Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Perfect for Easter Brunch or an Afternoon Tea

" If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see? " Alice in Wonderland

Things kept getting "curiouser and curiouser" as I began building on
Dried Apricots Baked with Vanilla Bean
recipe shared on facebook by Indu Kline post via Feeding People With Love.

The recipe is easy enough

INGREDIENTS:dried apricots vanilla bean
METHOD:Soak the apricots - 1 cup fruit to 1 cup water

Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the bottom of a pie dish
Add the soaking water to the bottom of the pie dish
Add the fruit Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

The apricots soften into a rather flavorful, thick, soft, chunky puree into which I stirred a handful of dried; cranberries, cherries, blueberries and strawberries without returning the mixture to the oven. The hot, moist apricots coaxed the flavors out of the dried berries while restoring their colors and textures creating the perfect accompaniment for Wegman's Marathon Bread.


Served here with fresh strawberries and cream cheese; this will definitely be on my Easter Brunch Menu also perfect for a Afternoon Tea with clotted cream.
Here is one persons second attempt to make the Marathon Bread at home
Here's my second attempt - it's getting closer!

Marathon Energy Bread Attempt 2

1 5/8 c water
2 Tbls honey
1 Tbls molasses
¼ c shredded carrots
¼ c applesauce
2 ½ c bread flour
3/4 c rye flour
3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1/3 c flax seed (1/2 half ground – ½ whole)
1/3 c sunflower seeds
1/3 c pumpkin seeds
2 Tbls wheat germ
2 Tbls rolled oats
2 Tbls sesame seeds
2 Tbls lecithin
2 Tbls banana chips chopped
1 Tbls wheat gluten
1 tsp diastolic malt powder
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ascorbic acid
1 ½ tsp instant yeast
Place all ingredients in bread machine pan. Use the dough cycle only. Remove dough and shape into loaf. Place in greased 9 x 5 pan. Let rise until doubled ~40 min. Bake at 375degrees for 40-45 minutes. Remove from pan and cool.
Next time I am going to try 2 8 x 4 pans and bake for 30

I'll post pics after making this recipe. Your comments and results are most welcome also ;~)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friendship woven in time.

During our three years in the Buffalo State College Fibers Program, Sheila and I created more than artwork and skills, we created ties that bind. For one semester I was the only student in the fiber program. The professor gave me the title "best and worst student". Presently I have been replaced by new students, memory of my contributions to that the Buffalo State College Fiber Program have been swept away like the debris tossed into the trash after completing the intended project. Fortunately, my connection with Sheila as well as a few of my other conscientious students will last my lifetime.
Beginning in the technology department Sheila decided to switch over to the fiber program. Throughout the three years we worked together, I often took on the "lead dog" position during our Independent Study Fiber classes. I shared my knowledge from my Buffalo State College 2005 Summer Research Fellowship Grant copulations. Together we built frames, hammered nails, calculated patterns, mixed dyes then created the first Ikat projects to come out of the program. After insisting Batik be added to the fiber program we struggled with teaching ourselves skill building with tjanting tools, brushes, hot wax & dyes.

I shared my knowledge with Sheila and the other students who spent extra time working in the studio how to mix MX Fiber reactive dyes for permanent use in garments and outdoor project. Up until this point the MX dyes looked good on samples only to wash out or faded with time or weather. It during the time working with Sheila that I noticed the natural connection between being a mom and being a teacher.

Sheila was among the core group where I made my maiden voyage from Fiber Program student to Adjunct Instructor introducing Devore into the Fiber program. To this day my teaching notes are providing instructions in the Devore/ Velvet Burnout technique to students I may never know. Sure hope the teaching handouts I provided still bear my name somewhere on the pages.

Since Sheila is the same age as my daughter Kara, during the countless hours we spent together in the studio we talked about life; family, dating, sex, marriage, and children both being one and having your own. When Sheila made excuse why she could not take advantage of the Spring Break Internship she was offered by Professor Elaine Polvinen, Head of the Fashion Technology Department, I strongly encouraged her that this experience was necessary to build her career as a textile designer. How was I supposed to know she would meet Tod during this internship, break up with her high school sweetheart and move to South Carolina ten days after graduation.
For three years we talked via facebook, email, text, send pics, her wedding, printers, houses, diamond rings, her job, my job and about my blog.
Yesterday, I walked into her parents home for the first time, hugged Sheila, kissed her on the right cheek as uncontrollable tears ran down my face.
Sheila Mansell is getting married...
"Don't cry" she said, "this is a happy time."
With thirty-two years of experience what can happen in a marriage I wish Sheila, ALL BEST ;~)
Sheila looked soft, beautiful and happy like a precious, lovely, baby doll.
Sheila and I created more than artwork in our time together, we created the ties that bind.

