RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Pictures

Life Springs from Decay

When I took this picture it reminded me of the decline in autumn as everything goes to sleep for the rebirth of spring.  Seeing the spring blossoms of the Vinca plant through the decayed leaf too brought these words to life…

Words from William B. Tappan: From ‘Beauty in the Grave’

And look upon the laughing earth,

Where spring in careless play

Puts forth its fairest blossoms, but

To deck them with decay.

I went on one of my walkabout today… in the woods just outside our home.  Ninnie went along: I do not know why she did not keep me company!  The last few days she has been so camera-shy… letting me know that I have enough pictures of her already.  I got a few shots: there is nothing clever about anyone of them.  She moves so fast it is hard to adjust the camera in time.  In one she thinks she has concealed herself atop a fallen tree.  She did invest some time exploring another log that had a nice hole…. one our red fox would use.

 

I guess she did conceal herself!

She would not look at me…

She is on the run… no pictures please!

A good fox hole!

We found a little color in the woods…

One of my garden orbs, it was a crackled clear glass orb, but with the sunlight adding depth I decided to see what I could do with my digital photography… it to me now looks like earth!

 Can now see one of my garden bunnies with the snow melted!

One of the Crocus in full bloom! Finally!

Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce

Dessert for Valentine’s Dinner this year was Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce.  The word ‘budino’ is Italian for pudding and I can say personally that Italian puddings are really mouth-watering, at least this budino was.   There were several different steps to this dessert but it was well worth the effort.

When I first saw the recipe at Bon Appétit I was bowled over and I knew that T would love it. The budino is made with caramel syrup you make and add to the milk and egg mixture, then the salted caramel sauce-topping is all you could want it to be and add fresh whipped cream to the mix and it was beyond expectancy.

I needed chocolate wafers and T was making the run… he wanted to know what I needed plain chocolate wafers for and I wanted to surprise him and told him to please just get them.  He came home with Nabisco Chocolate Teddy Grahams… but to my surprise they were perfect.  A deep chocolate flavor and made the perfect cookie crust.  I even decided to be whimsical and instead of garnishing with the cookie crust crumbs on top I put a Teddy Graham on top of each, it was Valentine’s Day and added to the love I feel for T and all that he does for me.  He loved the Budino and he loved the fact that I put a teddy on each.  It was his decision to buy the teddies and now he is a gourmet cook (didn’t you know!)  He made mention that he should or could be making more decisions on the finishing touches on our plated food!  I will let him!  Should have… Could have… Would have… We will see!

I will add the recipe here, there seems to be a problem with the connection (part of the time) at Bon Appétit:

Ingredients

Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs  (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about 20 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Budinot

  • 3 cups whole milk,  divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted  butter
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher  salt

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn  syrup
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted  butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lightly sweetened whipped  cream

Preparation

Cookie Crust

  • Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 2  tablespoons in a small bowl; cover and chill for garnish. Press 2 tablespoons  cookie mixture onto the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce mason jars or  ramekins.

Budino

  • Whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.  Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside.  To make caramel, stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium  heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until an  instant-read thermometer registers 210°–220°
  • Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a  large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk,  then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer  registers 175°, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, rum, and  salt. Pour through prepared sieve.
  • Pour 1/2 cup budino over crust in each jar. Cover; chill until  set, 4–5 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep  chilled.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla  bean; add bean. Set aside.
  • Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy  saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high;  boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush,  until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually add  vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until  smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and salt.  Strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each budino. Top with  whipped cream. Sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbs over  each.
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/09/caramel-budino-with-salted-caramel-sauce#ixzz1nFOCZneZ

The dinner was a week late with all that has gone on, but each Valentine’s Day I try to make a special dinner for T.   Between the stuffed pork chops and apple, peach salad it was a wonderful meal.   I do not like getting flowers, chocolates or gifts of any kind for Valentine’s Day.  A card that puts a smile on my face is all I need and that is not mandatory!  Just love me for me, which is all I can ask….

Stuffed Pork Chops

T loves pork; I think most men love pork, maybe everyone loves pork… I am not a big pork eater.  As a child I would not even touch the stuff… I thought it was pure fat!

