Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Morning Breakfast

This morning while we were enjoying this for breakfast....


We also were enjoying this.....
a Robin Redbreast (a name leftover from my youth...I always say it that way )
He was getting a drink from our wine barrel fountain. He must have just finished his breakfast too. The cherries on the cherry tree.

My friend Theda (see two posts below) sent me an envelope with a few recipes and she included a note....one that I think reeks of sarcasm:
Dear Debbie,
Because you don't have enough recipes here are some more.
Love, Theda


It would have hurt my feelings, BUT she is right. (and I'm kidding about the hurt feelings you know.)
The thing is...I trust Theda's recipes more than ANYONE'S. I have said this before: she is a great cook and entertainer.
She sent me this recipe for muffins, so I made them this morning and the Handy-Man and I sat out on the patio and had muffins and berries with cream and our coffee and enjoyed the morning.
We eat outside most of the time during the summer. Mornings are my favorite tho. (weekdays consist of coffee and a piece of toast is all)

I would make these muffins for company, they are "company worthy".

I changed from raspberry jam to cherry jam, because Theda said that she did in her note.
(she's very trustworthy in her recipes. She makes nothing bad)

Raspberry Almond Muffins

About 5 oz almond paste
1/2 cup butter at room temperature (1 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour, divided
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
about 1/4 cup raspberry preserves

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 muffin cups (I only got 14 out of it) with paper liners.
Cut almond paste into 16 pieces and pat each piece into a round disk about 1 1/2 inches across --set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in baking powder, soda and almond extract.
With a rubber spatula, fold in 1 cup of the flour, then the yogurt, then the remaining 1 cup flour until well blended.
Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup and smooth surface with your fingers. Top with a level teaspoon of raspberry preserves, then a piece of almond paste. Top with another 2 Tablespoons of batter.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn out onto a cooling rack and let stand for 10-minuets.

Theda wrote:
Your guests will be surprised.
Serve warm.

What you will need




This is the almond paste I used.



And this is how the little almond paste disks looked once I patted them into circles.


Cream the butter.




Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
and all the eggs, one at a time.



Mix in the baking powders and soda and extract.




1 cup of flour


Add plain low-fat yogurt





The rest of the flour


I used cherry preserves instead of raspberry. Cherry and almonds just seem to go together.





Then topped with the almond paste disks (I used a bit too much I think.. you can cut back on this just a bit)



Top with more batter


Bake and then enjoy your breakfast on the patio.




The Handy-man patiently waiting to eat!


The muffin after standing for 10 minutes. Next time I'll add a few sliced almonds on top before baking.



The cherry surprise inside.



And... a tad bit of cream on the berries.
Because? It tastes good.






If you look closely enough, you can see the "almond" paste disk above the cherry jam. I love almond, so it was not too much for me, but I will cut back on it just a tad next time.


All in all, a nice breakfast.

Friday, July 24, 2009

EAT, Pray, Love



I used to have both a book blog and a food blog...but I couldn't keep up with both of them and do them justice (and now I have a garden blog and a walking blog and a photo blog, but I am meandering), so I gave up my book blog. You can look at it here if you want.
Since I don't have an outlet to talk about my books anymore, I will BREAK OUT once in a while and talk about them here, if you don't mind.

Last night my book club (one of them) met, and we had a nice evening of discussion and food. This particular book club comes with dinner/supper too. We were treated to a nice chicken pasta salad and bruschetta and tiamisu (which was wonderful... but I had to laugh when Wendy described it as being "labor intensive". I've never thought of tiramisu as "labor intensive", perhaps a long process, but not hard to do. Whatever she did tho, it was great.
I did not take pictures. I left my camera in my car. Up until last night, I was not sure that this group of friends "The Lit Wits" "got me." I thought perhaps they would think me odd when I whipped out my camera and snapped away--AT FOOD.
Last night was the final barrier, I reached a comfort zone and now it's "no holds barred". (I am hoping that is the correct phrase. All I need is an English teacher to read this blog and shutter at my incorrect usage of "quotation marks" and bad grammar. I know it already, so please, PLEASE, don't tell me )

Back to my book club meeting. The Lit Wits (that's our name) read "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Mixed reviews by the Lit Wits, but everyone LOVED the first part of the book which was "Eat" when Gilbert wrote about her time in Rome and all the great food she tasted.
She talked of Rome and food with such a passion that it made me want to be Italian, not just go to Rome, but actually BE Italian and experience life and food the Italian way. This led to me to wonder and I began to think of Love and Romance and Passion, in regards to food and travel, which led me to question which city really is the most romantic city in the world?
Paris has always been "the city of love", correct? But Rome....Rome......Rome just seems full of romance.
Which one do you think it is? Which one is the most romantic? Paris or Rome?

