Hanging out at the Dairy

Hanging out at the Dairy
Darci(far left) & the Wrights at the Creamery

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding The Lovely part 4

Hello my friends, 
This is my 2nd week participating in the Finding the Lovely endeavor. This innovative project was started by Kimberly Taylor and Jeanne Oliver, two talented bloggers, who wanted to share SmartPhone photos every Friday in February.

Cupcakes, Fruits, veggies, family, art, Florence, Italy, flowers, Spring weather via iPhone, Instagram and PhotoShake

It's actually the last week to my knowledge and the 4th week in February where bloggers can share their "lovely" moments they captured by being present and seeking out the beauty/curious/interesting around them in their world. It's a celebration of living really!

Dungeness crabs on ice via iPhone, Instagram & ToonCamera
I've enjoyed every moment of my two weeks as it's brought me to a heightened awareness of the beauty all around us. Simple things and more complex but taking the time to take a photo of it...of course then I'm also having too much fun "tweaking" it with some newer Apps.

New Rhododendron blossoms via iPhone, Hipstagram & Instagram
For instance, my trip to the local grocery this morning (out of milk for coffee and eggs) brought on many colorful opportunity to commemorate as I parked next to this Rhody newly in bloom.

A sun break through the Spring rain via iPhone & Instagram
I snapped this sepia pic at the stoplight when the sun FINALLY blazed out of the rainclouds for a brief moment. My car window was still soaked from the last squall that had blown threw.

Juniper shrub berries via iPhone & Instagram

Also at the grocery store, next to the Rhody bush brought the Juniper bush with new chartreuse growth, blue berries and grayish buds. The variety of textures were interesting to me, so a pic was snapped.

son Alan with Instagram & ToonCamera

This photo of my son was taken by friend and professional photographer Ann Lindsay. I took a pic with my iPhone of it and then Instagram and ToonPhoto, the result is grainy and yet still retains my son's demeanor at age 4 captured by Ann.

Jersey cow vs. friend Preston
via iPhone & Instagram

The ultimate stare down...man vs. beast at the Dungeness Creamery Dairy. My girlfriend and I had met there with our 3 kids to run around the barns, checking out the cows and calves. Preston had found his match with this heifer waiting to be fed and feeling surly. This is one of my fave pics of all time!

Colored sugar sprinkles on Alan's team cupcakes
via iPhone, Hipstamatic and Instagram

This was my son and his Sequim Youth Basketball League's last week of play so we had a small Awards ceremony on Wednesday to say some kind words, give out our handcrafted certificates. As team mom, I made some chocolate cupcakes with chocolate butter cream frosting and colored sugar sprinkles. As I was shaking on the sprinkles, the sun suddenly beamed through my kitchen window and made the colors ignite. In a "I've had entirely too much sugar frosting" kind of way, they reminded me of stained glass windows and I grabbed my iPhone, snap! I Found The Lovely in a simple sprinkled cupcake.

One of my yummy nieces saying 'Good bye'  at a family birthday
 via Instagram

Here's to the many lovely moments that make up our lives. Woven together and bleeding into each other's, it's a rich tapestry if we take the time to see it that way! Thanks for playing with me in the "Lovely".

Chow for now my friends!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finding the Lovely-(week 3)

Hello friends!
My apologies for being a bit tardy in posting...I've been learning about Instagram and Photoshake in anticipation of joining in on the Finding the Lovely ladies who have been sharing their smart phone photos each Friday in February!

My understanding of this exercise/connection/group is to be more cognizant of the little things, the "lovelies" in life and capture them in the moment via your smartphones. My learning curve of the new tools took me awhile, but I finally caught on. Tenacity has it's perks sometimes!

They're a very talented and seemingly tech savvy group, so I wanted to bring my "A game" to this post. It's my 1st "Lovely" post although it's week 3 for the group started by Kimberly Taylor and Jeannie Oliver. I might be late to the party but hopefully will add something "lovely" to the mix!

