Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Star In The Making

There is not much time for blogging right now.....
Most of my time is spent in the kitchen a favorite place to be for me.

We did however make a whirlwind visit to see the Southern California troupe, Maria, Garbo and I, as Saga was performing in a high school production of The Jungle Book.

No, Saga is not in high school yet..... it was high school students who produced the play, the direction, the scenography, the casting, and all that goes with a theater performance of this kind.  They did a fabulous job teaching the "actors" to sing, dance and perform!

We are so glad we made that long drive to see the production.  All the kids were great!  Saga was excellent!
(The photo credit, for the pictures from the show,  goes to the Mother of the STAR! Nice shots!!)

Saga was born to perform.  There is no doubt!  Not that I am not biased, I am and I admit it.  But there were several other people who, after the show was over, marveled over her talent.  Her ability to project  with both motion and voice!  I am totally blown away!

Christmas preparations were in full swing there!  The kids making ginger bread cookies and other goodies!  It was a fun visit!

We had a mini Christmas here last weekend, as the Seattle son and his wife came bringing a stash of gifts, helping us eat Lussekatter, a traditional saffron bread and ginger cookies for Saint Lucia Day!

The traditional calendar was delivered, with its stories and pictorial telling about their year 2014.  It is an especially fun calendar as the stories and events of the year include those who are most important to us, our swedish family!  JQ will remain in Seattle with his gang, along with our oldest granddaughter and her true love, this  holiday.  We had so hoped that Kellie would come home for Christmas, but things change when you grow up, have a job and other responsibilities and we have to accept that.

Now we are getting ready for the Big Day when we gather around the tree after eating ourselves silly!

It will be a big group!  It will be fun!

Before Christmas, there is my "Big Sister's" Birthday to celebrate and Winter Solstice, the day when "everything changes!"  The day when the dark nights get shorter and the days gradually longer! Hurrah!

Merry Christmas .. God Jul .. Feliz Navidad to you  all!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving Reflections and Full Speed Ahead

After much anticipation Thanksgiving arrived and proved to be a wild, crazy, chaotic and fun affair with big kids, little kids, two extra dogs, one of which, a nine month old adorable Havanese puppy by the name of Luna, not at all used to cats!  Or I can say, when a cat invades her territory, her back yard, it is NOT welcomed!  Her older "brother" on the other hand, Tipster, who have been here several times before... he is a buddy of Mister Cat... so at least he was chased by only one! =^..^=

Garbo was in her essence.  There were SO MANY to keep track of!

It was a well travelled turkey we had the pleasure to dive into, last Thursday. Adding a quote from the turkey deliverer: "turkeys are not migratory birds". Well, it seems ours was.
Delivered by the "southern California group" Tuesday last.  The head of the So Cal branch had won it as a prize in a golf tournament.  Hurrah for him!  The turkey who's original origin I am unsure of, ( most likely from Oregon or possibly Washington State) it rested here a bit, was then delivered to the kitchen of the "future Chef" to be  stuffed, brown paper bagged and roasted for the ultimate Thanksgiving Feast!

Most of the other "musts" were prepared here with the help of the youngest sous chef Saga!  Brussels Sprout salad, sweet potatoes, crescent rolls, mashed potatoes, along with pumpkin pie and a pumpkin tiramisu (that turned out less spectacular than I had hoped).  We stuck to the traditional... there were no walnuts in the stuffing, nor any new twists on the main meal,  other than the deserts.  As per majority request:-)  We did get some other  exotic tastes in the form of ice cream, prepared by the soon to be graduated Johnson and Wales student.  Pumpkin, 5 Spice, Beet with Poppy Seed, and Citrus Zest.  The latter was my favorite.  Surely some fun twists on the ordinary.

The dinner was great!  The BIG downside was that the photographer had to go to work before we all sat down at the table, making sure the presses kept running so the silly advert pages would go out in time for the Black Friday sales.  A day when people here knock each other down to get a deal on a sales item.  A day that should be abolished if you were to ask me.

After dinner cleanup, the  left over turkey disappeared, along with the Chefs who cooked it.  So, it went for another spin down the road.  While we had left over potatoes of assorted kind.... I am thinking ...  "Heck, where is my turkey "sammy?"  Well..., it, or parts of it  reappeared!  So back up the road it came.  This time in the shape of slices and as a carcass!  Turkey sandwiches for the masses!  The skeleton went into the soup pot to become Turkey Rice and Vegetable Soup! (my favorite part of the whole deal.)  Half of which, once done, went BACK down the road, to become lunch and or dinner at the future Chefs house.

