Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tortilla Yumminess

This past week I've been involved in many activities and did a lot of cooking and baking. One of the funnest was these homemade tortillas. I think I may have kneaded the dough a little too long because when I went to roll them out they were rather rubbery and kept trying to come back together in their pre-rolled shape. We finally got through rolling and cooking them all. I have to thank my husband for rescuing me because I was getting tired and just hit a wall so he took over rolling the balls of dough out. He said he felt like a five year old because this should be easier and he was having a hard time. So I gave him some dough rolling pointers and went to sit done and calm down for a rest.

Here is the finished yummy snack. I was making them for the next day but they are the best when they are hot and fresh so we had to have some with some melty butter. Yum.

I've been really busy helping our young women get ready for a"New Beginnings" program where they get to welcome the girls who will be turning twelve and joining the program. I did a lot of the decorations and we assigned most of the talks to the young women and they did an excellent job.

My husband was reading over my shoulder this evening as I was reading other bloggers tags on their husbands. He thought it was pretty cute so I thought I might right one up for him. Have a great night and sleep well everyone. Mr. Sandman just informed me that I was going to bed, Pronto! So I'd better listen.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On My Breakfast Plate

I'd gotten into the habit of eating pancakes or french toast for breakfast so this morning I decided by body needed a little more balanced nourishment. Into the pan went a little oil. I like grapeseed the best because it has almost no flavor and a has high smoke point. Perfect for stir frying. I like to save better oils like olive and sesame as condiments to retain their flavors. I chopped up onions and garlic from my garden last summer. I started those carmelizing and then added chopped potatoes. Those cooked for a little while and then in went sliced crimini mushrooms. I like these because they are denser and taste a little like mini portobellos for a third of the price. While those cooked down and added moisture to the pan I chopped up broccoli and cauliflower. I started some crumbled up lite, extra firm tofu in another pan and added some salt, pepper and powdered chipotle pepper. The veggies were put in with the potatoes, onions and mushrooms and let to steam for a little while. The final touch was to put in some chopped fresh chard from my garden. When that was done I tossed in the tofu and sat down for a very tasty breakfast. Aahh...

Now it's off for some shopping with my son. We both are anxious for the spring semester which starts in two weeks. He is going to give me some voice lessons over at the university. I haven't spent regular, consistent time exercising my vocal chords since the last time I was in a choir, almost 14 years ago. So I signed myself up to sing in Acapella choir. Yikes, I'm a little nervous. So he is going to help me out with that. In exchange he gets to practice driving. We've got to get on the ball since he is almost 19 and still doesn't have his driver's license.

P.S. My son and I were experimenting with dropping in videos and playing with the source code so I've got some random things on here that I need to remove when I have time. Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Spiritual Renewal and Banana Bread Recipe

With all the storms renewing the planet with water we decided to take the small break between storms to head to the Sacramento for our own spiritual renewal and to drink from some refreshing living water. This is the Sacramento Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is located in Rancho Cordova. It was cold and gray outside but warm and peaceful inside. We were there for about two hours but I wished I could stay there all day. It was good to have the opportunity to have a break from the outside world for a little while and take some needed time to ponder and meditate on the changes in store for us. It was a little hard making the two hour drive down and back and having to come back to the real world. I must be tired because I overcooked my flan.

Speaking of baking, here is the recipe for the bread I made during the power outage. This is from an old book I think my mom got in Home Economics in Junior High. It's called, Let's Cook with Gail and was published in 1961.

