Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

We discovered Grandpa’s Cider Mill (https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/cider-mill/) on our way to The Chocolate Garden, http://www.chocolategarden.com/ in near Colomo, Michigan, where our older daughter wanted to stop to get a gift.  (more…)

Last night found me hustling around the kitchen making and baking biscotti. I posted the recipes for chocolate chip biscotti and honey almond biscotti in a previous post, https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/biscotti-for-valentines-day/, but these are special biscotti, the Black Forest biscotti that contain both tart cherries and dark chocolate chips, as well as cocoa powder.  Like other biscotti, these make great gifts.  I imagine you could gild the biscotti lily by dipping these in chocolate, either on one end or on one side, but they’re just fine the way they are.  Enjoy!

                                                                Black Forest Biscotti

Preheat oven to 350. Bring water just to boiling, add cherries and set aside.

1/2 c. dried tart cherries (2 1/4 oz.)
1 c. water

Cream:

1/4 c. butter, room temp.
3/4 c. sugar

Blend into butter/sugar combination:

2 eggs
1 t. each vanilla extract and almond extract

Fold in:

1/2 c. chocolate chips (I like to use Ghiradelli double chocolate for that dark chocolate taste.)

Drain cherries, pat dry and stir in.

Sift together in another bowl:

2 c. + 2 T unbleached flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder.

Fold wet ingredients into dry until dough holds together when pressed with lightly floured hands.

Place on an oiled/sprayed baking sheet. Shape into a 14 X 4 X 1″ long. Bake 25-30 minutes or until just firm and slightly brown. When cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), cut into 3/4″ pieces. Bake for 5 more minutes per side.

Optional: Add 1/2 c. sliced, toasted almonds.

(about 20)
from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

Ready to bake for the first time.  If you don’t have a pan long enough, just make two shorter logs.

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After a 10-minute cooling period, slice.  An electric knife works wonderfully for this.  Return to the pan, but the little piece at each end is the baker’s prize!

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Ready for the second baking of 5 minutes per side.

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Cooling.  Be sure to wait until the chocolate chips (melted now) have cooled before eating!

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By Saturday afternoon, Bill and I will have reached another milestone on our trip together through life–28 years of marriage.  It’s been quite a ride!

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My parents bought me this coat rack in Cody, Wyoming many years ago as a surprise and I’ve treasured its beauty in my everyday life, as well as the love it represents, each day since.

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I know you thought from the title that you were going to read and see pictures about me, but sorry to say, it ain’t so.  Alas.  But weep not.  I think you’ll enjoy what follows almost as much. 🙂 (more…)

Are you blessed?  Do you ever feel the weight of those blessings?  I’m very blessed but sometimes it feels like a problem.  Or like the weight bar in the picture below, crushing me underneath.

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I previously posted one of my favorite breakfast recipes (Whole Grain Pancake Mix by Julie Hasson, https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/peter-please-its-pancakes/) ) but since there are seven days in week, you need some other breakfast choices, so I thought another favorite might be welcome.

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My default breakfast is cold cereal with almond milk, preferably with fresh fruit.   But sometimes I want something else, so I was excited when in a copy of The Vegan Diner, I found a recipe for a whole grain pancake mix.  It’s always great to have something homemade that’s also quick, delicious and healthy, which this recipe is. (more…)

I love thrift stores. It started when our girls were little and some wonderful person told me about a thrift store with children’s clothing. It was a bit of a drive, but I made it often. Why pay lots of money for children’s clothes? Babies and small children get clothes dirty but aren’t in the same size long enough to even begin to wear them out. So a children’s thrift store is filled with all the expensive clothes that families, friends and relatives get for children who barely even wear them. These are the same clothes that are often purchased to reflect well on the family, not because the child cares; clothes that before a baby starts crawling, never even touch the ground. Some families have lots of people to participate in a hand-me-down process. We didn’t. That made the thrift store a great source of inexpensive hand-me-downs, just from other families. And speaking of not touching the ground, before our girls walked, we didn’t even get shoes for them. While the neighbor’s baby wore fancy Stride-Rights, (while being held), ours sported cute socks.

My husband is fortunate enough to work in IT, where suits are definitely not de rigueur. He wears, and wears out, polo shirts almost exclusively. When I came home from the thrift store one day many years ago with a pile of like-new shirts, he loved them, but exhorted me not to tell anyone where they’d been obtained. He liked to call them dead men’s shirts but he wore them anyway and, I’m sure, didn’t spill the secret of where they came from even when he started getting compliments. Then one day, he totted up what I was saving and became a convert. Better some new PlayStation games than new shirts from “real” stores!

Besides the substantial monetary savings, I love the thrill of finding just the right sweater, dress or pair of pants, although I admit to not shopping at many thrift stores for pants. If a store doesn’t have the pants grouped by size, I don’t even bother. I won’t go through a fifty pairs of pants, pulling up each pair, and trying to figure out the size. And since there’s been size deflation (as in I now wear smaller sizes than as a high school or college student), size isn’t altogether useful anyway. I love getting compliments on things I wear, knowing I paid very little for the clothing and I certainly have other places to use the money!

Scones and biscotti are similar to thrift store clothing. No, I don’t purchase used baked goods, but if you make them at home, they’ll win you kudos, save you an enormous amount of money, and minister to your vanity, while you’ll never have to search for the perfect gift. Go to any store or coffee shop and look at the prices of biscotti. You might find one for under $2…for one. Scones are likely to run you more than that and they’ll be full of butter/fat. However, make them at home and you’ll be trying to smother your laughter (or your annoyance) when you see the retail price.

Biscotti are some of the easiest cookies to make. My introduction to them came unexpectedly one year in my post-Christmas clean up. While folding some papers for recycling from a package that my sister-in-law had sent, my eyes fell on two biscotti recipes—chocolate chip and almond. They looked pretty simple, so I tried them. Bit hit! I’ve regularly given our younger daughter’s Japanese teacher an entire batch for Christmas and even taught her to make them herself. She hasn’t figured out how to keep them away from her husband and children yet, but that’s not my problem. And I’ve added a black forest biscotti recipe to the mix, filled with dark chocolate chips and Montmorency dried cherries. Yum! And the easy part? Put wet and dry ingredients together, shape into a loaf, bake about half an hour, cool ten minutes, cut, and bake again. Do something else during the initial baking. Voila!

Scones are just as easy to make and even faster. Get the dry ingredients ready the night before and you can have a batch made and out of the oven in about 15-20 minutes, to rave reviews. Have to admit that I only use one recipe, from a Moosewood cookbook, because it’s made with whole wheat pastry flour and only 1/3 of a cup of oil for the entire batch of 12 scones. I added dark chocolate chips to the original tart, dried cherries (in honor of the biscotti—or maybe it was vice versa—who can remember?) No matter; they taste amazing, go perfectly with a cup of tea, and are pretty healthy, too. Tough combination to beat.

Gorgeous clothes at seriously low prices and delicious, healthy (or at the very least not unhealthy), easy treats also at seriously low prices. What’s not to like? And you can gloat the entire time! Just be humble when your friends compliment you. And enjoy your cuppa!