Monday, April 7, 2014

A happy, indulgent spring

So many happy, cheerful things to enjoy this spring. Good friends, way too much delicious food, bright little bunches of flowers, perfect weather(a little too summery for my taste, but I can't complain).

Here are a few of those fun things.

My pretty little tulips. 

Using my jelly jar lemonade sipper as a vase with a frog to hold the daffodils in place. It worked fairly well and was just such a darling presentation. The lid on my sipper is actually designed to hold a straw in place but it works equally well on skinny little flower stems. 

Matthew and I have been eating so little meat of late. This roasted pork belly from urban solace was divine, but it was almost overwhelming in it meaty richness. 

This was urban solace's version of key lime pie. When the waiter warned me that their version is a little different than a normal key lime pie, I assured him that my first attempt at key lime pie produced a pie that was very different than a normal one and I doubted their's would disappoint, since My first key lime pie was basically a soup, after all. But it was when I promised him not to burst not tears at having to eat it with a spoon that he chuckled and must have really thought I was a tad bit kooky. Anyway, I did think about bursting into tears of happiness because this was so delicious, but instead I just enjoyed each creamy bite.

Well, my lighting for this photo wasn't very good, but I just had to post the best photo I could get of my poached pears with toffee sauce and clotted cream. This was so very tasty and I wanted to include a basic recipe in this post.

Poached pear with toffee sauce and clotted cream

4 pears, partially peeled
4 cups water or 3 cups water and 1 cup white wine
1 vanilla bean, split
1-1 1/2 cups sugar
Cinnamon stick
Piece of fresh, frozen or crystallized ginger

Combine all ingredients. Simmer pears till soft. I had to remove some that were done and continue simmering the others until they were all done. Serve immediately or store in fridge overnight and serve the next day at room temperature with warmed toffee sauce and clotted cream.

Toffee sauce

1/4 cup each of butter, heavy cream, brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Heat on low till melted together. Boil until thickened, approx 4-5 minutes. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, but must be heated and reincorporated before serving. 

Clotted cream

Buy a jar of clotted cream.
If you don't like to buy such ridiculous and expensive things, then simply serve this dish with unsweetened whipped cream. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Cheery Gift

It may come as no surprise to those who know me, but I dearly love making a very ordinary (or even downright boring) gift special with just a little bit of extra cheery packaging.

Cheerful packaging can be as simple as a beautiful ribbon, or as complex as an expensive roll of paper with carefully selected ribbon and a perfectly matched card.

It doesn't matter much which option I choose, the important thing is making sure that what ever my choice, I make the packaging as perfect as I possibly can. I like to tie a single ribbon, or bit of twine into the most lovely bow I can manage.

Anytime I feel so inclined to indulge in expensive paper for a special gift or recipient, I take the time to find a good box so that I can wrap it with perfect corners and nicely folded down paper edges.

Sometimes the simple addition of a homemade Birthday flag or bouquet of red mushrooms can make a boring looking gift really fun.

Sometimes, cute packaging comes together very easily.

This tiny goody bag comes ready to give. I could have simply stapled the bag shut and it still would have been very cute, but I happened to have the perfect ribbon that I picked up last week on a whim and so I strung it through the top of the bag. I never would have thought to put them together until I had both the bag and the ribbon sitting on the desk together. It was purely accidental, but ended up being perfect.

Side view of the bag. so adorable!!!

reverse side of the bag. even cuter!!!

All these little details help make me feel proud to give whatever gift I have to offer, even if it's just a bar of chocolate or a packages of sticky notes.

And please remember: every day is a gift, and every gift is an opportunity to make someone's day or week a tiny bit brighter

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas came and went

A tiny snowman cottage in the woods

Now is the time for a post christmas mini Christmas celebration. 

Normal Christmas has too much pressure attached to it so now it's time for tiny Christmas! With all it's tiny, cute, cheerful glory.

Tiny, unexpected packages on each plate.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My thanksgiving contribution

So, every year I go to a good friend's fabulous thanksgiving meal and this year was no different. And I have to admit that every year I feel the ever so slightest bit of competitive feeling regarding who brings the best dish to share. It isn't really a competition, and thank goodness it isn't because I deeply dislike any outright, verbally verified competition, but this year, if there had been a competition for cutest contribution, my friend Cat and I would have won. We copied a recipe off of Pinterest for rice Krispy hedgehogs. These were outrageously easy and just crazily cute. I would totally make these again.

These little cuties are made  by shaping classic rice Krispy treats into tear drop shapes and then spooning melted chocolate over the top, leaving the small point of the tear drop clean for the face. Chocolate jimmies give the prickly look of a hedge hog and the face is just black and red gel frosting. 

