Lemon Lavender Biscotti

I love biscotti…well I just love food…looking through different recipes  I was inspired by a lemon almond biscotti recipe on the  King Arthur Flour site …so I played around with it and made a few changes…and this is what I came up with

 

Lemon Lavender Orange Blossom Honey Biscotti

preheat oven to 350

2 1/4 cups of flour….I do love King Arthur flour but this time I used Trader Joe’s      ……………………………………unbleached white flour

1.5 t  baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

combine the above dry ingredients together and set aside

1 stick of light butter….I used Land o ‘ Lakes…softened

1/3 c sugar

1/3 c orange blossom honey

1 T lemon zest

2 t vanilla

3 T lemon juice

1 egg

2 egg whites

2 T dried lavender

 

so in a mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar……add the honey and continue mixing for a minute or two

pulverize the lavender to release the oils…I do this in a coffee grinder

add the lavender…the lemon zest…the vanilla …and the lemon juice….mix until well combined in the butter/sugar/honey mixture

add the egg…mix until incorporated and then add egg whites and beat on medium high for 2 more minutes

 

slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture…..the dough /batter will be on the soft side

line a baking sheet with parchment

with a rubber spatula…help ease the dough out of the bowl onto the parchment…and I then  flour my hands to pat the dough into shape…the dough takes up just about the entire length of the pan…except for maybe 2.5 inches on either end of the baking sheet

I then put it in the oven for 30 minutes after 30 minutes I take them out and let them rest

Lower the oven to 300 degrees…and let the log rest for 20 minutes…after the 20 minutes start slicing the log into 1/2 inch slices…I ended up with 20 cookies…large cookies…take the slices and place them back in the oven for another 20 minutes

take them out and let them cool

 

so while cooling I make a lavender lemon glaze…I do not measure when Imake a glaze…but I did measure out 1  T dried lavender buds…and again pulverized them in the coffee grinder…I then used roughly 3 T lemon  juice….and added confectioners sugar until I reached a consistency I liked…I then piped the glaze onto the cooled cookies

Biscotti are great by themselves…or for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee…or a mid day snack with a glass of milk…no matter how you like them…they won’t last long and you may be hearing requests for….more ?

 

The table  I used to photograph the cookies is just a plain square raw wood table from Ikea . I painted it with chalk paint …I used the folkart chalk paint that you can get at Jo-An fabrics…..I used Java as a base and then painted patina  on top  …I then used a crackle medium on top that crackles clear and gives a crackle like you might see on porcelain…it was made by decoart…I don’t think I will ever use it again…even though I like the end results it produces….there are no warning on the bottle…but while using this …my tongue started to go numb and I started getting heart palpitations…as soon as I got away from this stuff I started feeling better…so after the crackle I started to distress the rest of the paint with just a wet rag…a little sand paper… a little steel wool…and then i finished it off doing a little dry brushing…now i need on figuring out how to seal it .

 

Do You Want To Build A Snowman ?

Well it is almost Christmas and there is no snow on the ground . I do live in the northeast and temperatures have been fluctuating so the snow we use to have is gone and now looking at a rainy Christmas day…as I am writing this i am listening to fairy Tale of New York…one of my favorite Christmas songs…and to get into the Christmas spirit I do want to build a snowman . I was inspired by work that I saw on pinterest …from a page called…CAKE TIME…it is written in Polish but you can get an English translation . I did not use her chocolate cookie recipe …only her idea…I used a chocolate sugar cookie on Sweetopia…that is very chocolaty

So I put these two things together . Cake Time uses sugar paste to coat her cookies…I instead used the glaze that is…2 pounds confectioners sugar…10 T karo…10 T milk…and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon emulsion and a teaspoon of cream cheese flavoring . So I cut out 3 different sizes of round cookies…I found very inexpensive plastic round cutters on amazon…I then iced them all….let them dry 12 hours…and then I used my Wilton food writers to start drawing arms and eyes and a mouth….after that dried I started stacking cookies…using frosting as glue…I used 5 cookies per 1 snowperson .

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a grand New Year

It Took 62 Plus Years

Most men have a nice tool box and not just a screw driver and hammer and needle nosed pliers…they have things I cannot even pronounce in there . If you looked in mine there was a hammer…a screwdriver…only one but if you pulled of the flathead screwdriver part and flipped it end to end you would also have a phillips head screw driver…and needle nose pliers …and to find those you would have to dig through my coins and cards and cups and balls and books by David roth …John Mendoza and an encyclopedia by Tarbell …complete course of magic . WellI finally made a giant leap as I was working on a project…I found a mirror in someones garbage and decided to try and do something with it…and as the project was winding down I was trying to figure out how I was going to attach the new back to the mirror…it was at that moment…I became a man .

