Great and unusual side dish.....

 This is a picture similar to a dish I had in a health food deli last month  and fell in love with it.... pumpkin (or squash) ravioli with kale, blue cheese and walnuts  It was sold as a cold salad at the deli but I thought it tasted much better heated. I made it  yesterday without the mushrooms.  

I sautéed about a cup of each of onions and red bell peppers and 2 cups of chopped kale and then added a bit of capers and garlic.  Then I cooked the squash ravioli , drained it and added it and 1/2 cup each of chunks of blue cheese and chopped walnuts to the onion/pepper mix.  I served it with baked salmon.

It was delicious and would be lovely as a vegetarian main course.  I bought squash raviolis at both Trader Joes and Costco.  The ones from Costco were prettier but we thought the ones from Trader Joes tasted better.


Chocolate Hazelnut Ricotta Scones

About this time of year in 2018  I had a bakeoff of 6 scone recipes and this one was by far the best.  Since I had some ricotta cheese on hand I made them again..  

 I believe part of the success in baking scones is due to a few extra tips   I found as I was researching recipes.  All recipes cautioned about overworking the dough and I did find specific instructions on handling the dough with a bench scraper and gently folding it.  The second tip was freezing the butter and grating it into the flour mixture which I did with every recipe.  And the final tip was once the dough was cut and on a baking sheet to stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking to achieve a better rise which I also did.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ricotta Scones

And the winner was a recipe I chose on a whim for a really  unrelated reason.  Every so often I cook an Italian recipe which calls for ricotta cheese so I buy a carton and then only use half of it.  And there is never a second recipe imminent to use before the rest of  it spoils.  So when I was searching scone recipes and found one that actually called for ricotta cheese I immediately printed it out.  And lo and behold it turned out to be the winning 5 star recipe.  I did recently see a recipe for orange-ricotta scones which I will try also..

 This did make a double recipe but could easily be halved.  I did make one change though....I reduced the sugar to 1 cup as DH does not like his scones too sweet...  
Chocolate Hazelnut Ricotta Scones  
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 16 scones
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or organic shortening, ice cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 100g (about 2/3 cup) semi-sweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. -If using food processor (steps 2-3):
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of a food processor
  4. Add cold butter to dry mixture and pulse until it is fine and powdery. Add ricotta, egg, and vanilla extract to mixture and pulse to combine until it comes together into a dough.
  5. -If doing by hand (steps 4-5):
  6. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Grate butter with a cheese grater then use a pastry cutter or pair of knives to cut it into the dry mix until you have a course, crumbly mixture.
  7. Add the ricotta, egg, and vanilla extract to a small bowl and stir to combine, then pour into dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula until it comes together.
  8. Fold in chocolate and hazelnuts then scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and, with well floured hands because the dough will be a bit wet, flatten each half into a circular disc shape, about an inch high. Do your best to handle the dough as little as possible in order to keep it cold. (If you're having trouble with handling it you can chill it for about 30 minutes in the fridge or even the freezer to make it easier to work with.)
  9. Make 4 cuts, straight, across, and diagonally, in the circle so that you have 8 equal triangles (see photos) Repeat with other half of dough. Separate them and place each triangle about 2 inches apart to allow spreading room on prepared pan.
  10. Bake for 12 - 16 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  11.  Store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.




A garden of my very own

 I was working most of the summer on a  small side garden... well not so small as it is almost 200 square feet now.  It started out small  as it was going to be just a narrow bed along the west side of the house.  But I kept removing sod and removing sod until I had planted the whole area.

This area is barely visible from the street and when the roses grow  on the fence it will not be visible at all.  You can't see it from any main living area in the house.  You can't see it from the deck and you   can't even see it when you are in the back garden unless you walk over to that area.  I added a large piece of wrought iron and a clematis on one side to hide it even further.

There is only one area with an excellent view of this garden and it is my bedroom window.  I look out at it  every morning as it is sleeping under frost and envision what it will be like in the spring,  Right now it is planted with peonies, daisies, perovskia, lavender, iris,  geraniums, and over 200 bulbs of tulips, daffodils, alliums and misc.  In addition there are two climbing roses and my favorite clematis Princess Diana And there is a bench just for me.  My special garden...my retreat.

Hopefully it will all grow even though the soil is mucky clay and river rock.  I amended it with compost and perlite with high hopes that  all the peonies I brought from the farm will survive.  It consumed my summer and seemed an endless task but even now without a green leaf in sight I can look at it out my bedroom window each morning and it fills me with delight, anticipation and a wonderful since of accomplishment.  It was a huge back-breaking endeavor...but I enjoyed every minute.  Starting an entirely new garden has been so healing.  Is this what I really want to do in my mid 80s....... YES!!!



