20 April 2016

Family Updates

DM had a birthday last Sunday.
LG was in her school production.
My brother is now a grandfather. Natalie Ann, born late Saturday, 4/16 to my sweet niece JM and her husband MW.
We celebrated my mother-in-law's 88th birthday (4/28) a bit early. CA, GP, and LFW at Metamora Fields.
Our Fun Kids got together in Fort Collins for Easter.
I celebrated RvH's birthday with her by going along for her cataract surgery!
Since both RvH's (4/1) and CA's (4/2) birthdays were just after Easter, I baked them each a coconut-lemon cake.
Our Cincinnati Fun Kids are now our Omaha Fun Kids. Out-and-about exploring their new territories.
I told CA that this will be us in a few years!




Donna Hay's Red Velvet Cheesecake

Since I took liberties with Donna Hay's recipe, I want to capture those changes here.
My version.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Line your springform pan with a parchment circle. I sprayed the springform bottom to help the parchment adhere.

I took a shortcut with the crust and bought an Oreo crust from the baking aisle, but poured the crumbs into an 8" springform pan and pressed it into the bottom and sides.

1-1/2 8 oz. pkgs. Cream cheese
1-1/4 Cups Ricotta cheese
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Eggs
1-1/2 tsp Vanilla
150g Good quality dark chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
Red food coloring paste (You decide how red you want it.)
Dutch-process Cocoa for dusting (Trader Joe's)

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. In large mixing bowl or food processor, beat together cream cheese, ricotta, and sugar for 2-3 minutes until smooth--often scraping sides of bowl.
3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat a further minute.
4. Add cooled, melted chocolate and food coloring until well-combined.
5. Pour over Oreo cookie crust.
6. Place a shallow pan of water on lower oven shelf. Keeps cheesecake from cracking.
7. Bake in center of oven for about 1 hour, keeping watch. You want the cheesecake to look solid, with about a half-dollar center spot still appearing wet.
8. Cool completely, then refrigerate 4 hours or overnight until well-chilled.
9.. Dust with Dutch-process Cocoa before serving.

Years ago, I first visited Santa Fe with my sister JA. Luckily we did two brilliant things--we took a walking tour of the historic area and we took a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Then, I visited with my friend LL and took a Southwest breakfast class which included a recipe for fresh fruit with a Tequila syrup--a simple syrup with Tequila added. I've now simplified that and cut a few calories by using 3 parts Agave syrup to 1 part Tequila. Just a splash really perks up and glazes the fresh fruit.


18 April 2016

Lately: After the Beach

Sunset on Dufield Pond. Our first night home after the beach.


We came home from Virginia Beach knowing CA had a Heart Catherization test on Friday, leading up to Mitral Valve repair: open-heart surgery on St. Patrick's Day. Thankfully, tests gave an all-clear on any additional heart issues. And, he was a star heart surgery patient. We continue to be impressed with the physicians and staff, the care and competence we've experienced at Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge. 4 weeks post-surgery and he's regaining his stamina and healing beautifully.

I'd rescheduled my mammogram during all this and I finally had my annual screening on Friday, 4/8. Got my first-ever call-back! Scary until I did the research and found how low the percentages are that a call-back means real issues. We prayed a lot, but I was determined to not let the week-long wait be obsessive. And, I decided to not set off an alarm. I just didn't talk about the call-back.

Today, I'm blessed with an all-clear! The good news is that they've taken a closer-than-normal look at my breasts and there's nothing suspicious lurking undetected. I know how blessed I am, as I had breakfast yesterday with a friend who very recently got different news. She's Stage 2, has had a sizable lumpectomy and is waiting to hear if she will require chemo in addition to 8-weeks of radiation.

CA has decided that we are making reservations at a nice restaurant to celebrate all our recent blessings.


01 April 2016

Cakes of Instagram

Instagram: fieldandflorist
My Coconut-Lemon Cake(s) (2) for CA's (4/2)and for RvH's (4/1) birthdays.
Instagram: thejudylab
Instagram: demetria.provatas
My version of Donna Hay's Red Velvet Cheesecake.


Instagram: martha_weddings

My MIL's birthday cake 2015. From Fresh Market.

(I'll find the source.)
Instagram: sensastyle

Instagram: hinalys
(I'll find the source.)

My version of cake below.*

*This is my inspiration cake. (I'll find the source.)


Instagram: chicagofoodgirl (Sweet Mady B's)
Instagram: countrylivingmagazine
My version of Bon Appétit's Pear Cake.
Bon Appétit's Pear Cake.
(I'll find the source.)
Instagram: hinalys
My version. Jonah's birthday cake 2015.





28 March 2016

Small Group

Donna Hay's Red Velvet Cheesecake


I haven't written much about our Small Group; 14 friends, 7 couples we've been doing life with for over 20 years. Originally we all attended Willow Creek Community Church, so we organized as part of their desire for everyone to have community and support on a micro-level within the huge body of the church. Amazingly, we are all still actively involved in each other's lives.

Most of us are retired. Most of us have had health issues; happily all well-resolved. All our children are now grown--graduated from college, found careers/lost jobs, married, divorced, had babies/lost pregnancies, thriving/temporarily struggling, bought homes/sold homes, moved away/moved closer... One couple tragically lost their oldest son. Through it all our group has gathered-round with prayers, wisdom, humor, well-spoken words, meals, gifts, etc. And mostly, the quiet assurance of companionship along life's pathways--rocky terrain as well as still waters and green pastures.
So, even before CA and I left the beach I reached out and invited our friends over for dessert on the eve of CA's surgery. We never-ever run out of conversation when we get together. I wanted CA to feel the love and support of these friends, as well as both our children who flew in to be with us during surgery and after.
Red Velvet Cheesecake prep and fresh fruit with Agave/Tequila (3/1 parts):


After almost two hours together, we joined hands and each prayed for CA's health, for the doctors skill and care, for the well-being of our family. Powerful stuff!


Lovely spring flowers and fun foods from Trader Joe's--some of the gifts from our Small Group: