Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Magical Christmas!!!!!

Merry Magical Christmas 2017
It's almost Christmas Day but of course we are so busy with the whole month of December that it seems like Christmas is a season all of its own.  Each year as I prepare some crazy "theme" seems to come together that I don't really plan.  I love adding one or two ornaments to the tree.  i love wrapping all of my gifts with some sense of continuity and I seem to carry that through the Christmas season.  This year one of my good friends married and her wedding was magical.  It was outside in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains a few days after the first snow.  She had worked months on her planning.  It was beautiful.  All of us bridesmaids wore dresses of a blush color.  Kim herself was a least in grace and beauty.  Two of my granddaughters along with an adult friend are true fans of Harry Potter......a most imaginary and magical series.  So this Christmas it seems just perfect to have a magical feel to the holidays.  I wrapped the packages with gold unicorns, had shiny bows of gold and pink and then took the pink to the tree with yards and yards of pink tulle garland.  Magical for any young wizard or little girl.  The traditional red ornaments stayed in the box this year and gold, silver pink and magical ones went on the tree.  The amaryllis was pink.  The candle holders are angels with gold candles.  This decoration was made by my mother well over 20 years ago.  This year it was my favorite.  There are lots of twinkling lights throughout my house and out in the barnyard.  And speaking of barnyards the young kids at Caramel Apple Farms all got jammies for Christmas to have their pictures taken in with children.  I hope everyone finds joy in this Christmas season.  I wish you all a season and New Year filled with LOVE, KINDNESS, GRATITUDE and ABUNDANCE
And may you all have a
Love Denise

Magical unicorn

On the way to Seattle

My angel.  I hope you all have yours with you

Apple Blossom amaryllis

ready for Ella and Kate to set the table

A little magic

And who doesn't love chocolate cookie batter?

Gooey Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

recipe by Gaby Dalkin, creator of the blog  What's Gaby Cooking?

Dipped and crisp peanut butter cookies

recipe by Joy Wilson, creator of the blog Joy the Baker

Another Williams Sonoma endorsed recipe in the cookies class was a funfetti sugar cookie by Kate Wood, creator of the blog Wood & Spoon

I love teaching the cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma

And eating them with my friend, Mette

Yes, we made gingerbread houses too

Penelope and Daisy in their jammies ready for a photo shoot

Eight month old doelings from Caramel Apple Farm of my favorite places to be

My bounty of Meyer lemons picked just a few days ago in Denver

Merry Magical Christmas to all!!!!
Yes even the champagne is pink
And the first ingredient in my Poached Pears for Christmas Eve dessert

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy Halloween

Candy Corn ( or is that horn") Witch LuLu

Monday, October 16, 2017


May you live happily ever after:
Saturday in Genesee Colorado my friends Kim Price and Chad Yantorno got married.  These two are truly the happiest couple I have ever known.  They are both wonderful people and a a perfect match.  Kim chose me to be one of her bridesmaids.  What!?!  It was an honor Kim.  Thank you.  Here are some of their pictures.  The wedding was perfect
Pure love and joy

sweetheart table

When you start with perfection you don't have far to go

with her Dad

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Butterfly migration- The Painted Ladies

on the zinnias
It is time for the Painted Ladies to migrate South.  As soon as the sun starts to shine these lovely creatures take over the yard busy flying from one blossom to another almost in a frenzy before the first snow.  In the Spring I planted a pollinating garden replacing about 200 square feet of sod.  I planted some perennials but also scattered poppy, marigold and zinnia seeds.  The first part of the summer the bees were busy doing their honey things but now it is the butterflies' turn.  At any one time there will be about 100 which is pure joy for me.  I think I have about another week before the first freeze when all of my flowers and tomatoes will be done but for now I am enjoying the little bit of sunshine Denver is getting and watching these fun ladies ( and gentlemen, I'm sure)

on the marigolds

busy butterfly

on chrysanthemums

Thursday, September 28, 2017


I just had to post this again:  Maverick and LuLu are now a year old and no more goat babies until next spring (fingers crossed) so I just had to have a fix of these adorable ones again

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sewing with my Grandmother

My Grandmother, MiMi as I called her, taught me to sew when I was a little girl.  We started out easy like hemming and progressed to hand beading and sewing with no pattern.  I loved sewing but mostly I loved being with my MiMi.  She has been gone 42 years but today she was with me looking over my shoulder and coaching me through this project.
I inherited the fabric from my MiMi's sewing studio.  Unfortunately I haven't used all of it but as I was going through my own stash a few months ago I found this lovely basketweave wool.  Yellow and pink!!!  It reminds me of a Chanel fabric and today I made it into a skirt.
finished skirt

This fabric needed to be lined so I chose a pink cotton for the inside.

