Treats, not tricks :-).

In celebration of the day, how about a give away? I wrote about Kathy Doughty's wonderful new book earlier this month… would you like to win a copy? If so, leave a comment on the blog and on Sunday I'll choose a winner at random. If you leave a comment, be sure tocheck back Sunday afternoon or Monday morning to see if you won. Sometimes there's an email link to you in your comment, and sometimes there isn't. If I don't know where to send the book, you might miss out.


MakingQuiltsCover

And because it's Halloween and because Steve and I did dress up on Saturday (with friends) to attend a Halloween wine stroll in downtown Sherman, I thought I'd share a photo. The six of us were mad scientists. Steve stuck to type and went as a mad bug scientist. I channeled Marie Curie and was radioactive-ish. I added glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets after this photo. Our group won the adult costume category!


Boo-BeckyAndSteve

Have I got a drink for you!

I recently decided that I wanted to find a tasty, alcohol-free, evening beverage. I love a good mai tai and I wondered if I couldn't alter my favorite mai tai recipe. What makes this mai tai so good is the ginger liquer, but I didn't want the alcohol so I made ginger syrup. 

Ginger Syrup

I made this recipe up—feel free to play with the amounts. Combine the following ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool. Strain. Put in a bottle or jar. Refrigerate.

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup water with approximately (I'm going to try this with honey next time)
  • 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger.

(FYI- this is really good stuff. I think it would be a nice flavoring for tea, or even water.)

Here's the drink I came up with. I'm calling it…

Gingerfire OJ

GingerFireOJ

  • Orange juice (I prefer a brand with no added sugar)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of ginger syrup (recipe above)
  • Optional: a splash of grenadine
  • A straw dipped in hot sauce (I like Frostbite).

To make a Gingerfire OJ, add 1-2 tablespoons of ginger syrup to a glass. Fill the glass 2/3 full with orange juice, stir. Add ice. (I use ice from Sonic. Crushed ice would be good, or just regular ice if that suits you.)

The fire comes from the hot sauce. Dip a straw into the bottle of hot sauce to coat the inside and outside of the bottom 1/3 of the straw. Unless you want lots of fire, do not put your finger over the end of the straw! Stir the drink with the hot straw. Garnish with fruit, or not.

 

 

On pumpkins… and pain.

It's sinus infection season in north Texas and I got one on Sunday, and the insane headache that goes with it. I barely got up off the sofa for two days. I felt pretty pitiful until I was out and compared notes with other north Texans, many of whom would have been on the sofa if they could. My antibiotic kicked in this morning and it's nice to be back up and at it.

I have come to realize, once again, that I don't handle pain well. That seems obvious… none of us like pain. But there are so many people who have chronic pain and I don't know how they cope, day in and day out. When I feel good, it's easy to imagine that I could deal with it—but I don't know that I could. This is a reminder to me to 1) be more compassionate and 2) to be thankful for every pain-free day.

Now, to the pumpkin part of the post! Ever since my mom moved to Texas a few years ago, she has been involved with pumpkin carving with her great-grandchildren. I very rarely get involved—this is her thing. This year they did the deed on Sunday. I got off the sofa and took some pictures…

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This is not an in-the-house activity… they make the mess in mom's garage.


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I'm especially happy that I did not have my hand in any pumpkins, but the kids didn't seem to mind.

Bear spent his time tied into a chair and he mostly enjoyed it. He was noisy, but happy.


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Jack was given his own, sharp knife and he worked with it well. 


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I think Christopher had a good time—although he looks a little grim here. Maybe he has on his Halloween face?


PumpkinCarve-2013_09 copy

 

That wasn’t so bad…

I have a new tear duct! I have high hopes that this is going to work. For any of you who might be facing this surgery, know that it was not bad at all. My nose is a little swollen but my face is not bruised and there was very little pain. The bruise from the IV in my hand hurt worse than my face did. 

I took it easy for 2 days then yesterday I did a little cake and pie baking because we celebrated Jack's 6th birthday last night.


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I took pictures of the present-opening. Jack was the center of attention in my photos, but it was fun to look back this morning and see what Bear was doing while we weren't really paying attention. Amazingly enough, he did not end up spilling Lorna's mai tai.

Everything old is new again in toys… Jack got a big Lego set, a game, some Thundercat action figures (when did they come back?), and clothes. Sue, Celia's mom, is the best shopper for kid toys—way better than I am. I do love the google-y eye glasses she got him…


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I'm back to work on the computer. I hope to finish the text on the book in the next week and then turn my attention back to making quilts. That's the fun part and I am ready for it!

