Monday, November 24, 2014

Mini Pies - Or Not

We're celebrating Thanksgiving early this year due to varied work schedules.  Although everyone lives in close proximity we can't all be together on Thursday, so Monday (today) is the designated day.  
 Here we are hard at work getting ready for the big day a few days earlier than when we would normally be baking.  I make several different pies to please everyone. Pumpkin, apple, and of course chocolate - my personal favorite.
My grandson loves to cook (he wants to be a chef) so he came over to help me.  
We had so much fun!

And look at what we turned out!  Yum....

When I was teaching my students would spend the whole week before Thanksgiving learning how to make pie crust and then creating a complete Apple Pie at the end of the week.  Many students went home and made pies for their families - a little extra credit couldn't hurt.. giving them some practice in the kitchen.  
Many proud parents wrote me notes of awe and gratitude as their children shared with their families what they had learned.

I'm having to stand guard against slices of pie being stolen as these sit cooling on the counter.

I can't go a holiday season without making my aunt's decadent chocolate pie.  The story goes that this was the signature pie at one of her favorite restaurants in downtown Omaha, Nebraska where she was a regular customer.  She was so enamored with the pie that she talked the chef into giving her the recipe.

The restaurant is long gone now but this delicious recipe remains - 
here it is...and it's so easy. 

This year I made mini chocolate pies.  

Decadent Chocolate Pie
Makes an 8 inch pie

3Tbsp butter
1C sugar
1/4C flour
1 egg - well beaten
1 1/4C milk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1tsp vanilla

Cream butter until soft, gradually blend in sugar and flour
Combine beaten egg and milk - stir into first mixture
Break chocolate into pieces - add to above ingredients

Cook entire mixture in a double boiler until thick and smooth, stirring frequently

Lastly add the vanilla

Pour into cooked shell
Cool & top with whipped cream

 I haven't made the whipped cream yet - that will be done tomorrow, closer to dessert time, but I'm thinking that powdered sugar could be a viable alternative.

I have to be honest here.
My plan was to make all of this years pies mini - it was a grandiose plan - but after  making mini versions of the the chocolate recipe, I was over it and I decided to make regular sized pies instead.  Shaping all of those tiny pie crusts was just too overwhelming. 
I kind of go over the top with the pies trying to please all of our family members - did I mention that I also make lemon bars for my youngest?  Yes, I know it's probably too much, but I love baking and they take their favorites home with them so only some pumpkin (my husband's favorite) remains.   

What is your traditional Thanksgiving dessert?  

Happy Monday...


Friday, November 21, 2014

Where Is Home?

I love to read.  Books can transport you to to another place and time. They make us laugh, cry, and often feel emotions that may be hidden deep inside of us.
I recently read "The Beautiful American," by Jeanne Mackin. 

 It's told through the voice of an American expatriate living in Paris from the 20's through WWII.  It has many threads, but one of the overlying themes has to do with relationships, and within last few paragraphs of the book I found this message. 

 "...except the home we carry inside that is more than a mere place."  

I got to thinking how fitting this quote is as we forge headlong into the holiday season.

Where is home for you?  Mine is in several places. 
 My first thought is for my physical home here in Chico.  We remodeled 14 years ago.  I was in heaven, planning and watching the gutted shell take shape over the months. It's comfortable and  
cozy and we are happy here. 

But I also think about the home my kids grew up in, there are so many great memories from those years - many pieces of my heart are definitely there.
My mom and son before his Senior Prom 

Then there are the homes of my childhood...
Below is the home I lived in until I was four - Omaha, Nebraska. We located it on a trip a few years ago.  I can't believe it looks the same as when we moved! 

And then there is the home that I grew up in. I lived there from the time I was four years old until I moved away to college (with a few short stints in-between).  My parents lived there until my father passed away and my mom wasn't able to manage living in the countryside by herself. I still catch myself saying, "We are going 'up home' for the weekend (It's actually located north of us and higher in elevation).
The view from the back yard of my childhood home

Here we are shortly after we moved to California, the house was still under construction.

And, this is the way I remember it during my childhood.  

Some of us aren't so fortunate to be able to stay grounded in one place for years.  My husband has taken me past lots of houses his family lived in when he was growing up in Vancouver BC.  He has wonderful stories and memories about every single home.
I think the most important message that I want to give to all of you is, no matter where 'home' is for you make sure you make memories.  Those memories are what live in our hearts and make us who we are. 

So this holiday season - make some memories.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Enhancing Practical Objects #3

Not long ago I started a series on beautifying those necessary eyesores, you know...trash cans, utility boxes, and more.  If you missed parts 1 & 2 you can find them here & here

Look what I found - Can you guess what they are?

They are actually silos for a concrete plant located on Granville Island, Vancouver, BC.  Now I think this is quite an improvement to those industrial metal tanks.  What do you think?

Now in all fairness, this plant is located in an artistic enclave on Granville Island. I don't know the backstory to these big guys, but I'm sure they were prompted by the artist community working in their shadow.

Emily Carr University of Art & Design is located across the lane.

We found lots of creative folks among the winding streets.

Yummy restaurants and pubs were also easy to find.  This menu looked wonderful.

I can attest to the food and spectacular views of the harbor here.

I''ve begun to post designed practical objects on my Instagram and Pinterest. Take a look.  My Pinterest board is a community board so you if you would like to post your finds there, let me know - I'll add you.

 Happy Hump Day 
I hope you are having a wonderful week!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Monday - The Colors of Fall

Good Morning...How was your weekend?
It's the beginning of a new week, so in honor of Monday... I just had to share a few shots of the gorgeous leaves that we found at the Kitsilano Pool, Vancouver, BC.

Fall is a little late getting here this year in the Sacramento Valley, those vibrant colors are finally beginning to turn - just in time for Thanksgiving.  I'm always excited to see them appear, while my husband (the one who blows and vacuums all of them out of our yard) is less enthusiastic.  

Fall - my favorite season...

Happy Monday.

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