We like to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve at home where we stay warm as snow falls over the town. This year, I made a not-very-sweet Italian cake with dry red wine and finely grated dark chocolate from the January/February 2013 issue of La Cucina Italiana magazine.
I topped it off with fresh whipped cream and toasted almonds. I shared a piece with our neighbor who responded with a bottle of red wine from his family’s vineyard. I can’t think of a better way to ring in 2013 than with good friends, good wine and good food.
Wishing you a Happy New Year infused with your heart’s desire throughout 2013!
This is a test run for dessert for tomorrow night’s dinner with friends. Test run = my excuse for sampling it!
These are cookie-dough-ball-sized scoops of Häagen-Daz vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate sorbet. The sorbet is fantastically easy to make; thank you Ina Garten for this recipe!
It’s shown here in its, er, test bowl in the smallest ramekins, though from the photo it appears much larger than it is. I plan on serving it in Frangelico glasses for dessert. I haven’t decided whether to serve it with berries, too. What do you think?
This evening I was talking with friends from the wind-blown mountains where we met, at the edge of the high plains snug up against a mountain range where 50 mph winds are status quo. Where from the same spot you can watch the sun set over the mountains in the west and the moon come up over the plains from the east. No buildings or houses — or anything — to obstruct the view.
How I loved the feeling of freedom the invigorating wind evoked as it rushed through the grasses, projecting tumbleweeds like cannonballs. The land is semi-arid and for lack of water few folks live there. It’s so bare. So elemental. There’s a purity in wilderness, in wild landscapes. The wilder, the free-er.
One lazy day, moseying about in a bookstore, I happened upon a copy of Painting Greeting Cards in Watercolor. Inside, I discovered miniature painting sketch exercises, which I thought were perfect to warm me up for painting something larger. The exercises are terrific for days when we need immediate, simple, creative gratification.
One of the miniature sketch exercises reminded me of that fantastic landscape where the high plains and the water-less mountains meet. Talking with my friends tonight reminded me I’d painted it so I dug it out of the corner of a bureau drawer to share here (posted at actual size of the painting sketch). It’s a crudite. A little appetizer whetting my desire to paint that windswept land.
Know’st thou the land where the lemon-trees bloom,
Where the gold orange glows in the deep thicket’s gloom,
Where a wind ever soft from the blue heaven blows,
And the groves are of laurel and myrtle and rose? [<- music] ~ Goethe
I remember lunching with a friend years ago, enjoying a cake for dessert that was as sunshiney as my friend’s personality. It was a delicate sponge filled with a heavenly-light lemon creme-mousse, topped with a sprinkling of soft, sweet crumbs. The scent of lemons anytime easily evokes welcome memories of that happy lunch.
For years I searched for the recipe, but nothing quite hit the mark. Recently, a friend requested something lemony for her Bon Voyage dinner. I searched. And I searched. And then! I happened upon the elusive Lemon Creme Cake recipe! After a bit of tweaking, the recipe was ready and the cake was made…and enjoyed.
What treasured memories come to mind,
what treasured memories are created,
by these simple pleasures in life!