Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Drawn to Details

I like things to be hindering above the surface, quietly. The kind of things that can easily be missed. The flavors that linger in your mouth and you just can't put your finger on it. Things that you taste, see and touch that make you wonder why you even like them. Anything that makes me do a double take, I am drawn to.

Right on the sidewalk we found this little birds nest at a park, abandoned and wet. Now, perched up on the branches I have found it a new home and a new owner. This porcelain bird was a gift from my sister-in-law, chirping around from season to season it made its way to an egg.

If you liked this you may also enjoy http://outtoimpress-hope.blogspot.com/2009/03/spring-time-forward.html
Lingering, hope.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Women Mentoring Women

We each have our great moments. The days where the sun shines brighter, our smile is wider and our lives are right where they need to be. In between those days there are days where we battle our kids, contemplate our choices and wonder if there is anything more to our lives. It seems that in a month's worth of time I am on a roller coaster of a ride and without doubt I know that there will be a day when I will simply be EXHAUSTED. Being a person who is pretty upbeat about life, I believe that my choices make my life to be as simple or complicated as I like. The truth is that no matter how great my life is, is is still filled with doubts, fears and struggles. On those days I need some thing that I can feel safe in, a place where I can unload the biggest load and be understood. Spiritually, I seek comfort in words at a time when I feel like I am lacking and fallen short of my purpose in not only my family but myself.

For these reasons and more I encourage you to find a Women's group that will welcome you. People that share their struggles so that you can face them without fear. Women that come together and empower one another because they understand that this journey is not your's to be taken alone but with the help of each other. I look forward to learning from people who have made it, women that have raised there children to be servants for the lord. Women that have lived, worked, breathed the air that I am. Women that have fallen down and stood back up to tell me their testimony, just so that it would be easier for me. (Contact me if this is something you are interested in).

Each month I bake a little treat for the center of the table. This month it was scones and if anytime soon you will be having a "sunshine kind of morning" perhaps you might be enlightened enough to bake these.

Currant Scones
Recipe courtesy of Williams Sonoma


2 14 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large egg
3/4 cup heavy cream plus more for glazing
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
3 tbsp. granulated sugar

Brown Sugar Butter:

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tbsp. firmly packed dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly butter a rimmed baking sheet.

To make the scones in a food processor, combine the flour, golden brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salg and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles course corn meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the 3/4 cup cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture into the processor and pulse just until the mixture holds together.

Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead in the currants and ginger, and bring the dough together into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a fluted biscuit cutter 3 inches in diameter, cut out as many rounds. Gather the scraps into a ball and roll out again. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet, brush the tops lightly with cream and sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Bake the scones until golden, about 15 mins. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 mins or for up to 1 hour before serving.

Meanwhile make the brown sugar butter: in a bowl, whisk together the butte rand sugar until well combined and creamy. Pack into a crock and set aside.

More, hope

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day

This was written and inspired by love, from a boy to a girl. Long ago, when I was young...er.

It is twenty past eight and I'm standing alone, thinking of you again.
I stand staring at the water as it jumps with each drop of summer rain.
Like the beating of one's heart.

The grass is laden with dew;the air is filled with the scent of new beginnings,
And yet all I can think about....is you.

I stand atop this hill alone, gazing deeply into nature's glory.
Her beauty is serene, it is absolute, and it is the perfect story.
I see the beauty of God's creation and it make me want to cry,
I shed a tear, so sincere, I wipe it from my eye.

I cannot help but look in awe;I see it in the distance
God has given me a perfect rainbow. Time stands still, just this single instance.

The moment seems too perfect, this perfect place in time,
It seems too good to be so real, this moment cannot be mine.
For in my heart I feel so empty, there is but one thing on my mind
I am thinking of you and only you,
Why, oh why must I die with so much inside?

God has given me this perfect moment, in this perfect place in time,
Yet you are not here to share it, you cannot see it, You cannot feel its wondrous grace.

Oh, how I wish you were here with me, to see this glorious view,
For I would give up all of this just to be with you.
You are my beauty, my paradise, my wondrous delight.
But how it saddens me inside that I cannot be your knight.

I feel a pain you cannot know, I hold a sadness I will not show
I hear a thunder in the distance;I see a vision of us,
And I feel the pain that was given on a sad day of loss.

