Monday, February 18, 2019

Travel Break: Life is So Good

Life here has been a little bit on the chilly side!


I went in to record some pledge breaks for WKAR and the outdoor seating area didn't look terribly inviting!


I've been warding off the cold with a little cooking. If you like lemon you MUST try this drizzle cake from Marie's blog -- here's the link to the recipe. Easy and delicious. If you don't have medium eggs (I didn't), three extra large worked for 4 medium. I didn't have self-rising flour either, but just added some baking powder to the flour. It was great!


I made these lemon ginger cookies, too.


They're from this delightful cookbook, which I adore. All lemon recipes. (Thanks, Monique, for turning me on to this one!)


Note to self. Carry the timer with you when you go to another room.


And scones. Perfect with tea!


Lizzie, of course, is always showing off, flirting, and doing her cuteness thing in hopes of a treat. Well, can't resist. Could you?


Bushy D. Squirrel also wants treats -- from the bird feeder. We have a continuous battle but he is awfully cute! Bold, too!


A little bit of painting. I am especially pleased with this one. It's the cottage we stayed in near Bath during our trip. The owner posted a winter photo of it. Might be my best so far.


Here's the cottage in autumn from one of my pix. It's pretty accurate but it lacks the mood of the snow and the gray!


Sometimes I like them a little better when I'm just starting!



And this one I'm getting ready to totally mess  up. It's the Baby Grands and actually, Little Little Guy's mouth is already messed up. He is not wearing his mother's lipstick. As soon as I put in the eyes, I'll probably need to tear it up because it just won't be them. Although, it might just be two cute little guys in the sink getting a bath. Just not my little guys anymore. (Postscript. It's now cut up into swatch pieces. I totally blew the faces.)


Getting a little color in the house. The daffs are just so bright and cheery. Our gray and snowy days are a little too monochromatic for me!


I also got some hyacinths. Pretty in pink and I adore the smell but I fear it's why I'm having a little more trouble breathing these days! Better in the garden, I think, but I'll soldier on as long as possible because I love them so much!


We had a lovely Valentine's Day. Rick made a wonderful dinner and we exchanged cards and gifts. He chose the prettiest earrings for me. Maple leaves, which he knows I like because we both love Canada so much. Each year I make him a book. This one was our year in photos and haiku. Haiku can be hard!


And I've had some wonderful mail lately and some nice surprises! This pretty heart arrived on the day before Valentine's Day and was made by Laura Ingalls Gunn of Decor to Adore. (This post shows how she did it!) I was so touched and surprised! (It will stay up long after Valentine decor goes down!)


Last month I won a free canvas in a drawing at Wayside Treasures, Sandi's blog. I chose one of my photos from the Cotswolds and they did a terrific job with it. When I get a few things down, it will find a spot on the wall but for now, the easel is just fine!


(Can you tell I've been felting a lot?!)


So far, several more hearts, a couple of sheep, a very cute bunny and a cat that looks a little bit Laurel Burch-ey and a little bit deranged.


And then some wonderful books arrived from my friend Joan! Perfect for the snowy days!


I really am over the snow. But life is good. Very good. And every day I feel like the luckiest person in the world.


And that's good.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Travel Break: Great Classes #2 -- Cooking with Sour

Before Christmas I took a cooking class with chef Geoff Russell (HERE). It was such fun I signed up for one of his "Five Flavors" classes, "Sour." (The others: Bitter, Sweet, Salty, Unami.)


Geoff met us with a frothy whiskey sour, which got everyone well loosened up!


Then he began cooking, answering questions as he explained step by step the dishes he was preparing. He started out with ceviche, which uses the acid of lime juice to "cook" the fish.


Geoff used cod and it was delicious. Some of the things I learned from this were to always buy very good fish, then freeze it for three days to kill any parasites that may be within. (You can't kill bacteria with freezing, so get good fish!) Firm fish like cod or seafood like scallops are best.


Also, once you make it, you have a limited "resting time" at which point you should eat it. After a half hour, you may as well toss it because the fish will be too tough to be really enjoyed.


