Monday, December 09, 2019

Blueberry Streusel Recipe

I love blueberry streusel pie, but some days I don't have time for a homemade crust so this makes a perfect, quick dessert without the fuss.

It's winter, so I went with frozen blueberries but this can work just as well with fresh in the summer.

Recipe:

  • 2lbs of frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix by hand, if the berries look a bit whitish, bake in the oven for about 10 minutes and stir again, then add the streusel.

Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter cut in small pieces so it blends better
Pulse all topping ingredients in a food processor until chunky and then spread evenly over the blueberry mix.

Total baking time - 30 minutes at 350.  Best served while warm.

Use 8 x 8 glass or metal pan, or double the recipe to use a full size cake pan.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Snakes, Snickerdoodles and Santa 2019

Our local Museum of Fine Arts hosts a show called Snakes, Snickerdoodles and Santa, this will be our third year attending.  The snakes are part of a presentation put on with Reptile World by Michael Shwedick.  He presents a wide variety of snakes and other reptiles in a very interesting and scientific way.  Even after three years of seeing the same animals I still learn something new.  This has become a highlight of things to do in the Christmas season.  





This last photo is very special because it's the first year that Evie has agreed to sit with Santa, she is still very nervous.  Santa spoke very quietly to her and let he know there was nothing to be afraid of.  He then read through her wish list which includes a blue dolphin named Rainbow and a white kitty with pink eyes.  It was truly a special moment to witness.

Friday, December 06, 2019

2019 Christmas Tree

Originally I had hoped to decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend, but we spent Friday doing yard work at mom's house, I can't remember what happened on Saturday.  Sunday was the day we noticed Princess's health was failing in a big way so no one wanted to celebrate, instead we got the kids caught up on their homework and spent time with her.  Fast forward to Friday and I was determined to celebrate in a big way starting with chocolate scones, Mandalorian episode 5 and setting up the Christmas tree! 

We got all the way to pulling out the decorations when suddenly a call came through that Mike's grandfather had broken his leg, the femur bone was shattered.  While I spent a few minutes calling my mom to ask for prayer and writing to the church prayer chain, the kids managed to cover the entire tree with ornaments.  That's okay, they enjoy it so much and I'm glad they had fun.  As for husband and I, we're sad and having a tough time getting into the spirit of things.  I think it might be one of those years where we do Christmas for the kids because I can't even bring myself to write out a list of things I might want for presents. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

My first day without a cat in 20 years

Oh what a strange feeling to wake up without a feline family member in the household. 

Our first cat, Zorak, came into our lives in 1999.  He was a tiny kitten full of spunk and vigor.  He was probably too wild to contain inside a house and his lack of affection is probably what led us to get Princess and Rumble in 2001, but he certainly made up for the love factor in his later years. 

We lost Zorak at the end of 2012, right before Christmas, two days before if memory serves correct.  It was, like this year, a struggle to get into the holiday spirit.  His passing was sudden and unexpected.  With three little children under the age of 5, our attention span was just enough to keep the pets watered and fed.  We didn't notice any changes in his behavior until it was too late so we took this one quite hard.


Princess was our second cat.  We got her from my friend Jill.  She was a tiny terrified puff ball who wouldn't have anything to do with us at first.  It wasn't until we took a week vacation and left her with my friend Carol that she decided we might be acceptable humans. 

Princess was the smallest of the three cats and the most agile, I suppose she had to be to stay out of the boy cats way.  Ours were never a pile of happy cuddly cats that you see in meme's.  They were a prickly bunch, staying out of each other's way as best possible in a two bedroom condo.  I think their lives improved drastically with the move to Maryland.  We didn't have any windows that got sun in Florida, not like the huge bay window in Maryland anyway!  Princess and Rumble seemed to agree that their retirement home was exceptionally nice.  



