Friday, April 30, 2010

Tamale Pie

I wanted to share with you one of the best things that I have ever made and eaten.  It is this tamale pie found in Bon Appetit last month.  Instead of the pork, I used ground beef 85% lean.  I also used roasted tomatillos instead of prepared salsa.  The top cornbread was made gluten free by using Bob's Red Mill gf All Purpose flour and a bit of Xanthum Gum...maybe 1/2 teaspoon substituted for the all purpose flour it calls for.  

Holy Moly this was good.  The crusty top part is sharp cheddar.  Served with sour cream and cilantro, this one is sure to please.  Perfect to make for Cinco de Mayo next week!

Have a happy weekend!  I can't believe it's already going to be May!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


For as long as I can remember, I have loved going to enchanted rock.  My family used to go climb the large granite stone every year in the spring.  As I grew up and my schedule became hectic, that tradition faded.  For many years now, I have wanted to go back.

This Saturday, I got my wish.  J, K, D and I all went to climb the rock and enjoy a gorgeous spring day in the hill country.  The day from beginning to end was perfect.

This photo shows looking out over the hill country from the top.  It is just beautiful.

I was amazed by all of the plant life atop the rock.  It was lush and green with grasses, succulents, trees and flowers.  I especially liked these purple ones.

We sat and relaxed at the top, letting our tummies anticipate the wonderful picnic we all had brought to share.  By the time that we came down I was starving.

We had roast beef and horseradish cheddar sandwiches, all sorts of cheeses, crackers, sausages, spinach pinwheels, vegetable and hummus, jalapeno stuffed olives and to finish it off, some sweet cantaloupe.  It was divine.  Just exactly how I like to eat lunch...noshing until my hunger subsides.

Now that we had happy tummies, we ventured off to begin our hill country wine tour.  We visited four great wineries on our way back to Austin.  They have such a fun atmosphere and are the perfect thing to do on a sunny afternoon.

We visited Becker vineyards, a winery that I had done a wedding at last year.  Besides having great wine, they also have lavender fields that were in bloom.

The tastings are extremely affordable, ranging from 5-13 dollars for a varying amount of tastings.  At some of the wineries we even got to keep the glasses!  This is great because I am notorious for breaking them.

I hope everyone is able to enjoy this beautiful season...

and having a wonderful week so far!

Monday, April 26, 2010

My New Studio!!!!

I realize that I have been pretty quiet for a few days but it is for a good reason.  Remember the fence?  It is gone and now the room houses my studio!  It is significantly bigger than my old studio and has a very high vaulted ceiling.  My studio feels so airy and light now.

Everything is not quite in it's place yet although it is now functioning properly.  There are still things to hang on the walls and furniture to get.

Speaking of furniture, see the chairs above... I am now the proud owner of 2 of the cinnibar (burnt orange) color ones.  I also got the same style in a padded slate blue colored leather that I will use at my calligraphy desk.

The best part...they were on sale.  The orange ones were $35 each (seeing as they were floor samples and the last 2 left), and the leather one was $99.  I am so happy with them ( I have been addressing envelopes in my blue one all afternoon) and can't wait to finish the rest of the studio.

More pictures of the room to come.
Happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Purple Picket Fence

Today is both exciting and kinda sad.  The painters are here to paint my room, to make it fresh and match the rest of the house.  The sad part is that they are painting over my purple picket fence that has been there now for 10 years.

When I was 13, I had security issues and painted the fence for protection while sleeping and for a romantic girlie garden room.  I had swags over my bed and fabric dragonflies on the walls.  I absolutely loved my room. 

Despite the fact that it hasn't been my part of my style now for years, it is still sad to see it go.  It seems like just yesterday that I painted it myself using the regular kind of masking tape for dividers because they hadn't put the blue painters tape on the market yet.  The thrill of having the fence done and decorating my newly painted room.

It wasn't just yesterday though.  It has been 10 years and the room is ready for a new life.  I am ready too.

