Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mom 2.0

Here are a few videos that I stumbled up during a visit to the myhe{art} blog by wilnaf. If you are a mom, you'll appreciate them:

Valentine's Day Recap- Fondue and Chocolate

Last Sunday we celebrated Valentine's day in a casual, foodie kind of way. For a lovely start I made Crispy Waffles using the recipe from Crispy Waffle. Ethan and I had tasted some yeast raised waffles one day in a cooking class at the William Sonoma store. They were made with a mix from the Bouchon Bakery. We were smitten so we bought a can. I was amazed at how nice they were so we bought a can of mix. Once that was depleted I began searching for a recipe I could whip up at home without having to have the mix. The Crispy Waffle recipe is pretty close. It creates a lovely, light and crispy waffle. However, the Bouchon mix created waffles with the same texture and lightness, but also a slight bit of tanginess. My family loved them.

The gifts I gave were very individualized. Ellie got a hooded shirt from BillaBong that she wanted. Ethan got new drafting supplies that I had him pick out and Larr got a new movie.

We invited Grandma Gay and Grandpa Don to join us for dinner. I didn't want Don to be alone on his first Valentine's Day without Eleanor.

To make it special I served up Cheese Fondue with steamed broccoli, apple sausage and a nice, crusty bread. We also feasted on a nice salad. For dessert I made Chocolate Fondue which was paired with homemade pound cake, dried mango slices and fresh strawberries. They were all a hit.

Even Easier Crispy Waffles by Crispy Waffle
2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 stick melted butter
2 cups warm milk (heated to about 110 degrees)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

The night before:
Combine and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Combine the melted butter and milk. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients. Whisk eggs and vanilla together in a separate small bowl. Add the egg-vanilla mixture to the other mixture, and whisk until well-combined. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge until tomorrow morning.

The next morning:
Prepare waffle iron as usual. Stir the batter to deflate it (it should be puffy and frothy). Add to waffle iron the same way you would other batter, keeping in mind that this batter will rise more than batters that use baking powder instead of yeast.

Note: Be sure to put the batter in a large container. I stored my in a Rubbermaid container that at least two or three inches of clearance from the batter to the top. I thought that was enough. However, in the morning I found that I had lost 1/3rd of my batter as it expanded, popped open the lid and made a mess on the shelf.

Classic Swiss Fondue

1 clove Garlic, halved
1 cup White Wine, dry
1 tea. Lemon Juice
2 cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
2 cups Emmental Cheese, shredded (If you can't find this simply double the amount of Swiss or Gruyere cheese used)
2 tea. Cornstarch
(2 tea Kirsch - I did not use this)
Pinch of Nutmeg, fresh, grated

* If you do not like the wine flavor, or need to make it alcohol free, you can substitute Chicken broth for the wine.

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the cut clove of garlic.

Place the wine and lemon juice in the top of a double broiler. Once the liquid reaches a gentle boil stir in the grated cheese using a wooden spoon. Add it gradually to prevent lumping. Stir frequently until the cheese has melted.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with the kirsch or 2 TBL. of water. Mix until it is smooth. Stir this into the cheese mixture a few minutes before serving. This will thicken the fondue just slightly. Be sure to not let the fondue mix boil. Season with freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.

Serve with dipping items such as bread cubes, steamed veggies and the like.

Classic Chocolate Fondue

9 oz. Chocolate (we like a mix of milk and dark chocolates)
2/3 cup Heavy Cream

Use a knife to cut the chocolate up into small pieces. (You can use chocolate chips if you like. However, nicer chocolate will yield a smoother fondue) Place the chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave proof bowl. I find that a glass bowl works nicely. Microwave it for about 2:00 then stir to mix. If the chocolate is not completely melted microwave it for another 30 seconds, followed by more mixing. Please note that it is very easy to burn the chocolate in the microwave. Stirring each time will help reduce the likelihood of burning it. Serve the fondue with fun dipping items such as pound cake, fresh strawberries, dried mango slices, dried banana slices, fresh pineapple, marshmallows, etc.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting Ready for Cotillion - The Guy's Way + A Fabulous Bread Recipe

Last Friday Grandpa Don took Ethan to Men's Warehouse to get his first sport coat and slacks. They were greeted at the door and were taken to an area to preview sports jackets and suits. First off came the measurements. As the salesman did this they talked about what Ethan might need for cotillion. Then they looked at a few sport coats. He had quite a few to choose from. Ethan picked out a jacket that has a subtle set of colored bits.The pants came next. He chose a dark olive pair that will feature cuffs. Next, the salesman brought out a couple of different colors and styles of shoes. Ethan picked out a great pair of burgundy Bostonians. The salesman had Ethan put those items on and called for the seamstress so that she could begin the fitting.

