Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Celebrate friendships and simplicity!

I have three cards that I want to get done this week. I decided I would do this one first. I know there are very talented card makers out there that can throw papers together and make them sing. I am not sure I will ever be one of them. I know putting lots of different designs together is getting to be popular, but I guess it just isn't my favorite look. I love color! I love color muted, bold, rich, earthy, done in compliments, done in contrasts... I really love color. But, I don't really love a lot of different design together. I don't like it in clothing, my home, art and not on small areas like cards. It just is not me. Color and clutter are two different things for me. So, to attempt a card using different patterns is not easy. It just doesn't come naturally. It has been said that if I had been tested as a child for ADD... I'd have definitely been positive. Maybe that is all a part of not liking busy, especially overly busy design.

Anyway, I thought I would venture out on this card and give it a shot. Looking at the finished product I can not believe how little I ventured out with mixing the paper up. While assembling this card, I felt like it was a hodge podge mess. It is not as bad as I had anticipated, but I am still uncomfortable with a whole bunch of wacky design together thing. I just like simple. :-)

This card is for my girlfriend that I should honestly buy a set of pom-poms for, for Christmas. She is my biggest encourager when it comes to card making. She loves color, art and has a great eye for style. She has since I've known her.... elementary school... YIKES!! Anyway, she was a safe place to try this because if there is a nugget of good in the mess, she'll see it and not hesitate to say so. There is the extremely honest side of her that will shed light on the whole of it of course. Oh well, the enjoyment I got out of making this card is that it will be going to her.


Monday, July 9, 2007

Basil Pasta and Herb Bread.

Over the weekend I threw together an Angel Hair dish using lots of fresh Basil. I make this every summer as soon as the basil is ready to harvest, and we have it regularly until the basil is gone. We really enjoy it so I thought I would share it.

Angel Hair with Basil

1 lb. uncooked Angel Hair pasta
olive oil
fresh garlic cloves... I use about 4 (we like garlic okay?)
5-6 cups fresh tomatoes, seeded & diced
5 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
*scant 1 cup chicken broth & add to your broth......
salt and freshly ground pepper as you like & stir
  1. Cook pasta. Drain well. Do not rinse.
  2. While pasta is draining, add just enough olive oil to barely cover the bottom of the pot the pasta was in.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients in the order given.
  4. Add drained pasta, drizzle a little more oil over pasta, and toss to distribute all ingredients as evenly as possible.
  5. Empty all into a large bowl or Pasta serving dish.
  6. Garnish with top sprig of fresh basil.
Set out some crushed red pepper and extra Parmesan cheese. Bon Appetito!

I usually serve this with a simple salad and warm crusty bread with herb butter.
* You can substitute pasta water for the broth... it just is not as tasty.
Sorry no picture. I wasn't planning to post this recipe.... I'll get one next time.

Pasta Tip:
  • Drain pasta immediately and shake excess water out. General rule, rinse only if recipe say to.
  • Do not rinse pasta if it is headed for a dish that is going to be served immediately with sauce. The starch left on the pasta helps the sauce stick to it... very helpful with the more petite pastas such as Angel Hair.
  • Do rinse pasta if the noodles are wide like lasagna, jumbo shells or manicotti. These pastas are hard to handle and tear easier if not rinsed. Do rinse any pasta headed for a cold dish such as pasta salad. The starch left on the noodles is just slimy and gross when cold. Rinse in cold water. I throw ice cubes in the colander and toss about. This stops the cooking process, makes noodles easier to handle and gets the pasta colder, faster, and that is great for cold pasta salads.
More Herb Fun!

Last night while watering the herbs, they gave off the most beautiful aroma. They do that every time I water once they are mature. But last night, I could smell the marjoram. That herb is generally overpowered by the other more pungent ones. When I looked at the plant I noticed that it really needed cut back. Time to use the marjoram. I really enjoy that herb. So I put together a loaf of bread using some of it.

I made this loaf in my bread machine instead of by hand. And, to get a little racier... I even used the One-Hour feature. You may notice that the milk is hotter than you would normally use and the salt is scantier. Both are to accommodate the chemistry that has to be present if you are going to make and bake the loaf in one hour. Also, you can use Bread Flour, simply omit the wheat gluten. I just prefer use my own gluten and so I use all-purpose flour.

