Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2010

“It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog.” This Beatle’s song lyric plays through my head as I walk through the back door. I feel fatigue settle upon me as I remove my shoes. My feet hurt from wearing “fashionable” shoes and from being on my feet for most of the day. I tell my husband it had been a “Calgon take me away” kind of day. As I say that, the visual image of soaking in a tub of billowy bubbles, seems like the very thing to do to sooth my weary bones.

With the warm water running, I pour in some lavender-scented bubble bath and watch bubbles miraculously form. “Bubbles are spherical because of surface tension, but the tension that lurks on the surface of your life will evaporate once you sink into an Aura Cacia bubble bath” reads the label. Ah, so wise are the marketers of Calgon and Aura Cacia products.

A heavenly cloud of bubbles beckons me to feel its silky froth. After lighting wonderfully fragrant candles and dimming the bathroom lights, I gently slip into the tub and close my eyes. Minutes of reverie later, I open my eyes and gaze at the mounds of bubbles. How strong, yet delicate the spheres appear to be. As the top most part of the mounds begin popping, they transform into pieces of surreal lacework enhanced by candlelight. I look at this piece of art in front of my eyes and then feel the need to look at it from all sides; I plunge deeper into the water to look straight up at it. I call to my husband to bring me my camera! I snap photo after photo trying to capture the glittery mass of soap and air before me.

I can hardly contain my excitement as I dress and run down the stairs to my computer. The downloaded images are interesting, but my Ambien-enhanced brain says they need tweaking, so I play around with the exposure settings and color adjustments until the medication takes over . . .

There you have it folks! That’s the history of the mystery photo. The correct answer to the contest is bubbles! The photo above is a more revealing view of the bubbles in my bubble bath. Now that you know the answer, I bet all of you will look at the photo and say, “Yes, that’s it!”

Thanks to all of you who submitted guesses. I sincerely enjoyed reading each and every one of them! From this sampling of guesses – from sneezes to my granite counter top to blue speckled granite ware pots to flash reflection in a mirror – you can see the great depth of imagination everyone used in trying to figure out the subject matter.

Stay tuned! The winner of the contest and the winner’s prize will be revealed in an upcoming post! And if you liked the photo of the bubbles and this contest, you should see the photo I have in mind for my next contest!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The flavor and texture of macadamia nuts covered with a thin Kona coffee glaze deliciously haunts my memory. My parents brought me back a container of these little gems from their last trip to the islands. Ashamedly, I think I ate the whole container by myself. Sorry, family! It is no wonder that when I came across a recipe for Coffee Glazed Pecans on recipegoldmine.com, I immediately had to give it a try.

Coffee Glazed Pecans:
1 -1/2 cups pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Taster’s Choice Instant Freeze-Dried Coffee
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large skillet combine pecans, sugar, water, Taster’s Choice, and cinnamon; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly until pecans are well-glazed. Spread on waxed paper to cool.

I was disappointed with this recipe. It didn’t have the crunch that I like on glazed nuts and it did not have the intense coffee flavor I expected, especially since I added an extra 1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder.

Another recipe in one of my stacks of recipes was for Tennessee Toffee Cookies. Wanting to turn disappointment into something positive, I incorporated the Coffee Glazed Pecans I had just made into the cookie recipe.

My Adaptation of Tennessee Toffee Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup pecans, broken (Coffee Glazed Pecans from above)

In a bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg yolk, vanilla, and Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. Add the flour a little at a time until well-blended. Spread the dough very thinly on a greased cookie sheet. Place a sheet of waxed paper over it and roll the dough with a rolling pin to spread evenly on the cookie sheet. Beat the egg white with a mixer until foamy. Spread the egg white over the top of the cookie dough and sprinkle with pecan pieces. Bake at 250 degrees for 55 minutes. Make sure the center is completely cooked and not doughy. Remove from the oven and cut into diagonal cookies immediately before they cool. To remove after they cool, cut again. Makes 2 dozen.

These turned out pretty good. The foamy egg white wash gave the surface a little crunch. The coffee glazed on the nuts dissolved and colored the dough, but it was fine. This is a recipe worth experimenting with a little more. Next time I will add less sugar to the dough, will try rolling the dough out more evenly, and will bake it just a little bit longer. I will also try different types of nuts; I think sliced almonds would be good on this, especially if a little almond extract is added to the dough.