Some things are still the same though from 10 years ago which I guess makes it seem like not so long ago.  I still am a dreamer, looking for ways to make the world around me more beautiful.  I love to make things, to be active with my hands and to always be learning new skills (I actually learned to knit when I was 13).  I still have a crush on the same boy as I did when I was 13, although, he is now my boyfriend.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ah the Bougainvillias

I just wanted to say hello and happy Monday.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.

For some reason, I have been feeling a bit down lately.  I have been attributing it to all the pollen and allergies looming in Central Texas.  It feels as if I am in a fog.  Not sick just sluggish.

Looking at this picture of bougainvillea helps though.  I just love the vivid hues that this plant has.  This picture was taken last June when D took me to San Diego for my birthday.  Most recently though, we saw the most amazing bougainvilleas in Key West.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Farmer's Market Frittata

For me, the easiest thing to cook after a trip to the farmer's market is a fabulous frittata.  Most of the ingredients can be found there, and it is quick to make.

After the trip to the market the other day, I whipped this one up with beet greens (a 2 for 1 at the market because you also get the beets), spring onions and feta cheese.

Beet Green, Onion and Feta Frittata

1 bunch beet greens, washed and chopped
2 spring onions (they look like over sized scallions), sliced
1 tbs butter
6 eggs, gently beaten with salt, pepper and 2 tbs of water
feta cheese
mozzarella cheese

In a good skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add spring onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the beet greens and let wilt.  This won't take long.

Now, add the egg mixture.  Pour into skillet and pull filling up into mixture with a spatula.  Add feta in chunks and push into mixture.  Continue pulling frittata away from the sides of the pan to let uncooked egg move under.  Let set for a few minutes.

When the top of the frittata is mostly cooked through, you have two choices of how to finish.  First, if your skillet is oven proof, put it into a 400 degree heated oven for about 5 minutes.  If not, as mine wasn't, slide frittata  off onto another plate, then cover with skillet and flip over to finish cooking other side.  Either way you do it works.  Top with mozzarella cheese and let melt.

Slide onto cutting board and slice away!  
This makes 3-6 servings depending on how hungry your crowd is.
How beautiful vegetables are!  I just love to eat them...I hope that you enjoy and find out interesting ways  to make frittatas.  There are so many possibilities, the combination's are only limited by your imagination.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today I finally made it to the Wednesday farmer's market.  I hadn't been since the winter when there wasn't much there but today there was plenty.  I got lots of baby lettuce, some tomatoes (my first ones of the season), eggs, pork jalapeno sausage, of course the radishes, and herbs.  Next week, I'm hoping to score the organic blue corn tortillas for my breakfast tacos (I eat them practically everyday for one of my meals)!

The food that you can get at the farmers market is just tastier than what is at the market.  Plus, the experience adds so much to the beauty of the food.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fresh Eggs

It truly is amazing what excites me in this world.  You know, fifty years ago, something like fresh eggs was common-place.  How sad that now, these eggs are a rarity, that you only can find if you looks really hard.

That is why when my dad brought these home randomly from a meeting he had, I was elated.  Really there is no better surprise.  I think I rather be presented with these than with a new pair of shoes.

Of course you can find some good eggs at the grocery store these days if you look hard.  It is a research project every time, trying to decipher if they meet my qualifications.  So many fall short.

Who knew that there could be so many factors to great eggs.  Were they free range?  Fed a natural diet (not in the fake way that they market natural, but naturally what chickens are supposed to eat)?  Were they given any hormones to induce eggs to lay?  Were their beaks seared?  Ok...finally some eggs!  Geez.

That is what I love about fresh, farm raised eggs, ones that you find at the farmers market or are given to you out of someone's back yard; you know that they meet all the criteria.
And they are a visual feast inside and out.  First, all the beautiful colors of shells....that you could not ever find in the grocery store.  Then, all the yolks are the most beautiful vibrant shade of orange that you will ever see.  That is how you know just how well they were raised.  And it makes for the best eggs you've ever had.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My New Frock!

