Things I Overheard Today – “That’s IT!”

The kids in our neighborhood are wild, loud, full of life and flat-out HILARIOUS! We are crazy about them and love to tell stories about their antics.

So I’m excited that they have the distinction of being the first entry into my new, “Things I Overheard Today,” series. Here it goes:

For the past week, my husband has had a bad cold. Nothing serious, but he’s been coughing like he has Tuberculosis. No fever. He doesn’t really feel bad. He just sounds like he’s coughing up a lung. [An important fact that brings me to the point of the story.]

Tonight, we walked out of the front door to pick up a pizza for dinner. Halfway down the sidewalk, Joe barely coughed. I mean, it was barely a regular cough from a person not suffering with a cold. And quite frankly, I barely noticed it. But instantly…. and I mean INSTANTLY – we heard Lily from across the street shout (in her best melodramatic voice):

“That’s IT! I heard a cough!! We’re all going to DIE!!! We’re ALL going to die from the Corona Virus!!!!”

I stopped in my tracks and howled! I could not stop laughing. When I finally turned to see Joe’s reaction, I saw him down on the sidewalk laughing so hard no sound was coming out.

I LOVE these kids!

Keeping it Real

The question was, “Do you want to come over and play?” That was 53 years ago. The answer was, “Yes!” And we never stopped.

So….. My childhood friend, Angie, recently had a conference in Memphis, so I decided to join her a few days early for a nice visit since we live nowhere near each other now.

During the trip, she casually mentioned my “perfect life.” I just laughed.

When I got home, I texted her a story describing my first day back to clear up any confusion she might still have about me.

Although this blog (that’s been unintentionally ignored for the past 6 years) is mainly about photography, I have decided to change things up a bit and concentrate on creativity in general. So I’m going to add a section and call it, “Keeping it Real.” A great comment stolen from my “terrifically hilarious and to the point cousin,” Anne.

Ah! A Day in the Life of LEW-LEW’s “Perfect Life:”

She sleeps late and is completely rested while driving to work. Her job is a stress-free breeze, and everything goes right – all day long.

Dinner and a loving husband are waiting on her when she arrives home. She kicks up her feet after dinner and drifts off to sleep dreaming of another great day ahead of her.

Still waiting for that day to happen.

What really happened today:

She almost wrecks her car several times on her way to work due to sheer exhaustion. Her co-worker calls in sick because her husband has Covid and she thinks she and her baby do, too. Work is busier, crazier and wilder than normal, but she manages to not get fired. 

When work is blessedly over, she drives to her sick co-worker’s house to drop off her hard drive so she can work from home, and manages to keep herself at a safe distance – she thinks.

Finally home, she encounters a hungry & cranky husband who informs her that after dinner she will be joining him under the house to help make a path for the workman who’s coming on Saturday. Her husband’s mood does not improve while under the house…. and her’s takes a turn for the worse when she discovers a dead rat the size of a large kitten.

After declaring that it’s her husband who will be disposing of the mummified rodent, she walks into the house, takes a shower and climbs into bed and looks forward to that perfect day that just might show up tomorrow. 

New To Me Recipes

Double Chocolate BrowniesDouble Chocolate BrowniesThese two photos are from my new favorite cookbook by Katie Quinn Davies, “What Katie Ate on the weekend.” Here is the RECIPE if you want to make them.

I did not have, nor could I find the sour, or morello, cherries. And I also could not find the Dutch process cocoa powder. So I used dried cherries plumped up with boiling water and regular Hershey’s cocoa. They taste pretty good, but I bet they would be much better with the more expensive ingredients.

Quinoa With Grapes Quinoa in A bowl These are also from the same cookbook, Quinoa and Grape Salad.

I had most of the ingredients for this one. It’s pretty good, too.

It Takes Talenti!

Roasted Almond Talenti Gelato Obviously, I did not make this gelato. I bought it for a specific reason, and I’m so glad I did. I wanted to buy some high-end chocolate bars for my husband; but since my car’s air conditioner works whenever it wants to, I was afraid I was not going to make it home in time before the chocolate melted. My solution was to buy something cold to keep in the bag. The only thing I could find in The Fresh Market was ice cream. And in this case, gelato. The least expensive one was Talenti. Being a sucker for packaging helped, too. I also thought I could use the gelato for a photo. So, voila! You have to work fast with frozen desserts, even inside. So I composed the photo with an empty dish before adding the gelato. Since this flavor is toasted almond, I sprinkled some sliced almonds on top. I also drizzled some chocolate sauce to add a little contrast. After I finished shooting, I finally tasted it. I have never, in my life, had better ice cream. Granted, I’ve never had gelato. But if it all tastes this good, it has won me over. But I can highly recommend this brand. I think I paid $5 or $6 for the pint. So it’s not cheap, but not too expensive, either. Roasted Almond Talenti GelatoRoasted Almond Talenti Gelato

Banana Walnut Muffins

Banana Walnut Muffins

 

 

I have both of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks, and this muffin recipe is from her first one, “My Father’s Daughter.”  It is very easy to make, and pretty healthy. I, as usual, used what ingredients I have in my house, so it’s a little altered from hers.

