A Day at the Beach

This past weekend went by so fast I didn't have time to finish all the projects I had envisioned. But that's OK! Instead, my husband and I gave ourselves a brake from household chores and spent a wonderful day at the beach. The weather was magnificent for this time of the year: very sunny with just a light breeze. We walked for hours and had lunch by the bay.
These are some pictures of the lovely things we got to see.

It really was a great weekend. We had a great time.



Spring is Coming!

After a long day of work I was so pleased to come home and see that the plants in the garden are starting to show signs that spring is just around the corner. The daffodils are begining to bloom. Their sunny yellow color brightens any gray winter day.

The peach tree is starting to bloom. I love its soft pink blossoms.

And, as the days are becoming warmer, we are seeing more visitors that come to our garden. It sure feels like spring is in the air!



Pumpkin Bread

Several weeks ago I bought this beautiful castile pumpkin (calabaza de castilla) at the local Hispanic food market. It looked so beautiful at the store that I couldn't resist taking it home. However, the poor pumpkin had been sitting in my pantry since then. Every time I opened the pantry door I felt like it was staring at me anxious to be transformed into something delicious. I did not want to postpone it  any longer and yesterday I finally cooked my pumpkin. The pumpkin was quite large so I made pumpkin soup. Sadly, the the soup did not turn out very good; the recipe needs more work. Also, I made two loaves of pumpkin bread and even had some puree left over to store in the freezer for later use.
I sent one of the loaves to my mother-in-law, and the other one we will have it for breakfast this week; alhough, it is so good it might not last very long.

The first thing is to roast the pumpkin to make the puree. Making pumpkin puree is rather simple and the results are so rewarding. The puree keeps well in the freezer (for up to 2 months), so you can have on hand fresh pumpkin puree whenever you need it.

Directions for Pumpkin Puree:

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Cut pumpkin in half and remove all the seeds.

2. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper cut sides down and bake for 1 hour or until soft and easily pierced with a fork.

3. Let cool. Discard any liquid released from the pumpkin. Remove all flesh with a spoon, place in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Pumpkin Bread
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons pepitas


Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line 1 9X5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, ground cloves, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter until pale and fluffy, add the sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue with the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract. Add the flour in three additions alternating with the buttermilk (flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk-flour).

Pour mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle the top with pepitas. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Cool bread completely on a wire rack.

Leftover pumpkin puree ready to be stored in the freezer. Except for the small container. That is for Mini and Mona. They love pumpkin, too!




Quilted Coasters

This weekend was very busy with household chores: cleaning, dishes, laundry (the boring stuff!).  But I did manage to spend some time at my sewing table and made these quilted coasters. I used cotton and linen fabrics, and I love how they look together. The linen offers a great contrast to the cotton fabric and at the same time coordinates very well. But above all, these little coasters will help save my furniture from pesky water rings.  I just need to get everyone to use them...



When Life Gives You Lemons...

This past weekend we began to prepare the garden for the upcoming growing season. There was not much left from last season: a few spring onions that for some odd reason new ones kept coming out all year round, and some peppers on a pair of limp looking  plants. Now the planting beds are looking rather bare, but ready to start planting,
On the other hand our lemon trees are thriving in the winter weather. They are laden with fruit. Probably more than we know what to do with it. So I taught, if life gives you lemons, you have to make lemon cake.

Glazed Lemon Cake with Candied Lemon
Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine
Makes 1 bundt cake or 2 loves.

For the Cake:
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 eggs
3 tablespoons of lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange flavored liquor (I used Cointreau)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Greek style yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Butter and flour a 12-cup bunt cake pan or line with parchment paper 2 loaf pans. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer beat together butter, oil and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition, follow with lemon zest, lemon juice, orange liquor and vanilla extract. Add the flour in three additions alternating with the yogurt (flour-yogurt-flour-yogurt-flour).
Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for about 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from mold. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Pour glaze over cooled cake and decorate with candied lemon.

For the Candied Lemon:

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 lemon thinly sliced and seeded

In a small saucepan combine sugar and water and simmer a few minutes until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices and continue to simmer for 25 minutes. Remove lemon slices from syrup and place them on a piece of parchment paper to dry.

For the Glaze

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix together sugar and lemon juice until dissolved completely and pour over cake.