Tonight's Herb Bread

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons whole milk... at least 115 F but no hotter than 125 F
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons wheat gluten
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chive, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 teaspoons fresh marjoram, chopped

Use the directions needed for your bread machine. For mine, I put the ingredients in the bread machine in the order I gave them in. I have all of my ingredients measured out and ready to add because the milk will begin dropping in temperature as soon as it leaves the sauce pan it was heated in. Cooled milk... no yeast action. I make a well for the yeast in the middle of the flour. I add the salt to an outer corner because if the salt directly touches the yeast, it can retard the yeasts growth.

Loving the summer!!!! And, really I am an Autumn person... go figure. The herbs get me every time.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Baking Basque and gardening.

Well, it's Saturday and that just seems to be the morning I bake. Weekday mornings are too rushed and with only 2 days on the weekend, early Saturday morning has just been a good time for me to bake, and for Jon and I to actually talk and catch up. He really enjoys cherry anything, and cherry almond is a flavor he really likes. So, I made the Basque Cake I referred to in my post a couple of days ago. This cake is really simple to make and would be worth it at four times the work. I think it makes the perfect coffee cake. I am also thinking it will become a permanent part of my Christmas day baking. The next time I bake this cake I am going to have Millstone Chocolate Velvet coffee. Though I am not a huge chocolate fan, I think chocolate would be the perfect compliment to this buttery, cherry, almond, tasty treat.

Guess what this picture means. It means that I am going to be baking Lavender Tea Cookies. Working on a Lavender Scone recipe. Enjoying icy cold Lavender Lemonade and Iced Tea with Lavender. I will be drying Lavender to mix with dried English Mint, Lemon Verbena and Chamomile that I dry in the fall to make a soothing homemade herbal tea blend. New for me this year (I have been waiting eagerly to try this) I am going to make Lavender Sugar. I am really excited about that. I just haven't decided if I am going to go dried or fresh, ground or sift style. I am leaning toward dried and ground. I will be making some closet and drawer sachets. And, if there is enough after all of that, I will add what is left of the dried Lavender to my thyme, rosemary, marjoram and basil at the end of the season. Throw in a little savory and bay leaf. Mmmm... maybe no bay leaf this time. Voila! Homemade Herbs de Provence.

I haven't really listed the things in my garden. Here they are:

Early Girl, Better Boy & Beef Master Tomatoes
Red, Yellow & Green Sweet Bell Peppers
Jalapeno Peppers
Bibb (Butter head type) Lettuce
Gourmet Blend Lettuce (red and green loose leaf)

English Thyme
English Mint
Lemon Verbena
Lemon Thyme
Greek Oregano
French Tarragon
Sweet Basil
Genovese Basil
Garlic Chive
Curry Plant

Be well and blessed!

Friday, July 6, 2007

A great find... America, Bless God.

A few years ago, sometime after 9-11, when I was becoming discouraged with the slogan, "God, Bless America", I put in a Google search for, "America, Bless God". I found nothing. Nothing. I was a little surprised. The lack of anything for that search caused me to wonder if I shouldn't start making bumper stickers. In fact, I found a website that made it very easy to do that. My husband has access to all sorts of marketing/printing media types of things. My mind was a rolling. But, life was full at that time and a little hectic, so the notion got lost in the cracks of everyday stuff.

Update: I put that Google search in today and I was very excited to find...... plenty. My favorite (not that I looked at them all), but my absolute favorite is now the newest link on my list of "Great Links". I have read every page of this site and I believe with all of everything that is in me that it's message is accurate, timely, relevant and mostly.. The Truth! I would encourage you to take a look at it. The site is not too huge so I won't put a link here for their "purpose". It's easy enough to go to that when you are on the site.

Isaiah 29:13 says that, "And so the Lord says, "These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote." I think this is how America as a whole has become. I know there are many that really press in and seek God. There are many that are honoring Him with their hearts in everyday life and decisions. But the morality of this country is not where it could and quite honestly needs to be. I think well intentions go behind the signs that say, "God, Bless America." But the obedience and seeking God daily is maybe not there. Am I being judgemental? No. My heart is so broken over this and I want so much to see this nation, be a people called by God's name, humble itself, pray and seek God's face, turn from the wickedness of it's ways so that God will hear us in Heaven, forgive our sins and restore our land. And, call me crazy... I think that will happen. I believing and holding out for just that.

