Cooking + Baking

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Happy Wednesday dear reader! How are you? Are you feeling refreshed this new year? Greg and I are knee-deep in our diet reset and feeling quite good.

The first three photos are evidence of our year-end dietary wonders. First is a seafood lasagna, recipe from Inspired by Charm (Hello Pittsburgh!), which served as our fabulous Christmas dinner. We swapped the noodles with thin sliced butternut squash, and it still felt quite indulgent. It also made for spectacular leftovers! I hadn’t made pumpkin bread for ages and did a fine job of it. Pizza on a very cold day when the indoor oven would not stifle the house was the tops. Absolutely!

The weather is winter-still, icy cold. Dog walks are bundled in the thin warmth of afternoon or not at all, poor Juniper. Though she minds less when we are prompt with morning and afternoon snacks. Our girl remains food motivated.

The dazzle of moonlight was New Year’s Eve. 100 years of AdAmAn meant our sleepy souls didn’t have to wait until midnight for Pike’s Peak fireworks, but got a little preview at nine p.m. Yay! It was a bit too cloudy for much of a show, but we enjoyed a neighborly chat with a woman and her grandchildren in the church lot while we watched and waited. Hooray for childhood and human connection.

Two decent snowstorms in two weeks, huzzah!


Peregrine Falcon methinks…

Wonderfully beautiful and delicious Basque style cheesecake – the wild crinkle of parchment serves as the crust, which is why I wanted to try it, as I feel most serve no good purpose. After making it, I saw it on the cover of a magazine and all over the interwebs. Unbeknownst trend follower. Ha!

Jeff came for a visit! In keeping with our usual modus operandi, we walked, laughed, ate very well (see above), visited the library, and played fun games, of course. I love our time together.

Lap dog dreaming…

Thanksgiving Feasting

Downtown Wandering

Mountain Gazing

A Mexican style lasagna, of sorts. Spicy, smoky roasted mushrooms and tomato, sliced butternut squash, chipotle sour cream, and cheese, of course. Delicious!

Never gets old…

Hope your holiday season is off to a fabulous start! Be safe, be well.

Happy Birthday in heaven Grandma Tess. One hundred years!

The last of our garden tomatoes, before and after roasting into a delicious soup.

The first year since moving to our Colorado house that the garden aspens actually turned sunset hues. They’re usually killed by frost or snow before the opportunity arises. What a show!

Juniper looks so little when she sleeps.

Jett came for a visit. We gorged on Italian food and homemade ice cream, shopped, walked, and puzzled. It was a great day!

Doing a lot of meat over shredded cabbage, as of late. This is a middle eastern take on ground chicken, with tomato, onion, raisins, and hot honey pinon nuts. It was delicious.

Have you watched Sprung on freevee? If you haven’t and are a laugh out loud and nice show person like me, get to it! It’s a super fun series about three people released early from prison because of COVID. I’ve watched it twice and highly recommend the same.

I am holding a John Wayne casserole made after seeing it on the show. It has a biscuit base, ground beef, cheese, and a million different iterations after that. In keeping with old school casserole vibes, I added a can of cream of mushroom soup, then a mixture of garlic and chile powders, tomato, green chile, and corn. Tasty!! I’d make it again in a heartbeat.

When Greg and I were in Wisconsin, we had some really good maple pecan fudge. Its only defect being it was a bit too sweet for us. I couldn’t get it out of my head and decided it could benefit from the bitterness of chocolate. I made a batch this past weekend, dividing the basic five-minute fudge recipe, two thirds with white chocolate chips and 3/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (real maple syrup was a major fail), and one third with the usual chocolate chips, and layering the two. It is amazing peeps!

Bought a jar of wonderful creosote and rosemary cream and a delightfully scented candle from Sonoran Rosie. So pretty and smells like the desert in bloom.

Bracelet in progress. I think I like it.

Way back in 2008, I wrote about the concoctions I made in the drinking and body care categories. One of them was kombucha, which I have made off and on in the fourteen years since. We’re in an off period now, but never say never about the future!

I also tried various deodorants and shampoos, which in their former formulations I abandoned. The deodorant paste contained baking soda and made my armpits break out in a rash after a couple months, while the shampoo eventually made my hair look greasy all the time. Live and learn.

Today I present you with what I have learned. I still make soap (and very much enjoy it!), for hand and body washing, shampoo, and pictured at top, laundry. This is made from 100% coconut oil (and lye, of course) which cleans clothes exceptionally well and will make your skin drier than dead leaves if you wash with it on the regular. Greg and I grate it with a microplane, using about two tablespoons per load. A batch of eight bars lasts well over a year, mostly because we only wash a load or two a week.

In case you wondering why, since we’re such a small family, it takes a while to achieve a full load, usually every two to three weeks for darks and once a month for lights. I considered the minimalist clothing idea at one time, only having a few items in each category, but realized with so few garments, the necessity of washing a small load of laundry all the damn time, and who wants that? No one under this red roof, I assure you. I went for a minimalist color scheme instead – black, white, grey, oatmeal, harvest yellow, forest green, turquoise, and rust for the majority of my tops and sweaters. Jeans in every fade, a single black pair of corduroys, ochre, rust, and green pants, skirts, and shorts. Most every garment is a good match for the others. I also wear everything but the undies for as long as they aren’t visibly soiled or smelly.

