The Valentine’s Day Incident and Herbed Rolls

I was trying to be the “good” babysitter, even though I wasn’t really babysitting.  I had just made a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes, and, since we were going to watch a movie while Mom and Dad watched theirs (Valentine’s date), I thought I would be fun and let my siblings have cupcakes in the basement.

But I had this feeling of apprehension as I put some cupcakes on a plate.  They were chocolate…but hey, we had eaten other desserts in the basement without incident.  What difference would cupcakes be? Still.

I even made Meiling and Noah use forks.  Just to be safe.  Little did I know…

I had unwrapped Meiling’s cupcake and given it to her on a plate, and was working on prepping Noah’s, when suddenly their was a commotion.

Lucy had a cupcake – a chocolate one, at that – in her mouth.  Drake was doing his best to prevent her from eating it, while holding her.

I hastily set down Noah’s cupcake and grabbed the cupcake top (she wasn’t lucky enough to grab the whole thing) out of her mouth.  I squeezed as much frosting out of her “beard” as I could, then let her go.

“Take her upstairs!” I said to Drake, as I protected the cupcake-laden area of the floor.  Of course the cupcake had landed frosting-side down.  I sent Noah upstairs for a bowl (also, the frosting-side-down had landed right in the middle of the toy cars and road rug that were all over the floor) to put the dirty cars in.

And then we started laughing.  And laughing.

“Well,” I said to Drake, “At least her breath smells better now!”

There was just something so funny about the whole business.  I had to go interrupt Mom and Dad.  And, laughing, tell them the whole thing.

Lucy had hopped up on Meiling’s lap, since Meiling was sitting on a low chair, and snatched the cupcake right off the plate.

The little stinker.

Lucy didn’t ingest enough chocolate to make her sick, and we got the ensuing mess cleaned up quickly and got our movie rolling shortly.

 

Recently I picked up The Joy of Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Baking at the library.  I was really thrilled, since it uses all sorts of nut and seed flours.  I tried one of their roll recipes, and they turned out wonderfully!  Their waffle recipe was AWESOME, also.  I am hoping to try another recipe before I return the book, and before the week is out.

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My rolls

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Two Cookies and Two Chilies (and a Kitchen Chore)

Today Drake and I ran several errands together.  We had quite a bit of fun, even though the errands weren’t all that exciting.  Drake’s a lot of fun. 🙂

A few days ago Meiling and I had some kitchen time together.  Mom had purchased 2 bricks of cheese, not realizing that we already had 2 at home.  Meiling and I started our time together with shredding the cheese.  We used the food processor, which, when you shred cheese in it, makes these tasty little cheese balls, which we eat with great satisfaction.  Mmmm…  We don’t usually use the food processor for cheese, since it can be a bit of a pain to clean, but this was a great excuse to pull it out.

We also worked on spaghetti, which was our dinner.  (No photos, so I won’t elaborate.)

Last on our list was to bake cookies.  We made chocolate chip cookies and flourless chocolate fudge cookies.  The chocolate chip cookies I made using our family favorite recipe, altering it to be grain-free and made with coconut sugar.  The flourless chocolate fudge cookies were a recipe was one I found online.  Right after I made it, I didn’t like them, and neither did Drake.  (Noah liked them, though.)  I tried them today, and they were much better.  It’s surprising how much difference a few days can make.

Today I made two chilies – our regular chili recipe, a slow-cooker recipe from ATK’s family cookbook, and a buffalo chicken chili I found on the internet.  It’s in celebration of my dad coming home – he has been out of town.  They (the chilies) are both really, really good.  The buffalo chicken chili is spicy, although that is a bit of a given, isn’t it?

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Bricks of cheese

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Shredded cheese

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Sisters ❤

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Chocolate Chippers

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And the other kind with a really long name

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Today – buffalo chicken chili…

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and our regular chili (BAD picture – but I didn’t feel like trying again)

What I Want to Eat When it’s February (and More!)

Hi!

It’s me, Allison!

(It feels like so long since I have been on here that feel like I need to reintroduce myself.)

I’m still here.

Really.

What’s up?

Not a whole lot exciting or new here.  Just school.  And my midwifery course.  It has been so wonderful!  I love it.  I am wrapping up (or should be – but I am blogging :)) the first nutrition module, and enjoying it heartily.  It’s been great.

A few days ago I came down with a little bit of a cold (this is starting to sound like the story of my life, isn’t it?  It really isn’t, though).  I have a little sore throat and a little congestion, and a LOT of tired.  So this afternoon I ended up taking a nap.  Hopefully it will help me feel better faster.

When I woke up, I glanced at the clock, and it was time to start dinner!  Still rather groggy, I got up to head to the kitchen.

Then Mom came in.  And she basically said, “We have all these leftovers.  I would be so much happier (and I think it would be better) if you didn’t make dinner and we just ate those.”

So I am not making dinner.  Which makes me really happy, since I am still a little groggy.

So I thought I would post.

 

I have been thinking.  (Again, I try to do this once in a while.)  About what I want to eat when I am back to eating “normal-ish” things.  After I introduce the things I haven’t been eating slowly.  And these are some of the things I have been craving/wanting/thinking about.

1.  Brownies.  A whole pan (NOT!).  There is an AWESOME looking recipe in Practical Paleo.  I really want to try it (both making and eating!)

2. Baconaise.  Again, another recipe that is in Practical Paleo.  We went to a friend’s home, and they made an AWESOME broccoli salad with it.  And I want it again.  And it might be fun to try some other things with baconaise. (Tuna salad?  Egg salad? Any suggestions?  It has to be grain-free.)

3.  Egg casserole.  And quiche.  Something different for breakfast.  I’m getting a little tired of leftover meat.

4. Cheese.  Cheese sticks.  I miss it.

5.  Sun-dried tomatoes.  I have a jar in the fridge, and I think they would be good on a salad.

6.  A faux-Chipotle meal.  Keep thinking about it.  And I really want to try to imitate their steak.  I will say it again:  I LOVE CHIPOTLE!  Especially the cheese.  Don’t ask.

7.  Zucchini linguine noodles with tomato sauce.  And cheese!

8.  Cake.  Not sure where this craving is coming from, because I usually am not that big on cake.  Maybe because I want a baked good?

9.  Paleo French toast, like I made 2 days before I started this.  It was good.

10.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Need I say more?

11.  Peanut butter cookies.  Maybe with chocolate chips added in.

12.  A peanut butter spoon.

13.  A large peanut butter spoon with chocolate chips.

14.  Quinoa.  I want it again.  This has been even longer – several months since I had it last.

15.  Cookies, in general.  I haven’t made that many grain-free cookies.  And I need some.  (Yes, I do know the difference between “want” and “need.”  This IS a need.)

16.  Some sort of really good bar thing with a bunch of ooey-gooey toppings.  With caramel.

Well, that is it for right now.

If you have ANY suggestions of things that I should make (and eat!) when I get off this diet, I would LOVE to hear!

Well, off to work on that nutrition module.

Love,

Allison

Frost. Ice. Books.

The theme for yesterday’s 6 Lenses photo was favorite book.  So I took a large stack of books and all the necessary extras out to the-trees-in-the-pasture-across-the-road to take a picture.

Now the distance from the gate to the trees seems quite long when you are hauling a wagon containing 2 bags stuffed with books, a thermos of tea (for the pictures, not to drink), a camera bag, a quilt, and a teacup, with the other hand holding the camera.  Also, the tall grass covered with ice didn’t aid my journey.

Basically, after hauling out there and back, I was tired.  And cold.

So when I was done, I went inside and started a pot of coffee.

Then I went back outside with just my camera and macro lens to take a few pictures before I went in to have my mocha.

 

These past few days have been normal, or as close to normal as my life ever comes.  Just the norms.  School.  Chores.  Dinners.  Nothing all that exciting.

Something a bit more exciting is that the first part of my midwifery correspondence course came last week in the mail.  Mom and I ordered the first group of books that I need for it on Saturday, and I started it today.  I can’t wait for my books to arrive (the earliest I can expect them is the 18th).  Oh, I am SO looking forward to reading and learning!

