Monday, May 31, 2010

~Coffee Break~

I've been trying diligently to go through my collection of cookbooks to make sure I really need all of the many I've collected. If I can't find at least one recipe I really want to make I'm setting them aside to go to Goodwill. I've already brought 10-12 for donation *Gasp*. I breaks my little cookbook collectin' heart too, but I must make room for new ones :-) One cookbook I've held onto for many years without trying a recipe from is Golde's Homemade Cookies.

I bought the book at a used book sale at the library. Or maybe it was just never returned....

Eighteen years overdue...OMG...what must my fines be now????? There is probably a wanted poster of me at the Rapides Parish Courthouse. I'll never be able to show my face in town again.

But wait..what is this...seem that it was withdrawn. *Deep Sigh of relief* Could be because someone let their kid take a pen to it! Thank goodness I have no human kidlets or I'd have to start worrying again.....

Anyways...never fear. Golde is not Goodwill bound. I have browsed through this book many times and there are several excellent sounding recipes I've wanted to try. Lets just chalk it up to laziness..many many years of laziness. I just never got around to it.

Well this weekend changed all that. And Golde would be proud I'm sure. At about 10pm last night I got a wild hair and decided I wanted cookies...NOW! I whipped them up and baked them lickety split all in the time it takes to watch a DVR'd rerun so if you're looking for a quickie cookie recipe this is it.

Espresso Amaretto Cookies
adapted from "Coffee Cookies" in Golde Hoffman Soloway's "Golde's Homemade Cookies"

1/2 cup shortening (I used the butter flavored variety)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1 egg
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp amaretto liquer
1/2 cup nuts (I used slivered almonds)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl cream together the shortening, sugar and espresso powder. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on greased cookie sheet (or use a silicone mat like me). Bake for 10-13 minutes. Remove cookies immediately from pan and cool on a wire rack. They will be soft but harden up to a nice chewy cookie.

They have a nice mild coffee flavor and really make a great compliment to a real cup of coffee. I could see adding mini chips to this to give it more of a mocha flair.

I'm joining in for Moutherwatering Monday at A Southern Fairytale. Looks like some pretty tasty recipes you should go check out!

And with Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

And I've found another weekly virtual party that is pretty fitting for this post and something I need to attend every week Anti-procrastination Tuesdays @ New Nostaligia.

I think this also qualifies for my friend Carol's Cookbook Challenge!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mosaic Monday ~Rainy Weekend

Spring showers have set in here it seems to stay. No end in sight for now. Luckily there is a lot of color to shine through the gray drizzle.

Things like this delphinium need staking or they will droop right to the ground

These little siberian Iris seem to be able to withstand the rain though

So does that native thimble berry that has sprouted up behind it. Must yank that out before it takes over!

Now strawberries I'll keep

This first daylily couldn't be stopped. It's my only fragrant one...Hyperion I think.

I think the rhodies are used to the rain too

The poppies keep on poppin

More iris and rhodies holding their own.

Now the peonies I do worry about. I will need to cut these and bring them in as they open or they will take a nose dive

What I definitely don't worry about are my backyard birds who seem to be thriving in this soggy weather. Finches are here in droves. Check out that one that seems to be walking on air.

I think I counted 10 on the sock at one point

The clematis is apparently loving the rain too because some of mine have gone crazy this year

If you don't have a clematis in your yard..what are you waiting for? Lots of colors to choose from.

Speaking of clematis...I think the fairies I've been expecting have finally moved in under this little clematis covered obelisk (don't you love saying that word?).

And who wouldn't want to live under this cutie

One day a cute little trellised door appeared beside the toadstool

And then a little tiny birdbath with an equally tiny visitor

And lo and I nearly interrupted a fairy tea party

Looks like a lilliputian pot of blooming tea

More to come in fairy land! And now another kind of fairy parents celebrated 56 happy years of marriage on Friday the 29th. Don't they look snuggly here? Could be that they are still so very much in love...or could be that my Mom was freezing her little tooshy off. What do you think? :-)

On a weekend like this one, when June is knocking on the door but it feels like we are clinging to winter, you need a little taste of summer. This fresh flavored salad seemed to fit the bill. I got the recipe in the newsletter included with my biweekly veggie/fruit box delivered to my door by local Terra Organics. They always include recipes to use up the produce of the week, in this case radishes, cucumber and avocados.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Radishes, Cucumbers, and Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette
From via Terra Organics

1 cup quinoa (rinsed well)
2 cups water
2 avocados, peeled and diced
1 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 cup chopped radishes, diced

1 cucumber, peeled with thin green stripes remaining, seeds scraped out, and diced
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

3 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. all purpose seasoning blend of your choice (I used Penzey's Murals of Flavor..a gift from my sweet friend Jayne)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Bring 2 cups water to boil in a small saucepan, stir in quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, because it may take more or less than 15 minutes, depending on exactly how high you have the heat. Let the cooked quinoa cool for a few minutes, then place in salad bowl, fluff with a fork and cool until quinoa is room temperature. While quinoa cooks and cools, toss diced avocado with the lime juice. In a small bowl, stir together the 3 T lime juice, ground cumin, seasoning, and salt, then whisk in the olive oil. When quinoa has cooled, stir in the diced radishes, diced cucumbers, and thinly-sliced green onions. Stir in enough dressing to moisten salad to your liking. Gently stir in diced avocado, season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve immediately.

