Sunday, December 28, 2014

A very Merry Christmas

Santa arrived at Ella and Kate's house as expected.  First the stockings.  There are usually new socks to keep our feet warm in this Denver winter months (too many of them) and then some surprises.  Santa left an image of himself in the form of a chocolate pop.  Kate immediately took a bite of his head and let out a little scream.  Her tooth came right out in Santa's head!!!!!
Look carefully!  Can use see the tooth at Santa's hairline?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December quilt block

Yes December has arrived and there is much that represents this month: pine trees, snow, poinsettias, stars and winter animals.
The whole quilt

December evergreens laden with snow

red berries, white poinsettia, embroidered Noel

ribbon snow on pinecones and white berries

raccoon button, Saturn charm, stars and red roses

Peache, poinsettias, cardinals, snowflakes, ribbon Christmas trees and yes there is Santa and two reindeer too

Friday, November 28, 2014

November quilt block

Majestic tree calendar quilt 2002
A dozen years ago I set out to make a calendar quilt designed by Piecemakers quilt shop in Costa Mesa.  My Mom started this journey with me and warned me that it was a big undertaking for a new quilter.  Well that didn't discourage me and I started it anyway.  I have a guilty pleasure of collecting ribbons, threads, buttons and beads that I have no idea what I will use them for but have to have them anyway.  I knew I had a stash of all of these to embellish this quilt.  I wanted to post these blocks month by month.  I'll start with November:
Aspen tree with wild geese
upper right section with metallic embroidered spider web and bead spider, lots of ribbon embroidery
lower right crazy quilt corner with leaf ribbon and a silver French button

upper left section of crazy quilt, butterflies, ribbon embroidery and lots of silver beads

November lower left section, embroidered and appliquéd wild geese, thistle flowers and lots of beads, embroidery and ribbons on velvet

Each month is represented by a tree that is in its glory that month.  How funny that I will start with the month of November and the aspen tree.  The aspen tree is so symbolic in Colorado.  Although by now the leaves have turned and dropped, the trunks of these trees are beauty in themselves.  Each of the leaves on the quilt tree is a stick of ribbon embroidery. I hate to guess how many leaves I stitched - often changing ribbon color There are so many Canadian geese around Denver.  They fly in a magnificent squadron on cold days but don't really migrate anymore.  Their sound is quite a distinctive honk.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What do you do with frozen tomatoes?

Make tomato soup
Man, it's been cold here in Denver.  I returned from Seattle late Sunday, woke up to a 54 deg morning and by 10 am it had dropped to below freezing and it has been there for a week now.  I still had some tomatoes on the vine ripening but couldn't see them until Thursday because it was dark when I was home.  So out I went to the garden to see what was in the deep freeze:  Enough tomatoes and peppers to cry about.
tomatoes on ice

So what's a gardener and cook supposed to do ?   Make tomatoes soup:

Cream of tomato soup

one onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
frozen or really fresh or canned tomatoes- about 4 lbs
chicken stock, 2 cups
1 TBs pesto- or basil
salt, pepper
1 cup fresh goat's milk

Saute the tomato, then add the garlic, fresh basil or a frozen cube of pesto
Add the tomatoes 
Add the chicken stock
Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes
Puree in batches in a blender
Return to the stove and 
Add milk
Stir until the right temperature

cream of tomato soup with a dollop of goat yogurt and parsley
Add a grilled cheese sandwich on the side.  This lunch will warm you up when it is cold outside
Next dish:  Green chili
Yes the peppers and tomatoes will be used for this dish.  Then the garden is officially closed for the 2014 season:
Poblano chilis

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cooties and Cookies

Last weekend I got to spend with my Seattle girls.  Oh what fun!  We did lots of reading with new books from the bookstore.  We added lights to the fairy garden.  Then, of course, we made cookies.  We always make cookies:  This time decorated sugar cookies with "punch" frosting.  There was a chemistry lab to create glitter body gel and lots of princess games.  We went to Lake Washington in search of a beach with sand but all we found were smooth small rocks.  While we were there we watched a kayaker practicing flips in the Lake.  The mountains behind the lake are the Cascades.....beautiful today.
 It was lots of fun playing with Reina and Gabriela and of course just being with Brad and Amber.   But the most fun was playing Cooties.  Remember that game?  You have to roll a "1" on the die to get the cootie bug head, a 2 for the body and six "6"s for the legs.  I had to explain to these young girls that the word cootie used to mean germs and if someone sneezed on you you would shout "Don't get your cooties on me!"
"Don't get your cooties on me"

Lake Washington with kayaker, Gabriela and Reina

maple tree in 3 colors, Seattle

Cookie time
Seahawk green and blue crown - a perfect expression of my Seattle Granddaughters

mushrooms under the cedar

Japanese maple

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rose petal ice cream- with goats' milk

Last week I was tapping in to my creative side.  Besides the marigold encrusted goat cheese I also made some rose petal ice cream.  I have an organic garden so even my flowers can be used in food.  Violets, nasturtiums, of course lavender and herbs, but even rose petals.
I start with Abraham Darby roses and fresh raw mild from Sunflower and CoCO

Bring the milk to just shy of a boil and add rose petals.  Steep until milk is cool

Ready to eat 
Use a basic custard ice cream recipe.  Here's mine:

