Everyone’s Irish on March 17

Shamrock's

Shamrock’s at Muir Woods.

Here’s a little round-up of some of my previous green-themed posts.  It includes links to recipes – just click on the underlined headings.

Rem and I had our St. Patrick’s day dinner a little early over at my mom’s, and enjoyed a sodium-nitrate-free corned beef from Whole Foods.  Happily I have enough leftovers so I could leave some for mom and still have some for tomorrow night’s dinner.

This is a a post about Roasted Root Vegetables which is how I did the vegetables we had this year.  The corned beef and cabbage cooked in the slow cooker.

Root Vegetables

These two salads are both green and both delicious: Baked Feta with Greens and Avocado

Baked Feta with Greens & Avocado

And Emerald City Salad with nutritionally dense kale and chard, brown rice, fennel, apple and craisins.

Emerald City Salad

A pre-spring hike in early March 3 years ago was the source of some pretty green pictures.

Ferns

This last post includes a recipe of Irish Soda Bread, a redhead, and a lovely blessing.

Irish Soda Bread

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Felt Shamrock Garland

Shamrock Garland

My friend, Margaret, and I went to the free craft night or “Craft Gym” on Tuesday at Once Around in Mill Valley and made this simple but sweet Felt Shamrock Garland. We were having a night out together to celebrate my birthday and went out for dinner first then crafting.

Not only did we enjoy dinner at Harmony in Strawberry Village, (try the delicious Fragrant Fried Calamari in a light batter, finished with cilantro, lemongrass, mild jalapeno, garlic and fresh lime), but we spent a relaxed evening with a nice group of women.  To top it off, Margaret let me have all the shamrocks she cut out.  Nice, huh?

Four Shamrocks

This post at A Subtle Revelry has this super simple felt shamrock garland. Even if you’re not interested in decorating for St. Patrick’s day, you should check out A Subtle Revelry and “the art of merrymaking everyday.”

Craft Gym has become a favorite night out for me and it isn’t only, as you might expect, because of the crafting.  The real pleasure is sitting in a circle with your hands busy and enjoying easy conversations around the table.  It is, I imagine, similar to a quilting circle.  I find it both relaxing and invigorating at the same time, and feel great after a craft workout.

Lauren Dyer is the creative and patient instructor for Craft Gym and she researches and presents the projects.  I’d seen this easy garland on Pinterest (of course) but hadn’t been motivated to make one.  But I’ve found the whole experience of Craft Gym is worth it whatever the project.

Lauren makes it easy, the crafts are simple ones that can be completed in a few hours which is very satisfying, and the shop is always a pleasure to visit and browse.  Although the store is closed during the evening, if you come to Craft Gym you can purchase what you need and if you find other things you want to buy, well, you can do that too!

Bright green shamrock

I encourage you to spend some time crafting with a friend or two or five if you can.  I spend hours and hours crafting alone and there is much that I love about it. But there is great enjoyment in the combination of making something with your hands with someone else who is doing the same thing.

It’s not too late to cut out some felt shamrocks and connect them together for St. Patrick’s Day.  Next fall I plan to make a similar garland using autumn leaf shapes and rich orange reds and golden yellows.  A spring garland of flowers would also be nice.

3 green piles of shamrocks

My garland has 18 shamrocks and they are about 3.75 inches wide by 4.25 inches long but folks were cutting out all different sizes.  If you are lucky enough to have a die cutting gadget and a shamrock template, you can make a bunch of them in no time.  But cutting them by hand isn’t difficult, especially with good, sharp scissors.

Simply trace a shamrock shape onto felt and cut it out. You can sketch a shamrock or look online for a template to trace.  I found one here at Spoonful.com, but there are plenty to choose from.  TIP: Angle the end of the stem and make it a bit wide, as in the photos.  This will help when you are attaching the shamrocks to each other.

Fold a shamrock in half and snip a small slit in the center leaf, just large enough that you can push the end of the stem through.  Go ahead and cut slits in all the shamrocks.

