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Monday, August 30, 2010

Project 365: August 23rd through August 29th

August 23rd: Catalina and Delilah

August 24th: And the newest new addition...Edwina...

August 25th: Blackberry cobbler, vanilla ice cream and computing. Most people are amused by my screen background...

August 26th: Vvroom reunion at the Shanghai Tunnel.

August 27th: Jordan adds this to Janice's back windshield...and Jen keeps wondering why people give her weird looks when she drives her...

August 28th: Shooting with Melissa, Patrick, Spencer, Andy and Jordan.

August 29th: Trek in the Park followed by the Wrath of Khan at the Baghdad Theater.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lemon Balm Cake with Blueberries and Blueberry Sauce

As the summer is approaching its end I need to share a recipe with you - especially those of you who are looking to use your fresh herbs while they are still abundant. I found a perfect recipe to use all of our favorite lemon herbs! Lemon thyme, Lemon Balm and even Lemon Grass! I have made this cake twice now and both times it was a huge hit. It has a great flavor to it which is not overwhelming in the slightest.

Here is my Lemon Balm when it is starting its peak. I love growing it in my yar because it is a beautiful plant and smells like heaven to harvest. U give alot of it out dried for tea additions though it is much better fresh since dried it does loose alot of flavor. Some additional uses for it during the summer are adding it to lemonade for some lovely looks and also flavor.

You can also do this with Lemon Thyme though I love adding this to fish or chicken.

Your ingredients list for the cake:
¾ cup milk
1-2 TBSP lemon balm
1 TBSP lemongrass
1 TBSP lemon thyme
2 cups flour
1 ½ TSP baking powder
¼ TSP salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
6 TBSP softened butter
1 TBSP grated lemon zest
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scald milk, Place milk, lemon balm, lemongrass, and lemon thyme in food processor or blender. Process until well chopped. Set aside to allow flavors to blend. **To scald milk you simply heat it to 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Place milk mixture and flour mixture in a food processor. Add eggs, sugar, butter, and lemon zest. Blend well until dough is mixed. Combine the blueberries into the dough by hand.

Pour mixture into greased 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick, if batter remains on toothpick, bake for a few more minutes. Glaze if desired, or serve dusted with powdered sugar. Makes 1 loaf.

I served it here with blueberry sauce and some fresh strawberry slices and blueberries. This is another recipe which is just amazing and really adds to this cake but the recipe is fantastic over vanilla ice cream as well!

Blueberry Sauce Recipe

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/4 cup of water, orange juice, and sugar. Stir gently, and bring to a boil. In a cup or small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Gently stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries so as not to mash the berries. Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and cinnamon. Thin sauce with water if it is too thick for your liking.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Day in My Life ....August 22nd to be exact....

Sunday was such a huge day for my summer projects that I thought I would share it wih you, the reader, in photos. I woke up much later than intended and my wonderful husband made me an amazing breakfast before he wandered out for his errands.

I decided to start with some aromatherapy and harvest my lavender. Alot of sites tell you to harvest at a certain time of the day or a certain way to harvest.

When the bud's flora has left the seed pod it is ripe. A good sign your plant is ready to harvest is if you see trails of seeds on the ground around it. I have noticed no difference in flavor or aroma harvesting on certain days or at certain times of the day and cannot imagine why that would affect lavender since the flowers are not what you are harvesting.

I cut down fairly far to trim up my plant at the same time and usually I can get at least two harvests out so be mindful of the new flowers emerging and leave them to flower for later harvest.

You can dry your lavender just naturally. Most people make a neat bundle and hang it. If you are doing that then make sure it will hang somewhere free of drafts, moiture and direct sunlight. I dry mine in a paper bag heads down for a few weeks since I have no moisture problems in my home and it is still warm weather. Once dry I simply grab a bowl and gently nudge the lavender loose from the stems which all will then be stored in a zip lock bag. For Yule I make 50 gift bags I give out to friends and family for gifts. Last year one of the gifts I made was lavender sugar which everyone enjoyed but this year I may decide to do something different - or I may give out dried natural lavender with ideas for uses such as sachets, lavender sugar, lavender syrup etc.

Patrick got home and I ran over to Ludeman's Garden Store before they closed. I have two black australorp chickens named Catalina and Bernadette. Catalina has been broody for weeks and I have been wanting two more chickens since Beaverton just passed its new ordinance that we can have up to four hens. So off I went to get two baby chicks and some starter feed for them.

I decided on a Rhode Island Red chicken and am very sad to report she passed away of unknown causes.

And here is the Dark Brahma who is still doing great - Catalina and her are bonding very well and she is a happy healthy girl! I am going to exchange the other chick later today so stay tuned to the garden and chicken progress. This little girl does not have a name yet though the husband is working on it and has gotten as far as the letter D.