Pickling uses sour too, namely, vinegar. Geoff prepared pickled red onions which he sliced thinly and covered with ___________. It's a fast pickling and within a half hour or so, the onions were just divine!


He used these onions on his super duper grilled cheese sandwich. Let me say I am quite the grilled cheese aficianado and this was hands-down the best grilled cheese I ever had. It also probably had the most calories of any grilled cheese ever because his secret to goodness is not to slather one side of the bread with butter but to melt butter in your pan and SLOWLY grill one side of the bread. Then take it out, assemble the sandwich with grated cheese for faster melting on TOP of the toasty bread (butter side), add some of the pickled onions, add more cheese, top it and then grill both sides of the ungrilled bread in fresh melted butter.


 It is so crispy and crunch and filled with cheesy goodness that I could have died happy right there. And if I ate too many of these, I would. (Do not cook this within a week of having blood tests for a physical or your cholesterol numbers might go off the roof!)


One of the things I love about these classes is that we aren't the ones doing the cooking. We sit very close as he explains every step so we can see and take notes. We aren't distracted by wondering if we are stirring our own sauce too much or too little. So, watching, noting and asking questions, we really are able to learn and focus. It's much easier to bring that home and cook his dishes because we've seen every step.

Source: Ex Culina

He then showed us how to make a shrub -- a mixture of grapefruit peel, sugar and vinegar that makes a bit of a syrup.


After this mixture has sat for a few days, add back in the juice you extracted from the grapefruit and strain it. A shot of that over ice with club soda was fabulous. (Vodka would be good, too!).


Also on our menu was Rock Cornish game hen with a blackberry sauce. The sauce also used a vinegar, along with sugar for a wonderful sweet-sour combo. Geoff takes the backbone out of the chicken and lays it flat to cook, which helps it cook a bit faster. These went about a half hour.


This was served with Brussels sprouts, tossed with shallots and herbs, then oven-roasted topped with balsamic vinegar.



We also had a fun vinegar tasting. We dipped swabs into several different vinegars and placed it on our tongue. It was interesting to note the different qualities of each -- if they felt fruity or salty or too tart.


Then it was time to sit down and enjoy our meal. We'd already been munching on grilled cheese and ceviche and enjoying beverages.


The chicken was so good with the blackberry sauce. I'll be making that sauce again soon for any number of things.


Served up with a glass of wine, our happy band of students were all happy campers!


This has been my second Chef Geoff cooking class and so far I love them all! So, I say...

Source: Ex Culina

...Cheers!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Travel Break: A Day in Chelsea (Michigan, not England!)

A look back to last month. On the 19th of January, winter came to Lansing, MI, with some snow. Not our usual deep January snow, but snow. And cold. The day before, a small group of us headed to one of my favorite spots, Chelsea, Michigan, which I've shown here and here in the past.


Our ultimate destination was the Jiffy Mix factory tour, but we started out with lunch at Common Grill and Barb and I split a dessert sundae with carmelized popcorn, sugared nuts and salted caramel ice cream. It looks big. You should have seen it before the server split it in two. (Actually, we didn't see it either, but you can imagine!)


Then a little shopping. I have decided that Lizzie is going to give me one of these for Cat-Mother's day. Aren't they cheerful, whizzing around in the breeze? I think it will go at the lake.


I might have to cave and get one for home, too!


Loads of lovely shops in Chelsea. We needed more time.


Even the alleyways of this small town are charming. So is one of my favorite used book stores.


Then on to the tour! I learned the company had been in business for four generations, corn muffins are their best seller, much of the wheat for the flour is grown regionally here in Michigan and they produce 1.5 million boxes a day of product for international distribution, along with larger sizes for institutional use.


Here we are, the Fearsome Fivesome. Rest assured, should you buy a Jiffy Mix, you won't find our hair in it! Even the beards were covered! (For an earlier and more detailed post on the Jiffy Tour, you can go HERE)


The it was off to another fun spot -- USArtQuest. Don't you think Rick needs a sculpture like this on his walls? I do.


Loads of paper, art supplies for collage and assemblage (mostly) and anything to do with paper.


Home sweet home after and the new season of "Grace and Frankie." Cold winter days have their charms!

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