3 Books– 3 Women


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Hi friends– Loving , loving retirement!!  So much unfettered time to read!  And lately I’ve been through 3 books I think you’d really enjoy.  Here they are:

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I picked up Victoria from the new book shelf at the library because it was written by Daisy Goodwin who also wrote the script for the PBS series, Victoria.  Fun to to read/watch them together.  The book covers just the years from Victoria’s ascension to the throne at 18 until her engagement to Prince Albert.  Victoria steps into her 63 year reign with the support of her beloved Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne and in spite of the machinations of her mother and her advisors.  It’s a personal look at an amazing woman.  Left me wanting to read more about her years on the throne…

Eleanor’s life is a mess.  But she has decided today will be different.  She lays the best made plans and proceeds only to have them all completely fall apart right up to the surprising ending.  You’ll love this hapless but well meaning character and the quirky plot line. Today Will be Different was written by Maria, author of Where’d You Go Bernadette, book with another crazy but lovable heroine.

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie chronicles the log and complicated life of Pasty Jefferson Randolph, daughter of Thomas Jefferson.  She loses her mother at an early age and takes up the reigns of caring for her famous father.  She lives a celebrated Parisian life during his years as American minister to France, brings up a large family in Monticello during her tumultuous marriage, serves as her Father’s hostess at the White House. There is intrigue, poverty, scandal and trajedy for the fascinating woman who lives strong through it all.   The authors relied heavily on the files of letters from Jefferson for plot and dialogue.  A great look at the times and the personal life of our third president.

P.S.  painting of woman reading by Francoise Collandre

Lemon Crumble Breakfast Cake

Hi all– It was a perfect match.  I saw this Lemon Crumble Breakfast Cake on Pinterest and the next week got a big bag of lemons from a friend who was smart enough to plant a row of citrus trees in her yard.

And you don’t have to serve this for breakfast. you know.  We had it with a group of friends who came in last Wednesday night for our weekly time to pass around hugs and laugh and talk and pray together.  It’s fresh and bright– just a nice little piece of cake on a plate to go with your mug of tea.

LEMON CRUMBLE BREAKFAST CAKE

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup (4 oz.) butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tab. lemon juice

Cake:
3/4 cup sugar
grated rind of 2 lemons
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cps flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
garnish: powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, make the streusel by mixing together the 1/3 cup sugar sugar and melted butter with a fork. Then stir in the 3/4 cup flour flour, lemon rind and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Set it aside.

For the cake, stir together the 3/4 cup sugar, grated rind of 2 lemons, oil, egg vanilla and buttermilk.  Then mix in the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt.

Scoop the thick batter into a 8″ or 9″ spring form pan (or deep cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  With your fingers, crumble the streusel into little bits over the cake batter.

Pop it into the oven for 45 to 50 minutes until a thin knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

When you’re ready to serve the cake dust the top with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Enjoy!

*In place of buttermilk, you can use a tablespoon of cider vinegar and milk to make 1/2 cup.

Day in L.A.

 

Hi friends– Tomorrow is our anniversary– #42!  (Yikes! Where did all those years go?)  We celebrated last weekend with a 14 hour vacay- a little art, a walk along the beach and of course, breakfast, lunch & dinner!  Here’s our day:

Breakfast at my new favorite restaurant–Republique

    

Spent a tranquil morning at LACMA– (wonderful Reformation special exhibit from 3 German museums)

    

Lunch at Joan’s on Third–deli & market

There was an afternoon walk along the beach at Santa Monica.

And a stop for gelato on a stick  before we headed up to West Hollywood for dinner at Shake Shack.

Thank you Larry for walking through all the ups and downs of 42 years together.  It’s been grand–   looking forward to all we have ahead…

Chocolate Cheesecake

Hi there– The problem with cheesecake is leftovers.  There is one last piece of this chocolate cheesecake calling to me from the fridge right now.  Got this recipe from a magazine 40 years ago when we were first married and with a few twists and turns have been making it ever since.  It’s a favorite.

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tab. sugar
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 crackers)

Filling:
16 oz. cream cheese (2  8oz. blocks)
1  1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Top layer:
1 cup sour cream
2 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
garnish: mini chocolate chips

Smash the graham crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they are fine crumbs. Mix them in a bowl with the 2 tab. sugar and melted butter. Pour the mixture into a spring form pan (or deep pie dish) and pat it down flat with a spatula.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until it’s fluffy and thoroughly blended.   Then beat in the cocoa, 1 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, eggs and 1/2 cup sour cream.  Scoop the mixture into the pan over the crust and put into a 350 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes until it is set, but just a little jiggly still in the middle.