Here is Sheila with her MOM at her bridal shower. Her mother is sharing her feeling about Sheila and trying not to cry.
Mom did a better job than me finding happiness in bridal showers

Sheila with her loot in front of her Senior Project, Tapestry from the Buffalo State College Fiber Program. Weaving and tapestry are the strong points of that program, intelligent is the student who can benefit from a professors expertise even if he does not want to do it ever again. Keep weaving fiber girls...

My bridal shower gift to Sheila. It is a Deni European Meat tenderizer and an European dishwasher safe chopping board. I used up cycled tissue paper cut elements from wrapping paper attached to create a pleasing presentation and finished off the package with an embellishment created from teaching samples I used in Shibori demonstrations with my students. Perhaps a gift can say more about the giver than the one who receives the present.
Today I have a new teaching positions with inner city middle school students in Buffalo, NY. Many of the students I taught as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Design- Fiber Program @ Buffalo State College are still connected to me. Never concerned if my students like me or not my only concern is that I shared my knowledge and that they respected me as their instructor.
Some students and I, happy to say, have created the ties that bind ;~)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Simple meal for the first day of Spring

"...sprinkled with sugar and eaten hot, they form an exquisite dish. They have a golden hue and are tempting to eat. Thin and transparent like muslin, their edges are trimmed to resemble fine lace. They are so light that after a good dinner, a man from Agen is still willing to sample three or four dozen of them! Crêpes form an integral part of every family celebration. Served with white wine, they take pride of place on all joyful occasions."Anatole France, (Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault) French novelist, 'Le Temp'

These are samples of crepes I made as teaching demo for class last week to over 30 middle school inner city students. None of the students knew what crepes were before my class. We spoke about how crepes are a delicate, thin pancake of France and that all cultures have their own version of pancakes or thin quick breads.
As with all of my cooking I never follow one recipe, I don't expect you to follow mine exactly either. After reading about five variations I determine a set of ingredients that sounds like it will work for me.

Cheese Blintzes or Cheese filled Crepes

In a blender mix together basic ingredients:
2 eggs, 1 c. flour 3/4 c. milk 1/2 water 3 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. ricotta ( you decide whole milk, low fat or fat free)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of cinnamon
  • Make batter, stir until well blended, allow to sit to reduce the bubbles while making the filling.
  • Mix filling: leave cheeses at room temperature. mix with fork, combine with rest of ingredients.
    Heat 7 to 9 inch iron skillet, grease with olive oil.
  • Pour in enough batter to cover bottom of pan, tilt quickly to cover evenly. Cook on 1 side until it blisters. Quickly turn out onto towel-covered board.
  • Place heaping tablespoon of filling onto uncooked side of blintz.
  • Fold envelope style. Cook in heavy skillet in small amount of butter until lightly browned on both sides.

I made a garnish with fresh orange slices and a fresh strawberry fan then drizzled a bit of Wildflower Honey back and forth over the top.

Other options included adding, vanilla, lemon or orange natural extract to both the batter and filling. Serve with a dollop sour cream, strawberry jam, orange marmalade or powdered sugar.

Obviously the crepes we made in class did not turn out exactly like my sample. As I shared with my students, I have been cooking/ baking for 45 years, I never expected them to make their crepes to look exactly like mine.

My students had great success because when we began; none of the students knew how to define a crepe/ blintz, a few of them actively participated in the entire process, we used applied math weights measures and fractions in our process, many of the students enjoyed the experience and finished product, some came back the next day to help Miss Carol with the cooking as they felt connected with a positive experience, some students clamored to take home the extra crepes, all students took home recipes to make for their families at home.

I don't make a lot of money but the benefits of share my knowledge with my students are out of this world ;~)

some music to cook by Hearts of Space http://www.hos.com/

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Corned Beef & Cabbage - The Feeding of A Mythby Bridget HaggertyWhat's the national dish of Ireland?

