Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blackberry Jam or No, My Phone is Still Working


The problem with making jam at home is that it's no problem.
A regular batch of freezer jam doesn't even take 45 minutes
                                                                                  and that includes washing/drying containers.

You can have it on toast.
You can put it on waffles.
Try a teaspoonful in your plain yogurt.  (Just buy plain yogurt and do this or add a tad of honey.)

You can give it away.  Oh, the friends you'll have.
Even if you do, you'll have enough jam to last quite a while.

Here's my jam cooling out on the deck.
I couldn't do that today because the wind is blowing 70 mph. 

So here's what I did... I followed the directions on the pectin packet.  Just for grins, I'll recount the experience.

Freezer Blackberry Jam ala SureJell Package and Alyce
makes about 7 cups of jam

Wash and dry about 10 c worth of containers.  (1 and/or 2 cup--your choice)   While you're only making 7 cups of jam, you'll need space at the top of each container for expansion.  Set aside on a big baking sheet or on counter where they can stay for a day or so.

Wash and pat dry about 3 pints fresh blackberries.

Mash them with a potato masher or put them in the food processor.  Leave some partial fruit; don't completely puree.   Measure to make sure you have exactly 3 cups of mashed berries.  Eat any left.

Measure into a large bowl exactly 5 1/4 c white sugar.  Mix 3 cups measured mashed blackberries into it.  Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meantime, measure 3/4 c water into a small saucepan and add package of pectin (Surejell).   Stir well; it will be lumpy.   Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil 1 min.  (30 seconds extra at altitude.)  Pour into blackberry-sugar mixture and stir for 3-5 minutes continuously until the sugar is completely melted.  Taste to make sure no grit remains behind.

   Ladle or spoon into prepared clean plastic containers (1 or 2 cup) and leave 1/2 " at top for expansion.

Cover with well-fitted lids.

 Let sit 24 hours without disturbing to set.  Freeze for up to a year or  store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.  I don't think it'll last that long. 

Bon confiture!

Two-dog Kitchen...  Yes, they do more than sleep.  They eat and they go outside.  haha


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Name that Salad!

I would rather eat this salad (or whatever you call it) than many, many things.  It's just that yummy, healthy, faaaaast and keeps me within my new/old eating less is good life.  But I don't know what to call it. So this post is one just for you.  Read, enjoy the pics, but come up with a name for this dish.  This is the day to comment on this blog! 

Before the fish story, here's one piece of this week's weather.  We had winds so high I'm surprised any grass is left (I have little), snow, rain, sleet, hail, and just about anything else.  We also had  a rainbow...

 About the fish salad:  provenance?  I've had a similar, but still different, salad at Wahoo Fish Tacos.  I think that's where the idea came from.  For almost a year, though, I've been trying all kinds of fish and vegetable combinations, and am really interested in fish cooked in vegetables.  Great thing is that it's in keeping with my cutting my caloric intake by 25%.  It's working! 

Re this recipe:  It sounds labor-intensive, but it's actually quick like a bunny.  Grill a big bunch of vegetables sometime during the week, and you'll have them ready for this salad or any other meal.
Then all you need to do is throw out some greens on a plate and cook the fish.  You can be eating in 10 minutes.  I keep individually frozen pieces of tilapia in my freezer and then I'm ready any time.  (One of my favorite lunches is grilled vegetables in a high-fiber, whole wheat tortilla..topped with a little ranch dressing and a sprinkle of grated cheese.)  Grilled vegetables are also a super starter...Just do a neat dip and you're ready to go.  A little more interesting than the ubiquitous veggie  or cheese tray. Check out my grilled asparagus post.  Ok, here it is.  What shall we call it?

Fish Salad/needs name

Serves 4

3 ea small zucchini and yellow squash, sliced horizontally and grilled*
1 large red bell pepper, sliced and grilled
2 large red onions, sliced thickly and grilled
1 medium eggplant, peeled, sliced thickly and grilled

1# medium button mushrooms
½ c sliced shallots

6 c fresh baby spinach leaves
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and split in half, dipped in lemon juice

8 tilapia filets or similar white, firm-fleshed fish
5T olive oil, divided
1 t (or more to taste) chili powder
½ t kosher salt
¼ t fresh ground pepper

½ c light Ranch dressing, best quality
¼ c salsa

2 large tomatoes, chopped finely, optional

1 lemon, halved. ((You'll use half to squeeze and slice the other half.)