Sunset through the Russian sage @ Crescent Bar, WA via iPhone

Full disclosure: my blog photos have all from my iPhone but I hadn't yet dabbled in Instagram or even heard of Photoshake and was really curious about these tools after following many of the burgeoning group of "Finding the Lovely" ladies' blogs;

1. full senses
2. A Lovely Week
3. Week 2; Object of my affection
4. Finding The Lovely{Week Two}
5. Finding the Lovely
6. Gyspy Brocante
7. Finding the Lovely Part Deux
8. danielle muller
9. Just Pipi
10.Flower Power
11. Dream, Create, Inspire
12. Some Great Photos
13. Isn't It Lovely Part Deux
14. katie @ the terpblog
15. Thefinderskeeper
16. Red Letter Days
17. It's My Life & I Love It
18. Valentines Instagram
19. abundant picnic {love}

Have fun. 
Be present.  Learn. Be inspired. Bookmark. Add to favorites. Click through. Escape.   

I LOVE to see images and read stories of other peoples' lives. It's entertaining to me to see what they choose to share, what hobbies they engage in, if they have a business or where they live. I'm richer for the experience of blogging and especially by reading others'.

My Valentine's Day cookies via iPhone & Instagram

This last week was lovelier, browsing through the "Lovely" blogs and keeping my iPhone close for those moments that resonated with me.  I hope you find them somewhere between nostalgic, cute, visually stimulating and appetizing. I did.

Here is my collage of images via my iPhone, Instagram and Photoshake. They include nature,
my girlfriend's chickens, food (of course), family, my favorite places, one of my two dachshunds and a Christmas ornament my youngest brother brought me from his travels in Germany.

Let me know what you think if you'd like...I'm interested in your feedback!

My 1st iPhone, Instagram and Photoshake collage!

If you'd like to join the "Finding the Lovely" group, see Jeanne's blog link. There's one more February Friday for us to post together.

It's been a fun week stretching my limits, checking out other "Lovely blogsites" and learning how to use new tools. Here's to finding something that captures your interest and following it, wherever it leads...

Daffodils preparing for their Spring debut via iPhone & Instagram

Chow for now my friends!

Monday, February 13, 2012

CB's Peanutbutter + Martha Stewart= Happy Valentines Cookies

Local nut roasters extraordinaire!


Martha Stewart Living Feb 2011 issue


True story! Using CB's Nuts Peanut butter in this recipe puts it over the top!! Great ingredients can really elevate any recipe and this is indeed the case here. Thanks CB's Nuts and Martha Stewart Living teams for creating a match made in heaven.

Start this recipe with CB's organic peanut butter for best results
The recipe can be found on MSL's link; http://www.marthastewart.com/356375/peanut-butter-and-jam-heart-cookies

The cookies at their first baking cycles
The trick I use is to use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough and form the cookie before it's chilled.  I flatten the scooped cookie dough gently with the bottom of a wide juice glass. The heart shape is made by indenting your thumb pointing about 1:00, then pointing 11:00. Chill for about 5-10 minutes in the freezer and then into the pre heated oven for 10 minutes.

Adding raspberry jam into the heart indentations
The choice of jam or jelly filling is yours; current, raspberry or strawberry all are gloriously crimson but the strawberry jam can be rather chunky and challenging to work with.  I prefer raspberry jam or current jelly.
Place back into the oven for the final 5 minutes to set the jam and finish toasting the cookies to perfection.

Toasty, nutty, sweet and adorable Valentines Day cookies cooling
At this point, my husband and son miraculously appeared from another room to inquire about the availability of the cookies. (I'm baking these for my son's class as he's now too cool to make handmade cards with his Mom this year but still wants to give his classmates something).  I smile and allow them to snatch one...it's Valentine's Day tomorrow after all!

Think Reese's Peanut butter cup in cookie form but better
So if jam isn't your thing and your knees weaken for chocolate...then I have the answer to fortify you!  I chopped some dark chocolate finely, melted it in a bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds, stirred and back in for 30 seconds, stir until smooth. Using a teaspoon, finesse the melted chocolate into the heart indentations after the initial 10 minute baking cycle and then bake again for another 5 minutes to set 

Dark Chocolate hearts make me smile!
These chocolate hearts are really my husband's favorite and I let him have one of those too. I can't pass up the opportunity to hear "Oh my goodness! These are great Mama-bear!" That's his term of endeerment and I love the look of contentment on his face while he devours the cookie, carefully holding his other hand underneath the cookie hand so that he doesn't miss a crumb. 

My son kisses me goodnight and thanks me for making all these for his classmates and teachers at his school. He loves to watch the pleased faces of the recipients as he proudly passes them out. It fills his cup to share the joy of good food with others. This is one lucky Mama-bear!

