Sunday, February 24, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, ON THIS AND THAT


Today is an important day for this special girl!
She loves spending time at the hearth which, at this point
in her life, is the perfect
height for her cooking station.


It has been a nice week in southern Alberta with just enough
variation outside to keep things interesting.
Temperatures way above freezing during the day, a few snow flurries
some days to cover the brown earth and best of all, no wind.


I took pictures of these weeds early one morning as the sun
on the frost turned them into glistening stalks.


Quite a few visitors have found their way to my natural resource.
These two birds seem to be communicating about the
readily available feed on the crisp heads of the sunflowers.


Where there is a will there seems to be a way to harvest.


They are so busy that it is hard for me to get a still shot.
My goal is to capture the red crown which sets this bird apart.


Upside down and sideways, whatever works best.


I see they have a ways to go before their supply is depleted.
In the mean time I will look for them out my window
especially on the days it snows.


And now back to my grand-girlie who is two years old today.
She reminds me so much of her mother at her age ..
fair of hair, knee on the counter and deeply engrossed
in a book.  Warm memories and lots of love!
Can't wait to see you again!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DARLING!

Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE


A light cool dessert is always appreciated after a heavy meal.
This delighted many guests at a recent gathering.
One enthusiastic lady told me it was 'the best cheesecake ever'.


I topped it with a raspberry glaze that I spread nearly to the edge.
A perimeter of whipped cream rosettes added the final touch.


I made and chilled the cheesecake several days prior.  After cooling
completely, I covered it with plastic wrap and froze it because I
could not serve it as planned.
On the day I needed it, I removed it from the freezer and allowed it
to thaw at room temperature for several hours.
Then I added the raspberry glaze and the whipped cream garnish.


This cheesecake can be prepared ahead and frozen without
any compromise to flavor or creaminess.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

Combine crumbs, sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9 or 10- inch springform pan.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
2 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

5 (1 oz. each) squares white chocolate, melted
1½ cups whipping cream, whipped

Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved.
Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, beating until fluffy.
Add chocolate mixture and beat until combined.
Gradually add gelatin, mixing until smooth; cool slightly.
Fold in whipped cream, scrape onto prepared crust.
Chill several hours, until firm.
Garnish with raspberry glaze and additional whipped cream.
If freezing, omit glaze and whipped cream garnish.
Garnish before serving.

Raspberry Glaze

2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/3 cups raspberry juice*

In a small saucepan, blend sugar and cornstarch.
Add raspberry juice and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring
constantly; cool.  Spread layer of glaze on cooled cheesecake.
Fold fresh raspberries into remaining glaze and serve on the side.
* if raspberry juice is unavailable, simmer 1 pint fresh raspberries in
1 1/3 cups water for 3 minutes.  Strain mixture through sieve and
discard pulp.  Use as raspberry juice.



Monday, February 18, 2013

ORANGE DATE SNACKING CAKE


This is an inviting treat for a brunch or tea time!
It is a recipe that has been in my collection for a long time
and I don't make it that often.  And when I do, I wonder
why I wait so long in between times.


The block of dates I have left over from Christmas keeps popping
up in the pantry.  Some blocks of dates are stiff and hard but
these are soft and fresh.  I just have to use them so
more recipes with dates might show up here from time to time.



ORANGE DATE SNACKING CAKE

½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg
and vanilla; continue beating until light.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
grated peel of 1 orange
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup chopped pecans

Blend together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and peel.
Stir into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until batter
is smooth.  Stir in dates and pecans.
Spread batter into a greased 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until wooden pick
inserted in center comes out clean.

juice of 1 orange
½ cup sugar

Mix orange juice and sugar; set aside.
When cake is done, remove from oven.  Poke holes in top with a skewer
or the tines of a large fork.  Pour orange syrup evenly over hot cake.
Cool completely before cutting into serving pieces.
Yield: 9 generous servings

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, VALENTINE'S DAY PAST


 I made a white chocolate cheesecake that I planned to post on
Valentine's Day.  But I went to a funeral instead .. and that was fine.
It was all about LOVE.


Love for God ... for his wife .. for his children and grandchildren ...
love for his fellow man ...  for his city ... for the animals that wandered in ..
He was tall and slender and seemingly in the best of health.
It was very sudden and so unexpected.


His son wished to be brave as he spoke of his father ...
the husband ... the cowboy ..  the pastor ..
Tears mingled with his words as he embraced the loss ... of a father ..
a husband to his beautiful mother .. a grandfather to his children ..
a golf partner, a role model, a friend.
There were humorous moments as the son described his dad as
the cowboy ... tender moments as he told of his dad's commitment
to God and a life of integrity ... peaceful moments as he recalled
his dad's contentment in the circumstances of everyday living.

He ended his talk with some advice that I took to heart.
 (I didn't take notes so I'm doing my best to recall)

Tell your family you love them .. often.
Take them out to lunch even if it costs a lot.
Go for walks and enjoy the beauty of nature.
If you see deer, feed them rolled oats with molasses.
Give your children an extra tight squeeze tonight.


And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
I Cor. 13: 13 NIV


Friday, February 15, 2013

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP WITH CHICKEN MEATBALLS


Today was a perfect day to cook up a hearty pot of soup
 for the evening meal. Not that it was freezing cold or anything like that.
At 5 o'clock my thermometer read 48 degrees F!
 I had to step out to the neighbors to
borrow a couple slices of bread for the meatballs and the
wind seemed much colder in my face so comfort food was in order.
Yes, I had to borrow bread ... so glad I have close neighbors!


I decided to try chicken meatballs instead of my usual
beef and was delighted with the variation.  As you can tell
the meatballs are not perfectly round which is just fine.  The chicken
mixture is too soft to roll which means it goes so much faster
just to drop the meat and bake as is.


The dill was from last summer's garden, frozen in a ziplock
bag.  So I cheated but the flavor was like fresh.
I kept watching the simmering pot with anticipation ..
the soup did not disappoint!


ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP WITH CHICKEN MEATBALLS

1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. milk
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 lb. ground chicken

In a mixing bowl, beat egg lightly with a fork.  Add remaining ingredients
except chicken; stir together to blend.
Gently mix in ground chicken with a fork.  Drop 1 inch meatballs using
a teaspoon or cookie scoop onto a  parchment-lined baking pan.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Set aside.

5 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup diced carrots
½ cup celery, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. white cooking wine
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
½ cup orzo or other small pasta

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, bring broth to a boil. Add vegetables,
wine and seasonings; simmer for 5 minutes. Add pasta and continue to cook for
6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is tender.

1 tbsp. minced fresh dill
2 cups fresh spinach

Add dill and meatballs to soup and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in spinach, whole leaves or sliced according to preference.
Cook just until spinach is wilted; serve.
Yield: 4 to 5 servings 




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

VALENTINE SUGAR COOKIES


Some time ago I saw a decorative design on a slice of cake
that caught my attention.  Thankfully I did a rough sketch on paper
because I knew I would never remember otherwise.
Today I found the paper and did something similar on the
heart-shaped sugar cookies I baked.


Icing tiny hearts one by one is just a bit too tedious for my liking.
So I line them up on wax paper for an assembly line splash
or 'swish',  for lack of a better word.


Using a small round tip, they are done in no time ...
and they are quite pretty.


I go to more effort with the larger hearts.
There are so many lovely possibilities after the initial coating
of thin white icing.


For part of the day the sun was hidden behind the Chinook arch
that hung around overhead.  Suddenly, as I finished the
chocolate scroll and the pink flowers, the sun dipped below the
clouds and came streaming into my west window.
I loved the shine and glow the beams cast on the hearts.


I loved it so much I kept snapping pictures from different angles.


So pretty, so lovely!


Even without the sun's rays, they look wonderful.
I wish I could offer one to all my readers.
But since I can't, I simply offer this idea
for a sweet love token.



VALENTINE SUGAR COOKIES

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract

In a mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg and flavorings;
beat together thoroughly.

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Blend dry ingredients and all to creamed mixture until well blended.
Cover and chill 2 to 3 hours.
Divide dough in half.  Roll each half  ¼ inch thick on lightly floured
surface or parchment paper.  Cut into desired shapes and place on
lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake in preheated 375° oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until light
brown on the edges.
When cool spread with Quick White Icing.

Icing:  Measure 2 cups powdered sugar into bowl.  Moisten with milk
to spreading consistency, about 2 to 3 tablespoons.
Melt chocolate wafers for the scroll design.
The flowers were made with pink butter icing.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, SPARROW AND ALLY


Sunshine and mountains, patches of snow, temperatures well above
freezing, no wind ... it was a wonderful week for one's well being.


The past few weeks I began to notice a little visitor outside
my windows.   It was unusual enough to send me scurring for
my camera and the 'Birds of Alberta' book.
According to my source, 'there looms the possibility,
however slim, of seeing a Harris's Sparrow.
Wow!! This was a rare sighting and not only that ... the book states
that only a few successfully winter in southern communities.
Here in my yard!  I am estatic!  Now I am on the lookout.
Almost every day I spy the bird gleaning the bare ground for plant seeds.