While that is baking, mix together the topping– 1 cup sour cream, 2 tab. sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

When the cheesecake comes out of the oven carefully spread the sour cream topping over the surface.  Then pop it back into the oven for 10 minutes more.

Take the cheese out of the oven and slide a knife around the edges of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.  Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.  Then put the cheesecake into the fridge to chill at least an hour before you serve it.

*Love to use Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa

Sweet Thai Chicken

 


Hey there– It’s been a week.  I’ve been on jury duty in Santa Ana– about an hour commute during traffic times.  I have to say, I’ve had jury duty so many times over the years and never been picked to be on the jury!  So spending the days in the courtroom was fascinating, learned so mucy–and working with the other diverse jurors from all over the county was just great.

So in honor of jury duty– and long days out, here’s a quick flavorful dinner, ready in about 25 minutes.  Add a bright salad.  Done.

SWEET THAI CHICKEN
1 cup brown (or white) rice
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in chunks
3 tab. olive oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tab. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 5 tsp. Thai Sweet Chili Sauce*
garnish: sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, cilantro

Put the rice on to cook according to the directions on your package.  I did plain brown rice– about 20 minutes simmered with 2+ cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Put in the pieces of chicken and saute, stirring now and then until they are cooked through and slightly browned, about 4 or 5 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, in a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the water, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic and sweet chili sauce.  Pour the mixture in with the chicken and stir for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Serve the rice and chicken on a platter, and garnish with sesame seeds, chopped peanuts and cilantro.
(My pictures are just half a recipe, since it’s just Larry and me).

*You can use more of less Chili sauce, depending on the hear you like.  Add Sriracha sauce if you want to kick it up.

Blueberry Topped Cheesecake


Hello all–  It’s pretty entertaining to watch my Larry eat a piece of cheesecake.  He appreciates that it’s rich and creamy– and you only need the tiniest bite to get that burst of flavor.  Plus he wants to make it last as long as he can.  I’m more of a gobbler.  So when I’m scraping the last crumbs off my plate, Larry is just beginning to nibble it away.  Honestly.

And this blueberry topped cake is really nibble-worthy.  It’s especially soft and creamy (I think it’s the sour cream)– and I got the recipe from my sis, the baker– so you know it’s a good one!

BLUEBERRY TOPPED CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1  1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed
2 tab. sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling:
24 oz. cream cheese (3  8oz. blocks)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1  1/2 cup sour cream

Topping:
1/3 cup blueberry fruit spread
3 cups blueberries*

Crush the graham crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they are fine crumbs.  In a bowl mix together the crumbs, 2 tab. sugar and melted butter.  Press the mixture into a 9″ springform pan (or deep pie dish).

For the filling, use an electric mixer to thoroughly beat together the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar– until it is fluffy and not gritty.  Then beat in the eggs, vanilla and sour cream.

Spoon the mixture over the crust and put it into a 350 degree oven for 60 to 70 minutes until it is set (and just slightly jiggly in the pan– it will firm as it cools).

With a thin knife, cut around the edge of the cheese cake to release it from sticking to the sides of the pan. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.   Then set the cheesecake into the fridge for at least an hour until the are ready to serve it.

To make the blueberry topping, melt the blueberry fruit spread in a saucepan on low heat on the stove top.  Then mix in the berries and spoon let it cool before you spoon it over the cheesecake.

*I used frozen blueberries, but fresh would be better when the season rolls around!

Out & About In Ojai

 


Hello friends– Last weekend Larry and trekked up the coast to Ojai for a day with the 3 grand-girls and their dear parents.  After these crazy winter rains, the citrus groves and hillsides stretched out green and lush–beautiful drive into the valley…

Jodi pulled out the wok to make us a tableful of a delicious lunch, while Mary Ann and Grandpa set up for a round of her latest game invention– Buzzing Bee.
     

There was a hike down to the creek and some splashy wading (for girls, not grandmas!)

   

Also, a lot of browsing and a few selections at Bart’s Books (a rambling indoor/outdoor used books store) — followed by pizza and gelato at Papa Lemon’s.
     

     

And Jodi rounded us all up for a few family photos just outside their front door (thanks Jodi– you know this grandma loves family pictures!)

Thanks Micah and Jodi– loved loved the meals, the talks and time with you all… It’s the best!!