Happy Valentine's Day my friends! May you find big and little things in your day, in your life that puffs your hearts with joy.

Chow for now!

Chicks, kids and chickens

Andrea and her gentle hen
Okay, let me first say that I'm not usually a jealous person. I'm at the age/state of mind that offers contentment in who I am regardless of my job title, economic status, having not yet travelled everywhere I hope to visit yet. HOWEVER, I am literally green with envy with those who can keep chickens! Ever since I helped Chef Brian Scheesher (then Exec. Chef @ The Sorrento Hotel and is now chef/owner of Trellis in Kirkland, WA) at a cooking class where he spoke of keeping bees and chickens at his house in Seattle, I WANTED them!

Friend Andrea's Hen house #1
My CC&R's don't allow "critters" here in our Sequim neighborhood. Dang it! I love the looks and sounds of chickens. They're visually appealing to me and the gentle clucking sound is soothing but their EGGS, now that's what I'm talking about! The nearly neon orange of the yolks, the firm whites, the rich buttery taste. I get flat out jealous. Just saying'!

So when my girlfriend Andrea had her son's birthday party recently, she offered to give me a tour of her two henhouses. She knows I'm green with envy and wanted to show me the "realities" of keeping hens.

The ladies have been busy!

The laying boxes

She keeps her hen houses clean so the potential odor wasn't a problem for me. She pointed out the fencing enhancements they've made after being burrowed into/over and chewed through by rodents and raccoons eager to eat the feed or the chickens themselves. I took mental notes.

The ladies in house #2

My son Alan holding the fresh, warm, organic eggs

What beautiful plumage!

"Where are you going to sit?" "Sit next to me!"

She let the kids and I feed them grain by hand to get a closer encounter with them. We all kneeled down quietly and let them eat off our hands.

A fashion show of poultry plumage

Hello red hen!
 I soaked in their gentle clucking sounds for my memory bank. I wonder if there's an "App" for that sound...?

Black and white party!

Some of them were very gentle and some were not. The one that went after our fingers kind of freaked me out a little but still didn't deter my yearning. One can always have chicken for dinner if she gets too much of a diva.  Just something I filed away for future reference when I have my hen house(s?).

The "not shy" red hen...catch the attitude?!

My son and I finally had to return home and leave the party and the hen houses. I mentally vowed to make this a reality someday. I even put it on my "50 Things I need to do" list that I made up after reading Kimberly Taylor's blog Blackberry Farm last week (http://kimberlytaylorimages.com/mimicharmante/).

Oh, and BTW, Kim has chickens too on her farm too, and kids, and geese and a photography studio and she travels to amazing places and she takes amazing images! Check out her blog, she does not disappoint!

Our favorite, gentle red hen saying her "goodbyes"

So this Sequim chick left feeling more affirmed than in her quest for hen keeping! Not sure where this will
happen but it will someday. Andrea gave me a dozen fresh eggs to take home with us. Some of them were the ones collected together. Those eggs were still warm. How cool is that?!

The parting, party gift of gorgeous organic egg 

Here's to living DELIBERATELY my friends. That's my word for this year. I'm going to print out my "50 things" List to remind me everyday the goals I have and the actions needed to support those goals.
Find your deliberate goals,  create your "50 things"List and go after them.

"Don't let the fear of striking out, keep you from stepping up to the plate" ~ Babe Ruth

Chow for now my friends!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dinner for Dennis

The fish platter

Blogging has been a adventure from the beginning! I have learned SOOO much from following other blogs from professional to personal. Not being an incredibly "techie" person, my family and friends didn't discourage me but possibly wondered how long "this phase would last".  Happy to report that next month it will be a year since my first post!

My format hasn't changed much; I still take pics with my iPhone, of items that we're actually eating for a meal or places I've been, stories of my life experiences, supplying "how to" series of photos with instruction. Hopefully, my photos have improved and that my stories seem relevant and you're enjoying the recipes!

One of the coolest things that happened was the opportunity to create a meal as a gift from a person who saw my blog!  His friends gave him a dinner for two as a get-well gift but the gift was given to me as well!  Dennis' friends, knowing he's a foodie asked me to cook dinner for he and his partner and I jumped at the chance. How fun to deliver a dinner to other foodies from a menu they created...look out Iron Chef!

They chose Rock Cod Piccata, green beans with smothered onions and bacon, oven roasted brussel sprouts with shallots, roasted garlic and more bacon, Pane D'Amore dinner rolls and lemon pound cakes.

