Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Fondue

Christmas 2012 dawned clear and cool here in the midwest.  A far cry from the deluge of white that came through on the 26th.

We kicked off the day with some tasty grilled and stuffed pancakes. (The insides were spread with blueberry jam and sprinkled with blueberry white stilton cheese.  Folded up, the pancakes were  buttered and sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar mix before being crisped again in the pan.  Served on the top was  marscapone mixed with a little sugar and lemon white stilton.)

Even a few of the sheep got a bit of a taste of  the greener grass on the other side of the fence.

After such a tasty and delicious brunch, we didn't begin working on our annual christmas dinner till much later in the afternoon.

First Course was Cheese Fondue:

Cheeses included Gruyere, Emmenthaler, and Pearl Valley Swiss; liquids included apple cider, buttermilk, and a dash of sweet wine. Very tasty.Dippers included broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and bread (French and Basque Shepherd). 
Second Course was Green Salad with Pear, Fig, Pecans, and Gorgonzola Cheese with a vibrant Citrus Vinaigrette.
Juicing a Lemon for the Vinaigrette
 Citrus (Lemon) Vinaigrette
     1 cup olive oil
     Juice from one lemon
     2 Tbsp lemon curd
     1 tsp salt
     1 Tbsp of honey
     1 tsp dijon mustard

Third Course was a Coq a Vin Broth Fondue with meat dippers to cook in the fondue:
While this was a very tasty course, if we repeat this, we will choose a fondue pot with an electric dial to regulate the broth temperature.  With the time between each  bite, you definitely savored each and every one! 
The broth included some of the red wine brewed by a friend of ours (see the Viking note below).
A bottle of the Viking's wine.

The heat on the electric skillet worked well, but the broad bottom
made the broth too shallow, switched to a fondue pot but then it took longer
to cook the meat. 
After all this wonderful feasting we took an intermission to go see Les Miserables with Violin Fingers, her sister, and the Viking.  (Saturday Night Football)  Wonderful company and a really beautifully filmed rendition of Les Mis.

Coq au Vin Broth Fondue
4 slices bacon
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup red wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp herbes de provence
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon, until browned, add flour and cook 2 minutes.  Add rest of ingredients, and bring to boil. After hot transfer to fondue pot (works better with electric fondue pot to manage heat).  Enjoy with chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, mushrooms, ravioli, etc.

We also served with horseradish, mustard, and sweet and sour dipping sauces for the cooked meats.

Dessert Course:

Dessert course was waiting at home- Eggnogg Cheesecake and fruit (apples, pears, pineapple) for dipping in a Dark Chocolate Fondue. The Colonel pulled off a perfect cheesecake with not a single crack in sight. A sweet ending to a special day spent with family and friends.

Monday, December 24, 2012


When you think Christmas Eve, the first thing you think is noodles, right?

Life has been a little interesting these past couple weeks as I slowly ease into eating on a food rotation basis (food allergy diet), and I have been finding the absence of easy to use grains the most difficult part. Mostly it has gone pretty smoothly (Thanks largely to the  "Wow! This is Allergy Free Cookbook" by Mary Yoder.  On the agenda for today was making three batches of noodles - barley, kamut, and rye noodles.

Gathering all the ingredient together before starting.

The recipe (p.39 wow) for all three was basically the same- 2 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 3/4 c water (2/3 for rye), mix together in the kitchenaid mixer and then allow to sit for 30 minutes to let the dough "bloom".

Once the dough had had a chance to sit and do its thing, it was time to roll it out.  I used the tortilla press for the initial flattening of the dough (preparing a golf ball size chunk of dough at a time) and then rolled it out as thinly as possible. The sheets of dough were then (theoretically) hung on the drying rack to dry.
I say theoretically because only the kamut noodles made it on the drying rack.  The barley noodles took quite a bit of elbow grease to roll out, and we ended up just cutting them straight into noodles and into the pans for drying.