In a medium skillet, heat 1T of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots. Saute until mushrooms are golden, tossing regularly.

Meantime, divide the fresh spinach among four large plates. Divide the grilled vegetables and mushroom-shallot sauté atop the spinach, leaving room for the fish that you’re about to sauté. In the corner of each plate, place one half avocado. Set plates aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2T olive oil.** Add four tilapia (or other) filets, showering each with chili pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for about two minutes, until golden on one side. Gently turn the fish over and season second side. Cook for another two minutes or until crispy and flakey. Be careful not to overcook; this fish is done quickly. Taste a bite, if necessary, to assure yourself.

Remove fish from skillet and add two cooked filets each of two dinner plates. Repeat procedure with the other four fish filets, first adding the other 2T olive oil to the skillet.

While fish cook, mix the ranch dressing and the salsa in a small bowl or measuring cup to make the salad dressing.

After adding the last of the fish to the other two dinner plates, take the lemon half and squeeze it over each plate, making sure every element gets a bit of juice. Scatter chopped tomatoes over plates, if desired. Slice the other half of lemon and add the slices to salads for garnish. Drizzle salads with a bit of salad dressing each, and bring the rest to the table to pass.

*Another option is to oven-roast these vegetables. To do that, heat the oven to 400 F. Toss all of the vegetables with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on large baking sheet. Salt and pepper liberally. Roast about 30 minutes (to your taste), taking them out and stirring them mid-way through the cooking. If you don’t like these veg, choose others. Asparagus grills nicely. You could add tiny potatoes, too, particularly if you’re roasting the veg.  If you're really pressed for time, cut the vegetables and cook them briefly in the microwave.

**Grill the fish outdoors if you’d like. Make sure the grill-pan is well-oiled.

Two-Dog Kitchen Continues....

This week's dog stories include.........  (pics below)

    Fun with Gabby and Tucker

Gab ate pectin and part of a 5# bag of sugar out the back of the car while I delivered an article to a restaurant.   Needless to say, I had to shop again to get ready to make blackberry jam.  (Next post, maybe.) I also got to be on puke clean-up patrol all night long.  Thank goodness I have a carpet shampooer.
Tucker learned to snack on the toilet paper hanging off the roll.  He loves it, and I don't have to buy dog treats anymore.

Gab was on guard one night all night long, and barked, growled, and jumped on the bed so many times to alert me of the skunk/deer/bobcat/coyote/squirrel/robins/doves....about to attack the house that I finally just got up and stayed up.  So much for sleep.

Tucker is finally traveling with us in the car, but discovered he's not all that fond of motion, and might prefer to stay home and sleep for now on.  He lost and regained his breakfast repeatedly on Saturday.  He also put deep claw marks on the console of my brand-new Subaru Forester.   There are few words.  And all of them are nasty.  After that episode, we did take Tucker back to the house before continuing errands.  Well-behaved Gabby, on the other hand, was allowed to continue the trip.  While Dave went in to Ace to buy Thai basil (and came out with Sweet Basil, Tarragon, and German Thyme), I ran into the ARC to check on some Havilland Limoge plates.  Gabby jumped into the back of the car and ate a whole package of the high-fiber tortillas mentioned above, as well as a French roll I had bought for Dave's dinner...  We didn't know about her al fresco meal (she's so sneaky) until we unpacked the groceries, because she jumped back to the middle seat after her "lunch," and was sitting there primly when we returned.

Tucker does not like to heel, and almost killed both Gabby and me refusing to comply with commands when cars were coming.  He is now literally on a very short leash and practising more often.  He is interested in chasing leaves in the high winds we've been having.  Not much else.

Sing a new song; name a new salad, love your dogs no matter what,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blackberry Cobbler or It's Spring Somewhere....