Lusciousness on a plate

Life is short, let's start with dessert first! This will give it time to cool and glaze before we leave for Dennis' houses. This recipe is the BEST EVER Lemon Pound Cake from Boyajian. They make a line of fine culinary oils and can be ordered online directly, from Amazon and Sur La Table to name a few.

Lemon Pound Cake Recipe
3 tsp Boyajian Pure Lemon Oil
11/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup sour cream
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
21/2 cups sugar
6 eggs (beat well)

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Blend in the beaten eggs and Boyajian Lemon Oil. Add sour cream, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Bake in well greased bundt or tube pan for 11/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool pan on wire rack for 30 minutes before unfolding.

you should smell my house right now...
The glaze is adds a little sparkle if desired. Whisk 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a few drops of lemon oil in a large bowl and add enough cold water to thin the glaze, about 4 tablespoons. It's up to you...I like thick enough to see it but not have it goopy. Spoon gently over the top of pound cakes. Zest strips from lemon and top with any fresh berries available.

Boo ya! Desert is done; glazed, zested and garnished

So now I'm onto our more savory elements now that dessert is done. 

The onions starting to "smother"
The smothered onions will take the longest so I sliced up 2 sweet onions and about 4 tablespoons of butter on medium high heat, in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. These will go for at least a half hour as the object is to go slow and not to sauté.
The brussel sprout stalk

The meal would be served hot to Dennis' door so I will be doing many things simultaneously, I'll tell you where we are along the way. For now, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and place the two heads of fresh garlic inside. Set timer for 15 minutes and check.

Next, the tender, fresh and organic brussel sprouts need to be taken off there stalk & placed in there baking dish.
Extreme close-up of the sprouts

Add caption
This endeavor is fast and easiest when the stalk is laid flat on a cutting board to hold with one hand and cut with the other, with minimal if any slippage of the stalk. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slice each sprout off the stalk.

The reduced onions with chopped shallots

Chopped pepper bacon 

 The bacon is added to the onion/shallot mixture to finish the sauce for the brussel sprouts and the green beans. Cook bacon for about 8 minutes until fat is turning translucent and starting to brown. Remove half the onion, shallot and bacon mixture and store in heat proof bowl.

Baked, caramelized and ready to join the party!
We now welcome back the roasted garlic heads back into the mix. It's easiest to extract the smooth, roasted garlic inside by slicing off the top of the garlic head using a serrated knife, then gently and slowly squeeze from the bottom and sides (like juicing an orange) and the garlic will begin to emerge.  Let it drop into the sauté pan with the softened onions and shallots.
brussel sprouts added to the bacon, onions and shallots
Add the brussel sprouts and sauté with remaining onion mixture for 5-8 minutes on medium high covered to capture the steam. Place contents into an uncovered baking dish and into the 400 degree oven to crisp exterior for another 10 minutes. Garnish with creme fresh if desired, Dennis and I did!

The rest of the dinner comes together quickly; back into the reheated sauté pan goes the other half of the onion/bacon mixture and the fresh green beans. Use tongs and combine, the lid goes on to steam for a few minutes. After a few minutes, toss the beans again and place the lid back on for a few more minutes. Place semi-cooked green beans onto the serving platter for the fish and beans and keep warm in the oven while cooking fish.

The Rock Cod Piccata is simple, tasty and fast. Put the large sauté pan back on the high heat again. Drizzle about 2 Tablespoons each butter and Olive oil and add the 2-3 filetsfilets over. Quickly add the coarsely chopped 3 toes of garlic, about 4-5 Tablespoons of capers, the juice of a half fresh lemon,  half cup white wine.  Simmer for about 3 minutes and gently remove the filets and place on warm platter with green beans. Continue to reduce sauce for another 3 minutes or so until slightly thickened and then top the fish with the sauce. Voila!  Dinner is served.

Dinner for Dennis complete with a Pan D"Amore roll

Dinner for Dennis went over well. He was so pleased upon arrival that he invited friend to join in.
That dinner nourished me that night too. Blogging has expanded my artistic expression and for that I am fed. I'm glad I started in on this journey that really challenged me on so many levels because it's been equally rewarding. Thank you for all your continued support my friends!

Challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort level, the grass is greener for having tried! 

Chow for now my friends.