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the staple gun…not only does it insert staples…it can do brads as well…I read the directions…and of course being who I am…I became afraid of it…Hell this thing could kill someone…that came to mind after watching a recent Bones rerun in which they determined the victim was killed by a nail gun…So i learned how to load the gun with staples and brads…and as I finished attaching the back to the mirror….I disengaged the rest of the staples rendering the gun harmless

Well any way i found this perfectly good mirror

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No major damage and the mirror was in excellent reflecting condition…but of course…that is not what I wanted

I went to youtube to find out how to distress a mirror…So I had to remove the back from the mirror and then I had to remove the paint from the back of the mirror…I used Citristrip

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This is a pretty green product…the odor was not too bad and once applied to the back of the mirror it took around 30 minutes and the paint came off easily with a plastic scraper…to reveal copper and silver backing on the mirror.

So I wanted to make the reflecting part look older…I could have used muratic acid…but then me being me again…acid scares me…so I went with a mixture of bleach and water…this became a complete experiment for me…as i was not getting quite the effect I wanted…to the point that I had removed much more of the silver than what I really wanted .So to the rescue

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Rustoleum mirror effect paint…you can use this on a plain piece of glass and make it a mirror …but you need to paint the back side of the glass to get the effect…So Iused it and still wanted some distress…so I used a mixture of vinegar and water and sprinkled it on the mirror glass…before I painted…so wherever there was water and vinegar the paint would not stick…I did this with 5 layers until I got what I was looking for.

And sometimes things just happen…I had no intention when I started on this to make it a winter or holiday decoration…but that is what happened…it is full of memories of my Mom….who…on cold winter mornings was making us hot cocoa on the stovetop….putting in an enamel coated pan a mixture of milk sugar and hershey’s cocoa…she always made it perfect…and helping my Mom with her holiday cards while she was in a nursing home…even at the age of 87-88-89 she thought it was important to add a hand written message in the card…I pretty much saw Mom 5 days a week…sometimes more often as I lived close by…She was working on a card for me…and when she gave me the card and I opened it…it said…Let it it Snow ! I just laughed …It made me feel so good…my Mom really knew me…Every year for my birthday I always wished for snow…I still have that card from Mom

So working on this project maybe just a step closer to becoming a man…I do not have power tools…but the staple gun is a step in the right direction

Anyway here are some images of my project

Good for the USA…and the World

I am glad the election is drawing to a finale .

And I want to address the people who are still undecided…or who are choosing not to vote or vote for a third party .

First of all a vote for a third party candidate is not throwing it away…it is a vote for Trump…so actually your protest vote will actually help trump so you are actually deciding to support him whether you realize that or not .Here is a man who constantly lies …continues to lie and believes his lies . Big big lie…Hillary sold uranium to the Russians…not true…there were nine agencies including one from the Canadian government. Hillary was not involved…and she had no veto power to stop it . Benghazi…Hillary took the fall for this but there were many parties responsible for this …including the republican controlled Congress who would not give the secretary of state more funds to secure not only the embassy in Benghazi…but to shore up all US embassies as …many …many …many are unsecured…again Hillary tried but Congress refused to help…Dr Ann Stevens  sister to the late ambassador Chris Stevens places the blame   with Congress failing to act on Clintons requests.

Another lie…Hillary will take your guns…another lie…you will be able to keep your guns under Hillary …she wants to tie up loopholes…make it a bit tougher to get a gun…especially wanting to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill…pretty good idea if you ask me .

Hilary supports the working man…Trump just the rich man…giving the rich a tax break…that does not help our economy…only the rich…the rich get richer and the poor poorer . Hillary’s plan to stimulate job growth …as well as Trump’s have been analyzed by experts…and their conclusion…under trump the USA loses jobs…under Clinton millions of jobs are added .

All of the scandals about Hillary have been started by the gop…They have been attacking her…and she is still standing . Her emails…there is nothing damaging in there…did you read them…if you did you would see that Hillary Clinton helps the people…helps the children…helps the elderly . She has been dedicated to service making many sacrifices…yet when Trump was asked…what sacrifices have you made…he said…I built great structures…really ?

