Monday, June 30, 2008

A Day at the Beach

Last week dh and I went to the beach for the day. It was hot and crowded, but we had a wonderful time anyway. I like nothing better than waves crashing. It is the most soothing sound.

I spent much of the day reading on the beach. Even with the crowds I can get lost in a book and block everything around me out.

Dh loves to fish. He mainly catches sharks and stingrays. This particular trip he found a fishing buddy. A man from TN was visiting family and had never been ocean fishing. Dh handed him a pole and some bait. The man was thrilled to catch a stingray and later a shark. Hopefully this will be a trip he will not soon forget.

All too soon it was time to get my feet out of the sand and start packing up for home. It is a good thing I do not live at the beach. I have a feeling I would be out there every day and never get anything done at home.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - June Challenge

I was a little more relaxed about my second Daring Bakers challenge. I do wonder if there is a point when I will not think "oh no" when I first read through a recipe. This month's challenge was Danish Braid. I got over my fear of yeast a few years ago so I felt at least partly comfortable with this. The first time I made it at the beginning of the month my camera died. It was the second camera that quit on me in less than a week.

My first attempt at the recipe was fairly successful. I was nervous about the butter block but did not have any trouble incorporating it into the dough. When it came to the filling is the point that the whole thing went downhill. I rolled out the first half of the dough and attempted to fill in with a strawberry filling. It was too liquid and I ended up with a big soggy puddle of goo. Thankfully I had the second half of the dough in the fridge. I filled it with homemade cherry jam. It braided beautifully and came out looking great. My parents raved about it, and my dh declared it too sweet.

The recipe was delicious so after purchasing another camera I decided to try it again. A few weeks made a big difference temperature-wise and the higher temperatures did not help the dough any. I found that the turns went much better, but the butter oozed more this time around. Still it all came together in the end when I divided it out to roll and fill. I did well with the horizontal cuts.

This time I chose to go with the apple filling from the recipe. I filled it and started the braid.

Next it was ready to proof and bake.

Here is the finished product. Dh declared this one perfect. The filling was delicious but not too sweet, which is great for my family. I did not purchase the cardamom but instead used cinnamon and nutmeg. I did not less than called for as a replacement. I was very happy that I had purchased vanilla beans (from eBay) as they added a nice flavor to the dough and the filling.

The second half of the dough was turned into tarts by my dh. These were filled with peaches. They are not as pretty as the braid, but they were good as well. The peach filling turned out just as well as the apple.

Unlike last month's Opera Cake that I thought I would make again, I will definitely be making the Danish Braids again. It was a little time consuming but well worth it. This recipe is definitely a keeper. To see how the other bakers did check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Garden Update

After missing several weeks I have new pictures of the garden. The herbs have really taken off. I will be drying some of the these in the dehydrator for use this winter.

This mass of green includes the lettuce, which is not doing as well as I would like. The squash and zucchini plants have blooms but no little vegetables yet. The carrots and radishes are coming along. The watermelon plants finally have blooms. I hope we get a melon or two off them. The seeds were free so I am not out anything if they do not produce.

There are lots of vines here and some vegetables too. I have seen little cucumbers, tomatoes, a pumpkin, and even a couple of tiny eggplants. I am including a picture of one eggplant.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm Back

After two days of almost driving dh crazy by searching and comparing cameras, I finally ordered one. It arrived late yesterday. I immediately started trying it out. I took a few pictures in the house and then headed to the yard. Since I photographed some flowers in the yard, I thought I would share those this morning.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What are the Odds?

I wonder what the odds of two cameras quitting in less than a week are. For me it would be 1:1 since that is exactly what has happened. I am now more seriously shopping for a new camera. I have an idea of what I want but cringe a bit at putting out the money for it. I am not cheap simply frustrated. I expected to have a few months to save and weigh my options.

I know a digital camera is not a necessity. Billions of people survive perfectly without one. I love taking pictures though. No one else in my family ever remembers to take a camera anywhere. I also do a scrapbook each year for my church. I am thinking of all the memories that will be lost without pictures to remind people. As side reason is that a blog without pictures is not very interesting. Besides a picture is worth a thousand words.

I know that before the weekend I will have broken down and purchased one. I will be thrilled when it arrives. I just hope it lasts for a few years. I need to shake this reputation as a camera serial killer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dill PIckles & Other Gardening Produce

I love homemade dill pickles. I have used one recipe for a few years. This year I decided to switch and use an old family recipe. I only did a few jars to see if dh will like them first. The cucumbers came from my parents' garden since mine only has tiny little cucumbers. We grow our own dill as well. The jars get reused every year. The only cost is the jar flats, vinegar, and pickling salt. It is a frugal recipe overall.
Last night dh shelled peas from the "family garden" my uncle plants. Those will be put in the freezer today. I also have some squash to put in the freezer. That leaves me with only a large zucchini, which I think I will turn into zucchini bread tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I am back with my old digital camera. It works fine, but I do miss the new one. I am saving for a new camera though.

This weekend was Vacation Bible School at my church. Sunday night we always have family night with a meal. This year's theme was beach related so I made a cake in the form of a pair of flip flops. The fruit roll-up I purchased was a bit too soft so my straps did not stand up as well as I wanted. I still think they turned out okay. They did taste delicious. I used a butter cake mix and buttercream icing.

The leftover cake was not wasted. I cubed it up and put it in some cups along with the leftover icing. It was not as pretty as the flip flops, but it tasted delicious and was fine for my family.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Death of a Camera

Sorry for the lack of a garden update. I discovered yesterday that my camera no longer worked. After a chat online with HP support, I found out it had a fatal hardware error. I am charging batteries for my old camera, which is good but terribly slow. Hopefully I will have a garden update tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Cat's Life

My two cats have a pretty good life. Both are rescued cats. Paris, whom you have seen before, was rescued by my DH from his workplace where she had been abandoned. Fortunately for Paris, he has a soft heart. Lucy, our oldest, just appeared near our house one day. She was funny in that she did not want you to hold her, but she had to be in the same room as I was at all times. Here they are hanging out in the garden.