Anyway…  I decided to make stuff pork chops for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner.  They went over well, I even enjoyed mine.  They were very easy to make I always keep a pint of homemade seasoned croutons in the pantry alongside a pint of toasted seasoned breadcrumbs, and one pint of crushed cracker crumbs.  When I need to make any one of the three I always make a few extra so I have them the next time a recipe could call for them.  It makes it (life) so much easier.

I had some pork broth in the freezer that I thawed and added:

  • Around 3∕4 cup of pork broth, you could use chicken broth
  • 1∕8 cup of diced onion
  • 1∕8 cup of diced celery
  • One clove of diced garlic
  • Some fresh Parsley that I chopped up
  • 1 Cremini Mushroom diced up
  • About 1∕8 cup of dried tart cherries, save until the last-minute to add to the simmering pot

I put everything into a little sauce pan except the parsley and cherries.  I simmered this until the onions and celery were just soft. This too will reduce some giving the broth more flavor.  I added the dried tart cherries and parsley just a few minutes before I needed to put this broth mix in with the bread mix.

While that was simmering I put some of the seasoned baked croutons in a Ziploc bag and rolled a roller pin over a few times (when I make my seasoned croutons I make them about an inch in size.)  I wanted them broken up in smaller pieces.  Add about half that amount in seasoned toasted bread crumbs and add in 1 Tablespoon of cornmeal.   Then add about ½ teaspoon of sage, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If you have a favorite bread stuffing than by all means use it!

Then spoon all the onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, and cherries out of the broth and stir them into the bread mixture.  Add just a bit of broth at a time into the mix, you do not want to get the stuffing too moist or soggy!  Let it cool down before adding one egg and mix it in.  Once it is thoroughly mixed leave it to dry out a bit.  Now it is time to stuff the pork chops.

 I had the butcher cut a pocket in each of the pork chops for me.  It makes it that much easier.  Once you have the stuffing ready, rested, patted, and loved stuff each pork chop as full as you can get it, using your hands.  (This is where I normally loosely stitch close the hole with some regular dental floss… as you can see by the photos I forgot until they had been in the oven about 30 minutes, too late!)  When finished wash your hands and then seasoned both sides of the chop with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to keep hands clean I use tongs to flip the pork chop over to get all sides seasoned.  Then wrap them up individually in aluminum foil and close it tight, place each in a baking pan and bake for about an hour at 350˚.   The timing could be different depending on the size and thickness of the chops.

I had a little stuffing left over so I used one of my small baking dishes and added a couple of tablespoon of broth on top of the stuffing put a cover on it and baked in  the oven while baking the stuffed pork chops.  When I was checking on them I could really smell the tart cherries cooking in the mix.  It all smelled so succulent and luscious.

While they were baking I made a cream sauce:

  • 1 Cup of pork broth or you can use chicken broth
  • 1 Cremini Mushroom sliced in half and then sliced into thin slices
  • About the same in diced onions that you have in the sliced mushrooms
  • One clove garlic diced up small
  • Some chopped Parsley

Put all in a saucepan and simmer until it has reduced by half.  When it is done while it is still at a low boil I whisked in 1 teaspoon of butter and then a couple of quick splashes of heavy cream.  I added just a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and let it simmer to thicken stirring every once in a while.  Sometimes when I want a nice cream soup I make this sauce as a soup… it is delicious!

I forgot we had roasted brussel sprouts on the side; they were a perfect side dish to the stuffed pork chops.

When you have baked the chops there will be some wonderful juice in each packet, I add it to my cream mushroom sauce!  Once I had the chops out of the foil I put them back in the baking dish and put them under the boiler for just a few minutes to lightly brown them.

The stuffed pork chops came out pleasing to the eye.  The dried tart cherries were a very nice complement to the dish.  The chops were moist and delicious and the broth cream sauce put it over the top, T loved them, which was all I needed to know….

Look what we found today on our walk… out front… spring is giving us a peek!

Chicken Panini and Spinach Orange Salad

It been a long month so to speak, it is time to try to have a normal day in and day out life again.  As normal as can be at the present time… I have not been eating right and my body is telling me that I need something that is fresh, crunchy, something with a little zing to it… something a little different that we have not had in some time.