Also trump is not a billionaire…he says he is but if he were he would show us his income tax files…show us how uncharitable he is . He is a racist , sexist , mysogonist…and I could go on and on…but simply the guy is a moron . He has no plan…and lately he has turned into a puppet …just a mouth piece for the GOP telling him what to say .And the way Isee it…The republicans have been about the party…not about representing the people . Look at our past democrat presidents…I think they have kept our economy in good shape . President Bill Clinton left the country in pretty good shape as well as President Obama .

So…the man without a plan…a hater…wants to divide this country….or Hillary who not only has a vision but has a plan to enact that vision for the good of the people the nation the world

For any decent human being the choice is easy…Trump made that clear from day one . He is truly unfit .

Hope you can find a few minutes in your day tomorrow to vote for Hillary

They aren’t called quickbreads for nothing

This started…well it started 48 years ago…learning how to bake with my Mom . She was such a good teacher…so patient and nary a negative word .

Well now in my more elder years I still prefer to bake from scratch but I am not opposed to using a mix once in a while

I have been having my eye on the Nordic Ware autumn cakelets pan . Nordic Ware makes really nice products…with great detail…and in most cases easy to clean up as is the case with this pan

So I bought the pan and the Williams -Sonoma gingerbread spice quickbread mix for 12.95…I also bought the trader Joe’s gluten free Pumpkin bread and muffin mix for 3.99

Both mixes have similar mixing directions…one you add water…one you add milk…one you add oil…one you add melted butter…and they both use 2 eggs

My taste test reveals…and I am the only taster in this test…is that they taste very much alike but I find the Trader Josef”s to be more spicy and very similar to a gingerbread . I had hard time trying to taste the pumpkin…I wish there was more of a pumpkin taste…so to me they both taste like gingerbread…and that is fine with me…I love gingerbread and the spicier the better…plus there is a huge difference in price…all things considered this is a TKO for Trader Joe’s.

I made a thin glaze of some maple syrup and powder sugar and a little water

Erie Tall Ships

Had an iopportunity to go up to Erie late yesterday

The Erie Tall Ships Festival was winding down . I was traveling with my good friends Kaba and Sammy so we went straight out to the peninsula for a little 80 minute hike . On our way out to the Oliver Hazard Perry monument…Perry known for “Don’t give up the ship . ” and “We have met the enemy and they are ours . ” and helping to win the Battle of Lake Erie…a great turning point in the War of 1812…any way as we traveled out the peninsula …I spotted a schooner on the bay…and later as we got out of the car for our hike we spotted the 60 foot rubber duck…luckily I took a picture then because on our way back to the car we saw the rubber duck deflate very quickly…by the time it took us to walk half a mile…that duck was downright flat …It was bigger than the one we had in Pittsburgh…but it looked a lot more flimsy….nonetheless…I love the idea of the giant rubber ducks…they make me smile.

So we headed off the peninsula…passing by Sara’s without even stopping for an orange sherbet/ vanilla twist cone…I headed to the Giant Eagle in the Yorktowne Plaza to get the kids something to eat…I got them some canned chicken…fully cooked and 97% fat free…so they were fed and watered…and then we ventured over to the Bayfront area to get closer to the tall ships…the festival was long over….but there was still plenty of people milling around and visiting local eateries and getting ready to watch the fireworks….So Sammy Kaba and myself just did an easy stroll around the beautiful bayfront area…by the time we were done meeting people and getting back into the car it was 7:30…not staying for fireworks…Sammy is not a fan…we headed home

Coming home we had about 45 minutes of light…got us down to around Meadville…It became darker and darker and by the time we reached Grove City there was no longer any light on the western horizon . We listened to Alice Cooper’s show on the buzz of the Wuzz…WUZZ titusville , oil city radio station. He did not play many tunes that I cared for…but I did learn the Who were once called the Detours…this was before Keith Moon was the drummer…Maybe that explains to me why the Who had an upwards arrow as part of their logo

Anyway…getting closer to home I switched to WDVE…and just getting a little tired…a man did not come on the radio telling me how white my shirts should be…but Jim Morrison did tell me to keep my eyes on the road my hands upon the wheel…and I did…I like driving in the dark… as long as the roads are dry…then DVE played an annoying Steve Miller song…the special effects just hurt my ears…so I turned off the radio….and in ten minutes I needed something to keep me alert…so back on the radio comes…and I am thinking…I can be listening to the radio with my brother Joe…even though we are 3,000 miles apart…so I put on WYEP…Joe listen to YEP on Sunday nights for bluegrass…so after a few bluegrass ballads…on comes…Tennesse Blues…there is nothing bluesy about it to me…lot of high speed picken goin on here…and then that was followed by Big Stone Gap…another faced paced tune…this was like getting a double shot of a dark roast ethiopian yirgacheffe right into a vein

Needless to say we all made it home safely…the dogs were tired …made some new acquaintances…and always enjoy being near the water

Be well all…have a great week…the weather is getting cooler and easier to breathe

A few images from our trip

Macarons v Macaroons

I did a web search the other day…I typed in…. macaroons and what I got was a lot of results for macarons…and the first five listings were all of french macarons…The web is supposed to be so smart…search engines are supposed to give us the best results…but even it does not know the difference .

