Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wow. A GF Pie Crust That's Really Good!

When November rolls around I want to bake pies. I'd like to bring a really good one for Thanksgiving dessert, but I confess my pie-making has really gone downhill in the last few years. When you're eating gluten free, pie crust is a challenge. It's not easy to find a decent recipe. All the same, I was seeing the glass half-full this week, so I got it in mind to make a rustic, free-form, French-style tart. I used this crust recipe developed by Helene over at Tartelette. She is a French ex-pat pastry chef, living in the US, and she's an amazing baker. Sadly for her, she had to go gluten free. No need to tell you that her loss is my (and many others') gain! She has come up with some beautiful gluten free pastry recipes. You can read all about them, and drool over her food styling and photography on her blog.

Because I can't get enough of cooked apples, I chose this recipe from Epicurious for the filling. It uses what I think are traditional French elements: the apples are tossed not with cinnamon, but with lemon zest and a little sugar. The crust is spread with a thin layer of apricot jam beneath the apples. I used Bonne Maman preserves - a little pricey, but delicious and not too sweet. This combination of flavors is new to me, and really good!
Still, I must face facts. This crust is tasty, but not fabulous enough to warrant all that extra folded up around the edges. Next time I'll make this in a tart pan, and keep the crust really thin. I think that will be just right.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Quilt for Addianna

In May, my nephew and his wife had a lovely little baby girl named Addianna. If my sister Anna were still living, this little girl would be her first grandchild.

I wanted to make something special for her. I didn't start the quilt until Addi was a few weeks old, and she's just received it - at around her six-month birthday. I'm sad that it's so late in arriving, but I really enjoyed making it. I think she'll still be able to make use of it.

It's my first real quilt. I've made a few pieced tops that I stitched onto store-bought comforters. This is the first time I designed, pieced, filled, quilted and finished a quilt - although I did it all on a sewing machine - not by hand. I used my mother's 1951 Singer Electric Sewing Machine, Class 15-91.

I have a baby quilt that my grandmother sewed by hand, while she was expecting my mother, her first child. It's yellow and lavender - gender neutral colors - because back then there was no way to know the sex of your baby until her arrival.

I chose fabric patterns and colors I thought a little girl might enjoy. I hope Addi will get lots of use out of this thing.

And here she is, my great-niece and her great-grandma, who just happens to be my mother. (Photo from Addi's mom Caty's Facebook photos.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

She Likes It!

My friend and coworker Dave grew this cat grass at work, and sent me home with a pot for Miss Bettie.

She knew right away that it was for her . . .

I'd say the gift was thoroughly appreciated - by both of us!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky Oreos

Last week Gluten Free Girl & The Chef featured homemade gf oreos on their site. (You'll find the recipe there if you want to try it.) I had to give them a try! I figured it was best to make them for a party - so I wouldn't eat more than a few. I've been wanting a pastry bag - this was my excuse to go out and buy one. I whipped them up for a Halloween party, where I knew there would be at least one other person on a gf diet.

A few comments on the process: I substituted brown rice flour for the white rice flour because that's what I had on hand, and coconut oil for the vegetable shortening because I don't like to use trans-fats. I also think that this dough could be rolled out and cut with a cookie cutter, or rolled into a log and sliced. It was a bit labor intensive to form each wafer by hand. The chocolately smell that filled the house while they baked was out of this world!

To decorate them for the holiday, I bought some yogurt covered raisins and poked holes in them with a fat needle to make little skulls, which I attached with a little blob of icing. :-) They were well received at the party, even by non-gf people. That's always the test: will the people who can eat everything else enjoy these too? They did, although I have to say I liked them best the next day, after they'd spent the night in the fridge. The filling stayed really firm when cold, so it didn't squeeze out when I took a bite. Let me know if you make them - and how they turn out!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weather Magic

This afternoon some weather rolled in - magical autumn weather - the kind of weather that stirs thoughts of something much bigger than our puny selves. I was at my desk, on the third floor of the office building where I spend my days. My cube-mates and I were in awe of the drama taking place outside the glass.

Leaving work, walking to my car, across a little wooden bridge over a wetland, the slanting rays were hitting bittersweet berries with a light that made me see them for the first time.

A half hour later, when I exited Whole Foods, this greeted me. It lasted for the longest time, and grew in size and brilliance until it was a full rainbow, spanning the sky from horizon to horizon. I watched people come and go in the parking lot. Some were oblivious, others stopped for a moment to appreciate it. I spied a very tall young man standing in the next row of parked cars. He stood almost motionless, sometimes in the falling rain, from the moment he noticed the rainbow, until it faded away. When it was over, I watched him walk toward the store, with the sweetest smile on his face.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Please Don't . . .

