I've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for this day. I rode Mazzy around (walk, trot and canter) today at her new home!!! We went to pick her up yesterday to haul her to her new home where I have my other horse Kylie. I haven't had them both at the same facility since Mazzy was weaned, so I have been driving alot between two facilities for the past three years. I wanted Mazzy to grow up with other babies so she could socialize and also be on big grass pastures. Grass pastures are a bit hard to come by in the Los Angles area, but I really lucked out and found, Tom Grether Farms, the most wonderful place for her to grow up. I will really miss the tranquility and the wonderful people there (but not the hour plus drive to get there every week). Three months ago I moved her from the life of leisure she was enjoying to a cowboy to get her started before bringing her to the show barn. He did an AMAZING job with her (see June 1st entry). So far things have gone pretty smoothly for my baby horse.
Yesterday we left the house at 8 am to pick her up and didn't get back home until 10:30pm. It was a long ride to go pick her up from the cowboy (4+ hours), and I rode her around up there before the long haul home. I couldn't wait to get to her new barn this morning and see how she was settling in. Having her only 15 minutes away is such a treat! I was so anxious to have my trainer see her since she had only seen her a handful of times before, and never under saddle. Mazzy couldn't have behaved better. She was quiet as can be and cruised around like an old pro. It is an extremely long wait between inception and finally being able to ride around with brakes, gas, and stearing. I am so excited to see what she turns into. So far, so good!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We went over our friends' house for a BBQ the other night, and it was Mojito Night! A Mojito is traditionally made of five ingredients: spearmint, rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), lime, and carbonated water. Its combination of sweetness and refreshing citrus and spearmint flavors are intended to mask the potent kick of the rum, and have made this clear cocktail a popular summer drink.
- Fresh mint (if you're going to be making them for a lot of people, get a lot of mint. This is the foundation for the Mojito) If available, use outdoor grown mint that is as woody as possible rather than the quickly grown supermarket varieties. This will add to the authentic nature of the mojito and delivers a better overall flavor. If possible, use spearmint rather than peppermint, since this has a flavour closer to the endemic mint (yerba buena) of Cuba. Many mojito aficionados grow spearmint in gardens or pots just to use for making drinks. But peppermint works okay, too.
- Limes (at least one for each drink)
- Clear rum (Havana Club 3 yr is the Cuban rum of choice for the drink, but if you cannot get it then Bacardi Superior Light, Captain Morgan's Silver Edition or Oronoco are good substitutes, a golden rum such as Mount Gay or Flor de Cana is a great way to serve as top shelf. Cubans are also very much fond of using Matusalem for mojitos.)
- Club Soda (we have had it with Squirt or Sprite, which tasted good too).
- Pure granulated sugar, simple syrup (sugar/water mixture - see below), or guarapo (sugar cane juice), you can use mascabado sugar too, but it'll turn the drink a bit darker, thus affecting the presentation. Using Palm Sugar instead of cane makes a nice flavour too. Chad grows sugar cane and then we cut it up into pieces and put it in the juicer. In my opinion, sugar cane juice makes the best Mojito. Very cool, and very authentic, but let's face it--it's not very practical for most of us.
- Start by making some simple syrup. To do this, put equal parts sugar and water into a pot and cook it on high (stirring the whole time) until it dissolves together(you do not want it boiling!). You can also use granulated sugar but just make sure that it is well dissolved before serving. There is nothing worse than a crunchy mojito! Alternatively, forego the simple syrup and use guarapo (sugar cane juice) instead for a more natural and less sweet flavor. Sugar cane juice is my preference.
- Make sure you have a good muddler, a sturdy glass and a shaking tin for muddling and mixing the drink. The cocktail's success depends on the blending of the lime and mint flavors. You can use a mortor and pestle. If no muddler is available, the back of a spoon can substitute.
- Purchase a good light rum. You will also need fresh limes, mint, soda water and sugar. Brown sugar or simple syrup can be substituted for refined sugar.
