Saturday, December 20, 2014

"They call me mellow yellow....." ~ Donovan

December BITE, and saffron was our theme! Saffron was a new ingredient to each of us, and while I can tell you that we all loved the color that saffron brought to our dishes, we all admitted that we were not certain that we could detect a particular flavor that we could say - yes, that's the saffron! The day after, when I reheated leftovers, I think that I detected something a bit earthy that I could not attribute to the other ingredients. I don't know - weigh in - if you have eaten dishes with saffron in it, how would you describe the flavor? The color, in scarlet strands, is truly beautiful!

On to the dishes! Tierney prepared Malpura (Ricotta Pancakes with Cardemom Syrup). She called before dinner in a bit of a panic because the pancakes were sticking to the pan. Word to the wise - if you make this recipe (and I highly recommend it) insert "nonstick" before "skillet" in the instructions! 

A wonderful combination of flavors. You would never know that ricotta was the main ingredient - the texture betrayed nothing that I would attribute to ricotta. The addition of the syrup and pistachios - delish!

Chris made Risotto alla Milanese (Risotto with Parmesan and Saffron). I love risotto and have made it a few times myself. I appreciate the time that goes into it! Chris's dish had a wonderful, cheesy flavor.

I made Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce. Unfortunately, by the time we finished chatting and eating our appetizer, the chicken was pretty dry. I'm not sure how you prevent that if you want to make it ahead of time so that you can enjoy your guests. The saffron- cream sauce helped with the dryness. I might cut back on the shallots next time - perhaps I would taste the saffron! You can see by the photo above though, the color of the chicken and risotto is just lovely!

Here is a shot of the sauce as it was cooking down. Notice those beautiful saffron strands!

And lastly for dessert - Almond/Saffron Cake prepared by Ellen. Wonderful - dense; moist; not too sweet; wonderfully almondy-tasting!

A wonderful holiday meal with the dearest of friends. We won't gather for BITE again until sometime in the spring, when two of us return from wintering in the south. I will miss them!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” ~ Loren Eiseley

I have some friends who have, very goodnaturedly, teased me about my sea-shell seeking and collecting habit. I could (and have) wander the shore and tread into the tide in search of shells for hours. Who needs meditation - this is as meditative and relaxing a task as I could ever undertake. 

We will be heading down to our newly purchased and renovated condo in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, now that we will be located on the Atlantic side of Florida (I love it, make no mistake about that), I will have left behind my shell-seeking sites on the gulf side. So it goes. We have talked about making a few-day trip to the gulf side in order to visit some of our favorite spots (the St. Petersburg Farmer's Market; Pass-a-Grille Beach). I will get my shelling fix then!

Back to my collection of shells - bags and boxes and more bags and boxes! Several years ago, when my mother-in-law was down-sizing, I snagged a round mirror of hers with the intention of doing what I have finally done - years later! I put a small dent in my shell collection by redoing her old mirror. You will see by the photos that this project was started while the grass was still green. It was not a difficult task - also meditative in a way - but it took time. I would work on it for a bit, move on to something else, and return to it again. It was also a learning process for me. If I do something similar in the future, I will know to do the sides first, and to upgrade the hanging hardware before I begin attaching anything. 

All of the shells used are ones that I have collected over the years. Not so the sea-glass - I have never been anywhere that I could gather such a collection, so the sea-glass was purchased. I used E6000 glue, which, when it is dry, does not allow anything to budge! This was recommended to me by an artisan who had created something similar - I am so grateful for this suggestion.

Here are photos from beginning to end. The final product is now down from my studio, awaiting packaging for the trip to Florida! I know that I will be pulling strands of glue from it forever - but I really do love it!


The next photo that you see of this should be when it's hanging safely (fingers crossed) in our Florida condo!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." ~ Mae West

This past week has been a reminder of why we head to Florida in the winter, and why I love a snowy day! A bit contradictory, I admit. We had a blast of weather that closed area schools (even though I'm retired, I still enjoy a snow day) and snarled traffic, but this is where I love it - I did not have to go anywhere or do anything. I stayed home, in my comfy clothes, knitting in hand, fire in the fireplace, and Christmas movies on the TV. I love days like this. Don't get me wrong, I am sorry for those who have had to venture out, but oh so grateful that I am not one of them. 

Bruce has taken to feeding the squirrels so that they do not try to get into the bird feeders, but the birds have not had much luck getting into them this week either!

It has been so beautiful out, but today I must venture outside. I think I may change my tune!

Beautiful but, brrr......