The inside of the skirt has this fun lining.  No one plans on showing off the underneath side of a garment but it's fun to have a cute surprise

finished ensemble

This was an effort that should have taken place 40 years ago but today was the day this fabric came to life.  I am forever grateful for having such a wonderful Grandmother.  I don't think there has been a person in my life who loved me more.  She is my model for my role with my Granddaughters today. 
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pumpkin Soup with Wild Mushrooms

 A nice hearty purely vegetable soup made with a mushroom stock

Ingredients- pumpkin from last season stored in the basement
 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 TBS olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, sliced
1 cup leeks, white and light green parts
1 TBS garlic, minced
2 pounds fresh pumpkin, to measure 5 cups peeled and cubed
1 TBS honey
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp fresh sage, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 quart mushroom stock- recipe follows- can use chicken stock
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper
dry sherry -optional
garnish with fresh mushrooms and chives if you want to

pumpkin soup mise en place


Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup warm water. Submerge them completely and let stand for 1 hour.  Remove mushrooms, strain liquid and reserve. Chop the mushrooms
In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil.
Add the onions, leeks and garlic and saute until soft and lightly brown
Add the chopped porcini and saute another 2 minutes.
Add the pumpkin, honey, sage, cloves, lemon juice, stock and the porcini-soaking liquid.
Simmer for 30 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.

add the pumpkin

Transfer to a food processor and puree, in batches.
Return the puree to the saucepan 
Add the milk and cream.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring back just to a simmer
Add sherry just before serving if desired
Garnish with sautéed mushrooms and chives if desired

ready to serve

Mushroom stock:
This was fun to make mushroom stock from scratch.  It is full of flavor.  You don't need to have perfectly fresh mushrooms but you do need a lot of them.  This made 5 quarts of mushroom stock.  I used 1 quart for the pumpkin soup and froze 4 quarts for later:



1/4 pound unsalted butter
5-6 pounds fresh mushrooms, chopped
6 cups onions, chopped
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
1 oz dried porcini or other "wild" mushrooms, soaked, strained and chopped
3 cups carrots, chopped
3 large bay leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 cups canned diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups dry white wine
6 quarts water

mushroom stock mise en place
In a stockpot - 12 quart stockpot if you have one  melt the butter and saute the mushrooms in small batches until they are well browned, almost crisp.  Set aside
Add a bit more butter to the stockpot and saute the onions, garlic, dried mushrooms and carrots until lightly browned
Add the herbs, peppercorns, tomatoes, wine and water and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 1 hour.
Strain pushing down on the solids and chill.
Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months.
sauté mushrooms at about a pound at a time

makes a whole lot of stock
inspired by and modified from John Ash's book "From the Earth to the Table"

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

LAVENDER, tea, jelly, syrup and ice cream

Part 2 Update:
My Seattle girls and I made a batch of lavender jelly from their garden lavender.  The color was so beautiful.  The tea was a dark purple but then when the pectin was added the color changed to this rich red.  We used raw sugar instead of white.  But I honestly don't know why the color was so different:
lavender jelly
Gabriela adding the sugar

Seattle lavender 

Let's make some jelly!
Lavender jelly is absolutely fabulous over smoked cheese or any cheese that is strong.  It's mild flavor balances out the intense flavor of the cheese.  Try this combination next time instead of figs and goat cheese:
lavender jelly and syrup

Pick the absolute best lavender buds you can find.  Fresh is best but dried will do too

Steep in water for tea
For lavender tea:
Bring to a boil 6 cups of water.  Turn off the heat and add 2 cups of fresh lavender flowers (buds) and let steep for 15 minutes or longer.  
Strain.  Now you've got lavender tea.

Lavender Jelly


3 1/4 cups lavender tea
4 cups white sugar- must have white sugar for a clear jelly
1 box of powdered fruit pectin
2 Tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice


Measure the lavender tea into a sauce pan.  
Bring to a boil and mix in pectin and vinegar (lemon juice)
Cook 1 minute at a rolling boil.
Add in the sugar, whisking to melt.
Bring to a boil again, whisking and continue for 2 minutes.
Let settle 5 minutes and skim off any foam on top.
Ready to jar for refrigerator or can.