 

 

 

Boo!

Boo

I did not decorate much for Halloween but I did pull out my black cat, tinsel spiders, and the skull. When I push the magic button, the eyes on the skull light up and it makes a spooky noise. It turns itself off—too quickly in my opinion.

I'll never forget the year I bought the skull. Jack was 2 or 3 and it scared him—a lot. He looked at me as if I had betrayed him! I had to hide it until he got older. At 5.99 years old, he can take it now. Bear is only 7 months old, but I am not showing it to him. (Bear pulled himself up to a standing position yesterday, at my house! That's new.)

In other news, I'm showing this photo today because of the eyes on the skull. Tomorrow I am having a new tear duct drilled from my right eye to my sinus. Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while might know that I've had surgery to open my lacrimal duct 3 times. For whatever reason, this very standard way to treat a blocked tear duct has not worked on me. The next step is for an oculoplastic surgeon to drill me a new one. I do hope it works because the next step is not easy.

Why do I need the duct to be open? Because my eye makes tears and they don't drain. They wash down my face. It's not only annoying, it makes the skin around my eye feel bad. And I get a lot of eye infections (that's not good at all.) It's gotten to the point where I can no longer wear eye makeup… and you know, that's not all bad. I can't foof (phoof? pfoof?) up as well, but it saves a huge amount of time. And washing my face is lots easier. But still… I just bought new mascara and it's just sitting there. 

If I don't post for a few days, that's my excuse. It's not supposed to keep me down for more than a day or two but I might stretch it and watch Netflix for an extra day :-). I want to see Orange Is The New Black… 

PS—If you don't get the newsletter, I did put up a new video on how to use the Clover yo yo maker. If you don't know how to use it, you should watch this. It's a really cool tool!

 

 

Best Ever Granola

I'm at the Savannah airport, waiting for my plane home. Even though I love teaching, I do love going home!

Before I left home last week, I had to make a new batch of granola. I eat a half cup of this stuff with plain greek yogurt every day. I like to add fruit: blueberries in season, and lately sliced bananas. It fills me up, and it I'm not hungry again until lunch time.

I've written about my recipe before, but it has evolved. This time I happened to add the ingredients in a different order and darned if that didn't make a big difference. Here's the link to my new recipe:

Download BestEverGranola

The trick is to mix the nuts, spices, oil, and then honey—then add the oats! I had always added the oats first and it was harder to mix everything evenly.

BestEverGranola-1

The granola is light in the bowl, then it browns up some as you cook it.

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It's toasted, but not dark when it cools.

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I stir it up when it's still hot, scraping the bottom of the pan and then let it cool completely. I keep it in any airtight container and scoop it out a half cup at a time. 

FYI—it makes a nice salad topper too!

 

Easiest pie crust, ever—and it’s gluten free!

We take part in the Bountiful Baskets food co-op most weeks. We sign up on Monday and pick up on Saturday. While there are a variety of foods available, we most often sign up for the fruit and vegetable box. Every week is different and you never know what you are going to get. On Saturday we got several granny smith apples. Time for pie!

Now that I have a good pie crust recipe, I like making pie. This recipe is by Annalise G. Roberts, from her cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Her website is here. I buy the GF Classical Blend flour by Authentic Foods that Ms Roberts recommends. I like it better than any other GF flour. It tastes as good as any wheat-based crust that I’ve ever tried.

Download Traditional Pie Crust

(If you are not interested in gluten-free baking, click here to read a post with an excellent pie crust that is as easy to make.)

My pie-baking experience Sunday morning was not without a couple of hiccups. I was distracted and mis-measured the ingredients for the crust not once, but twice! It hurt to throw out the 1st and 2nd attempts but, thankfully, the third time was the charm.

ApplePie

Steve and I each ate one small slice. Mom wanted two as well (one for today, one for tomorrow). The rest of the pie went to Chris and Lorna.

Lorna does not eat white sugar. Honey is fine, as is crystalized coconut or palm sugars. Steve and I eat very little processed sugar and so learning to bake without it is fine by me. The little bit of processed white sugar in the crust recipe was so small that Lorna and I figure it’s OK.

I substituted 2/3 cup honey for the 3/4 cup of combined white and brown sugars called for in the filling recipe. I used coconut sugar in the crumb topping. 

Coconut sugar is brown and has a different consistency. The crumb topping looks different than it would have with white sugar, but it tastes just fine :-).


ApplePie-Slice

FYI—The apple filling recipe came from GF Baking Classics as well. Honestly, this is my go-to dessert cookbook. The cakes are fantastic!