Thursday, February 19, 2015

Recipe for a Cold Day

It's crazy cold here!!! The wind is howling around the house, tangling up the wind-chimes on the patio and blowing the snow around. Our neighbor just came over to ask if our water pipes were frozen, too. They're not and that seems amazing with this wind and temps. below 10 degrees F. I think our side of the building is more sheltered from this wind than the other side. (We're just lucky today.)

Time for some comfort food so DH looks for something interesting to make. Criteria: warm, slightly challenging and including cheese. He decides today is perfect for a cheese soufflé. Here is the result, moments before we dive in:
I haven't had many soufflés but this was the best ever in my limited experience. He used two cheeses, gruyere and a small wedge of parmesan. This is a great recipe for those who need to avoid gluten, like we have to at our house. (food allergy) Here is the recipe he adapted from a recipe he found online. Use two or more cheeses for the best taste. We used parmesan and gruyere but you can use any two or more of your favorites.
Cheese Souffle
4 T finely grated Parmesan
1 cup milk
2 1/2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 T cornstarch (3 T flour for those who are not Gluten Free)
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of Nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 ozs)

Prep: Move the oven rack down to the bottom 1/3 of the oven. Preheat to 400 F. Butter sides and bottom of 1 1/2 quart soufflé dish. Sprinkle inside of dish with 2 T of parmesan.

Make the Souffle: Melt unsalted butter in medium saucepan over med-low heat. Add cornstarch (or flour) and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Meanwhile warm the milk. You can do this in the microwave or on stovetop. Don't boil the milk, just get it warm. Remove the butter/cornstarch pan from heat and stir in milk. Return to heat and cook/stir for a few minutes, until slightly thickened.add salt, nutmeg and paprika. Then whisk in the egg yolks, blending well. Remove from heat and add cheeses, stirring just to incorporate them. Place the mixture into a large bowl and let cool a bit while you beat the egg whites.

With an electric mixer, beat those egg whites just 'til they have stiff peaks. Fold about 1/3 into the egg yolk/cheese mixture and then fold in the remaining whites. Pour into the soufflé dish. If you have any left-over cheese you can sprinkle that on top. Wipe the edge of the dish and place dish in oven. Right away, turn down oven to 375 F. Important: Do not open oven door for first 20 minutes or soufflé may fall. (Note: even if it falls it will still taste great)

Bake for about 25 minutes or until top is puffed up and golden brown. Souffle should "jiggle" just slightly at the center when done. Or you can test with a cake tester. Should come out almost or just barely clean when poked in the middle of the top.  Serve right away.

Pairs nicely with a green salad or a fruit salad.
Do you have a favorite recipe for a cold winter day?
Wishing you a warm day and something delicious for dinner!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Favorite Things

Since this blog is new, I'll be trying to share some things about myself and our home. I enjoy discovering all the creative ideas posted on so many blogs. When bloggers share the creativity of their home decor, cooking, gardens or collections, it inspires me to be more creative in my own life. So now I'll be courageous and share some of my "favorite things". I'll try to share one each week.

An art pottery tile done in the raku fired style

I love this tile for it's dreamlike quality. It reminds me of an illustration from a children's book from the early 1900's or 1920's. It's hard to see the true colors on the computer. The background is a matte finish sort of charcoal color and the trees are various muted shades of green and blue. The glaze on the details is done with a special process that causes the colored glaze to "crackle" under the clear glaze. This is a Japanese pottery technique.

My dear husband gave this to me for Christmas this year. It hangs in our living room. Every time I look at it I imagine strolling through this magical woodland under the light of a full moon. When I look at it, I smile.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter sights

It's been snowing here, every few days for the last two weeks. Each time only a few inches or a dusting, just enough to make it look like winter. February feels like such a long month to me, even though it is the shortest!

We have a walking trail close by and it runs through an undeveloped area with fields and a stream. We walk there almost every week. In every season there's something interesting to see.

These plants have wonderful texture against the snowy field.

I love wild flowers and this area has a wide variety of different types and colors. When spring and summer comes I hope to have some more photos to share on the blog. Sometimes we see birds or animals on my walks. This day there were a pair of ducks.

See the pair of ducks in the center of this photo? They flew up from the stream as we walked by. My dear husband took this picture. He was able to photograph them in mid-flight! 
I hope you are able to enjoy some time outdoors this week. We had a little snow here last night but the sun is shining today. It is very cold here - 7 degrees F this morning, with wind chill it feels well below zero. I was outside this morning, bundled-up in every piece of warm outdoor gear I could find. Didn't stay out long but for a few minutes it was great - invigorating even. If you are in the mid atlantic or north-eastern states, stay warm. I know some folks will be getting even more snow.
Wishing you some Winter joy in the midst of it all!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January - Rest, Dream and Plan

I like January because it's usually a quiet month. After the busyness of the holidays (which I love) January seems made for resting, dreaming and new beginnings.  Not just making New Year's resolutions, although that's usually part of it. Also getting new ideas and having time to plan.

There's snow outside now but our indoor plants give the cottage a promise of Spring and help clean the air.
I also have more time to clean and organize things inside the house. After the holidays I like to give everything a good cleaning. We refresh the "odds and ends" we display by swapping around knick knacks in the living and dining rooms. This month we'll be going through our closets, finding things we no longer need and donating clothes and items. Refreshing and re-charging for the busier months ahead. 

And we'll plan the 2015 garden. Tomorrow my husband will sign us up for a garden plot at the community garden. We'll be spending time planning what to grow this year. Always a fun and creative way to spend a snowy day indoors!

Wishing you a January of rest, refreshment and a chance to plan for a great year ahead.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Joy

There's nothing quite like the joy of Spring.
 A season where everything seems new.
So let's do something new today. Celebrate new. Go somewhere new. Notice something new. Say hello to someone new.
Everywhere things are growing anew. What's growing in your front yard? Don't have a front yard? What's growing in the cracks of the sidewalk? In the neighbor's windowbox?
Take a walk. Look and listen in a new way. Experience the joy!