe. Anyway, Here are some artistically blurry pictures of this year's Christmas decor.




Because it takes a village.... I was really dreading setting this up, but after setting up buffet/catering tables all year, the village was actually a piece of cake. (Mmmmm. Cake.)


If you look close, you can see the lights are small wiggly lines (that's when I breathed I guess).





Pretty cool eh? Nothing like the Robert's craft store trees, but then I didn't spend 27 hundred thousand dollars on it either. Jeff WAS right though, it doesn't quite fit with the star. I had to squash it on there, and the top point is scraping the ceiling.

See? Not so impressive with the flash, but at least it isn't blurry.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wildcrafting part deux

Here's the teasel with some of the curly willow. If you don't know what these pictures are, scroll down to yesterday's post.




Here's the weeds I collected yesterday. Aren't they a beautiful shade of brown? Almost coppery. They look like buckwheat to me, and I'm wondering if they are wild buckwheat. No, I just checked, and wild buckwheat is a vine. Oh well. I love this weed. It's going up in all my cupboard baskets.
Here are all the pruned branches. They aren't that dusty, they've got a thin coating of fur from being cut in the spring. Think pussy willow type fur.




Here's the rest of the curly willow. I think it's fantastic. I would grow a whole group of these trees in my yard if Jeff would let me. He hates how the willow drops branches etc. My point of course being that it would never have time to grow very many branches with me cutting them all the time. OK, that's the tour. I'm thinking about doing some leaf frames again in the spring, if I do I'll show all you guys. Have you ever looked at the beauty in a single leaf? My whole master bath in Taylorsville was filled with frames of just leaves. Those didn't survive the move though. Got to make some new ones. Merry Christmas by the way. Did you watch the devotional tonight? Best one in years seemed like to me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wildcrafting (weed stealing)

I read once in a book about "wildcrafting" where you search in nature for items to sell, or use in crafting, art, etc. It sounds like such a hip, eco-friendly, exclusive type of term. I do it all the time, but it's not exactly glamorous.

Today I finally had my clippers in my car to cut the weeds I've been eyeing for a year growing by the side of a road next to a pawn shop. My friend even saw me (still sweaty, and wiping my nose from the cold) cutting the weeds. I waved though, and didn't even try to hide behind the cement safety barrier. What the heck I guess.

Last year, on the way to Ari's school, I saw a landscape guy pruning an apple tree. I stopped and asked if I could have the branches. He said OK, but gave me more than one curious glance as I gathered his trash and put it in my car.

In Taylorsville, our house was right next to the Jordan River walking/running trail. I had a heyday there. I once saw a big section of curly willow that had broken off a tree (I SWEAR it was broken first), and I carried it home 2 miles, pregnant. I still have those branches, they came with me on my move.

I also saw teasel growing along that trail. OK, it wasn't RIGHT on the trail, I had to wade a little into marshland, but worth it. I spray painted them a darker brown, but love them now. They came with me on my move too. Jeff wants to watch our movie now, but I'll post this, and maybe take pictures tomorrow. Night night.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Losing Hardball with Ari


It's time to tell my famous Ari story. It's famous 'cause we tell it all the time, so if you've talked to me in person in the last 5 years, you may want to skip this post.

Ari was 3 years old and wouldn't eat dinner. She would eat toast and yogurt and pb&j sandwiches, and milk, but real food at the table with the family? Forget it. I finally decided it was time to play hardball with her. If you know Ari, you know that hardball is ....really hard. Two full weeks it took to turn her around. I'm pretty sure she was getting snacks at preschool, and that drug it out some I'm sure, but dang. Anyway, we'd sit down to dinner, and Ari wouldn't eat. Fine, I'd say (sign). I'd wrap her plate up in plastic wrap, and if she said later that she was hungry, I'd pull it out and show it to her. She'd refuse, and then for breakfast I'd pull it out again. For lunch I'd pull it out again. Dinner time I'd make a new dinner, throw out the old one, and we'd start the cycle again.

One day in the middle of this ball game, I decided to stain our redwood deck. I packed baby Kai up in his little car seat, and went to wake Ari up from her nap (she napped until she was like -five. Pretty convenient.). She was kind of cranky so I told her I was going outside, and if she wanted to come out she needed her shoes on. Kai and I went outside and started the porch. A little while later, I saw Ari at the porch door, and told her she needed her shoes on to come out. She was mad (she got frustrated easily in those days when we were still hammering out the communication thing), and tried to open the door anyway. Trying to open it, she locked it. I was worried she'd get scared or something, and tried to show her (through the glass door --talking to a deaf kid --great idea) it was locked and how to open it.

You know the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Remember when he's running home, and runs right into the front of the car his mean, witchy sister is driving? Remember how he looks at her, and she looks at him, and they reallize that it's a race to get to the house first? That was the look I then saw on Ari's face. It was full knowledge of a position of power. I left, and ran to the garage to get into the house that way. As soon as I ran up the steps I heard the deadbolt slide home. Click.