T went to the market yesterday and stocked up on all kinds of fresh fruit and veggies.  Produce is something that I have always been very keen on.  As a child and even as an adult I have been known to eat right out of the garden.   I love fresh produce, the fresher the better!  We had a wonderful roasted chicken the other night and then had a nice cob salad but still have a little left.  We need to think of something that can use the last of the left over’s and still be enjoyed… thank goodness T does not mind having the same thing several days in a row.

We neither one felt like cooking and wanted something easy, quick and with little clean up.  But we were both ready for something that would left us up so to speak.  I told him I would do dinner; he has been so good to me the last few weeks.  Not one complaint out of his mouth and making sure I have everything I would need and more.

I decided to make us a Chicken Panini… spinach, sliced chicken, some cranberry relish… nothing fancy just a simple sandwich.

Then I thought a Spinach Orange salad would be really good with… I had everything I needed… everything was so fresh it would be perfect.  The salad I decided to mix some romaine hearts and spinach together and throw in some red onion, cherry tomatoes, orange slices, pistachios, to bad T forgot to get an avocado… it will not be missed.  With the Orange Salad Dressing I make it will be perfect.  It has lots of zing that we need to help left our spirits… it would put it out of the park that is for sure.  Late this evening after dinner I was trying to get caught up on my blogs and commenting and found that someone had the same thing in mind… a different version than mine but it sure looks look too!  Check it our at Chef in disguise, her looks incredible!

Orange Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon Lemon Pepper… can use fresh ground black pepper too
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon French Grain Mustard
  • Shredded Apple Smoked Gruyère Cheese for topping (not mixed in dressing)

Put everything into a jam jar (or such) and put the lid on tight (that is important… I know) and give it a really good shake.

The salad did not let us down and the  panini’s were perfect.  Everything united together to make one spectacular dinner.  We were both pleasingly surprised.  T said I could cook for him anytime….

‘Ninnie being Ninnie’ Things have not been normal around here and animals do pick up on when you are sick or down and such.  She has followed me around like a dog and wants to make me happy, she has even been sleeping at my feet at night, I think she thinks she has done something wrong… we all know better!  Today she got lots of love and was so happy until the high winds started and then rain was added to the mix… she decided to sleep through it all.  She is not a happy camper when the weather does not cooperate and she cannot go in and out a gazillion times!  Look at her wrapped up in her own little goodness!

In Loving Memory for My Mom… an Iris from My Heart

 

This little miniature botanical watercolor I had been working on as a surprise for my Mom for this coming Mother’s Day.  She loved the Iris… purple and yellow was her favorite.  She was my biggest fan of my miniature botanical watercolors and always made me feel like I was an artist.  This is for you Mom… from my heart with love.

My Mother passed away on February 10, 2012.  She is no longer in pain and is now in a place far better and more peaceful than what any one of us can conceive.

It was my Mom who I called when I decided to make Blackberry Vinegar or too how did she make this or that.  She would patiently go through the steps precisely on the complete instructions and let you know what she liked or preferred (you would have thought she was coming to dinner…) She would apprise you on this seasoning or a little something of that and the reasons and whys to her likings.  She was a wonderful cook… no one made potato salad like she did.  Her fried chicken could have won blue ribbons at the fair.

She is the one who would walk me through with only words on how to sew something (what a wonderful seamstress she was;) it seemed there was nothing she could not give me understanding on and she always had little remèdes for this or that.   We shared what we were reading and so much more… all said and done with laughter on one level or another… there was nothing we did not talk about.  We both did so much laughing; it made me feel good to hear her laugh… a goal I had for each new day’s phone call.

What are you up to now she would ask… my doings were always for something or someone or just for enjoyment and it was a way to bring her along for the ride so to speak.   It was a way to share my life with her, to get her opinions, I think more than not to make her feel she was still needed and too to let her know that she was still a big part of my life even though we lived over a thousand miles apart.  Nothing will compare to a good long talk with my Mom… a Mom that I dearly loved and too knowing I will miss more than I can imagine….

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