The kamut noodles rolled out fairly easily. The flour was a wonderful golden color, and remained so even as the noodles were drying.

The rye noodles rolled out the easiest. Two or three quick rolls out of the tortilla press and the dough was almost thin enough to see through.  Lovely for rolling out. Super fragile for moving about.  The one sheet that made it onto the drying rack began dropping off in pieces after only a minute or two on the rack. The rest of the sheets went straight onto towels spread out on the counters.  After allowing them to dry for an hour or so, the sheets of dough were then chopped up into noodle size pieces.  All the noodles made for quite a few stacks of baking dishes, cookie sheets, and spread out towels.

Hallelujah noodles
Of all the noodles, the kamut noodles appeared the most in the holiday spirit, curling up their ends to the sky as if they were raised in song with the  angels.

Happy 40th Anniversary, Mom and Dad! and Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bright Sun Brings Bright Ideas...or Cold and Starving Bicyclists

Spread a crepe like pancake with blueberry
 jam and sprinkle with white stilton
Note: This is an old post that has been sitting as a draft for over a month or so.  I initially wrote this post much more elegantly, but a computer glitch led to the post disappearing somewhere into the unknown and I never took the time to rewrite it and now some of the eloquence of the post and details of the day (other then the cold, hunger, and joy of getting out on my bike) have faded, but I loved the title so I did the best I could.

Fold in quarters, sprinkle with
cinnamon sugar.
So I live in Ohio and it is December.  Well I was lucky enough to only have to work part of the day on Friday and it was all paperwork, so I could do it from home.  I woke up early and worked for 1 1/2 -2 hours and then headed off to the pool with a friend who happened to have the day free.  We have been swimming a couple miles a week at the local Y and since we were both available in the morning, we had arranged to go at 9.  She asked what I planned to do the rest of the day, and I of course had some more paperwork to do, but there had been a possibility of seeing a patient near the national park on this particular day, but it fell through, however when I thought it would be my only patient of the day I had consoled myself of the drive with the plan to take my bike along and spend some time on the bike trail, so I mentioned it to her.  She thought it sounded fun and said she would go along if I ended up going, so we made plans to go after lunch - after I had finished my paperwork and her some painting.
Fry a second time.
We headed north around 2 PM and started out on the Towpath Trail once we got to the park, but soon turned back as the trail was wet and had a clay like consistency, making it difficult and messy.  We loaded up our bikes and headed to the bike and hike trail which is paved.  It proved to be a much nicer ride that day but a little more up and down.  It was an enjoyable ride, but after 16 miles we found despite the warmer December day, it was still December and as the sun set, we found our already chilled bodies getting even colder especially my toes and we were never so glad to see the end of the trail.  Chilled and hungry we loaded up our bikes and headed home, planning a feast as we drove.  I planned to make blueberry stilton pancakes and homemade mozzarella sticks, while she planned to make a spinach and egg dish.  I also offered to help her do some painting, since I had distracted her from her initial plans for the day.  
Mozzarella Sticks - had a little trouble
 coating them, but gave up and just
 cooked them, since we were hungry.

The ride was cold and the end welcome but I would do it again tomorrow - although I would probably wear thicker socks.

Spinach, Potato, and Egg

And yes, we did get some painting done, at least a first coat.

A couple shots from the Bike and Hike trail from a ride this past summer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dough and lots of it!

Our youth group is looking forward to a missions/discipleship training trip to Costa Rica next year, but in order to prepare for that we will be needing to do several fundraising activities.  With Christmas approaching we decided selling logs of cookie dough would be a creative and different way to raise funds, so we sent the kids off to get orders.
Last Saturday morning came and we gathered at the church with lots of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter, as well as orders for over 200 cookie rolls.

On Friday night I made a couple of batches using Fleishmann's unsalted margarine and a flaxseed/water mixture (1Tbsp/3Tbsp) to replace the butter and egg for a couple of my friends who had need for cookies without those ingredients because of allergies.  I baked up a few to make sure they turned out okay, the turned out quite alright.

