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Archive for November, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees

Well today is the last day of November and I’m still at home in Kentucky. Christina and Liam left to head back to Louisville on Wednesday afternoon, so I have been home alone with the cat, while Don is at work. I have spent quality time this week cooking, reading and shopping for the Holidays.

I have a rental car for the week, while Don’s car is in the autobody shop being repaired as a result of hitting  a deer on the way to work last week. The deer sustained mimimal damage while the CR-V sustained $6000 in damage…..sorry honey!

So today I drove to Lexington alone to do some more shopping and have lunch. I spent most of the morning in Joseph Beth Booksellers, one of my  favorite stores, then I perused Wild Oats and purchased some items for the kitchen, and some French Fleur de Sel Caramel’s….yummy!

It is difficult to imagine that Christmas is right around the corner, because the weather here has been great this week, in the 40’s-50’s instead of the 20’s in Maine. I believe we had a snowstorm yesterday that left us with a couple inches of snow. The holidays will be here soon and I wish that I was creative enough to handmake gifts for everyone on my list, but instead I’m at the retail shops like everyone else. One observation today at the Mall, was that almost every woman I saw shopping was carrying around a Coach purse……and looking to purchase other ones…..I saw one today that sells for $800, I guess I will stick to my Vera Bradley bag……hehehe!   Well off to the kitchen…Ciao!

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Home sweet home, Kentucky


Well here I am in Kentucky……my other home! Playing domestic goddess for the week. Lots of home cooking and other casa chores. Saturday I was picked up at the airport by my sister-in-law, while the men enjoyed a great football game between UK and Tennessee. So we embarked on some holiday shopping in Lexington then met up with them later that evening.

Sunday we went on a roadtrip to Knoxville to do some holiday shopping at Turkey Creek… We returned home late Sunday evening, then yesterday Christina and I enjoyed a low-keyed day at home with Liam. Liam is a 16 month old firecracker! He is a power house, never stopping other than to sleep. So he is wearing me ragged!! But fun at that.

So here I am at home in Kentucky for the week. I do feel a bit uneasy about leaving my mom after her accident, but she is in good hands. So I’m OK with that. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish my new book this week. “Eat, Pray and Love”. Well gotta run for now! Ciao…

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A Happy Thanksgiving to all today. This photo was taken last fall while visiting a local Shaker Village. I wonder if is this bird is still around today? Perhaps a Presidential pardon? No turkey for me today….just waiting for the stores to open at 4am tomorrow for Holiday shopping. On Saturday I am off to Kentucky for a week. I’ll be blogging from my other home. 🙂

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November is half over and Thanksgiving is Thursday. A time to be thankful for what we have. It is about family, friends and ones dear to the heart. In my younger years the day was filled with wonderful memories of family coming to our home to enjoy a magnificent feast with my Grandmum, and the rest of my meager family. We did not have that much, but we had each other. Life was happy and without such complications as today.

My mother and grandmum would cook for days before. Warm scents filled the kitchen. Aromas of pumpkin pies, warm bread and other goodies filled the house for days before the big feast. They worked seamlessly to prepare the food for the big event. Family was family, and we stood by each other through thick and thin.

The day before Thanksgiving was also special for my brother and I as we would be let out of school at noon that day. We always had plenty of snow for Thanksgiving, and we would leave for the big sandy hill up the street from our house to go sliding in the snow. We would stay till the last light filled the sky, as the sun set behind us. Then return home cold and wet from our afternoon of activities. That night we would dream of the feast the next day. We would often go to a market across town to purchase an ice cream pie for our dessert as well all the other delights we had in our home.

Thanksgiving morning we all rise early and run for to turn on the TV for the Thanksgiving Day Parades. We sat in front of the the TV and dreamed of being in New York City of the big Macy’s Parade. Time would seem to last forever as we waited anxiously for the feast that was being prepared. Soon aunts and uncles started to arrive, the house filled with laughter. Food was finished and prepared for the table, then we all come running for the feast.

The counter tops and table were filled with dishes reminiscent of the first feast. Roasted turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh baked bread, squash, turnips, and cranberries. Then we indulged in assorted desserts of pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, ice cream pie, apple pies and other surprises. After we stuffed ourselves we would retire to the living room to watch some TV and begin the official start of the Holiday Season. A truly magical time! I wish I could go back to that time of innocence, a time when our family was close and all was right in the world.