Painting again and light info!

I have started painting on my little birds and I am going to fuss with them as long as I can because it is such a treat to be painting anything.  Since I hadn't painted since last February a good many bottles of paint had dried up.  And once I settled in at the painting table Morris snuggled in his favorite spot at my feet.  What a happy pair we are!!!When I am actually sitting there he rests his head on my feet and keeps them toasty warm.

  As I am still ordering lights of all types I was wondering if I had shared what I have learned and can't see that I have and it is worth knowing.  Not only is my sight blurry and distorted, it is very dim so I am continually searching for stronger and more useable light sources.  At the farm I had found wonderful lights with magnifiers and I brought them with me but the new house had only inadequate covered ceiling fixtures which really only provided  ambient light....  On doing a little research I found that ideally a room should have four sources of light plus a mirror. 

 The living room has  a high ceiling and light just disappears so the ad for the first light I ordered read  "Super bright lighting -150 W equivalent LED Torch lamp lights up a whole room!!!!"  When it arrived it didn't do any good in my living room and when I read the fine print it was only 2190 lumens. Knowing the wattage equivalent was really useless information when buying LEDs.  You need  to know the lumens.  So when I replaced the kitchen fixture I found one that was 6600 lumens and it was great.

The other term you need to know is "kelvin."  Kelvin is used in lighting to measure the color temperature of a particular light  . And in short, the higher the Kelvin rating (expressed in K), the whiter the light will be.  The lower the K number the warmer the light.  Personally I prefer a warmer light.  When the term "daylight" is used it designates a very white light and I find that harsh.


Color and "shtuff"

My dear late mother-in law had a slight German accent and stuff was "shtuff".  To  her soup was broth and she always admonished me for putting too much shtuff in my soups.  I love stuff... not just any stuff...my stuff...my memories and now at this time of my life I want it all around me.  I'm  took more stuff than the new house could hold and   I am gradually finding a spot for everything. It may very well end up looking like this room... 

I also find color energizing and uplifting which I must need more than soothing.  For years I had always bought all my tableware at thrift stores..... tablecloths, napkins, dishes, placemats, glassware etc. But I have never ever seen a nice set of flatware there.  I have two special sets of stainless flatware that I just use for special settings and wash them by hand.  

But  I 've had  them for years and years and haven't been able
 to justify another set until I saw this set.  It took me about two seconds to hit the "buy it now!" button. 
Of course we rarely entertain now but when this passes I will be ready. These are from Wayfair.  In the meantime I will use then for special dinners for just us two... like our 44th anniversary next week,

And to tell you that I am an optimist about this, I bought a beautiful suitcase   at the thrift store today.  They had a mountain of them with no one traveling.

And speaking of "shtuff" I made risotto for dinner today and I love to fill my risotto with lots of "shtuff".  Today I added diced squash, caramelized onions, minced baby kale and roasted red sweet peppers.  It was so good.


Oh no! and another YES!

The weather held until I got the stained glass up.  It was NEVER part of the plan but it was unexpectedly given to me in a box of glass pieces and I was able to make it useable and it is gorgeous.  It is on the west side of the deck so gets the afternoon sun through  it,  

The deck continues to morph into a bigger and bigger project and  more expense. After I finish each addition I think it needs just one more thing...then one more thing and then even one more thing,  I can't just stop/  I loved the running trim but it needs more.  I bought the running trim from Wayfair and, even though it took ages to get here, it was affordable and had free shipping.  And now oh no! Now they have discontinued it and when I finally found another source...it was more expensive, I have to pay shipping and it won't be here until January 10...  This is definitely the last I swear. 

But on a positive note I had another unexpected surprise.  We moved in here in February and I wasn't ready to make a decision about the living room windows so I just put up the quilts that were on windows at the farm.  Several times as fall approached I searched the internet for something that would work.  I wanted something heavy to help hold the heat....velvet or quilted fabric.  But I have had such abysmal luck ordering anything fabric on line.  It was always the wrong color, the wrong scale or inferior fabric.  So I was skeptical when I ordered two of these quilted bedspreads from eBay.  But if the color was true they would be perfect.

So this huge box came last week and DH asked it I wanted to open it.  I said no I was afraid I would be disappointed.  So the big box sat in the living room for 4 days and each day he asked me if I was ready to open it.  Finally I relented and to my surprise the color was perfect, the fabric wonderful and they were the right size and weight. YES!!!

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