Well anyway, here is the web site I found and have so gladly added to my "Great Links". I hope you visit it and enjoy your time there. You will just never believe the name of the web site.

www.AmericaBlessGod.com Kinda cool beans, heh?? :-)

Blessings all around!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

America, Bless God!

   While in Texas this past week, I had the opportunity to see the movie, What a delightful movie! There were several Scriptural principles conveyed in this film. The overall theme of the movie is that if you follow your passion, and are Ratatouille. diligent about it, you can achieve your dream, regardless of the odds against you, including where you came from, or who you are. A common thread throughout the film was the value of honesty. They made that point very well. Another message in the film was the value of a good friend. The virtue of loyalty is given some spotlight as well. Three of the characters are changed by the power of love. The other lesson I appreciated was to not look back at where you have been, but always look forward to where you are going. The little rat Remy, is passionate, diligent, shows himself friendly to unlikely recipients, learns that honesty is always best and loyalty quite important, and presses on rather than stumbling and looking back. This behavior results in the most amazing display of....... hum..... I'll leave that for you to see and decide. But before you do, I must add this.......

   On the down side, like so many other "children's" movies, there were age inappropriate scenes. There is a considerable amount of wine drinking. One scene resulted in the youngest person in the movie who is also one of the main cast of the show, getting drunk. A scene of a couple fighting, a gun is involved, a spilled glass of wine, and then the two ultimately kissing to make up... quite passionately, is shown. The female lead character slaps the lead male character across the face and this is left to appear normal. She also draws a spray container of mace on him at one point. She is hostile and defensive throughout the majority of the movie. I will say that once love sets in, all of that does change. That is however, near the end. There is a scene that a shot gun in used repeatedly and haphazardly by an elderly woman and one where the chefs in the kitchen are violently throwing knives. Both of those acts of violent aggression are aimed at the rats. There are dead rats hanging in a store window displaying the potency of Rat Killer they are selling. There is at least one rat in a trap as well. There are lines such as, "Welcome to, Hell." and "I will kill you." in this film. But I think maybe one of the rock bottom disturbances for me is that the entire story is based on an orphaned child, born out of marriage.

   Are these situations children will grow up to know about and have to make their own judgements about? Yes. Do they need to be portrayed as normal and entertainment? I don't really think so. See if for yourself and then decide on the appropriateness for your family.

   A little addition here. I like fine cars, especially foreign cars... and most especially, small foreign cars. I really enjoy the Mini-Cooper. The VW Beetle has been a favorite of mine since the late 60's, and while in Germany a few years ago I discovered the "Smart Car". So, an added perk for me was the array of really cute cars you get to see. And, another side note... the food and it's preparation is great.

   All in all, this is a timeless, genderless, race-less, delightful and wonderful piece of cinematic art. It is however in my opinion, not ageless, it is for adults. I predict it to be a classic.

   Since seeing Ratatouille, I've wanted to whip up some French cuisine. So........... we started the day off with rich dark coffee and Tarte Aux Mure & Framboise. The recipe is really for Tarte Aux Fraises. I had to choose between yellowish strawberries, and ones with mold already on them. So the Tarte became a Blackberry and Raspberry tart. When putting it together I realized my fruit selection lent itself to being patriotic after all... whoo hoo. I did use the Sugar Crust Pastry that the chef recommends.
Unfortunate UPDATE: The site http://www.easy-french-food.com/ was one of my favorite French recipe sites but no longer functions quite like it once did, and these two links are no longer useful.

When I got home from Texas, I noticed my basil was growing in abundance. So the other French recipe I chose was, Chicken with Basil Cream. Dinner looks a little like this:

Chicken with Basil Cream
Poulet avec de la Creme de Basilic
Fresh Green Beans with Tarragon Butter and Toasted Almonds
Les Haricots Verts frais avec du Beurre d'estragon ont grille des Amandes
Baked Potato with Butter, Chive, Salt and Pepper
Pomme de terre cuite au four avec du Beurre, Ciboulette, Sel et le Poivre

It's been a while since I've taken French, but that should be about right. I am thinking about taking French again. I have always liked the language, and if I get to England in the next year, it could come in handy. Maybe Berlitz??? The movie...... well it moved me. Guess you figured that out already.

