31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!


Pierre waiting on trick or treat-ers!

24 October 2011


Driving through the countryside in out small slice of Michigan, you can't help but notice the fields full of autumnal color in every shade of orange imaginable.  Pumpkins are everywhere!  I purchased 12 pie pumpkins (they have to last through December!) on the side of the road last week!

 John and I took Pierre for an hour on the farm where he can run and sniff, and learn to come when called!  None of us were willing to cross the "bridge" over the creek!  I remember when it had boards over it...

If you haven't tried my Pumpkin Fondue from last year, here is the link, it is SO fantastic and looks outstanding!   It's a great dish to share!

This week I made some lovely pumpkin bread and muffins from the same recipe.  I picked up these super sweet paper cups for a coffeehouse touch!

I am slicing the bread into thick 1 1/2 inch slabs and individually wrapping them for the freezer.  This gives me the opportunity to just bring out a slice at a time for breakfast or dessert.  I LOVE to whip a bit of mascarpone cheese (Italian triple creme) with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon to dollop on a slice of this quick bread!

A few weeks ago I picked up a cheap pepper grinder and filled it with small chunks of unsweetened chocolate, Belgian rock sugar and roasted coffee beans.  It has been a fun and tasty topping for homemade lattes, hot chocolate and baked goods.  I think it would also be lovely finely ground to top my pumpkin muffins and bread!

This is an old standby recipe for me.  I don't remember where it came from some 20+ years ago.  I love that it's a big batch, easily making 12 generous cupcakes and a 9X5 loaf pan, or 2 loaf pans.  These also taste fantastic when you add chopped nuts, dried cranberries or chocolate! 


3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, oil and eggs.  Beat until combined and smooth.  Add pumpkin and all dry ingredients and beat to combine about 1 minute.  Add water and any additions like nuts or chocolate and stir to combine.

Pour batter into lined or greased pans.  Bake loaf pans for 50-60 minutes, cupcakes for 35-40 minutes depending upon fullness.  

11 October 2011

Local Art...

I feel like Tecumseh is quite fortunate for a small town, to have so many, many talented artists.  I made a decision a few years ago to only purchase original pieces of art.  I have mostly done that with just a few exceptions and it makes me happy EVERYDAY to see these works of art, to remember who I was at that point in time as well as who I was with and where I was...each piece is a story.

A few weeks ago we attended a street art fair and I sought out the artist that speaks to me through her work.  Her name is Pat Cooper.  I love impressionistic work, watercolors and pen and ink drawings.  I have 2 of Pat's pieces in my dining room and really wanted another "something" of hers.  Here is what I chose;

 Who does this resemble?  Hehehehe!  Pat said she would gladly create a custom batik of your pooch if you so desire! You can find her at www.patcooperstudios.com .  While this was not a custom piece, it looks so like Pierre it could have been!  How fun is doggie art?

This is a new watercolor piece for my kitchen titled "Breakfast".  I just adore the color scheme and the whisk! this makes me want to cook!

My greatest "thanks" to Pat for sharing her talent and bringing me joy every single day.  I can't think of a better legacy to leave this world. 

Add enclosure link

03 October 2011

Things I've been thinking about this week....

How terrible that I only want shave my legs the same day I scrub the bathtub?  Then I don't do it, because it will get the sparkly clean bathtub all nasty?

How come falling down as an adult hurts so damn bad?!?!?! Took a spill, still have criks and creaks and bruises (and a witness) 2 weeks later.  The witness was the the worst.....she still hasn't stopped laughing.

After seeing multiple posts on Facebook with the quote "Great people talk about Ideas, Average people talk about Things, Small people talk about other people" It brings to minds a book I just read about life in a small town in Italy.  The reason everyone goes to the Piazza everyday...is to talk about the people that aren't there!  They are not embarrassed to say it!  Funny how people are the same, no matter where you go!

The older I get, the more I like polka music.  Yes, I grew up with it, but it's fun music to listen to.  No one can be unhappy while listening to songs titled "In Heaven there is no Beer"!

I'm dressing up the dog for Halloween.  Seriously, if I have to take him out every morning at 6am....he's gonna entertain me by wearing clothes and costumes.I'm thinking a big cow bell and fake udders....any thoughts on that?

How did Proctor & Gamble come up with the miracle of Febreze? BTW I LOVE< LOVE< LOVE the disgusting commercials of people picking up horrid stuff that's been "febrezed"!  But they are true, my house can be a nightmare, but I spray some febreze (linen & sky) and it just seems cleaner.  Sorry if this offends, but they deserve to make billions on a product as fabulous as febreze.  (Don't you love the lexicon too?!?!)

Am I being cheap by not wanting to spend $500 on an iPad?  Can someone PLEASE tell me exactly what the little bugger does that will make me want to spend $500 on it.


02 October 2011

Preserved Wine Poached Pears

Just the title gets me excited!  And make no mistake, this is an exciting recipe!  I have a few preserving cookbooks published in England that intrigue and confuse me on many levels.  I love their use of sweet/savory ingredients, yet warming sugar in the oven before adding to the pan...huh?  Why?  There is no scientific answer, so it must be a "that's the way we do it" answer.  I have some of those deals too...except my preserving class has kept me on my toes in questions!

This recipe is one of those things too.  I know it worked, yet, I still need to wait 6 months to find out if it was a success and the pears are still sealed without any scary bacterias.  I'm sure this is not approved by the USDA (but really, please read my "food pyramid" post to see how much I trust their opinion on food these days :))  but with all the wine and sugar, I'm sure nothing scary will survive and they are SO good!

My honest concern is that I used pears I grew organically....just remember, wine kills EVERYTHING! 

So, I peeled about 6 small pears, whole, leaving the stem attached for a rustic look.  I stuffed about 3 pears per pint jar and added a cinnamon stick broken into 3 pieces (3 inches), about 6 whole cloves and  3inch long pieces of lemon and orange zests to each jar.  I wanted them to be quite spiced!

In a large pot, I combined a bottle of delicious Pinot Noir wine (taste to make sure you like first!) and 1 1/2 cups sugar, brought it to a boil and boiled for 5 minutes.  I preheated the oven to 250 degrees.  I then poured the wine over the pears until about a 1/2 inch clearance was reached, checked for air bubbles and put the seals and lids on.  I popped the whole filled jars into the oven and cooked them for about 2 1/2 hours.  I removed them from the oven and checked the seals after 24 hours.

It worked!  Weird and fabulous!  Beautiful and so amazingly delicious!  Warm it was even better...and then I drank the juice!  In case you missed that...drink the wine too!  If you're not into preserving foods, find a friend and talk them into making these, you won't be sorry!