Monday, May 2, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Two of our favorite flavors in all the world are lemon and blueberry.  So why not make some lemon blueberry bread?  No reason. 

 

Lemon Blueberry Bread

1/3 cup butter, melted (a little more than 6 Tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons lemons juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Glaze
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (optional)

 

This recipe needed three lemons for enough juice.  I took the zest of all three and placed it on a plate.  Then I squeezed the juice in a bowl.

 

I had enough juice for the bread and the glaze and decided to add the extra Tablespoon of zest to the glaze, cause there is no such thing as too lemony. 

Pre heat the oven to 350°.  Spray a loaf pan with Pam and set aside.

 

Mix the melted butter and the sugar and stir, trying to dissolve as much sugar as possible.  Add the lemon juice and the eggs and stir some more. 

 

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, milk and zest.  Stir until combined.  Fold in the nuts, if you are using them, and the blueberries.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. 

 

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Loosen the edges and then turn the pan over on the wire rack.  Place the loaf right side up and let cool for 15 more minutes while you prepare the glaze.

 

I had enough lemon juice left from the three lemons.  Add it to the melted butter and carefully mix in the powdered sugar.  Add the last Tablespoon of lemon zest , if you choose.

 

Place a sheet of waxed paper under the cooling rack to catch the drips.  Spoon the glaze over the warm loaf.  It should be sort of runny.  You will have enough to cover the top and run down the sides.  Lemony goodness for all!

 

Let the Lemon Blueberry Bread cool and the glaze firm up and then serve.   Just know that a giant scoop of ice cream would go great with this.  Not that you would do that, cause that would  be ridiculous! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two Stockings Finished

Last year I started work on a Christmas stocking for my son-in-law.  I waited until after the wedding in September, so I didn't have time to finish it before Christmas.  It looked about like this and I just propped it up under the mantle. 

 

I made stockings for my kids when they were little, and then when they started getting married, I had to make one for their spouses.

But this year I have a GRANDDAUGHTER.  So, of course, she gets a stocking, too.  She was born Christmas Eve, so I didn't have a stocking ready for her.  She was busy that day.

 

I waited until both were stitched to sew them together.  The kits include a felt backing.  That is all I used for the stockings for my kids, but when I started making them for the spouses, I started lining them.  I am no way a seamstress, so I just cut out around the felt backing with the lining folded over to have the satin on the inside of the stocking.  You want all the goodies to slide out easily, right?

 

After stitching around the outside of the stocking, I turned them right side out.  I folded the top into a cuff so there were no rough edges, the tacked the lining to the cuff.  Absolutely invisible perfect stitches.  You'll have to take my word for it.   

 

I braided the handle from the included yarn.  I always stitch the handle on tightly, as you never know how heavy the goodies Santa stuffs in there will be.

 

Ready for Christmas!

 

Now I can get back to making some baskets to sell at the next craft fair in Buchanan. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

What Is That?



I bought Lee a game camera so that we could see what animals are pooping  defecating leaving scat on our driveway.  It is a very long driveway, about 1/3 of a mile.  We have a lot of deer and that is what we have mostly been seeing.

We have had bear here twice that we know of.  Both times they were chased off by RJ, the wonder dog.  This is RJ in his "waiting for Lee to come home" pose. 

 

He doesn't look particularly brave, but a large bear on his hind legs just gets him mad.  RJ CHASING a bear gets me scared.  He came back from one encounter with some shallow scrapes, but it doesn't deter him and calling him back is pretty much useless.



The other day we got some different pictures.  It looks sort of dog like, so I am thinking coyote?  We can hear a large pack of them yipping from time to time.  We have seen a small grey fox, but just one each time.

When RJ encounters any new scat he smells it intensely, urinates and then runs around, barking
excitedly.  MY PROPERTY, he seems to be saying.  Sadly, this is not particularly effective.

Unless you consider the fun that RJ has proclaiming his dominance for all to hear.  It is big fun for RJ.

But what IS that?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More in Portland

My niece Natalie and her girls took me to a fun restaurant called Slappy Cakes in Portland.  This restaurant has tables with a griddle in the middle of the table.  You pick the pancake flavor you like and they bring you a squeeze bottle of the batter of choice.  Natalie and I shared a bottle of buttermilk and the girls chose the gluten free version.
 
 

Next you choose your toppings, fruit, nuts, and a variety of chips.  Also there is a choice of syrup.  You can choose savory toppings, like sausage, but who would do that when you can get slices of fresh strawberries and chocolate chips?  NO ONE!  That's who!!

WELL, I might do that on the NEXT visit, but not the FIRST visit!

 

You squeeze out the batter on to the griddle and add whatever toppings you chose.  Flip when done on one side and then after cooking the other side, you enjoy your delicious pancake.  The girls liked making little pancakes in order to maximize the topping to pancake ratio.  And we still had left over chips!