I am not currently planning any desserts this week – but I am hoping that we will be able to pick up another of my favorite chocolate bars (Lindt 90%).  I finished the one I had today.  It was really good.  And now I want more.

I am planning a few new dinners for later this week, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  We’ll see if they make it on here.  I haven’t been posting that many savory things lately – mostly just the sweets.  🙂

Oh.  I just remembered.  I will be making Mom some coffee chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream this week, and I will hopefully make Dad some chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I also owe my brother Noah a chocolate cake.  (For Christmas, I let both of my brothers choose any recipe they wanted, and I would make it for them.  Noah requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Drake wanted Brazilian Black Beans.  I think I am going to make Drake’s when I come off this diet, so I can eat it.  I really like Brazilian Black Beans.)  But I probably won’t make his chocolate cake until next week.  (I need to add all three of these things to my schedule.)

Well, that’s all for now, folks!

And now, a few pictures.  (You can never tell beforehand how long this section is going to be.)

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The frozen grass I was trying to plow through

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Frost

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I should have tried to get this shot horizontally, but I guess I forgot.  Plus, this blade of grass was very close to the ground.  And normally I am not very close to the ground.  This made photographing it rather difficult.

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Thistle

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Hate these things.  Vehemently.  I was VERY careful to walk AROUND them.

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This is the photo I posted on 6 Lenses yesterday.  Couldn’t decide if I liked the vertical one…

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…or the horizontal one better.  What do you think?

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(Said with an accent) A spot of tea!

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Throwing out the tea

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Ice is SO FUN to photograph.  It has all the benefits of photographing water, except it stays much more still.  The only downside is that it is cold out.  Freezing cold.

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There is a slight focusing difference between these two photos.  Which one do you like better: 1…

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…or 2?

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SPARKLES!

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Today – 10/1/12

Happy October, everyone!

I told that to my sister this morning, and she promptly asked me what October was.  🙂

*Urgent News*  This is going to be a ramble-y post.  So it is a little disjointed.  Some of it will make more sense when you see the pictures.  I’m not sure about the rest of it.  😛  If you would rather, just scroll down to the pictures. 🙂  (I am in a bit of a smiley face mood today.  You’ll se what I mean in a minute.)

Today has been a quiet day.  I spent it giving my room a good cleaning since we have a good family friend coming to visit us tomorrow, and she will be staying in my room.  She will be here for ten days.

Once I was finished with my room, I spread out the cookbooks that are in my room, and continued with the menu planning.  I currently have 30 recipes/meals picked out for October.  I still need to pick out the recipes for the nights when Noah, Meiling, and I will be cooking ethnic foods.  And I need to chat with Mom about what we are going to bring to church on the meal Sundays.  I just realized that 30 recipes is enough.  I kept thinking that I would need one more, not remembering that we already had tonight planned.  Well, it only took me till now to figure that out.

We have lots of cats right now.  Most of them are technically kittens, as they were born this Spring and Summer.  They are feeling the slight chill in the air, and have been cuddling in a large pile on the deck.  Very cute!

I have had a cold over the weekend, a most miserable cold that hasn’t wanted to go away.  I have been taking the home remedies that I usually take, but I didn’t start them until I had already had the cold for a day.  I thought that the cold was allergies at first.  But I figured out that it was a cold on Friday morning.  Now I have been taking Master Tonic and Elderberry Syrup hourly (except at nights and while at Church).  I took a break for a few hours today since I was getting a bit tired of the Master Tonic.

On Friday, while I was sick in bed, I finished “Health for Godly Generations” and started “How to be Your own ‘Doctor.’”  It was quite fun reading that while I was sick.  I read about a few things that I could use while I was sick.  I have been drinking peppermint/parsley tea to help with congestion.  I’m not sure if it is helping, or if I am just getting better, but I am definitely less congested than I was yesterday!

