Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ed & Melissa

A couple months ago, I took Ed & Melissa's engagement photos. In October, I have the privilege of shooting their wedding!


Last July, for our Church picnic, Chloe signed up to bake a pie for the Apple pie contest. Considering that she can't bake on her own yet, that meant that *I* was signed up for the apple pie contest. The problem with this was that I had never baked an apple pie before. So, i set out on a quest to discover the best Apple Pie Recipe. But that's another story (although I *will* tell you that I --I mean chloe, won first place).
In addition to the apple pie contest, the church also held a salsa contest. Before I moved here, I never knew that people actually made their own salsa. But i've come to discover that making a good salsa is an area of great pride among many people in my community. Anyway, as I was hunting down apple pie recipes, it occurred to me that If I could make apple pie, maybe some day I could try entering a salsa contest! So I hunted for "the world's best salsa" recipe. Well, let me tell you... people have many more differing opinions about salsa than they do about apple pie. But I came upon an interesting recipe.
Apparently, there's a great restaurant in San Francisco, named Papalote, which is known for it's amazing salsa, and someone figured out how to mimic the recipe. So...I printed it up, and saved it for a rainy day, when I wasn't thinking about apples.
Last Saturday, when i was doing all of my lemon baking, I was re-inspired. As I was hunting down lemon recipes, I remembered my old salsa recipe that I was waiting to try. I looked it up again, and found an article that explained the writer's process of putting the salsa recipe together. The writer does such a great job of relaying her salsa adventure, that I would recommend you read her piece. Among other things, she mentioned that the owners of Papalote weren't about to share their secret family recipe, and that the last time someone offered to buy it, the price was $300,000!!! This must be some recipe!! So I made up my mind to make it as soon as I had time.
Because the recipe call for strange things that I had never heard of, like Pasillas, Pepitas, and Chiles de Arbol, I was sure I would have to go to a Mexican market to gather my ingredients. However, much to my surprise, my local Albertsons carried everything! I was so pleased that I promised the produce manager that I would share my salsa with him, after he found the Pepitas for me. That afternoon after picking up the kids from school, and putting away my groceries, and cleaning the kitchen and sweeping the floors, i cut up my chiles, and boiled my tomatoes, and roasted my pepitas, and made an amazing salsa! And as soon as it was done, can you guess my first stop? To Albertsons - to share this tastiness with Ed the produce guy.
Now I figure that if a recipe is worth $300,000, then some of you out there in cyberland may want to try it as well. So, without further ado, here is The Recipe. Once again, though, I strongly suggest that you read the article that goes with it, first, in order to get the feel for how special this salsa really is.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When life hands you lemons...

So the other day, a friend came over & brought some lemons that my kids had asked him to bring. But it wasn't just a few lemons... it was a trash bag FULL!

So this morning, I thought I would use the first lemons to bake some of my Grandma Joanna's famous lemon bars. (As a side note, last Thursday would have been her 91st birthday). Well, that recipe only used up half of a lemon, I had a long way to go, if I was going to use the other 48 1/2 any time soon (for those of you mathematicians out there, who feel the need to point out that 50 minus 1/2 does not equal 48 1/2, Gideon ate one lemon, raw, and Chloe used another to make lemonade). SO...I went online to look up some good lemon recipes, and came across the perfect website! . This was exactly what I was looking for! As I was skimming the recipe for lemon pancakes, chloe came in, stating that she was hungry. This being a lazy Saturday, I thought it would be fun to make lemon pancakes for lunch. After all, the recipe looked pretty simple.

Lemon Pancakes recipe
½ cup of sour cream.
½ cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter melted.
1 x egg.
1 cup of self-rising flour.
2 tablespoons of sugar.
1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top.

Preparation Instructions:
1. Beat the sour cream, melted butter and egg in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and half the lemon zest. Stir in slowly to prevent curdling.
2. Add the flour and sugar and stir carefully.
3. Preheat a non-stick pan. When the pan is hot, pour silver-dollar-sized pancakes. Watch for small bubbles to form on the surface.
Cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
4. Garnish with sugar and lemon zest.

So... first things first... Sour Cream. Oops.... I didn't have any sour cream! Not to worry. I was sure there was some way to substitute sour cream. [Thank you, Jesus, for creating Google!] so i found a great site which gave me several options. I could use buttermilk [darn. I just dumped out a bunch of buttermilk, because i had no clue what i'd ever use it for].... or plain yogurt [don't have any of that, either]... or cream cheese --yes! i was sure i had cream cheese! So i went to my fridge, pulled out the carton, and opened it up, only to discover that *someone* *cough-CHLOE-cough* had used the last of it, and put it back in the fridge, EMPTY!!! .... so my last option was evaporated milk... I thought i remembered buying some on accident, several years ago, so I hunted through my cupboards. Sure enough! it was there! [Check the expiration... hmmm... expired last month... that's good enough!]. So i opened the can [hmmm there's some gook around the top --never mind that. it'll be fine], and dumped it in my measuring cup. Now all i had to do was add a Tablespoon of vinegar. but i was all out of that, too!! and then i remembered some apple cider vinegar that i had in a cupboard. [that should do fine --what's the difference, anyway??].

Good! finally, i had sour cream. So I juiced my lemons, and got chloe started on grating the "lemon zest." I got my melted butter & my egg, and dumped in all of my "sour cream." [Waaaiiiit a second... that recipe says *half* a cup of sour cream, and i just dumped in a WHOLE cup! No problem... we'll just double the whole recipe!] So... I add in some more butter, and go to get another egg. [hmm...i think i just used my last egg a second ago.] so i send the kids to look in our other fridge (the one in the garage, where i keep my extra 6 gallons of milk, and other misc. things like eggs). Chloe brought me the last carton [i hope that's not the one that's been sitting in there for months, that I keep forgetting to use --oh well... i should be fine...right?]. Now i've got the eggs & the butter, and the juice and the "sour cream"

Next: the self-rising flour. [well, i don't have any of that, either, but i'm sure i can make something work. how hard can it be?] Back to google to find this site! So... i mix my flour and my baking soda, and my salt. [Great! this is going to work out fine!] now... if you will recall, when I made my "sour cream," i used Vinegar. And my "self rising flour" used Baking soda. Does anyone remember what happens when you mix baking soda & vinegar? As I poured my flour mixture into my batter, everything started foaming up! Thankfully, I was using an extra large bowl, and no messy disaster ensued.

After all that drama of making a very simple recipe, I think the pancakes turned out just fine! :)

We topped the pancakes with powdered sugar, lemon zest and strawberries, and they were *delicious!!*

If you decide that you'd like to try this recipe (which I highly recommend), I suggest using the proper ingredients. Also, I think it's essential to garnish with the lemon zest. it really makes it perfect! :)

Now i'm off to clean my crazy messy kitchen!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A little Arabian trivia

after a wonderfully fun summer, we've gotten back into the homeschool routine. while I don't enjoy all of the extra work on my part, I'm really enjoying homeschooling, for the simple fact that *I* am learning so much!

this week, we've been studying the middle east, and muslims & arabs. Did you know that in the Dark Ages, after the Roman empire was defeated, the muslims conquered much of the known world? Well, that's not the interesting part. What's interesting, is all of the things that we've gotten from their brilliant minds.

For example, in England, at that time, they were still using sun-dials. So one of the kings invented this way to measure time by how long it took a candle to burn. But guess what the Arabs were doing? inventing pendulum clocks!

Also, the wool from sheep was a very expensive way to make clothing, so they figured out how to make fabric from cotton. Then they would stamp it with ink patterns, called... Calico!

AND...the shepherds would watch their sheep eat these cool little berry things, & then dance around with all kinds of energy. So they decided to take the beans from these plants, roast them, grind them, & use them to make drinks... and that's where we get... Coffee!

I'm so amazed to learn these interesting things about an empire and time that I knew nothing about... All thanks to home school.

...and one more thing: the next time you write a phone number or a math problem, you can thank the arabs that we don't use roman numerals anymore! :)

making a come-back

Hello bloggy world! It's been awhile! I've decided, in the midst of my life's chaos, to try to keep this little bloggity blog going. and now, for my very first post in forever....i can't think of a thing to say! haha! :) so... since a picture is worth a thousand words, i'll post some of my latest pictures. :)

these are a few of the maternity pictures that I took for a friend & her in the spring. :)