Why had I been so timid, why was I so damn shy;
I should have asked you for your hand before I let you fly.
My chance with you seems over now;I have fallen out of place;
I cannot let you know my feelings; I would not dare loose face.

For if you and me meant hurting you, than I would not interfere;
I would not break your happiness with the one you hold so dear.
I only wish to tell you so; I love you may then you may ever know,
I know this now from knowing you; I cannot deny it...It is true.

We have been so close these past few years, for all this reason, I come to tears.
It seemed so right, It was meant to be
But you chose some one you barely knew, Instead of choosing me.

Why? Oh, God, how could I have been so blind? This is not paradise I see
It is only in my mind. For in my thoughts my vision is true; I can see me here with only you!

Paradise is such a place for it would hold such glory;
I wish that I could be with you, you are my perfect story.
A thousand words I have to say, not one of them describes,
The way I feel in my heart, the way I feel inside.

If one thousand poets were given one thousand years,
If one thousand lovers were to shed one thousand tears,
Not one of these in the heavens above could ever come close
To the love I have for you.

The mere sight of you has always made me weak;
Even today I still get nervous when I am with you,
I find it hard to speak.

For this reason, I wrote my heart out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Base Layer

6 tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into 6 pieces
7 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 lg. eggs, separated
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

Middle Layer

2 tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
5 tbsp. hot water
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp. salt

Top Layer

3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1 tbsp. water
6 oz. white chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
Shaved Chocolate for serving (optional)

For the Base Layer:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 by 3 inch spring form pan. Melt the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in a large heat proof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 secs. Add half of the brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 secs. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute longer,. Using a whisk, fold in one-third of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, ford in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Transfer the batter to the spring form pan, gently smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake until the cake's center has set but is still soft (it will spring back after pressing gently with your finger) 13-18 mins. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. The cake will collapse as it cools, do not remove the cake from the pan.

For the middle layer:

Combine the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl;set aside. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. 2 to 5 mins.

In the clean bowl of a stanad mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar and salt at the medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 secs. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 15 to 60 secs. Whisk in the cocoa powder mixture in the melted chocolate until smooth. Using a whisk, fold on-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain. Spoon the mousse over the cooled cake and gently tap the pan on the counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles: gently smooth the top with an offset spatula. Wipe the inside edge of the spring form pan with a damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate the cake at least 15 mins while preparing the white chocolate mousse.

For the top layer:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water; let stand at least 5 mins. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a simmer in the small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat; add the gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 30 secs. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5-8 mins, until thickened.

In the clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 secs. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 secs. Using a whisk, fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the bittersweet chocolate mousse layer. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2 1/2 hours. (The cake can be refrigerated up to 1 day; let it sit at room temperature for 45 mins before releasing the cake from the pan and serving)

To serve the cake

Garnish the top with chocolate curls. Run a thin knife arougn teh inside of the springform pan;remove the side of the pan. Smooth the side of the the cake witha clean knife. Cut into slices and serve.

Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

Layered, hope

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate Tease

In preparation for Valentines Day, I baked a Chocolate Cake. In the spirit of things I was pretty excited because it is not often that I even find a recipe that interests me. So this was, in itself, an occasion. As I heated, melted, whipped and baked the first layer of my Triple Chocolate Cake there was a knock on my door.

I love unexpected guests, drop-ins and almost any type of visitor there is and by the sound of the door my day was only getting better. Inviting the guest in, I prepared tea and we gibber-jabbered over our lives. In light of my good mood, I decided to share the partially made cake and "whip up" another one later in the day. Even though the cake wasn't quite ready it was the "warm-out-of-the-oven chocolate" that takes your breath away and satisfies every hormone in your body. Yums.

Later on that evening I baked the second time around with a little bit more confidence. I patiently waited for it to cool as we had dinner with the family and lovingly prepared the mousse. It needed to set for a couple of hours and I was okay with it because of my previous indulgence.

I love new recipes, I also think that it is the only time that I actually enjoy the food going into my mouth so I was pretty excited to eat my cake late into the night, with my tea and my T.V. The satisfaction I get out of calories and laziness is a pleasure I work hard for. It was just one of those days when I wanted chocolate and a lot of it.