That question was asked last night.....well, a version of that question....if you could travel to a destination and live there for a year, where would it be? (Gilbert, the author, traveled to 3 countries in the course of a year and lived them and wrote about them)
I was kind of being a smart ass last night and I said Cyprus because it is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty!
I was trying to show off my sophistication or my awareness of traveling abroad (which I have never done, but I read a lot about it...ha ha ha) , or a better description would be my knowledge of trivial things. Things that are not important. But really, I've always had this affection for the Greek Gods, so why not travel to where they lived and breathed?

Just so you don't think "yeah, Debbie, sure you have always liked Greek Mythology" here is a picture of my bedroom wall.....filled with Goddesses.


A close up of Aphrodite herself.







And yes, there is a "nude" Goddess there.... Diana the Huntress (or Artemis, depending on either Greek or Roman Mythology). One of the three "virgin" goddesses.....

....and hanging from the bookshelf is a lace scarf.... I'm trying to make Donna from My Tasty Treasures proud.




Do you think Cyprus/the Greek Isles are as romantic and either Paris or Rome? What is the most romantic city?
I'm totally off track here for a "food blog", so in honor of Paris, the City of Love, I made FRENCH TOAST.

When I first got back from Connecticut (seeing my beautiful grand babies), I lay around like a sloth for a couple of days (jet lag AND "twin" baby-night feeding lag), and during this slothfulness of mine, I watched the Food Network the whole time, and Nigella came on one morning...Nigella Express.

Let me digress a bit here.... I'll veer off of romance and talk about sensuality. Sensuality; it's romance's 2nd cousin once removed, isn't it? Nigella makes food seem sensual!! Does anyone besides me and my husband ever notice this? She describes food in a very sensual way...and I'm not even sure her food is that great, but she makes it seem so by describing its "plumb loveliness" or "the glorious juiciness that squirts into your mouth" (I sound like Donna of My Tasty Treasures now. LOL That of course is a compliment to Donna )

And speaking of Donna from My Tasty Treasures...she gave me an award and a shout out! This was during my time away, and then it suffered thru my slothfulness afterwards. Donna had to "remind" me that she gave me an award.

I went and checked it out....she said such nice things about me.






Thanks Donna. Donna's blog My Tasty Treasures is one of my most favorite. Read it and then you'll understand why I compared her to Nigella. Sensual.

So there I sat, in my jammies in the middle of the afternoon (I'm exaggerating, because if anyone watches the Nigella, you know she comes on early Saturday mornings, but "in my jammies early Saturday morning" does not have the same ring of slothfulness to it) when Nigella made some "Yummy, gloriously, lip-smacking, Sensual French Toast". She made it sound like you HAD TO HAVE IT NOW, OR YOUR SENSUALITY WOULD BE LOST FOREVER. ...you would never know the gratification of slowly, inserting that sweet, sticky, soft, crispy morsel in your mouth, if you didn't do it right now! She made her French Toast sound like it would wet your physical appetite and you would want more and more........ I began to "lust" after French Toast. Forget the Handy Man, give me French Toast!
So I got up the next morning and made some. And then I was over my slothfulness.

Nigella described her French toast as being just like a donut, because she put vanilla in the custard. I've done that for years, but I've never thought of it as a "donut" type of French Toast, but I guess it can be.
Growing up, my mother did not use vanilla or cinnamon in the custard, but I do. We like the cinnamon. I also don't like French Toast with little, thinly sliced, store bought white bread.
I like either French Bread or Texas Toast...big thick slices of bread.
But Nigella did something I've never done.... once the French bread was done, she tossed it with a fine white sugar.
It was good that way, I liked it....the Handy Man, hmmm, he likes things "as they always were."

I don't really have a recipe for "French Toast". Does anybody really?
I use mostly eggs, with a big splash of half and half or milk (whatever you have), a capfull of real vanilla extract and a shake or two of cinnamon.


Just eyeball your ingredients...depending on how many your are serving.


I used Texas Toast this time. I let it soak for a minute before turning.



And I did use a little bit of butter and oil. I know you can do it on a non-stick skillet WITHOUT the butter and oil, but I just like that little bit of crisper crust the butter gives. And it adds some taste, I'm sure. Butter equals good.


