Thursday, January 29, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beach Break Birthday Wishes - Look Who's TEN!! ♡

Little, lovin' Gavin is striving to be taller than G'ma… this is his year! Of this I am sure. TEN!! We just can't believe it. Time truly does fly.
Full of fun and ever striving to do his best at everything, this boy is an over-achiever. And a gamer. Can't forget his downtime past-time, earned between schoolwork, karate, skiing, soccer, swimming, boating and just about anything that becomes a challenge to him. Then, there's cuddling... he gets the prize for being the smushiest of GrandLoves.
We love you to the moon and back, Mr. Ten. Can't wait to collect those hugs, upon our return.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Beach Break...See Y'all Soon

Pretty cool that I shot this with my iPhone and sent it to my blog, while sitting on gorgeous Surfside Beach!
Left-click to enlarge

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Live 'n' Learn

Y'all know that I'm a huge fan of online shopping. It has saved us thousands of dollars, by now. Living rurally, we can't comparison shop without driving hundreds of miles. And even if we could - yuck. My least favorite past-time of all. But retail therapy in pajamas, a cup of Joe close by and all warm 'n' toasty? Why, that's another story. Here's yet another case in point:

On a certain medical item I'm currently in need of, there is a 20-OR-MORE DOLLAR DIFFERENCE from online company to company. In addition, shipping costs range from FREE TO 12 DOLLARS. Grand totals? How 'bout a $56.00 high as compared to a $33.00 low?! 

Just one small example. Wanna talk big items? That's where the true fun kicks in.


Need an electrician in Monti or Sullivan County? Call me. I'd be happy to tell you the unscrupulous one NOT to use. Many cases in point, in addition to our own. 'Tis a pity, but hey - c'est la vie. Live 'n' Learn… and keep learning… and then learn some more.

Gran's Bowl

It never ceases to amaze me. Just moving things from here to there makes them seem new and fresh. During the holidays, our garden hydrangeas reigned supreme in the living room, contained in a different vessel and looking gorgeous. But then, it was time to bid poinsettias adieu. There sat Gran's bowl, naked and waiting. Here's to Gran, forever an inspiration to me. And here's to gardening and warm thoughts…

...and a vacation move for us, from here to there. Please stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sunrise Fig Balsamic Pears ♡ For Vicki

They got their name because I was preparing them as the sun attempted to rise, this morning. Unfortunately, large bands of clouds kept the orange to a minimum, though it is now a brilliant day. They're for Vickster, who turned me on to Fig Balsamic, a rather pricey addition to our pantry. That said, it's worth the expenditure 'cause it packs a lot of punch in just a little bit.
When the fruit looks all bruised and battered, it's ready, my Friends. This time, I peeled, halved and cored them, then filled the little wells with Polaner's strawberry. A sprinkling of cinnamon and an even lighter sprinkling of the vinegar deemed them oven-ready. Cut a thin slice from the rounded side, if need be… they'll sit flat. Be sure to eat the slivers, a chef's reward!
I popped them under the preheated broiler (set at 475 degrees) and left the oven door ajar… about 7 minutes later, they'd almost burned to a crisp. But after a great save, they turned out delicious. You might want to watch yours a tad more carefully :-)! Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or a snack...

Buon Appetito.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Congratulations to an Old Friend!

Harold Diamond, a popular name in our school district, on a local golf course and at the ski hill, wins big-time! We are truly happy for him and his family, as he collects his history-making win.

The Globes

Yep, they took on new meaning, last night. The Golden Globes. If you watched, you know what I speak to. But then, there was the incredible combination of beauty and brains. Squisito!

It's A Very Sad Song...

This is a 1986 25th-anniversary performance by Peter, Paul and Mary of the anti-war protest song, written by Pete Seeger. It NEVER stops applying to the insanity of the world we live in. Nothing changes…

It's truly a very sad song.

Frightful or Delightful?

Mambo chose "delightful," yesterday, as he supervised our work at the LakeHouse. Soon, we'll be ready for the great, gorgeous reveal. We are excited beyond words. But for now, suffice it to say that the weather outside has been frightful. City dwellers who have no heat are suffering. They are brought into our homes by the nightly news; our hearts bleed for them. But Mambo? Well, he has "the" life.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Stop making fun of me, Joe…"

It's not that we were slacking off. On the contrary, we were at the LakeHouse at 7:30 a.m., this morning, doing projects while the electrician finished his work. We had breakfast and a late lunch there, before leaving and then capturing the gorgeous hawk in the post below. I was excited to have my first-ever ShopRite order DELIVERED after 5:00 p.m., as we relaxed and caught our breath. 

Joe thought it ridiculous to order groceries online. But hey, both Kelly and Dawn rave about the service. We needed lots of items; hadn't shopped properly since Christmastime. What a chore to lug heavy bags in zero temps. We tuned into Netflix and kicked back.