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A slower life…

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. A time to give thanks for what we have and what we don’t have. Life has become exceedingly complicated. I desire to go back to a time when life was slower, a time when work involved harvesting the land, growing crops, raising animals. If I had my druthers I’d be living in a cabin in the woods. A secret place where only the forest animals knew my name. My husband and I would only grow and consume what we need to live on. Life would be about working to live, instead of living to work.

In this world everyone craves bigger and better. I must admit, I am a consumer and I do like to shop, but wouldn’t it be easier to only have what one needs to survive? A roof over your head, dinner on the table after a day of work, a warm bed to sleep in and sharing your life with the one you love. Sounds like a fine life to me! A life less complicated but filled with only the things you need. Here is a recipe for my favorite Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake I often bake for Thanksgiving Dinner.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Maple Pecan Glaze:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • whipped cream (optional)
  • pecan halves (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
  3. With mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in EAGLE BRAND until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Bake 1 1/4 hours or until center appears nearly set when shaken. Cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
  5. To serve, spoon some Maple Pecan Sauce over cheesecake. Garnish with whipped cream and pecans (optional). Pass remaining sauce. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.
  6. Maple Pecan Glaze: In medium-sized saucepan, combine 1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream and 3/4 cup pure maple syrup; bring to a boil. Boil rapidly 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly thickened; stir occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Cover and chill until served. Stir before serving.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Chat Noir & Croissants

Cooking is a great comfort to me, and enjoy sharing the fruits of my labor with others, especially bringing my delights to work with me. During our European travels, my husband and love to experience new culinary pleasures. We are starting to create a rough itinerary for our next travel adventure in June of 2008. Where will it be France,Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Japan? Wherever we end up, I am not certain as of yet; I will enjoy or journey, here is a beloved croissant recipe reminiscent of a French bistro:
CROISSANTS

1 1/2 cups cold butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon water or milk

METHOD

Cut butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices. In a medium mixing bowl stir butter slices into the 3 cups flour till slices are coated and separated. Chill butter mixture while preparing the dough.

For dough, in a large mixing bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and the yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan heat and stir the milk, sugar, and salt till warm (120 to 130 degrees F.). Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Add 1 egg. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chilled flour-butter mixture till the flour is well moistened (the butter will remain in large pieces).

Sprinkle a pastry board or pastry cloth with 1/4 cup flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface. With floured hands, gently knead the dough for 8 strokes. With a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 21×12-inch rectangle. (If necessary, sprinkle the surface of the dough with up to 1/4 cup flour to prevent sticking.) Fold dough crosswise into thirds to form a 12×7-inch rectangle. Loosely wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in the refrigerator or 20 to 30 minutes in the freezer, or till dough is firm but not excessively stiff.

On a well-floured surface, roll dough into a 21×12-inch rectangle. Fold dough crosswise into thirds again and give dough a quarter-turn. Roll, fold, and turn twice more, flouring the surface as needed. (It is not necessary to chill dough between each rolling.) Place dough in a plastic bag. Seal bag, leaving room for the dough to expand. Chill dough for 4 to 24 hours.

To shape, cut dough crosswise into fourths. Wrap and return 3 portions to the refrigerator till ready to use. On a lightly floured surface, roll the fourth portion of dough into a 16×8-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle crosswise in half to form 2 squares. Then cut each square diagonally in half to form 2 triangles. (You will have 4 triangles total from each rectangle.) Loosely roll up each triangle, starting from an 8-inch side and rolling toward the opposite point.

Repeat shaping with the remaining 3 portions of dough. Place croissants 4 inches apart on 2 ungreased large baking sheets, points down. Curve the ends to form crescent shapes. Cover and let rise in a warm place till nearly double (about 1 hour).

In a small mixing bowl beat 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water or milk. Lightly brush the egg mixture over croissants. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 15 minutes, or till golden brown. Remove from baking sheets; cool on a wire rack. Enjoy! Fill them with chocolate, Nutella (my favorite), raspberry preserves and butter or whatever else you may enjoy.

Recipe compliments of Cooking.com

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Message of the Day

Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees

Today’s Message of the Day is:

Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile. 🙂

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should
dance….

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November days

Well the month of November is into it’s second week already so that makes Christmas around 6 weeks away! Yikes! The beautiful colors of fall are now past and time stand still till spring here in Maine. Leaves crunch underfoot and the air smells heavy of snow. Possibly tonight the weather forecasts indicates that we can receive a few inches. I’m not ready for that. I do enjoy fall, however winter will be right around the corner. Cold winds blow in the evening, rustling leaves around the yard, and frost on the pumpkin every morning indicate that winter has not forgotten us.