Cutting slit in felt

Now attach them together by putting the stem of one shamrock behind another shamrock where the slit is and pushing the end of the stem through the slit.

Attaching shamrocks together

Some of my stems were a little narrow or the slashes on the shamrocks were a bit wide so a few stems slipped out.  I reinforced the whole garland with a little adhesive.  I used a tape runner which was a little tricky sometimes to get the adhesive to stick to the felt, but I got it to work.  You don’t really need this if you cut carefully.  Someone in the workshop said she was going to put a few stitches in hers where the stem threatened to slip out.  The texture of the felt seems to help keep shamrocks attached to each other.

To display my little swag on the door, I used two push pins up near the top of the door plus some fishing line.

Fishing line holds garland

Garland Close Up

I also cut out one four-leaf clover for luck to include in my garland. We can all use some good luck and this week I would certainly welcome a bushel of it.

4 leaf clover

Do you know what the leaves on a four-leaf clover are supposed to represent? It isn’t the same as in the song.  But according to Wikipedia, the leaves represent faith, hope, love and luck.  I learned that five-leaf clovers are considered even luckier than four-leaf clovers (being more rare) but the record for leaves on a clover is 56.

Wishing you a happy and lucky St. Patrick’s Day.  Thanks for the visit.

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Walking the Dogs

Regal Dolly

My brother Beau is sick so Rem and I offered to take his dogs out for a walk.

Dolly decided she want to get above the ruckus and chose the back window shelf.

Her son, Tugboat, had to try the window seat too.

Tugboat in the back

Rem started with the two more energetic dogs, Tugboat and Merle, pulling out in front.  I followed along with the more mellow Dolly and Chet.

4 dogs on a walk

They didn’t always want to go the same direction.

Which way?

Handsome guys.

Handsome

I asked for a shot or two with all of them together.

All 4 dogs + Rem

Nice, but let’s see if I can get a good close-up.

4 dog close up

Lickin' their chops

Now I’m pushing it.  I’ve lost my models.

Distracted

After a boisterous jaunt around Ferry Point in Richmond, we got back in the car for a ride.

Merle says “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”

HappyMerle

Tug says “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”

Happy Tug

Chet and Dolly are happy enough, thank you, but they’re not going to sing about it.

Chet & Dolly

Rear view mirror.

rear view mirror

Chet & I.

Chet & Di

Bye doggies!

Doggie Nose

Thank you for your visit.

(Thank you, Rem, for almost all the car interior photos.)

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Vacation Crafting

Bike & Balloons

I made a bunch of cards while I was on vacation at Sea Ranch.  I got this idea on Pinterest and will make more of these.  A piece of map for the background stamped with a cute bicycle plus some paper balloons on pop-up foam dots.

Pretty old calendars from Paper Source gave me lots of great card-making material – I used pages from 2012 and 2013 calendars.

Small, sparkly Starform stickers embellish the seeds and serve as Dianne Dots here.  I left my little hole punch at home (I was trying not to bring everything under the sun).

Strawberry card

Washi tape pennants and a flower cut out from another printed paper finish this card.

Big Flowers Card

The bird page in the calendar has several more birds so I have more cards I can make from that one.  A few foam pop-up dots lift the bird, leaves and branch off the background.

Bird Card

I love this peacock feather graphic.  I just added some glitter.

Peacock

For this purple card, I found the pretty, large flower  left from a set embellishments.  Behind the flower, I used a photo of crackle-glazed tile cut out from a magazine.  A little purple washi tape finished the card.

Purple Flower

A shopping outing over the long President’s Day weekend included a stop at Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley.  I used some of the pretty paper in these cards.

For this card I used orange-striped washi tape to highlight the greeting.

Blue, White, Orange card

This big pink flower is cut out from a magazine.  I glued the picture to card stock before cutting it out to make it sturdier and so it wouldn’t allow the layers of paper under it to show through and make crease lines.

