Friday, February 24, 2017

Wander and Ponder on Friday, February 24, 2017

Believe it or not, I love Mondays. For me Mondays are like a fresh sheet of paper, a clean black board; a time to set goals for the week. The setting of goals often starts in the morning shower as I take the time to breath, have a few moments of silence, and start plotting my days under the warm water.

Before I know it, here comes Friday. Often there seems to be a sense of relief while I plan to do nothing or a lot of "somethings" for the next couple of days. I am no longer on someone else's clock, so essentially my time - - is - - well, my time.  Let's just say that "old habits die hard." I am tightly hanging on by a string of the last work-like routines. 

Every Friday I will attempt to let my readers know where my mind is wandering and what my mind is pondering. Who knows where my brain will be wandering and pondering next? It may be a quote, something new, something frustrating and how to overcome it, a magazine article, food, drink, a recap of the week, or even just a sweet photo. 

This week my mind wandered and pondered:

Sprouts: It started earlier this week when I took advantage of the perfectly ripe, and rather large avocados at the market; and saved one of the seeds to see if I can get it to root. The simple ingredients of onion, tomato, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cumin mixed with the green creamy flesh makes for a delicious dip and dressing. 

In spite of our northwest weather of gray days, and even a few snowflakes this week, I noticed in one of my flower beds a few sprouts.  With warmer weather will come red tulips. 

Then I came across this photo: The simplest of sprouts can make me happy. 

Iconic women: Whether they are old, young, living, or passed - Coco Chanel,  Zelda Fitzgerald, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Carole Radziwill have been on my mind all week. Interesting stories of talents, victories, and unfortunately great sadness. 

Puffy Omelette: It was the first recipe to cook in our 9th grade Home-Ec class. I think if our teacher called this dish by it's rightful name, "Souffle," us young students might not have tackled it. The name, "Puffy Omelette" is not as intimidating, but the ingredients and technique are the same. 

And speaking of souffles, check out New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark's The New Essentials of French Cooking.  She will take you through all of the basic sights, smells, and tastes that should come out of a French-influenced kitchen. 

Snow: I am done with it. I am tired of feeling "soggy." Bring on the spring flowers. Bring on the violets. Next week, let's talk about violets - - shall we?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chocolate: Without the Calories

Valentine's may have passed, but February is still a good month to enjoy chocolate, but then again, what month isn't a good month to enjoy chocolate? 

We still have a few short winter days ahead of us to relax and read. May I recommend a few novels with a fixation on chocolate? 

Like Water for Chocolate,  by Laura Esquivel - This popular novel was published in 1989, and it was about a couple of years later when I finally bought a copy. Today it is known as a modern classic. It's the story of a young woman, Tita who dreams about marrying her lover. However, her mother has a different idea, as it is a family tradition for the youngest daughter to not marry and spend her life taking care of mama. Long story short, Tita makes a magical meal... I suppose if you want to skip the book, it was eventually made into a movie. I would say, enjoy both!

Chocolat, by Joanna Harris - Hedonism, whimsy, and of course, chocolate! Most of us have seen this movie, and should see it again. However, before there was a movie, Chocolat was on The New York Time's bestseller's list. It was first published in 1998. It's the story of Vianne and her exquisite chocolate shop that arrives in a small French village and instantly begins to play havoc with the town's Lenten vows. Harris wrote two more books that continues to follow Vianne and her world of chocolate in The Girl with No Shadow (aka The Lollipop Shoes in other countries), and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé. I have yet to read her second and third books, but they're waiting for me to read all safe and sound in my Kindle. 

The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister - This book will leave you craving for fine food, and craving more information about the characters. With every chapter it left me hungry. While chocolate isn't as much as the theme as the above, it does have a few chocolate paragraphs that are quite divine; not to mention paragraphs about rich vanilla cake batter, fresh crab meat covered with a butter and wine sauce, pumpkin ravioli, and... The story is about a woman by the name of Lillian who owns a restaurant. Not only does it follow Lillian's life, but also the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. Beware, after each chapter you may want to start shopping for fine ingredients and start cooking. 

This comes with a warning. While the books are calorie free, I cannot guarantee that after a chapter or two, you may start craving chocolate. Relax and enjoy it! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Edible Decor: The Kardashian Cookie Jar

Oh yeah, I am going to be truthful. I am drawn to the reality show, The Kardashians. However, I did miss the last season, yet it's not so much their drama (snooze) that captures me.  The show is more about their home decor and clothing.

In scenes of Mama Kardashian's kitchen I started spotting these cookie jars filled with stacked cookies, along with various clear canisters of colorful candies. It turns out Mama K copied her daughter Khloe's obsessive way she hand-arranges her Oreo cookies.

All you need is a glass canister, and at least two box-bags of stuffed cookies like Oreo's depending on the size of canister. I have also used fruit bars like Fig Newtons. The Vienna Fingers, a vanilla cookies filled with a cream-frosting center from Keebler or Nabisco will also work. A bit more patience is needed with the Vienna Fingers due to their length. 

This was my first attempt at stacking cookies. I was so excited to see Oreo's new Red Velvet cookies  - and obviously so excited to sample, as you can see my stack has been depleted since the original stack. Or is this an "alternative fact" that I stopped half-way through my stacking? 

Now, start stacking cookies. Stack the bottom of the canister with the chosen cookie, leaving space in-between each cookie if necessary to even the space out. Now onto the next step, and this is where you stack on top of the space between the bottom layer of cookies. Did I explain that right? If not, take a peek at the pictures and you'll get the "picture." 

It's up to the cookie stacker whether these cookies are going to be strictly decor or for eating. It has been suggested that if you intend to eat them, they should be enjoyed within 30 days. If they are not to be eaten, then the cookies can be left in the jar until...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day: Scary or Romantic

My love of hearts goes back to as far as when I was a little girl in grade school. Our classroom Valentine's Day parties were my favorite. My mother was often a room mother, and a party with punch, cupcakes, candy, and of course Valentine cards from my classmates was such a wonderful break from reading, writing, and arithmetic. I remember looking at my collection of Valentines for days. 

To this day I still love looking at pretty red or pink hearts, and will pick up a pretty old Valentine at a local flea market. I don't just keep them in a drawer, as I decorate the house with them - propped up by a picture frame, hanging from a door knob, and anywhere else I want a reminder of this day. 

History tells us that the origin of this day wasn't all about hearts, candies, and flowers. The Romans celebrated by sacrificing animals, executing men by the name of Valentine, and beating young women to "make them fertile." 

Thank goodness for English writers and poets like William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer for romanticizing up the day, while locals in Britain made cards to give out to their friends and loved ones. The giving of handcrafted Valentine cards continued until in 1913 when Hallmark began the mass-production of Valentines. 
Valentine's Day has never been the same... 

Happy Valentine's Day. 

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