When the Southern California Branch of our family were leaving, there was talk of taking turkey sandwiches along on the road... but they decided to chomp those down here, rater than  take the poor turkey for yet another drive.  Now this is what I call A Well Travelled Turkey!

Today, as I write this, December the third, a year ago, is the day we picked up Garbo or Vi'Skaly's Tropical Hurricane, at SFO!   She came to us from Sweden, with a brief, but oh such fun stop in Michigan where she stayed with Brigitte and Denver Doxtator of Oneida Acres for " de briefing" :-)

Life has not been the same since.  It has been a bit like living with, yes, a Tropical Hurricane!  Full of DOG "this and that."  A bit of a stubborn streak, she has.  She fancies she knows best in many situations:-)   Walks, training and adjustments!  She is loving, happy, silly and oh so sweet!  Loves all other dogs as well as every person she meets.

We go to class Monday mornings and I feel like we are the comic relief!  I have a hard time producing the Mary Poppins voice, so desirable for making dogs respond!  She pulls, I tug..... our ever positive, encouraging instructor, Tiffanie Moyano of Dog Logic U tells us we are doing great!  If I can just learn to leave the leash loose, miracles will happen.  Rome was not built in a day, so they say!  Heck, we are having fun!  Garbo LOVES it!  I keep feeling like the klutz!  Why is it, that those who know HOW to train dogs make it look so easy?

On another note, Vi'Skaly's Ralph Lauren, better known as Ralle, would have turned ten years old on his birthday in the end of November, had he still been "with us!"  We miss him everyday!  Forever grateful for the time we had together.

This coming weekend, Maria, Garbo and I will do a whirlwind visit to the home of the shortest branches of our family tree.  Saga is performing in a school play, portraying "Mowgli" in a presentation of The Jungle Book!  Such fun!  It will be exciting to see her and all the other members of the cast.  So, another adventure for us.

Advent is here!  Christmas decorations are finding their way out of the closet.  Saint Lucia will be celebrated soon with saffron bread and all, with the head of the Seattle part of our family visiting, the weekend of the 13th.

Much to look forward to in the time that is left of the year 2014!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Speeding Towards The END

..the end of the year that is!  How can it be?

November is flying by, even though it has been a rather uneventful month so far!
Weather wise we know it is autumn now, with a bit of chill in the mornings and even a couple of wet days!  Hallelujah we say!  The surrounding mountains are turning green.  That velvety, beautiful GREEN!

Garbo is taking me to dog school again.  Monday mornings are now dedicated to a Rally Class.  Our Instructor Tiffanie Moyano of Dog Logic U is priceless!  She knows her stuff and she knows her dogs. TRULY!  She is one of the most positive persons I have ever met.  Making us all feel good about our efforts no matter how klutzy we are!  There will be reports of our progress... never fear!

As the days roll by with the photographer spending time at the "salt mine," not whistling while he works, let me say... Garbo and I holding down the fort.  Walking, cooking, cleaning and baking.  The latest masterpiece Baklava!  That is some dangerous stuff!  As my Maria said: "crispy fillo dough, crunchy nuts, local honey and butter!  What's NOT to like?"

One of our grandsons is on his way back from a week end visit in Santa Barbara!  Said he'd stop here on his way home to San Jose; so I am heading for the kitchen!  Enchiladas filled with mushrooms, cheese and black beans are on the menu, along with pinto beans and mexican rice!  I better get cooking. The grandson who lives nearby will join us for dinner too. We take great pleasure in the fact that they come to visit!

Then soon... Thanksgiving!  Another Food Fest with Family!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Stew Making & Bread Baking Weather

As a rule I do not post recipes!  Letting those who know how,  do it.  Those who have whit and flair for it.  Although I often talk about food, as all things related to food and cooking is my true passion.  I would much rather get my recipe fixes from food bloggers and cook book authors such as David Lebovitz, one of my very favorites and Smitten Kitchen writer Deb Perelman.

In one of David's last blog posts from his Paris Kitchen, he featured a fabulous sounding recipe for a Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Rye Bread that I have yet to try.... can hardly wait.