Enjoy the week and may you have more sunshine than is predicted for me! Go check out all of the mosaics at Little Red House. I'm joining in with my mosaics this week.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Flashback Friday ~Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day and those who have lost their lives fighting to preserve the freedoms we enjoy, I'm flashing back to 1990 when I visited the American Cemetery at Normandy. When you see all of those pristine white crosses, it's a humbling experience and an image that stays with you forever. All of these crosses representa soldier that never made it home. And this was only a glimpse of a sea of crosses and Stars of David.

This image is another I won't forget...the mosaic that covers the ceiling of the chapel on the grounds of the cemetery.

"Thank you" doesn't seem to go far enough when the gift is a life. But I will extend a Thank You all the same and a prayer for all of those soldiers still putting themselves in harms way.

Join me with your Memorial Day memories or any other Flashback by adding your link below

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday stroll at Lakewold Gardens

My parents were in town for a few days so being the good daughter that I am I took them to visit a place in town, Lakewold Gardens, that I've been wanting to visit for years...hehe...just a tad self serving, but I knew they would enjoy it too. I had a very bad experience ordering flowers for my Mom this year on Mother's Day...let me just warn you (my readers) don't order online from FTD!!!! She never got her I thought a garden full of flowers might make up for it a little.

A little history about the gardens...the plot of land sits on Lake Gravelly, now surrounded by mansion like homes. Remember, you can click on each picture to make them larger.

When it was originally bought for development in 1908 it was probably pretty woodsy as is much of the land around here, but over time the various owners transformed it into a showplace of a garden..manicured and wild at the same time. You can read about the history of the gardens HERE. In the 1950s, the latest owners had the help of Thomas Church who was a respected landscape architect who gave us the concept of "outdoor rooms". The linked article HERE about Church's connection to Lakewold gives more detail about some of its features. It was him that designed the beautiful Rhododendron walk as you enter the gardens.

We were told by the guide that there are over 900 rhodies in the garden and over 200 different varieties. This is one of the more unusual.

Some more recognizable

So many different colors

Some of interesting leaf shapes

Even the mess of losing their petals is beautiful in this setting...that's a bed of oxalis flowering under the rhodies.

After doing a rhodie "loop" you link up with the long curving driveway which is flanked by more rhodies and mature shading trees. There's almost a southern feel to this section of the gardens, reminding me of similar scenes featuring azaleas in my Louisiana home.

It's along this drive that you begin to get glimpses of the mansion which looks very formal and austere compared to the wild beauty around it. I think that's one of the things so special about this place is how the two opposites have been combined.

The mansion is flanked by a low wall featuring two sweet statues. A young lady

And maybe her brother or beau?

I was surprised to see this camellia still blooming in front of the house. It must be a very late variety

You can walk through a portion of the home and its used today for weddings and the like. This is a view from the library onto a little patio

And a chandelier in the foyer which showcases a beautiful curving staircase.

As you come around to the back of the house you find a wonderful surprise

We visited the gardens at just the right time to see the pergola decorated with various varieties of wisteria. The fragrance was wonderful and the view from beneath is what my garden dreams are made of.

Any view is improved when you look at it through a veil of Wisteria

As you step off the patio

And look back at the mansion you are struck with the "Englishness" of this section of the garden

...with the walls and vines, kiwi in this case

And hedge knot garden

And interesting statuary

And the cutting garden which had peonies blooming at the moment

And some unique perennials like this cute little columbine.

Here are my parents enjoying the English gardenishness of it all

There is a huge expanse of lawn behind the mansion, but surrounding it and below it is a path the brings you to the more natural sections of the garden. This photo shows the natural slope of the land down towards the lake. Just a side note..what you can't see in this was just to the right... a picnic basket and a blanket laid out waiting for its wandering picnickers to return. It was just so perfect it made my heart pitter patter.

Beautiful mossed carpeted paths lead you through the shade of the trees

This is looking toward the lake. There is some very good use of natural rocks..or well placed ones that were brought in...I'm not sure its too hard to tell..

The vignettes and "rooms" that have been created within the natural areas are amazing

Obviously well planned but somehow coming across as uncontrived

This stairway leads to one of the most beautiful outdoor rooms of the whole gardens

But before we reach our destination, lets look back down the stairway and you get a feel for the variety of trees that were used in creating this woodland paradise.

And here we a spot I could sit all day. This beautiful pond which has waterfalls leading to and away from it

Natural (?) bridges allow you to cross the slow flowing stream in a couple of areas

A few steps higher and your above the pond in the Peace Garden

Where there is quaint seating

And a rustic devotional....St. Francis I presume.

After pausing there for a bit of reflection you follow a short path, you emerge from the Woodland garden and enter a more formal area that is home to the Tea House

Which served as a bathhouse for the ornate pool

We missed the cherry blossoms that bloom here in the spring..but what a wonderful reason to go back next year!

Leading back towards the house is a beautiful little outdoor room with a bit of Japanese flavor

And a closer shot of that gorgeous maple

As many pictures as I've shown here its hard to capture all of the beautiful touches throughout the garden, like this cute little planter.

Filled with what I'm not 100% sure but I want to find out. Anybody have a clue? Maybe a kind of saxifrage?

There is a nice little walk leading to the giftshop where these candelabra primroses were growing

And for sale at the shop....this unusual variegated Japanese maple

If you have stayed with this tour through to the end you are quite the trooper! But just know I left out SO many if you're ever in the Tacoma area its worth the visit to these beautiful gardens. I will close with a mosaic made from a few of the MANY photos I took of the wisteria. I'm joining in on Mosaic Monday over at Little Red House. Go check out the rest of the beautiful mosaics.
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