Thursday, December 31, 2009

from sun to snow

Here I am today in a snow storm that will probably nix my plans to go upstate to Rochester for an annual New Years Day get-together with my cousins....damn!

We planned to spend New Year's eve at my favorite hotel, then go to the family gathering tomorrow. Another night at the Rennaissance...then home on Saturday. Oh well.

I've been a lax blogger because I just came back from 4 days in Las Vegas with two friends. I took my computer, but the internet access in the hotel was not the best....

We stayed at the Luxor and I had the view below of the 'pyramid' from my room. Our rooms were in the 'west tower'.
Here are Barbara and Judy in front of New York, New York. We had a great time and it was wonderful to get away from soap for awhile!

We had great food, fun gambling, and also took in The Beatles™ LOVE™ by Cirque du Soleil® It was amazing!!

Las Vegas is such an 'over the top' place. Where else can you find a factory like this?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Occasional Cat

I've now named Buddy my Occasional Cat.
(see The Naming of Cats)

I was so glad to see him today!

About 2 weeks ago, we found tufts of fur that looked like his all over our front yard. It didn't bode well for Buddy....
But he showed up today, all fluffy and well groomed.
Came in....lounged around for awhile.
Had a bite to eat...and then wanted to go out.
I always hate to see him go.

would T.S.Eliot name him occasional cat?

Before and after....

Well. 25 years after the addition of the sunroom to our house...we are finally finishing it.

This is what it looked like last week. Before the carpenter framed out the windows and the tile guy grouted the tile Pentti put down about 15 years ago...'s coming along. Just needs paint...window treatments, (would use none...but I have a husband who doesn't want anyone 'looking in'.....) and furniture.
I need to get to some auctions!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Return to cooking without turkey

2 lovely porkchops from the Lewis Waite Farm,
Rosemary sprigs left from Thanksgiving's marinated olives (thanks, Sarah)

and a recipe from the Times for Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, (Anchovies) and Rosemary led to this.

No anchovies....but it was tasty anyway....with cheesy polenta and broccoli. PS. I used canned small dice tomatoes....instead of fresh plum. I had to make do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving wind down

After a wonderful 3 days with my girls, I'm winding down....back to soapmaking, laundry and cooking with something other than turkey.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's not just about the food....

I'm making a traditional T-Day dinner. Both daughters will be here. Something that doesn't happen very often.

Sometimes Sarah and I plan special gourmet sides for dinner, but we've both been too busy to think about menu. So......I'm making a simple meal with family favorites from years past. Way past.

Like date nut bread. Mom's recipe. Served with cream cheese and jam.

We always served the cream cheese in this dish. This little octagon beauty was used only for that purpose as long as I can remember. I only use it for that, too.

One 8 oz. block of Philadelphia brand NO LOW FAT PLEASE!...with a jar of jam poured on top. Has to be homemade. Has to be strawberry. I made the jam last night...with berries we picked in June and crushed and froze just for this purpose.

Then there's the my mom's glass pie plate...
I love that pie plate. Browns the bottom crust so nicely. (Yes that's the jam behind)

So, here's the menu:

One 16 lb. farm raised turkey from the CSA.
Stuffing with sausage and apple
Mashed potatoes (with roasted garlic)
Candied Sweet with Marshmallows on top
Brussels Sprouts (from the CSA)
Date Bread/Cream Cheese/Jam
Apple Cranberry Crisp and Pumpkin Pie

Now we just need the airlines to cooperate. Jess flew from Atlanta to Detroit at 7:30 this AM. Was suposed to be in White Plains at noon. Now her flight is delayed and we're hoping she'll arrive at 3 PM.

Good thing we don't eat until 6 or 7...


Monday, November 16, 2009

Any Mah Jongg players out there?

Some (my husband) would say I was addicted to Mah Jongg.

I just like the game.

It's challenging, social and fun!

So, my friend Barbara (who likes Mah Jongg at least as much as I do) and I, have become the Mah Jongg Doctors: DR, that is, for Dellon and Ryhanen.

check out our new blog if you're so inclined: MahJonggDoctors

We've got lots of stuff in the works.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

63 degrees/Nov. 15

and Clarisse decides to sun herself on the top of the grill.

What a life.....she is SO good at relaxing.

I wish it were summer again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

a minimilast dessert

From Mark Bittman a Maple Pear Upside-Down Cake.

Slice pears over the syrup base.

make a simple butter cake batter to spread on top.

Bake and then invert on a large plate.

Voila! My friends last night enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner

there you are Clarisse....all comfy in my bedroom chair.

But soon Nea will be here...with her friend Siouxsie.

Where will you go then??

Pie Photos

I baked this in my favorite little 8" pie it almost popped it's top in the oven.

It came down a bit as it cooled...but the curds on top were a bit chewy....I liked them that way.
Go ahead...make one!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cottage Cheese Pie

Why did folks start making pie out of cottage cheese? Did they have a surplus?
In my family we made it. I don't know why. But think how healthy it must be.

I had a small frozen bit of pie crust and an abundance of cottage cheese. It was 3 / $5 at the store the other day..and I like cottage cheese. I often eat it for breakfast with fruit.