It’s also a boon for all of our water reducing measures in preparation for moving to Taos. We’ll have a well and collect rainwater for all of our usage, no endless city taps! It is best to be prepared well in advance.

Getting back to it, I also make hand and lip balms, with beeswax, avocado, and olive oil, sometimes with herbal infusions, like creosote bush and calendula, and the remains of lip balms I’ve gotten as gifts. The lip stuff I use several times daily and the hand balm every night at bed time. I should also mention the hand balm benefits from the addition of zinc, which is a pretty amazing all-around for skin.

In the liquid category, the pink spritz (a great re-use of a rosewater bottle) has a mixture of zinc, magnesium flakes, sulfur, and filtered water. Greg has super sensitive skin, and this is the absolute best mixture for keeping it clear, soft, and itch-free. He sprays it all over, scalp included. It is not hyperbole to say the change has been astounding. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t smell like matches, either.

The old rye bottle is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and rice water, which I use as a face and hair rinse. The blue spritz is our deodorant – a combination of essential oils (tea tree and white thyme for antimicrobial properties, sweet orange for scent), water, magnesium flakes, and a touch of alcohol. The amber bottle is my moisturizing hair oil. I use castor, olive, and jojoba oil, with rosemary and mint essential oils, which are supposed to stimulate hair growth. That is not definitive, but really smells nice. It helps keep my dry ends in check, at least!

Are you still there? The camera continues to please, dear peeps, in spades!! Our first frost brought a whole host of photographic delights.

Weekend morning ritual: get up without an alarm, though shockingly close to said usual hour, enjoy a latte or three and a ginger biscuit or three, with Juniper cuddles on the sofa. Right when her pants are full to brimming with ants, we walk!

Oatmeal Raisin with flake salt, crispy-sweet, salty good.

Creamy chicken stew, made with cauliflower and cream cheese instead of actual cream, pureed to smoothness. Add ground chicken, green chiles, corn, onion, garlic, and powdered New Mexico chile galore. Eat super duper fast.

Happy Halloween!!

Hello, and happy October! It’s been a while. After a much needed break from all the interior improvements we made when we moved in (six years ago!), and a bit of uncertainty about what exactly to do in the basement, we finally decided to paint – some wood paneling (but not all), the fireplace, and the laundry room ceiling. Thus far, we’ve finished the guest room, the little hall to the bathroom, ceiling beams, and around the fireplace. I started the actual brick this morning, but it is so deeply textured that rolling, even with a thick nap, is not really an option. We will be paint sprayer owner-operators forthwith!

That’s where I’ve been, at least. When not too tired to cook because of all the up-down-side-to-side brush and roller movements, I have made some yum. Firstly, this tandoori style chicken, which Greg gorgeously grilled and topped with a few home grown cayenne pepper slices. The recipe comes from 30 Minute Mowgli, the Indian cookbook for those of us who want to have a life outside of making this delicious food. I’ve made quite a few of the recipes and highly recommend it!

You may also note that the bottom photo is a little blurry? My lens is slowly dying, and sometimes I catch it in the act and others not, so, until I decide whether to buy another DSLR lens or to move to a 100% digital camera, please forgive me my off-pics.

We visited Michael and Mary recently (hiya!), and Mary, who has some deep roots in Maine, made amazing-delicious Whoopie Pies, after letting us know she would not be making Grape Nuts pudding. I had no idea this existed thereabouts, and as Greg and I are both Grape Nuts lovers, I sought out a recipe and made some right quick. Isn’t it beautiful? It smelled heavenly and was quite delicious, but the nuts made a soft crust on the bottom, and I wanted them at least a little bit crunchy.

Homemade pita tower! Spiced beef patties! Tahini dressed salad! Our favorite hummus with pickled raisins from Eat Cook L.A.!

Normally, Greg is a pita gobbler, so I made a lot of them. He surprised us both by not finishing the batch before they turned hard, so I made a little savory breakfast bread pudding, with homemade green chiles and bacon. Zero complaints, dear peeps.

Greg is a hot beverage sipper, and, whenever possible, also enjoys a dip-dip of something sweet and crunchy into said drinks. For a while, he enjoyed the big box of brown sugar Belvitas at Costco, while I always lamented their too sweet sweetness and all the unrecyclable packaging carted off to the landfill. After some trying and failing, I tweaked a few recipes into the best homemade version I could, and we are both pleased as punch at the result! This batch is on the thicker side, but we’ve since decided we prefer them thinner and crispier. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to see for yourself.

Ginger Biscuits

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup almond flour (I use homemade from making almond milk -woot!!)

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 t baking powder

8 tablespoons (one stick) butter, softened

75 grams powdered sugar (10 tablespoons)

10 grams molasses (1 1/2 teaspoons)

3 T microplaned ginger (maybe 2 t dried?)

1/4 cup cold milk

Mix milk, molasses, and ginger together, set aside. Combine flours and baking powder, rub into butter and powdered sugar. Add milk mixture and oats, combine until a stiff dough forms. Roll on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness, and cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly golden, 12-20 minutes. Depending on thickness, makes 30-40 biscuits.

Home grown tomatoes roasted for salsa!

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