Monday, July 21, 2014

Blue Peach Melba Crisp

I still had some peaches from my trip to the Bryant Orchards shop in Daleville.  They are big and sweet and I wanted to make something new with them.  I had some raspberries and blueberries from our most recent guests.  Raspberries and peach make a peach melba and blueberries are Lee's favorite.  I decided to throw them all together and add a crisp topping and see what happened.


Blue Peach Melba Crisp

4 VERY large peaches or 5 or 6 regular sized peaches
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla


Crisp Topping

3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
6 Tablespoons butter


Heat the oven to 350°.  Butter an 8X8 baking dish. Set aside.


Peel and slice the peaches.  Place them in a medium bowl and stir in the lemon juice to keep them   from browning.  Mix in the sugar and vanilla.  


Gently add in the raspberries and blueberries, stir and add to the baking dish.


In a medium bowl mix the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. 


Cut in the butter until well blended.  Spread the mixture over the fruit.  Bake for 30 minutes.


This is a delicious dessert.  The raspberries dissolved completely and made a wonderful raspberry sauce surrounding the peaches.  The blueberries didn't dissolve, but became little pockets of blueberry juice that burst in my mouth. 


The crisp would have been delicious with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Sadly, I didn't have any ice cream. Don't you hate it when your resistance to temptation works when you are in the freezer aisle?  I did have some Cool Whip, though, and it added a nice touch of creamy goodness.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gingered Peach Cobbler

Our fabulous local orchard is picking peaches.  I love the peaches from Bryant Orchard.  You NEVER get peaches like this in the local markets.  I was going to make some peach cobbler or a peach crisp for my guests this weekend, but they are eating low carb.  That means no peaches and no cobbler for them.

And that it one of the reasons I am not eating low carb this summer.  Fresh fruit.  Yum.

Well, darn.  That means I have to eat the peaches.  So I decided to make up a slightly different recipe than the usual peach cobbler and invited a friend.  That way, I don't have to eat the whole thing by myself.  Not that I can't, but , you know. 

Gingered Peach Cobbler

 4 or 5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons chopped, candied ginger

1 1/2 cups Heart Smart Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1Tablesppon chopped, candied ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon chopped, candied ginger for sprinkling


Heat the oven to 375°.  Spray a 8X8 baking dish with Pam and set aside.


Peel and slice the peaches.  Place them in a medium bowl and stir in some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. 


Add the cornstarch, sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, candied ginger and vanilla.  Mix and set aside.


In a medium bowl place the Bisquick. milk, sugar, candied ginger, and cinnamon. 


Mix just until combined.  If you can let this sit a bit, it is a good thing.


Place the peach mixture in the prepared dish.  Drop spoonsful of the Bisquick mixture on top in mounds. 


Try to cover the top evenly , but leave spaces between each drop of Bisquick.  Sprinkle the last of the chopped candied ginger on top.


Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let cool and serve.


Serve with ice cream.  And Cool Whip.  And good friends.

This had a mild taste of ginger and it was delicious.  I may try more of the candied ginger next time.  I like the bite of ginger and it was perfect with the sweetness of the peaches.

A Fid for Cooks

My Aunt Suzy gave me a gift. It is a flat wooden tool , beveled and rounded on one end and tapered on the other.


"What is it?"  I asked.


It looked a little like the plastic fid that I use for burnishing copper foil when I am making stained glass, the one on the right.  We also use one in the library for burnishing the edges of the wraps we put around hard cover books.  It makes the edges nice and crisp.  Only it is made from wood.

"You use it for cooking." she replied.  "You'll find lots of uses for it."

And I have.  I use it like a wooden spoon in cooking, although the beveled edge is useful for removing stuck on food where you don't want to scratch the pan.   


I use it for cooking, cleaning, prying loose.  Lots of little things, but no one thing.


The end got a little flattened over time.  So I got out some sand paper and sanded it back to an edge, washed it and kept on cooking.  It's kind of like a pencil, in that as you use it and it wears down, you remove the bad edge and you have a new tool.


You should get one for yourself.  I have no idea where she got it, although she probably told me at the time.  If you want one I'll tell Suzy.  Maybe she'll get you one, too

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fuel Cells

I'm now an expert in Fuel Cells.  No, seriously.

I just returned from visiting my mother in southern California.  While there, I decided to take a quick trip to northern California and visit my son, daughter-in-law and my sister. 


Travis is getting his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at U C Davis.  His emphasis is fuel cells.


When you get a PhD, you don't go out and invent the wheel.  You take a tiny portion of the wheel and make THAT better, or explore that tiny portion of history, etc.  So, Travis is taking existing fuel cells and making them a bit more efficient.  If lots of people do that, we soon will have dilithium crystals to power the warp drive to other solar systems.  Until we are in the Roddenberry/Star Trek world of the future, we have TRAVIS to solve the power needs of the world.


He took me to his lab. 


There are huge, pricey machines used to cut and design parts for things we don't know anything about. 


Your tax dollars, and corporate funding, at work. 

They buy blocks of steel and turn them into useful bits. 


Travis is taking existing fuel cells and making the grooves in them a different shape and depth to increase surface area and make them more efficient. 


The goal being to have a energy module in each house that is chock-o-block with many fuel cells.


  Eventually the unit will be the size of your water heater.  Hydrogen and oxygen is pumped in and it converts to electricity from the carbon(?) strip on the fuel cell. 


Any emissions are water, or maybe air.  I think.  You run all the appliances, lights and other energy users from this unit.

Do not run out to your local hardware store.  Not currently available.

Do not hold me to this explanation.  I think it is like going to a tribe in the deepest jungles of South America and telling them how to use a computer and how they work.  I am the Korowai in this explanation. ( "Yeah, that makes sense.  Sure, I understand.  Wha???")

Regardless of my lack of complete understanding of his research, I am very proud of him and the work he is doing.   Who knew my smart, little boy would grow up to be a smart, tall man who will help with energy consumption and reduce the emissions from energy plants?

Of course, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, she said modestly.

Oh, and in his spare time he has volunteered with  a high school in New Orleans for their robotics program. 


Built a wooden boat. 


And recently he has worked with the National Science Foundation to assist with teaching math and science to local sixth graders and is now working with the administration of that program.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Plethora of Crepes


I am considering adding crepes to the breakfast menu for our B&B.

The problem is keeping them warm.  Each crepe takes about a minute to make.  I like to serve a variety of crepes, so that is several for each guest.  Then you have to add the fillings.


The fillings I chose were Nutella with sliced strawberries, lemon curd with fresh raspberries and lemon curd with a blueberry sauce.

I made the blueberry sauce with:
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 Tablespoons sugar

Cook over medium heat until the blueberries break down and it thickens, stirring frequently


I made a crepe recipe of:

3 eggs
1 1/4 cup whole milk, which I improvised by mixing 1 % milk and some whipping cream
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons Kahlua, homemade from my cousin Saja  You can ask her, but you should probably just buy some.


Mix all the ingredients and then strain them to remove any lumps. 


Chill for at least an hour.


Heat a crepe pan and melt a small dab of butter.  Add another dab every third crepe or so.


Pour a scant 1/3 cup of batter in the warm pan and swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan.  When the top looks dry, about 1 minute, flip the crepe and cook for  about 15 seconds, or until  done.  Set aside and make another.  I would have gotten a picture, but the batter is thin and you have to swirl it immediately.  No time to pick up a camera.  I am sure there are You Tube videos for you to watch!


I had a practice night and invited a friend to see if it could be done.  For this experiment, I made all the crepes.  Then I set up and electric griddle and heated them three at a time.


Then I filled them and did the next batch.


After I filled them, I dusted them with powdered sugar.


All the crepes were delicious.  But they weren't all hot.  I guess I could serve them one guest at a time.  Or just serve them for US and not for anyone else.  I know you want crepes, B&B guests, but you can't have them.

Still deciding.....

Monday, July 7, 2014


I started and finished a scarf this last week.  It was super hot and I enjoyed having an inside project.  I had to do it in and around our latest guests. 


They were only here two days, but you have to clean, make beds and set out fresh towels.


Then you have to fix something to welcome them each afternoon and set out fresh towels after the first night.  Not to mention the meal planning, grocery buying and then making and serving said breakfast.


These were the first guests that came specifically to be HERE.  Others have come here for weddings or graduations. 


Some have stopped here on their way to somewhere else or just passing through.  I hope we gave them a great, relaxing vacation.  They left some very nice remarks in our guest book, so I think we did.


The night before their last day, I finished my latest knitting project.  A beautiful, shiny, midnight blue, grapevine lace scarf.  It's hard to tell in the light from the late evening, but it is just a beautiful color.  Then I wove in the loose ends, sprayed it with water and stretched it out flat to block it and let it dry. 


Then the worst thing happened. (cue Jaws, or maybe even Psycho music) I discovered a GLARING flaw in the scarf.  When you are knitting scarfs, they frequently curl up on the edges.  This scarf had a very dark yarn and it was hard to see the details of the pattern.  But when I blocked it and had it all flat and in bright light, I noticed I had made an error.  ( cue curse word of choice,  not the worst one but the next one down)  An entire ROW of an error.


Luckily, it was fairly close to one end.  Had it been at the beginning, I would have just let it go.  I have no idea how to unravel and knit backwards. But it was close to the finished end.  I stressed about it all night.

The plan was to give it as a gift.  You have to figure which person to give it to.  Then you have to figure, who won't notice?  Or you can tell them about it and hope they wear it even with all the flaws.  I don't have good friends and then second tier friends, to whom I could give a second rate gift, so I HAD to fix it.


I snipped the corner where I wove in the last tail of yarn.  I unraveled the scarf, keeping track of which row I was on, for the sake of the pattern. 


Then I slid the knitting needles back in, keeping a crochet hook handy to pick up any dropped stitches, and re knit the scarf to the appropriate length and finished it AGAIN.  And blocked it AGAIN.


And now I can give it with a happy heart and I hope it will be well used and enjoyed.  And, dare I say it, loved?