Monthly Archives: April 2011

Easter Egg Tree

I’ve been remiss in presenting any Easter craft projects.  I tried to make up for that with a last minute egg-decorating project but only managed to do all the things that you shouldn’t do.  Smudgy finger prints, gluey fingers with bits of paper stuck to them, etc.  So I will take some time to do it properly and save those helpful tips for next year.  For this Easter I present to you: photos from our family Easter Egg collection.

I don’t know when we started blowing eggs and decorating them – often with felt-tipped markers.  I know we used to have an egg I did for the bicentennial when I was 16 years old, so at least 35 years.  That egg has gone the way of others over the year – dropped  and broken or cracked beyond repair.

We used to find a good branch and put it into a flower pot to display them.   The blown eggs were carefully hung from the twigs of the branch which was fine until the pot tipped over and fragile eggs crashed to the table.  For quite a few years a branch was hung from the wrought iron chandelier.  The current method is a pair of ornament trees hung with eggs – one on the dining table and one on the piano.

Many different decorating techniques are represented: decoupage, mosaic, very shaky wax-resist Pysanky-style eggs, watercolor, pen and ink, and more.  We are lucky enough to have some eggs crafted by my Grandma Cooper (the pretty green with white flowers and white with blue flowers are hers). Other friends and family members have added to the collection, including some commercial eggs and I try and do a new one or two most years.

This is one of my 2011 eggs: blue and gold paper, gold ink, watercolor felt pen, adhesive gems, a button and a gold cord for hanging.  It is pictured in a birds nest I found years ago.

Below are the other eggs I finished this morning, packed and ready to go to my parents house.

Here are some sites I’ve visited with information about various egg decorating techniques.

Learn Pysanky

Wayne Schmidt’s Pysanky

Mosaic Easter Eggs (Save egg shells from peeled, dyed eggs for an egg-shell mosaic on a blown egg)

Paper-Napkin Decoupage Easter Eggs (Martha Stewart)

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Easter!


Filed under Crafts

Spring at Filoli

Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” Filoli, in Woodside, California, was named after the credo of William Bowers Bourn, the original owner. This 654 acre estate, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, is open to the public (for a fee) with a 16 acre formal garden.  I took a day off work Wednesday to visit Filoli with a friend and stroll through the grounds soaking up a big dose of springtime blooms and beauty.


Filed under Life

Cilantro Salsa

After what seemed like rain every weekend for months, I finally made it back to the Marin County Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning. Everything looked beautiful and bursting with color and vitality.  This would be a good time to insert a lovely photo or two of the market but I forgot to bring my camera!

When I saw huge bunches of cilantro I decided to make Cilantro Salsa. I’ve purchased several variations of this delicious condiment and a few years ago created my own version.  It is lively with garlic, ginger and chile, a bit salty, a bit sweet, bright with lime juice and mellow with peanut butter.  I like it on just about any vegetable dish, mixed into salad dressing, and as a topping on grilled chicken or fish.  It is wonderful with curry, tastes great on naan bread and works well stirred into yogurt as a dip (See dip recipe following the salsa).  I’ve even had it with scrambled eggs.

Cilantro Salsa


1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled

2 large cloves garlic

1/2 to 1 serrano chile, seeds removed (optional)

2 large bunches cilantro, trim ends off stems

juice of 2 limes

1 to 3 Tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy, unsalted peanut butter from Trader Joe’s and prefer the higher amount of PB though the lower amount is more like the first recipe I tried)


  1. In bowl of food processor, combine salt, sugar, garlic, ginger and chile. You can omit the chile for a milder dish but I think it benefits from at least 1/2 a serrano chile. Process until finely minced.  Scrape down bowl if necessary.
  2. Add cilantro and process until it is very finely chopped, again scraping bowl sides as needed.
  3. Add peanut butter and lime juice and process until well-combined.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Keeps well in fridge in a covered container.

I’ve made this with green garlic instead of regular, lemon juice instead of lime and sometimes without the chile pepper and every version is yummy.

The picture above is a piece of sauteed cod with Cilantro Salsa.  On the side is Brussels sprouts and kale stir-fried with red cabbage, carrots, beets and a little apple.

Yogurt Cilantro Dip


2 Tbsp Cilantro Salsa

1/3 cup whole milk Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp mayonaise

A little lemon juice (start with about 1 tsp and add more to taste)


  • Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and serve with raw veggies.

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Filed under Cooking

Banana Nice Dream

Making healthier choices in my life means eating differently. Ice cream has been a staple and this recipe gives me something to enjoy that is still sweet, cold and creamy but is not as loaded with sugar and fat, even when I add the optional peanut butter.

It is hardly a recipe and it isn’t ice cream.  But it really is yummy and if nothing else answers the occasional question “what am I going to do with all of these ripe bananas?”   Yes, you can freeze them for banana bread (and I do) but this give you another option. It is also a fun recipe because it seems to involve just a pinch of magic.  The bananas are sliced, frozen and then whirled in a food processor or blender and they  transform from an icy slurry of banana to a pale, creamy frozen dessert.

I found the recipe at the kitchen and decided to call it Banana Nice Dream because it is like ice cream even though it has no dairy and you don’t use an ice cream maker to make it.  In fact, the basic recipe is just ONE ingredient.  If you are vegan or know someone who is or someone who is avoiding sugar or can’t tolerate lactose, give this a try.  Or even if you are just trying to make some healthier choices, this recipe is worth knowing about.

Banana Nice Dream


3 to 5 really ripe bananas (if the bananas aren’t spotty and even over-ripe, your Nice Dream won’t be so nice and may taste a little green)

(really, that’s it!)

Optional Ingredients

Peanut Butter


Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)


  1. Peel and slice bananas into chunks.
  2. Put on a plate or tray covered with parchment paper or plastic wrap and freeze uncovered for 1.5 to 2 hours.
  3. Put frozen banana  chunks into bowl of food processor (or into blender)* and process until smooth and creamy. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.  This will take about 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. If desired, add some or all optional ingredients.  It depends on how many bananas you start with but for 5 bananas I use about 2 rounded tablespoons of peanut butter, a drizzle of honey and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.

*Note: Sorry, I didn’t test it in the blender and the comment from my mom said when she tried it, it didn’t work, so I can’t recommend it.  I saw other online recipes that suggested using the blender but for now I suggest using a processor.

You can eat it freshly made and soft or scrape it into a container, freeze it and scoop it like ice cream later.

The basic recipe is good and I buy extra bananas to have ripe ones on hand for making a batch.  It wasn’t a hit with Rem but he likes the chocolate-peanut butter version.   I hope you give it a try!


Filed under Cooking