I went out on Saturday with my friend Julie and we first went to Sauvie Island Farms and picked peaches off the trees before going out to my super secret blackberry picking location. For me alone we picked 30 cups of blackberries.

Alot of sugar and lemon juice later and I made 58 half pints of blackberry jam for the gift bags and also for us to store for our own use.

I made seven batches of jam though. I tried last year to double jam recipes and I stopped after trying it once. It really makes things challenging to handle that much of any ingredient and I decided it is way easier to do a batch at a time. There really is a reason that you do one batch at a time.

It is also much easier for processing and keeping your jars warm to be processed as well if you are just doing a batch at a time.

Next up was dinner and our friends Richard and Jen came over to join us for that. While at Kruger Farms on Saturday I found an amazing pile of basil for $2 that I could not resist after smelling it across the farm store. So we turned it into pesto and even had enough for two batches - one for the freezer and one for us.

We also harvested our first round of cherry tomatoes from our garden so our dinner: linguini with pesto and garlic butter sauteed shrimp; buttered toasted rustic bread and a salad with lettuce and radishes from Kruger farms, our garden tomatoes and cucumber topped with fat free roasted bell pepper vinegrette.

And how could I forget the peaches I mentioned earlier??

They sliced up into 12 cups of fruit.

We froze eight cups divided in two for future endeavors.

While the other four cups remaining we turned into a cobbler.

Melt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine 1 cup of flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt together. Add 1 cup of milk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir). In a pot bring 1 cup sugar, 4 cups fresh peach slices, and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if desired. Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve cobbler warm or cool though I personally recommend it served warm with a nice scoop of quality French vanilla ice cream.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Project 365: August 16th through August 22nd

August 16th: The city council was so sweet and actually handed us the signed ordinance for prosperity knowing how hard we had worked to get chickens in the city.

August 17th: Dead When I Found Her playing at the Someday Lounge for Lauriel's birthday gathering.

August 18th: On the way home I found this gem...insert loads of jokes here...

August 19th: The stagecoach. My company has several since it is, afterall, our symbol etc but it is pretty awesome sitting in one and I got to right after this was taken. They really are a thing of beauty and craftsmanship. Most of the ones that are in our museums are restored but ran all over the country delivering money and goods. This was brought in for our cultural fair that we do annually in our work parking lot and is actually quite fun.

August 20th: This is what a migraine looks like.

August 21th: Our bounty! This is from three different tomato plants in our yard but enough for a salad darn it!

August 22nd: I met Julie at Kruger Farms for shopping followed by peach picking at Sauvie Island Farms and then my super secret blackberry picking location (I cannot confirm or deny if Julie has since been "silenced"). This is of Kruger's beautiful you cut flower area while having a spot of lunch.

August 22nd: St Johns Bridge which I just adore - it really is stunning.

August 23rd: My beautiful yard is still erupting with flora!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Project 365: August 9th through August 15th

August 9th: First reading and changes to the chicken ordinance in Beaverton. Directly above the sign you see is the mayor Denny Doyle and surrounding him is the city council members for their regular Monday evening council meeting.

August 10th: Yuki basking in the first sunlight of the day.

August 11th: Lunch delivered from Mad Greek thanks to our boss.

August 12th: Jen's new backgammon board I got her for her birthday being broken in and our desert: grilled peaches and nectarines over vanilla ice cream.

August 13th: Macha is a very spoiled girl. Patrick bought her a ball ring. She is very fluffy and with the heat she lays in it and lazily spins the ball is rather funny to watch.

August 14th: A few days early but my shirt honors Brandy and Skot on their wedding nuptials.

August 14th: Heidi and Robert flew in the night before with their Hawaiian contraband: a pineapple smuggled just for our grill. We had a great night having them over for dinner with Richard, Jordan and Jen and watching their awesome vacation slideshow and videos.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Arabian Nights

This was taken right after Patrick refinished our dining room floor and rearranged. We are very pleased with how much better the dining room looks but I am excited to finish the job. In the plans are a new table and chairs, a new lighting fixture (which people will not hit their heads on!), and floating shelving though this is the arrangement we will follow so the shelving will be in the same spot - it just will no longer touch the ground! On the table is my Morrocan urn, the chiller and a pile of lemon cream cupcakes in honor of Jen's birthday which were a huge hit.

The new candleholders and the table covered in black satin thanks to Lisa Marie....

Ms Jessica did an amazing job on this space in the back for the party.

Richard's table is pretty amazing...

The hookah lounge all set up and ready to go with fruit, olives and breads...

Mikhail and Jen shortly before the party.

Sean lent us his drumming skills...

The hookah was a huge hit and here is Jessica, Richard, Jen, Scott and Jenna enjoying a round of orange tobaccoless smoke from it. The room still smells delightfully like oranges.