Friday, November 21, 2014

Pinterest recipes: chocolate avocado mousse

I have been determined to make this one for a while now. A pudding of sorts, but more mousse-like; with no dairy, although you could use milk if you wanted, and the hidden but major ingredient being four avocadoes.

There is no photo here - you know what a chocolate mousse/pudding should look like. And here is the recipe, or the picture I should say, which got my attention.  So, with my ingredients at hand, I re-read the directions. And the very first thing threw me right off and I wasn't sure what to do.  "1/2 cup crushed dark chocolate". What does she mean? Finely crushed, which would be a significantly more than slightly crushed. Or something in between? I was wishing she'd given weights rather than measures, when I realized that it was adapted from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis. Ah, Giada just used chocolate chips!  Okay. So what I ended up doing was somewhere betwixt the both of these two methods.

I didn't think my blender could handle this, so into the food processor I put: four very ripe avocadoes, a half cup plus two tablespoons of coconut milk, a half cup of honey, one tablespoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt, half cup of Hershey's cocoa and a melted-and-slightly-cooled half cup of semisweet chocolate morsels. I may or may not have included a dash of black pepper; I don't recall, but Linda says she thinks I did, so if she tasted pepper maybe I did put it in. I didn't want the red pepper, and I didn't have raw sugar, so those were left out.

The coconut milk had separated in the can, which I expected, so I first tried whisking it together in a bowl, and then measuring. The whole amount was almost too much for my seven cup processor, so the mixer would have been best, really. Anyway, I tried some and my brother tried some and then I brought it to work today.

Well, I really wished I'd had my camera, because there were raves about it and Katie wants to include it somehow in her Thanksgiving menu. I told them they could finish it off and that's what they did. To me, it's a novelty and I may never make it again, but I can say that it really is very good.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

the ruffle at the hem

Well, since there was some interest, here is the dress with a ruffle basted on. I won't know how well I like it till it's done and I put it on.

What I'm trying to achieve is the look of a fuller petticoat underneath, but without bothering to make one. Here are some images I saved on Pinterest:

This dress is actually hanging outside a Welsh pub, and it is two layers - this kind of thing appeals to me greatly.

This is from Etsy, I believe. The ruffle isn't attached to the dress, but it could have been done that way.

This is called the Blanchefleur - it's really what I was thinking of. But my dress is fuller than this rather slim one, and the flounce is quite extended. So, mine isn't going to end up anything like that.

I just want to finish it and move on to something else, because it's way too cold now to be wearing it.
But never fear, I'll keep trying!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

for the birds

Trisha came by yesterday while I was out; she had made these seed-covered bagels with the story hour children, and she brought me some!  I hung them in the front trees, and now we're eager to see who will find them first.

Friday, November 14, 2014

plum dress with linen sleeves

I had started on another dress like this - scoop-neck, a-line - then I a-lined it more, and after two interruptions where I had to drop it to work on something else, I'm  back to it now and getting near the end.

From fabric I had on hand, but not enough for the sleeves, so I used some lightweight linen in a matching color. Then I thought to embroider a running stitch with the same plum shade. The stitching echoes the "dashes" on the fabric, I think.

Then I decided to do another row.

My embroidery skills are rudimentary, but I won't let that stop me.  Now I just have to figure out the hem. A linen ruffle peeking out?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

not entirely one hundred percent

After four years, I just realized something today about Henry - I've never heard him make that "eh eh eh eh eh" staccato sound they make when they see a bird outside the window. Never! I've often suspected he wasn't one hundred percent cat.  :D

But when he's near an open window he often cries. I run over, thinking it's some animal going through, but usually nothing can be seen. Today however, some birds flew off and it occurred to me that maybe he's crying when he sees birds. Because he doesn't make the other sound. Ever.

Seriously though, I would like to know what kind of cat he is.

answered prayers

" Very often the reason we're uncomfortable is because we've not been praying for the right thing, and on some deep level we know it. We pray to meet our soul mate, instead of praying for the grace to become the woman our soul mate would be attracted to; we pray for worldly success when what we really long for is a sense of authentic accomplishment; we pray for more money, when what we need is a change in our relationship to money. We pray for a certain outcome in any given situation, when what we should be praying for is peace of mind, no matter which outcome occurs.

Actually, our prayers are always being answered. We just don't like to think that 'no' is a reasonable response to our very reasonable requests...

We want the 'yes', but sometimes we need the 'no'. Consider the disaster that would ensue if we answered a child's every request with a 'yes'. That's too frightening even to contemplate. But we're children of Divinity. We can't begin to envision the big picture; nor do we weigh our requests against the prayers of others. Spirit hears both the hopeful entreaties for a sunny family reunion picnic and the farmer's plea for rain."