If was fun and delicious.  There is always a line, but you can take a walk and they will text you when your table is ready. 

Someone needs to bring this restaurant to Roanoke. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Project In Portland

I wanted to do a craft project while visiting my niece in Portland.  She has two of the cutest girls and I thought we should spend some time doing something fun!

 

We made a trip to Michael's and found kits to make stepping stones.  Natalie is landscaping her backyard and this seemed like a fun thing for the girls to do. 

The glass pieces in the kit were not what we liked, too bright and small, so we bought some sea glass pieces from Michael's to make these special.

We cut out the patterns and placed the smooth and cloudy sea glass in a pleasing pattern. 

 

Then I mixed the cement while the girls waited their turn. 

 

     

They transferred the glass to the cement in the form and them pressed gently to get them flush. 

 

The hard part was waiting for the cement to dry sufficiently to write the words they had chosen.  Too soon and the writing fills in and isn't clear.  Too late and you can't make an impression.  The kit included 3D versions of the alphabet and the numbers 0 through 9.  Natalie chose to write hers by hand and the girls chose words using the enclosed letters.

 

The girls played on their scooters while they waited.  It took about an hour, but it was cool.  On a hot day it would dry faster.

They turned out pretty good and I can't wait to see where they place them in the finished backyard.

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Portland

Haven't written anything for a while as I was visiting my niece in Portland.  The Portland in Oregon .  I took my iPad, but no matter what anybody tells me, I can't use it to write on my blog.  Or the ways are too complicated for my wee brain.  So I took a break!

Portland is a foodie paradise!  But Natalie's girls have some allergies, so we spent a lot of time finding gluten free, egg free, dairy free, soy free, corn free things they could eat.  Not easy, but WAY easier in Portland than it would be here in Roanoke.  We found a few recipes to make for kids, by kids and are talking about making a YouTube channel for the girls, starring the girls as chefs.  They like to cook and are VERY smart and cute, so I think it will be fun!  They are coming to visit this summer, so we will try to do something then.
 
Natalie and her girls visiting with my girls.  COUSINS!

The Cooking Channel has a show called Unique Sweets and they have a lot of places in Portland.  We tried Kyra's Bake Shop where EVERYTHING is gluten free.  You can't taste any difference from gluten costly...er, expensive?   Full 'o gluten?  It was so successful that Natalie took the girls there for a treat after I left.

Natalie took me to Powell's Books.  Here is the Yelp link.  They have more than one store, but the one she took me to is an entire city block. At least two floors.  Might have been more but we had already fed the parking meter.  TWICE!

It had new and used books all mixed together.  The staff is knowledgeable and there is also a cafĂ©.  The main store has over a million books.  Plus gifts and maps and it is fabulous.  I grew up going to Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, so I KNOW fabulous bookstores.  Powell's is a fabulous bookstore!  Natalie and I bought a lot of books, but I had to leave before I was ready.  Only had one suitcase.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Leek and Potato Gratin

Gratin is just a fancy (French) way to say put a brown crust on that dish.  Preferably with cheese! And leeks are like onions, only not quite as oniony.  So basically this is potatoes and onions with cheese and who wouldn't want some of that?

It makes an excellent side or vegetarian dish.  Next time I may try adding ham or sausage and make it a main dish for when I'm feeling like a carnivore. 

Leek and Potato Gratin

2 Tablespoons butter, plus a bit more for buttering the dish
5 cups peeled and thinly sliced yellow potatoes.  I used 4 large.
salt and pepper
2 large leeks
1 garlic clove , minced
1 teaspoon Italian Herbs
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese

 

Heat the oven to 350°.  Butter a 2 quart baking dish. 

 

I just grab a wrapped stick of butter and unwrap enough to smear butter all over the bottom and sides of the dish.

 

Leeks are a bit tricky to prepare.  Cut off the tops and bottoms. 

 

Cut them in half lengthwise and hold under running water to wash out the dirt that WILL be between the layers.  Always. 

 

Then lay them cut side down and slice thinly. 

 

Layer the potatoes in the baking dish  Toss the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.  Use your fingers to make sure all the slices are no longer stuck together and get their share of the S&P. 

 

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the leeks, garlic, a bit more S&P and the Italian herbs.

 

Cook and stir for about 5-7 minutes.  The leeks should be starting to turn golden.  Add the cream and stir.  You want to get all the brown bits in the bottom of the pan mixed with the cream.  Simmer gently for about 5 minutes  Don't boil.

 

Pour the leek and cream mixture over the potatoes.  Stir a bit to mix gently and then spread the shredded cheese on top. 

 

Cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook for 10 -15 minutes longer, The cheese should be bubbling and golden brown.  So plan for an hour to cook and 10 minutes to cool enough so that you don't burn the roof of your mouth.

 

I served this with a salad.   In this case, cole slaw.  Next time I will try adding some browned Italian sausage.  I have some waiting for me in the freezer and I have left over potatoes and cheese.