Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Greetings

Furby:  the ghost of xmas-past

Biz as Santa cookie

Biz posing in front of our tree

Bizzi says, "Get this stupid hat off me!  Now!"

So sorry it has been awhile since my last post.
A fun visit from my dear friend, Billie, and other friends in from out-of-town have kept me hopping, but in a perfect and fun way!
Here it is, 12/23, and I'm thrilled.
My 3 daughters are all finally here, even though the weather in the northeast delayed my oldest for 48 hours.
There is nothing better than seeing my entire family at the dinner table.

Two years ago Tim spent a massive amount of time transferring all our old VHS, S-VHS, and hi-8 video tapes onto hard drives.  The wonderful thing about it is that, in addition to assuring that the events have been conserved on a more reliable format, we are now watching them!  We took an amazing amount of video over the years and have never actually SEEN it.  Now it is very accessible and we love to spend time watching the old birthday parties, family gatherings, and school performances.
The girls moved the sofas a bit to accommodate better viewing and we watching many of them last night.  It was such fun!

I've been working on new cloth for several pieces at home and Art Cloth Studios.  Jane and I spent an afternoon together working on our separate projects last week, and we nearly froze!  My print paste was so chilly it looked more like jello than thickened dye.  Once I have some batched/washed cloth I'll post some images.

I have much to be thankful for during this holiday season.  I have such a wonderful family.  We all have our health and we enjoy being together.  I have the most amazing friends a woman could possibly hope for.  I have adopted them all as my "extended/chosen" family.  Someone told me that girlfriends are the family you get to choose, and I have chosen well.

I wish a peaceful, safe, low-stress holiday season for each and every one of you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Birthday celebration & more cookin

What a treat to have one of my daughters here at home on her 25th birthday!  This is the first year that we have celebrated her day together since she left home for college in 2003.  Yesterday I asked her what she wanted for her birthday breakfast (always in bed on your birthday) and dinner, as well as what type of cake.  She had been looking through my cookbooks (Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Kitchen") and picked out a cake recipe.  She decided she wanted to try baking bread for the first time, too.

Breakfast in bed!
While Bizzi stands guard, she is served a veggie/cheese omelet,
fruit scone and apple butter, milk, and a fresh-picked satsuma orange

Her father made coffee and brought it up to her

we used  both golden and red beets for the cake.
Later, we roasted the greens and made a warm salad for dinner

She scrapes the vanilla beans from the pod
creating a wonderful aroma!

using a spoon to chop fresh ginger

Let me go on record to say that a ricer does NOT work well for cooked beets.
This was my idea, and it was a bad one.  We resorted to the food processor soon after this shot.
Think fake murder scene........

here are the finished baked goods

A birthday celebrant's serving is always on the red plate, and it blends pretty well, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Toasting the spices & chilis for the curry mixture
(it went thru the food processor later)

my laptop sitting next to the cooktop so I can view the
one of the recipes

I sure had a lot of veggies to prep

I cooked two new recipes tonight, and they were both good:  saag paneer and lamb curry.
I found the saag recipe on the Food Network website.  My lamb recipe is in one of my low-carb cookbooks.  The best discovery was the ingredient list for the curry spice.  I wish I could create a "smell-o-vision" link to my jar of newly created curry spice because it is amazing.  Nothing like toasting the spices a bit to really draw out the flavor.  Once toasted everything got thrown into the mini food-processor and ground to a fine powder.  I used it in both dishes.  Yum.

Here's the saag paneer recipe in case anyone wants it (worth it for the curry powder alone):

2 pounds fresh baby spinach, washed and stems trimmed
1/4 cup ghee, recipe follows
1/2 pound cubed paneer cheese
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder, recipe follows
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain yogurt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, toss in the spinach and blanch for 1 minute until very tender. Dump the spinach into a colander and press firmly with the back of a spoon to extract as much water as possible, set aside.
Heat the ghee in a deep skillet over medium-high flame. Add the cubed paneer and fry for a couple of minutes until light brown on all sides, gently turning to avoid breaking up the cubes. Remove the cheese from the skillet and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger; cook and stir for about 5 minutes until soft. Sprinkle the mixture with the curry powder; continue to stir to marry the flavors, about 1 minute. Fold in the chopped spinach and give everything a good toss. Shut off the heat and stir the buttermilk and yogurt into the spinach to incorporate. The mixture should be creamy and somewhat thick. Gently fold in the fried paneer cubes, season with salt, to taste, and serve with steamed basmati rice and/or flat bread.

1 pound unsalted butter

Put the butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirl the pot around to ensure that it melts slowly and does not sizzle or brown. Increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is covered with foam, stir gently and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Gently simmer, uncovered, and undisturbed for 45 minutes, until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan have turned golden brown and the butter on top is transparent. Strain the ghee through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. The ghee should be perfectly clear and smell nutty; pour into a glass jar and seal tightly.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Curry Powder:
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 dried red chiles, broken in pieces, seeds discarded
1 tablespoon turmeric

Toast the whole spices (coriander, cumin, fennel, cloves, mustard, cardamom and peppercorns) and the chiles in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan often to prevent them from burning. Toast for a couple of minutes until the spices smell fragrant. In a clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together to a fine powder. Add the turmeric and give it another quick buzz to combine. Use the spice blend immediately, or store in a sealed jar for as long as 1 month.
Yield: about 1/2 cup