Banana Walnut Muffins

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
3 very ripe medium bananas
1/2 cup real Vermont maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

(I can never find spelt flour, so I used unbleached all purpose and unbleached whole wheat flours. I also did not have barley flour, so I just used 1/2 cup of the whole wheat in its place. Also, I used 3/4 cups of maple syrup because I can never find rice syrup either.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin or oil them with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.

Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Puree the bananas in a food processor or blender and then add the 1/4 cup of canola oil, syrups and vanilla and pulse to combine. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir just to combine and fold in the raisins and walnuts. Do not over mix or the muffins will be tough. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

 

Banana Walnut MuffinsPansies

Vanilla Pudding with Chocolate Shavings

 

Vanilla Pudding

 

 

I found this recipe in one of my old Martha Stewart Living magazines. I’m going to share the recipe because posted it online. I’m just looking for fun stuff to photograph.

Anyway, it’s pretty easy to make and very tasty.

Vanilla Pudding

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch of coarse salt
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved (I did not have this, so I just dumped several squirts of extra vanilla extract.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ounce milk chocolate shavings for garnish (I used dark chocolate)

Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl until smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture.

Combine milk, remaining sugar and vanilla bean scrapings in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly pour milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly. (You’ll want to really pour a little bit at a time here to allow the egg mixture to come up to temperature slowly. Otherwise, they will cook like scramble eggs.)

Return mixture to saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened – about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and transfer mixture to a medium heat-proof bowl.

Whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Set bowl in ice bath, stirring occasionally, until chilled. Serve pudding with chocolate shavings on top, if desired.

 

Vanilla Pudding

 

Vanilla Pudding

Blackberry Crumb Breakfast Bars

 

 

Blackberry Breakfast Bar

 

The blackberries I used for this recipe were picked by my husband and me last summer near our house. We have a ton of them in our freezer; so anytime I can, I use them in a recipe. This one is actually a raspberry recipe that I found on either Goop’s website or “What Katie Ate”, both great resources for delicious food. I suspect it is from Goop, though. It’s on a piece of paper I printed from either website. I just don’t remember which.

Also, even though I baked these longer than was called for, I still don’t think they got as done and crispy as they are supposed to be. But they are very delicious.

Crust & Crumb

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pound fresh or frozen blackberries or raspberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside. Combine flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add butter and pulse until loose crumbs form. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture and set aside.

Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to push the crust into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown – about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the blackberries or raspberries, lemon juice and melted butter and toss gently until the berries are evenly coated. Spread the berry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Top with the reserved cup of crumble mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

 

Blackberry Crumb Breakfast BarsBlackberry

 

 

A Call for Entries

Branbury Tarts

 

I am beginning TWO new projects within my blog: 

1: An art project of me wearing the same dress in every photo. (I’ll explain the meaning in a later post)

and……

2: A continuation of my baked goods project, but with other people’s mother’s or grandmother’s recipes. So! If you have a special baked good you would like to share, please send it to me with perhaps why it’s special. I will attempt to make and photograph it and upload it to the blog. Also, if you want to include a photo of your loved one, I’ll include it in the post, as well.

Please send all info to: photosandmigraines@hotmail.com

(By sending me the recipe and/or photos, you agree to have me upload them to my blog. However, if you change your mind later, I will happily take them down when requested.)

Thank you in advance. This project has meant a lot to me with my attempt to help keep the memory of my great grandmother alive. I hope I can do the same for you if you are interested.

Branbury Tarts Reprised

This is the second time I’ve included this recipe, but I felt the photos were not so hot the first time. The goal is to become a better baker, as well as a better photographer. Plus, if you missed it the first time, you’ll be glad you saw it here. These are GOOD!

Branbury Tarts

3 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups flour (I used all purpose)
Strawberry preserves ( I used raspberry preserves)
Pecan halves (I used sliced almonds)

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, salt, vanilla and flour. Mix well. Form into balls the size of walnuts and place on cookie sheet. Dent each ball in the center. Fill dents with small preserves. Top each with a pecan (or several almond slices) and bake in a slow oven 325 degrees until brown.

Tip: it takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven when the bottoms of the tarts begin to get crispy brown.

Holding a photo of my grandmother while sitting in her mother's chair.
Holding a photo of my grandmother while sitting in her mother’s chair.

This new art project will primarily be in black and white; however, this photo looks better in color. Ah! The magic of the digital world.

Then why do I feel like I’m cheating?

Spicy Fruit Bars

Fruit bars
Spicy fruit bars with molasses, apples and cloves.

These are really rich, but delicious. I did not have any prunes, so I used Craisins instead. But they still turned out really good.

Ingredients

1 cup pared chopped apple
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup prunes (I used Craisins)
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter
2 cups flour (I used gluten-free with 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a saucepan, combine apple, raisins, prunes (Craisins), molasses, orange juice and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick. Cool. Combine remaining ingredients except nuts in a large mixing bowl. Mix at low speed until well-blended. Stir in walnut and fruit mixture. Pour into a well-greased 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and then frost and cut into bars.

Orange Frosting

Combine 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon grated orange rind, 2 tablespoons light cream and 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix at medium speed until well-blended. If necessary, thin with a few more drops of cream.

Craisins
Jar of Craisins

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