Monday, February 28, 2011


Here we are at another Monday. The weeks seem to be flying by lately. I'm not complaining though, the faster winter is over the better. :o)

I've struggled some with this gratitude challenge I've issued myself. I was looking at the simple little things I was writing in my journal and thinking that they didn't seem grand enough. But suddenly today I realized it's the little things that make life grand. I suddenly realized that it's so important to be grateful for all of those little things.

Life isn't made up of a string of grand things. It's made up of a string of little things with the occasional grand thing thrown in. So you see, it's the little things that matter most.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Hot cups of tea
  • The laughter of my children
  • Fresh eggs
  • My husband
What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Box City

Last week Jade and a couple of her friends had the opportunity to participate in a Box City project as part of Festival Of The Arts. The kids built a model of an entire city out of boxes and other materials.

I could try to tell you all about it and what exactly went on, but I wasn't there so I don't really know the details. Sometimes it's hard to get many details out of a 10 year old. What I do know is that there were professors and students from Ferris State University on hand to help and that the kids got to learn about things like zoning permits. But that's about all I know. So here are some pictures I took of the finished project a few days after it was finished.

Daring Bakers: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

It's been a long time since I've participated in a Daring Bakers challenge. I'm so glad that I decided this month was the month to rejoin. The challenge was to make Panna Cotta and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

We were given a basic Panna Cotta recipe and a Chocolate Panna Cotta recipe. We were also give pretty much free reign on putting our own twist on the Panna Cotta, along with a suggestion of adding a Gelee to it.

But the challenge doesn't end there. It is called Daring Bakers after all, and neither Panna Cotta or Gelee are baked. So we were given the assignment to make Nestle Florentine Cookies to go along with it. To make a great balance of creamy and crunchy.

Pictures are sparse this time around because of the renovation going on in my kitchen. Hopefully that change for next month.

A huge thank you to Mallory from A Sofa In The Kitchen for hosting this months Daring Bakers challenge.

Again due to the kitchen issues we have going on, I only had time to make one Panna Cotta recipe. Just the basic one. It wasn't our favorite thing, but we did all like it on some level. I can't wait to try it with some variations. I'm really wishing I would have thought to add some vanilla extract in it. Jade and I have come up with a few flavor variations we would like to try, like vanilla and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

I wasn't overly fond of the Gelee recipe. But the kids loved it, so I may try it again. It's basically Jell-O made from scratch.

Now for the cookies. They were wonderful. Crunchy, chocolaty, sweet. What more could you want from a cookie. The best part for me was that they were very rich in flavor so I really didn't want more than one at a time. It made them last longer and it helped to keep me from over indulging.

In the end, I'm glad I made these. I will make each of these things again. The Panna Cotta and Gelee are great base recipes to build on. Both offer a lot of room for experimentation.

Be sure to check out the Daring Bakers Blog Roll to see what others did. You'll find some wonderful and very creative variations to inspire you.

Giada's Panna Cotta


1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt


  1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
  3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Nestle Florentine Cookies

Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

  2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.

  3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

  4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).

  5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).

  6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

Fruit Gelée

Recipe by Mallory

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin


  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  2. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Has it really been a year?

I realized last week that Ruger has been with us for more than a year now. Looking back on the last year I have to say I'm so very glad that we have him. There were some rough patches. He needed to learn to trust us and we needed to teach him where he fit in.

He's a great dog with a lot of energy. All he wants is to be by my side. That is unless Rob is heading out to do chores. Then all he wants to do is go with Rob.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Another busy week has come and gone. It's amazing how fast time seems to pass the older I get.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Afternoon naps
  • My goose
  • Being just busy enough to keep me motivated
What are you grateful for today?

Monday, February 14, 2011


I completely forgot to make my gratitude post last Monday. I was busy all weekend and then most of the week. It just slipped my mind. So today I will post double. This could be hard.

Today I am grateful for:
  • A husband who ignores the fact that he wasn't suppose to buy me anything (we already got each other gifts early) for Valentine's Day and bought me a card that made me cry.
  • Temperatures above freezing
  • Constant hugs from my son
  • Breakfast that I didn't have to make
  • A comforting cup of hot green tea
What are you grateful for today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I know that many of you have more snow than we have here. Somehow that's little consolation given the work it's going to take us to get into the pole barn today.

I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture or not, but the snow in the driveway was actually deeper than the clearance on the van. There will be no driving today. I'm just very grateful that Rob made it home from work OK. A huge thank you to the person who plowed a narrow path with his truck down our road. Without it Rob says he wouldn't have made it home.

Good luck to everyone who has been hit by the storm. If you can stay in and stay warm. If you are lucky enough to have been missed by the storm, don't forget to count your blessings.
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