Saturday, April 27, 2024

Run Up To A Wedding

Since this is a diary of sorts as well as a food blog, it's only fair to put in something about the upcoming wedding of our daughter to the love of her life.

Since it's a destination wedding, packages, the contents of which will need to be hauled to the mountains, have been arriving almost daily for a while now. I'm grateful for my early job in shipping and receiving because each needed to be opened, contents logged, then stored. Kate and Aaron are arriving today and will probably spend a fair amount of time in the next few days going through the boxes and bags and sorting them into tubs or boxes depending on what their use will be for the festivities.

I've also been doing a bit of sewing. I tried to make a sort of slip with sleeves as an undergarment for the dress I'm wearing for the ceremony, but discovered by sewing a muslin that my idea didn't work. At least that saved me the cost of sewing it in silk. Then I searched for a suitable sleeves...and found a lovely one, but that required sewing some loops of elastic and some buttons to secure it to where it needed to be in relation to my bra....perhaps that's too much information? Even more fun was sewing elastic loops discretely to Sweetie's favorite Greek fisherman's cap so that a sparkly strap with hooks on the end (hence the loops) could be attached for the Galaxy Party on Friday night...and then unattached when it's over. 

Kate has trimmed down and so had to have her wedding dress taken in a little. She should look stunning in it! Aaron and Charlie and all the males in the wedding will be wearing black suits with vests plus white shirts.

All events have to have glitches so that there are stories later. An early one was the possible loss of the bouquets due to a sudden illness of the florist, but alternate arrangements were made, so now all we have are extra flowers, which is a nice problem to have. I was going to attempt hand tied bouquets for bride and bridesmaid, but am very happy that the professionals will be taking care of that.

Who knows what else might happen? I'll fill you in, dear readers, later, when all the fun is over and we are safely home. We're still home for quite a while, but will be busy, busy, busy! In the meantime there probably won't be very many posts. Enjoy the spring until we 'meet' again!

Friday, April 26, 2024

Quiche With Chicken and Asparagus

 Quiche is such a versatile dish! I've posted recipes before. This one includes caramelized onions, cooked chicken thigh cubes, asparagus, cheddar cheese and a custard enriched with a bit of sour cream, plus seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning and thyme.

I had a small bunch of asparagus tips - they were more than what the recipe called for, so I steamed the rest and served them with the quiche, along with fresh local sliced strawberries, first of the season!

Chicken and Asparagus Quiche

1/2 - 1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cooked chicken thighs, skinned, boned, and cubed into bite sized pieces  
8 fresh asparagus spears, end snapped off after washing, then drained
1 prepared Quiche crust (recipe follows)
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk or nut milk or creamer
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon sweet ground paprika
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet and sauté’ the onion until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Cool.

Spread the onion over the bottom of the quiche crust.  Arrange the chicken evenly over the onions, sprinkle on half the shredded cheddar cheese, and then place the asparagus in a pattern over the chicken. Top with the rest of the cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream and milk together. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and poultry seasoning. Pour this mixture slowly over the ingredients in the quiche crust.

Place quiche in prepared oven and bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until just set and lightly browned on top.

Serve warm. Serves 6 – 8

Crust - Ready made and made from scratch versions
I made this the night before the luncheon, so making a crust from scratch was not an option. (The ‘from scratch’ recipe is below my substitution.)

I used Pillsbury ReadyCrust. One round was fitted into a 9-inch pie pan, the edges were crimped, a round of parchment paper was put inside and dry beans were used as pie weights. Crust was baked in a 450 degree F. oven for about 10 minutes. Pie pan was put on a cooling rack, parchment and beans were removed, and crust was left to cool.

Official Shell for Quiche1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cold shortening, cut into small pieces
½ cup (1 stick) frozen butter, cut into small pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cold water
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until dough holds together and starts to forma a ball, about 25 seconds. Do not over mix.

Remove dough and shape into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place disk on a lightly floured surface, and with a lightly floured rolling pin roll dough from the center out to the edges, changing the direction with each stroke, until the circle is 1/8 inch thick and about 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Fold dough in half and transfer to pie plate. Press gently to remove air bubbles. Fold edge under and flute. Do not prick dough for a quiche because the filling will seep under the shell. To partially bake the shell for a quiche, bake it for 8 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack. It should be slightly warm when filling is added.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Water Iris

Will be posting food soon, but had to share my photo of our water iris. Because we had lots of rain this winter, they are happy and really have a lot of blooms and buds.

This is a plant that was given to me by a friend from watercolor class about 8-10 years ago. I recycled a used sink for the planter. The drain was plugged up and I sunk the sink into the ground so only the rim was above ground. It's on the East side of the house but it also gets some Southern sun during the day.

