Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red Velvet Chocolate Cake

Red Velvet Chocolate Cake
Since I try to feed my family as few preservatives as possible, I usually make baked goods from scratch especially since I bake seldom anymore. This is a tried and true recipe back from the days of before cake mixes.
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Ingredients:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 oz. red coloring
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour
2 Tablespoon baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
***
Icing:
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
***
Cake Directions:
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture. Beat in food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Mix cake flour, cocoa, and baking soda together. Add alternately to creamed mixture with buttermilk. Pour into two prepared layer pans and bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes until cake tests done when lightly touched in center of pan and springs back. Cool five minutes in pan and invert to a cooling rack to completely cool before icing.
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Icing Directions:
Dissolve cornstarch in cold water and cook until smooth over medium heat, bringing to a boil. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes until "clear". Col completely. Beat butter and vanilla until fluffy. Combine mixtures. Beat in gradually confectioners sugar.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stuffed Flank Steak over spaghetti

Stuffed Flank Steak Served With Spaghetti
If you are looking for a tasty way to economize during these economic times or just want to serve a tasty dish, this recipe is a great suggestion.
Ingredients:
1 - 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 150z. cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
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Hot cooked Spaghetti
***
Directions:
Flatten beef flank steak to 1/2 inch, rub with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Combine soft bread crumbs, minced parsley, Parmesan cheese, garlic, dried oregano, salt, and pepper and spread over beef up to 1 inch from edge. Roll up jelly roll style and tie long sides with kitchen string.
***
In a Dutch oven brown steak roll in remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce and water, and Italian seasoning, cook until tender. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender. Remove meat from sauce and slice into serving size pieces. Serve sauce with spaghetti and meat slices.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Garlic Herb Crust

Our daughter-in-law Susan prepared a wonderful dinner serving a beef tenderloin with this recipe of Garlic Herb Crust. It was absolutely delicious. We thought this recipe would also be very tasty on a pork loin roast.
Garlic Herb Crust
4 garlic cloves
8 fresh sage leaves
4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 to 5 pound boneless beef loin
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Directions:
With a food processor motor running, drop garlic cloves in, blend until finely chopped. Add sage, thyme, oil, salt and pepper and process until a paste forms.
***
Pat meat dry with paper towels. Rub meat with a paste. Cover and chill at least three hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast 15 minutes. Reduce temp to 350. Using a meat thermometer 130 for rare, 140 medium. Remove roast from oven and let stand for 20 minutes: slice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Crab Shack

The Crab Shack The Patio The Inside Dining Room Dinner For Three
The Crab Shack
While visiting St. Simon Island Georgia, we drove to a Tybee Island eatery with an unusual name in a deserted area which you might have thought could only be known to the locals. We sat down to our table and learned that the people at the next table were from Atlanta. The place was crowded with a waiting line. One could order the dinner for one, two, or three which consisted of king crab, shrimp, craw fish, mussels, sweet corn, potatoes, and sausage. It is served on an approximate sixteen inch tray. Unbelievable how three people could possibly eat this dinner! We enjoyed the best seafood served of shrimp and my favorite steamed oysters. If you can find it way down a country "lane" into the low land on the Savannah River, it is a treat!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spiced Pear Salad

Spiced Pear Salad
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash salt
1 medium ripe pear
2 1/2 cups torn mixed salad greens
1/2 cup chopped tomato
2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
2 Tablespoons raisins
Directions:
Bring water, orange juice, honey, salt, and spices to a boil uncovered for 5 minutes. Slice pear into thin slices. Add pear slices and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, just until pear slices are tender. Allow pears to cool in liquid.
***
Combine salad greens, tomato, chopped red onion, and raisins. Add warm dressing. Serves 2

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Savannah GA

If you have ever watched any cooking shows on television, I will give you descriptive clues of whose restaurant we stopped by to take a look. She talks with her mouth full of food, licks her fingers, uses butter as though it has no complications for health issues, and her initials are P.D. You have probably guessed this lady's name. I stopped by her restaurant on a recent visit to Savannah since she speaks frequently about it on her TV program. For $15.99 you can enjoy her all you can eat Sunday buffet. It consisted of deep fried chicken or oven roasted chicken, pulled pork, biscuits and gravy, and lots of foods that I would expect to find on a "foods to avoid" list. Her weekday menu I thought was much of the same category and very pricey.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Wechter Family


Family
I returned to Ohio two weeks ago for a funeral of a special cousin. We were a lucky group of grandchildren who have memories of spending Sunday afternoons at the farm of our grandparents playing together in our young years. In the top photo is the group of cousins and our remaining matriarch and patriarch that gathered to pay respects at the funeral mass. Our remaining aunt had a mother who lived to be over 100 so we are hoping Aunt Frances is with us for many more years. Uncle Frank is the only remaining sibling of my mother and we are counting on him to be with us sharing some of that good wisdom passed on from our grandparents.
***
I spent a brief visit in Florida with my cousin Marnie before returning to California. In the bottom photo is another cousin. Ken lived in the same town in Ohio where we spent forty years and raised our children. After graduating from college, he remained in North Carolina for employment. Ken bought this nursery five years ago and it continues to expand. It was a bonus to see Ken after many years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup
Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons coking oil
8 6 inch corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4" strips
1 onion chopped
4 large garlic, smashed
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 quarts canned low sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28 ounce can)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves plus 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 3/4 ponds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 pound cheddar cheese, grated
Lime wedges for serving
Directions:
In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add half of the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips.
***
Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion, garlic, and spices; cook stirring for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cilantro leaves, if using, and 1/3 of the tortilla strips. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes; remove the bay leaves.
***
In a blender, puree the soup in batches; pour it back into the pot. Add the chicken, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook just until done, about 1 minute. Stir in the avocado.
***
To serve put the remaining tortilla strips in bowls, top with cheese, and ladle in the soup. Sprinkle with the copped cilantro, if using, and serve with the lime wedges. Serves 4

Monday, March 9, 2009

Doors Of The Duomo

click to enlarge
The Doors Of The Duomo
The doors of the Duomo in Milano, Italy and truly a real work of art. I would estimate the eight side entrance doors to be four feet wide and twelve feet high while the main entrance doors are approximately sixteen feet high. There are five entrances. Each of the ten doors is uniquely different. Each door was designed and crafted by an artisan who designed each panel in the ten doors to depicts a different scene in the life of Christ. The large medallion panel is that of the Blessed Virgin as the Cathedral is named in her honor.
Notice the center panel toward the bottom of the left door. The leg has been touched by so many people that the blue patina is worn away and the brass is visible. That panel is waist high which gives you an idea of the massive size of these doors. One could spend hours absorbing the detsil of this magnificent cathedral.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Duomo

The Duomo (Cathedral)
For my birthday in December, our daughter Mary gave us tickets to the ballet La Bayedere at LaScala. After the ballet we had a late dinner at the Victor Emmanuel Galleria. It was raining when we left to return home. I had a new camera with a function for night time photography. Since the rain had cleared the piazza of people it was easy for me to quickly focus and get this photo. I was quite surprised at the photo details.
This is such a beautiful building that truly amazes me. It took over 200 years to build. One could easily guess that five generations worked on the construction and never saw the completion. A roof tour is available which allows you to see numerous details of the building. 2700 statues are on the exterior alone. When you stand at the top and look north, the view of the Alps is outstanding.
Tommorrow I will post the cast brass doors of the Duomo.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Prediction for 2010 Orange Crop

Getting Closer To The Prediction
Today I was amazed by the number of blossoms that fell from the Orange tree. The hum of the bees on the blossoms is very audible. December 15 is the date our tree's yield has had enough thermal units for eating. It is the cool nights that turns the starch to sugar to sweeten the oranges. We are planning on a bumper crop.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Prediction for 2010 Orange Crop

Prediction For 2010
The fragrance of orange blossoms fills our house at this time and it is lovely. If the number of blossoms is an indication as to what we can expect for yield, it should be an abundance. A bit of trivia. An orange tree allows the number of oranges to mature that the tree can bare. I used to get upset when I would see the tiny immature oranges on the ground thinking that we were loosing our crop. It was just nature looking after the tree.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Ladies of Calle Estepona

It was a beautiful March day Wednesday with the setting in the hills of the Heritage at Maderas Golf Course when seventeen neighborhood women gathered to spend time and visit over a delicious lunch. We all live on Calle Estepona and what an enjoyable time we have when we occasionally get together. The purpose of today's gathering was to welcome our newest neighbor Rosemary. We are so happy she has moved to Calle Estepona.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hooray For Hollywood

The Warner Brothers Studios
Warner Brothers Studio The Famous Landmark
Behind the Scenes Of A Movie Set. It Is Just A "Front"
Th Th That's All Folks!
The Studios were original built in 1927 for First National Pictures on farmland owned by Dr. Burbank, a rancher and dentist whom Burbank is named. In 1929 two Warner brothers from New York bought the business after the "first talkie" with Al Jolson, "The Jazz Singer", and the rest is history. Th Th That's All Folks!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hooray For Hollywood

to Kodak Theater, Home To The Academy Awards The entrance of The Kodak Theater
Hooray For Hollywood
The Kodak Theater is probably one of the best known sites in all of Hollywood. Annually the Academy Awards are staged there and TV cameras pan the area and stars. One of the interesting features of the building is the arches along the entrance to the theater. Each year the motion picture awarded the Oscar for Best Picture has the title and year placed along the entrance and hallway. There are spaces for the honor through the year 2070.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hooray For Hollywood!

The foyer of the Chinese Theater Above the front doors
The entry doors
Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater
One must stand before this building to inspect the details of its design to get the real impact of the magnificence. Unfortunately my interior shots were not viewable. The stage curtain was replaced with an identical duplicate of the original curtain with a cost of $500.000.00. Academy Awards were held at the Chinese Theater for three years in 1941, 1942, and 1943. How wonderful to have these pieces of history of the movie industry preserved for all us to view and remember how it was, the Golden Era of the movie industry.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hooray For Hollywood!

Sid Grauman's Great Contribution
Sid Grauman built three theaters in Hollywood. His first was the Million Dollar Theater. The second theater was the Egyptian Theater. The most ostentatious was the Chinese Theater which is one of Southern California's most recognizable landmarks. In the forecourt are the hand and footprints of many of the stars. One laughable fact is that many of the stars have used a shoe to small to fit comfortably on their feet for the print. One star is chosen annually for this honor.