Cooking and Baking

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the song goes. I collected fallen limbs out walking, bought a few decorations (the cute trees are from Target!), and pulled out favorite treasures, so the house is nicely decked out and smelling lovely!

I also did a massive day of holiday sweet baking and making, with Biscochitos, Mexican Wedding Cookies, peanut butter yo-yos (which Daddy calls little burgers), pinon & rosemary caramels, amaretto & walnut fudges, cream cheese mints, and peppermint marshmallows. We’ve eaten and quite enjoyed a lot, but thankfully shared the majority to avoid sugar comas.

This past weekend, we enjoyed a little road trip to Denver to spend time with some of our favorite people. It was quite the whirlwind of tasty food, killer cocktails (Bananas & Bourbon!), games, and lovely company. As is often the norm at this time of year, it was frigid and sunny, with the bustle of humanity as jolly as the skies. We also had an easy drive both ways, which is always nice.

Just because they are so darn cute. Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

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We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.

David Mamet

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Delicious recipe here

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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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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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Whoa! I don’t know what happened, but it sure looks cool.

That’s better!

My friend Bebe is one of my dearest companions. She is funny, generous, kind, and smart. We love to bead together (making jewelry, mostly), and can talk up a storm on any and every topic. She’s also fearless and lived all over: Africa, Alaska, England, as well just about every corner of the contiguous United States after being born in Maryland. In her travels, she’s accumulated a vast array of recipes. She started making cranberry banana jam about fifty years ago in Alaska, though she made it with indigenous lingonberries that she and her friends collected in the wild. Unless you’re lucky enough to have lingonberries available, cranberries are the best substitute.

When she first offered me a jar, I was a bit skeptical. Cranberries and bananas? Weird. I am open minded, however, so I took a jar. Wow, this is good! It tastes mostly like banana, with a hint of fruitiness I would never identify as cranberry. As the title infers, strangely delicious. The hubster and I devoured it in no time. Here’s the recipe, just in case you’re curious, too.

Cranberry Banana Jam

4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 1/2 cups water

3 cups mashed banana

7 cups sugar

6 ounces liquid pectin

1 teaspoon bottled lemon juice

Sterilize canning jars – I used a variety of jars, so I can’t say exactly how many jars this makes, so have quite a few on hand.

In a large pot, combine cranberries and water over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Stir in mashed bananas and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until mixture comes to the boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for one minute. Remove from the heat, stir in pectin and lemon juice.

Dispense jam into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth, attach lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and place on a kitchen towel to cool. If you want to give away the jam without sealing, simply allow to cool and refrigerate until sharing. I’ve got two jars in the fridge as I type. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!!

Oh, and Happy New Year! It’s 2019!

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