I have had to prepare my mother’s house for winter this year. As her injury has prevented her from doing any sort of work. Putting lawn items away, raking some leaves, hauling trash, taking out the snow shovels and de-icer. As well as taking care of her inside her home. Laundry, washing dishes, preparing meals, vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner as well. Our tradition for the last 27 years has been to head out early for the Day-after-Thanksgiving madness at 4am in the morning. Many a year, have we traveled in snowstorms to brave the long lines and our favorite stores. This year I am a bit worried as to how we will take on such a dramatic feat. I have secured the use of a wheelchair, and of course her walker, and temporary handicapped placard for the car, as a means of getting her closer to the doors when they open. Insanity at it’s best….when people ask us “why?”, well it is easy to answer, as it is “always what we do the day after Thanksgiving.” It has become a mother-daughter tradition. Even after having to reschedule my visit to Kentucky, I waited till the day after the day after Thanksgiving before I leave. So when I arrive in Kentucky an my dear hubby picks me up at the airport, I can continue the shopping mode with him! 😀

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La Vie En Rose

Originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees


Next Tuesday, November 13th, 2007 my favorite movie comes out on DVD. When this movie came out this summer, I searched extensively for a location to view this film. I found a theater almost 2 hours away that was showing this film. I had a perect evening with my friend Cathy who came along for the ride. We had dinner before hand a local Mexican, restaurant that served crab quesadilla’s. A perfect start to a great evening with a friend. Edith Piaf ‘s music has had an incredible impact on my life, and so did this film. I plan to own this as part of my collection and my dear husband informed me that he has already ordered this from Amazon.com. Great idea honey! I can’t say enough about this film, so I will let well enough alone.

Here is the scoop from Amazon.com:
“Edith Piaf is the subject of La Vie en Rose, director Olivier Dahan’s powerful if emotionally redundant biographical film about the iconic French superstar whose life, as depicted here, seems to have been a numbing succession of tragedies interrupted on occasion by artistic triumph. Dahan’s portrait begins with Piaf’s stay in a brothel as a young girl. Left to the care of her grandmother (who runs the place) after her father pulls her away from a narcissistic mother, Piaf undergoes significant health problems and grows up to sing on the street in lieu of outright prostitution. The film pulses along with the usual biopic rhythms, with pivotal moments in the life of Piaf (played as an adult by Marion Cotillard) turning up regularly only to be smacked aside by the unseen hand of perpetual misfortune. There’s the impresario (Gerard Depardieu) who recognizes Piaf’s great but raw talent only to have a run-in with the criminal element around her. There’s the heavyweight fighter (Marcel Cerdan) who becomes the love of Piaf’s life but can’t be with her. Drug addiction, random car accidents, tax problems, you name it, it’s all here, topped by an unnerving revelation that pops up in La Vie en Rose’s final moments.”

I just can’t wait to view it again!           la da da da dada da, da da da dada da

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The Long Journey

car.jpg

Where will the road take us in life? I often ask myself this question. When my husband and I travel we plan our trip accordingly. He is usually th driver or pilot and I am the co-pilot or navigator. We work great as a team. In fact, I would trust my life with him. Last night we watched another edition of “CBS’s Amazing Race” get under way, and I thought about our travels and what it would be like to embark on such a journey together. The truth be known, our journey’s are the best I have ever been on. They are often impromptu, but can also be planned down to the tiniest of details. Travel is an adventure to us, we are creative and have a knack, for figuring out our directions in life.

We are also foodies. We love to travel to experience the true culture of the world, rather that would be bistecca in Florence, pesce in Venice, or strolling the food market in the neighborhood of San Lorenzo. Bizarre foods are often on our plates.

This time in my life, I have came to a crossroad and have been contemplating a life-altering decision that will change the way we travel, at least for a bit. I have been researching WLS, and the thoughts that keep coming in mind, are “How will this change my travel life?” Well it should not; however, it will change the way I eat. Unfortunately, food is a major bit of enjoyment for me. But my focus will be changing. I will be making better decisions as to what to enjoy eating while traveling. Indeed my traveling adventures often lead themselves into culinary adventures. I guess I’ll have to limit my daily gelato…and Starbucks coffee treats. 😉

BTW: Way to go Patriots!!!   A nice victory…sorry about your Colts Cyndi from Indianapolis

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