Rumble was our third cat, we got him a few months after Princess.  At the time, my husband was a security guard and where he worked this young cat, a few months old, had been wandering around the premises for a few days.  He jumped up to the side of our pick up truck and hung onto the window seal while meowing at me.  I took him home on a Saturday thinking I'd take him to a shelter by Monday but by then he had sat in my lap all weekend so we decided to keep him as the other two cats were not nearly as cuddly.  Rumble loved sleeping in my house plants and he was terrified of all of my children.  He moved with us to Maryland in 2013 where he lived in the basement for his last year, coming up only when the kids had gone to bed or school where he would sit on the back of the couch soaking up the sun, while watching birds and squirrels.  We lost Rumble in 2014, he was 13 years old, I was pregnant with Evie at the time and life was less hectic so we were more aware of his
failing health. 


So here today I suddenly find myself in a cat free home for the first time in 20 years.  No litter boxes to clean, no cat hairballs to swoop up before the dog gets there, no accidental kitty turds for the dog to snack on (disgusting, but it happens). 

Regardless of how sad I feel about having no cats, I'm ready to take a break.  I've started planning how our next house must have a cat room, with floors that are easy to sterilize, and windows with plenty of sun.  It will happen when it's meant to happen.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Princess 2001 ~ 2019


This is Princess in June, she enjoyed the summer, spending much of it outside in the sun.  This was unusual because for her entire life, until her very last year, she had been an indoor cat.  Then in late 2018, we moved to a duplex with a tiny back yard.  The backdoor is mostly glass making it so easy to see outside and follow the dog.  It became her thing, spending days in the sun, and I think it may have helped extend her life because she was dealing with extensive arthritis in her back legs which got significantly worse once winter set in.  We will always remember her as a loving family member who stayed underfoot to remind us of her love, and her need for love from us.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Purple Sweet Potato Cheesecake Recipe

I searched the internet for recipes but found options that required coconut milk, which I'm not fond of so I decided to make up my own recipe.  I don't normally post the first attempt, so this is more of a work in progress with notes so that the next time I make one, I can start here and improve upon the recipe.

The first step is to steam the purple sweet potatoes for 1.5 hours at 350 in a glass container with lid, this helps steam the skin off easily and brings the potato to a nice soft but dense texture that's easy to work with.

Cheesecake:

  • 11 oz. purple sweet potato, skin removed and steamed
  • 3 - 8 oz blocks cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Crust:
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 - 1 cup crushed graham crackers
Let me start by saying the crust was a disaster, it took more than 10 minutes to bake solid enough, it had way too much butter and in summary needs to be completely re-worked.

The cheesecake was very good, my brother said best I've ever made, that's a wow compliment, but to my taste it was a little bland.  With this much purple sweet potato you have to really love the taste and while I do love it, the total flavor was not quite as dessert like as I'd prefer, might need more sugar or maybe it needs another complementary flavor?  Or maybe it just needs a better crust!  I've watched other recipes for a no-bake version but I just don't think that's cheesecake - to me.  I want a proper baked cheesecake that is solid gorgeous purple.  I think next time I'll try it with a chocolate crust, and white chocolate topping.  Sorry no photos until I get this right and as I said earlier, these notes are for my benefit and I'll totally update the recipe once I'm happy with it.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Strawberry Coffee Cake

This is a family favorite that I created in high school.  Mom always had frozen strawberries in the freezer for winter fruit pies so occasionally I'd snag a bag and make this recipe.  

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut in quarters, thawed if frozen, also works great with fresh 
Topping:
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix flour through butter with a mixer or fork until it is crumbly.  Mix milk, vanilla and egg in a separate bowl and then add to the mixer for 1-2 minutes until well blended.  Add strawberries and mix with a spoon, very gently so they do not break down.  I've tried using the mixer and it turns the entire dough pink and you don't get chunks of strawberry which I think are important to the taste.

Prepare coffee cake pan with shortening and add the mixture.

Put all topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse until crumbly, then spread evenly over the top of the coffee cake.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.