- Cut the limes into quarters and pick the mint leaves off of the stems. For eight mojitos you will need a generous bowl of mint and eight limes-one per drink.
- Muddle a generous bunch of mint and about three lime wedges in the bottom of a tall mojito glass, cocktail shaker, or a mixing receptacle. If using granulated sugar, also muddle the sugar with the mint and lime to extract the lime's essential oils. When the ingredients are well pulverized, add ice to fill the glass. Use ice cubes and not crushed ice. This keeps the true mojito flavor from being diluted as the ice melts.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of your simple syrup-this is equivalent to 1 oz.
- Fill the glass with about 2 ounces of rum-with the ice, the glass should appear about 3/4 of the way full.
- Shake or stir the mixture until fully blended.
- Fill the remainder of the pint glass with soda water. Another option is to transfer the shaken cocktail to another glass to serve since the muddled lime and mint often stick in the bottom of the glass.
- Garnish with a lime wedge, a mint sprig, a sugar cane swizzle stick, or all three.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
My fury friends Kora, Murphy, and Topaz helped me in the yard yesterday.
Herb garden in a pot
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Oh where, oh where have you gone? Thick clouds, fog and drizzle...I know "June Gloom" comes every year, but really I think I've had enough of this depressing weather! I haven't seen the sun in a week. This is the gloomiest of all June Glooms I can remember. From May to November the weather is pretty much the same here (sunny), and I like it that way. Usually the weatherman is questioning his right to exist. I wouldn't do well in Seattle, this weather definitely effects my mood.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Congrats to Tricia shop owner of LazyTCrochet who is the feature team member of June of the Etsy Blogger Team.
She is a talented artist who works with hand-spun wool, cotton, and recycled fabrics and fibers. She likes to create modern and original designs as well as traditional, old-world styles in knit and crochet. Her shop is stocked with beautiful shawls, shrugs, sweaters, hats, headbands, and scarves.
For more lovely knit and crochet fashions and accessories check out the rest of Tricia’s shop by visiting: www.lazytcrochet.etsy.com Don’t forget to check out her blog too: www.lazytcrochet.blogspot.com some great information about "Yarn, Etsy, Food, and Friends."
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Kora has had two treatments of chemo so far (L-spar & Vincristine). She still doesn't feel great. The Dr. said it could be a combination of getting two heavy doses of chemo and her body trying to process the cancer tissue that the chemo killed. I have been cooking her meals, because she won't eat her normal food, but she doesn't have much of an appetite. It's really frustrating. She still perks up for her walks and likes to go for rides in the car. She even growled at the cat today, when the cat tried stealing the food out from underneath her nose. That was actually refreshing to see a bit of her personality coming back and the desire to guard her food..yeah! The Dr. will only continue treatment if her quality of life is good and if her body seems to be responding to the chemo. I am in total agreement. If she is miserable there is no point to keep her going. I appreciate everyones kind words and support. Monday she goes in for a blood panel to make sure her white blood cell count is good, and if it is, a different chemo drug will be given Tuesday.
After dinner tonight we decided to take the dogs for a little ride over to try out Bulgarini Gelato. Leo, the Roman owner, is a stickler for quality. According to the LA Times, he learned gelato-making from a retired octagenarian artisan in Catania, Sicily, and searched far and wide to find the perfect pistachios, which he imports from Bronte in Sicily. I had Orange Chocolate on top of Cream, and Chad had Orange Chocolate on top of Chocolate Chip. They were both heavely! Brought us back to being in Italy for a moment. Handmade Italian ice cream is a rare treat here, whether it is gelato (made with milk) or sorbetto (without milk). It's not flashy, it's not commercialized, it just is what it is, which is a purveyor of fine gelato. They had quite a few delicious looking flavors I'd like to go back and try: blood orange sorbetto, Almond, Pomegranate, Zabaglione, Cantaloupe-Tanqueray sorbetto, lemon cream, golden kiwi.