So, off to make the pie.

here's the stuff you need:

  1. 2T. flour
  2. 3/4 c. sugar
  3. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 cup cottage cheese
  6. 2/3 c. milk
  7. 2 T. melted butter or cream
  8. 1 unbaked pie shell
  9. nutmeg
And here's what I do. In a 4 cup glass measure I mix 1, 2, and 3. Add # 4 and beat it all up.
Stir in # 5, 6 and 7. Pour into #8 and sprinkle with #9.

Bake as a custard pie. How's that? I put it in a 350 oven and check it after 30 min.
If a knife comes out clean, it's done. Cool and enjoy! Photos later.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Manhattan Mah Jongg!

The big tournament was today. 24 games of MahJongg with brunch and lots of fun. My first time at a tournament...but not my last.

It began at 10 AM at One If By Land, Two If By Sea in the West Village. What a lovely restaurant. Great service and food, too.

It was organized by Shelley and Brian of Manattan Mah Jongg. That's Brian and I before the games begin.

We played with some hard core players from New Jersey, Long Island and Manhattan....I didn't win any prizes, but was able to hold my own, and had a great day.

Our parting gift was a soap made to look like a white dragon...which is also called 'soap' Imagine my surprise to find that it was made by my colleage Patricia Robbins
of Sea Blossom Soaps.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What to do with Collards??

Collards came in the CSA share yesterday.

I've never made them. In searching the internet I found an article by Melissa Clark called Southern Comfort. Not only does this recipe use collards...but beans, too. And we got dried beans in the share also.
Research tell me these are cranberry beans. They came in their pods and when I shelled them I got about 1 1/2 cups. After shelling, they need to be sorted and washed.

The recipe doesn't call for soaking them, but I will soak them overnight and cook up a pot of collards tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

fancy dessert

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm now a very young 61!
It was a good day.

Tomorrow Sarah and Eric are coming for dinner and I'm making a fancy dessert with Seckle Pears from the CSA. I started it today, but it hasn't been easy. I wish there was a picture accompanying the Epicurious recipe!

It started well:

Peeling those little babies and removing the core from the bottom.
I found my melon baller was too I used the 1/8 teaspoon measure.

Then I poached them in Muscat wine and lemon juice. So far so good. It said 10 -20 minutes, but I thought that was too long, so stopped at 10 minutes.

Then the trouble began.....I had to reduce the poaching liquid to a syrup...all of a sudden it looked like this. I thought I had burned it. Luckily I cooled it a bit and tasted. Just like a raisin syrup. So, I guess it's OK. Don't know what its supposed to look like.

When the syrup cooled, I poured it over the pears and let them cool. I think they should have been cooked even less. Tomorrow each one gets baked into the top of a little almond cake. Stay tuned. Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting could be a good back up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Home 3 weeks...

and just now posting??

What a negligent blogger. What have I been doing for 3 weeks?

Making soap? Unpacking, laundry?

Well it's definitely FALL now. But here is one last taste of summer.

Goat cheese from my CSA with a tomato from my favorite farm stand on a Wasa Rye cracker.
The best lunch!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Almost Home!

It’s almost over. We’re leaving Sicily as I write.
On our way back to Rome…then flying home Wednesday.

What a wonderful respite and trip.

In addition to visiting some amazing places…..I read 3 books.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
: Loved it!!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
. Also loved it.

And a paperback mystery I picked up in the ship’s library.

Now…back to work.
Shipping molds, cutters and soap dishes.
Making soap. Shipping it out to stores.

And….back to my regular Mah Jongg game!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ephesus, Turkey

Some of the best ruins we’ve seen! This post has lots of photos…..Pentti took so many good ones I didn’t know where to stop!

First of all, we booked a private driver and English speaking guide.
We were picked up at the ship at 7:30 AM and got to Ephesus before the other tourist busses. That’s why these photos don’t have any people at the ruins. It was a beautiful thing and still cool morning air!

Here we are at the start in silhouette: Pentti (with the camera) me and our guide.

More ruins...

A beautiful arch....

Marble street leading down to the library.

The Celsus Library. Incredible.

The Amphitheater where St. Paul spoke to the Ephesians

After the tour of the ruins we visited Sirince Villiage. Lovely!

Finally we stopped for lunch in an olive grove with Ollie our driver and Ilker our guide.

But not before I had an encounter with a Turkish rug salesman…..

He won!
But this was one of our best days in a string of wonderful days!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mamma Mia! Santorini!

It looks like snow caps on top of mountains…..

then you see it’s the lovely towns of Fira and Oia on Santorini.

What an exquisite island paradise…if you don’t mind heights.

No cars in the town you have this kind of Taxi!

This was a couple traveling with TWINS and strollers on their backs.
They were on our tour bus from the ship.

Getting down requires a cable car...or walking down the donkey path...with or without donkey!

We were in Turkey today and had a spectacular visit to Ephesus. Can’t get the photos to download yet, but I will tell you we were the first visitors to Ephesus this morning and most of the photos are ‘without toursists’…..amazing. And it was still cool…..

More later! Oh...and a surprise from Turkey! Details later.

Lovely Corfu!

A 30 minute walk to the city from the pier….and then a climb to the top of the fortress left us exhausted from Corfu.

The Fortress:

The city from the top of the Fortress: