Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, Thanksgiving here was pretty great. Not perfect -- Katie woke up sickish and only got worse -- but otherwise first class. The company was excellent, and the food was ... well, amazing. Ed performed his usual magic with the bird (a bird which my parents, very sweetly, contributed), and my part -- all the non-turkey bits -- came out really well also. The green beans were new this year, a recipe from the NYT with fresh ginger, garlic, and almonds (well, I added the almonds in, but I figure almonds are kind of a given), and they were crisp and delightful. I added orange liqueur to the cranberry-orange relish, which was very nice. My sweet potatoes were especially small and succulent in the sweet potato pudding, and the spices and all (and I think a splash or two of the orange liqueur, because, why not?) came out just perfectly. Gosh it was good! All the other things were as usual. Oh, except the pies!!! I made my first mince pie, and it was (still is) absolutely amazing! I am now a self-proclaimed mince pie goddess! The pecan was excellent too, and I'm told Katie's chocolate pie was first class. My pumpkin pudding was put rather in the shade by the glory that was the mince pie, but I visited it again this evening, and with a couple spoonfuls of rum raisins (and rum) and a friendly dollop of Cool Whip, even a mild mannered pudding becomes quite the luscious thing. 

Here are Ed and Katie watching the Thanksgiving parade. I followed our usual tradition and puttered in the kitchen feeling thankful that I didn't have to watch the parade.

And Travis. Also parade watching.

Dinner. Katie was doing her best to look chipper, but her best wasn't much. Poor lamb. Still, the rest of us had a lovely time. Good conversation about politics, books, and bread baking, and no quarrels or spills, and the champagne (also a parental contribution) was just the thing!

Dessert. I made a gluten free crust for the mince pie, and it was Not cooperative. Or pretty. But it tastes fine. The crust for the pecan pie was a normal one, but it also gave trouble. but it didn't go all goofy in the oven the way the gluten-free one did. Anyway, I was glad that I did the pumpkin as a pudding.

Not a pretty pie, but so good. The filling is from Sweetie-licious Pies, which I highly recommend. The text is over-the-top hokey, but the pictures are good and the recipes have been, without exception, excellent.

And yesterday, Wednesday, we went to see the new "Harry Potter" movie, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." It was very entertaining. The plot was a little on the skimpy side, and the action was... well, there was a lot of it, and it seemed likely that much of it was intended to dazzle in 3-D (which we didn't see, because I loathe 3-D movies), but the fantastic beasts were really wonderful. And what there was of story was very sweet, and I actually teared up for a moment when the "Harry Potter" music came on at the beginning, because I have so many happy memories of seeing HP movies with the kids over the years when they were little and it was really nice being in the theater with them again, even with just a "sort of" HP movie. Sniff.

So. I'm very thankful for all of it and I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving too!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I'm Back!

Hmmm. I seem to have missed October. And much of November. Oops. Would you care to hear about how transitioning from homeschool mom to taxi driver to a busy high school student has thrown me for a loop? Or about how the election hoopla and surprising (to me) results left me dismayed and gobsmacked? (Not to mention glued to my computer in horrified fascination.) How about, on a happy note, how we've been enjoying frequent chats and meals with my parents, who arrived back in NC from Maine in early October? I think that's what we'll focus on. They're here, and we are so glad to have them around!

But, since a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words (though perhaps some are worth more than others), I will fill in the rest of the details with some pictures of what we've been up to.

Here's Katie, drying Finn after giving him a bath. Livy weeps when people go outside and she has to miss out on things. She weeps loudly enough that if you are raking leaves at a distant part of the yard and she is trapped inside, wailing at the screen door, you can hear her clearly. She is a very passionate cat.

There have been many cakes, pies, and cheesecakes. All small. I've taken to baking small desserts. 

And this is a small pumpkin which a friend of Katie's gave me. I cooked it and made soup of it. The second batch turned out very nicely!

And I turned 51 and Katie decorated my birthday cheesecake. I have the best family!

Is she adorable or what?

Travis is also adorable.

And Ed. Obviously.

We went out to eat at the pirate restaurant, and it was wonderful! I do love not cooking.

This is not my birthday cheesecake, but it was another good one.

