Quebec City — Vacation’s End

DSC03999Hello there–  To finish up our vacation this summer, we trekked north through some gorgeous countryside to Quebec City– all that history, grandeur and lovely food.  It was a fine ending to our trip.

We love loved wandering the streets of the older walled city– stone buildings on winding streets, flower boxes and views across the seaway.
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photos:  the Place Royale–the oldest plaza in Quebec City (and our dinner stop the first night),  a busy shopping street in the lower oldest part of town, coming out of our favorite breakfast stop,  night time walk through the gate in the city wall at the Grande Allee.

Larry and I spent a several hours studying our way through museums (one of our favorite vacation time occupations).
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photos:  Soldier from the French speaking troop stands guard at the Citadel, the largest fort in North America, built in the early 1800’s to keep out the Americans!  Diorama (I’m a sucker for those things) of the Battle of Saint Poy (1760).  From the Museum of Civilization, an exhibit on Quebec Hockey history.  Built in the 1700’s, a home of a French merchant, Maison Chevalier.  Interior of the home, later in the 1800’s.  In the Musee National des Beaux-Arts Larry examines the room arranged in the traditional format of the original art museum.

On Sunday, we worshipped in a gloriously beautiful service in the Anglican Church.  And that afternoon enjoyed a lovely organ and violin concert in the Cathedral of Notre Dame du Sacre-Coeur.
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photos:  The Baroque interior of Notre Dame.  Looking across the plaza to Notre Dame.  And the more restrained, but still beautiful altar of the Anglican Church.

Our last morning we drove out to a leafy green park, Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge we had spotted on our drive into Quebec City, walking through forested pathways, across grand lawns, past elaborate flower plantings, ending at an 1800’s tea house.
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photos:  Park entrance.  Pathway into the forest walk.  A bench placed for a tranquil rest spot.  A pond echoing Monet’s garden.  The tea house, supplies with beautiful pastries.

Good-bye Quebec.  We loved our stay.

 

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Vietnamese Pork Salad with Rice Noodles

IMG_2676Hi there– I was happy to find a recipe that actually calls for a little mint — Because we DO have mint around here.  We planted a innocent looking little mint plant in the side yard– and it swiftly took over the berry patch, then rounded the corner to invade the rose bushes and pops up wherever it wants around the yard.  I can’t keep up with it!

But in this dish, it’s very welcome– along with the all the other vibrant flavors– garlic, lime, cilantro, green onion… along with the savory pork and tender noodles.  I think you might really like it.

VIETNAMESE PORK SALAD WITH RICE NOODLES

Dressing:
1 serrano pepper, sliced thin (optional)
3 cloves garlic, mined fine
2 tab. brown sugar
2 tab. rice vinegar
2 tab. fish sauce
4 tab. lime juice
6 tab. vegetable oil

Salad:
4 small pork cutlets, cut in smallish bits
splash of oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
8 oz. rice noodles
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups green cabbage leaves, chopped
1 cup red cabbage leaves, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tab. mint, chopped (more for garnish)
4 green onions, cut in slices

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Shake all the ingredients for the dressing– serrano pepper, garlic, brown sugar, rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice and oil together in a container with a tight fitting lid until it is thoroughly blended.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the pork pieces on high heat just until they are well browned. Salt & pepper as they cook.

Cook the rice noodles according to the directions on the package (just a couple minutes!) and drain them thoroughly in a colander.

Pour 1/4 cup of the dressing (more or less) into a skillet and add in the noodles.  Cook them for 4 or 5 minutes until soft and savory.

Mix the carrots, cabbages, cilantro, mint and green onions in a mixing bowl with the rest of the dressing.  Stir in the pork.

Layer the noodles and veggies with pork onto a plate and plop on a sprig of mint just to make it pretty.  Makes 2 large servings.

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Caramel Almond Bread Pudding

IMG_2615Hello all– Every summer our group of young moms come on over for breakfast and then we’re off for a morning of thrift store shopping.  It’s some good laughs to compare the bargains we come up with!  Who doesn’t love a teddy beat shaped mug? Or an ashtray with a California map imprinted?  (ashtray??!) Love those girls!

So last Saturday, we were catching up around the table over this bread pudding and mugs of coffee. It was just sweet enough with custard-y filling and crunchy almonds–topped with caramel.  Just fine for breakfast with friends.

CARAMEL ALMOND BREAD PUDDING

Almond Butter:
1 cup unsalted toasted almonds
2 tab. butter
1 tsp. amaretto
(or almond extract or vanilla)*
2 tab. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Bread Pudding:
3 cups half & half (or whole milk)
1 tab. amaretto*
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 soft-ish baguette**
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tab. sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting to serve
Caramel sauce for serving***
optional– Whipped cream if you’re serving this for dessert (or breakfast– if you’re up for whipped cream for breakfast!)

