Cooking + Baking

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Last weekend’s surprise snow. Greg and I and our weekend guest and very dear friend Jeff cozy at the dining room table, playing a game, as we always do. It lasted long enough to take the requisite photo of Pike’s Peak looking dreamy.

I didn’t used to have a favorite season, each bringing their own sense of beauty and wonder. After returning to Colorado spoiled by sixteen green Portland winters, I now declare it is SPRING. Winters here, and in Pennsylvania, are no greater in length, and certainly warmer than the bone chill of Pacific Northwest rain, but feel longer for the noticeable absence of color. There are some evergreens, yes, and the dazzling azure of sky, but the ground and bare trees and hundred feet of fence are so very brown. I know it is partially the fact that our garden is so young, with trees only starting what I hope to be long lives. But, still.

So when the tiny bud of that pasque flower pushed from the soil, my heart leapt, for there is only more and more and more to come. The orange and pink of tulip, yellow of daffodil, purple of hyacinth, to the peonies and red birds in a tree of summer and poppies of fall. That verdant quilt dotted with the rainbow.

Forty-seven!

Fun with a new torch. I made rice crispy treats with homemade marshmallows, topped them with a bit of the fluff, and then flame roasted them. Our little cousins said they were beautiful and the best thing ever. SO soft!

Welcome to Monday and April (!). Tonight’s dinner was a pretty Thai salad with protein noodles made from wild Alaskan pollock. I am always trying to find ways to reduce carbs (so I can indulge my sweet tooth without having sugar overload), and these were a great surprise find at Costco.  The noodles were yummy and just right, but oooh-eee was the dressing spicy. Thai chilis are hot to trot!

Speaking of that sweet tooth, look at this killer caramel crunch corn flake brownie from a recipe by Cupcake Jemma. She makes all  kinds of awesome looking treats, and these were my first to try. Good gracious are they RICH! Greg and I brought them to D & D night with the cousins (My gnome Kittra is going strong!), and we struggled to finish one brownie each, which is saying A LOT. But, wow, wow, wow, are they tasty!

Handsome hubster in silhouette.

Look at those clouds, like some heavenly zen garden in progress, or, perhaps coming apart.

What?

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Spring is doing it’s best to tease us, with balmy 70 degree days followed by snow and below freezing temperatures.  I don’t particularly mind, as I have still been able to make progress out in the garden. The crocus have already passed and tulips and every other manner of bulb is peeking from the ground. I am eager for their sweet pops of color and hopeful Juniper doesn’t trample too many with her joyful romps in the yard.

Hoping life is lovely where you are!

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Greg and Juniper looking particularly relaxed and happy after a weekend chock full of activity.

Friday night we watched the cousin’s kidlets while they enjoyed a rare evening on the town. There was MUCH play – of the football catching, block building and demolishing, and video gaming variety. There was also Boss Baby (funny!) and pancakes and bedtime stories. Once we tucked the kiddos safely into bed, we binge watched some Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (lives up to its name!) and wished there was ONE single platform for ALL video streaming, as we have zero interest in paying a multitude of fees for our television. Sigh. Incentive for us to watch the kids more often, I suppose!

Up early Saturday morning for a long-awaited visit with some of our besties, Michael and Mary. They brought their dogs, Jesuscito and Lupita, and Juniper thought they were the cat’s pajamas. We can sniff and play all day, inside, outside, run, run, run. Only one thing – do NOT touch my food, okay? Okay. Good.

I made all kinds of goodness – a pork roast, salad, spinach and ricotta gnudi (the flecked with green rolls whose name translates to naked – a jacketless ravioli). The prettiest, hands down, was the delicious orange and fennel cake because, lucky me, blood oranges are still in season and gorgeous, gorgeous!

It was a sleep over, so there was more food adventure in the form of crumpets for breakfast (sore-ee no photo). I had never made them and wondered if I had it all wrong, but they looked right and tasted like WOW! I do believe they will be on a more frequent rotation. Yes, I do.

Did I, after years of swearing I would, remember to take a picture of the four of us? No, because I always get so caught up in the being and doing of fine friendship and cooking and baking that I forget. Even though the camera is close at hand, within eye shot, even. Not the worst to happen, really, so fully immersed in the joy of our togetherness. Yes. But dang, too. I’d like to have us rounded up for the ages. I really, really would.

The crooked jolie laide, looking rather upright, was delicious! And what a marvelous time we had with our friends, too.

Not so great was Wednesday’s snow bomb, wreaking all kinds of havoc all along the Front Range. The winds were positively horizontal for hours and hours, with icy snow closing highways and airports, stranding people in cars, knocking over trees, power lines, and fences – part of ours included!

We were out of power for just a couple of hours, which was a shock considering how horribly it was blowing. We were ready for the long haul, with solar lamps, candles, and firewood at the ready. Thank you Colorado Springs Utilities for that bit of wonder.

Yesterday’s weather was much more agreeable, with nary a breeze, though still awfully cold, and with all the ice on the ground in the morning, Juniper only got the briefest afternoon walk after sidewalks were cleared or partially melted. It’s sunny now, yet still too cold to walk for long, but how lovely the snow and ice look, and boy howdy, do we need the moisture!

Hi there! Are you hungry, yet? Not my intention, of course, but I will say even I have a little Pavlov’s dog action happening. I’ve been everywhere but here, as of late. Nothing major, really, just life.

I sat with a dying patient last week. This saddens and frightens most, but I like it. Not in a morbid way, but a gosh, isn’t it wonderful to be with someone in their last days or moments. How it makes the body grateful to be breathing and relatively healthy and strong. She was fidgety, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes rubbing her face or reaching for some unseen object. Often the case when greeting the next life. She frequently asked who I was and why I was present and if I’d seen her husband. As if I’d only just entered the room and he had not died in the distant past. Not in a frightened way, but with a sense of curiosity and gratitude. Most people in care are lonely and happy for company, even if no words are exchanged.

And today we are hosting a couple of sweet neighbors for dinner. The bottom two photos are the cake I made for the occasion. A crooked jolie laide of orange zest and topped with candied kumquats and marshmallow cream frosting. Yeah, it’s yum. I’ll also be roasting chicken and asparagus, tossing a green salad with almonds and cherries, and serving fizzy wine. How good it will all be.

The rest of the photos perfectly demonstrate our attempt at eating as well as possible: a southwestern breakfast bowl; yogurt omelette with greens, cucumber, and spinach; dan-dan style pork I tossed into an Asian chop salad purchased at Costco. The cookies!! They are homemade Nutter Butters and one of the best and most addictive things going. It was prudent to give the majority away. Yes, ma’am.

And you? I hope you are well! I must dash if I’m going to get everything cleaned and ready. Happy Tuesday!!

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