Perhaps I should have waited ten days to make these two tasty French recipes. I could have done a little Bastille Day thing. Of course if I am to celebrate anything on the 14th of July, it would be my youngest grandson's first birthday. :-)

Have you ever thought about the similarities and differences between our Independence Day, July 4, and France's "Fete Nationale" or Bastille Day, 14 Julliett? Both celebrated in July and grant a day off from work. Both display the national colors of red, white and blue. Both required violence and deaths. Both sport fireworks, airshows, parades and picnics. Anthems of victory evolved from both events. Both commemorate independence for the people, and both began in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. I guess the big differences are that we became independent from the British, and the French were essentially freed from their own government...... and........... the food. Ah, the food. There are some differences there. Typical fare.......... American: hamburgers and hot dogs. French: varieties of baguettes, local cheeses, charcuterie.. (cooked meats such as ham and seasoned dried sausages), fish and chicken pates. American: potato salad and baked beans. French: mixed green salads, mixed olive salads and ragouts such as eggplant and peppers. American: chips and dips. French: bowls of fruit. American: lemonade, beer and wine coolers. French: wine. American: cake and watermelon. French: Madeleines, macaroons, Basque Cake and lots of cherries.

If you noticed not seeing any of the typical creams or sauces in the French food offering for the Bastille Day fare, it is because they typically do not introduce their smooth and scrumptious creams and sauces to summertime celebrations. The Tour de France is going on at the time of the Bastille Day festivities. Maybe that trip to England this year needs to be that week, next year. :-)

I fully intend to make a dinner of Ratatouille when the tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers come in. :-) I will stick to the traditionally common Provincial method rather than "Classical" higher end method. You see both in the movie.

Ratatouille: A popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs — all simmered in olive oil. The vegetables can vary according to the cook. They can be cooked together, or cooked separately and then combined and heated briefly together. Ratatouille can be served hot, cold or at room temperature, either as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers. source: www.ChefsLine.com

I have waited until today to add a favorite website of mine to my list of, "Great Links". I am going to give a link here so that anyone that wants to see what the purpose and general mission of the web site is, can do that. The new web site I am adding is, Wallbuilders. I hope you will spend some time looking it over. It is an amazing and vast wealth of credible information about our government, its history, where we are headed.... and how to get where we want to be. We have an important election coming up this next year and there are messages out there being thrown at us from all directions. Be sure you are getting the truth so that you are best informed, and can make sound decisions about where you stand and how you will vote. And, DO vote.... please.

No matter where you go, you see a signs, decals, T-shirts, ball caps, yard signs, pennants.... and the list goes on and on, that say, "God, Bless America". I really do understand that when that slogan is displayed, it is displayed sincerely, and with the very best of intentions. But, I have to tell you, when I do see that slogan displayed, it makes me sad because it implies we are without hope, or at best have to nebulously grovel for help. Sometimes it makes me angry because like it or not, the enemy of our souls strives to make us feel hopeless. In general to see that saying slapped everywhere can make me a little weary. I really believe that it is essentially a slap in the face of, God and at best it must grieve Him. Think about it. Let's just say you have just set dinner on the table. And, you have made your child's favorite things, all of them. They are ready to eat... all junior has to do is listen to you when you call, go to the table, and make the effort to receive it. But, junior is sitting in the middle of the front yard whining because he wants to eat. You tell him every way you can that everything he could ever want is just inside at the table and that all he needs to do is get up, go in, sit down and enjoy it all. Well, as hokey as you may be thinking that illustration is, that is exactly what that slogan is saying. You see, God has already done it all, and you can read ALL of it in His promises.. His Word.. The Bible. There is no more for God to do with us except send Jesus back to get us (and the events that will surround all of that). God has done what He is going to do. He has sealed it with the blood of, Jesus. He has given us His Word so we can know all about what He has done and promised. Now, it is up to us. We need to listen to Him, get up and obey Him, and receive those promises. Instead of "God, Bless America", how about we begin seeking Him through His Word, obeying Him and believing the promises He has already given us? How about??? "America, Bless God!" The results would be more wonderful than we could ever imagine or ask for!

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Psalm 91:

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

I don't know about you, but I receive that and pray it over my family... regularly!