I've always dreamed of living in a place where I could pick blackberries.
Off I'd head, early morning, basket in hand.
Maybe some gloves. 
These things can be scratchy, to say the least.
I might take one of the dogs.
Sometimes I read the blogs of women who live in such places.
They have so many blackberries that they blog about jam.

But I live up on the mesa.
Near the mountains.
And there aren't any blackberries growing wild.

In fact, there's nothing growing.
Unless someone planted it in a yard. 
And then:
They have to pay the water bill.
Silly, huh?

Wanna eat locally here?
You better enjoy cactus, of which I have plenty.
(I do have a sour cherry tree and rhubarb....)

I once had a $37. tomato I grew on the deck.

I pay hundreds a year for a couple of patches of grass.
(So my dogs don't have to pee on rocks.)

All that leads you to know that  if I made blackberry anything,
my blackberries came from King Soopers.
On sale.
10 half-pints for $10.
No, but it's as good as it's going to get.

And were we glad to get cobbler made from store-bought blackberries?

Alyce's Blackberry Cobbler made from Store-bought Blackberries

7 c washed blackberries
1/2 c white sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour

1 cup flour
1T white sugar, plus 1t for dusting crust right before baking
1/4 t salt
2t baking powder
4T butter, chilled
6-7T milk

1T melted butter

In 2qt casserole or a deep-dish pie pan, mix the berries, sugar and flour.  Set aside.

In a food processor, or using a pastry blender or two knives, mix the dry ingredients for the biscuit topping and cut in the butter until it's all crumbs.  Shouldn't be even, but will have tiny irregular bits and pieces.  Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, either processing briefly or stirring constantly with a fork.  When dough holds together, pull it together into a ball and knead it a few times until it looks and feels smooth.  Pat or roll it out into the shape of your pan and lift it onto the top of the berries, tucking it in to bed around the edges. Brush the crust with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with a little sugar on top (no more than a teaspoon full).  Bake about 35 minutes, checking in 10 minutes before that.  If it's golden brown and bubbly, get it out of there and put it on a rack to cool.  Do let it cool quite a bit or you'll have berry juice and crust for dessert.   Makes a lovely dessert, but a better breakfast.  Add some ice cream or gelato if you're eating dessert.   A bit of milk on top of it in a bowl rounds out the dish for breakfast.

Two-dog Kitchen presents:

Whose bone is that?

A little neighborhood news: 

I have a flicker (and, no, this isn't a place to put pictures) on my chimney.
He thinks it's wood, but the part he's on is metal.
A hollow, chimey jack-hammer.

Out front, the primroses, which look nothing like roses, are blooming inky, dark purple.
Nearby, a rabbit (he lives here) sits up just like a picture and looks at...?
Our house dove is at the edge of the roof cooing at her mate, who maybe skipped town.
Three young lady deer spent a lot of time peering in my window today, scared of Gabby.
The robins, down to a pair, are in and out, all around.
I've yet to figure out where they're nesting.
My neighbors' houses have forsythia in bloom.  Including Sarah M's if she's reading.
Why is yellow so hopeful?

In memoriam:  my pool-shooting buddy, Janet Egbert, who died yesterday the beautiful age of 52

Sing a new song; craft a new cobbler; love your friends while you have them,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friday Night Dinner in the Fireplace or Still too Cold for the Grill

Usually I do a lovely dinner on Friday nights.
While we're Christians, we think of it as our Sabbath...
We're both home.  Time to breathe, rest, catch up.   Live.
No watches.
No cell phones.
No television.
But where was spring?  I was getting desperate for a little lamb grilled outdoors.
Maybe a glass of wine on the deck before it got too cold.  (The light is lasting now.)
Mother Nature had other plans.

In Colorado Springs, we have so little rain that I usually can't remember the last time it rained.   So when it does blow up a storm (we often have dry storms come summer) and then drizzles all day, I must be grateful.  Even if I can't cook on the grill.