Preparing for Candy Cane Pinwheels
Preparing for Chocolate Mint Stripes

Some pinwheels baking up.

The big day.  We were blessed with great participation from the youth and glad for their hard work.  We were also grateful for the mothers who volunteered to help too.

Youth working on the Chocolate Mint Stripes.

Getting the chocolate layers ready to stack.
Working on the pinwheels.
Some more pinwheel work.
Mocha Marble Rolls
Packing the orders.
Our mothers hard at work.

Every year our youth like to have a $5/white elephant gift exchange, so during break time we enjoyed pizza for lunch and gift time.

Decisions - open my gift or steal someone else's?

I was thinking of cookie orders and dough making and never made it to the store, so I spent Friday evening while I was making dairy free/egg free cookie dough thinking about what I would have at home to put in the exchange.  Well, what I came up with was a little art project, that if none of the youth were excited about it, I would gladly take home again.  I took some photos I had from my summer trip out west, a piece of scrapbook paper, a canvas board, acrylic paint, alcohol inks, and glossy Mod Podge.  I wrote excerpts of verses out on the scrapbook paper and tore the edges.  I painted the canvas board with a red brown wash, then I arranged them around the pictures on the canvas board and glued them down.  I then dapped the project randomly with the alcohol ink and then sealed it with Mod Podge.  I don't have a picture of the finished project because I put it in the package wet since I was running out of time, but it turned out least I thought so.  I didn't end up bringing it home, there were two youth who had also been out west and at all of the places that I had put on the canvas and the boy who got was excited to take it home and had little desire to trade it for something else.

Laying out the design.
Waiting for a layer of the Mod Podge to dry.
And just in case we didn't have enough of cookies, we got together with the junior youth on Wednesday and baked and decorated some cookies to share with our neighbors.  We also had a little bit of time for a couple rounds of Dixit.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Late Night Painting

Well, usually I would probably be embarrassed to tell anyone I was on the computer at this time of day (or rather night), but I have already spent two hours trying to sleep, another 1.5-2 hours painting, and went through 2 piles of paper that needed sorted.  All to no avail of getting a good nights sleep, well I am finally getting tired, so maybe after this I will fall asleep....only to get up in 2 hours...yuk.   I did have 1/2 a cup of chai tea after supper, but typically that doesn't bother me, so I am guessing it is something else keeping me up.

 So here I am passing time till I fall asleep and thought I would share a little of our Thanksgiving.  I only have one picture of Thanksgiving dinner and a few from our after dinner walk, prior to our engaging in a pumpkin pie dessert, which was actually a light supper for all of us - much better than trying to stuff ourselves at lunch - but don't worry we had plenty to eat.

I brought cranberry relish and mom had made turkey and mash potatoes, as well as stuffed mushrooms, corn, lima beans, and sweet potatoes.  Quite tasty and very colorful.
Dad and Mom resting on our afternoon walk.
Colonel Mustard, Tinbugs, and Vanilla Bean.
Since Vanilla Bean stayed for the weekend, she requested we would get together to have cheese fondue on Saturday night.  She made the fondue, while mom - who we greatly appreciate, made homemade bread, steamed veggies, and pumpkin pie (although I will take credit for making the pie long as everybody liked it).  The pumpkin pie she made for Thanksgiving disappeared quickly and she had several requests for more, so she enlisted me to make pie crust and she made the filling.  I also made a batch of Ale81 ice cream, yum.  
Vanilla Bean preparing the fondue (and humoring me by holding the Ale81 bottle.
And Mom measuring items for the pumpkin pie.

The Gang ready to partake.
Dipping Broccoli
Yum!  Ale81 Ice Cream.
Dad cutting the pumpkin pie.

What an enjoyable weekend, so much to be thankful for.

Here is a glimpse at the start of my late night painting.