                                                   -  Sarah Ban Breathnach,   Simple Abundance

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a cheesecake for a birthday

My brother had a birthday the other day. No near-disasters, just a cheesecake, because that's always been his favorite.

He's a purist, and has insisted on the dense New York style and no other. But middle age comes along to soften you up and the low-fat version I found in Cooking Light years ago is appreciated now. So that's what I made.

 the crust    

  • half a stick of butter, melted
  • one and a quarter to one and a half cups gingersnap crumbs
  • one quarter cup sugar
Mix the dry, then combine with the butter and press into your pan and bake at 350 for ten minutes.

the cheesecake (from Cooking Light magazine)

Mix together:
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese (the 1/3-less-fat kind)
  • an 8 oz. tub fat-free cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
Beat on high till smooth. Add 1/2 cup of milk and 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream. 

Separately, beat 3 egg whites till you get the soft peaks, than add 1/4 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, till the peaks get stiff. Fold this into your cream cheese batter; then into the pan and bake at 300 degrees 55 minutes till it's almost set. (I kept mine in longer - it wasn't nearly set, plus I wanted it very slightly browned on top.)

Let cool an hour and then refrigerate at least eight hours.  It will probably get a big gash on top, but the topping will cover that up.

the cranberry topping (not sure where I got this recipe)
  • one cup of sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • one and a third cups water
  • 4 cups cranberries
Boil this mixture for five minutes. Stir it often. This makes plenty to cover this cheesecake.

Enjoy!  It's a delicious recipe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

a reprieve for the cherry tree

A tree post of another kind -

After several months of wondering what to do with our wounded cherry tree, my brother decided to just saw the heaviest branch off and hope for the best.

We're surprised it looks so well, but it does -  the fullness. That branch was most directly related to the split in the trunk and it hung over the driveway, so this was a sensible thing to do. I don't know what another cold season will do to it. We'll see.

the downed branch

We don't think bolting the trunk together would be enough, since there appear to be other areas which may end up splitting as well. I love this tree, and if we lost it, would probably get another. I hope it can hang on!

Monday, November 10, 2014

one more

Because like Val, I cannot resist the color whether it's sunny or cloudy, whether the leaves are bright or an old gold, like this tree behind the shed across the brook and I almost missed it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

dresses of gold

Come,  said the wind to the leaves one day,
come o'er the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses of scarlet and gold
for summer is gone and the days grow cold.

                                                                         - George Eliot

Monday, November 3, 2014

quilt for a baby

You can't beat one of these machine tied quilts for a relatively quick shower gift. One of my three cousins who got married last year is having a baby in January! The shower is coming up soon.  This cute fabric with the trees, swings and dogs will be nice for a little boy. The back is aqua, with mossy green stitching.

The high loft batting makes it more like a little comforter - good for this winter baby.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

scripture for All Souls Day

The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them. 
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks among the reeds;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love;
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

-  Wisdom 3: 1-9

Friday, October 31, 2014

"good balance and common sense"

I hadn't realized Oscar de la Renta passed away last week.

This Google image exemplifies what I think of in connection with Oscar de la Renta.  That full skirt, so much like something Cinderella wore to the ball. We know just what she wore to that ball, don't we?

Here's Emma Watson in a de la Renta gown - look at that skirt!

 Never, ever confuse what happens on a runway with fashion. A runway is spectacle. It's only fashion when a woman puts it on. Being well dressed hasn't much to do with having good clothes. It's a question of good balance and common sense.
                                                                             -  Oscar de la Renta

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Henry in a new light

With all the Cindy-related issues around here, I am appreciating Henry's placid temperament more than ever before.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ghostie pops

I really have no liking for Halloween, but I can't resist these little ghosts Trisha gives to the story hour children every year.

A Tootsie Pop with a kleenex over it, yarn tied around his neck and eyes and nose made with a marker.


Monday, October 27, 2014

heart and soul and mind

God be in our thinking, always as a guide;
God be in our yearning, high and deep and wide;
God be in our caring, with us intertwined,
As we grow to love you, heart and soul and mind.

                                                           - from Magnificat, October 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

dreamy little pumpkins

The youth group at church was selling (donated) pumpkins for a dollar. And the little ones for fifty cents!  Perfect for the small shelves over the kitchen sink.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

chocolate chip, pumpkin and rye bundt cake

When Valerie pinned this recipe I knew I had to try it right away. A cake which contains rye flour! Couldn't resist it. I had canned pumpkin in the pantry (wasn't going to use that lovely pumpkin I roasted yesterday - we ate that at supper!), so I was ready.