Big Pink Flower card

A collaged tag is embellishment for this pretty flowered card.

Pink and turquoise floral card

It doesn’t show well in the photo, but on the card below, I cut the central flower and leaves from another scrap where the design repeated. I put them on foam dots and added some of the glittery Starform stickers.  These add have a jewel-like effect but lie flat on the card.  Although I love how self-adhesive jewels look for bling on a card, they aren’t the best for mailing and can poke through an envelope.

Flowers with black

I also did a few pages in my Art Journal.

I cut out the fabulous circle of people from a New Yorker and have been wanting to use it.  It was illustrating a story called “Thirteen Wives” by Steven Millhauser. The illustration is by Balint Zsako.

Thirteen Wives

When I found the rainbow circle quilt picture in O, the Oprah Magazine, I thought I could use the two illustrations together.

Quilted Circle

Marigold Indigo

A shopping bag from Dianne’s Estate Jewelry in Healdsburg is part of the collage on the other spread I completed on my birthday, “Dianne’s Creative Happy Life.”  A rainbow arches over the top of the page and music on washi tape embellishes it.

Dianne's Creative Happy Life

Close up Dianne's

The word CREATIVE is from an advertising brochure for printing and paper. I used bits from dictionary pages, greeting cards and magazines.

Diana definition

Things I love, including my wonderful Rem, crafting, picnics and chocolate, all found a place in this page.

R E M

LOVE

Crafting

I included “happy birthday” and “54″ since it was made on my birthday.

I hope to spend more time art journaling soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Birthday Recipes

Sea Ranch Sundae

I wanted to do some cooking while we were at Sea Ranch.  I like to cook but cooking dinner from the fridge after work with limited time and energy is different than planning a recipe, having an open-ended time frame and nothing else to do!

We made a batch of macaroni and cheese from The Mac + Cheese Cookbook that Rem got for Christmas and it was good but I didn’t make the best choice in the cheeses I bought.  The cheese I picked out was pretty mild and the overall dish was rich and creamy but fairly bland.  But good, as my dad used to say!  We’ll try it another time with different cheese and maybe some other tweaks.

Best-Ever Recipes

This Sunset magazine was in the magazine bin and when I saw the recipe for Dutch Baby, that was my choice for my birthday breakfast.  It is baked in the oven and should puff up rather dramatically, but our smaller version didn’t get that puffy.  It was very good and I’ll try it again in a different baking vessel, perhaps a round pie plate.  I didn’t add sugar to the batter but I suggest you do if you try it and I’ll add it when I make it again.  I looked at several other recipes and some had sugar in the batter.  I’ve added it to the ingredient list.

Dutch Baby Ingredients

Dutch Baby

Adapted from Sunset Magazine

Note: This is for a 2-3 qt. baking dish, ours was 2 quart – Sunset suggests a shallow, oven-proof pan, no more than 3 inches tall – see recipe link for a larger version.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

3 eggs

3/4 cup milk

3/4 flour

2 tablespoons sugar

Toppings

Toppings:

Powdered sugar, lemon wedges, honey, and fruit as desired.

Directions:

Pull out oven rack(s) so only lowest rack remains. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put butter in 2 to 3 quart baking dish (see note, above) and set in oven to melt.

While butter is melting, mix batter.  Put eggs in a blender or food processor and whirl on high speed for 1 minute.

With motor running, slowly add first the milk.  Then, still slowly, add the flour and the sugar.

Continue to process for 30 seconds. (If you don’t have a blender or food processor, you can mix the batter in a bowl, beating eggs until blended and frothy; gradually beating in the milk, flour and sugar.)

Remove the baking dish from the oven, the butter should be melted by now, pour in the batter and return pan to oven.

Bake until puffy and well browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Dutch Baby & Fixin's

Dust pancake with powdered sugar.  Cut into wedges and serve with lemon wedges, more powdered sugar, fruit such as blueberries and a drizzle of honey.