I'm so excited...I just bought this dress from Plum Pretty Sugar today.  I really rarely find things that I like but this has it all.  Great pattern, handmade and nice fabric.  I can't wait for it to come in the mail.  Check out all the great stuff in the shop.  There are the most beautiful robes and pj's too!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grandma Charlotte's Rose Bush

Starting on Friday of last week, my spring fever began to kick in.  Every year without fail I get a yearning to be outside, to grow things, to commune with nature.  Like clockwork, around Easter I must go buy plants.  Why Easter you ask?  Because my grandmother Viola always said that no matter what day Easter is on, it can freeze until then.  So off I went on Good Friday in search of new plants and dreaming of my garden.

The only problem?  I do not have a green thumb.  You say don't believe me?  I really don't. I have a horrible track record.  While most people that can't garden may give up and rely on a gardener, I refuse.  I will persist and one day I will be a great gardener.  You may think that I am crazy, but this year I can actually feel it.  I think it will be the year that I will overcome my black thumb and cultivate plants successfully. This year is different because my mother will help me.  She will guide me in the ways of plants and watering and sun/ very basic but all too easy to screw up.  I am excited for this year.

So excited that over the weekend I had a divine plant idea.  It's actually almost romantic when it comes down to it.  Looking into my grandfather's back yard in San Antonio on Saturday I gazed upon one of the largest and most beautiful rose bushes I have ever seen.

I have been to my grandfather's house so many times over the past 10 years but ever since "growing up," there wasn't a need to go back there anymore.  Well this year was different.  I knew that there were roses back there...I remembered that from my childhood.  I actually went back there in search of something to draw.  The roses that I found were so different than I remembered.

Gorgeous ivory garden roses with a touch of soft pink that smell like heaven.  There were probably at least fifty on the enormous bush that was over 10 feet wide.  I selected the specimen that  I wanted to draw and set myself inside at my grandfather's kitchen table.  I began to draw.

While I was drawing, I sense of completeness came over me.  I remembered that this was my grandmother Charlotte's rose bush.  My grandmother Charlotte is my dad's mother that passed away before I was born.  I really think that she is where a lot of my creativity and love of working with my hands comes from.  She was a sewer, a painter, a knitter, a cook and so much more.

A funny story about her:  One day, after my parents had been married for quite a while, they called my pop-pop and grandma Charlotte and said that they had something to tell them.  Thinking "oh boy!  They are having a baby!," she knit baby booties.  Only when they came, she found out that she had knit the booties for a new car.  So typical of my parents.  They ended up waiting 14 years after getting married to have me.  By this point, it was too late for me to meet her.

So while I was drawing, I had the idea:  I want to cultivate a rose bush from my grandmothers; a way to keep her memory with me, to touch and nurture something that she once did.  Only one little black thumb.  I now set out with a new goal for the day...find out how.

At dinner, my aunt Donna, eldest of my father's siblings, recalled how her grandmother taught her to propagate roses.  First she said, to make sure that the knotted parts and buried in the soil.  Then she said that you put a jar over it.  Huh?  OK, I'll try that.

But I also came home and watched You Tube videos about rose propagation and learned that you can just stick them in water or in soil.  The one you put into soil they suggested to put the cut part in honey.  So I'll try that too.

So now I have many different clippings experimentally propagating and I am hoping that at least one works.  I want so badly to grow these beautiful roses that were my grandmothers.  I want to have them for my children and for theirs to pass along this family plant, the joy and beauty that it brings to the world.  A living heirloom.
But first I must get it to root.  Any other suggestions to try?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wild Basin

A few of my favorite pictures from yesterday's hike in the Wild Basin.  There wasn't a ton of trail only took us a little over an hour to do the entire trail system but it was lovely.  I especially liked that it had hills.  All too often the trails around here are a little flat for my taste.

I especially love the picture of the wood with the insect tracks that look like cavemen carvings.  And of course the one above with the dewdrops on the spider web.

Have a happy Monday!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

I had a wonderful day with the people that I love. After church, I went hiking with D at the wild basin preserve off of 360. I hope everyone else got to enjoy the beauty of the world today too.