So I had some chicken apple sausage, which, to my not-very-sausage-saavy-palate, tastes a lot like brats.  A fraction of the fat.  They're pretty versatile.  Already fully-cooked, you can grill them and eat them on a roll, slice them into a salad, put them in bean soup, or chop them up into scrambled eggs.  Lots.   Friday night, I said, "Ok, if the grill won't come to me, I'll come to the fireplace."  Or something like it.  We dug out the wienie forks from the dusty camp kitchen stored in the garage, and while I heated up some soup I'd frozen last month, grilled onions and buns, Dave built a fire.  When it was ready, we roasted wienies in the basement.    Tucker, of course, wanted some.  No way.

and watched "Gladiator."  So sad at the end....

Sing a new song; skip the grill and cook at the fireplace, let sleeping dogs lie.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Salmon this and Salmon that...or How I love my Salmon Chowder

No matter how often I make salmon, I find I like it best grilled outdoors with some fresh veggies and served with a simple sauce. 
But what I like even better are the leftovers:
Salmon mixed in scrambled eggs
Grilled cheese with Salmon sandwiches
On a caesar salad
Whipped up with cream cheese, scallions, and dill to make a spread.
Salmon soup sounds a bit odd to the ears.
But just think of things like clam chowder, crab or lobster bisque....
Salmon Chowder is maybe even better.....
So here's the plan for making enough salmon for a meal,
but having enough leftover to make soup.


Grilled Salmon, Balsamic Sauce and Grilled Vegetables
Serves 4 with leftovers

2-3 lb salmon filet, cut into serving pieces
Olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1-2# fresh asparagus
2 Large red or yellow onions
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c honey

Preheat gas grill or stove-top grill to medium-high.
Pat salmon dry with paper towels.
Brush salmon generously with oil and shower it liberally with salt and pepper.   Set aside.
Clean and trim asparagus.  Slice onions 1/3-1/2" thick.
Heat indoor oven to 250F and put serving plate and dinner plates in to warm.
Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill, turning once, until light char marks appear- just a few minutes.   Remove from grill and set aside in oven on warmed platter.
Add salmon filet pieces to grill and grill until medium-rare, about 8-10 minutes for 1" thick fish.  Remove to warmed platter with vegetables.
While fish is cooking, make sauce:  In a small sauce pan, warm together balsamic vinegar and honey.  You can drizzle it on the filets or serve it in a bowl at the table where people can help themselves. 

If you'd like some grilled bread, too, simply brush some sliced baguette with olive oil and grill it.  After it is browned on one side, turn it and add a little grated parmesan.  Set aside until veg and fish are done.

Salmon Chowder from Leftover Salmon
serves 4

6-8 oz leftover grilled salmon
6-8 spears grilled asparagus
1/2 grilled onion

Cut these things up and stick back in the frig while you make the rest of the soup.

1 medium onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and minced
4-6 small, new red potatoes, cut in half
1T olive oil
1 c chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 qt chicken broth, low-sodium
2T fresh tarragon or 1t dry tarragon
1 c dry white wine or water
1 c chopped fresh spinach or kale
2T heavy cream

In a medium stockpot, saute the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes in the oil until softened.  Add the fresh parsley and the garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the broth, wine, and tarragon and stir well.  Taste.  Reseason with salt and pepper as necessary.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer, cooking until vegetables are tender--about 15 minutes, adding chopped fresh spinach during last five minutes or so of cookinbg.  Add the reserved cut-up salmon, asparagus and onion.  Stir in the heavy cream.  Warm through 2-3 minutes, and serve hot.

There are a few tulips in bloom, and my grass has some green in it.  60 and a little wind.  Snow on the peak, of course.  Trees are budding out and will probably get clobbered with the next snow.  Such is spring at the edge of the Rockies.   If we had eaten dinner an hour earlier yesterday, we could have eaten (with a sweatshirt) on the deck, one of our favorite things to do.  Today...not.

Hey, Alyce, what about dessert?  Nope, not so much. I'm trying to abstain, but I'd love for you to look at some dessert on fellow blogger Andrew Scrivani's site:

That's kinda how I'm gettin' any these days....
Lovely, huh? 