I ran around the front of the house (don't ask me why three different doors were open that day --I guess I usually only locked up at night) and just made it to the porch when I heard the dreaded click.

I had my cell phone with me -'cause I hate to miss any calls -I'm social like that- and I called Jeff and told him to come home and let me in. I wasn't furious, mainly because I was amazed Ari'd figured all that out on her own. "A worthy adversary" -you know. Jeff first tried to give me a little helpful lesson on using the garage door opener correctly, but then got the message really quickly and came home.

One of the cool things about having a deaf kid is that they are really easy to sneak up on. He walked in the door, and into the kitchen. Ari had taken one of the bar stools to the pantry, and found the bag of marshmallows. Jeff says when he caught her, she was stuffing them into her face as fast as she could go. Game, set, match. Hardball with Ari.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Neat advent idea.


My friend Lesa brought this over for a neighbor gift yesterday (actually it was her whole family -they even sang to us when I hassled them a little!) and I thought it was a cool idea. You burn a section of the candle everyday (maybe when it's family scripture time) until it's Christmas.

Of course there IS the ever-present "little boys and fire" issue....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yelling out the counts! Tae Bo: it's a family thing.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were free open classes for everyone at Omega. I easily talked Tia and Ari into going with me. In fact, Saturday I was going to sleep in and Ari woke me up wanting to go again. My girls are tough! I was so proud of them. Lots of people brought their husbands and their kids. It made for a fun atmosphere.


Here's Tia doing some ab's stuff with me near the end. Don't look close, we were all sweaty.




My sister-in-law even came. She did the whole class (it was an extra long hour and a half class even) -amazing for a first timer!



Analisa brought her whole family. I'm sorry, I'm not sure if that's the right spelling of her name. At the end we did some walking around the room, and those kids were running, jumping, and zooming past everyone. Where does that energy go when you grow up? I miss it.

We did some balance stuff near the end, and it was really good for me. That's not my specialty.



Here's my cute Ari. She loved the "exercising". Hopefully I can get them back there soon for the next school holiday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Meringues

If anyone else has had trouble with meringues (I notice I didn't get any advice...), I found a great link for meringues. It's Baking 911 , and it looks like they have solutions to lots of baking problems. In my case, the problem probably was that I baked it too long (thinking that under-baking was my problem last time), and then I PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE! --which I guess you're never supposed to do. Sigh. I was hoping refrigerating would help, it did the exact opposite.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wish you were here....


Well, we did the big Thanksgiving hoopla yesterday, and (almost) everything turned out fine. My strawberry and lemon mousse pie was kind of a mess (don't ever use puff pastry as a base for a pie no matter what their website says), but the rest turned out fine. So much thanks should be given to Tia and Ari who worked hard all morning, and Annie, who pitched in just when things were getting frantic (I forgot I was DOING potatoes -completely forgot- until an hour before T-time). My mom's turkey and stuffing were perfect, like always, and they brought the peas and pearl onions side dish like we've had for years at my Gramma Donna's.

You can see the rolls turned out a really pretty color, and they tasted good, although the bottom rack of rolls got a little too brown on the bottom. We still ate 'em up. The cranberry sauce WAS really good. Here's the recipe. Also the mulled cranberry apple cider was pretty. I love those star anise as a garnish. Jeff hated it, but pretty much everyone else liked it. Here's the recipe. I did "mull" the amount they called for and then added a lot more juice, so the spices weren't as strong.

Here's my beautiful little nieces. They lasted a good ten minutes in the high chairs, I think that's worth celebrating.

Also, the cayenne was good in the sweet potatoes. I added a good 2 teaspoons worth, and it still just added a pleasant heat, without any of the kids complaining that "the potatoes are too hot". Here's that recipe minus the pepper. Boy, I do use Cooking Light a lot huh?

Aren't the flowers pretty? Annie brought those, and they were perfect for the center of my serving table. Thanks again Annie. I'm trying to think if there was anything else. I think the mushroom sauce was a winner. Pretty sure I'm going to use it for the catering job on the third. I'm sorry i can't link to the BHG recipes, you need to register on their site to get the recent ones, and I don't want to bother. Most of them are in the November 2008 issue if you've got it lying around. Oh, one other thing, the brown sugar meringue on the ginger pumpkin pie, kind of deflated as it cooled. I've never been able to get that right. Any tips from experienced meringue makers? I'm thinking because I applied it with the oven open, the oven cooled off too much at the start of cooking time? Is that it? Do you need a hot, quick bake? Or did I just not cook it long enough? Still tasted OK, but I'd sure like to get that right.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


I'll tell you all about it tomorrow! Love, Amara

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We caught a mouse today......


Jeff TOLD Kai not to play hide ans seek in the storage room!

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Thanksgoodness" the menu's done

All right, I think I got the menu planned for Thanksgiving. I'm going to do a couple of new recipes from Better Homes and Gardens, a couple of family favorites, and a couple more from Cooking Light magazine. I am wondering though if I need to cook a second vegetable. My mom is going to do the turkey and stuffing, and will bring another vegetable. Let me know what you think.