Another remedy that I read about (and tried!) said to take an onion, chop it up, put it in a bowl, and sleep with it as close to your pillow as you could.  I tried it, and it kept my nose so clear!  But I had this feeling that I was going to knock it off the bed during the night.  Well, on Saturday night I didn’t knock it off. But last night was a different story.

I woke up to a clang just before 4 this morning.  Sure enough, I had hit the bowl with my arm and sent onions flying across the floor.  Not only were there onions, but onion juice, too.  I just grabbed the onions, tossed them in my trash can, wiped up the juice, and used the Swiffer to mop up the area quickly.  I decided that I would just leave the Swiffer and put it back in the morning.  (Trust me, there is a point to me telling, and you reading, this!)

At 5:30 our outside dog, Shadow, started barking at something.  My window was open, and the sound came through quite clearly.  Lucy, my little dog who was sleeping right next to me, immediately sat up, put her paws on me,  and started barking.  I shushed her in a few seconds, but she kept staring at something across the room.  It was the Swiffer.  She did not like the Swiffer.  I finally got her to calm down, but the next few times Shadow barked, she would lift her head to watch the Swiffer.  I don’t think that she quite trusted it.  🙂

Oh, I am SO excited.  We are going to get some more herbs.  Actually, quite a few.  I can’t wait.  I am going to make all kinds of things with them.  Can’t wait!

Here are a few pictures I took today.  None of them are particularly good.  But they are Today.  🙂

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Kitty pile – the one looking right at us is Toby.  We don’t know if it is a boy or a girl, but it has one orange toe.  Hence the name:  Toby.

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Meiling swinging

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Upis down!  (means upside down – some little one in our family said that, not sure who)

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Ooooooh, I love this.  Like LOVE love this.  The last roses of summer (actually, there are probably more that a dozen on our knockout rose bushes)

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Kitty

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Asparagus for dinner – we were going to grill it, but the grill is out of gas.  So I pan fried them, with the leftover marinade from the zucchini (see below).  They were very good.  Quite different than what we are used to, but in a good way.

And it is not going to fall off the plate.  I just felt like tipping the camera that far.  So I did.  😛

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The zucchini.  Again, we were going to grill these, but [see above].  I marinated these for a half hour in an Italian dressing I made.  Next time I will marinate them longer.  But they were pretty good.  Again, very different than what I am used to.

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Another kitty pile

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The view from our driveway

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The trees on the other side of the pasture that lies across the road

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I LOVE this fence.  It’s just so…country…semi-rustic…fence-like.  Like you couldn’t tell that last thing.

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Love that sky!

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Up the road

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The mums have bloomed

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I LOVE these leaves.  They are in my favorite part of the yard.  The trees are so close together that the leaves practically block out the sun.  It is absolutely beautiful.

Some More Cooking

Today I tried an Everyday Food recipe for Slow-Cooker Sausage Lasagna.  Basically, it was a meat/tomato mixture layered with cheese and pasta in a slow cooker, then set on low for a few hours.  It was pretty easy, it turned out well, and everybody liked it.  Next time I will probably throw in some spinach leaves some more canned tomatoes, but that would have to be my only adjustment.

I also made a single serving size of fresh-squeezed lemonade.  I do this when a sweet drink craving hits, and I really don’t want to (or can’t) make a large batch of lemonade.  I just squeeze a lemon, see how much juice I get, and add the rest of the ingredients accordingly.  Today’s batch looked something like this:

Scant 1/4 c. sugar (I used evaporated cane juice), to taste
1/2 c. warm water (for dissolving the sugar)
1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (from one lemon)
1 c. cold water

Combine the first two ingredients, then stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the last two ingredients.  Enjoy on the front porch, sitting in the white rocking chairs.

While I was enjoying my lemonade on the porch, Meiling came up.  As the cows were across the street for us, I explained to her the use of the “earrings” they had.  She had spotted them, and wasn’t sure why all the cows had “earrings.”

Well, that about covers today.  I am so excited – on Thursday I am going to a friend’s home to make soap! Yay!!!!! I am so excited! (You can tell that by all the exclamation points, can’t you?)  I have been wanting to learn how to make soap for awhile.  Now I will know how and will hopefully be able to make plenty of fun soaps at home.  I can’t wait!  Oh, I am planning to get to her house a little early so I can help milk her goats.  I love milking goats.

