Friday, November 30, 2012

Dabbling with paint

I've taken two painting classes recently. I felt nervous before hand, because I thought I "couldn't" paint anything recognizable. The results were good enough to put a smile on my face and I can look at the paintings with fond memories of the process.
 I felt discouraged in school when "art" teachers insisted that a (professional) work be reproduced by students. Though this years' experiences were practically paint by numbers, it was FUN! I encourage you to give it a try. I don't own any paints, so was glad to go to a couple of different storefront venues where all supplies are provided, along with music and instructors. One pump of red paint, three pumps of black paint, etc.
I CAN paint most of the canvas light blue, and the lower third dark blue! It doesn't have to be perfect. Who knew that a city skyline is painted with grey rectangles? Not too difficult, with the instructors' encouragement. Everyone's unique painting was interesting and an accomplishment.
Mixing colors is nifty, too. I had no idea about layering dabs of paint in various shades to look like water ripples. You can even use paper towels to speckle lighter and darker colors around, hoping to stop before the speckles look like mud! Give it a try and don't let people judge you compared with someone else's ability. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cranberry sauce

Does your family have a “conversation” every year about serving cranberry sauce from a can and keeping the shape of the can intact? We’ve had two types of canned cranberry sauce available: the jelly type and one with whole cranberries. I have tried a bunch of different home-made recipes, and we’ve settled on this one as a favorite. 

The mandarin oranges, apples, almonds, and cinnamon add unique textures and flavors that are a hit with the non-can-shaped folk. I found it difficult to photograph the “during” step- it doesn’t look that exciting in the pot. 

Just imagine the sound of cranberries popping gently as they simmer, and the fragrance of three types of fruit melding. After cooling, it still looks rather pink, but tastes great!
The only change to the recipe I made was using three packets of sugar substitute that I have on hand for my morning coffee, instead of the larger quantity of sweetener for baking called for. Do you have a recipe for home-made cranberry sauce?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Multi-spice cranberry orange muffins

I’ve been eager to make these muffins again, using my new zester and different types of flour (though they were just fantastic the first time I prepared them exactly as directed, before I started this blog). I was thrilled with the new zester- it made the job a joy compared with past struggles.
I used one cup of white flour, half a cup of whole wheat flour, and half a cup of toasted hazelnut flour*. I used half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a quarter teaspoon each of nutmeg and ginger. I chopped the cranberries roughly and added an extra tablespoon of hot water due to the whole wheat flour. I used only ¾ cup of sugar, which was ok for my taste buds, but I might add some honey or maple syrup next time to make up for the reduction in sugar from the original recipe.

The alternate flours tasted super. I will make these muffins many times in the future, and may mess around with pumpkin filling, apples, coconut, chocolate chips- who knows?

*I didn’t have enough mix for waffles last week, and used about a quarter cup of toasted hazelnut flour to replace the mix I was short on, and the waffles were heavenly! The hazelnut flavor was just right and the texture of the waffles was the same…I think I’m going to make the same substitution every time! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When life hands you egg shells

One of my goals is to be more optimistic. I used to be (and maybe still am to a lesser extent) a "hope springs eternal" kind of person. Then life and stress got in the way!
I don't have any photos of lemons or lemonade, but I have plenty of other cooking adventure pictures, such as these egg shells from making stuffed eggs. I realize that sometimes things have to change or "break" for something else good to emerge. 
I can't have cake, or custard, or an omlette without scrambling up a bunch of eggs! Call me weird, but I really like how the yolks contrast with the bowl...kinda cheerful.
Note to self: take time out of the daily routine to relax for a minute, take a walk, swing like a little kid. Be grateful for the many blessings in my life, and stop whining about the difficulties.
Plan B: get some unconditional love from a pet! She is leaning into my hand for some neck-scratching while sitting on my scrapbook.
Do you cook to relieve stress? Favorite recipe?
Thanks for respecting copyright on all photos.