Cooking + Baking

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Despite the snow on the mountain horizon, I do believe spring has officially arrived in Colorado Springs! As ever, it feels as though it came at exactly the right moment, too. It was so thouroughly balmy that I wore shorts today. Huzzah!

Cherry blossoms blooming

Lilacs bursting and filling the air with their intoxicating scent

A cacophony of birdsong, here, there, everywhere! I do believe this is a Phoebe.

This guest room refresh happened ages go, but I only just remembered to photograph it. We painted the closet and paneling, got new lamps after a horrific electrical storm burned out the other two, updated the bedding, got a new rug, and slip-covered the headboard. I am super pleased!

Two of our latest eats: steamed eggs, which taste like the most delicate savory custard, Hummus Bling Bling with pickled raisins and homemade pita, jazzed up with store bought tulips. Happy Spring!

I continue to make the super easy berry margaritas! You can, too. Fill a pint or quart jar with berries, this was quartered strawberries, top off with your favorite tequila, let sit in the fridge for a week, strain, and enjoy in your preferred recipe. Mine, perhaps?

Homemade red chile, possibly my best batch ever, topped a deliciously rare flank steak, with perfect pintos and homemade tortillas, too. We do alright.

I am a big fan of Korea (the Southern part, anyway) and their wonderfully tasty food and bought a super cookbook by Aaron Huh called Simply Korean. This salad is topped with a close riff on his beef bulgogi patties and my own gochujang dressing. I’ve also made them into some freaking fantastic Korean burgers. Highly recommend.

This is what happens when you mix lye and prickly pear juice (home grown and made) to make soap. It will all eventually be the golden color at the bottom but still feel pretty luxurious on the skin. Chemistry!

Saving the most beautiful until the last, with the sweetest scents of the season for the moment. It has been a slow unfolding here, with us late to clear the gardens of their fall and winter accumulations, unearthing green and ruby shoots aplenty. While I clipped and piled and raked, Greg spread compost from our massive pile, the not-so-magical alchemy of debris and time that makes our garden thrive.

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Hello! How are you this not-so-fine, at least in Colorado, weather afternoon? Spring time in the Rockies – a real crap shoot, I tell ya.

But chocolate cake is nearly always a win! I hadn’t made any in ages, got the itch, and got it done. Greg was delighted. I was, too! I saw a recipe somewhere that had salted caramel frosting, which added a jar of caramel to buttercream, but that seemed like a lot, so I caramelized a little sugar in the cutest tiny pot from Grandma Tess, added some vanilla paste and a little water, and voila! Fabulous chocolate cake.

Bebe, my first and best beading pal! We’ve been friends for thirty years (I am nearly the age she was when we met) and making jewelry together for six. She is my sister from another mister and positively lights up my life.

And now, for a little presto-change-o! The Sundance Catalog had a ridiculously good sale on their outlet items (Thank you, Robert Redford!), and I had been eyeing these chairs for a while, so I went for it! For the original price of one chair, I bought two, a very cool shirt, and a gold necklace. I mean, seriously.

We were saving the rug for Taos, but those plans, as construction materials are still crazy expensive, are on the back burner. But this is looking more and more like our living room once the house is built, which makes my heart so happy. Plus, that chair model! More, please.

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Artichoke Dip-like Soup, with chicken

Hello, fellow eaters! If, like me, you had a grandparent who could not get up when they fell or witnessed the same in others you care about, strength becomes more center of mind as the body makes more trips around the sun. As a result, I have done a bit of reading on healthy aging and been concerned with staying strong over the long haul.

Greg and I have had a steady routine for years, always with some weight lifting, but never anything terribly heavy. I thought I need only continue this workout, and I was good to go for life, barring some horrible event, of course. But, but, but, after reading Next Level, by Stacy Sims, and Outlive, by Peter Attia, I learned how terribly wrong this assumption was. We lose muscle mass, just by living, even if we do exercise and lift weights. So we are gradually increasing how many pounds we lift and will take it as far as our bodies allow, within reason and available equipment.

