This ‘n’ That

I got lots to talk about. First, I thought I’d share a few more pictures of the trees changing color in my yard. It was a very short season of color, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

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Red Emperor with Lemon Lime in front:

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That’s the dogwood to the left. Even if it doesn’t bloom in the spring, it is always beautiful in the fall.

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Recipes and foodie ideas. Lately I’ve been trying out some new recipes. I saw an old picture on my computer which looked like I was trying to make some cranberry-pecan scones. I looked through my blogs, and apparently I never posted anything about it. So I did a google search for cranberry pecan scones and came upon this recipe. When I saw it was from Prevention magazine, I thought it might be slightly healthier than other recipes. It wasn’t as low cal as I usually try for, mostly because it had more nuts and cranberries than I would usually add. I LOVED this recipe. I realized at the end that it had absolutely no sugar in it, so I made a small amount of sugar glaze to put on it at the end. Of course I made a few substitutions. I actually didn’t have enough pecans, so I used walnuts. And I didn’t have whole wheat flour, so I ground some oats in my mini food processor and used that instead. I really like the way oats taste in baked goods.

Then a couple of weeks later, I wanted some real banana nut muffins. And I found this recipe.I liked it too! The title said they were healthy. Once again I ground oats to use as the flour. I did use about 1/4 cup of regular wheat flour. Oh, and I didn’t have maple syrup so I substituted honey. But I did make a note to myself that they were too sweet. So I will try again without the honey after I finish all of these.

I’m eating more eggs. I like them scrambled for dinner with some onions, potatoes, spinach, and sometimes a few bacon crumbles.

One day I wanted some salsa. And even though I haven’t made it for ages, I suddenly remembered how easy it was to make. I put two roma tomatoes and one slice of onion in the mini food processor. I added salt and pepper and some cilantro, and then just a bit of balsamic vinegar. YUMM!!!

Sunday I had my sister and her husband over for a pre-Christmas dinner. I get occasional emails from a dietician, Vincci Tsui. She has changed from a “diet” dietician to a HAES dietician, which is interesting. Anyway, one day she mentioned this gingerbread cake. It caught my eye because the recipe was from a famous quilter who used to be a food blogger. So I made the cake. It was moist and delicious. I did not make any substitutes for this recipe. I found a buttercream recipe and iced it with that.

Well, its Christmastime and for me that means baking a few things. I forget how much I enjoy baking. To keep things under control, I limit myself to making one kind of cookie and one candy (which is always my grandma’s cinnamon walnuts.) This year I found a recipe for traditional scottish shortbread, which seemed exactly the same as the one our grandma used to make. You have to work all the butter into the dough with your fingers. Which takes a long time. Anyway, they came out perfect. It was a fun gift for my sister–two of our grandma’s favorite confections. I also made my mom’s favorite fruitcake. I know. Nobody likes fruitcake. But honestly, if you saw the recipe (lots of butter) and smelled the house (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and brandy) you would like it too! Its not so filled with that stupid fruit. I only put some of the cherries, and dates and pecans in it. And then you put a little brandy on it every day for two weeks (or until you have to take it to your mom’s.)

The takeover. I have a small log holder next to my wood stove. But several years ago, the girls claimed it as the best most warmest spot in the house. So I made a pillow to fit in it for them. Bess usually occupies the spot (because Sophie would rather be on my lap) but occasionally Sophie gets first dibs. I couldn’t believe it when Bess very gingerly stepped up onto the throne in an attempt to takeover the spot. There was no fighting or carrying on. Just a gentle takeover.

 

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Well, that’s quite long enough for now. If I don’t post again, I hope you all have a Wonderful Peaceful Merry Christmas.

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All the Pumpkin Things!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope you enjoy the day. Think about all the many things we have to be thankful for, living in this wonderful country. A plethora of pumpkin is just one of the things we can be thankful for 🙂

Yesterday I made my low calorie Apple Cranberry Sauce. It was delicious with my cottage cheese! And then I made a batch of Pumpkin Custard. That will keep my Thanksgiving cravings satisfied without overdoing the calorie load.

I am going to my niece’s this year for Thanksgiving, and this year I volunteered to make Helen’s wonderful Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake. This is the third year I’ve made it. I think that makes it a Thanksgiving tradition for me. I made the cakes this morning, and I will make the nuts and the frosting later today.

