Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Son, the Handsome Sailor, Finally Finished with the 2012 Photo Album and A Way to Bring Joy to a Young Boy

Doesn't my boy look handsome sailing the boat? I love the new haircut.

Here's our 2012 photo album. This one was hard for me. The kids are really not kids anymore and our lives have gone in new directions when compared to what we were doing in 2012. Now, I need to figure out how to catch up to the current year. I think this year will not have as many pages.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly photo books are the new way to preserve your memories. Create your own today.

I sifting gears from what I have been doing for 21 years is hard. Some of my friends are happy to have their time back; some have even cheered. Some feel lost and have to figure out who they are now. I am happy to say that I find that I am still interested in the things that I used to do before the kids were born. I miss the way that I used to spend time with them, supporting them, celebrating them. Now I am learning to do it in a new way. I am so proud of who they are and who they are becoming. Another mother is having a hard struggle with her young son who has cancer. The boy's name is Danny and he turns 5 on July 25th. What brings him joy is to receive cards with his name on them. The folks at Shutterfly have generously posted the following in an effort to brighten his day: We heard this incredible story about a 5-year-old boy battling cancer who wants cards for his birthday on July 25. Please help our brand, Treat, make his wish come true by making a *free card just for Danny. Use code CARD4DANNY and mail cards to Danny Nickerson, PO Box 212, Foxboro, MA 02035. Create your card for Danny now: http://bit.ly/1ln1qg3. Read Danny’s story here: http://abcn.ws/1nuQJxI.

*Due to technical limitation, customers will be charged for tax and the price of the stamp.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crayon Batik at Make It in Golden! + a Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe

For Christmas Larr gave me a gift card for Make It in Golden! It is a fiber arts studio. The school year was so busy that I did not have time to fit in a class, until this summer. Then, one afternoon when I was at the administration building looking at the student create art that decorates the hallways I came across some beautiful crayon batiks. I knew right then that I HAD TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THEM, too. And wouldn't you know that Make It in Golden! had classes in that. So of course, I had to sign up for that one. They had a class on July 3rd and I had a grand time. It turned out that the other two people who were going to be part of the class did not show up so it was just the instructor, Tamera and I. I told her that she did not have to run the class just for me, that I thought that was unreasonable, but she said that she had something she wanted to try and so she was up for showing me how to make them. My did we have fun!It was much easier than I expected.

You Need:

4 pieces of white fabric, all cut the same size
Crayons (Crayola works best)
1 glue gun (For this project, I think the small one is best. Using it for this project will not change how it functions at other times as a regular glue gun. You only use the tip to melt the crayon.)
1 container that you can fit your fabric
1 foam brush (a small one, about 1 1/2" or 2" works well.)
Dye-na-flow in the background color you want, such as black. (India ink works, too.)
4+ pieces of paper that are larger than the image fabric
1 iron
1 ironing board

1. You begin with 4 pieces of white fabric that are the same size. Be sure to put something on your table to protect it.

2. Decide on your design and gather the crayons that you need for that design. Remove the papers wrappers from the crayons.

3. Heat up a glue gun. I worked with small and large one, and found that the smaller one was easier to work with.

4. Place two pieces of the fabric, one on top of the other, on the table. Feel free to draw your design on the fabric, if you like.

5. Now you create your design by using the tip of the glue gun to melt the crayon. You can make your designs with drips, or by making lines. Making lines takes a bit of practice.
This is how our pieces began. While I like how these look, I liked the end product even better.
This is what the back of the second piece of fabric looks like.

6. Now you crumple your piece over a trash can. The goal here is to put cracks in the crayon without removing it all.

7. Place both of the pieces of fabric in some sort of container and paint the fabric with the background color. Black is traditional, but you can use any color you like. We used Dye-na-flow. When I did traditional batiks, I used black India ink. Apply the color with a cheap brush. The foam brush worked very well. Make sure that it is well saturated.