Spring weather today...up into the lower 80s...and a pleasure to be outside enjoying the day and the flowers.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Remembering Bob Gillen

Yesterday Sweetie and I drove down between the tall redwoods to the Gillen home, remembering the many Christmas time mega-parties we attended there, the New Years Eve small dinners, and plenty of times on the patio and in the warmth of the living room by the fire. Bob Gillen was a pillar of the community, having served on both the Palm Drive Foundation board and on the Palm Drive Hospital board. He and his wife Heidi were active in lots of political campaigns and were very connected, so it was always fun to talk with them about politics, especially local politics. Bob was a Probation Officer with the county and began that work in Southern California where he and Heidi met and lived for a time.

               Heidi and Bob at Palm Drive Foundation fundraiser

We knew them because I met Heidi when she was on the local high school board and we discovered a mutual interest in education, plus walking our dogs. She was the high energy one in the duo and Bob was the quiet presence, just as potent, but in an understated way. They were excellent parents and raised three wonderful sons. They loved to entertain and to travel and to eat good food.

With the pandemic we saw very little of them and knew that they were both experiencing health issues that made it difficult to be together. Bob was never a computer kind of guy...there were even jokes about him always using 'hard copy', but Heidi was proficient on the computer and served as the Treasurer for many political campaigns. She was very active in the campaign that finally was won that allowed for a parcel tax for our local fire department, something that I was active in and interested in, too. She also helped get me a job with the health care Foundation when I finished graphic arts school. All in all our lives had touched many times over the years.

So we went to the Celebration of Life and comforted Heidi, touched bases with a few old friends and Heidi's sons and their families, and remembered a good man. I brought some lemon bars and brownies to supplement the catered items, but I started with boxed mixes. Maybe you'd like to know what I did to jazz them up a bit?

First I made the brownies. I used Ghirardelli's mix that contains some chocolate chips. It's a good one, but any brownie mix will benefit from these changes. The changes were that I added 2 tablespoons of very dark cocoa and 1 tablespoon of espresso powder to the dry ingredients. This made the brownies darker, which make them look more desirable to real chocolate lovers. The espresso powder also enhances the chocolate flavor without tasting of coffee. Then I underbaked them by a few minutes, so that they were soft and fudgy. Truly delicious for a boxed brownie.

For the lemon bars, I started with Krusteze lemon bar mix, which contains a crumb base bag and a lemon filling bag.  Another brand would likely have the same. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons melted butter for the base, but I melted 4 tablespoons, added the mix and stirred, then added about 2 tablespoons dry plain breadcrumbs. That helped to make the base a little less hard, and more delicious with the extra butter flavor. For the filling, I zested most of a lemon and added the zest to the 3 eggs called for. I took the 1/3 cup measure and added the juice of 1/2 a lemon, then filled the measure up for t he 1/3 cup called for, which was added to the egg mixture. That added lemon zest and juice really made those lemon bars sing!

Now you, too, know how to jazz up boxed brownie and lemon bar mixes. Bob would have like these!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Water Ranch in Gilbert Arizona

Haven't done much cooking or baking recently because I've been away in Arizona. Had a great time visiting with my older sister. One of  the places we found was in the small town of Gilbert, AZ. When the time came for them to treat their water and then recycle it, they decided to create a public park, The Riparian Reserve at Water Ranch. It's a popular place for people and people with dogs and people fishing. We saw couples using it for things like engagement photos and prom photos. On Sunday some folks arrived with large floating balloons that gave the year of the birthday adult they were celebrating...27th I believe. We enjoyed it so much that we went back another time.

Most of the acreage is given over to huge, shallow ponds that are rimmed with reeds and all sorts of plantings,

 including these beautiful orange mallow, and fuschia flowered cactus. 

There are winding paths between the ponds which are either bark or gravel covered or paved. They have added lots of signs with photos to help you identify the many birds and other wildlife. We saw many ducks, geese, loons, both great blue and smaller white heron, plus plenty of perching birds like red-wing blackbirds. The whole time we were walking there was bird song where ever we went! One of the ponds was shallow enough for wading birds that I usually see at the shoreline of the ocean.

There is also a botanical garden of desert plants including these armed cactus and cheerful yellow flowers that I don't know the name of.

If you ever get to Gilbert, I highly recommend taking a while to walk around a pond or two. You'll be glad you did.

Preserve Address

2757 E. Guadalupe Rd
Gilbert, AZ 85234

Preserve Hours
5:30 AM - 10:00 PM
Trails open dawn to dusk