Banana (Nut) Bread

1/2 cup shortening (my mother and I have always used butter, yum!)
t teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 bananas, mashed (use very ripe, they mash easier and have more flavor for the bread)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (you can omit this if using salted butter or margarine)
1 1/2 tablespoons sour milk or buttermilk (we never seemed to have this on hand and would put some lemon juice in the milk)
1 cup chopped nuts (we used to use walnuts until I started getting canker sores from them)

Start the oven at 350 degrees
Grease a loaf pan, 9 by 5 by 3 inches
Cream the shortening, lemon juice and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy, and very well mixed. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and add to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Mash the bananas with a fork, in the same bowl you used to beat the eggs (this cuts down on dishes but I always find it easier to mash the bananas on a plate).
Sift the flour, soda, baking soda, baking powder and salt together, and add half to the first mixture. Stir to mix well. Add the sour milk, and mix. Then add th3e rest of the flour, and mix well, but do not over beat. Add the nutmeats and stir.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake about 1 hour in 350 degree oven.
Cool about 15 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on rack (run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen if you have any trouble getting the bread out).
Slice thinly with a sharp knife.
This bread is easier to slice when completely cool (if you can wait), and tastes even better the second day after baking (if there is any left).

We like to eat this bread a couple of different ways: hot out of the oven with butter or a scoop of french vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream or toasted with butter or cream cheese. I can't believe we ate all the other banana bread. My mouth is watering now, the flan is hot and can't be eaten until tomorrow and there are not other baked goodies to eat. Besides, I'm ready for a good night's rest soon.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Depression and Relief

My desire to blog more often was thwarted these past two days by a bout of depression. My husband has been suffering from anxiety and depression since at least September of last year. I have suffered from depression for the past twenty years. It waxes and wanes with the stresses of life and my ability to deal with what is going on around me. We are going to have a lot of changes happening in our lives in the next year and most immediately in the next six months. We are probably going to be needing to move from our property that we rent. We are on three quarters of an acre with an extra building for our pottery studio and lots of space for our kilns. The landlord is ready to sell and we would like to buy but haven't been able to come up with the finances for it. We are hoping to be able to find another place to take all our equipment to but we have a lot and it is a lot to clean up and a lot to move. My husband moved on to this property about fifteen years ago and has accumulated a lot of things.

With all of these thoughts and trying to help my husband deal with things has gotten me kind of down. It's actually gotten me a lot down I just don't like to admit it. I have been taking Cymbalta for at least a year and I has been helping out a lot but I just decided I needed to up my dose so that I can get over these hurdles. I just started but I've got my fingers crossed and have been saying a lot of prayers.

Which brings to what I've been up to so early in the morning. I couldn't sleep anymore so I got up and then I decided I needed to read my scriptures. I can get all the scriptures online with the option to read the text or listen to them. They have updated the audio and it loads really fast which I love. I read the Old Testament, the New Testament and also The Book of Mormon which is additional scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ. This morning I was reading from The Book of Mormon in the Book of Mosiah, chapter 16. I especially was drawn to a few verses. Verse four reminded me that even though I make mistakes, I can be forgiven. Verses six through eight gave me hope of the redeeming love of Christ. Verse nine lifted me up knowing of Christ's beautiful light which can fill my soul and lift me out of the darkness. Essentially this passage reminded me of the love that Christ has for me. I said a prayer and I asked to be forgiven of the impatience, rudeness and mean attitudes I have shown to my family lately. I thanked my Father in Heaven for my blessings and I asked that my heart what be softened and that I might better be able to show my love to my husband and son. I asked that I might remember to think before I speak rather than allowing the first thing that I think of to pop out.
So say a little prayer for me if you think of it and I am sending out loving thoughts to everyone who might be needing that love today. Who doesn't need it?

Before I finish I thought I would show you an interesting picture of a sculpture that I made just this last quarter at Chico State in my ceramic mold making class.

This was a really fun class taught by Sue Whitmore.
I used a blue hubbard squash which I grew in my garden over the summer. I made a two part mold out of plaster and then used the mold to press clay into. The resulting clay piece was pretty cool and this crusty, peeling glaze makes it look like something in the process of decomposition. I didn't like the way it came out at first, but everyone else did and it has certainly grown on me in the last couple of months. Of course roasting the squash in the oven is delicious and it makes great pumpkin pies and pumpkin ginger cupcakes. I omit the cinnamon and just use ground ginger and they are scrumptious. Right out of the oven the tops are buttery and crispy. I find however that the flavor of the ginger marinates out into the cupcake from the chopped candied ginger and actually has a much fuller flavor the next day although the top is no longer crispy. Another great place to go for cupcake recipes is Cupcake Bakeshop. Ooh Yummy!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Alternative Power and Baking

Winds were gusting at 60 to 80 miles per hour and transformers and power lines were going down everwhere. We lost our power for good at about 8:00 am and still don't have any this morning. Thank goodness for the generator. We didn't plug in to it until late afternoon when my husband finally took pity on my internet withdrawals. Before that I kept busy baking by candlelight. I made a super yummy banana bread recipe from my mom. I'll post the recipe later. I'm too lazy to get out from under my nice warm blankets to go and get it.