8. Now you are going to remove the extra crayon wax. Place several pieces of paper (newsprint will work. We used the cheap paper that is used for moving or when you buy something breakable.) Also place one of the pieces of fabric that is the same size as the others. Place the two pieces with the background color on top of that. Then put the last piece of white fabric on top of it all. It is a sandwich of sorts:

- white fabric
- fabric with the crayon melted on it
- fabric with some crayon melted on it
- white fabric
- 2+ pieces of paper

9. Heat up your iron and get ready to melt the wax. Place the iron in one spot on the fabric pile and hold it in place for a few seconds. Do not move the iron around or it may smear the design. You will know that you are successful at melting the wax by the way that it will begin to show up on the other piece of fabric. Move the iron to a new place and repeat until the entire thing is melted.

10. Once this is done, you peel the pieces of fabric apart. You will find that you have variations of your design on the paper you used to protect iron and surface, as well as all of the pieces of cloth.

When Tamera does this with kids, she simply turns the edges under and stitches them. For her own designs that she likes well enough she frames them with a frame that has two pieces of glass. I took my poppy and flag images home and washed them because I wanted to send one of the flags to Ethan, but I found that while the cloth was softer, the design was less brilliant. There was enough of a difference that I made a new set of flags.
This was one piece that was in the studio that I was inspired by.

These pieces were in the studio, too. While they are not crayon batiks, they are inspiring, too.

Turkey Tetrazzini

16 oz egg noodles or pasta of choice (I used spaghetti noodles. If you are going to use long noodles, such as these, be sure to break them into smaller lengths before boiling.)
(12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 4-5 cups)This is traditional, but I omit them.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/4 cup cream
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry (or vermouth/dry white wine)
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey/chicken
3 TBL. Basil, dry minced
3 TBL. Parsley, dried
1/2 tea. Garlic, minced (I used granulated garlic.)
1 cup peas
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese (I used mozzerella as I had not Swiss Cheese.)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
Ground nutmeg (optional)

4 TBL. Butter or olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I use Panko)
1/2 - 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 tea, Garlic, granulated
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

To make the casserole:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Start heating 2 to 3 quarts of water for the pasta. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water.(Cook the mushrooms in 3 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat, stirring, until all of the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated, 5-10 minutes.) Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of butter. Stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Put the pasta into the boiling water. Stir to prevent the noodles of sticking to each other. Cook until al dente.

Into the saucepan with the butter and flour, slowly whisk in the milk, cream, broth, the sherry, basil, parsley and garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 to 8 minutes.

When the pasta is ready, drain it. In a large bowl combine the pasta, the sauce, (the mushrooms,) the turkey, and the peas. Stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan and the 1/3 cup of Swiss cheese. ( Stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg if using, again to taste. Transfer the mixture to a greased 9" x 13" casserole pan that has been buttered or greased.

To make the topping:
Melt the butter/ olive oil in a skillet. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, garlic, parsley and the bread crumbs.Stir to combine, making sure that the butter/oil has been absorbed. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tetrazzini, and dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits.

Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ellie's 18th Birthday Party for Christy, Her Life Long Friend + Snow Cone Flavoring Recipe

Christy and Ellie have been friends since they were three. Monday was Christy's 18th birthday and Ellie through her a wonderful party. One of the most things is that Ellie did this one on her own. She planned it, gathered everything, baked and decorated a cake and planned the activities. Chris, Christy's boyfriend arranged some of the food and Kohlton helped make flowers for the cake.
The colors were coral and teal. Ellie gathered paperwares, fun containers, streamers, our bunting, strings of lights with orange and teal wires and our bunting. She also set up screen for a night time movie in the back yard and a fire pit s'mores kit. She even made homemade snow cone mixes for snow cones.
The party went on all day and they all had a grand time.

Next up, is Kohlton's 18th birthday in August. Grand plans are already brewing.