David's recipe did remind me a little bit of a bread I bake often!  A dense loaf loaded with healthy grains, seeds, nuts and fruit.  A bread that is great toasted.  Super good served with a schmear of cream cheese topped with pea sprouts, arugula and a few strips of red or green pepper.  It also pairs very well with a slice of really good cheese.

This is a bread that I started baking during the years the photographer and I lived in Sweden.  In Sweden, similarly to Germany, breads are baked with REAL healthy grains and flour.  Dense, often dark loaves.  You will not find any "Wonder Bread" there!

The original recipe came to my attention in the ICA (super market) stores monthly magazine "Buffet".  A bonus publication that was and I am sure still is, full of food inspiration.

This bread might not be "The Life Changing Loaf Of Bread" but pretty darn close.  It requires no kneading and no proofing.  Dump the dry ingredients into a big bowl.  Cut the fruit, toss it into the dry ingredients.  Add yogurt and honey.  Combine and voila, there you have it!
When I make this I always double the recipe.  Keep one loaf and give the other one away!  This bread keeps well.

Taking a loaf to the post office to mail to a friend recently, the postal worker on the other side of the counter asked what it was?  I described it as best I could and she said: "bring me some!  I will give you ten dollars a loaf for it".  Maybe I should bake her a loaf ?:-)

The following recipe is adapted and translated from an old ICA "Buffet" from 2009

Buckwheat and Spelt Bread with Fruit and Nuts

Makes one loaf.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F in the lower part of the oven.

2      cups spelt flour ( you can mix the flour  1/2 spelt - 1/2 whole wheat for example)
1/2   cup buckwheat flour
1      cup oatmeal, not instant or quick cooking
1/2   cup flax seed, not meal
1/2   cup sunflower seed
1/2    cup pumpkin seed
2      tsp. baking soda
2      tsp. sea salt preferably, or salt of your choosing adjusted to your taste
1      apple, cored and diced
1/2   cup dried apricots, diced
1/4   cup honey
2 1/4 cup yogurt,  plain or Greek

Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl.
Core and dice apple. Cut apricot into small pieces.
Add yogurt, honey, apple and apricots to the dry mixture.
Mix to combine with a big wooden spoon.
Pour batter into a standard loaf pan, greased and dusted with flour.
Top with some chopped nuts of your choice, some oatmeal and a sprinkle of flour.
Bake in the lower part of the oven for about 60 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack and when cool enough to handle turn out to cool completely.

Enjoy sliced,  with avocado, pumpkin seed, sprouts or arugula, cream cheese or butter on top.
Well, let your taste buds dictate and your imagination run wild! :-)

Now, out with the beautiful Garbo I go...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Octobers End

If ever there was a morning I regretted not having my camera along, this morning was it.  It was not exceptionally early, when we headed out the door.  Around seven o'clock, a gray morning, we were not woken up by the normal light!

Leaving Mister Cat and the photographer, who would NEVER leave without a camera, still sleeping. As we get outside, we are met by a crimson bright and gold sky to the East, heralding an approaching storm.  A fabulous drama in the distance.  Just beautiful!

Another reason for a camera today and this time of year in particular is because our neighborhood is dressed in her October best!  With all the fun corn stalk and bright pumpkin and squash displays on many porches and front steps.  There are scare crows and spiders.  Spider webs and bats.  Gravestones and skeletons.

As we go along, this particular morning and turn to go up Mark's Lane we see a magnificent rainbow,  spanning a bridge from one mountain range to another, across the San Benito Valley.  It was breathtaking!  People coming out of their houses taking pictures with I phones and cameras... while I had left both at home!

Lucky for us, we made it home just before it started raining!  Snug now, Garbo and Mister having eaten their breakfasts, the photographer and myself enjoying a cup of coffee, a bagel with cream cheese, gravlax and slivers of red onion.  A breakfast fit for both kings and queens.

As October is coming to an end our tomato plants are ready to give up the ghost.  We have truly enjoyed those little gems for a long time.  Preparing one of my favorite pasta dishes a couple of days ago, cooking cherry tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, hot red pepper flakes, oregano and calamata olives. Adding a handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano before serving.... saying farewell to picking tomatoes on the back deck for a while.

Grateful to have thyme, rosemary and basil still, to stuff into soups, stews and chile con queso during the upcoming cooler season!

There are candles to light, movies to enjoy, hot tea, apple cider and chocolate to pour into our cups, or a glass of red wine to warm us up!

Come on Autumn.....  we are ready!