I don't have any pics documenting Christmas, but we slept in, had lunch with other friends and relaxed.
The day after Christmas, aka my birthday, we took the dog for a long walk around our neighborhood.
We snapped lots of pics, which I hope to eventually post, of the beautiful houses here, and enjoyed the summer weather. I do not miss NoVa's cold weather or all the snow they got. I realize now that there's no need to be bitter about a Dec. birthday -- I was just born in the wrong hemisphere!
Well, darn. I have some new footage of Willow lungeing that I wanted to post here, but when I try to transfer the footage to my computer it comes out black and white and terribly pixelated. It sort of looks like Willow is having an acid trip.
I went to the Sony customer support site and got hooked up with a customer support rep (Natalie) via chat. I typed up my problem in full detail, including the model number of my camcorder, the OS of my computer, and the version of the video capture software I was using. Natalie proceeded to ask me, one by one, all the questions I had just answered in my problem description. I started to wonder if she was a robot, but she misspelled words every so often, so I guess not. She kept trying to get me to connect the camcorder to the computer with a standard A/V cord, and I kept telling her my laptop doesn't have the standard A/V jacks. She sent me a link to a picture of standard A/V jacks, and I confirmed, No, my computer doesn't have those. I don't think she ever was convinced. She also seemed vaguely irritated with me throughout.
I think the problem is with the cord, so I'm going to see if I can order a new one of those.
Willow was good today! We worked on a figure eight with lots of transitions between trot and canter. All the lungeing in the past few weeks has agreed with her.
Possibly the best gift of all this Christmas was the steady rain which soaked much of the drought stricken areas of western NSW. I hope it rained where it was needed most, and was glad to hear that the flood predictions proved to be unfounded.
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy New Year!
The air in the house is full of cardamom, cinnamon, bay and clove...and excitement: tonight is Christmas Eve.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. I thought of you all on solstice a few days ago, while lighting my midwinter's eve candles, and wished you peace and light.
Thanks to Charles Dickens, the very words I am searching for are already written for me:
May it be truly said of us, and all of us....that we know how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possesses the knowledge.
God bless us, every one!
THis is one recipe that is truly canadian..here in Quebec they call them sugar tarts. A Bakery where I used to work used SOYA MARGARINE instead of butter..and most recipes call for corn syrup as well as brown sugar...But I keep it simple..and REAL...and everyone seems to love them! So here it goes!
The following recipe for the filling will do 18 butter tarts and a medium sized raisin pie! So make enough pastry for that amount. Preheat oven to 375 DF
2 Cups firmly packed brown sugar
4 FRESH Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 pound softened butter
I was just looking at your butter tart recipe on your blog and made me smile. My grandmother was a great baker and always made butter tarts. She kept all of her ingredients in their own "special" jars. One time when my grandfather had the guys over for the weekly poker game, she put out a tray of butter tarts for them. Grandpa watched as they slowly chewed them and started removing something from their mouths. Finally he had seen enough to make him wonder so he took a tart and broke it in two. Inside, much to his, and grandma's surprise were unpopped popcorn kernals! One of my aunts put the popcorn in grandma's walnut jar (the nerve) and she hadn't even noticed when she baked. We teased her until the day she died about the day she made popcorn tarts!!
Just thought I'd share.
Cookie Christmas Tree
- 125g unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup castor sugar (regular white sugar will also work just fine.)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups self-raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour + 4 teaspoons baking powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup milk.
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Lightly grease oven trays
- Use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
- Add egg and beat well.
- Add sifted flour and the vanilla
- Add milk a little at a time and mix until dough comes together.
- Chill dough for 20mins
- Divide dough in half
- Return one half of the dough to fridge and roll other half to 5mm thick (1/4inch).
- Cut star shapes in at least 3 different sizes - you will need approx 25 star shaped cookies.
- Continue cutting out star cookies with other half of dough.
- Refrigerate cut out dough for 10 minutes, then bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Removed from trays and cool on wire racks.
- 1 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- Just enough milk to make a thick glaze (consistency of thick honey)
- You can colour the icing if you wish, but I keep mine white so it supposedly looks like snow on the branches.
- Place one large star cookie on serving plate.
- Put a very small dot of icing in centre of cookie, and place second cookie on top making sure the tips of the star do not line up with the cookie below.
- Continue to stack cookies, using smaller stars as you build towards the top of the 'tree'
- Make sure you only use a small dot of icing to 'cement' the cookies together, otherwise your cookie tree will not easily disassemble for consumption.
- Once you have built your tree, use remaining icing to drizzle over the 'branches'.
- Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
- Add a gold star or angel to the top, if desired.
What have you been baking this week?
The ulcer treatment seems to have done the trick. No more stomping, no more cranky antics in the cross ties. I've also taken to keeping the girth as loose as possible for as long as possible, and I think Willow appreciates that as well. She never used to care about girth tightening, but I think she has gotten more sensitive in the past year. All in all, she's a much happier horse than she's been for several weeks.
Willow's aloe vera supplement arrived this evening, so I started her on that. It's called Excel, and it's made by a vet in this neck of the woods. It contains aloe vera juice, slippery elm bark, and vitamin C. For anyone who's interested, in addition to the Excel, Willow's other supplements are: Grand Vite, Mare Magic, and ProBios. The barn I'm at has a forage-only feed option that I have Willow on; it consists of alfalfa, rice bran, and grass hay. The horses are fed four times a day, and I think that is so helpful in keeping them from developing any stall vices. I love my barn!
6.5 Cups AP flour.
1& 1/4 Cup ice cold water with 1 TBS of lemon juice or cidar vinegar mixed in.
1 pound brick of vegatable shortening
1/2 pound BUTTER
Chill the butter and shortening for at least two hours in the freezer!!
Put Flour in a deep bowl.
Using a cheese grater..alternately rolling the shortening and butter in the flour..grate the shortening and butter on the LARGE hole side of the grater..After every four or five swipes on the grater..roll the butter/shortening in the flour..this helps to keep the fat from clumping...every once in a while, reach into the blowl and "fluff" it up to keep your bits of fat coated in flour.
Once all the fats have been grated and "fluffed" through the flour...chill the whole bowl in the freezer for about a half hour.
This will mix it without KNEADING it..you want the fats to stay as firm and whole as possible!!
When all the water is incorporated into the mixture...it should resemble a flaky ball...and you should be able to SEE the bits of fat through the dough..
This is very important..because it is the melting of the fat that make the pastry flaky..if over worked or over rolled..your crust will be tough and hard.
NOW..divide the pastry with a knife into usable portions..each portion should be smaller than a grapefruit..but slightly larger than a navel orange.
Wrap and chill in fridge.
Each portion is a pie shell ..one for an open pie..two for a closed pie.
When rolling out your pastry it is IMPERATVIE to do so correctly...I like to roll pastry on an old cotton table cloth...Sprinkle and smooth down a hand full of flour..put your dough ball in the centre and gentle flatten out the ball by pressing it down with the rolling pin...then starting in the centre of the dough roll outwards ...ie..Cnter to top..center to bottom..center to 3 o'clock and so forth..your crust should take NO MORE than 6-8 swipes from the rolling pin!!
There you have it folks...My secret weapon pie pastry....I once made a pie so bad for a Thanksgiving family pot luck..that my Brother verbally and LOUDLY denounced it at the table!! I was Mortified!
I have since been working on my pastry...and if you follow my secret tips..and ingredients...your pastry will be as secret a weapon as mine is today!!