Garden Veggies

Garden Veggies
Made into tile for my stove backsplash

Portland Rose Garden

Portland Rose Garden
Mike and my 2 youngest sons Ian and Leif

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons
With son Beau, Grandson Luke and his mom Jennifer

Maren

Maren
I cut this out of a wedding line. I must take more pictures of her.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

ORANGE FROSTED COOKIES




 I expected baking to be more difficult in the Canaries because ingredients have been an issue and then of course my oven.  But the oven is doing a bang up job and I am finding the ingredients I need, finally, after searching many options.  Spain grows awesome oranges and they are reasonable.  I serched for a orange cookie recipe that needed no brown sugar and called for simple ingredients.  These are excellent and I know I will make them often here.



Cream together:
1 C. slightly melted butter
1 C. sugar
1 egg
2 T. orange juice
2 T. orange zest

Add:
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 ½ C. flour

Roll into golf size balls and flatten a little on the cookie sheet.  Bake 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Don’t over bake.  They don’t need to be brown.  You want to keep them a little soft.   Cool and frost.   It makes about 30 cookies. 

Make the frosting with 2 T. butter, 2 T. orange Juice, 1 T. orange zest and enough powdered sugar to make a spreadable frosting.  I had a little cream cheese so added about 2 T. of it also.  It made a little more frosting, which made my husband happy.  He prefers a little cookie with his frosting.


If you want to comment via e-mail - charmandy@comcast.net

Monday, March 25, 2013

VILLETTE - Book Review



I purchased “Villette” in 1987 after we visited the Bronte home in England.  Jane Eyre, the moors, the charming English countryside, the Bronte family all enchanted me at that time but I never read the book. 

After I got my ipad I downloaded Free Books and an electronic version of the book.   Studying Spanish and preparing for a mission left me little reading time, but I started it anyway, planning to steal some moments here and there.   It took me over 4 months to read but on this P Day I finally finished it..    It is my first experience reading a book this way and I liked it.  I especially liked the ease of marking passages and returning to them when I wanted.  

Villette is the name of a town in France.  Lucy Stowe, a Young Adult English girl, who has lost her family (We know not how)  decides to  travel to France to make a life in a very daring, almost reckless manner.  But “Providence” is with her and she says of that night after being taken in at a girl’s school:

“My devotions that night were all thanksgiving.  Strangely had I been led since morning—unexpectedly had I been provided for.  Scarcely could I believe that not forty-eight hours had elapsed since I left Longdon, under no other guardianship than that which protects the passenger-bird—with no prospect but the dubious cloud-tracery of hope.”

The owner of the school hires her as a babysitter, in the beginning, and eventually she becomes a teacher.

The book actually begins with an experience Lucy has with a little girl at the home of her Godmother when she was 12 years old.  Eventually elements of this experience play out in the story.

Lucy often speaks directly to the reader about her plight and it is hard not to have sympathy for her situation.  She is plain, and station is so important in these societies. 

“…my work had neither charm for my taste, nor hold on my interest; but it seemed to me a great thing to be without heavy anxiety, and relieved from intimate trial:  negation of severe suffering was the nearest approach to happiness I expected to know. “

There is a sweet spiritual undertone in the story: …take it to your Maker—show Him the secrets of the spirit He gave—ask Him how you are to bear the pain He has appointed—kneel in His presence, and pray with faith for light in darkness, for strength in piteous weakness, for patience in extreme need.  Certainly, at some hour, though not your hour, the waiting waters will stir; in some shape, though perhaps not the shape you dreamed, which your heart loved, and for which it bled the healing herald will descend…”

And so goes the life of this young woman as her faith is tried many times.   I liked what she said of people in her life:  “There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid, though reason confesses that they are good people:  there are others with faults of temper, &c., evident enough, beside whom we live content, as if the air about them did us good.” 

This is perhaps her thesis with the characters in the story, who touch her life.  Lucy has a sad unrequited love for the young Dr., summoned to care for the children.    There are twists and turns with his life and identity as it plays out with hers.  His relationship is important as it shows her that she is interesting and has value. 

“I see that a great many men, and more women, hold their span of life on conditions of denial and privation.  I find no reason why I should be of the few favored.  I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine sweetening the worst lots.  I believe that his life is not all; neither the beginning nor the end.  I believe while I tremble; I trust while I weep.”

Halfway through the book the story changes and focuses on Lucy’s relationship with M. Paul, a fellow teacher at the school.  He is a dark, curmudgeon of a Spaniard.   He fascinates and exasperates her.  She learns a lot about judging, accepting, seeing the good in others from him.   She actually begins to see him differently as the story moves on.  The development of this relationship surprised me. 

There is mystery and some surprises and a little supernatural.  The writing is beautiful and poetic.  If I have a complaint it is that there was too much French dialogue and I know not a lick of French and felt I was missing some things.

I am surprised that the British have never made this into a movie.  I think it has elements that would work well.  This is a long book and perhaps not for everyone as it is somewhat psychological and moves rather slowly, but I liked it a lot. ****

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CRUSTY FOCACCIA BREAD






I wanted some bread for this weeks District meeting .   I took some elements of my  Crusty Bread   to make into a focaccia bread since my oven space and temperature is limited and I don't have a pot.  The boys will eat anything so I wasn't worried about a disaster.  I am now making it twice a week for the 2 big meals I cook. I recently revamped this to make a larger loaf.

Put 2 1/2 C. warm water in a large bowl.  Add 1 slightly rounded teaspoon dry yeast.  Stir in 2 C. unbleached flour, 1 1/2 T. oil and 1 1/2 T. sugar and 2 tsp. salt. Stir until smooth. Then stir in 3 more cups of flour until well blended. Put a plate on the bowl and let it sit on the counter.   You can bake it anytime the next day.   If you didn't remember and want to make it today use warm water and  turn the oven to 350 for 1 minute (turn off) then sit your covered bowl in the warm oven for 4-6 hours before baking. 



This is my oven.  It actually gets to 400 degrees with convection and is quite roomy.  I set it up in my little washroom next to my kitchen, which has outdoor exposure in cinder block holes .  I think that will be good when the summer comes.  I won't need to be baking in the kitchen.  I am trying to think of positive reasons to like my portable oven.

When ready to bake pour it into a  well greased cookie sheet. (sprinkle a little cornmeal if you want to make sure it doesn't stick) My pan is about 13 inches square Pour the dough right into the pan and spread it carefully to fill the pan, but if your pan is large just let it spread itself while rising. Warm your oven again for 1 minute and let it sit there for 25 minutes while you make the butter.

Melt 4 T. butter with 1 tsp. garlic powder, stir in 1 tsp. each dry leaf oregano and dry leaf basil. (optional)  Spread carefully onto the top of the dough, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees until golden brown. I cool it a little and cut it up with kitchen shears to 16 pieces.  I have also made it with about 1/3 C. white sugar mixed with 1/2 C. brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. 


The bread is chewy and crusty.  I have made it many times and everyone likes it.  Fresh out of the oven it is awesome! but great even the next day. I think you could use Italian herbs or no herbs, cheese or no. This is quick, faster than the bread in the pot.  It will be something I make forever.   It makes a great sandwich

Cooking on the Canary Islands if you are interested:  No chocolate chips.  Some things I can find at a large market 40 miles away but not much here like powdered sugar, baking powder, soda, yeast, corn tortillas, corn chips in a large bags and soft brown sugar is a struggle.  They have it in large dry crystals that don't melt in cookies.  I finally found 1 1/2 cup packages at an English market that is close...very expensive but oh so worth it.  No crushed pineapple, vanilla is a hunt and Parmesan cheese is yet to be found but the restaurants have it so I think I should be able to get it somewhere.   Shopping is exhausting and since I am not comfortable driving around the many roundabouts here with a stick shift and hills Mike has to take me everywhere, so we are doing EVERYTHING together and he hates shopping.

If you want to comment via e-mail - charmandy@comcast.net