Fresh clementine and cranberry salad with spinach (an adaptation of 2 new BHG recipes)

Bacon laced creamy Brussels sprouts (BHG)

Velvet mashed potatoes with cremini, portabella, and shallot sauce (BHG)(It's cool I found this sauce, because I think we're going to use it on Sirloin steaks for an upcoming catering event. It even has some sun-dried tomatoes in it for color, and it's more of a saute than a sauce --really chunky)

Streuseled sweet potato casserole with cayenne pepper (family favorite, but I'm kicking it up a notch with the pepper this year)

Spiced cranberry-apple relish with orange zest (OK, new recipe I found in my catering scrapbook that was a Cooking Light recipe originally. I would be nervous about it, because my family really likes fresh, and this is a cooked sauce, but it got almost 20 rave reviews when I looked it up online, so I'm hopeful)

Buttered sweet potato knot rolls (Cooking Light)(these look so pretty with the bright orange color, I had to try them this year. There's only about 3/4 cup of mashed sweet potato though, so I doubt the flavor will be very pronounced. Hopefully though you can taste it a little)

Mulled cranberry-orange cider (My scrapbook again. This is a hot drink, but I think I'm going to make it ahead of time and chill it. I'll serve it with the star anise and orange slice garnish though - I'm excited about the garnish)

Then of course a turkey, and my mom's cornbread stuffing and natural gravy, plus whatever vegetable she's bringing. I hope she wasn't planning on Brussels sprouts.

Can I tell you about my plans for the centerpiece? I've got all these butternut squashes, and I plan on piling them up in the middle on a bed of loose colored leaves from my flowering pear trees that will run down the center of the table. Remember those trees? The torch trees? I'm also hoping I've got enough copper chargers for everyone. I think I do. Won't those be cool with the autumn stuff?

Now I've got to figure out a movie everyone likes to watch afterwards. Oh my gosh! I forgot the pies! Here's what we're doing for pie:

Ginger pumpkin meringue pie (nice gingersnap crust, and the meringue is a brown sugar meringue -really pretty --BHG)

Pumpkin Chocolate cheesecake pie (BHG too, a two layer pie, with a thin layer of chocolate in between the layers, and chopped chocolate on top)

Peanut butter chocolate pie (I made this one up. It's two layers of mousse with real whipped cream spread over the top)

Fresh strawberry pie with a lemon mousse base, and possibly a puff pastry bottom. We'll see.

(photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kitchen remodel in two steps (spreading over years!).

OK. First I need to specify that I loved Wendy's kitchen even before the second remodel. She and her husband bought their house a few years ago and it really needed some work. The picture below is the "before before" picture.

This is the original "after". I loved the green cabinets, and the counters were a rustic tile. What I liked most about this kitchen was that it didn't look like everyone elses kitchen (like mine kind of does). There was some originality there. She used to hang all these antique cooking utensils on the walls, including her abelskeevers pans (which she cooked for me one weekend --YUM!). It was a really happy peaceful place to be. Wendy really wanted more space though by this time, and they had LOTS of space in the backyard to expand into, so they decided to remodel again. Before I show you those after pics, thought you'd like to see the before and after of the front of the house. Well, actually it's the "during" and after.



OK. First , below is the overall after of the kitchen (with one of her sons and his friend).



Isn't it light and pretty?



This is the addition. Basically this whole room wasn't here before. I wasn't present during any stage of the remodel, and when I walked in here my mouth dropped open. it was hard to believe it was the same house.




This unit is on the side. I love this white with a dark glaze look --I should maybe show you guys Audrey's kitchen while I'm at it. She's got a really similar look.


For accent, Wendy did a natural alder to surround her oven/microwave wall


and her fridge wall.


The best part though was the island. All of the granite in this kitchen was lovely, but there was a beautiful thick slab for the island with a natural broken stone edge.
Overall the effect was very classy, with still a little of that originality that made me fall in love with the first version of the remodel. Now if I can only wrangle another invitation for abelskeevers.......

RECIPE:
by Nancy Proper (I don't think Wendy used this much shortening)

2 c. Buttermilk
2 c. Flour
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tbsp. Sugar
4 tbsp. Melter Butter
Crisco or other solid shortening for frying

This requires a special pan, called an Aebleskiver (pronounced Able Skeever) pan or a Monk's Pan. Can be found in cooking store.

Seperate the eggs, beat the whites till stiff and set aside. Mix all of the other ingredients, incl. the egg yolks, and beat until smooth. Allow batter to set for 30 min. Fold in the egg whites. Put about 1/2 tbsp. of shortening in each cup of the pan and heat. Pour in about 2 tbsp. of the batter in each cup and as soon as they get bubbly around the edges begin turning them - a cake tester works great for this, or a fork. Turn them a bit at a time, letting them re-set with each turn so they form a nice ball. Contin. cooking until the cake tester comes out clean when poked through the center. Serve hot with maple syrup, Rasp. jam or powdered sugar. (Wendy did strawberry syrup, and then did some others with ham and cheese -really good)