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Archive for September, 2012

A while back I was off gallivanting with two of my cousins who have a myriad of food allergies. Even more than me!

I wanted to bring a fun dessert along, but was trying to find something they both could eat.

Settling on a scrumptious-sounding meringue recipe I found on foodnetwork.com, I emailed the ingredient list to the girls and got a green-flag that they both could eat it.

Although the dessert did not transport well (could have been the way some one haphazardly tossed it in the car) it tasted really, really good. So good, I made it for my book club friends the other night, to their rave reviews.

This isn’t hard to make, just takes a little time, but will leave your guests impressed! I promise!

And for those of you who like tidbits of odd information, Pavlova is named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. The dessert is believed to have been created in honor of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

Ingredients

Start by whipping egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Add sugar, a little at a time and mix until the egg whites look like smooth satin.

Add cocoa powder and vinegar, followed by the chopped chocolate.

Fold in gently with a spatula until well blended.

Spoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 300 for about an hour.

The pavlova is done when the top looks dry and crisp, but the inside is still squishy.

Cool completely in the oven, slice and serve with freshly whipped cream and berries.

Chocolate Pavlova

6 large egg whites

2 cups superfine sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar

2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Trace a 9-inch round circle (use a cake pan) on the parchment then flip over so the pencil mark doesn’t touch the meringue.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form. Beat  in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.  Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula. Try to get it as even as possible. Place baking sheet in the oven then turn the temp down to 300 degrees and bake for an hour or so. When the pavlova is done, the top should look crisp and dry but the inside should give a little (be a little squishy) if you poke it.

Turn off the oven, crack the door  and let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you’re ready to serve, invert onto a platter and peel off the parchment. I loaded ours up with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

That was an excellent choice and our tastebuds rejoiced.

She Who Loves Chocolate and Raspberries

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Last Friday, when we were in Pendleton, we watched the Westward Ho Parade.  It was awesome!

No motorized entries are allowed in this parade, so it is all horses and humans and a variety of animals.

This is the mounted band and they are amazing. Not only are they good riders, but great musicians and so fun to watch and listen to. They also stopped by Hamley’s Saturday morning when I was there signing books.

This team of oxen were getting a little stubborn by the end of the parade, but they really were something to see.

There were too many rodeo queens and courts to count. The Happy Canyon royalty were really impressive. I loved the intricate detail and the beautiful colors of their ensembles. Absolutely gorgeous.

This is my great-nephew Will.  Once he finished eating Twinkies for breakfast, he turned his attention to the parade. Particularly to the rodeo queens and their courts. When they rode by I thought his little arm would fall off from his wild waving. The only other thing that got him as excited as all the pretty girls were the copious amounts of candy thrown his direction. I can see we are going to have a problem with this one when he grows up. Only seven and already trying to charm the girls.

I think my favorite thing about the parade, besides watching Will wave at the rodeo courts, was the mounted flags. There were 102 of them – one for every year of the Round-Up.

It was a fabulous display that made me quite proud to be American.

She Who Loves A Good Parade

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Now that the kids are back in school and life has returned to some semblance of a routine, think about giving yourself and your friends a great gift – a little time together as adults!

Host a “The Kids are Back in School Party” for you and your friends. If you can all attend during the day, when no one needs a babysitter, that’s awesome. Or plan it for an evening or weekend.

It could be a “girls day” in. Ask a representative from Mary Kay or another company to come do a demo. It could be anything from foot massage products to make up, but anything relaxing like that would be appreciated. Serve salads for lunch with some sinfully decadent dessert.

Some other ideas for celebrating “in” could be a tea party, a book reading by a local author, a demo from a someone talented with pastries or with cooking talent. Maybe you offer some fun craft project or you all just sit and gab about what’s happening in your world.

You could also plan a “girls day” out. You could go to a spa together, window shop, take in a museum or art gallery.

If you want to include the guys, maybe you could plan a wine tasting or chocolate tasting party. Something interactive is always a hit.

The main point is to spend some time together and enjoy the company of all adults.

She Who Misses the Smell of New Crayons

 

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Captain Cavedweller and I spent the weekend taking in the Pendleton Round-Up.

It was wonderful, fun, exciting and awesome.

Friday we watched the Westward Ho Parade, wandered through booths selling everything from boots, buckles and hats to home decor and artwork. After all that, we entered the Round-Up grounds, ate some of the most delicious lamb I’ve ever had in my life then spent the next several hours watching the rodeo, which was one of the best I’ve been to. (I was a lazy slug and didn’t download the hundreds of photos I took yet, I’ll post a few later this week.)

Saturday we got up bright and early and headed to Hamley & Co. where I stood outside for a book signing and watched approximately 9,367 people go by before the rodeo commenced.

There were a few things I noticed as I watched the masses go by that seemed noteworthy.

1. Although I grew up around cowboys and rodeos, I learned something new – apparently as long as you are wearing a pair of cowboy boots, you can automatically assume it makes you a cowboy. I saw boots worn with …insert any piece of clothing here and I saw it. Seriously. My favorites were sweat pants, capris and what appeared to quite possibly be someone’s pajamas. I couldn’t help but think of the Bill Engvall video of  “I’m a Cowboy.”

2. The theory that wearing boots makes you a cowboy apparently also applies to cowboy hats (or hats that vaguely resemble a cowboy hat). My absolute favorite was a man not that much older than me (so he can’t use the excuse of senility for his fashion choices) wearing khaki shorts, gray socks, tan sandals, a lavender T-shirt and a cowboy hat. He had the swagger down pat as he made multiple trips to the beer garden from his seat across the aisle from us.

3. I had no idea that there must be a line of unisex skinny western jeans available because one guy was wearing a pair that I saw about 1,352 cute skinny girls wearing. They were skin tight, dark-wash jeans with white top stitching down the sides and rhinestones on the back pockets. Oh, yeah. The dinner-plate sized belt buckle he was wearing went great with his neon shirt, vintage 1992.

His long flowing hair finished off the ensemble. Captain Cavedweller came back from a run to get me a bottle of water shaking his head. When I asked what was up, he pointed to the guy, who also happened to be sitting a few rows down from us in next section over.

“Did you see that guy?” he asked.

“Yep. Hard to miss,” I said.

“At first I thought it was one ugly woman, but when he turned around, the mustache gave it away,” CC said, grinning. “What guy wears jeans like that?”

Good question.

4. When smiling and saying good morning to people anytime before 11 a.m. after a night of too much liquid fun, men seem much more inclined to be polite than women, which was completely mind-boggling to me. Normally women are the chatty, friendly ones who stop by my table and visit during a book signing. Complete role reversal Saturday. There were a bunch of cowboys walking around with bookmarks stating “Hopeless Romantic – Sarcasm No Extra Charge” sticking out of their Wrangler pockets Saturday morning.

5. The people of Pendleton are friendly, welcoming, warm and wonderful as thousands of strangers converge on their city. I was thoroughly impressed with how well-kept and clean the Round-Up grounds were, how nice everyone was and the general feeling of goodwill.

She Who Can’t Wait for Next Year…

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