Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Polentina soup

For all of you ladies that love to make baby food for your children, here is a great soup that I have been making. It has a great consistency and I usually mix in a veggie like carrots or squash.

I like making it for the whole family and letting the kids add their own veggies in it, like corn or spinach. Eugene and I would usually add jalapeño to ours, but it tastes great plain as well.

Soup recipe:

1 tbsp butter
1/2 white onion
1 quart chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
2 fresh parsley, chopped
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 - 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
(depending on if you want a thinner or thicker soup)
Half a bunch of spinach, washed and trimmed
Parmesan cheese shavings(optional)

*if making it as baby food, I make the herbs and spinach optional, just depending if I have those on hand or not.


In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the stock, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the cornmeal is tender but the mixture is soupy. Stir frequently, about 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with spinach and Parmesan.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My friend Olga

I made this necklace yesterday, for my friend Olga.

She is a person that I have known for 10 great years. So I thought it would be fun make a list of 10 things that both she and you should know about her.

1. I have watched her bathe her infant 3 times a day because she enjoyed making them comfortable and happy. She defines nurture to me.

2. I have watched her get licenses and certificates because she believes in her husbands goals and wants to help her husband achieve them. She defines what a partner is.

3. I have watched her help her friends, out of kindness, only to be hurt in the end. Never once she she gossip or bad mouth about them. She defines honor for me.

4. I have watched her go against what she was raised because religion was not going to be a rule, is was going to be a relationship. She showed me what it took to believe for something.

5. I have watched her call me out on my parenting faults because I was too busy prioritizing the wrong things. She brings clarity to me.

6. I have watched her care for her mother in her last years with love and respect. She always talked about her greatness and not her shortcomings. She defines what a daughter should see in her mother.

7. I have watched her plant a garden every year. She enjoys life in a manner that I often miss. She sees the little things, the details that surround us. She inspires me to be more aware of creation.

8. I have watched her bake and cook in a way that makes even the most plain thing extraordinary. She shows me that simple things have potential to be great.

9. I have watched her learn knitting and sewing through practice, videos and many mistakes. She showed me the rewards that dedication and persistence can have. I love everything she makes.

10. I have watched her pull off a jeans and t-shirt look so well that it becomes desirable. She inspires me to add a few more t-shirts in my closet and come back to the basics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Coconut pecan cake with caramel mousse

I was asked to make a cake last week and I automatically thought of this one. It is moist cake with a light mousse, and a rich coconut topping that throws this one over the top!

Pecan cake

Butter for greasing
1 cup toasted pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
6 eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 egg whites
1/4 cup unsealed butter, melted

Caramel mousse

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp plus 1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 sheet gelatin or 1 tsp powdered
1 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Coconut pecan topping

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 11 by 17 inch cake pan. Line with parchment paper. Combine the pecans and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until finely ground. Transfer the nut mixture to the bowl of a mixer. Add the eggs and beat for 6-8 minutes until doubled in volume. Fold in the flour and set aside.

In a clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks using an electric mixer with clean dry beaters. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. fold the whites into the batter. Fold in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until the center springs back when lightly touched about 10 to 12 minutes. cool.

To make the caramel mousse:

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, lemon juice, and one tablespoon of water and cook until the sugar becomes dark amber in color. About 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly add the 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk until smooth.

Combine the gelatin and remaining 1/4 cup of water in teh medium bowl. Let stand 3-5 minutes until the gelatin dissolves. Stir in the hot caramel, brandy, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the mousse.

Invert the cooled cake on a cookie sheet turned upside down. Remove the pan and the parchment. Cut the cake in half crosswise so that you have two pieces of cake measuring 8 by 12 inches. Spread one layer with the caramel mousse and stack the other layer on top. Place in the refrigerator while you make the topping.

* The mousse is very runny. I have found that by making a more dense cream (half the portion) it makes for an nice edge for the mousse to stabilize in.

To make the topping:

Combine the milk, sugar, yolks, butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan over med. heat. Sitr until thickened about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and pecans.

Pour the topping over the cake. Use a metal spatula to spread the topping evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Return the cake to the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Recipe by. The secrets of success cookbook. Small variations made by Hope.

Sugar high, hope.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring craft

I had been stuck indoors all week long because Mikka had not done well with her teething discomforts. Both of us had little to no sleep the entire time, so when her tooth finally broke through, we had a boat load of energy. Anxious to get out, we went shopping for new ideas and inspirations.

Today I made lace leggings, matching bow clips, as well as adhered the adorable bird to an existing shirt. The project cost approximately $4.50.
Not including the skirt. The lace was an antique, the bird was cut out from a bolt of fabric, and the skirt was a five dollar find on a recent trip to Canada. Total of the outfit is $7.50.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Doubting God

My eyes had been doing great, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that something was about to happen. The irritation around my eyes didn't make the situation any better, either. And while I waited for an opportunity to pray for my aunt, my doubt wouldn't allow me. I felt itchy, embarrassed, and nervous. In fact, I was so busy focusing on my fear instead of my faith, that it was hard for me to even stop. It wasn't until the evening, that I actually slowed down and listened to my heart, patiently beaconing me to pray.

After that it was easy to see how and when the enemy slipped in. But it disgusted me to think that I was a part in his game and it infuriated me to see how quickly I became a part of his lie. How fast I had fallen and how little it took.

But I also believed that He couldn't take away the experience I had with my God. So I began to build up my faith again. Confirming in my spirit that what happened to me that day was real and that the miracle did occur. And just because I let one lie settle in, did not take away what God did for me!

It was then this verse became alive in my spirit and I gave thanks for his word in my life. "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind....That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6,14 NIV)

I fell back on it, clutching His promise in my hand. Engrave this truth in my life, I asked, so that I may help engrave it in some one else's.

This is for you, Oksana.

Dear God. Your healing hands are the same for me as they are for her, your grace runs just as deep, and your promise just as true. So, I know that you wouldn't bring her in this close to you, if you did not care. You would not have fought for her, if she did not matter. Because I know, she does. She has a presence about her that draws people in. She has an honesty about her that resonates around her and in her life. And when people see that, they see a transparency that is uncommon. She is a girl with a kind heart that loves to love, loves to laugh, and loves to live. Her life, is worth the very time of Satan as he tries to burden her with a list of allergies. But while he can try to destruct, I am believing on her behalf that you can heal. So, I ask that you heal her body, as fast, as quick, and as urgent as the morning her eyes swelled up and she ran to the emergency room.

Believing, Hope.