Hey, Alyce, what about wine?  Well, you know I'm cutting back, but there's always room for a small glass of Pinot Noir (Oregon if you can) with salmon.  Though, and I feel like the Wizard of Oz scarecrow here, some people really like a great, big old California Chardonnay to break that fat.  Try both and tell me how you feel?

Two-Dog Kitchen:

Waiting for Godot

Sing a new song; sip a new soup,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let's Diet-You go First or Hot Springs Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Let's diet.
You go first.

In an effort to increase health (which includes weight loss), I've been on a kick to include more vegetables in our diet, and have been eating a lot of stir-fries, etc.  While we like Thai food a lot, I had a craving for something like that, but with more Mediterranean flavors....   Read that olive oil, lemon, basil, garlic and so on. 

Yesterday, we had a huge old frittata for breakfast, trying to use up a bunch of eggs before our delivery arrives on Monday and we then have more eggs than at Easter.  Lots of vegetables (and a tiny slice of ham) went into that, but I still had tons left.  Also, dinner promised to include meat and pasta, so lunch needed to be all vegetables for balance.

Salad?  No, I was tired of it.  I wanted real food but didn't want rice, pasta, bread, meat or dairy for caloric purposes.   HMMMM...  I  finally just pulled stuff out of the vegetable bin, grabbed a huge saute pan, and cranked it up.   You could call this a French stir-fry, maybe?

Big yum and absolutely no guilt.  Try it with whatever YOU have.

Here's what I did....

Hot Springs Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
serves 2

3t olive oil, divided
6 c fresh spinach
1/4 c fresh parsley leaves, whole
½ medium red onion, diced/divided
1 stalk celery, diced
½ yellow bell pepper, diced
2 small zucchini sliced about 1/3” thick
1 small yellow squash, sliced about 1/3” thick                                     
6-8 stalks asparagus, well-trimmed, cut into 1” pieces
1 clove garlic, grated or smashed and minced                     
1/4 t kosher salt               
1/8 t fresh ground pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper, optional
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4T fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced very thinly)
2T fresh lemon juice

 (Above, right:  cooking spinach, parsley leaves and red onion)

Vinaigrette: 2T each olive oil and fresh lemon juice, good pinches of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (Whisk together well in small bowl.  This makes plenty; you might want less.)

In a large skillet, warm 2t olive oil. Add spinach, parsley leaves, and half of the red onion. Saute over medium heat, until spinach has begun to wilt. Remove from pan and divide into two large, shallow bowls, pushing spinach to the edges of the bowl to form a ring.

Put other 1t olive oil into skillet and add rest of onion, celery, pepper, squashes and asparagus. Saute over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper if desired. Saute another 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Spoon these veggies into the middles of the bowls so that they are surrounded by the spinach ring. At center of each bowl, make a little mound of the cut cherry tomatoes and then sprinkle entire dish with the fresh basil. Squeeze fresh lemon over all. Drizzle with dressing and eat hot, warm or at room temperature.

                Cooking the squash, asparagus, celergy, onions, garlic and peppers

Need more to eat?  Serve with some whole wheat baguette or cook a little pasta or rice to go under the "salad."

Wine?   Chenin Blanc (or Vouvray) would do the acid from the lemon.

Dessert?  A strawberry or two.

                             The hot salad, ready for its close-up....

Spring a new song,


.......Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.....
I went to Bergen-Belsen once.
I don't think I'll forget.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Club and Cookies: Good for your Heart..

     I added a few grains of sea salt to some of the cookies ... Wow.

Our Book Club (no-name) meets the first Wednesday of every month.  You pick your month by figuring out when you have time to clean your house and bake a couple of cookies or buy a bottle of wine.  We're kinda new at this; we just met for the third time.   We seem to be growing by small increments, adding one new person each time.  So far, we're all women.  Until now, we all lived in the same small up-on-the-mesa neighborhood.  Last night we had a good friend of mine join; she lives in the north end of town.  We agreed:  when it's time for her to host book club, she'll rent my house.  We don't want to drive.  The wine may have something to do with liking to walk.  Perhaps this is a bit exclusive.  I don't think we care.  Boy.

