Friday, September 17, 2010

No crafting today....

but I did make it to JoAnn to purchase thread so I start quilting tomorrow.  

Last night in my history class we had to turn in our (for the lack of a better explanation) draft senior portfolio.  One of the requirements was a eight page self-reflective essay in which we had to discuss our journey in the history program.  

Just the fact that I was in the process of writing that very important essay was making me giddy.  


I am going to graduate




Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I love Marcella Hazan

Who?  Huh?  Marcella Hazan.  She is an Italian cook who lives in Venice along side a canal (is that super cool or what?) who has published my favorite cookbook.  **scratch the "lives" part - she apparently now lives in Florida**

This cookbook speaks to me.  I have never heard her speak before but I have this imagined voice speaking to me whenever I read her recipes.  Sounds kinda dumb but I am such a audible person (admitted NPR and various podcast junkie here) and imagining her voice as I read her recipes maybe makes the food taste better?  Who knows.  

I have made from this cookbook:

Bolognese sauce from last night
The previously mentioned Mantovana or Olive Oil Bread, Pasta Bolognese, Tuna Sauce with Tomatoes and Garlic, "Aio e Oio" - Roman Garlic and Oil Sauce, Tomato Sauce with Heavy Cream, the absolutely mind blowing Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter and more. Every recipe is dead on and as I flip through it right now to find those pages which are stained with use I realize that I need to explore more.  

I wish that I had been an adult in the 70's as I may have traveled to Italy to be a part of the cooking school Marcella had in her home.  Sadly, it looks as if she no longer holds classes but her son does.  Just did a quick check of his website and found that a week of cooking classes at his amazing looking villa in Verona is about $5,000 and I don't think that includes airfare.  Yikes.  Last trip my husband, two sons and I took to Europe we spent about double that but that included airfare/Eurailpass + three weeks of travel.  Oh, I better not go down that road...I'll go off on travel.  Oh, I love travel.  Just for fun here is a picture from our last trip:

Baptistry - Firenze, Italia

That is the husband and I with our backpacks on stopping for a quick shot at about 7am on our way to the train station in Florence to catch a train.  I remember just before this shot we were walking behind a gal who was wearing stiletto heels - if she were Italian I would not have had another thought but she was obvious a tourist and had no idea how to walk in Florence on those cobblestone pavers with stiletto heels on.  What a memory! 

Today I must craft - my sewing machine and fabric keep calling out to me.  Quilted coasters maybe?  


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New curtains for the kitchen

I kind of complained to the husband back in January that our house was looking a bit shabby.  He misunderstood and thought I meant the outside painting of the house and offered the paint the, no I said, I meant the inside.

Especially the rooms we spend the majority of our time - the cave like kitchen that I inhabit for hours a day and the tiny 1950's cookie cutter tract home living/family room. 

So then then husband offers to paint the kitchen.  He was serious and I was practically jumping up and down like a 10 year old girl.  My kitchen has been stark white for the fourteen years we have lived in this house.  When we bought this home my oldest child was six months old and I was not "allowed" to be a part of a decision making process regarding painting.  Let me explain....mother-n-law was involved.  Do I need to say more?

So this is what we had:

So, fourteen years later + nine months I now have a half painted kitchen.  Love the husband very much but he is so SLOW.

But now I have this:

Valence made from Anna Maria Horner Voile fabric

Roman Shade also made from Anna Maria Horner Voile fabric

Just Added:  Forgot to mention the curtains in my post that I referred to in the title!  I made these a few weeks ago and the husband finally put up this past weekend.  The Valence was not a pattern, just a 1/2 yard of the fabric sewn together so the white lines match up.  The roman shade was a tutorial I found online here which I thought was very good.  The voile fabric I used is so thin that it doesn't bunch up as much as regular cotton or thicker fabrics would, but I do not care.  I love the look  and every morning since this was put up, I draw up the roman shade a different way.  

Yellow cabinets/Paprika walls
I was going for a Tuscan look as the husband and I enjoy the Old World style of decorating (have to clarify that as we are not much into decorating).  When I sent this photo to a cousin of mine she remarked that it looked like Paprika and she is right.  I love it though.  This room is quite small and because it is practically unseen from any other room in the house I knew that I could go bold.

The husband still has two more doors to put up on the upper cabinets and oh, don't get me started on the lower cabinets.  I'll be lucky if it is done by 2011.  

Now going to go clean my half painted kitchen and start making Bolognese sauce for dinner.  YUM!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Warning: These are addictive, but so very good

Cheesecake Bars 

I have been following the Bakerella blog for about a year now and up until I became a fan on FB, had never attempted to make anything that she made.  About a month ago she posted about Cheesecake Bars which looked so good that I decided to make them.  They were just wonderful.  Biscoff cookie layer on the bottom, the perfect cheesiness in the middle and a nice slab of ganache on the top.  I cut most of them up in about 3x4inch rectangles but the most popular size were about 1x1 as you could just pop them in your mouth for a very quick and satisfying treat.  This recipe is a keeper!  

A little more on Bakerella - her first cookbook has just been published.  It is called Cake Pops and I dove right in last week and tried the first recipe.  
Cake Balls
I hunted around at a few stores for the sticks that are required to make these cake "pops" but was unsuccessful so these just became cake balls.  The three in the photo above are the last three from a recipe of 48 that my family almost devoured in a few days.  My boys were hovering just outside of this photo waiting for me to finish so they could finish them off.  I love Ding Dongs and the crack that the chocolate makes when you bite into the outer shell of these cake balls is almost like biting into a Ding Dong.   Check out the Bakerella site for the recipe and tutorial and if you are so inclined, get her new cookbook.  A little tip:  I used food service clear plastic gloves that I bought at Smart & Final when I crumbled the cake and when I shaped the balls.  Much easier than washing/drying my hands often and the cake/frosting mixture does not stick to the gloves.  

I'm off to the library for a day of reading for class, Ciao!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Canning tomatoes & blueberry jam

Where am I going to put these?

What am I doing living in suburban Southern California and growing tomato plants and then spending tons of time canning them?  I guess it is some deep seeded need to get back to the hunter/gatherer/agricultural roots of humans - although keep out the hunter part.  This summer I grew six different tomato plants and canned 27 quarts of tomatoes.  The smaller jars on the side are filled with Blueberry Jam which was not grown by me but thankfully purchased at my local Trader Joe's.  I had to get creative on where I was going to put all the jars as my kitchen is the size of a shoe box.  One of my neighbors cracked me up when she suggested that I convince my husband to build me a cellar.     

Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

One more goodie for today:  The above mentioned Blueberry Jam enjoyed with scones out in my "Outdoor Room" my husband built for me for Mother's Day.  My children love biscuits and they are so easy to make   I use Marion Cunningham's Baking Powder Biscuit recipe from her Cooking with Children cookbook.  

Now I am off to take one child to freshman orientation and then back here to make Tomato Sauce with the 25 pounds of tomatoes I picked yesterday from my plot.  Another few days of pink fingernails are in my future!