Two recipes were tested with one being a near hit and one being a miss. Two recipes down and a million to go!

Read Full Post »

I have a contest winner! Someone has correctly guessed the subject matter of my mystery photo! Check next week’s posts for the full story!

Many of my friends and and some of my family are traveling during spring vacation. My daughter is leaving her studies in Greece to visit Egypt and Jordan this week and all I can say is – I am so envious!! To temporarily satiate my travel bug, I’ve come up with a few ways to escape.

#1 – Grab Your Laptop and Camera and Go!!
“Have you dreamed of being able to live and work anywhere you want to? What about traveling the world while earning a living with just a laptop and an Internet connection? Such is the life of a digital nomad. It’s usually exciting, sometimes glamorous, and always inspiring.” You’ll want to pack your suitcase after viewing the colorful, travel-inspiring photos featured in this article “50 Photos to Inspire Life as a Digital Nomad.”

#2 – Say “Please” in Twelve Languages
While you’re traveling, remember to say “please” along the way.

Italian: Per favore
French: S’il vous plaît
Romanian: Va rog
German: Bitte
Spanish: Por favor
Swedish: Vänligen
Czech: Prosím
Greek: Parakaló
Chinese: Mm goi (Cantonese)
Hawaiian: ‘Olu ‘olu
Polish: Prosze
Russian: Pozhaluista

#3 – Brown Sugar
Wanted to make cookies for your trip, but ran out of brown sugar and realized your neighbor was away on vacation? What to do? Just make your own by following these recipes!

Light Brown Sugar: Mix together 1 cup granulated sugar with 1-1/2 tablespoons molasses.

Dark Brown Sugar: Mix together 1 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup molasses.

Both recipes make one cup.

#4 – Escape Via the Written Word
At www.thedebutanteball.com authors who have a book debut this year offer their insights on writing. The site states, ” Welcome to The Debutante Ball, a group blog for debut authors, now in its fourth season. Join us daily for our takes on bookish and not-so-bookish topics and celebrate with us as our debuts approach.”

The site is loaded with links to sites that assist writers, but it also has a list of book-related sites such as book bloggers and book websites. It features interviews with famous authors and soon-to-be famous authors. I found it a great place to just nose around, read a little, and discover new books!

#5 – A Quote You Can’t Escape From
I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.
Nadia Comaneci

Hope you have an opportunity this weekend to escape and do something wonderful for yourself!

Read Full Post »

I’m a clipper. Not a Los Angeles Clippers fan, but a compulsive clipper of magazine and newspaper articles. This condition, along with high cholesterol, I got from my mom. Thanks, mom. For as long as I can remember, my mom has been clipping articles and saving them for me, my siblings, and now her grandchildren to read.  I don’t mind it really, because it shows that she is always thinking of us.

I started clipping during my college years, because I was building up my recipe repertoire so that I could catch a good man. Well it worked – I got myself a good man, but now I’m a clipper that can’t stop herself! I’m following in my mom’s footsteps by clipping articles that I think my kids will be interested in reading. When they went off to college, I dutifully mailed them their monthly stack of clippings. They’ll thank me one of these days, I’m sure. Their envelopes usually contained funny cartoons that reminded me of them or articles about hometown folks and hometown events so they could stay in touch or sometimes the mom-type safety articles such as not using headphones or cell phones in a storm.

With spring cleaning on my mind, I am determined to attack my stacks of clippings. I clip articles with information that I can use on my blog or ones with helpful gardening tips, but I have to admit, the majority of my clippings are food-related. And worse than that, most are recipes that fall into the dessert category (sigh). What can I say other than I am a lover of desserts? But what a dreamer I am! If I live to be 100 years old, I will never have enough time to test all the recipes I’ve collected. And even if I did live that long, I would probably weigh 500 pounds by eating all the food that I’ve tested! So in an attempt to rid myself of all the stacks of clippings I possess, I am going to be more judicious while rummaging through them. Only recipes that look to give the best results with the least amount of labor will survive to be tested. Difficult recipes and recipes with 50 or more ingredients, I’ll just drool over and then trash them. I’ll test a couple of recipes each week and post the recipe and the results on my blog. No matter what the outcome, I’ll provide you with my honest opinion of each recipe. If the recipe looks good to you, you can always try making it yourself – I’ve been know to screw up a recipe by not reading it correctly!

