January is boring....
It's cold, slushy and devoid of activities on the scale of Christmas.
Not complaining, mind you...
I like the lack of social commitments, the return to routine.
It's almost comforting....
Not all January's have been quiet.
Two years ago, we were thrust into hell when the neighbor's foundation collapsed on January 9th.
We are still recovering from that....
But mostly, this month is the one you get through...
in hopes February speeds by and March offers hope of warmth again...
As January exits we experienced some little milestones to stop and notice.
Milestone #1: Jack moved forward to his advanced yellow belt in karate.
It's getting a little more serious at this point...
He had to complete a written test...
that was mildy painful....for me...
and he had to train a long time to pass.
He did so well and now it's a long road to achieve the green belt.
Milestone #2: Jack was invited to his first sleepover out of town.
One of his school friends invited him to his cabin in Michigan with his dad.
He was over the moon excited. So were we!
Jack hasn't been on a sleepover before, other than to his grandparents.
No worries about homesickness, but would he behave himself?
Would he turn into Mr. Hyde when the dad accidentally feeds him Cheetos?
Will he break the 17th century Ming Vase they carelessly put on display?
Will he fire the antique shotgun?
Yes, wild, uncontrolled thoughts raced my mind.
Then I visioned the peace I would feel. The quiet around here.
Off he went!
He is on his way home now and when his dad called
it didn't seem that trouble was afoot....Let's hope!
Milestone #3: Kate-makeup.
We hung around the house this weekend, since venturing out means spending cash.
So, we baked, cooked, cleaned, watched a LOT of TV,
decorated the house for Valentines Day and stoked the fire.
She played dress-up and I applied grown up make up on her little face.
It looked a little shall I say slutty/freaky, but she loved it.
Little kids have the LONGEST eyelashes.
I think the mascara caused those lashes to touch her nose...dang it!
Note to self: What goes on must come off, with pain and suffering....
Taking off her eye makeup this morning was akin to washing a cat.
Not for the faint of heart.....
Milestone #4: Baby Ty's first birthday.
My adorable nephew turned one today in Raleigh, NC
and we all watched him dive his face into the cake via video conference.
Goodbye, January....Hello, February.
May you be less snowy, less cold, quick and with a wee bit of romance...
Here are some comforting dishes made this weekend.....
1. Potato Shrimp Soup
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced about the same size as the onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 cups milk, whole, reduced fat (2 percent) or low fat (1 percent)
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups salted water
- 1 pound medium shrimp
- Crumbled bacon bits, for garnish
- Grated sharp Cheddar, for garnish
- Dill sprigs, optional garnish
DirectionsIn a 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion and carrots until both are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, milk, and dissolved bouillon cubes. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft and some of them have begun to dissolve into mush. Add the half-and-half, salt, and pepper.
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups lightly salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp all at once and stir well. Watch the shrimp closely; as soon as they all turn pink, about 2 to 3 minutes, turn off the heat and drain. The shrimp should be slightly undercooked. When they are cool, peel them, and chop roughly into big chunks. Add the shrimp to the soup and stir well. Serve soup sprinkled with bacon bits and grated cheese. Garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.
Cook's Note: If you don't have access to shrimp, use corn.
2. Individual Apple Tarts
- Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 pounds Rome, Empire, or any good baking apples, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons Applesauce, or good-quality prepared applesauce
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat; set aside. Roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out six 6-inch rounds. Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheet. Reserve dough scraps for another use
- Combine apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Sprinkle each dough round with sugar.
- Place 1 tablespoon of applesauce in center of each round. Mound apples over applesauce, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold dough up and over apples, making a crease or fold every 1 to 2 inches to enclose fruit and prevent juices from seeping out. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Lightly beat egg to make egg wash. Brush edges of dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until apples are tender and crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Pate Brisee - IngredientsMakes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
- With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
Makes thirty-two 6-inch or twelve 10-inch crepes
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 cups whole milk, room temperature, plus more if needed
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
- Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture, whisking to combine. Whisk in butter. Strain mixture into a medium bowl, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 1 day). Batter should be the consistency of heavy cream; add more milk if needed.
- Heat an 8- or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, and brush with butter. Ladle or pour 3 tablespoons batter (for small crepes) or 1/3 cup batter (for large crepes) into pan, turning and tilting skillet to coat bottom evenly with batter. Cook until top of crepe appears set, bottom is firm and golden brown in spots, and center is lifted by pockets of air, about 1 minute. Run a spatula around edge of crepe to loosen. Slip spatula under crepe, and gently flip in one swift gesture. (If it doesn't land quite right, that's OK; use the spatula to unfold or rearrange it.) Cook until bottom is firm and golden brown in spots, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate, and cover. (The first one will not be your finest.) Repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan lightly with butter as needed (every 2 or 3 crepes). Serve immediately.