I had to type in coconut macaroons…and then I got what I was looking for.

Macaroons are basically coconut based…and macarons are nut based…usually almond meal…but you can use hazelnut meal as well or grind up your own pecans or whatever nut you may have on hand

Macaroons are basically flaked sweetened coconut…egg whites , sugar and a little flour….and a flavoring…I like vanilla or almond

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and when they are done baking and cooled …I sometimes dip them in some dark chocolate. I do not have a recipe handy but usually on the bag of coconut there is a recipe for these cookies

roon2

so this is what a macaroon looks like

 

Now as simple as it is to make a macaroon and takes up very little time…macarons take up a lot more time…but I find it worth it . I weigh my ingredients  using an inexpensive kitchen scale…mine you can also weigh mail on it as well… so much for the kitchen partmac1

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so I made here is a raspberry macaron with a champagne buttercreamcheese frosting

115 g Almond flour/meal

30 g freeze dried raspberries…I get mine from Trader Joe’s

230 g confectioners sugar…make sure it is pure and does not contain cornstarch

so in a coffee mill  I will pulverize the raspberries into a powder…..I place that into the sifter…and after sifting there may be some seeds still in the sifter…I throw those out …and then sift the almond meal…and then the powder sugar….sift them all together

then you are going to get

144 g egg whites

pinch of cream of tartar

72 g  sugar

beat the egg whites on low for a couple minutes…then move to medium speed for another minute or two…as soft peaks form I add the cream of tartar and slowly add the sugar a little at a time I usually divide it in thirds…keep beating until your eggs whites form stiff peaks

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then you will take the sifted dry ingredients and fold into the egg whites…but you dont have to be careful in folding in the dry ingredients…actually you want to deflate the egg whites…so as you fold and turn you also smoosh the egg whites up the sides of the bowl…this may take anywhere from 35-50 folding actions…what you want is the batter to be like a lava consistency

Then I put the batter into a piping bag and start to pipe the cookies onto a cookie sheet that i have lined with parchment with a template…I will put another sheet of parchment on top of the template that I created using a cap from some medication bottle that produces a cookie of about 1.25 inches and then before baking I slide the template out

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so pipe 2 pans of cookies…this will make 48 shells…or 24 completed cookies…provided none of the shells brake…or you decide to sample…also you will want to drop the pans onto a counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles

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from here I let the cookies rest for 30 minutes with a fan blowing across them …before putting them in the oven the surface should be dry to touch…I also bake only one sheet at a time….in a 300 degree oven for 16 minutes…let cool completely and then fill with the champagne buttercreamcheese frosting…but you could fill these with a raspberry preserve or a lemon  or lime curd as well

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Champagne Butter Cream

 

this recipe was inspired by Stacy at Wicked Good Kitchen

 

5 cups powdered sugar

1 cup pink champagne

1/4 t almond emulsion or almond extract

1 cup butter softened

1 cup cream cheese…do not use fat free or neufchatel…your frosting will be too runny

1/3 cup powdered original coffee mate

2 T flour

pinch of salt

pour the champagne into a saucepot and reduce to half a cup

have the powdered sugar in your mixing bowl and slowly pour the hot champagne reduction into the sugar…keep mixing until the mixture has cooled down

 

add the butter until completely combined

add the cream cheese till completely combined

add the flour …coffee mate and almond emulsion

beat until light and fluffy…if too stiff add a little more champagne or water…if too thin add a bit more powdered sugar

 

Pipe this onto a half shell and complete with another on top

 

Enjoy

 

 

Sven-Best Friend Ever

Yesterday afternoon Sven crossed over the rainbow bridge to be with his sister Flo…though they are not the same breed they were every bit brother and sister.