Here I am playing with my birthday blow torch. I cooked the chicken in the pressure cooker and it looked much prettier after I applied the flame. Plus, it was fun!

 Here is Katie in her homecoming dress. I can hardly believe I have a daughter who needed a homecoming dress (and shoes), but there you are!

A very small but delightful blueberry pie.

My dad, enabling Finny to lick Harold. Harold was very disappointed in him (in my dad, not Finn. It was precisely what he expected of Finn, but he hoped for better from my dad.).

Katie outdid herself in the pumpkin carving department this year!

Travis's pumpkin was also creative.

And he voted! His first election. The results were not what we hoped, but it certainly was a memorable election!

And here is Finn, wearing a hat. This was either for election (taco) Tuesday or for Halloween, and I really can't remember which. In either case, he prefers Not to be put in costumes, poor boy.

 And Livy. Isn't she just the sweetest?

She's pretty naughty! Not only does she remove refrigerator magnets, she also steals my fish oil capsules (Omega-3 -- it's supposed to be good for you!) if I leave them on the counter, and she's figured out how to open Finn's treat boxes (even the Alpo "snaps," which are crunchy, and who would think they'd appeal to a cat?) and she takes them Out of the box and eats them. Right in front of poor little Finn!

But what she Really likes is canned cat food. Or tuna fish. And, despite her many skills, she has yet to figure out how to open the refrigerator. On her own, that is. She has perfected the art of making Ed open it for her!

A lasagna, made in the pressure cooker. The beauty of this is that it's only a 1 1/2 quart bowl, so it's just the right amount for Ed and Travis for two dinners, and a lunch for one of them.

A lasagna in the pressure cooker (which turns itself off when the cooking is done, unlike the oven!) means that Finn and I can go for a walk and not worry if we forget the time a bit. Which we did, but dinner turned out well anyway.

So, that's what we've been up to! Upcoming events include seeing the new "Harry Potter" movie with my parents and cooking Thanksgiving dinner. And reading! Lots of snuggling under blankets (and cat), reading.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pumpkinfest! (and cars!)

We had beautiful weather today for Pumpkinfest (otherwise known as the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival, 20th Annual, I believe), and the pumpkins were in fine form this year! 

As impressive as the great pumpkins (and watermelons) were, we spent even more time admiring the old cars. Ed is keen on cars, and the kids were feeling indulgent.

This one was Katie's favorite. I think it looks like Milo's car, from The Phantom Tollbooth.

We didn't make it to the library book sale (I volunteered sorting books for several hours on Thursday, and I did see a few alluring books, but Ed really wore himself out this week sorting out issues with the water heater, which expired unexpectedly, and subsequent plumbing necessities, so dragging him through a book sale seemed unkind.), but we did see various crafty booths and enjoyed the people watching. Cute babies, well behaved dogs, and a leprechaun.

Having just finished My Southern Journey, by Rick Bragg, I was inspired tonight to pull out my cast iron skillet and fry some chicken, and venture into new territory by making hush puppies. The chicken turned out beautifully, though a certain non-responsiveness on the part of our smoke detectors suggests that it's time to test batteries. The hush puppies were a bit less successful. The first two batches fell victim to neglect while I debated with Travis over whether or not the chicken needed to be cut into small pieces before being cooked, but the last batch came out beautifully. Livy really, really wanted to try the chicken.

And there have been some more desserts! This is the raspberry cheesecake. It was delightful -- Travis says it is the best so far. I think it might be my birthday cheesecake.

And this is a pumpkin bourbon cheesecake. I thought it was a little on the bland side, but Ed and Travis liked it fine. And Not pictured is the chocolate cappuccino cheesecake we ate most of tonight, which, I believe, rivals the raspberry cheesecake (as with the others, I adjusted the recipe to make it grain and dairy free). The lovely people in the produce department at Ingles have promised to keep stocking Go Veggie Cream Cheese, so I feel a certain obligation to keep up my consumption of the stuff!

And Finny didn't forget to dress up again this year for Talk Like a Pirate Day! Well, actually, his "aargh" was more despairing than ferocious, but we put on his hat and made him pose anyway! Maybe next year the hat will fit Livy, and she can be our pirate.