I’m motivated to attack the stack now. I’m going to power my way through the recipes just like Julie Powell, of the Julie and Julia fame, did. I’m going to start this project just as soon as I finish reading the morning paper . . .

Read Full Post »


Today’s post came about as I listened to one of my sons tell me how much he enjoys making “Hole in the Wall” for breakfast. “Hole in the Wall” is basically a piece of bread with a hole in the center. The buttered bread is placed in a hot skillet and an egg is dropped into the hole and cooked to perfection.

This talk of toast and eggs made me think about all the times that I’ve salivated while listening to my husband and his siblings nostalgically describe their Grammy’s breakfast dish called “Bu-Bu Eggs.” After buttering a slice of toast and tearing it into bite-sized pieces, a soft-boiled egg was gently mixed into the bread and then sprinkled with salt, pepper, and a little Maggi Seasoning Sauce. For those of you not familiar with Maggi Seasoning Sauce, it is a condiment which originated in Europe, but became very popular in Asia, and is steadily gaining popularity in all parts of the world. It is dark brown in color and tastes like a cross between soy sauce and beef bouillon. The main ingredient is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is a commonly found ingredient in bouillon cubes.

Discussing eggs and toast can make a person hungry, so I decided to make a “Hole in the Bowl” of my own to eat. Here’s my recipe for it – which I adapted from an All You recipe:

Hole in the Bowl
Ingredients:
Crusty dinner rolls, one roll per serving
Large eggs, one per roll
Butter, melted
Chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, basil
Heavy cream, about 1-2 tablespoons per roll
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Using a serrated knife, slice off the top of each dinner roll evenly and cut a circle approximately a half-inch from the edge of each bread roll. Gently remove some bread until there is a hole large enough to accommodate an egg. (This step is much like you would do if you were hollowing out a large sourdough bowl for spinach dip).

2. Paint melted butter on the interior of the bread bowls and on the inside of the lids. Arrange rolls on a rimmed baking sheet. Reserve tops.

3. Carefully crack an egg into each roll. You don’t want the yolk to break. Pour a bit of cream gently around the egg yolk being careful not to let it overflow. Sprinkle with herb mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

3. Bake until eggs are set and bread is toasted: 15 minutes for a slightly runny egg or 20 minutes for a more hard-boiled type egg. After eggs have cooked for either 15 or 20 minutes, place buttered bread tops on baking sheet along side the bread bowls and bake until golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Take baking sheet out of the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes. Place tops on rolls and serve warm.

These photos aren’t the best, but let me just say – I devoured the whole Hole in the Bowl!  I dare you to say that quickly five times in a row! Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Thanks to all of you who entered my contest by venturing your best guesses! Although some of you obviously have some pretty fantastic imaginations, no one has won the contest yet, so the contest continues on! By the range of your guesses, I am flattered that many of you think so highly of my photographic skills. I am now going to offer a little bit of information to guide your future guesswork. And in all fairness, with the additional information presented below, everyone who has already submitted a guess, gets another chance to submit one more guess! Read the information and send your best guess via email to me.

#1 – Contest Redux
Keep in mind that photos posted on my blog are taken by me, a point-and-shoot photographer. The contest photo is no exception. Not only was it taken by me, but it was taken inside my home. That rules out any intergalactic subject matter. And other than the macro feature on my camera, no other fancy camera equipment was used. That rules out serious magnification photography.

The only other thing I can say is that I took an Ambien that night to help me sleep and while I was downloading and color adjusting the photo, the Ambien kicked in!

Here are a few samples of the fabulous, but incorrect guesses from the first week:

A drop of water, 1000 times magnified
Water combined with flash photography
Flash freeze photograph of an atomization process
Cellophane Easter grass on a light table
Seaweed
The Universe
Blown glass
A burst of confetti
Glitter
Paint spray
Illuminated crinkled plastic wrap

Don’t give up! I want to award the prize to someone!