Corned Beef and Cabbage, you say? Since March has undoubtedly become "Irish Awareness Month", we thought it would be fun to explore the truth behind yet another Irish myth.Our research took us to an informative page on European Cuisine. According to the article written by an Irishman, Corned Beef first turns up in the Vision of MacConglinne, a 12th-century poem which describes Irish food as it was eaten at the time.The poet tell us that Corned Beef is a delicacy given to a king, in an attempt to conjure "the demon of gluttony" out of his belly. This delicacy status makes little sense until one understands that beef was not a major part of the Irish diet until the last century or so.True, cattle were kept from very early times, but it was for their milk - not their meat. Said one bemused sixteenth-century traveller and historian,"They make seventy-several kinds of food out of milk, both sweet and sour, and they love them the best when they’re sourest."So, what meat did the Irish eat? History tells us that pork was always the favorite. In ancient times, cattle were prized as a common medium for barter. The size of one’s herd was an indication of status, wealth and power -- hence all the stories of tribal chieftains and petty kings endlessly rustling one another’s cattle.Long after the cattle raids were a distant memory, the majority of Irish people still didn’t eat very much beef because it was much too expensive and those who could afford it, consumed it fresh.Corned Beef again surfaces in writings from the late 1600's as a specialty, a costly delicacy - expensive because of the salt - and made to be eaten at Easter, and sometimes at Hallowe'en. Surprising to this writer, was learning what the term "corn" really means. The name comes from Anglo-Saxon times when meat was dry-cured in coarse "corns" of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it. Today, brining -- the use of salt water -- has replaced the dry salt cure, but the name "corned beef" is still used, rather than "brined" or "pickled" beef.But back to the myth: It was in the late 19th century that it began to take root. When the Irish emigrated to America and Canada, where both salt and meat were cheaper, they treated beef the same way they would have treated a "bacon joint" at home in Ireland: they soaked it to draw off the excess salt, then braised or boiled it with cabbage, and served it in its own juices with only minimal spicing - may be a bay leaf or so, and some pepper.This dish, which still turns up on some Irish tables at Easter, has become familiar to people of Irish descent as the traditional favorite to serve on Saint Patrick’s Day. Certainly, there will be many restaurants in Ireland that will be serving Corned Beef and Cabbage on March 17th , but most of them will be doing so just to please the tourists.The truth is, that for many Irish people, Corned Beef is too "poor" or plain to eat on a holiday: they'd sooner make something more festive. So, what then, is the Irish national dish - if indeed, there is one?When I was growing up, my dad's favorite on St. Patrick's Day was boiled bacon and cabbage and it would appear that is still true in Ireland today. The "bacon joint"- various cuts of salted or smoked and salted pork - is sometimes cooked alone, or it might be braised with a small chicken keeping it company in the pot; it might also be served with vegetables, or with potatoes boiled in their jackets. For holiday eating, the winner would probably be spiced beef, served cold and sliced thin, with soda bread and a pint of Guinness on the side. At our house, we always had Roast Goose at Christmas and Roast Lamb on Easter. In fact, the first time I ever ate Corned Beef & Cabbage was after I came to the U.S. So what will people in Ireland be eating on St. Patrick's Day? The question was put to listeners of South East Radio which reaches south Wicklow and parts of Wexford and Kilkenny. Said one respondent: "Eat? I eat pints."Another referred to the pint of Guinness as a "shamrock sandwich"and one mentioned a dish her family sometimes made which used cabbage, turnip and potatoes to honor the colors of the Irish flag. Of the twenty-five people who were polled, none of them mentioned any specific food as being of any interest.Long after this article was written, a subscriber to our newsletter brought the following poem to our attention. It's just too good not to include as an addendum.GOOD GRIEF - NOT BEEF!I just want to put something straightAbout what should be on your plate,If it's corned beef you're makin'You're sadly mistaken,That isn't what Irishmen ate.If you ever go over the pondYou'll find it's of bacon they're fond,All crispy and fried,With some cabbage beside,And a big scoop of praties beyond.Your average Pat was a peasant who could not afford beef or pheasant. On the end of his fork,was a bit of salt pork,As a change from potatoes 'twas pleasant.This custom the Yanks have invented,Is an error they've never repented,But bacon's the stuffThat all Irishmen scoff,With fried cabbage it is supplemented.So please get it right this St. Paddy's.Don't feed this old beef to your daddies.It may be much flasher, But a simple old rasher, Is what you should eat with your tatties.©Frances Shilliday 2004With many thanks to Frances whose internet page can be found here: Not Corned Beef.

So there you have it. Here is my choice of platter to serve with my whole wheat Irish Soda Bread. From top left corned beef brisket slices, soda bread, center purple and green cabbage
wedges roasted in the oven drizzled with olive oil then finished off in the microwave, ham heated in deep kettle of water seasoned with ginger and cloves to ease the salts out, slices of aged sharp Irish Cheddar Cheese and short cut baby carrots cooked just a wee bit in the microwave until tender to eat ;~)


" Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups - alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat." - Alex Levine

Although the Irish didn't invent Soda Bread it is most often identified with them. The "soft wheat" is the only suitable flour that can grow in Ireland's climate, and when mixed like a traditional dough it doesn't form any gluten like a traditional yeast bread, it does work well with a soda bread recipe.

Good site for history and video of the process of making the breads

2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins red or golden
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.
Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky.
When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
This bread is best sliced and toasted with a bit of butter and fruit jam or spread with a bit of cream cheese and jam for a heavier bite.
I like to use my cast iron skillets for baking round breads and pizza. The shallow skillet I bought over thirty years ago and the second skillet belonged to my grandmother when she baked and cooked for her family with nine children.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Sure and begorrah", "would you look at that". Happy St Patrick's Day Parade, Bufflao, NY 2010

Great day for the Irish @ St. Patrick's Day parade 2:00 Sunday March 14, 2010
Buffalo, New York.