I'm not much of a cook, but someday I'd like to try and make homemade gelato....
(Recipes reprinted from the LA Times)
Cherimoya gelato (Mark Twain called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men." The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, and strawberry.)
Total time: About 1 1/2 hours plus freezing time
Servings: 10 servings
Note: From Leo Bulgarini, of Bulgarini Gelato. Have an ice bath ready for the custard. The same basic recipe may be used for peach gelato -- just use 2 cups chopped peaches and puree them with the juice of one-fourth lemon.
About 2 cups chopped cherimoya
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
4 cups whole milk
1. In a blender or food processor, puree the cherimoya until smooth and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, mix the sugar, egg yolks and milk together over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
3. After about 30 minutes on the stove (the mixture will have thickened into a custard while simmering), remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into a bowl set into an ice bath. Stir as the mixture cools.
4. When the custard has cooled to 40 degrees, take it out of the ice bath and blend it in a blender with the cherimoya puree. You may do this in batches if your blender is small.
5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spread it evenly into a container with a lid, cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap and then the lid and freeze it for at least 5 hours, or overnight. Makes 5 cups.
Each serving: 172 calories; 5 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 5 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 92 mg. cholesterol; 44 mg. sodium.
Blood orange sorbetto
Total time: About 1 hour, plus freezing time
Servings: 8 (makes about 4 cups sorbetto)
Note: From Allessandro Fontana of Gelato Bar.
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
3 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1. Combine sugar, corn syrup and one-half cup plus 1 tablespoon water in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Turn off the heat and when the mixture reaches 70 degrees, add the blood orange juice and mix well.
3. Pour into an ice cream machine and make according to the manufacturer's instructions.
4. Remove and place sorbetto in a lidded container, covering the surface with plastic wrap, then covering with a lid and placing in the freezer.
Each serving: 129 calories; 1 gram protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 13 mg. sodium.
Coffee toffee ice cream sandwiches
Total time: About 2 hours, 40 minutes, plus freezing time
Note: From Bret Thompson and Richard Yoshimura at Milk. This recipe will make slightly more toffee and ice cream than called for in the recipe. The toffee will store for two days covered loosely with parchment or wax paper in a cool, dry place.
2 cups sugar
1/8 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/8 cup almond meal
1. Place the sugar, corn syrup and one-half cup water in a heavy- bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature and cook to 280 degrees, then carefully add the butter.
2. Bring the temperature to 330 degrees or until the mixture is amber. Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla extract and almond meal. Immediately pour onto a parchment-lined shallow pan to cool and set.
Coffee ice cream
3 cups whole milk
3 cups cream
1 cup sugar, divided
8 egg yolks
1 ounce (about 6 tablespoons) coarse-ground coffee beans
7 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) chopped toffee
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, half the sugar and the ground coffee to a boil.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the egg yolks and the remaining half cup of sugar and slowly -- so as not to cook the eggs -- pour it into the hot cream mixture.
3. Reduce the heat to low and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture quickly and chill in an ice bath, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Remove from the machine and stir in the chopped toffee. Place the ice cream in a container with a lid, cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap, cover tightly with the lid and freeze (several hours to overnight) to harden.
Coffee macarons and assembly
4 large egg whites, divided
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups almond flour
1 1/4 teaspoons instant coffee
1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
1. Mix 2 egg whites with the powdered sugar, almond flour and instant coffee and set aside.
2. Bring the granulated sugar and one-fourth cup water to a boil and, using a thermometer to monitor the temperature, cook until 240 to 248 degrees. Just before the sugar reaches temperature, begin beating the 2 remaining egg whites with a mixer. When the sugar syrup reaches temperature, turn the mixer on high and slowly add the syrup to the egg whites in a thin stream. Beat until the egg whites are firm and glossy.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fold the meringue into the almond mix. Place macaron batter into a large pastry bag with a wide, straight opening.