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What is that tiny little cake, you ask? Why yes, I did cook a miniature cake for myself to have the next day 🙂

The cake recipe doesn’t use a whole can of pumpkin, so I dumped the leftover pumpkin into my leftover coffee–it will make me a fun low calorie “pumpkin pie frappucino” later today 🙂

I am off to the doctor for my third and last gel shot. Hoping that the third shot is the “magic” that will make these shots work for a while. When I get home I will cook the turkey breast that I bought so I will have “leftover” turkey in the days to come.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Re-Entry…Random Thoughts from a Trip

Re-entry…its hard sometimes. A day of travel just wipes you out. A little trip to Colorado seemed so easy–just a 2 1/2 hour flight, no lay-overs! But then you add on the drive to   the airport, the never-ending shuttles to get you here and there in the airport, long waits in line, and the three hour drive to your destination, and its a whole long day of travel. Nevertheless, I am home. And so happy to be here, even if I am too tired to look happy 🙂

Glad to be back to my routines, and somewhat anxious to return to those routines. But still too tired to jump right in. Had my own blueberry scone and coffee this morning, and then was hankering for a little more. I just so happened to be reading Biz’s blog, and found her recipe for banana-chocolate chip muffins, and thought I’d give them a try, with a few of my own variations, of course!

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While I waited for them to cool, I decided to drag in the suitcases and unpack. 10 minutes–done! Not as many clothes as I usually pack for a trip, and quilt stuff was limited to what I could fit in between clothes in two suitcases–thank you to Southwest for allowing two suitcases to be checked without any charge!

Bess supervises the unpacking

Bess supervises the unpacking

Zoey keeping track of me from her usual perch.

Zoey keeping track of me from her usual perch.

Sophie and Chloe in their place under the desk, happy I am home.

Sophie and Chloe in their place under the desk, happy I am home.

I will start my laundry soon, and get out there and start watering the garden, and then I will be ready to go to the gym, grocery store, and pick Noah up on the way home. Aaaaah, its good to be home.

The girl's babysitter did an excellent job of keeping the garden going while I was gone!

The girl’s babysitter did an excellent job of keeping the garden going while I was gone!

 

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This ‘n’ That

Lots of stuff going on around here, but its mostly fiber art related, so I write about it over on the other blog. If you want to see what I’ve been up to, you can visit over there. One of the things I am doing is going to rug hooking camp, and I decided to attempt a portrait rug of Noah. I have taken one million pictures of the Big White Dog, and still ended up liking one of my older ones best. This is from one of his many photo shoots, and I used it in conjunction with the older photo to draw the outline for the rug.

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This is the first rose I bought. Only one bloom on it so far this year, and the stem was so ridiculously long (over 6 feet high, I’m not kidding) that I decided to cut it off and enjoy it inside.

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Its a very pretty rose, and it has a very nice fragrance as well.

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This is the JP rose I showed you earlier. It looks even prettier when it is fully opened. Its called Belinda’s Dream.

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Last week, I was bemoaning the fact that my dogwood tree has not bloomed since we planted it. It was also leaning precariously to one side, so MLG tied it up to a bigger tree to straighten it up. Then he called me over to look at something. Lo and behold, there were two little blossoms at the top of the tree! Maybe next year, if I treat it just right, I’ll see some real blooms on it!

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Glamour shot of Miss Zoey. Isn’t she the cutest? Its pretty fun for me to have a long haired dog to take care of again.

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Last night, I got an email from Hungry Girl, with a recipe for Cherry Pie Baked Oatmeal. I thought about making it, but then decided I just wanted one serving. This morning, I used my single serve recipe, and added a handful of frozen cherries. Quite yummy!

And that’s all the news around here for now. We have all of a sudden heated up to over 90 degrees, so I am looking forward to my trip to Cambria next week, over by the coast, where the high is supposed to be 70 degrees!

One more thing! After I finished this post, I went out to water the garden (again) and saw this swallowtail landing on the marigolds! I left the water running to distract him, and went inside and got my camera, and he was still there when I got back out! These are the little surprises that I like best about gardening.

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Blueberry Yogurt Coffee Cake

One morning I woke up with a lot of yogurt in the fridge, and some frozen blueberries in the freezer. And the taste of the cinnamon/brown sugar filling from my cinnamon buns in my mind. How could I combine all of these into one breakfast treat?

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Morning treats for my sewing ladies!

I can’t really remember if I looked at other recipes as a jumping off place for this recipe, but here is what I came up with. I think its tasty enough to serve to “regular people,” and yet low enough in calories that I can enjoy it any day of the week. Click here to see the recipe. 

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The Lemon Tree and the Dog

**WARNING: dessert talk ahead**

My mom and I used to be best friends. And then we weren’t. And if you used to watch Oprah, and you believe what the experts on that show said, its not healthy for mother and daughter to be best friends. I remember hearing that, and understanding what the expert meant.