Sugared Pancake

I expect to try this dish again and will post if I create a more puffy pancake.  It really was a delicious treat with a side of apple sausage and some beautiful blueberries on top.

Dutch Baby with Blueberries

For dinner I concocted something that was good but a little quirky and not really quite what I had in mind.  I don’t have a recipe because I was throwing it together. Rem had enjoyed ravioli for our anniversary dinner and I thought we could make giant ravioli using won ton wrappers or skins, like my niece Miriam used when she was on The Sam Livecast cooking contest.

Making Giant Ravioli

The filling was a combination of pork sausage (I would have picked plain ground pork if the grocery store carried it), minced fresh ginger, finely chopped cilantro, green onion and arugula and some soy sauce.  It ended up being fairly salty (we had a little leftover filling and I made some small meatballs that we cooked up and ate), but with the pasta, it wasn’t too much.

pans of ravioli

Each ravioli was made with two won ton skins and sealed with egg white.  We made them in the afternoon and lay them out on baking sheets covered in foil sprayed with non-stick spray. I put them in the refrigerator until we were ready to cook them.

For the sauce (this is really where I got off base), I sauteed some diced vegetables (onion, carrot, celery and fennel) until they were nice and caramelized, then added some red wine and cooked it until it was reduced by about half.  I strained out the vegetables and wasn’t really delighted by the resulting sauce.  I ended up adding some brown sugar and some soy sauce and made it into a terriyaki-type sauce.  It was pretty tasty but didn’t work that well with the pasta of the ravioli/won tons.

I also roasted butternut squash, carrots, onion and fennel and Rem sauteed kale.  We boiled salted water to cook the giant ravioli about 5 or 6 at a time, each took about 5 minutes to cook, maybe a little less.  I drizzled the sauce over the won ton and the roast vegetables, and added a spoonful of the diced veggies I’d strained out of the sauce to the kale.  Green onions garnished the won ton.

Birthday Dinner

I had some leftover won ton for my lunch.  A few splashes of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil were delicious and exactly the right sauce for the dish.  I’ll look up more recipes using reduced wine sauces and see if I can come up with a better combo for future kitchen adventures

The biggest success of the day was dessert.  I thought about different things I might make: chocolate souffle and chocolate lava cake were two ideas that came to mind.  But for the two of us in super-relaxed Sea Ranch mode, I wanted something more simple.

Back to the Sunset Magazine 25 Best-Ever Recipes article. This one looked pretty wonderful: Coffee Sundaes with Salted Peanut Butter Caramel.  I love coffee ice cream and I don’t have it very often.  When we have ice cream at home we almost always get vanilla because we both like it.  But for my birthday I decided I wanted coffee ice cream!

The recipe in the printed magazine had a side-bar recipe for caramel sauce.  The online recipe has you start with purchased caramel sauce.  But I did a little searching on the Sunset Magazine site and found the caramel sauce that is the starting point for the Salted Peanut Butter Caramel.  They call it DIY Caramel Sauce.

Since I came home, I’ve looked at quite a few other caramel sauce recipes online and there are many to read. In fact, I’ve made another caramel sauce that is different than the one I used for this sundae and it is also wonderful.  But it makes a thicker sauce and since our end result includes peanut butter, it is better to start with a thinner sauce.

That said, when I make it again, I think I will try it with a little less heavy cream because it was a pretty thin sauce. Thin but good. This is the recipe, from Sunset Magazine.  You may want to try it with 3/4 of a cup whipping cream.

Sundae

DIY Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup whipping cream

Directions:

Put sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring until is has an amber hue, 2 to 4 minutes.

Slowly stir in whipping cream.  It will bubble up.  Cook, stirring until it boils.