At 6:00 p.m., the phone rang. ShopRite calling. "We are out of this 'n' that. Would you like substitutes?" Sounded good, but they were out of the subs, too. Oookay. The store that services our area is not in Monti, but rather a 35-minute drive away. And they were still at that location? Well, my first-ever order was cancelled. Kaput.

Damn, Joe is still laughing about this idea. Something tells me he'll stop when he assumes the honor of filling my long list!

The height of luxury slipped through our fingers! C'est la vie, eh?!

This Weather Is For The Birds!

In just a week, the partially open lake has completely iced over. It's Tundra Time. This means we won't be seeing our resident eagle for a while. He doesn't ice fish! But there's no shortage of backyard winter species - photos to come. They devour a feeder-full of seed daily. Till we figure out a better system, Joe is actually climbing a ladder to execute the filling chore. Not good.
On Bridgeville Road as we headed home, I noticed a red-bellied hawk between us and the Quickway. I first captured him while perched.
When Red Hawk became aware of us, he quickly took flight, affording me an even better photo op.
Don't let brilliant blue skies fool you! Real time here is 3:00 p.m. and temps have only climbed to a whopping 14 degrees from this morning's negative numbers. But tomorrow's another day. We're expecting 30-something degrees. A heat wave. :-)

Friday, January 9, 2015

I-Could-Be-A-Vegan Winter Soup - It's Cold Outside!

Did you ever wonder how little chickadees, no larger than my ring finger, (link) stay warm in single-digit temps with wind chill factors well below zero? They, along with the dozen or so other species at our feeders, are nothing short of intriguing in the wintertime. Summer birdsongs virtually disappear, as our feathered friends conserve energy to simply stay alive. The most important issue is food source. They need us to keep those feeders full of nutritious, vegan-gourmet seeds. A small price to pay for the amazing rewards we reap from Mother Nature's Wildlife Show.

Food. What's it gonna be - live to eat or eat to live? Kinda works both ways for humans, wouldn't you agree? Bringing me to my recipe for the day:

In a refrigerator clean-out and an attempt to make it seem warmer regardless of tundra temps, I decided on a hearty veggie soup. Out came onions, potatoes, carrots, hearts of celery and fresh garlic to be sautéed in my best EVVO. Roasted kale from the freezer looked enticing; in it went.
 Next up was a large can of Trader's Organic Whole Tomatoes and a box of their low-sodium chicken broth. Back to the freezer for two mason jars of my own chicken broth, to be added. Okay, okay, so it's not 100% vegan. A dash of balsamic, a lot of freshly ground pepper and some other Italian herbs and spices that my hand landed on. And last but clearly not least, the end piece with rind of Locatelli Romano cheese, tossed in whole. The aromas from that baby and the flavor it imparts will send you to the moon. The cheesy tip came straight from Rachel Ray. In spite of having quit the stuff on top of our pasta, we do keep it on hand for Miss Aubrey; she can't eat one without the other. I digress…

Bring it all to a simmer, cover and let it cook for a couple hours, or till vegetables are tender:
To serve it up, remove cheese rind. With immersion blender, purée veggies - OR remove to blender for a whir and then return to pot. Add a dollop of greek yogurt, if it suits your taste. And don't forget - as with all my recipes, anything goes!
Buon Appetito.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Beautiful Boy's Birthday! ♡

Christmastime at the Old Homestead
Happy Birthday to our loved and loving Hunter! ELEVEN! So accomplished, already! What's it gonna be - basketball, piano, tennis, track, skiing, trumpet, Minecraft, impeccable schoolwork?? Always delivered is that huge belly-laugh and big smile, with an "I love you" to make the recipient tingle on the inside. Joie de Vivre at its finest.
Playing for us at Christmastime
We love you beyond words, Sweet Boy. Where has the time flown to?? 
Firehouse Breakfast in Albany at age 4

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Back To The Future

IDOL fans weren't ready for his equal-to-Freddie campiness… but Queen was. And look at Adam Lambert now. There's never been a more worthy-of-a-win contestant. Yep, from Johnny Mathis in my previous post to current Queen and the young, man-with-a-future frontman. This vid is from New Year's Eve… total awesomeness.

Same Time, This Year

Nasty weather is keeping us indoors, with cable out. A perfect day to call upon Mac and a vid and watch a favorite movie, yet again… and to listen over and over to Johnny and Jane singing the impeccably beautiful song that is one of my top-five favorites on the soundtrack of my life. Johnny Mathis. When I was a dreamy young teen, I didn't know how I'd tell my Dad that I'd be marrying J.M., later on in life. All these years later, he still performs live. A national treasure. And the film...