Last Saturday, S. and I wandered over to the Hessel Museum at Bard College to have a look at the exhibit Home/Not at Home. The show was okay - there are a few standout pieces. I found most of the work in the collection to be clever, but lacking heart.

As we walked toward the museum door, the breeze picked up, and we heard, behind us, the distinctive sound of a flag - a big, substantial one - unfurling and snapping in the wind.

Expecting to see the Stars and Stripes, we turned, and . . . surprise!

The flag was made by David Shrigley.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


You may recall that I bought a little 6x6 painted construction by Simon Draper a while back. Well, in August I was lucky enough to find another one that I love. I found both pieces at Roos Arts in Rosendale, NY.

These pieces are actually cut outs made from torn down studio sheds that were constructed as part of Draper's Habitat for Artists program. Roos Arts' current exhibition, which opened this evening, features this work. You can read more about it here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Putting the Best of Summer By

I took the summer off from blogging. My camera is old, and the Memory Stick I was using went bad. Sony no longer manufactures the cards, and I struggled to find some. I finally found two -- in my desk drawer!! While I was fretting over my camera and its memory, this lovely pile of basil grew in my teeny-tiny garden.

Last night, a dry evening between bouts of rain and wind brought on by a tropical storm, I cut the plants off at the base, brought them inside, and stripped off their leaves. It took about 90 minutes to complete this part of the project. Those bowls you see up there? They're very big! And full of fragrant, lovely basil leaves.

I stuffed as many as would fit into the food processor, poured in a little olive oil, and churned away.

The mixture filled these three zip-lock bags, which I carefully flattened, spreading the basil mush in an even layer, and filling each bag to the corners to keep air out. Also, the thinner the layer, the easier it is to use later.

After a night of laying flat in the freezer, they're ready for use. Any time I need basil, I'll just break off a piece and reseal the bag. In cooked dishes, it's a thousand times better than dried leaves!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Light & Shadow

Shadow play from a lampshade.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Breakfast

I know it's still spring - technically - but it feels, and tastes, like summer!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Which Way Should I Hang It?

I bought this little 6"x6" painting/construction at Roos Arts in Rosendale, NY.

It was made by Simon Draper.

There were (and perhaps, still are) many 6"x6" works for sale at Roos Arts, as part of a fundraiser for Habitat for Artists, project started by Mr. Draper.

Which way do you think I should hang it?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Pretty Evening Light

Just a pretty evening . . .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Love My Bike!

As bikes go, it's nothing very special - a Giant Cypress - a hybrid - at least ten years old. For most of its life it sat in the garage or basement, collecting dust. You see I don't feel safe riding on the road with cars, and until two years ago, I lived in neighborhoods with lots of auto traffic. Now, however, I'm lucky to live in quiet neighborhood near the Norowottuk Rail Trail. Just a quick, bumpy ride through the woods to the trail, and I can ride without fear of being knocked over by a car. I might get knocked over by a rollerblader, or perhaps another cyclist, but still it feels much safer. I'm not an athlete, not that kind of rider, but when I'm on my bike, flying down a hill, I feel like I'm 10 years old again. There's no better feeling!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wood Anemone

Another sweet woodland flower in my yard. This one is called Wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia).

I found its name it using this wonderful Flower Identification website.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Every day there's something new to see outside my door. This morning, these unfolding ferns were the prize winners! I've never eaten fiddleheads. Have you? I don't know if the ones growing in my yard are edible, but even if they are, I think I'll let them grow into the bushy greenery that I love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wakerobin Outside My Door

Trillium - a delicate forest wildflower also known as "wakerobin" - blooms outside my door.

A host of sweet woodland flowers bloom while they can catch a bit of springtime sun - before the trees leaf out.

How lovely to find these so close to home.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making Gluten Free Pizza

This is the first pizza I've eaten since going gluten free, and the first I've ever made. It came out really well! I used a frozen crust from Against the Grain (a local GF company) and topped it with homemade marinara sauce, sauteed onions, red peppers, mushrooms, and part-skim mozzarella cheese. Sometime soon I'll try making my own crust, but that's another matter!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Visit from E.B.

Have you ever tasted Burdick chocolates? They are like nothing else. Tiny little things, perfectly made, subtly flavored, amazingly delicious. I am so lucky that Ananda sends them to me!