My mixture was somewhat separated and I noticed some of the caramelized sugar and butter mixture wasn’t emulsifying with the cream to form a cohesive sauce, but was in hard lumps.  I was able to get most of the lumps out with cooking and stirring, pressing lumps with the back of a wooden spoon.  I ended up pouring the sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove a few lumps that didn’t seem like they were going to come out.

Keep leftover sauce in the refrigerator. (If you are anything like me, you won’t have leftovers for long).

Let the caramel sauce cool,  and then go on to transform it into the luscious sundae topping.  Actually, let me be very clear: it is luscious and sundae-worthy as is.  But if you like peanut butter, you will probably want to go all the way with this recipe.

Coffee Sundae with Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Sunset Magazine

Note: The original recipe is called “Salted Peanut Butter Caramel;” I tasted the sauce before adding salt and didn’t think it would benefit from a teaspoon of salt.  However, if I’d been at home, I would have sprinkled on a few flakes of Maldon or other sea salt over the sundae (before the whipped cream).

Ingredients:

2/3 cup caramel sauce (homemade from recipe, above, or good-quality store bought)

1/3 cup chunky old-fashioned peanut butter

1 pint coffee ice cream

1 cup sweetened whipped cream

1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Optional: A pinch of Maldon or other sea salt

Directions:

Heat caramel sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until sauce is warm but not boiling.

Stir in peanut butter until incorporated.

Scoop 1/2 cup of ice cream into each bowl.

Top with 1/4 quarter cup peanut butter caramel sauce, a sprinkling of sea salt flakes (if desired), 1/4 cup whipped cream,  and 1 tbsp. peanuts.

Sundae Closeup

This combination of flavors and textures had me scraping the bottom of the bowl.  I had a second (smaller) sundae the next day after lunch.  We were heading home and the coffee ice cream wasn’t coming with us.  Before the end of Birthday Month, I’ll buy another pint and make another batch of Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce.

Thanks for your visit.

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Annibirthary Getaway: Windsor & Sea Ranch

Rem & Di @ Sea Ranch

Rem and I are home from a lovely little vacation.  In the midst of a terrible drought we went on a very rainy week.  We need the rain and it was nice to see green hills instead of brown.

We celebrated our 15th anniversary and because of the rain, postponed our planned hot-air balloon flight.  We decided to go ahead with our plan to stay overnight in Windsor and enjoyed both lunch and dinner out in Healdsburg.

The rain put a bit of a damper on strolling around and window shopping but after lunch at Bear Republic Brewing Company,

Beer Sampler, Bear Republic

(Rem had one of their beer samplers), we did stop in here:

Diannes Estate Jewelry

Lovely items and they know how to spell Dianne!  Rem got me a sweet little music charm to add to my charm bracelet.

We stayed in the The Italian Country Cottage at Windrose Romantic Cottages in Windsor.

Italian Cottage

Cottage Sign

It was probably bigger than our apartment and with no noisy neighbors and a lovely and yes, romantic setting, it was a great start to the vacation.  In fact, we met our neighbor in the morning, an emu, one of eight on  the adjacent property.

Emu

The cottage included a full kitchen…

Cottage kitchen

A small, cozy living room with gas stove,

cottage living room

a spacious bedroom,

cottage bedroom

and though we didn’t have a bubble bath in the old-fashioned bathtub, we did very much enjoy a soak in the covered outdoor hot tub later.

indoor tub, cottage

We drove the 10 minutes back to Healdsburg in pouring rain for dinner at Baci.  In spite of the storm, the place was packed.  I had a delicious Risotto Frutti di Mare and Rem chose one of the daily specials: Ravioli with Beef Cheeks and Mushrooms, which he said was “very tender with good sauce.”  We shared an order of profiteroles which were yummy but not as good as the ones at Left Bank in Larskpur which come with a small pitcher of hot chocolate sauce.

Back down the freeway with our windshield wipers going like gangbusters to “our” cottage.  As the sign says, it really was the sweet life.