I also learned, as someone who likes to travel, if I want to be able to lift a 25 pound suitcase into the overhead compartment of an airplane or train when I’m 70 years old, I need to be able to lift a 35 pound weight right now (I’m so close!). That’s how much muscle strength we lose over time! Isn’t that bananas?

It gets even worse if our bodies don’t have adequate protein. I’m meant to get 100 grams per day, which meant nothing to me until I started paying attention. It is a lot! As a result, I have been mildly obsessed with the protein content of my meals, and eating accordingly. Every day, getting it any way I can: whey protein, eggs, legumes, grains, nuts, Greek yogurt, meat, fish. I leave no stone unturned and still rarely meet my target. Wah. But I remain earnest and creative!

Seafood chowder and gluten-free English muffin

Which brings me , finally, to today’s photos. Take, for instance, the creamy soups above. Both have some dairy (plain whey protein the usual source) but really derive their velvety texture from white beans! I pop them, along with broths and cauliflower, for even more of a health boost, into the Vitamix and whir until smooth. Dead easy, and with the right seasonings, no one seems to notice or care, well, at least until we start farting. Facts.

pork chop with apple gravy
Korean Fire Chicken
Curried chicken and chickpeas

Despite it being a major concern, I obviously don’t want to make soup every day, only because I am very much a variety is the spice of life type and crave just about everything under the sun, like a homey chop and deliciously spicy Korean or Indian. My food choices are as adventurous as my personality!

Here’s to health and hoping I can keep the variety going while figuring out more clever ways to maximize.

Hello! Gah. It’s been a minute. Yeah. I kept getting sidetracked – shopping, errands, a weekend of gaming and eating with Jeffie, Thanksgiving, reading, making jewelry, doing puzzles, binge watching Reacher (he’s funny!) into the wee hours on a weeknight. You know, L I F E. Also, this feeling of letting the blog call to me when I’m ready.

That feeling is accompanied by a deep sense of appreciation. My dear friend Bebe, with whom I make jewelry, is nearly eighty. Her husband has cancer, and at our last get together (reindeer bracelets were made!), this truth really hit me. How much longer will we have the privilege of sharing time? This thought cascaded to just about everyone in my life. I want to eat up every last second. Which brings me back to this little blog. If I’m happy in the moment, especially if it is spent doing something I cherish, and especially with someone I cherish, it’s absolutely fine if there are gaps in my blogging.

It reminds me of a favorite scene in Serenity, the gloriously perfect, albeit very sad, end to the fabulous and short-lived Firefly, when Kaylee is finally given recognition by Simon. Her response? “To hell with this, I’m gonna live!” Yup. I want to live, peeps. Every single day.

To that living! As I mentioned, we had another memorable weekend gaming (Dune! Point Salad!) and eating with Jeff. We ate at one of our favorite places (Phantom Canyon Brewing), and I made a delightful Chinese takeout inspired meal, with crab Rangoon (baked, not fried), scallion cakes, and orange chicken (no breading or frying, orange juice instead of water, sugar cut in half!) with broccoli and bell pepper. It was pretty amazing and chuckle worthy because I defrosted our largest package of chicken and thought, well, it’s a lot, but leftovers are no problem. Dear readers, we ate every last bite that night, and practically licked the plate clean, too!

We had a sleepover at Michael and Mary’s for Thanksgiving, with walks and yoga, puzzle making, and a beautiful sweater vest handmade by Mary, just for ME. When I was hunting cookbooks for what to make besides pecan pie (duh), I found two very yummy and not-at-all Thanksgiving themed appetizers. Would it be a gut-buster if I made them, too? Perhaps, so Mary and I hatched a plan. It would be appetizer Thanksgiving, with a little turkey sandwich and stuffing situation for Michael, as that was important to him. Jalapeno popper wonton cups and a whipped cream cheese and feta dip with bacon jam and grape chutney (homemade and fabulous, of course), as that was important to us. So good. Since it is the time of year when I bake cookies, I also made biscochitos! Food, food, food…

Hope all is well in your world. Happy living…

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