You cook one side until it looks about like this and then you flip it. A couple minutes each side.


If you want it exactly like Nigella does it, you take it off the hot pan and dredge it in sugar.


Mmmmmm.....sugar and butter. I could probably eat it just like this.


But a little bit of strawberry syrup is good too!


Conclusion? It was good French Toast. But as sensual as some other things? Not really.
Paris or Rome? Which is it? Or, go out on a limb and tell me your most romantic city.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Get your yum on!


Okay...so I heard that (get your yum on ) in a commercial yesterday on a drive to Reno. Yeah....I'm not much for "fad" phrases. I like them, they've never just come easily to me, never just rolled off the tongue like it's normal. I always feel like an impostor when I try to fit "in with the in crowd."
I'm not "out" with the "out crowd" either. I'm just me.

Just me.

But let "me" say this today.... Get ready to GET YOUR YUM ON! (ack!! it even looks stupid when I type it!)

That is only if you like the taste of blue cheese tho. And celery. Blue Cheese and celery...those are the main ingredients for "celery salad".

My friend Theda sent me this recipe for celery salad. She printed it off from the Food Network. She said that "everyone loved it".

I made it and I have to say that I love it too. But then...I love blue cheese and celery. It was "fresh" and "cool" and it just seems so "summery". (and crunchy too)

I think this would be the best salad to have with some hot wings or buffalo wings. (don't they already serve buffalo wings with celery and blue cheese to cut down on the hot? )

Theda and I have been friends since Jr. High. I say Jr. High, she says High School. Maybe she didn't like me in Jr. High. We didn't run around with the same crowds in Jr. High. Neither of us was in with the in crowd then... but we knew each other. It was in high school that we became BFF's tho.

A couple of years ago, she flew down to Reno (from the Portland, OR area ) and I drove to Reno where we had a "girl's" weekend. We went to a lecture at the college from the man who wrote "the Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns", we went to a "tea", because Theda is big on "tea's", we went to a movie, we went gambling --it's Reno, after all, and we took a cooking class together. And we ate at good places, because lets face it...food is important. And Theda likes food too. She's a great cook and entertainer, but has no interest in blogging (weirdo).

A picture of us at our cooking school....


oh gawsh....Theda's cooking, I'm drinking wine. What's that say about me? The wine was good?

And the celery salad.
Celery Salad
Recipe by Dave Lieberman --food network
and my friend Theda
3 tablespoons crumbled Blue Cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 grinds black pepper
1/2 head celery, with leaves
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, salt and pepper until well combined.
Pick the celery leaves and set aside (I just chopped them all at the same time).
Thinly slice the celery stalks on the bias and add both the celery leaves and the celery to the dressing and toss to coat.
Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I am back




Aren't these the most beautiful babies EVER?! I think so.

I'm back from the East Coast.... feeling tired (still feel so guilty saying that, as my kids are still getting up doing feedings during the night, AND the twins find if funny to sleep at different times ), but heck, I'm old. (will be 50 next month, it's so sad!), and feeling happy to have had 2 weeks to see my kids and grand kids and feeling very smart, just by walking thru the Yale Campus.

I did not cook like I should have, so really I have no food posts. The kitchen in the apartment was...not compatible with making meals. Seriously, a college "dorm" (married student housing). so I did not cook like I wanted to, BUT, we bought some darn good meals.

We tried to eat here:


Louis Lunch. The place that invented the Hamburger.

I say tried, because it was closed for 5 days over the 4th of July Holiday and then when we went, the day before I came home, we went an hour too late. (Please take note that the camera adds 10 pounds and there were THREE cameras on me!!) (thank goodness we have that settled)



We did eat here: (me and my friend Sally, who came up from Pennsylvania on the train to spend the day with me and meet the babies. My DIL suggested it for a good coffee shop. It was fun. I loved everything about the parts of New Haven I visited....university campuses )



Where I had this:



and here:


It says Pizza, but they were Greek and there were a lot of Greek things on the menu. My friend Sally, had a spinach and cheese thing in some dough. We asked how to pronounce the name.....but....I have forgotten.




and here:



A dining hall in one of the Yale buildings... an undergrad dining room...
(we didn't eat there, but my daughter in law was taking us on a walking tour of the campus and it all looked so Harry Potterish to me...everything at Yale did )



But the best part of the whole trip was this:


My Big Backyard (on Thursday instead of Wednesday)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it ea...