4. With a marker, draw 2 1/2 -inch circles onto parchment paper cut to the size of your cookie sheet (you should be able to draw 4 to 6 circles per pan, with about 1 1/2 inches between each circle). Place the parchment face-down on the cookie sheet. Pipe the batter onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Shake the pan and tap lightly on the counter top until the meringue settles to about 3 1/4 inches in diameter, and let them sit 12 to 14 minutes to form a "skin" (the surface will have lost its sheen).
5. Bake about 10 minutes, until solid on the outside but still chewy in the center. Place cookies on a rack to cool. To store, leave on a rack in a cool, dry place for up to two days.
6. For ice cream sandwiches, place about half a cup ice cream between two macarons and press gently together.
Each serving: 715 calories; 9 grams protein; 99 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 34 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 153 mg. cholesterol; 145 mg. sodium.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Posted by Five O'Clock Somewhere at 3:17 PM
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Our beloved dog, Kora, was diagnosed yesterday with stage IV cancer (lymphoma). We are devastated and trying to figure out the next step. I am waiting for the vet to call back right now to let me know if they are able to get the first round of medication to keep our girl more comfortable. I just cannot imagine loosing her.
I have several calls in to oncologists and two appointments set up for Monday morning, the soonest they can see us. Anyone have any experience in this area? Advice?
"If there is a heaven, it's certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them."
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Our last day was in Venice and it was a gorgeous clear warm day with crystal blue skies. We woke up early, like we had been all week, as not to waste too much time sleeping. We boarded the vaparetto and headed down to the Rialto market.
The Pescaria (fish market) and Erbaria (produce market), which combined make up the Rialto Market, have been located here since the 11th century. This is an exciting venue with which to mix with the local Venetians. Barges arrive at dawn with their crates of produce to be unloaded.
We checked out the Arsenal, an immense uninhabited space which, in the 16th century, was the site of the largest ship industry in the world. The whole exterior has been renovated and is very peaceful with a couple of cafe/bar/restaurants in the piazza outside the main entrance. What you see in the picture is the imposing 15th century gate-entrance to the Arsenale.
We hoped on the vaporetto over to Murano Island. On the way we sighted this church as our vaporetto made its way to Murano Island. The Dorsoduro church known as the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.Murano’s reputation as a center for glass making was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction to the city’s mostly wood buildings, ordered glass makers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano’s glass makers held a monopoly on quality glass making for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these century-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass jewelery to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers. It was very similar to Venice, but quieter.
After Murano, we made our way back to St. Mark's Square taking in some more sights on the way. It is so much fun exploring Venice. Most of the walkways are narrow. At the end you choose, left or right. In either case you may not be able to see a bridge or a canal. If you can see a canal, you may be surprised to find the walkway dead ends with nowhere to go except by boat or back the way you came from. On one occasion we had to back track several minutes to find a path going in our direction. Even with a map it was easy to get lost in the maze. But that was one of the most fun things about Venice -- getting lost over and over again.
We decide to tour the Doge's Palace (adjacent to St. Mark's). The Doge's Palace is a Gothic palace in Venice. In Italian it is called the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice. Unfortunately we only had a little over an hour before closing, so we were kind of rushed through, but it was AMAZING!!!
As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city. Venice was ruled by an aristocratic elite, but there was a facility for citizens to submit written complaints at what was known as the Bussola chamber. Ornamentation is everywhere. The interior (no photos allowed) are lavishly embellished with paintings and carved and gilded wall decorations. It is drewl-worthy.
In the basement were several prison cells, which housed convicts awaiting trial. When the “new” prison was built on the other side of the Rio di Palazzo the facility was no longer used. The new prison was connected to the palace via the now famous Bridge of Sighs. We got to walk through it.This flight of stairs led to the Doge’s private quarters, known as the “Scala dei Giganti” and is flanked by huge statues of Mars and Neptune.
It was then time for the famous Bellini at Harry's Bar.
The Rialto Bridge is the most famous bridge in Venice, we crossed it many times.
"Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." --Truman Capote