So last night was my night.  The book was MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather.  What a book.  It sparked lots of conversation about life on the plains, immigrants, and our own nationalities and backgrounds.  Maybe more than about the book itself.  Two of us discovered that each has an American Indian grandparent.  We all found out that one of us went to a  one-room school house; her father went to the same school.  Another still has a few words of German, even though her family came from Germany in the 1850's.  We now know who feels at home in Colorado Springs and who would rather be elsewhere.

We work it this way (so far):  if you host, you choose the book for the next meeting.  The library has an extensive collection of book club books and we've been able to find one each time and get free copies for everyone.  Cool... and it's accessible in lots of ways with a six-week check-out period. 

Well, this is a food how about a little about the food?   I served wine:  a nice California zin (Cigarzin) and an Alsatian Pinot Gris (Helfrich) to accompany a little cheese spread that's great for spring.  Note:  I heard "Giada" talk about this spread and remembered it--not original--except for the addition of black pepper.

Mix equal amounts goat's cheese and ricotta.   Add grated lemon rind and minced fresh basil to taste.  Optional:  a little fresh ground pepper on top.  Serve with skinny, crispy crackers.

(I saw this made on the Food Network--Giada, I think.  I don't know if there's a real recipe.)

I also served coffee and some sweet little cookies.  These are a riff on a cookie from Ina Garten's BAREFOOT CONTESSA PARTIES, and Ina got the recipe from Eli Zabar.  Hmph.  Cookbooks bring people together; never doubt it.  Here's how I did it:

BOOKCLUB COOKIES (Tiny shortbreads dripped, no--dipped! in chocolate)

3/4 # butter, unsalted (3 sticks) at room temp
1 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt

3.5-4.5 oz dark chocolate  (I like Valrhona Guanaja; you can try orange Lindt as well)

1/4 c sea salt, optional

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffly.  Add vanilla; beat 30 seconds.   Mix salt (yes, it's really only 1/4 t) into the flour and beat together with the butter-sugar mixer until the dough holds together well.  Dump dough onto counter and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill 30 min.

*Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove dough from refrigerator. 

*Roll the dough out 1/4-1/2" thick (your choice).  Cut out with 2" fluted cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake about 15-20 min, depending on thickness.  Cookies should remain fairly pale, but are done when they just begin to brown around the edges.  Cool on racks.

*Melt chocolate by placing in a deep, microwave proof small bowl, covered with a plate.  Microwave on low for about 2 minutes.  Stir; heat a little more if required.  Note:  some people would rather melt chocolate in a double boiler.  If you'd like to do that, bring a small pan of water to simmer and place a pan with the chocolate on top of the pan with water.  Make sure the chocolate bowl doesn't touch the water.  Let chocolate melt slowly, stirring often until completely melted.

*Set out large cookie sheets or platters (2-3) and line with waxed paper.  Take a totally cooled cookie and dip its edge into the melted chocolate.  Let drip (you can wave it a little) a second or two and carefully place it on the waxed papered tray to cool and harden.  Add a couple of grains of sea salt if desired.    Repeat (this is time consuming) until all of the cookies are done.  Let sit just like that 2-3 hours until chocolate is solid.  Store covered with wax paper between layers. 

*You can also choose to leave the cookies plain, in which case they will keep longer--for weeks.

Sing a new song; bake a new cookie; read a new book; get to know your friends better....

TWO-DOG KITCHEN  --up again.  Sorry if you missed it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Drop in and Decorate for Mother's Day

Lydia Walshin, of, is up on top this spring, encouraging blog readers and writers to participate in a

Mother's Day Drop in and Decorate.   If you're interested, you can email Lydia at:

lydia@dropinanddecorate and get all of the info....

It's a great and wonderful opportunity.  Just invite a bunch of friends over for a morning, afternoon or evening, make a mess of cookies, and let them decorate.  Deliver the cookies to a non-profit organization.....

What could be more fun?
Let Lydia know if you'd like to participate this spring.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Brunch or Howling Wind Precedes Mimosas

Green Bean Mustard Rosemary Salad..