It was no harder than mixing up muffin batter - entirely by hand, even though I had to weigh all the ingredients, and that did take a little longer.

But what a find: a cake with some wholesome grains and veg in it, and so fast and easy to make that it could be done with short notice. I will keep this recipe and make it again!

Monday, October 20, 2014

cooking pumpkins

I don't know about you, but when a recipe tells me to peel a pumpkin or large squash, I say no way. I did try it once a long time ago - a waste of energy.  So this morning I took our pumpkin, washed it, and poked it all over with a thin, sharp knife. It went into the oven at 350 for an hour, at which time I was able to cut it into quarters. Still, I wanted it softer so I put it back in for thirty or forty minutes more.

Oh, so nice and creamy!  And lots of seeds for my muesli.

This is the last of the vegetables my brother's nice client had given us - an eggplant, butternut and spaghetti squashes, two big beets, garlic bulb, one red and one yellow onion and this pumpkin. Thank you!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

to be content

"I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances; we carry the seeds of the one, or the other about with us, in our minds, wherever we go."

                                          -  from Martha Washington, an American Life, by Patricia Brady

"If today is so horrendous can't find one moment to enjoy, one simple pleasure to savor, one friend to call, one person to love, one thing to share, one smile to offer; if life is so difficult you don't want to bother living it to the fullest, then don't live today for yourself."

                                             -  from Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach

"...I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."

                                                -  St. Paul

Thursday, October 16, 2014

tree of many colors

The maples this year have been incredibly colorful - I don't remember so many colors all on the same tree at one time, so showy even on the rainiest of days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

help for a too-large neckline

I got an idea that my black linen dress was roomy enough for a jumper, so started looking for something of a thin fabric that I could wear underneath. I found a very thin Anthropologie tee, but the scoop neck was rather low. When I tried it on with the dress only the sleeves were visible; I wanted to see if I could raise up the neck area a little. A whole inch, actually, was what it needed.

I know the proper way to take up a shoulder seam is to rip out the stitches at the shoulder, but that's too much work - also, when your top is fitted that could make the armholes too snug. But I've accomplished it the lazy way many times and it always works for me. I needed to take it up one inch. So, starting at the neckline end of the shoulder seams I stitched it at an inch, and then as I approached the shoulder edge, angled it so the seam disappeared into the existing seam. Does that make sense?

Can you see in this picture that on the left side (where the shoulder is) the stitching line I made is at the original seamline? But on the right, where the neck edge is, I've gone diagonally to take it in an inch at that end of the seam. It's a bad photo, I know. But I'm hoping you're getting what I'm saying.

I always baste it first, then try it on again before sewing with the machine. So that's what I did, and it was an improvement, so I finished it up, then trimmed off the seam allowance and zigzagged (even though knits don't fray). It brought it up to where at least some of the neckline was slightly visible beneath the jumper.

As you can see, it looks fine - you'd think it would look funny after taking it up in that angled way, but it doesn't. Even so, that's why I always baste first and make sure it looks all right. I have done this many times over the years for a gaping neckline, which is a problem for me and my narrow shoulders - it helps. So maybe if you have that problem it will help you, too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day

In fourteen hundred ninety two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue

He had three ships and left from Spain
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

In 1992 replicas of the three ships came to our area, so we went. They were small! The Santa Maria was the largest and it was quite small!  My conclusion - they were out of their minds.  :D

Sunday, October 12, 2014

la Cenerentola

Today is Cindy's third birthday.

Cenerentola is Italian for Cinderella. I know this because Rossini wrote an opera by that name, and I saw it on tv years ago.

Cindy could be a nickname for Cinderella, couldn't it?

It's also Columbus Day, so we've come back around to the Italian theme.  I have no idea what it may mean, but our Cindy is no Cinderella. In fact, she's more like the step-sister who makes the heroine's life miserable.

And that's what's happening here. Cindy is very lively and very aggressive. She bothers both cats, but Dolly mostly, and I mean she attacks Dolly frequently and Dolly, who is a mild-mannered person, has taken to hissing and even growling for the past month whenever Cindy comes near. I don't see any end to this behavior, because Cindy wants to be number one, and Dolly will always be our Number One. And she doesn't seem to realize that "getting along with everybody" is another option.  But she isn't all bad - she has cute ways. She purrs the minute you pick her up. She will jump into your lap when she sees you sitting and will curl up and fall asleep right away.  She would be a fine pet for someone who would keep her inside, give her affection and have her as their only pet.

We are hoping to find such a person.  Meanwhile, a Happy Birthday to you, Cindy. It would be nice if you could act like a little princess, just for one day.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014