4 cups milk ( cream or goat's milk)
Bring 1 cup to just shy of boiling on stovetop with a vanilla bean (cut open)
     steep the vanilla in milk off heat until milk cools- at least 10 minutes
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
Whisk egg yolks and sugar until the color of lemons
Add the 1 cup of steeped milk slowly to the eggs and sugar and stir until homogenous.
Return to the stove and cook slowly until that "back of the spoon" test has been reached
Place the remaining 3 cups of milk in a bain Marie of ice water
Add hot custard mixture to the cold milk through a sieve.
Cool for 6 hours
Use your favorite ice cream maker
Bon Appetit!
If you don't have fresh goat milk, fresh eggs and organic rose petal, improvise to whatever you like!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mutton mowers in Boulder

Saturday Ella had a soccer game in Boulder.  When we pulled into the sports park we noticed a herd of goats just outside the park.  Kate and I just had to go check it out.  I think herds of goats have been used for quite some time to eat away brush and weeds that may become a fire hazard when things get dry.  These guys were contained by a portable electric fence which I think was moved from day to day.  The herd protector was a Llama.  She didn't come into camera range.  Just like my Sunflower and CoCo  these goats prefer to eat leaves from trees over noxious weeds.  There were at least 5 of these goats in the trees straddling the branches reaching as far as their necks would take them in pursuit of a few juicy leaves.  Warning: don't touch the electric fence.  I learned the hard way.  Interesting the fence was powered by a 12" square solar panel.
Goats for hire.  This Mama is earning her keep mowing down noxious weeds.

Kate in the forest watching the goats and skipping over the little creeks.

Sweet little black curly haired goat

Beautiful view of the Flat Irons behind a great soccer game.  Go Ella

Friday, September 26, 2014

Marigolds and goat cheese

Marigold and spice rolled goat cheese
One of the main reasons I wanted to have goats was for this very day: Cheese making
I have tried  lots of flavorings to my soft cheese but this is so pretty I had to share.  I originally planted Marigold seeds so that I could feed my chickens the flowers.  I have heard that adding marigolds to their diet makes their eggs even more wonderful.  But my chickens do no like marigolds.  They are an edible flower with beautiful colored petals.  The inspiration for this cheese.  I have included the steps for cheese flavoring.  I don't expect too many people are lucky enough to have fresh goat cheese from their kitchen but you can always buy some plain from the grocery and bring it to life with these flowers and spices.
Do you see the chef sneaking a peak?
 Bon Appetit!
soft cheese out of molds
I mixed tangerine zest and cheese salt and then placed about 5 ounces on the Saran wrap
Use the plastic wrap to shape the cheese
Inspiration for the flavors
Use only the petals

More inspiration.  Why not have spices that enhance the marigolds?

Remind me when I have more goat babies to name a doeling "Marigold"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Finally tomatoes for 2014!

After 3 hailstorms in June and freezing temperatures last week with a three month very mild summer my tomatoes are finally able to eat.  A very poopy crop so far but I am grateful for any.  My favorite are the Cherokee purple.  The green ones are Green Zebras and the black shoulder smaller ones are Indigo Rose..... of course the chocolate cherries are delicious too.  I have enough to eat fresh every day with my fresh goat cheese.  Yum.  Soon I hope to have enough to share.  Happy late summer harvest!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Coming back to me!

I had a grandmother I called "MiMi".  She was the quintessential grandmother of all time.  First of all she adored me.  What little girl could not appreciate that?  She spent precious time with me teaching me how to sew,  bead and embroidery.  She taught me how to make bread and cook a terrific pork roast....all of which I still do. When I sew a seam by hand or on the machine my MiMi is watching over me making sure I am doing it right, not taking any short cuts and smiling down on me with pride and approval.  When I was a young adult my MiMi started collecting Hummel figurines.  I don't know why.  Maybe it was her German heritage or the earthy little children doing chores she used to do on her farm in Missouri.   These collectables suited her perfectly.  It is hard to know what to buy your grandmother for her birthday  when you have a little money of your own to spend but these little figurines were always the perfect gift for her from me.  My MiMi died nearly 40 years ago but she is with me everyday in the kitchen, in the garden and when I am with my own granddaughters.  These figurines have been boxed away since that time.  I have gently asked for just one of them to hold and look at and have some concrete touch of my MiMi but for 40 years I have been denied.  A few years ago I bought one on eBay to satisfy this connection.
A few days ago I received a box in the mail from my brother who now lives in my parents' home, the home we all grew up in.  Inside the box were 6 Hummel figurines wrapped in aged newspaper with the date of 1995.
I have just dusted off the last 20 years and placed these three on my nightstand.  I am typing this post with tears in my eyes.  I am so grateful to have them back in my life.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chihuly in Denver Botanic Gardens

Dale Chihuly is a glass sculpture artist.  He has developed glass blowing as a fine art in very large proportion.  His exhibit is installed at the Denver Botanical Gardens.  It is absolutely amazing.  This morning I was intent on getting there early because I have heard that it is so crowded there is no parking to be found.  Oh, yes, it's free first Monday.  No luck on a parking spot today.  But early was good: the light was good, the sky was clear and the temperature was still in the 70s.  Enjoy!