Cuisinart Bread Machine

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From my experience with bread machines–I’ve owned three—this one works the best.  I bought this Cuisnart Convection Bread Machine used for $14.99, and I’ve made french bread four times–successfully.  The Amazon reviews made me nervous, but I had already bought it at the thrift shop, so I figured I just lost my fifteen bucks and I’ll get over it.  Half of the reviews are more than positive, but the poor reviews are extremely negative. 

This model uses convection baking which makes the crust cripsy, and I really prefer it.  It is difficult to get out of the pan, but I’m working on a way to change that.  The paddle can be removed before the last rise–which I believe is a plus. 

It’s been a nice break when I don’t feel like baking my usual six loaves at a time.

Nothing looks sadder than bread machine bread, but this bread tastes surprisingly good. 

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Polka Dots and Addiction

I found another cool Pyrex Mixing Bowl. I need another old pyrex bowl like I need a hole in the head. I couldn’t just leave it sitting there on the shelf. I mean, for Chrissake it has polka dots!

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I admit it, I’m addicted. I can’t leave a piece of old Pyrex well enough alone. My pink cabinets are filled with the stuff. I love to bake and prep in the retro pastel colored Pyrex bakeware. It’s a sickness, but there is not a 12-Step program, so here I sit.

I think there is a part of me that wants to believe I can somehow capture “the good old days”. The days when sweet little grandmas wore aprons with heart shaped pockets and baked pies filled with sweetened fruits and custards. Nevermind whether the good old days ever existed. Reality dictates that buying a pastel or polka dotted mixing bowl is not going to bring them back. I know that. I have common sense–most of the time. I still can’t part with my set of multi-colored Pyrex nested mixing bowls.

I once found a pink Pyrex nesting bowl and although a crazy man was following me around the store I couldn’t leave without that pink bowl. As he inched closer and closer to me–I started to walk faster and faster–finally breaking into a sprint holding my pink bowl in hand as I heard him shouting, “I love you!”. In spite of fearing for my life from the crazy man, I still waited for a cashier and paid for that damn pink bowl. Priorities.

Retro Set of Culver Glasses / Tumblers w/ Fairies :)

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I found an interesting set of six glasses at the thrift store.    I am especially drawn to the fairies!  The second section appears to have a genie on a magic carpet, and the third section looks like a magician or sorcerer.  Culver makes these and I know they made a lot of other barware too.

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See More Here…. Continue reading

As fate would have it, we met again!

Great Dane at the Farmer's Market

I shot this photo at the Everett Farmer’s Market last June. For whatever reason, it is my most popular Flickr photo, having received 13,369 views. In comparison, my photo of the famous “Take Home Chef” Curtis Stone has received 663 views.

As fate would have it, I ran into them again…check it out here…

I blogged about both of the experiences:

Everett Farmer’s Market and A Great Dane

and

I Spotted Curtis Stone “Take Home Chef” w/ Photos!

 walking waterfront

The reason I’m bringing this back up is because last weekend I went to the Snohomish Farmer’s Market and talk about your smal world—I ran into the same man with his Great Dane! I decided to approach he and his wife and tell them how popular the photo I had posted on my Flickr account had become. They were very kind and the man immediately had his Great Dane, Bryson, pose up on his shoulders again and without thinking or asking, I took another shot! I really like this one.

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We exchanged email addresses to share the photos.

Continue reading

Life is a Beach

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ABOVE: Edmonds Marina Beach Park– Puget Sound

My friend, Kay, came for a visit yesterday, and I was so happy to see her.  Our visit was long overdue.

I served peanut butter and orange marmalade sandwiches, leftover panzanella salad, and pineapple for lunch. 

Kay helped me herd the chickens into the coop so that we could go on a long beach walk.   It was beautiful.  We walked for a few miles or more along the beach.  By the time we turned back it had warmed up, so we grabbed a few ice cold teas. 

Kay has a new haircut.  I love how it frames her face.   It really shows off her beautiful eyes and jawline. 

I’ve known Kay since she was fourteen years old.  She was shy and I’m very extroverted, so I think I may have scared her a little bit—she would probably say it was more than a little bit.   We have many similar interests:  camping, chickens, cooking, hiking, crocheting, eating chocolate, drinking wine, etc.  I’m so happy she is my friend.

“You’ve come a long way baby!”

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Let’s walk the beach again…soon!

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ABOVE: Me in Kay’s sunglasses 🙂

The Graduation Dinner Menu

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The original plan was to take the graduates out for dinner, but I developed a major toothache (cracked tooth) right before they graduated and I had to wait to get into a dentist for over a week.   Then the dentist filled the wrong tooth 😦  Shortly after graduation, Olivia and Sean caught colds right before they were scheduled to go away for the weekend.  After several attempts to confirm a date, I decided I’d like to cook a dinner for them myself.  On Sunday morning I raced from store to store to gather what I needed to make what I hoped would be a nice dinner.   Halibut is in season now and I cannot tell you how fresh the fish I picked up from Central Market was.  They did charge more than a few other places I called, but I didn’t want to risk buying fish that tasted “fishy”, so I went ahead and spent the $19.99 a pound.   I justified the cost by telling myself one pound of fish cost less than what the restaurants charge for one entree.  Of course, I hadn’t seen the price of the macadamia nuts yet!  I am so grateful to live near a Trader Joe’s market–they carry macadamia nuts and they always have the best prices for quality foods.  I bought two bags of macadamia nuts and they were more than enough.   With money tight and a little creativity, I threw together a menu and I believe it turned out almost as good as some restaurants and better than most. 