Flo take good care of Sven…and be nice to him…he needs to be petted and loved just as you are Flo . When I or anyone else would pet Sven first…Flo would become very angry and attack Sven…never hurting him physically but mentally scared to the point. that when others would come to visit and attempt to pet Sven first…he would run away from being petted and suffer the wrath of Flo  . And everyday I would visit my Mom at Marian Manor nursing home…and sometimes I took them both along to visit Mom . Sometimes I would buy a Wendy’s junior cheeseburger deluxe and with that purchase I could feed all four of us…Sven and Flo shared the meat patty…Mom got the pickle and onion…and I got the lettuce and tomato . But most times I did not take my two guardian angels with me…and when I came home from visiting my Mom…I would lay down in the middle of the living room floor…Flo would lay on one side of me and Sven on the otherand I would rub their bellies for about 20 minutes every day…yes Life is good .

For those who are unaware Sven helped to save my life . he was 3 years old at the time…and had never barked in his life…well one day in June 10 years ago I had fallen asleep on the couch and Jane was upstairs in bed ….then at about 4:15 in the morning Sven decided to bark for the first time . Jane called down to me to find out what was going on . I did not respond . Jane came down to find me unresponsive on the couch . A call to 911 and initiating CPR…I am here today  courtesy of Sven and Jane and the doctors who when it was all done had put 12 stents in my heart and installed an ICD in my chest….pacemaker/defibrilator and for all those who kept/keep me in their prayers

 

Sven has had health problems from about the age of 5 and him making it to 13 years old is a great determination for Sven’s love of life  . Sven had 3 surgeries to remove sarcomas from his body…the last surgery involved removing an entire layer of flesh and 40 staples in his side…and us living on the floor for a month til he healed . Pancreatitis and liver disease and more liver problems and then finally a mass on his liver . He was retaining fluids and after two taps into his belly to drain 5 lbs of water and then adding lasix to keep the fluids off him he was doing well for a couple months and then suddenly he went blind on Sunday and he just became very ill and it was time for him to go be with his sister . But before he went I gave him some of his favorite treats and a Wendys junior cheeseburger deluxe .

 

I could go on…but maybe in the near future I will add stories of Sven . We did do agility and our first instructor really liked Sven…Andrew Maxwell is his name…before every class Sven would go over to Andrew and just roll on his back and let Andrew rub his belly…One day Andrew offered 3 of his border collies for Sven . I said no…I knew I had the real treasure…a hundred champion border collies still would not be enough .

 

I am very grateful to the Lord for giving Sven to me through the Christmas holidays as that is one thing I asked for…I did ask for him to live longer than that but Sven let me know he was ready to move on .

 

On Christmas Day and the day after I took Sven on some small trips locally…the last picture in this post got Sven and I an honorable mention from fujifilms.

 

When I would sneeze Sven always came to check on me to see if I was OK…When I would drop something heavy or something made a loud noise…Sven always came to check on me . When I would go down to the basement to do laundry and then head back up the steps…Sven was always laying at the top watching over my safe keeping. Sven I hope you continue to be my guardian angel and keep watch over me . I am sorry how this ended Sven but I tried my best . Love you Bud .

 

Namaste

Sven n Kenn

 

Samuel Collins at Pitcher Park

I had the pleasure to shoot Samuel during a recent session at Pitcher Park in carnegie Pa…I remember some of  Sam’s early days…his hard work is definitely showing . While Sam was on the course doing his stuff…others were watching…many in awe…and occasionally a Wow…yes Sam…even from the really good guy in the white shirt

Here are a bunch of images from my short visit to the park

Some of the Best of svenlovesflo

Hi everyone…the weather is becoming a bit more tolerable…much more tolerable than Jeff Locke against the Giants last night…serving up those big beach balls…almost anyone could hit them out of the park

 

Just thinking about things that irritate me…watching golf…and the narrator will say…what a beautiful golf shot or this is a nicely constructed golf hole…i do not need the word golf n these descriptions …I know and everyone else knows…we are watching golf

I really hate when I go to the supermarket and the guy gathering up the carts with one of those  motorized cart pushers loaded to the gills pushing 50 yards of carts and blocking people in in their cars while he is still adding to the haul…inconsiderate and frustrating .

I am tired of the Wendys girl…and Flo of progressive..and I will never eat at Sonic because from watching their commercials I gather that their food makes you that stupid .

 

I hate Ticketmaster…I was never a fan of Pearl jam but I enjoyed the war they waged against ticketmaster…their charges are beyond ridiculous . Actually their charges keep me away from going to sporting events…If I do go…I often end up buying a ticket from a street vendor or just a regular Joe . I remember when ticketmaster first started…When I went to buy the tickets…mainly for a Penguins game…the ticketmaster charge was 25 cents per transaction…I could buy four tickets for a game and the total ticketmaster charge was 25 cents .

 

I am wearing myself out

 

Here are some of the best from svenlovesflo