La Dolce Vita

The kitchen is stocked with a fruit and cheese platter for your arrival and waffle mix and a waffle iron, juice, fruit, coffee, cereal, etc. for the following morning.  Rem did the honors for breakfast, our anniversary, both fixing waffles and cleaning up.  After  a final trip to Healdsburg to the Oakville Grocery to pick up lunch to eat en route, we hit the road heading for Sea Ranch.

Sea Ranch was the usual delightful mix of doing very little, eating well and the occasional venture outdoors to see the local flora and fauna. I crafted and read, Rem did ham radio and played games on his iPhone.  We celebrated my birthday in very low-key style, cooking together (Rem did all the clean up, bless him) and I took a walk.

Sea Ranch House with Sheep

Some beautiful Sea Ranch architecture, blooming daffodils and the Sea Ranch sheep.

Sea Ranch Sheep by the sea

Lambs butting heads

Seals and high surf

Seals and high surf.

seals

Deer

Sheep pen gate

View to the ocean

Wet grass

Birthday Selfie

A birthday selfie.

Daffodil

We were a little relieved that it was pouring today when we had to pack up and head home.  Sea Ranch has very changeable weather and often offers the most glorious weather the day you depart.

I’ll write more soon about a few of the recipes we tried and share some pictures of the crafting I did.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Baked Kale Chips

Crispy Baked Kale Chips

I think these crispy seasoned Baked Kale Chips are my response to all the Thin Mint cookies I’ve been snarfing down.  As soon as I open one of those sleeves, it is really only a matter of time before I consume all the cookies in it.

I’ve tasted some commercial kale chips before and they were really good. I tried making them myself and had really uneven results.  The mixture to coat the chips was too heavy, the chips were too crowded on the baking sheet so some were soggy and limp. The ones that were crisp were good, but I was disappointed and didn’t want to share the recipe.

After reading a few different recipes (many use a dehydrator, but I don’t have one), I blended two for my hybrid recipe and made a batch of blog-worthy Baked Kale Chips.  They aren’t very beautiful, but they are crisp and tasty.

Kale Chip Ingredients

Baked Kale Chips

Adapted from A Spicy Perspective, and Oh She Glows.

Ingredients

1 large bunch Tuscan (or Lacinto) Kale (I think curly Kale would work too but might be a little more difficult to dry and then to coat with the cashew butter/olive oil and spice mixtures.

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons Cashew Butter

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the kale and dry it well. I don’t have a salad spinner but that would be a great way to get as much moisture off the leaves as possible.  I rolled the leaves between two dish towels and still blotted some water off with paper towels.

Pull the thick stems from each kale leaf.  If you fold the leaf in half along the length of the rib or stem and hold the leaf with one hand, you can pull the stem with the other hand and zip it right out of the leaf.

Zip stems from leaves

The leaves will shrink, so you can tear them into pieces, but keep them fairly large. Put the pieces of kale in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine cashew butter, olive oil and lemon juice.

Scrape the cashew butter mixture over the leaves and massage the leaves so all the leaves become well coated.

In another small bowl, combine the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin.  Sprinkle this mixture over the kale leaves and toss together to coat.

Arrange leaves on two large baking sheets so they are not overlapping or wadded up and stuck together with the cashew butter mixture.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, checking after about 10 minutes.  If leaves aren’t completely crisp but still seem limp or soggy, bake another minute or two.

When kale leaves are finished baking, let them cool than carefully remove from baking sheets and store in an airtight container.  I found my metal dough scraper to be an excellent stand-in for a spatula when I was removing them from the pan.  They will crumble and shatter fairly easily so use care.

Baked Kale Chips

I served them when crafting with friends and got some nice compliments but I admit that when someone brought out the guacamole and tortilla chips, the Kale Chips were relegated to second place.  Guacamole is hard to compete with.  I did feel better about snacking on Baked Kale Chips and managed to avoid the Thin Mint cookies for an afternoon.

Bowl O' Kale Chips

Thank you for visiting.

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