The little flower was a last minute emergency situation. The original directions call for fondant flowers. I, personally, hate fondant and never use it for anything. Besides, this was supposed to be fun and easy, not annoying and frustrating, so I just went to the local candy store, bought some brightly colored, fruit flavored licorice and sliced them into pieces. It was perfect and made the project extra adorable without any extra work, like hand shaping fondant flowers would have done. Blech. No fondant for me! :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

The distractions of a beautiful autumn

Even though I've been extremely distracted for the past couple of months, I haven't stopped eating all sorts of delicious things, so here is a quick post of all the delicious things I've been munching on since I last posted. And a few of the lovely places I've been. 

One of the most impressively filling but also delicious tasting salads I've eaten. This is from our stop at the Wild Carvery in Burbank, CA. We made a quick stop for lunch on our drive home to Oregon in mid September. 

Last of the sunflowers from my mother in law's garden. 

A stunning example of my mother in law's beautiful front yard.

The first of the fall leaves. We went home for a little fall color but were just a week or two early.

A super adorable, super poisonous mushroom we saw during a little hike in the woods. I was truly shocked that a tiny gnome or fairy didn't peek it's head from underneath this darling little mushroom. Such a perfect little scene it was. 

Matthew's delicious cooking. This was one of the tastiest sandwiches I've eaten in recent memory.  

And finally, my birthday cupcake. From baby cakes, this was a pumpkin spice cupcake. Absolutely delicious! And so fun to eat :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The month of canning

 So, I realize that it has been over a month since I last posted on my blog, but once you see all the delicious treats I've been making this past month, you'll realize just why I haven't had time to post!

I've gone on a little bit of a food preserving rampage. I have, of course, made some normal jams and such, but I also tried my hand at some less common (for me, at least) products: tomato ketchup, peach ketchup, mustard, jasmine peach pickles and pickled grapes.

I didn't actually photograph the pickled red grapes because they do look a little bit frightening, floating around their jar like tiny monster's eye balls, but they really are delicious! I love them with any cheese. I used this recipe, and would happily make them again and again, any time I'm stuck with more grapes than I care to eat up fresh (this happens more often then you would imagine and is part of the reason that I so rarely buy grapes).

I did manage to photograph everything else that I made, and I will say that I was delighted with how everything turned out. It's all delicious! And, while I'm still figuring out how to use the new stuff, it's kind of exciting to have things like homemade mustard and ketchup that I made all on my own and didn't have to buy from a store. This isn't to say that my versions are better than store bought, or that I would only ever use my homemade versions in the future(I absolutely won't), but it's always a nice feeling to be able to make something that is usually always store bought, in our modern age.

Blueberry jam made with Liquid pectin.

Pluot Jam- I only made three jars of this. It's delicious! I didn't use any pectin for this recipe.

This is actually new to me, I've never actually made pepper jelly before but thought it would be fun to help a friend who has never canned before. This turned out great. We used Liquid pectin for this jam/jelly.

This plum butter turned out pretty good. I made it in the crock pot(a first for me) and I actually think it needed a little more sugar and a little more time on the heat. I took it off too early because I was getting impatient, but also because it started to stick.

Nectarines in Syrup- growing up, we made canned peaches every summer, and last year I made a single jar of peaches, but this year I thought I'd try canning nectarines because they are so easy. I think I like canned peaches better =)

This is the only really strange item that I made recently. These are from a really innovative chef, Edward Lee, and while I love this concept, the peppers he called for in the recipe give the peaches an odd, vegetal taste. Still, these are lots of fun!

The most unusual and most delicious item I made, this peach ketchup goes splendidly with cheese, especially brie, but any cheese will do =) it's really, really good.

I used David Lebovitz's recipe for Mustard. I've been wanting to make mustard for years and finally decided to make some this month, since I've been on a "making weird foods" roll.

The tomato ketchup. This was pretty good. I ate some with roasted potatoes last night for dinner and I really think it would be tasty on a hamburger. Hopefully I'll have some left the next time I get around to making hamburgers. I doubt that I'll make this very often since it took a lot of cooking down to get it to the correct consistency. But it was fun to try homemade ketchup. I used a mix of different recipes for this and hope to find the perfect, easy recipe some day =)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

happy helmet

oops, my helmet is a little bit crooked, that's not safe!
I finally got around to having Matthew take a picture of me in my bike helmet. Of course, I went with the polka dots =) And, of course I really wanted a pink polka dotted one but the fellows at the bike shop didn't have such a darling helmet in stock. So, I went with the second cutest helmet, a red and white polka dotted helmet, because it actually exists!

Anyway, it's adorable and when I wear my red polka dotted helmet and my Hello Kitty Sunglasses; I look like a cute little weirdo riding down the street. It's great fun and very eye catching. Good for safety, at least, if not for fashion.