If canning, process for 15 minutes ( plus 10 for Denver)

Lavender syrup

measure the remaining lavender tea
Add an equal measurement of sugar and bring to a boil in a saucepan. 
Your syrup is ready

ideas for syrup:
add to lemonade instead of sugar
use to sweeten tea
make ice cubes to use later

Kate and Ella
See if you can find some really sweet girls to help you make and enjoy a lavender day!

Lavender ice cream

follow this post
 from 6 years ago.  It's one of my favorites.

this week's harvest

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ricotta and lemon thyme and lavender tart, recipe for ricotta cheese

I made this tart two weeks ago when I had ricotta cheese left over from making a batch of goat milk cheddar.  Well I still have ricotta and thought I'd try a different version.  This recipe is inspired by and modified from John Ash's cookbook "From the Earth to the Table".  This time I lined the crust with a paste of roasted tomatoes.  The crust itself is a slightly sweet cornbread based pastry made with cup 4 cup flour so it's also Gluten Free.  Give it a try with or without gluten.  Try the tart filling with any herbs you like:

crust ingredients

crust mise en place
Ingredients for cornmeal crust:

butter, 1/2 cup softened
sugar, 2 TBS
cornmeal, 1 cup
eggs, 2- at room temperature
salt, 1 tsp
all purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups - I use Cup 4 Cup whenever possible for a gluten-free choice


In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar and beat until smooth
Add cornmeal, eggs, and salt
Beat until well combined
Add flour and mix until dough forms a ball.  The mixture should be soft and moist
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350 deg. 
Butter a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom
On a floured work surface roll out the dough to fit the pan.  Transfer to the tart pan.
Press the dough into then pan, trimming any excess
Prick the dough with the tines of a fork
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just lightly browned.

Any leftover dough can be rolled out and cut into biscuits

happens to the best of us

just pretend it's play dough

Meanwhile gather the ingredients for your filling.  I had fresh tomatoes ( Pineapple and Cherokee Purple) from the garden.....lemon thyme, a pinch of coconut thyme blossoms, and lavender buds.  The ricotta was from the last batch of cheddar cheese.

Ricotta Cheese:
Ricotta is usually made from the whey from a hard cheese process.  Assuming you don't have a lactating goat and you don't have any fresh whey on hand let's make the best of it.


whole milk, 1 gallon, NOT ultra pasteurized
cream, 1 cup, not ultra pasteurized 
apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup
salt - sea or kosher - no iodine- 1-2 tsp
honey - optional - for sweet cheese


Instant read thermometer


Bring milk and cream to 190 deg
Add vinegar and continue to stir 
Turn off heat
You will see the curds (solids) begin to separate from the whey (liquid) 
Line the strainer with the cheesecloth and place over a vessel large enough to collect all the whey
Lift cheese with cloth and hang to let remaining whey drip out. If you want it dryer give it a squeeze while it's still in the cheesecloth
After about an hour transfer the curds to a bowl and salt to taste

Will keep about a week in the fridge or you can freeze
I don't know how much this will produce.  When I use 2 gallons of goat milk I get about a pound or 3 cups.

Now we're ready to make the filling:   This will take a while because you need to reduce the sauce and cool it before adding the eggs.  I take a nap while the sauce is cooling.  Or you can use an ice water bain Marie to speed up the process- or both

Recipe for filling:


Butter, unsalted, 1 TBS
Shallots, 4 TBS minced  ( can use scallions - white and green parts)
Heavy cream, 2/3 cup
Wine, white, dry,  1/2 cup
Sea Salt, 1/2 tsp
Pepper, freshly ground, 1/4 tsp
Ricotta cheese, fresh, 3/4 lb
Eggs, 3
Herbs, fresh 1 1/2 TBS, I used lemon thyme, lavender and a pinch of the flowers from coconut thyme


In a medium sauté pan melt butter and add shallots until soft but not brown
Add cream, wine, salt and pepper
Bring to a simmer and reduce to half

The kitchen will smell marvelous!!!!


In the food processor add ricotta, eggs and herbs.
Add room temp or cooler reduction sauce and beat until smooth
Pour into crust with or without roasted tomato paste lining
Bake at 350 deg for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set and lightly brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature.
tart filling ingredients
tart filling mise in place

Roasted tomatoes:
These have wonderful flavor
Cut fresh tomatoes in half and place face down on baking sheet
Roast at 375 deg until brown (at least an hour).  This is what mine looked like after an hour:
roasted tomatoes
Remove the skins and smooth or rough chop in a small blender.
Use the browned bits too
Use a pastry brush and slightly cover the cooled crust
fresh chopped herbs

Bon Appetit!