I will possibly post some pictures of that day, but will definitely post photos of the soap.  (I will be very excited.)

Love,
Allison

When Éclairs Fail

Last week when we were at the library, Mom picked up this book on the new items shelf titled “The Art of French Baking.”

“Do you want this?” she asked me.

I looked at it.  At the moment, it didn’t look all that exciting.  After considering for a moment, I replied, “Sure.”

Once I had it for a few days, I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to try anything from it.  I new as soon as I tried any of the recipes, I would want to purchase the book and I would be caught in a vortex of making delicious pastries and such.  Well, in the end, I decided to try one of the recipes.

This afternoon I decided to make éclairs. It was rather fun.  I started with the choux pastry, and while that was cooling, I made the crème patissiere.  And that is where the trouble started.  I was letting my little sister Meiling stir the crème patissiere as it cooked.  I think she stirred it rather too slow, and when it was getting close to the end, she called to me to show me a large clump that had formed in the crème.

Great.  It has lumps.  It’s not supposed to have lumps, right?  I quickly grabbed the spoon from Meiling and started rapidly stirring it.  Then I grabbed a whisk and started vigorously whisking it.  It still tasted good.  I decided to run it through a strainer.  I know that’s not really something that you want to do, but now it was time for drastic measures.

Once the crème was running through a strainer, I started melting the butter and chocolate for the frosting.  While it was melting, I started thinking that I was starting it a bit early, so I turned it off to wait for later.

Now it was time to return to the choux pastry, since it was cooled to room temperature.  I quickly dumped in the eggs, only to realize later that the recipe says to add the eggs slowly.  Oh well.

Piping the choux pastry onto the cookie sheet was rather fun.  It looked very nice, all the cute little mounds of dough.  And there was something almost professional-feeling about using the frosting bag to put the dough on the cookie sheet.

About halfway through the baking time, I took out the pans to switch them.  All of the little éclairs on one pan had spread instead of rising.  They now looked more like the picture of madeleines in the cookbook rather than éclairs.  I thought that I could sandwich two together to make the éclairs instead of slicing them in half.  We’d just have to see how it went.

By the time they were done baking and cooling I was so done with the éclair run-around that I didn’t really feel like trying to make the to-thin pastries and the slightly-thin-and-still-slightly-lumpy crème patissiere work together.  On top of that, I still hadn’t made the frosting, and there was dinner to think about.  So I made the executive decision to make the éclairs into something else.

The question was what was the something else.  When I was looking at the pastry, the custard, and the melted chocolate and butter, it looked to me like a pudding or a trifle.  That is what I made.  I layered some of the pastries first, then some of the crème, and next some of the chocolate mixture, then repeated until everything was gone.

We just finished eating my pudding a la éclair, and everybody enjoyed it.  Drake said that he though it tasted good, but he wasn’t sure.  He is sick, and his nose is so stuffed up he can’t taste anything.  Meiling said that it tasted like good stuff.  Noah likened it too vanilla pudding with chocolate.  I compared it to a custard-filled donut with chocolate frosting.  Mom decided that it tasted just like an éclair.

Here is a list of a few things that I learned from this experience:

1. When a recipe says to add something gradually, you have to add it gradually. It is important that you read the word “gradually” and that you remember that the recipe said gradually.

2.  Choux pastry must be baked one pan at a time.

3.  Crème patissiere needs to be stirred slightly more vigorously.

4.  Always have a backup plan.  Having a plan B is generally a good idea when baking (or cooking, for that matter).

Now for the recipe.

Pudding A La Éclair, or What to do With Failed Eclairs

1 quantity choux pastry, baked as for éclairs, but that didn’t quite work out
1 quantity crème patissiere, from which the lumps have been strained
1 quantity chocolate frosting, minus the eggs, since you were too tired to finish it for something that wasn’t
   going to work out anyway

1. Place some of the éclairs in the bottom of a glass bowl with straight sides.  Pour some of the crème on top.

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2.  Drizzle some of the chocolate mixture on top.

