Hello, I'm glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your visit. It has been said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This blog is about me, my adventures, silly moments, and keeping in touch with you. Life is exciting and so full of possibilities, so let's enjoy the journey together.

If you would like the featured recipe forwarded to you, click on the little email me ← here.
Comments are always welcome, if simply commenting on a post, feel free to use the comment box.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gender Revealing Party


What is a gender revealing party????


I’ve never heard of one of those before. . . .


DSC03885

When I was a kid, we knew a baby was coming, and we anxiously and patiently waited until said baby was here to KNOW whether it was a boy or a girl. . .


we had fun in the process, hence all the theories, wives tales, and silly things we came up with to pre-determine what a baby was going to be. . . but alas, Technology has taken all of the fun suspense away and the daughter and her husband decided to “find out” what they are having, and then they had a Gender Revealing Party to inform the rest of us. . .


technology has made life so complicated!



. . . But it also created an excuse for me to make a cake!


And that was fun

So I got to work, the limited creative juices began to trickle in and I came up with an idea!
It turned out to be a brand new adventure and a path of exploration but in the end I had a marvelous time.

DSC03868

Building a cake is always a process that creates a mess, but this particular venture was EXTRA MESSY one that completely dominated the kitchen for like an entire week as I ventured for the first time ever with creating figures with gum-paste. . .


I have never been remotely gifted in the artistic arena but couldn’t figure out a better way to pull this off. . . so here’s how it all went together:


DSC_3643

The flowers were first, and overall pretty easy and SUPER fun to do!  I think they turned out pretty good in the end. . . but I like flowers so that helped.

My second challenge was that I decided in the very beginning that this baby was a girl.  

As hard as I tried, it was difficult to make the cake non-gender specific, it just wanted to look “girly” . . . similar to when I did the non-gender specific cupcakes for the Oreo’s baby shower a couple of years ago, It just wanted to say “boy” and I could not get it to change, no matter how hard I tried. . . period.

DSC03873
 
I ended up with a little red wagon with a stuffed bear, some leaves, (I forgot the sticks), and a basket ball. . . seemed boyish enough, oh, and the little worm in the grass and a bug sitting on the wagon, actually it was a dragon fly. . . super cute.  the modeling and painting job needs some help, but it served it’s purpose.


DSC03870

One thing I discovered is the need to invest in a few more supplies if I am going to do this more, and after some research and education, next time I will try using modeling chocolate instead of gumpaste. . . it seems a little more forgiving and appears to be much easier to work with.

Regardless of the medium, it's much better than play dough, as it allows much smaller and more detail, it hardens, as in rock hard, you can paint it, or pre-color the dough and then just have fun, sort of like playing with play-dough. . . what could be better than that???



. . . um, more artistic talent, that would help a great deal!



This experience brought back vivid memories of being in 4th grade art class playing with clay, I wanted to make a piano, and it was a mess, my teacher finally recruited a class mate to help me


. . . who, by the way, had made the most awesome dragon I have ever seen. . . 



. . . yes, that would be my fate: no artistic ability what-so-ever


. . . sometimes life just isn't fair.


okay, I will quit sulking now and move onward.

 

for the “girl” I determined to create a stroller with a doll and stuffed bear. . . It


turned out cute, minus the lack of artistic ability, but we will keep it anyway.


In the end I had fun and learned a lot and even though I will never be on the same elevated level as some of the pros where their work is absolutely incredible, next time will be even better. . . 


Besides, it’s the effort, the thought, and the labor of love that counts. . . right???

                                     


. . . and, I’ve seen worse Smile


in my world, that’s a redeeming factor anyway


I'll take handicap points where ever I can


DSC03875

I elected for a soft yellow icing with a pink and blue sidewalk for the outside



and on the inside. . .

DSC_3667

As a fun surprise, the actual cake was a pink/blue torte cake

the Oreo was eyeing dessert and we caught him at the perfect moment

DSC_3654

sorry little Oreo, not just yet

DSC03869DSC03876

The daughter and the business man went to great lengths to give their little party a fun flair

pink and blue popcorn, cotton candy and punch.