Well, it turned out that it wasn't just me that had this urge and when we were out of the house I found out that my dear sister-in-law took my cake to her party. This seemed a little over the top, but just as fast as I was surprised I felt it was also a compliment. Here's the email that inspired this post.

Nadia, I am not surprised the most amazing cake i have ever tasted came from your kitchen!!! I gotta say though that I felt pretty bad that (some one) decided she would take almost all of it. You gotta let me make it up to you :) Ill make you one of my tastiest creations but there is a catch...we have to exchange recipes. I just have to make that chocolate goodness for my mom and prove to her one more time that, I can too bake!! hehe :) Thank you so much Nadia it was delicious.

So that's the whole length of the story and for my one big fan I will be posting the recipe tomorrow.

Humbled, hope

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Chair

In the midst of all the junk, the broken and used. It stood out like no other object there and as I approached the chair, I was completely amazed. It would be a perfect fit in my home. Without any delay I dragged the chair with one arm and the three kids in the other until suddenly, it dawned on me. Was this chair some thing we needed or some thing I wanted? WANT. I knew that from the top of my head we had at least 15 chairs downstairs, but what was one more, Right? A little voice inside my head urged me to put the chair down and this time I listened. Right where I was walking, I set it down and didn't even look back. Little did I know that three days later when I returned for my chair, it would be half off. Little did I know that it would wait for me, just as I had left it. Patient for it's rightful owner. That day, I paid seven dollars for a chair at Salvation Army as well as remind myself that it pays to wait.

Patient, hope.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kitchen Necessities

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. If its not dinner guests, then it's friends for lunch or simple conversation over tea. We throw parties, we hold events and more then not we host holidays. Food is always coming and going just as much as people are. This means preparation (it doesn't just land there ) and a kitchen that holds the proper necessities. Now, I know that I have more then perhaps what is required and with the recent purchase of a baking book I was intrigued when I found a list for it.

Baking list:
The small stuff......the stuff I flip through in catalogs and wonder if people put use into them.

Measuring spoons. "Check".
Measuring cups, for both dry measures and liquid measures. "Check", as of a week ago.
Icecream scoops in various sizes, from 1/2 inch to 2 inches. I have one, so "Incomplete".
Rolling pin. "Check", I think I might have 2.
Wire whisks, small and medium. I have a medium one, so "incomplete".....again.
Off set spatulas. Large, for frosting and small, for cookies and other tasks. "Check, Check!"
Heat resistant Silicone spatula, for hot mixures. "Check" BTW, very important.
Wooden spatula. "Check....."
Large metal (barbecue type) spatula. "Check".
Ruler. "Check".
Nonstick baking liner (such as silpat brand). The best purchase EVER! But I need a new one.
Parchment paper. I didn't know that this is not the same as Wax paper....I learned. "Check".
Mixing bowls in assorted sizes. "Check".
Sieves, medium and fine mesh. The fine mesh one is in almost every recipe! who knew? "Need".
Cookie cutters, plain and fluted, round and other shapes, in various sizes. I have a ton of playdough cutters....so "check" until further notice.
Knives, chef's, paring, and serrated. My ONE knife is my best friend. "Kershaw" Rocks.
Microplane or other rasp-type grater (for citrus and nutmeg). "Need". I always just used the reg.
Citrus juicer, handheld reamer or electric. I have both. Nothing beats fresh squeezed OJ.
Pastry blender for making doughs (if you don't have a stand mixer). "Check".
Metal or plastic pastry scraper. I don't know what this is....Help, Wickapedia, Help!
Pastry brush. "Check". If paint brushes count.
Disposable pastry bags and star and plain pastry tips. "Check" but it's not disposable.
Thermometers, instant and candy. I gave away the candy one and now I need one.....sucks.
Slotted spoons. "Check"
Short-handled tongs. "Check".
Sugar shaker. Hmmmm. I have a small sieve. Does any one know the difference?
Plastic airtight containers (for storing cookies and such) "No" We don't usually have leftovers....because I will eat them all, really.

Well, that does it. And it looks like I have a list on my hands. All in all though, I thought this was a great starting point to my kitchen. I like focus and direction because there are many times when my eyes wander off to other things that are shiny and nice, so it's good to know the difference from the things that are important from the things that are not.

It's time to look into those drawers, happy finding.

"Check", hope.