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To make the almond butter, put the 1 cup toasted almonds, butter, 1 tsp. amaretto, 2 tab. sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt into a blender and blend into a paste (I used my trusty rusty sick blender since I don’t have a real honest blender).

Then in a large bowl, whisk the eggs until thoroughly mixed.  And stir in the half & half, 1 tab. amaretto, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Set aside.

Slice the baguette into neat slices (about 3/4″ thick)– and arrange them overlapping in a 10″ square or round baking dish.****  Pour the egg mixture over the bread and let it sit for an hour (or refrigerate and let sit overnight).

Sprinkle the 1/4 cup sliced almonds and then the 1 tab. sugar over the top.  Cover the dish with foil, tenting it up so it doesn’t touch the bread.

Bake the bread pudding for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.  Then remove the foil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more until the top is golden brown.

To serve it up, dust the top with a little powdered sugar shaken through a sieve and have a little pot warmed caramel on the side to pour on top if you like.

notes:
*I use amaretto in place of almond flavoring because it’s so much less expensive and a big bottle will last about forever.  Vanilla would do just fine if that’s what you have on hand.
**I used a softer store brand baguette.  The nice thin ones with the super hard crust wouldn’t soak up the egg custard as well.  The original recipe I worked from called for brioche bread.  I think you could use most any loaf really.
*** I used Hershey’s caramel sauce warmed in the microwave since I was making several other dishes for this meal.  You could make your own lovely homemade sauce if you want!!
****A 7″x11″ would work as well.  I have a large-ish tart pan that was OK.

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Out & About with A & K (Vacation part #3!)

DSC03876Hello there– Here’s a few more pics of our summer trip– the part where we dropped in on our daughter-in-law Jessica’s kind and generous parents, Alfie & Karen, in the far north reaches of New York state.  We loved, loved our time with them there.

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Alfie navigated us hither and yon all over Cranberry Lake in their zippy power boat skimming across the water.  We were just soaking up all the beauty.

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So thank Alfie and Karen for being so warm and welcoming. It was great to see the “sugar shack”– the source of all the heavenly maple syrup– and should I mention Alfies’ BIG breakfasts– and homemade bread?!!  We’re just hoping you two will make the trip down to So Cal before too long!

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Peach Pecan Crisp

IMG_2339Hi all– Peaches.  They are the best right now.  We’ve been eating them in everything–in salads, with yogurt, baked for breakfast.  So here is the old apple crisp recipe that I’ve been making for 40 years– minus the apples and filled with juicy ripe peaches.    I hoping you think it’s luscious too.

PEACH PECAN CRISP

topping:
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

filling:
2 pounds peaches (4 large), cut into wedges
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

First prepare the topping.  In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Then with a pastry blender or a food processor cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sir in the pecans.

Cut the peaches into wedges.  In a large mixing bowl coat them with the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Spoon the peaches into a 9″ to 10″ baking dish.  Sprinkle the crumbly topping over the peaches.

Put the peach crisp into the oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s lovely brown and bubbling around the edges.

Serve it happily with a generous scoop of ice cream.  Summer!

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Psalm 143:8

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Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.    –Psalm 143:8

Hello friends– I’m depending on these words to carry me through the next few weeks.  School is starting up and this year it’s looming like a mountain I don’t quite think I can climb. Last night I even had one of those crazy “teacher dreams” where everything in room #2 goes from bad to worse!   I won’t bore you with all the daunting new complications ahead, but just want to say I’m hoping to not lose sight of the kindness and joy of teaching children, seeing them flourish and grow.  That’s what I’m there for.

So I’m starting my days with this Psalm in mind.  Resting, trusting in the all encompassing love of God and lifting up my soul to him each morning to see me through.  Lord have mercy.

Posted in Faith, Just thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Orange Chili Pork Cutlets

IMG_2561Hello there– There’s a couple reasons I love these little pork cutlets.  They have a sweet and spicy coating that just wakes them up.  And they cook up so quickly!  Let them sit in the marinade while you make the rice, a veggie, a bright leafy salad– and they cook up in less than 5 minutes.  Just right for a week night dinner.

ORANGE CHILI PORK CUTLETS
4 thin pork cutlets
2 tab. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tab. orange marmalade
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tab. honey

In a baking dish, mix together the oil, chili powder, salt, marmalade, garlic and honey until they are thoroughly blended.  Then marinate the pork in the mixture for about 30 minutes.

Grill the cutlets in a skillet, just 2 minutes on each side over medium heat until they are cooked through–but still tender.

That’s it!  so easy.

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