DSC03881DSC03882

We as the guests were to wear the color that we thought the baby would wear. .  . 

DSC_3660

The parents tried to throw us all off by wearing opposite colors!


nice try guys. . . 


DSC_3647

naturally we all wore pink. . . 

DSC_3658

They had several wives tales posted on the wall that we as guests answered as a fun little starter game, in addition to a scrabble where they put letters on the bottom of each plate and those sitting at the table were to unscramble the letters into a potential name. . . with six tables they had 3 girl names and 3 boy names for us to solve.


In the end, the little party event turned out very nice and we had a wonderful time


we found out that the once again the cake told the true story . . .



we are having a. . .


DSC_3661

girl



.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pasta. . . Homemade is the only way to have it!

 
DSC03903

Around these parts we make most of our own pasta

. . . that’s a statement, a fact, reality. 


Some question our motivation and logic, but I am here to tell you, once you have had fresh homemade pasta going back to the dehydrated version from the grocery store seems . . .

                                                                well 


um. . . not so great
 

Pasta is EASY to make, you just need to plan a little time and invest in a couple of tools to help simplify the process which will help it come together MUCH faster 

 
Here I only discuss the basics of basics of how I make our pasta. . . 


shaping pasta could easily become 


                                                           an obsession,


                                                                               it is an art, 


                                                                                                        a science,


a love. . . 


one that could easily pull you in and open your taste buds to a whole new delectable experience!
 
DSC03932

There are other brands of pasta makers out there, but the Atlas Marcato is the one I decided to go with. . . I have NO regrets about my decision, and it works flawlessly!  I have had it for over 20 years.

As you ask, why on earth would I want to make my own pasta?


your arguments are valid:

I can buy it easily, and readily, there are a huge variety of shapes to choose from . . .


and it’s relatively inexpensive. . . 


so what’s the point?


Let me tell you why we have chosen to in most cases make our own pasta . . . 


I also readily admit that the first pasta I made was Lasagna, easy, easy, easy!


I am here to say, I’m not going back!
 

Ask yourself. . .  what is one of the biggest frustrations of store packaged lasagna noodles?
  • Lasagna noodles rarely, if ever fit in YOUR pan quite right.
  • Those said noodles are kind of a pain to cook. . . mine usually tend to stick together, they stick to the pan, they boil over. . .
  • purchased noodles are thick and ChEwY. . . gross . . . even when they are cooked to a “perfect” al-dente
did I miss anything here?
                       oh, yes

                                             . . . see above list


With making your own lasagna noodles, you eliminate literally ALL of these problems,

  • fresh
  • tender
  • cut to size 
  • and you determine the thickness

. . . and the best part. . . NO Pre-cooking, 

simply put them in your pan and assemble!
                   

Delectable, 

tasty Homemade noodles . . .
the only way to go! 



DSC03962[1]
I have concluded that my favorite blend is equal parts flour and semolina flour.  when we made pasta for a Relief Society function we made our lasagna noodles for about 1/2 the cost of the no-bake variety and for about the same as the thick chewy variety out of a box, and that is using the Red Mill brand flour that tends to be much more expensive than purchasing flour in bulk.

DSC03906

begin by combining the flours and pinch of salt, creating a volcano type mound directly on your countertop.

DSC03907

inside the “well” or “depression” in the mound add egg and olive oil

DSC03908 DSC03909 DSC03910

with your fingers begin kneading and mixing it all together.  

The dough will probably be crumbly and you will need to add a little water to make it come together into a stiff but pliable dough that holds together.  After some time and experience you will intuitively know when the dough is “just right”.

I NEVER measure my water as the amount will be determined by the amount of humidity in the air on any particular day.

DSC03911

Wrap the disk of dough in plastic wrap and let rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.


set up your pasta machine, or if you do not have a pasta machine, you can easily use a rolling pin. . . but trust me, the pasta machine is honestly the best way to tackle this project, easy fast, and produces a perfectly even thickness sheet of dough.

DSC03918

begin with the widest setting. . . on mine that would be setting #1

DSC03921

tear off a chunk of dough and flatten.  Think about a thin slice of bread for comparison

DSC03923

roll it through the pasta machine.  plan on 4-6 passes on the first setting.
Another advantage to having a pasta maker like this one is that the attachment is ready for pasta that will cut them into narrow strips that you would use in soup or for spaghetti.

DSC03928 DSC03929 DSC03930
The first round often produces a less than desirable sheet. the goal is one flat sheet without rips or tears.  Fold the dough in half and roll through again until you have something that
resembles this.

DSC03924 DSC03925 DSC03926
Then as you increase the setting the dough begins to flatten and grow
this is after rolling it through setting #3
and this is what we have after setting #5.  yes, this is the same ball of dough

DSC03927

Then with a pizza cutter, cut your pasta to the desired size.  

whether it be for tortellini, Farfalle (bowtie), lasagna, chicken noodle soup, garganelli (otherwise known as penne), linguine or spaghetti. . . this is all there is to it.

DSC03931

I used to have a pasta drying rack.  It was presumably packed in a box, but I have yet been unable to find all of the pieces since moving.  but in this tragedy, I have discovered that drying pasta on a “flour sack towel” works great!

I have pretty much adopted this new method.  A pasta drying rack is nice if doing long strips of linguine or spaghetti, or soup noodles (before cutting them) but most of the time especially the smaller or hand-shaped pasta the flour sack towels work perfectly.

From this point I have launched into different shapes and styles of noodles.  Again, I admit that shaping your own pasta like penne is not difficult, after investing in a couple of additional tools, but it is time consuming.

For me, in a warped sort of way, I find it relaxing and enjoyable.


Again, I want to emphasize that making your own pasta is well worth the time and effort, because, in all honesty, there isn’t much effort involved. . . besides, it undoubtedly beats anything you can purchase from the store . . . hands down. 

To keep with my goal of posts that are not too long I will spare you my tutorials for handmade/hand crafted pasta and provide you a couple of links that are EXCELLENT tutorials that you may begin exploring for yourself. . .

Garganelli







Home crafted/made tortellini is especially tasty!  tortellini from thekitchn.com



 from a you-tube presentation


There are so many types of pasta shapes you can create!

 

and just in case you want to make your own pasta here is the recipe we use at our house


If you would like to learn more about shaping different pastas, as you can see there are multiple on-line tutorials both from blogs and you-tube that give wonderful instructions and ideas that you can access, much better tutorials, with much more experienced chefs than myself. 

With that statement, be forewarned that you may run into some you-tube tutorials that are done completely in ITALIAN!  I found it amazing how much I was still able to learn by just watching.


Hints and Notes about cooking and Eating Fresh Pasta
  • Toss the pasta into a large saucepan of boiling, salted water. (You will need about 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons of salt for every pound of fresh pasta).
  • It is the large volume of water that will prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • Stir the pasta only once or twice—if you have enough water in the pan and you stir the pasta as it goes in, it shouldn’t stick together.
  • DO NOT COVER the pot or the water WILL boil over.
  • Quickly bring the pasta back to a rolling boil, stir, and boil until al dente, or firm to the bite, about 2 minutes.
  • The pasta should not have a hard center or be soggy and floppy when done.
  • Drain the pasta, holding back 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan (the dissolved starch in the water helps the sauce cling to the pasta).
  • Add sauce directly the pasta (or the other way around works too) in the pan (The Italian way is ALWAYS to toss the cooked, hot pasta with the sauce before serving.)
  • Serve the hot pasta immediately with your favorite sauce.
Try a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter—cooked just to the point of taking on a slightly nutty, toasty brown tinge—and a smattering of fresh herbs constitutes a sauce when the pasta is as tender and tasty as this.


I challenge you to have fun exploring the world of handmade pasta! 



As always thanks for stopping, feel free to come and stay awhile
we will cook up a fresh batch of pasta and enjoy it together




.