The banana bread was delicious and I ate way too much of it. It was especially good with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream. All in all the day was a very interesting one. Being cooped up in the house with no power gives you a chance to spend time on things you might not otherwise take time for. I had a lot of family time with my husband and son. I brought one of the rabbits in from his outside pen that was too exposed so we had a bunny hopping around which entertained the cats. I took a drive with my husband and took a lot of low res photos and learned how to turn them into an animation using Photoshop Image Ready. But I need a new computer. Mine had to work too hard to crunch the info. I could then use Photoshops CS3 which uses animation right in the program instead of jumping over to image ready which I'm using with my CS version. And I am so impatient.

In the late afternoon the rain let up and the sun peaked through for about 15 minutes so we ran outside to do some damage assessment and reinforcements but nothing major. Then we took a drive downtown to take a walk with all the other people to see the downed trees and leaf and limb litter everywhere. It was kind of earie because there was no
power or lights anywhere and none of the businesses where open.

I'm still running on the generator today and I've got to get back to work and not be lazy all day. I need to get out into the pottery studio and put handles on the batter bowls and uncover the heart bowls so that I can get them going for Valentines Day. The weather reports say we wont have as much wing with the next system but it is supposed to get colder and snow levels will be dropping. We may even see a few flakes of it on the valley floor here in Chico. Have great day and be happy.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Storm, Wind ,Rain, in Northern California

I was warm and cozy in bed when I woke to the sound of the wind howling and the rain being flung against the windows outside. I was still in that sleep paralysis mode but flip opened the laptop on the nightstand to check the weather on NOAA.
This link will show you the current weather in the Sacramento Valley. It's crazy out there. No sooner did I get the laptop open and my husband peeked in and saw me and said, "Hey, I need some help out here." So I jumped up, threw on my ski pants, jacket an extra hat and my waterproof Hi-Tec hiking boots and went running outside into the storm. We have a thin wall on one side of our carport where we store the bisqued pottery ready to be glazed and the wall was peeling of in the wind. We screwed that on and saw the flash of a transformer blowing out in the distance . My fingers were starting to go numb so I ran around the place to take a quick look at the rabbits and to make sure nothing else was giving out.....Eeeeck the power went out and I was about to unplug everything when it came back on and the computer started powering back up. I decided to take the chance to let it warm back up so I could finish this post. I am a bit nervous about the weather and the power going out again so I think I'll sign off, go make breakfast and snuggle in for some scripture reading, baking and movie watching. I re-rented Mirror Mask which should be fun. If my laptop has enough battery power I may play with Photoshop.

Have a great day and stay safe.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Winter Garden

Nothing is blooming in the garden except the crazy pod sculptures I have been experimenting with. This one got frosted last night and I thought the texture of the ice crystals looked great with the turquoise glaze pattern. I've got to go help the men batten down the hatches. We've got some pretty hairy storms headed our way tonight and they are getting impatient for me. I'll have to write some more when I am snuggled up for the onslaught.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Blogger New Year

Happy New Year! The highlight of my year was finally getting my son adopted by my husband. This day had been long in the making. We are all happy that it is finally official. His birth certificate will also change to include his new last name.

I made it through my first semester and while grades haven't been posted yet I think I did a pretty good job. I'm looking forward to starting the spring semester. I'm working on my resolutions which I am historically bad at making and keeping but I have some major changes coming up in the future and some positive directions I'd like to head in. Of course, spending more time on my blog and making it more meaningful is going to be on the list. I hope everyone had a great day today.