Note:  This blog was begun late in Holy Week and has been added to throughout.  The last entry will be on Easter Monday  when I will hopefully have time to pull the whole shebang together.  Until then, sing a new song, friends.
Earlier in the week:

The wind is blowing, oh, about 50 miles an hour--no joke.  It kept me up half the night.

Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way................

Perhaps in the south, way in the south, the weather is conducive to and making like Easter.  Maybe in Mississippi or Alabama, the grass is way green and the tulips are waving their pretty little heads, showing off their Easter bonnets.   Maybe in Mexico.

But here, up on the Mesa near the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, winter must howl its way out of existence.  There is no ushering in like a lamb.  Out here, it's all lion.   While the air has warmed up enough to turn off the heat for one or two days (and to give up baking), every few days there is still a snow or wind storm and we're reminded that we are not in charge here.  Snow and Easter lilies; these are my favorite sorts of (and the typical Colorado spring) combinations.  So, it's really like this:

Baby, it's cold outside....

There is one hopeful, tiny row of daffodils in an extremely sunny spot down the street.  Huh.

And once more, the seasons of Lent and Advent mix and murk-up life.  I once had a friend who said, "It isn't Christmas unless you find a piece of Easter grass under the sofa when you're cleaning."   As I dig through the junk drawer, looking for a little Easter bauble for the table, I come across Christmas ornaments that didn't make it into the box in the attic.  Or I see a snowman I missed at the top of a bookshelf.  Just when I think I am ready to believe grace is mine, it seems I'm thinking about waiting for the messiah to be born in my heart.  Ah, gee.

No only that, but in my faith, huge, magnificent, screaming winds are not for Easter.  The are for Pentecost, the birth of the church.  I dunno.

And, by golly, I blogged unleavened bread last week.  Ok, I'm confused for sure.  But, if you're celebrating Passover, check out our Chinese meal and  fix the green onion pancakes, which are not really pancakes, but tasty chewy flatbreads cooked on top of the stove in a skillet.  Rolling the eyes and taking a big breath here.

Meantime, I'm believing Easter will come.  The winds will die down.  I'll make it through Maudy Thursday and Good Friday services.  I'll cook through the Saturday vigil.  And, like the rest of the world, I'll wait to be saved.  Or free.  Or sinless.  Guiltless.  Clean.  Loved.  New slate.  Ready, set, go.


This year, our brunch is capital "S" Simple.  Friends are coming and bringing part of the meal.  I won't be putting the whole thing together until Sunday after church, but will do a trial run of a quiche for grins, giggles and fotos.  I'll gear up the table (which will be filled with grass, eggs, chocolate, etc.) a bit and get it all together for you, but will try to get more complete photos as I work on the meal over the weekend.  Perhaps I'll be better with the camera than I was on a regular writing/photography gig today.  When I arrived at Patsy's Candies to take pictures for an article, my battery was dead in the camera.  This from a woman who spent the $50 to have a BACKUP BATTERY and left it at home.

You see how it is this week.  This blog will be a work-in-progress.  Like all of us at Easter.

 Or anytime.

Ok-The bread- Columba de Pasqua- is first.  I couldn't get it to work in the shape of a dove, the traditional shape.  Instead, I have a braid.  I guess we'll eat it.  Made on Thursday afternoon-evening, I'll freeze it and unthaw it Sun.

  Ok, it's Saturday afternoon, April 3-Happy Birthday, Emily- (and I promised this would be a work in progress.) and next up are two of the quiches.  There were three.  One was in an old tart pan that gave way in the oven and leaked.   (Like a lot of old ... oh, for goodness sake, I'm not going there, but you get the drift. ) The custard baked in the bottom of my big oven.  I'll include a pic of that, too.  So, oven cleaning was part of the mix...  Anyway.  One quiche is bacon, ham and swiss and the other is a green chile quiche that is called "Betty White's Mexican Quiche" and I've had the recipe for 30 years from Sue.  Fun.