Homemade Snow Cone Flavoring

2 cups Sugar
1 cup Water
1 packet Kool-aide Mix

Boil the water in a pan and add in the sugar. Stir until it dissolves. Once the water is clear, add in the Kool-aide mix.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Making Indian Food with Sandi

My friend Sandi, who works with me, came over so that we could cook together. She liked in India for a year and a half. We had a grand time making a big meal. We made:
Cashew Vegatable Korma
Red Lentils Hyderabadi (modified)
Rice, white with butter and cinnamon
Onion Bhaji
She has been cooking these recipes for a very long time, but she brought over Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook as a reference for me.
Sandi also enjoys finding recipes on the Post Punk Blog and The Simple Veganista.
Cashew Vegetable Korma
via: The Post Punk Kitchen

For the cream:
2 cups raw cashew pieces (plus water for soaking)
2 cups vegetable broth

Veggies to boil:
2.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes (1 1/2 inch chunks)
2 lbs cauliflower in large florettes (don’t cut em too small or they will fall apart)
2 lbs carrots, sliced on a bias 1/2 inch thick

2 medium sized yellow onions
2 inch nub of ginger
8 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes-*98/
72 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate (see note)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
2 cups frozen peas
1 large caramelized red onion

Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

First, soak the cashews. This will get them really soft and make them easier to blend really smooth. Place them in a bowl and submerge in water. Set aside for at least an hour. In the meantime prep everything.

Boil the veggies. Place them in a big pot (8 quart is ideal), and cover them in cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer (so you don’t overcook the veggies), for about 15 minutes. Potatoes should be fork tender. Drain and set aside.

Next, puree the onion, ginger and garlic. It shouldn’t be completely smooth, some texture is good. No need to wash the processor bowl just yet, you’re going to puree the cashews in a bit.

Preheat another big pot over medium heat. Cook the puree (add in 1 tea. black mustard seeds (whole) cook on medium until the mustard seeds pop and then add in the onion.) in the peanut oil with a sprinkle of salt for about 15 to 20 minutes, until it’s nice and browned.

This is a good time to puree the cashews. Drain them and place them in the food processor along with 2 cups vegetable broth. Puree until smooth. This can take up to 5 minutes to get it as smooth as possible.

Back to the puree. Once it’s browned, add the coriander seed and the red pepper flakes and saute for about 3 minutes. Add curry powder, garam masala, several dashes fresh black pepper and salt and saute for another minute.

Add tamarind, tomato paste and vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Now add the coconut milk and the cashew cream. Let cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, it should thicken a little and be really creamy.

In the meantime, saute the red onion in a little peanut oil in a separate pan with a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes, it should be browned and slightly caramelized. This adds a really nice sweetness and some added texture to the finished dish.

You’re pretty much done. You can shut the heat off then mix in the peas. Now fold in the boiled veggies, put the lid on the pot and let it heat through. Taste for salt and seasoning and serve garnished with cilantro if you like.

Red Lentils Hyderabadi
via: Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

1 cup Red Masoor lentil (We used 1/2 red lentils and 1/2 green lentils to add a variety of textures.)
3 TBL. Canola Oil
1-2 dried Red Kashmiri Chiles (dried hot red chiles - we did not have this, so we used 1/2 tea. Cayanne Pepper)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds “Rai”
8-10 curry leaves-”kadhi Patha” (or 1 tea. coriander)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric “Haldi”
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped – for garnish (We omitted this.)

Wash, and clean the lentils. Soak for 30 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups water, oil, turmeric and salt to taste and boil until cooked. This should take 25 minutes. Gently mash it with a “Mandira” or spoon.(Do not use a pressure cooker as it will get mushy). Keep aside.

In a small pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, chiles (or Cayenne pepper) and curry leaves (coriander, ground). Then add the garlic and swirl the pan around. The garlic should get slightly brown from all sides. Be careful not to burn it.

Add this to the cooked lentil and cook on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice and mix. Check for salt.