The markings on this bird are so distict that it was not hard
to identify even though I have seen only this one.  I learned that these
robust Arctic breeders pass through Alberta in isolated trickles,
frequently mixing with other flocks of sparrows.
Which explains a habit of this bird that has made me smile.


This is a white-winged junco and appears in the bird book
under the heading of 'Sparrows and Allies'.
For whatever reason the Harris's sparrow and this junco are
inseparable friends.  I never see the one without the other.
One arrives and the other is not far behind.  One leaves and
the other follows.
They are allies indeed!
I am so happy the pair comes around to brighten my day.


This magestic bald eagle also stops by now and again to
add to my appreciation of the natural wonders
that still surprise me when most birds have left
and the land is bare and dormant.

Let the beauty of the Lord our God
be upon us.
Psalm 90:17 NIV


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

CHILLED CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE


This lovely chocolate cheesecake was made by my friend Ruth Ann.
It is the non-bake kind which  means the filling is poured
over a prepared crust and then simply chilled until set.
No-bake cheesecakes tend to be lighter in texture than baked
cheesecakes, but both are equally appealing in flavor.


Ruth Ann and I were overnight guests at her friends' home
and this was a hostess gift.
Needless to say it was 'sweetly' appreciated.

CHILLED CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

1¼ cups chocolate wafer crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
(if using using crushed creme-filled chocolate cookies, omit sugar)

Combine crumbs, sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
2 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese
1 cup sugar

5 (1 oz. each) squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1½ cups whipping cream, whipped

Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved.
Combine cream cheese and sugar, beating until fluffy.
Add chocolate mixture and beat until combined.
Gradually add gelatin, mixing until smooth; cool slightly.
Fold in whipped cream, scrape onto prepared crust.
Chill several hours, until firm.
Garnish with additional whipped cream.
Yield: 12 servings




Monday, February 4, 2013

TRILBYS


A block of fresh dates kept popping up in my pantry. 
It was meant to be used at Christmas and that didn't happen.
I had planned on making Trilbys then and now it is nearing
Valentine's day.  So I decided to turn the Trilbys into heart cookies ..
hearts and dates pair together well.


Notice my very old cookie cutter.  Probably as old as the
recipe that appeared in the 'Mennonite Community Cookbook'.
The first printing was in 1950 and I got my copy in 1966.
Over the years I have thought of parting with the book
but somehow it stays on like the cookie cutter.


This dough is easy to mix up and roll out.  It does not
call for baking powder or eggs, so the cookies come out
of the oven the same size as they went in.
I made some mini hearts for tea time.


Two hearty oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with date filling ..
If you like a crisp cookie, you may want to eat it plain.
I love them just after filling because they are still crisp and
wonderful tasting with dates.
However they will become a soft cookie after a short period of blending.


 Where does the name Trilby come from?  I haven't any
idea.  I just know that they have been around for a long
time and they are still a favorite. 


TRILBYS

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1½ cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until fluffy.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup buttermilk

Blend dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
Mix thoroughly.  Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
On lightly floured surface or parchment paper, roll out to ¼ inch thickness.
Cut with cookie cutter and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 8 to 9 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on wire wrack.
When cookies are cold, put together in pairs with the following filling.

1½ cups finely chopped dates
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp. flour

In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients.  Cook and stir until thick; cool.
Spread on cooled cookie; top with another cookie.
Yield: about 30 sandwich cookies (2½ inch),
more if cookies are smaller



Sunday, February 3, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, BEYOND THE SUNSET


In the early evening hours of January 31, the sun set on the
life of Alice Rarick at the age of 80.
It happened quickly as the result of a car accident and sent
a shock to all of her friends and acquaintances in the community.


I knew Alice was lonely because she was a widow.
Just up the street from her house was a small Church where
she found her niche in a place she could go on Sunday mornings to
meet with people who cared about her.
Her appreciation for the kindness shown to her was often voiced
to me with tears in her eyes.
She will be missed at the services, the sewing day, the fellowship
meals and other gatherings.
Alice impacted many of us in various ways and today I ponder
 the contributions I may have made to her life.

This is a quote from 'Our Daily Bread',
What is the story that those around us are reading through
the letter of our lives?  Stories of forgiveness?  Compassion?
Generosity?  Patience?  Love?


You are an epistle of Christ ...
written not with ink
but by the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone
but on tablets of flesh,
that is, of the heart.
II Cor. 3:3