Above:  Bacon and Ham Quiche  outdoors on the deck table. It's now 65.
               (Read all about making quiche in my Quiche 101 article.)

Above:  Betty White's Mexican Quiche

Above:  This is how a quiche that wants to bake on the bottom of an oven looks.
The oven was so dirty anyway that it was a blessing that this thing happened.  Right.

Above:  Lidia's Limoncello Tiramisu.  Good thing I made it before the oven disaster because I might have stopped cooking at that point if tiramisu was still ahead.  This stuff is limonsinful.  Recipe at

I still have to do the table.  No, it isn't done yet..  Sunday morning I'll do the beans and Sunday at 12:00 noon, I'll put the last quiche in the oven.  The shell is chilling and the filling is cooked and in the frig.
Sunday promises to be 60 and sunny.  Thanks, God.

Sunday night:  Well, the brunch went on for 4 or 5 hours, depending on who you were.  We had four more people show up than I thought were coming.  Good thing I always cook for a crowd.  I made one more quiche (no pic--maybe tomorrow of the leftovers) that was turkey Italian sausage and veg from (go Lidia).  There was more than we needed and here we are at Sunday night and I'm just reading MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather for my book club.  That's all.  More later!

 Pftzz:  Here's my current plan.  For food, that is. (Written Wed or Thurs? Alyce plans; God laughs.)


Starters:  Smoked salmon/ lemon, capers,  minced red onions
                 Deviled eggs (Dave will make- out of my dyed eggs.)
                Mains:   Quiches:  Lorraine, Italian sausage/veg, and seafood
                Manicotti (Jeanne brings)
               Fresh Green bean salad (blogged last year)
               Fresh Fruit Salad (Sara brings)
               Polish Easter bread (Jeanne brings)
               Alsatian Riesling or Australian Rose (Carlei)
Dessert: Limoncello Tiramisu (a Lidia recipe!)
              Colomba di Pasqua (Italian E. bread shaped like a dove) (left in freezer after all-next week?)

How I'll accomplish it:

  • I planned the menu a couple of weeks in advance and located my recipes.
  • I did some of the dry-goods grocery shopping last week.
  • I went to the candy store, liquor store and grocery store today, leaving only produce for Sat.
  • Thursday I'll make the bread and the quiche pastry.  Into the freezer they go.
  • Thursday I'll dye eggs. 
  • Friday I'll clean a little house, make sure my clothes are ready, teach a lesson and go to 3 hours of worship.
  • Friday night, we'll listen to a few requiems.  Verdi is my favorite, but Mozart, Faure and Brahms will show up, as well.
  • Saturday, I'll send Dave to the store for the produce (I won't go near a grocery the day before Easter) and I'll set up the buffet and drinks station and set the tables.  I'll make the green bean salad and the dressing, only dressing it a little that day. (More dressing on Sunday.) I'll make the Limoncello tiramisu and refrigerate it.. Oh, and I will chill sparkling wine for the mimosas.
  • Dave will make the deviled eggs, taking care not to over-salt them.  Old recipes are very salty.  One time, we couldn't eat them.  Agh.
  • We will not cook or sit at the table Saturday night.  I don't know what we'll do; maybe we'll go out or maybe we'll eat on trays watching a movie.  Waiting, watching.
  • Sunday morning I'll take the bread and quiche pastry out of the freezer to unthaw.  I'll make the quiche fillings before we go to church.   When we come home, I'll fill the quiche pans and bake them.  Hot, warm or room temp--it's all good for quiche.  I like it cold.  I'll set up the coffeemaker and put out cups, cream and sugar.  Maybe a little something to nip up the coffee a bit.  Bailey's?
  • I'll give the bathrooms a last lick and a promise.  I'll light the candles gratefully.
  • I'll grab a basket of eggs and hide them.
  • I will probably shovel and sweep snow.
  • I'll be wiped clean myself...ready to begin again.
  • And try not to eat so much chocolate.  (Though, if you read my examiner articles, you'll know it's ok now to eat some every day!!)
  • I'll welcome our guests, "He is risen!" (I didn't do could I have forgotten???!)

Are you glad Lent is over?