While she was busy with Ethan the salesman arranged many shirts and ties on a large table in the middle of the shop. The salesman laid it out in a special way as to look like a person was wearing the jacket with three shirts in the belly area and two others in the neck area. He then placed a selection of ties around the shirts so that Ethan could pick out what combination he liked best. It was a difficult choice, but in the end he went with a classic white and a classic blue shirt along with two ties. The salesman selected the correct belt and socks. It all felt pretty spiffy. Ethan can't wait to pick up his jacket and pants in a few weeks. I kind of wish I had been there to take part, but I was informed that it was best to leave it to the men. Ethan is going look like a dapper young man in his new duds.


I don't usually believe it when someone tells me that they have the absolute best recipe for something, but I think I found one that could qualify. It comes from the King Arthur website. They always have very dependable recipes. I have never been disappointed. Here's the one I made this weekend. I think it will have to become a permanent item on my recipe rotation:

Walter Sands' Favorite Bread – Bread Machine Version

1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups (10 to 10 5/8 ounces) water, depending on the time of year (more in the winter, less in the summer)
1 heaping tablespoon (1 1/8 ounces) honey or sugar (1/2 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) Baker's Special Dry Milk or 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk granules
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt (best the lesser amount, but Dad preferred the greater)
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Place the ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer, and program the machine for white or basic bread, or for the dough cycle. Press Start.

If you're using the dough cycle, after the cycle is complete, allow the dough to continue to rise in the machine until it has really doubled in bulk. Remove the dough, shape it into a loaf, and place it in an 9" x 5" loaf pan. Let it rise until almost doubled. Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool and offer to a friend.

(* I did not have the dried milk so I used 2% milk and reduced the water by that same amount. I also brushed the top of the dough with butter before putting it in the oven.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Short Break, A Spot of Blue Sky Blazing and a Bit of Inspiration...

I took the day off from work yesterday because I had to have a liver test run. I am not sure what they are actually looking for. I will be glad to find out. After the test I went home and had a great day. The house was clean enough that I didn't feel like I should be cleaning. No one was there to need a ride or a favor or a meal. Although it was cold outside the sky was bright blue. The birds were chirping. I worked on Ethan's photos from his Jamaican trip uninterrupted for a few hours. i even sketched up a new idea for a quilt. I took a short break to lay on the couch by the window and bask in the sun like a cat. It was truly lovely. I wished that it could have gone on. However, the dentist beckoned and I had to go as Ethan and I both had appointments. It always surprises me how restorative a small break can be.

Today I am inspired by a posting from Be*mused's trip to the Tokyo Quilt festival. My absolute favorite from what is offered thus from is the quilt with the wind chimes. I may have to make a version of that beauty!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Too Many Meetings, Too Much Coughing and Too Little Free Time...

Where have I been? In too many after work meetings. In the last seven work days I have spent about 10 hours attending meetings. And I say, enough already, especially since most of it was data mining. I've also spent too much time coughing as I have come down with an irritating illness that causes me to cough all together too often and that makes it hard to sleep due to the wheezing sounds I head in my head. But, enough complaining. I have carved out a little time for fun, too.

Here's an example of something I made for a race flyer. You'll have to imagine what it looks like with the race name in that large, open space. The challenge here was to make something eye catching that is not too large as the flyer has two and a half pages of text.

I started out with this photo of Gabe and Mac. They are two amazing athletes on our team. This was taken at the Haystack Time Trial. I love their form and the look of hard work, as well as determination, on their faces.

However, the background was not so spiffy. Thanks to a bit of Photoshop magic I was able to turn it into a bucolic day with an amazing sky. I like this end result much more. Don't you?

I also took time to enjoy the amarillas that Lilia gave to me. The photos don't even come close to capturing their beauty.

They had a lovely pixie dust like shimmer to them.

It was glorious for about a week. Now they have faded and I am going to research how to take care of the bulb with its remaining stem and leaves so that it can shine, or rather, bloom again.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A Magical Evening at the Masqurade Ball

The girls had been planning for the ball since last summer. Somehow they thought it was in September, instead of January. However, that gave them all the more time to find the perfect jewelry and have me alter their dresses to fit just right.

They gathered at our house in the afternoon. They came with their nails painted, but had to do the rest together. They curled and fussed, having a grand time.

They ate, they dance, they chatted and they had a ton of fun. I love the energy that happens at these events at our school. Since it is all ages the mix is huge. The little ones really lighten up the mood.

The rest of us went, too. Ethan was far more casual. He had more fun than he expected to have. In fact, he begged me to go home later than I had planned.

Larr spent the evening snapping photos. I love the way he sees the world.