A Bit About Lentils -

In India there are tons of different kinds of lentils. Here in America we usually only have red lentils, green lentils and yellow split peas. Chickpeas are technically lentils as well. Beans are part of the lentil family.

- If you add salt while they lentils (or beans) are cooking, the lentils will become hard. Add salt at the very end.

- Red lentils and green lentils do not need soaking, but they should be rinsed. Other lentils should be soaked over night.

- Red lentils become mushy when cooked. They are great for thicken soups.

White Rice

1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed once
2 cups Water, Cold
1 Tbl Butter
1 Cinnamon Stick (about 3" long, or so)

Place the rinsed rice in a pan. Add the cold water, butter and cinnamon stick.

Bring the water to a boil, put a lid on the pan and turn the fire down to low. Let cook until the water is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.

via:Garnish and Glaze Blog

1½ cups milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3½- 4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
garlic salt (optional)

Heat milk in the microwave until warm. Mix yeast and sugar in with milk and allow it to sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Mix in salt and then add flour, a little at a time, to form a soft dough. Empty dough onto floured counter and knead about 30 times until smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed.

Place dough in a large greased bowl and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat griddle to or skillet to medium-high heat (about 375 degrees F).

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and then roll out to be a little thinner than a pancake.

Place 2-3 pieces on griddle and flip after 1-2 minutes (or until dough bubbles and underside is browned). Brush the cooked side with butter while the other side cooks for 1 more minute. Remove from griddle and brush with butter (sprinkle with garlic salt if desired). Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Onion Bhaji
via: Richard C. Morias Blog
Chef Cardoz’s recipe for onion bhajis (or bhajais) mentioned in The Hundred-Foot Journey.(modified by Sandi and I.)

3 Red Onions, Julienne cut
1.5 cups of Gram flour (besan, or chickpea flour)
1 Green Chili Pepper, finely diced
(Ten stalks of cilantro, the hard stalk ends removed and the rest diced - I omitted this)
Pinch of crushed awajain seeds (substitute: thyme)
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric (1 tea. Turmeric)
(1 tea. Cumin, ground)
(1 tea. Coriander, ground)

Canola oil

Julienne the red onions vertically, producing a pile of crescent-shaped onion slivers.
Place the onions into a mixing bowl, and add the finely diced chili and cilantro, plus crushed awajain seeds (or thyme), turmeric, and salt.
Mix onions and spices with your hands.

In a separate small bowl, add the chickpea flour and a bit of water, little at a time, constantly kneading the mixture with your fingers until you have created a thick paste. (The onions provide more liquid, so do not make it too watery.) Add the thickened paste to the bowl of onions, and toss with your hands, until the onions are well coated in batter.

Heat a pot of canola oil to 350 degrees on the stove. Test the hot oil, by using your right hand to pinch together a clump of onions and lowering it just above the oil before the final drop (so it doesn’t splash.) Oil is the right temperature if the battered onion clump immediately bobs to the surface. Cook for a few minutes, until the bhajis are golden brown, then lift and drain on paper towels.

They should look a bit like Medusa heads; the outside should be crunchy, the inside soft and gooey and fresh-tasting. If you want to make the bhajis before guests arrive, then cook the bhajis only until lightly golden before setting them aside and draining them on paper. When the guests arrive, quickly cook the bhajis in hot oil again for a couple of minutes, until golden-brown. Drain, blot, and serve. Serve bhajis with a sweet-tart tamarind chutney or garlic chutney found in any Asian food store. Recipe makes 12-15 bhajis.

This recipe is featured in the following novel, which I thought was wonderful. The movie is due in the theaters in early August.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Of Moose, Flowers, A Mill and Mountain Passes + A Fish Taco Recipe

On Saturday morning Larr and I happen to be in just the right place to see two moose enter and swim across a lake over at Officer's Gulch neat Cooper Mountain. It was very cool and exciting. Larr had never seen moose in the wild. We are curious if they swam or walked across the lake. When they reached the other side the male moose waited for the female moose to get fully on shore before he climbed onto the shore. I assume he was making sure that she was safe. We might have missed it if it were not for two men who were on another part of the shore of the lake. They had a clear view of the moose walking towards the lake and motioned for us to look that way.