#2 – Comparing Apples to Oranges
From my local newspaper comes this nutrition quiz:

1. Oranges contain how many more calories than apples?
a. 4
b. 24
c. 44

2. How much more of the recommended daily percentage of vitamin C does an orange contain?
a. 78 percent more
b. 8 percent more
c. 128 percent more

3. Which fruit contains more fiber?
a. apple
b. orange
c. same amount

4. Both apples and oranges pale in comparison with bananas (422 milligrams) for potassium, but which fruit contains a higher level?
a. apple
b. orange

5. How much more water is present in an orange compared with an apple?
a. 13 grams
b. 53 grams
c. 103 grams

Answers:
1: a; 2: c; 3: c (3 grams of fiber); 4: b (orange 232 mg; apple, 134 mg); 5: a

#3 – Kitchen Equivalents
Did you know that 8 ounces of uncooked pasta makes 4 cups cooked or that a 13x9x2-inch pan holds 14 cups or that 1 tablespoon is the equivalent of 3 teaspoons?

This information plus more kitchen equivalents is right here at your finger tips.

#4 – Tips for Cleaning Silver
Note: These tips are for silver only and for silver items that have no stones.

Place jewelry in an aluminum pan. Cover items completely with baking soda. Pour boiling water over jewelry. Although you’d like to watch the process, it is better to not lean over the pan, since a chemical reaction is occurring! After five minutes, take items out and rinse with water. Dry. If items are severely tarnished, repeat the process.

If your silver items are larger, put aluminum foil in the bottom of your kitchen sink, shiny side up. Fill the sink with enough boiling water to cover the silver. Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. Stir. Place your silver pieces in the solution for about five minutes. Make sure each piece is touching the aluminum foil. After about five minutes, rinse off the silver and dry.

#5 – Changing The World
“As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.”
– Paul Shane Spear-

Make your best guess and have a great weekend!

Read Full Post »

Looking for ways to use up the last few Meyer lemons hanging in my garden, I rediscovered this recipe while rummaging through my 3-foot stack of recipes “to try.” This Lemon Cornmeal Cake With Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce by Abigail Johnson Dodge sounded complicated, but was relatively easy to make. With a full tablespoon of lemon zest in the batter and a lemon glaze on top, it did not disappoint in the lemon department. The cornmeal gave the cake a nice rustic texture, too. Although the Crushed-Blueberry Sauce was a beautiful complement in taste and in color, it was not absolutely necessary. It does dress up the cake, however, so if I were serving this at a brunch or as a dessert to company, I would serve it with the sauce. I made a few notes on my copy of the recipe for the next time I make this cake, and believe me, I will be making this cake again!

Linnell’s Adaptation of Lemon Cornmeal Cake With Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce

Cake Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

Glaze Ingredients:
Up to 1-1/2 cups packed powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons or more fresh lemon juice
lemon zest, optional

Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:
3 cups fresh or frozen (13-14 ounces, thawed) blueberries, divided
2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
pinch of salt

To Make Glaze:
Combine 1 cup of the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in small bowl. Stir with spoon until smooth and paste-like adding more lemon juice by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to spread. If too runny, slowly add the last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, checking periodically to make sure it’s not too sweet. If not serving with the blueberry sauce, add some lemon zest to the glaze. Set aside.

To Make Blueberry Sauce:
Combine 1-1/2 cups blueberries and all remaining ingredients in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a simmer, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries are very soft and liquid is syrupy, stirring often, about 7 more minutes. Remove from heat: add remaining blueberries. Using back of spoon, gently press fresh blueberries against side of pan until lightly crushed. Cover and chill. Serve chilled or rewarm before serving. Can be made 2 days ahead.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

To Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×2 round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. To do this put pan on top of a piece of parchment paper and trace around the bottom of the pan. Cut out parchment circle and insert in the pan.

Melt butter and let cool.

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel, and vanilla, in a small bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold liquids into the flour mixture until just blended – do not stir. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from oven. Immediately run knife around sides of the cake. Place a rack on top of cake in pan. Using oven mitts, hold pan and flip cake onto rack. Remove pan from cake. Place another rack on bottom of cake and flip it again so that the cake is back to top side up.

Stir glaze until blended. While cake is still very hot, drop glaze by tablespoons onto cake and spread to 1/2-inch of edge. Cool completely. Serve with Crushed-Blueberry Sauce if desired.

Serves 8-10

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: