To Amuse and Delight

Monday, January 25, 2016

blizzards, bobbles and beans

I’m sure you all saw how NYC got slammed with snow and wind this past Saturday. It was convenient to be snowed in on a weekend. We were ready for it. I planned to knit, bake and enjoy the beauty of the snow. Which I did. I made another bumpy hat. This one is less slouchy and more bumpy. My daughter modeled for me, much better than those weird angled selfies!

Bean Cake. I found a garbanzo bean cake recipe in an old Mexican cookbook. Folks today are baking with beans for GF and other health reasons, I was surprised to see it as an old  fashioned, traditional cake. 

The basic recipe:
 2  10oz. or 1 19 oz. can garbanzos 
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder

Bake at 350 degrees in a loaf pan for about 50 minutes

I have been tweaking and messing around with this. It is very adaptable to all kinds of flavors. You can add a grated apple, banana, vanilla, lemon, coconut, ginger, espresso powder, cocoa, cinnamon...you get the idea!

I also made a chocolate one with black beans instead of garbanzos, it was really good and less “beany”. The garbanzos do have a distinct flavor that some people won’t like. I have tried white beans and they are milder. If you are trying to hide the fact that you are eating beans go with the white or black beans over the chick peas.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

freestyle booble hat

After that fussy cabled sweater I had the urge to knit something without a pattern or plan. What began as a wide scarf ended up a slouchy hat! As I was knitting I realized that I have a wide large scarf from last year that looks pretty much the same. 

I ripped it out and started a hat.  I wasn't having enough fun with it, so I started throwing in some random bobbles to make it interesting. As soon as it was finished I tried it on and took this selfie. Which doesn't do the yarn justice at all.

In need of some natural light, I went outside and popped it on the bird feeder. You can see the delicious color and the bumpy bobbles much better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Birthday Sweater 2016

My birthday falls in December. Each September, I get started knitting my next birthday sweater. I finished this one in time, but couldn't wear it on my birthday because I just couldn't settle on the buttons. I sifted through my extensive button stash. Not satisfied I ordered some pretty abalone buttons. When I laid them out on the sweater I didn't like it. I realized that with all that cable going on up front I really don't need buttons showing off.
* Oh, that deer head in the background was a gift from my husband. Pretty cool! You can stick anything into it to make antlers. 

I finally found buttons that work, simple brown buttons made from coconut shell. The brown is actually the underside of the button, the front is speckled beige. I'm pretty happy with the finish. My thoughts are moving on to the next project. I think it's going to be a very colorful scarf that is much too long and much too wide. Winter temperatures have finally hit NY and I am not used to it!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas and a lady

Isn't this rainbow tree beautiful? Such a good idea, and it looks much more amazing in real life. That lady peeking around is pretty amazing too. That's my Aunt Millie. She came to spend a couple of weeks with me and my family. I always liked her, but after spending so much time with her we found that we are kindred spirits.We stayed up each night talking and she shared many stories about her life with me. 

Like how she came to NYC from Puerto Rico as a child and how she met her husband at a dance in Brooklyn. It was just like a scene from West Side Story, he is Italian and even though they were married her father in law never knew that she was Puerto Rican! He assumed she was also Italian and the family kept the truth from him because "it would kill him". That's just one of the crazy things that I never knew. 

I also found out that Aunt Millie can do anything. She wanted a koi pond. So she built one, with a fountain. She can fix your ceiling fan or your toilet. She is an accomplished seamstress, cook, gardener and has a knack for taking in and nursing small hurt animals. She's had every type of rodent, fish, bird and cat. She once turned her son's closet into a coop for a broken pigeon, she housed an abandoned young hedgehog, she saved a baby squirrel and raised it to maturity. She is sweet, humble and always eager to give.

My girls are as smitten as I am with Aunt Millie. We knew it was a good sign when we picked her up at the train station and she had her guinea pig (Piggy-Woo) with her. She is the first person ever to see my girl's taxidermy and ask for a lesson. So, my daughter taught Aunt Millie how to skin and mount a mouse. She got a real kick out of it.  She told us, "See, you're never too old to learn something new!".

Millie is my Mom's sister so I've "known" her all my life, but I really have never known her until now. It's a shame that it took us so long, but I am thankful that we've connected and now my girls have her wonderful influence in their lives. 

This Christmas I found out that there are riches hidden right under our noses. The people in our lives are the greatest gifts we will ever be given, starting with Jesus Christ himself. 

Thank God for the people in your life and ask him to to deepen your love for them. Be deliberate about seeking out that hidden treasure that may be right under your nose.

M e r r y   C h r i s t m a s   &  G o d  B l e s s  Y o u   &  Y o u r s

Monday, November 16, 2015

Eating Acorns

The day I found those Giant Puffballs we were actually out collecting acorns. My husband was interested in learning how to make them palatable since we have so many in this area. He is into trees the way I am into healing plants. 
The White Oak is the one to collect, they are naturally less bitter.

First we froze them, that made the skins come off easier. The skin is the layer just under the shell. My husband shelled them.

Next began the process of  making acorn flour. There are different ways to do that. First the bitter tannins must be removed. Some people boil the acorns multiple times until the water runs clear. We went with a non cooked method of leaching out those tannins. 
First we ground them up in the wet Vitamix. More water was added to them in a jar and this sat for 24 hours. Each 24 hours fresh water replaced the old until the water was clear.

Once the tannins were cleared out, we dehydrated the wet acorn meal. I have an Excaliber 4 tray. It came out really nice, nutty and tasty. (I snacked on some.) The grain was quite rough still, so we ground it to flour consistency in the dry Vitamix. It is came out very smooth, with a feel and look of cocoa powder.

My first test was on some cookies. Some GF friends were dropping by for tea. I grabbed everything that I had that was GF and went to work experimenting. 
I kept it simple, much like a shortbread: butter, sugar, vanilla, with cashew meal, acorn and oat flours. They were so good! Even the smallest of humans wanted more, which is really how I judge a "healthy" cookie.

Next was a recipe from the book Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes. A simple classic, pancakes with butter and maple syrup. The acorn is so mild and nutty. It doesn't have that extra bitter taste that many of the darker grains have.

Yesterday's yummy breakfast. I had some leftover pancake batter. I waffled it and topped it with butter and smoked salmon. Again, it came out really good. 
Acorn flour is a winner!I love the idea of eating wild foods that man has not tampered with. Everything that fed that tree is now feeding me and my family. It is nutritionally excellent and it is extremely tasty and versatile. Oh, and the acorns were free!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Spooky

Our Halloween...
There was with a ghoulish girl,

a guinea pig with bat wings,

and a black pie. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Unexpected Gourds

A few weeks ago this plant popped up outside my front door. It grew very fast and started flowering profusely. Bees were always buzzing around it. They would burrow deep down into the blossoms. We could even pet them and they were so drunk on pollen the didn't even budge. I decided to let it keep growing, for the bees sake. 

And keep growing it did! Like a magic beanstalk, it grew up the house and into the rain gutter.

My home is always decorated with all kinds of nature bits: gourds, nests, pumpkins, shells, acorns, pine cones, insects, feathers, skulls, and more.
When a pumpkin or gourd gets a bit soft I display it outside, that way I can enjoy the beauty a little longer. Apparently, one of last years gourds planted itself at my front door.

Now we have all these lovely little gourds. We cut them off at different stages so we can enjoy the different shapes. They will end up back outside and hopefully the cycle will continue.

So inspired by the adorable gourds, my daughters decided to capture a couple in watercolor...

The Younger

The Older