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3.  Add some more of the éclairs.

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4.  Now pour some more of the crème on top of the éclairs.

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5.  Continue layers until all the ingredients are used up, ending with chocolate.  Swirl the top.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.

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It is getting rather late, so I will post more pictures of the éclair making process and of the decorated pudding tomorrow, Lord willing.  I really need to get to bed so I can be ready for a rerun of the éclair project.  No, I will not be doing that tomorrow, but I am hoping that I will try again soon.

Good night!

Mocha Brownies

It was Friday, somewhere about 6:00 p.m.  I was in the kitchen washing dishes, dinner being ready.  And that’s when it hit me.

I need Mocha Brownies.

Right now.

I know the difference between want and need, but I NEEDED Mocha Brownies.  Since dinner was ready, I pulled out The Pioneer Woman Cooks which I am borrowing from a friend, and whipped up a batch of her Mocha Brownies.  It was pretty simple and didn’t take too long.  I wasn’t too impressed with the brownie part, which I had over baked slightly (I am also a bit of a chocolate snob, so I am a little spoiled).  But the frosting.  Oh, the frosting.  It. Was. Good.  Rich, mocha-y, and delicious, I will definitely make it again.  I only got photos when I was making the frosting and baking the brownies, so no pictures of the finished brownies.  I was going to take a picture today when I ate the last one, but it was a rather dried up, sorry looking brownie (it still tasted pretty good).

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The absolutely amazing mocha frosting

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Baking…

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…and cooling

Miscellaneous

There have been a few things recently that have been getting me excited.  As none of them are long enough for there own post, I am going to post them all together.  How does that sound?  O.K.?

Well, last week we purchased half of a grass fed cow.  Our friends had an extra half, and they offered it to us.  I am so glad that we got some grass fed meat.  There were a lot of steaks and roasts.  Now I have to read Tender Grassfed Meat, which my mom bought awhile ago, and we’ll be all ready to go!  We also got some more lard, so I can make some more pies.  Mmmmm!

Some friends of ours dropped off our herb order from Mountain Rose Herbs this week!  So far, I have already made more Echinacea tincture and Elderberry syrup.  This should help us feel better, because Mom, Dad, and I have all been sick.  I am getting better, but my parents are still feeling pretty yucky.  I also purchased some essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, and was very pleased to find out that they are therapeutic grade oils!  And plus, it is always fun to get more smelly oils.  🙂

You know that book I have posted about several times, titled Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it?  Well, the author wrote another one, titled Can it, Bottle it, Smoke it!  I AM SO EXCITED!  That didn’t convey all the excitement.  I AM SO SO VERY EXCITED!!!!!!  O.K., that was better.  I am hoping to get it here soon.

A bunch of our trees bloomed!  So did the tulips!  And the azalea bush!  And the rosebush did, too!  Since I have been sick, I have been unable to take many pictures, but I am hoping to get some today.

Well, I think that is all for now.  Thanks for listening to my ramblings.  It was good to get all that pent-up excitement out.  (I’ve used forms of the word excitement lots in this post, haven’t I?)

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A tulip that bloomed

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It was raining ever so lightly while I was taking pictures.  The sun was out, too!

Baking

Last week Meiling, Noah, and I did some baking.  We made graham crackers from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon.  They turned out very well – I think they tasted pretty similar to graham crackers you get at the store.  Well, that could be taken in a bad way.  They had  an identifiable graham cracker taste.

After the graham crackers, I made Cranberry Walnut Scones with some help from Noah.  They turned out quite well.  We had them at a friends’ house about four years ago, and they gave us the recipe.  I think I had only made them once before.  They are very good, even with the dried cranberries.  I am not a big fan of dried fruit in baked goods, but I don’t made the cranberries at all!

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One of my little helpers

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Ready to cut in the butter

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Graham cracker dough

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Time to bake!

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Mmmm…of course it has to eaten off of a blue transferware plate!

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Broken

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Scones