After that excitement we drove over to Vail Pass and drove over Shrine Pass. It was a glorious day for wild flowers. We had to stop and take a bunch of photographs. We also thought a lot about Larr's mother, Eleanor. She would have been so happy to have been with us today.

I also love to look at the trees, their many shades of green and the abundant pine cones that cluster at the tops of many trees. It is a silly thing to love, but I love it anyway.

We even came across what might have been an old homestead.

We came out in Red Cliff, stopped for a great lunch at Mango's and then headed back towards the Breckenridge. We drove through the town and kept on going, taking in Hoosier Pass and the Monarch Mill.

The weather at the top of the passes is completely different from the weather down in town. In Breck it was a comfortable, sunny 78 degrees. At the top of Hoosier Pass I had to put on my coat; it felt like an afternoon in mid-fall. There was thunder in the distance while it rained hard where we were.
Looking out over the valley Larr spied Magnolia Mine, a place he had never been to or documented, so we had to check it out, of course. I decided that I did not need to walk in the cold rain to see a mine, so I hung out in the car knitting. Larr, however, was thrilled.

We happened to go over Hoosier Pass a second time on Sunday and what a difference a day makes.

You see, Larr and I spent a few days in the Breckenridge area; we went over many of the local passes and continental divides. We drove up via HWY 285, stopping at the summit of Kenosha Pass where I was reminded of how much I love to go camping. Lots of memories flooded back as we drove those roads.

We then went up Boreas Pass. I was a bit afraid at the early part as the road was very thin and we were on the cliff side of things. Thankfully, we only encountered a few vehicles that we needed to make space for. By the time we got near the top it was raining and threatening to turn into small hail or snow. There are several sets of bikers riding down the pass. It looked like a lot of fun. In a very Larr fashion, we had to explore some of the roads off of the pass that he had never been to. We were rewarded with the sight of a old shovel on one of those small roads. My husband is so talented; he is able to photograph everyday object and find the beauty in them.
We have many wonderful memories and photographs from Boreas Pass. It rained there, too, but that meant that Larr was able to photograph what the forest looks like after it rains.
I think it is fair to say that we have done a thorough job of exploring the passes in the Breckenridge area. It was nice to get away even if for only a few days. It was our first childless trip in most likely 21 years; it felt strange to take in the beauty without having them be part of it.

Fish Tacos
via: Creole Contessa (slightly modified by me-including doubling the spice mix)

4 whitefish fillets (I used Corvina, which was great. It was $$6 a pound, instead of the Wahoo or Pollack that I usually buy at $15 a pound)
1 (2) tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 (2) teaspoon creole seasoning ( I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
1 (2) teaspoon black pepper
1/2 (1) teaspoon onion powder
1/2 (1) teaspoon chili powder
1/4 (1/2) teaspoon cumin
1/4 (1/2) teaspoon oregano, dried, crushed
1/2 (1) lemon, juiced
1/2 (1) lime, juiced
corn tortilla shells
grated cheese
limes to garnish
shredded cabbage

<b>For the Sriracha Sour Cream: (I did not make this, but it sounds tasty.)
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

Rinse fish and pat dry. Place fish in a bowl or Ziplock baggie, add seasonings, olive oil and juice to fish, mix well. (I cut our fish into bit size pieces.)
Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Wrap tortilla shells up in foil paper. Place on prepared grill until fish is ready.

Grill fish for 6-7 minutes per side until flaky. (I prepared the fish by cooking it in a small bit of olive oil in a skillet on the stove - very quick.)

To Prepare the Sriracha Sour Cream:
Serve with sriracha sour cream by mixing ingredients together.
Serve with cheese, coleslaw and a squeeze of lime.

This is an Ellie approved recipe.