I also decided to mix it up a bit and brought a table into the den, added lots of roses, candles, and jazz music.  I liked the idea of having a view of the patio and garden while we ate.  The light was brighter and the room large enough to move around better.  I think I’ll do this again when I have an Oscar Party  🙂

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MENU:

First Course:

Panzanella Salad
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Second Course:

Panko Fried Alaskan Shrimp w/ Paula Deen’s Orange Marmalade Dipping Sauce

Third Course:

Macadamia Encrusted Halibut w/ Orange Cream Sauce

Twice Baked Potatoes

Fresh Green Beans

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Fourth Course:

Assorted French Pastries from L’ Artisan French Bakery

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Drinks : Sangria and Pink Lemonade

The one thing I found most challenging was keeping the shrimp crisp while finishing off the twice baked potatoes and prepping the halibut fillets.  I found that placing the shrimp on a baking rack and placing it in the center of my warming oven, set on low, kept them nice and crisp.

I knew I wouldn’t have time to prepare my own dessert, so the French bakery pastries made finishing off the meal easier and gave us time to sit and visit with the family.

Step-Dad Dennis claimed this was the best Halibut he had ever eaten, and he made it very clear that as a native Alaskan,  a compliment like his was not to be taken lightly.  I was honored 🙂 

All in all the meal seemed to go over well.  Sean didn’t care for the Sangria recipe I used because it called for Ginger Ale.  I thought it tasted better the day after because all of the fruit soaked in.  Maybe because it lose the fizzy too.

Congratualtions to the graduates! 

Recipes and links to recipes here: Continue reading

Bawk, Bawk Bawk, Bawk Bawk, Bawk, Bawk-KAH!

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Have I mentioned how dadbanged loud my new hen is?  I’m ready to muzzle her!  She’s going to make my neighbors hate the whole chicken idea.  I am writing this with her bawking in the background.  It’s not just a quiet little bawking–it’s more like a  “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaawk, Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk-KAH!”  When she is ready to lay an egg she wants the entire world to know and she wants them to know at least three hours in advance.  Afterwards she wants nobody near her egg, except for me, and she bawks and wails until I go out and get it.  She gets mad at the other chickens for even peeking in her nest while she is laying.  Good God!  What have I gotten myself into?
 
Oh well, I have eggs 🙂

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A few more photos here (including a peek inside the coop) here… Continue reading

Two New Hens! ~ Mother (Mama) and Roxanne (Roxy)

Above: Roxy

Last week amidst all the chaos, my good friend Liz delivered two 9 month old hens to my house.

I was just too impatient to wait for the chicks to reach six months to start delivering eggs, and watching the baby chickens made me crave a farm fresh egg. I came up with a plan to adopt two laying hens, blend them in with my 8 week old chicks and make us all one big happy chicken family!  Wrong!  The older hens do not care for the chicks at all.

The vet who sold us the hens told us to leave them in the carrying cage until they became used to the chicks and then blend them, but no, Mark in all his male wisdom decided to release the new hens into the coop where up they immediately commenced an attack on the little ones.  The Barred Rock hen appears to be out for blood!  After capturing the hens and separating them from the chicks, the Barred Rock then attacked the hen from her own flock– the Rhode Island Red –and bloodied her comb.  It was a bad scene which required further separation which meant a midnight bedtime for Mark and I which made me slightly irritable.

“Why couldn’t you just have listened to what Dr. Bruce said to do?”

“It’s not my fault that big mean black and white chicken attacked those chicks. She’s just big and mean!”

“She’s a Barred Rock, and we don’t know if she’s mean…yet. She’s just traumatized”

“Traumatized my ass! She’s mean!”

“Okay, then we’ll sell her on Craig’s List”

“Good!”

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ABOVE: Mark holding Roxy. They both look mean to me 🙂

I do have to admit, she looked pretty vicious and I was having my doubts, but doggone it, she is a great layer and she likes me.  She lets me carry her around and we have long talks out there in the mini-barn she’s been confined to. She really loves to talk, and she sounds like a woman who has simply been through too damn much.  She doesn’t need a bunch of kids (chicks) messing in her run.  Sometimes I feel like taking a good whack at my partner from time to time too, so we understand one another.  I’ve decided she is going to stay and I’m going to do my best to help her work out her issues.  Mark named her Roxanne today, and we’ll call her Roxy for short. I just couldn’t stand hearing Mark refer to her as “That big mean one” anymore.  As for the Rhode Island Red, I just call her Mother or Mama.  She just acts like a mama to me.

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Above: Mother

So far, they’ve laid pretty well.  The RIR doesn’t seem to lay as often as the Barred Rock, but we’ve gathered close to a dozen eggs in 8 days.  I’ve added some oyster shell to their laying feed to help with the egg shell.  Today Roxy laid an egg membrane with partial shell which was pretty worthless.  I hope all is well.

The coop is finished.   The pen is finished enough to be used, but we plan on adding another layer of wire and trim to hold in firmly in place.  In the meantime, the girls are only out during the day.

Photos of the coop to come!