Never seen Same Time, This Next Year? A gorgeous movie. If you're anxious for the musical vocals to kick in on the vid, skip to 2:18. If not, watch an excellent montage of the film.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

KrisKringleCucina '14… Prime Rib, Mushrooms, Broccoli-Brussels Salad, Custard Pie, Jewels, a Wreath and Kale Chips

Deprivation is a great motivator. For a few months there, I could only wonder if my pleasure in creative cooking would ever return. It did. I'm back. With a roar. Thankfully. After all, it was Christmas!

Prime Rib Roast always happens when the whole gang is here for our family's celebration. Or, in this year's case, most of us are here. We cook it only once a year; it's way too fatty to consume regularly. This year's bison roast was about a dozen pounds. I'd seen it cooked off the rack of ribs on the Cooking Channel. Great idea. Less mess. Less fat. Easier. And we've all seen the presentation a gazillion times. But directions explicitly stated that this works best for weights of 5 - 8 pounds. We simply cut ours in half and placed on a rack. Here's the method Joe thought I was nuts for trying - you know - why fix something that's not broken?? But he praised the ease and end results:

Bring meat to room temp and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Weigh meat and multiply number of pounds by 5 minutes. For example, it you've a 6-pound roast (or 2 identical), you'd come up with 30 minutes. Put in oven, cook for that amount of time and TURN OFF OVEN, NEVER OPENING DOOR FOR 2 MORE HOURS. In that 2 hours, meat will be cooked and perfectly pink. NO RESTING TIME necessary… have everyone at the table when it's ready to be sliced. Since I was in such a rush to accomplish table presence in a timely manner, I forgot a capture of the finished roast. Luckily, there was a cold slice left for a next-day photo shoot. Some photographer, am I. :-)

Ever conscious of Dawn's celiac disease, I transform many dishes to gluten-free. Produce choices are fabulous during the holidays, and big, white mushrooms for Stuffed Mushrooms are things of beauty. Sure, we love 'em with a bread-y, oily mixture, but quinoa worked spectacularly well. I cooked the quinoa in the rice pot, as garlic and cut-up stems were browning in EVOO. At this point, memory is not serving me well as to what else I tossed in, along with the quinoa, but go for it… whatever herbs and spices you like. Fill those wells and poke in goat cheese… a bit more EVOO and into the oven to bake. Lord-y.

This recipe for Broccoli-Brussel Sprouts Salad was adapted from the Internet and is especially for Vicki. It is outrageously delicious; I've made it twice, already! Wash, cut into bite-sized pieces and thoroughly dry veggies, about 2 pounds broccoli florets and 1 pound sprouts. Toss with  a few cloves minced garlic and EVOO; spread on cookie sheet and roast in hot, 425-degree pre-heated oven till caramelized. Turn once. Whisk together 1-2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 teaspoons mustard, 1 tablespoon honey and juice/grated rind of one small lemon and dress veggies while hot. Taste it. Too lemon-y for your little buds? Add more honey. Season with whatever else you like. Lots of freshly ground pepper for us. Without being drowned in dressing, it gets better and better as it sits in the fridge and absorbs flavors… a several-day keeper. Serve on crispy lettuce; red and/or romaine work well. Yum.

We've reached a simple and simply delicious Custard Pie (aka Fake Crème Brûlée)made by putting the following ingredients into a blender and whirring till smooth: 2 cups whole milk, 4 eggs, ½ cup melted butter, ¾ cup sugar, ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt. (I subbed g-f flour, using half the amount of King Arthur's and half coconut flour. Pie makes its own crust and this worked just fine.) Bake in greased, 9-inch, deep pie pan at preheated 350-degrees oven for 50 minutes and cool on rack for at least an hour before slicing or refrigerating. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Hey, 'twas Christmas… remember?!

Jewels came about 'cause I wanted to use Great Aunt Flora's pedestal dish to serve. I've no memory of Great Auntie, except the story of this wedding gift to my parents. To make wells for the jam, I used Gran's thimble. You don't need this recipe - it's an old standby with many different aliases, such as "thumbprint" cookies. Go for it. I rolled 'em in sprinkles instead of traditional nuts.

Wreath-Bread Centerpiece for the table. You might have seen Gavin in an earlier post, captured as he shaped the dough. For this, I buy frozen dough loaves and cut to size. Easy as pie. Bake on a cookie sheet, using a bowl in center for shape. Decorate to your heart's content and give credit to the young chef in your family!!
While Vicki was here after Kris Kringle's day, I decided to try Kale Chips. Too easy for words, this one, and naturally g-f… just strip leafy greens off of ribs, break into chip-sized pieces and dry. Toss with EVOO and seasonings of your choice. Pop into hot, hot oven. Watch carefully and turn once. It only takes minutes to crispy, crunchy snackin'.

Eat hearty on occasion and healthy always in the New Year!
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, January 1, 2015