Over many years, my mom and I have worked on repairing (restoring?) our relationship. Its been trial and error. Help has come from unexpected places. One of the few things my mom and I have in common is our love of plants. So that is always a safe bet for birthday/mother’s day presents. A couple of years ago, I got her a little Meyer lemon tree. I wanted one myself, but it freezes in the winter up here, and since she lives in the bay area, I knew she would have good luck with it. Sure enough, her very first year, she had a nice little crop of Meyer lemons in January. She harvested them and then gave them to me. I told her I would make her some lemon goodies. This turned out to be such a fun thing for both of us. It gave me the rare opportunity to do some traditional baking, and try new recipes, and she got the benefit of some very delicious homemade lemon treats. This year she had an even bigger crop. There were enough to make three lemon desserts. I googled “Meyer lemon recipes,” and chose a Meyer lemon cake, a Meyer lemon pie, and these wonderful, Lemon Creme Crumb bars. 

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Cooking the lemons for the cake.

The cake is so interesting, because it has an almond meal base, and you actually cook the lemons and then process them whole (except the seeds) into a paste that you use in the cake batter. It was a delicious, dense and moist cake. Very sweet, but to me it did have a bit of a sour taste. I think it would depend on how sensitive you are to “sour.”

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The pie is one of the simplest recipes I’ve ever seen. Most of the time you have to cook the lemon custard or curd, and then put it in the pre-baked pie crust. This one you just combine the four ingredients (lemon juice, sugar, butter, and eggs) in a blender, and pour into the unbaked pie crust. I used my large muffin tin to make six small “pies.” Yumm.

The Crumb bars is a repeat–a recipe I made with last year’s harvest of lemons. So ridiculously decadent. I had so much fun baking. And especially that each recipe came out very successfully. I save one or two pieces of each for myself, and box the rest up to take down to my mom. The whole thing feels like a project for the two of us to work on together.

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About a year ago, I started worrying about what my mom would do when her old cat died. She doesn’t actually deal very well with death and grief. So one day, at our local shelter, I saw that they had a little Pug/Chihuahua cross. I had actually met a couple of little dogs of this cross, and they had delightful personalities. So I asked my mom if she would consider adopting her. I guaranteed her that if it didn’t work out, I would take the dog myself (all the while hoping against hope that it WOULD work out!)

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My favorite picture–a mutual admiration society!

Well, not only has that little dog changed her life for the better (they walk a couple of times a day, and my reclusive mom has made so many friends in the park that she lives in, its almost unbelievable!,) but it has also been another thing for us to connect about. I get to hear almost daily about how this is the best dog in the whole wide world, and about her antics, and about how much she loves my mom, and how much my mom loves her. I don’t mind. If she doesn’t write for a day or two, I write and ask for a “Boopsie report.” It has really given us common ground for communication.

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The picture my mom approves–a little more dignified.

 

Food

Since I’ve been home for a bit, I’ve gotten a little creative in the kitchen. I had broccoli and some pre-cooked bacon in the fridge, and it reminded me of that yummy broccoli salad. So I put together my own version of it, using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and counting the calories. So yummy. I ate all four servings of it (one at a time 🙂 ) so you know it was good. It keeps really well for several days. Here’s a link to the recipe. 

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I found a little more of that 85% dark chocolate in the pantry, and made some walnut-raisin clusters. I just weigh out each ingredient and add up the calories, and then make as many clusters as I need to end up with the right amount of calories per cluster. In this case, I ended up with 8 nice sized clusters for 100 calories each. I put it on popcorn so you could see what size they are. Since the chocolate is so intense, this is a very satisfying portion.

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I also whipped up a batch of my “Winter Fruit Salad” for the sewing ladies that came over this week. That is a really really good recipe. And of course you can vary the amount and types of fruit you include.

Butternut squash! I got a big one at the store, and I made butternut squash “fries” (baked) and had plenty left over to make some of my mac and cheese with butternut squash. There was still some left over, so tonight I am going to combine that with some onion and potato and chicken breast and MARSALA SPICE!! Yum yum yum. Thanks again to Lori for gifting me with that wonderful spice blend.

Oh, and an example of a recipe that’s not quite what it seems… I bought a package of chia/flax seed blend, and they had a recipe for one of those one minute muffins on it. It was pretty calorie dense–about 350 calories–but I decided to try it this morning. It came out so pretty that I took a picture of it.

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Then I tried it. VERY dry and not worthy. I put it in the compost pile, and had one of my cinnamon rolls. 200 calories and most worthy 🙂