This gent a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians tipped his hat and flashed a warm Irish smile as we arrived at the parade.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these " Curly Girl" wigs ;~)
Gotta get me one someday, I promise myself every year...

Love the dresses and the dancing ...

I know one of these young ladies ...

Miss Allie is an After School Group Leader where we work with middle school students. She teaches the students Irish Step Dancing @ program.
Some Pooches walked in the parade.

This pampered pooch had a good time being held as a spectator watching the other dogs march.

Wearing of the green on steroids ;~)

I have no response to this, however, it needs to be in the post.

How do these " Curly Girls" stay upright on a moving open flatbed truck and still keep dancing ?

This colorful vendors cart caught my eye.

Bagpipe music gives me chills, plus these kilts the beginning of a lot of questions, are a necessary element for this parade.

Mans best friend ;~)

Guy with an eye for invention.

This little doggies name is Ta Da!!!! she marched in the parade;~)

Drunkard Irish version of the Chinese Lion Dance...

I love the vendor carts ;~) the colors, the textures add an element to the parade.
Fruits of Jim's loom ;~)

After the parade the sun came out for a few minutes. What started out as a raw, rain & snowflake morning ended up being a great day for the Irish and everyone that is Irish at heart

We made a quick stop at The Stillwater on Delaware Ave. to take a rest and send out a mass text greeting to my friends ...

One quick pic to document the moment then Barry took us all out to dinner at Kostas on Hertel Ave. for Greek food.
I ordered the lamb souvlaki with whole wheat pita bread my favorite ;~)
Happy St. Patrick's Day 2010 to one and all ;~)

Thursday, March 11, 2010


"Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know what despair is; then winter should have meaning for you.I did not expect to survive,earth suppressing me. I didn't expectto waken again, to feelin damp earth my bodyable to respond again, remembering after so long how to open again in the cold lightof earliest spring--afraid, yes, but among you again crying yes risk joyin the raw wind of the new world." Louise Gluck

Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis Family: Amaryllidaceae Common Names: ~Fair Maid of February~ ~Bulbous Violet~ ~Emblem of Early Spring~ ~Maids of February~ ~Candlemas Bells'~ ~Mary's Tapers~ Native of Switzerland, Austria and of Southern Europe, Snowdrops and carnations are the traditional flowers for the month of January. The name Galanthus, is Greek in its origin and signifies ~Milk -white- flower.~ Nivalis is a Latin adjective, meaning ~relating to~ or ~resembling snow.~ A legend about the origin of the snowdrop tells us that after being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Eve sat weeping. An angel comforted her. Since the Fall, no flowers had bloomed, but snow fell ceaselessly. As the angel talked with Eve, he caught a snowflake in his hand, breathed on it, and it fell to earth as the first snowdrop. The flower bloomed and Hope was born. In Germany there is a different snowdrop legend. When God made all things on the Earth, He asked the snow to go to the flowers and get a little color from them. One by one the flowers refused. Then, very sad, she asked a snowdrop to give it a little of its colour and the snowdrop accepted. As a reward, the snow lets it bloom first whenever spring shows. Years ago snowdrops were dried and transported to European shops from Turkey. Monks brought snowdrop bulbs from Rome to England and were the first to plant them around old monasteries. Because of this snowdrops became known as the ~church flower.~ Traditionally on Candlemas (Feb.2) the image of the Virgin Mary was taken down and a handful of snowdrop blooms were scattered in its place. Their presence in churchyards generated an unlucky reputation as time went on. Every spring on March 1, the national Moldovan holiday, is celebrated. On this day people present each other with the traditional flowers. One of the old Moldovan legend says that once in a fight with the winter witch, that didn't want to give up its place, the beautiful lady Spring cut her finger and few drops of her blood fell on the snow, which melted. Soon on this place grew a snowdrop and in such a way the spring won the winter. According to superstitions it is unlucky to bring snowdrops indoors and the sight of a single snowdrop blooming in the garden foretells of impending disaster. It is regarded as an omen of death despite its beauty. It symbolises purity and hope in the language of flowers. http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/flowers/s.html

Snowdrops symbolize new beginnings and hope because they typically bloom at the end of winter and announce the approach of spring. Growing close to the ground, they also represent death. Picking snowdrops and bringing them inside is considered unlucky. http://www.ehow.com/facts_5723493_meaning-snowdrops_.html

It's Winter, but Spring is coming ;~)

These Snowdrops were a welcome find in my garden yesterday. These particular plants come from the garden of a person I though would be my friend forever. Even though this person is no longer a part of my life it is comforting to see that hope springs eternal in the simple sight of Snowdrops in my garden. I say a pray for you today ;~)

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