Friday, June 25, 2010

Antique Rose Emporium

I went here with friends way back in April to see if it was a good place to do portraits. Um, yeah. It is. If only I could get a client to want to go there for portraits. Here's hoping! :)











Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Back Yard

Shot around 6:30pm today. Ahh. The quiet cool of the evening....




Saturday, June 12, 2010

Amanda and the kids

Lanier was in class* all day long today, so I was all by myself. Amanda and her kids came over to hang out! It was splendid!! We ate lunch and the girls played with Bunny, and Josiah just rolled around and gurgled. Sydni asked me to take pictures of her, so I happily complied. My crepe myrtles in our back yard are in full glory, so we had a great background.

Sydni thought the sun was too bright.


Izzy loved hiding in the flowers.





Josiah zonked out around 3:30 so they left. It was lovely to be with them.


Oh, and what class was Lanier in?
Motorcycle class.
He got one.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Floods and the Like

Tuesday night we had a torrential rain storm, lasting all night and into Wednesday morning. It caught everyone by surprise, I think. Our rivers got up to almost 30 feet (flood stage is considered 13 feet) and it was just depressing, knowing people's homes were flooded.

But before that, I had Caleb come over for an afternoon and spend time with me while Mommy and Daddy went out on a date! Caleb sure does like Bunny. We had a good time.


Here is a photo I took from Landa Street, next to the Knights of Columbus, which sits by the river coming out of Landa Park. Sts. Peter and Paul is in the background.


Now on to the real drama of that day: it was about 8:00pm, and Lanier was not home yet. I decided to walk to mailbox, which is around the circle of our neighborhood. As I came back, I spied a small bird in the road, who seemed unable to fly. It was a fledgling! I shooed it to the curb as a truck was approaching, and not seeing any parents around, I scooped him up and carried him home in my shirt.

We made a shoebox next for him with grass and tried to feed him dogfood (that's what the website said to do). He seemed to get weaker and weaker. I was beside myself, thinking I'd killed this tiny baby. But really he just wanted to go to sleep! He tucked his little head in his little wing and dozed off.

This morning, he was chirping and fluttering his wings--he's really close to being able to fly. I decided it'd be best to return him outside and see if Mom and Dad would hear his call.

It took about 60 seconds and they arrived. Amazing! This is Dad. I think, after going through many bird watching sites, they are House Finches. The males have red feathers on their heads.


I attempted to get a photo of Baby all by himself, but my lens fogged terribly in the humidity. By the time I swapped it out for a better one, Jr. had been able to sort of fly into the next yard with Dad, and all his brothers and sisters arrived, too. Junior is on the far right. You can see Mom flying in.


Once they saw he was ok, all the sibs took off. Dad remained to give Junior a bite to eat. It was so cool to watch. A heartwarming tale.


And one last shot of Dad still feeding as Mom takes off to hunt for more.
A happily ever after ending! I am so glad!!


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My Kitchen

This is the first tomato from my barrel garden. Cute! Fresh basil, also from my garden, beside it. :)

Beef Empanadas

Got this from Epicurious. I put chopped up fresh serranos in Lanier's. Mine are sans serranos. Put in my one tiny tomato (see above) and lots of mushrooms and black olives. Forgot about the eggs. I baked ours. Next time I'll be sure to have tomatoes on hand, plus probably queso fresco to add to the filling.

Makes a dozen 6-inch empanadas

2 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped into bits
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 pound ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice, and chopped
1 package frozen empanada pastry disks, thawed (or homemade, recipe follows)

About 4 cups vegetable oil and a deep-fat thermometer (if deep-frying)
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water (if baking)

Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

Add raisins, olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Stir in hard boiled egg and spread on a plate to cool.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (to help keep plastic in place), then roll out an empanada disk on plastic wrap to measure about 6 inches. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork. [You might see some different crimps in my pictures. The fork method really works best.] Make more empanadas in same manner.

If frying: Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.

If baking: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.

Deep-frying instructions: Heat 3/4 inch vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.

Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 360°F between batches.

Baking instructions: Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Empanada Dough

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour + 3 cups all-purpose)
3 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into two flat rectangles and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Holy Mole!!

Mole Negro or Dark Mole

Recipe courtesy Soledad Lopez

To Clark and Jake: You. Got. SERVED.




In a word, it was amazing. The end. Recipe follows below.


1 pound ancho chiles
1/2 pound guajillo or dried mirasol chile
1/2 pound dried cascabel chile, or rattle chile
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 pound Mexican green tomato or tomatillo, chopped
Corn oil
1 telera roll or 4 slices white bread
1 cinnamon stick
4 to 5 cloves
4 to 5 whole peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 pinch cumin
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shelled peanuts
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup small raisins
1 1/2 plantains, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
1 small onion, roasted, then chopped
1 small garlic clove, roasted, then minced
1 corn tortilla
1 piece unsweetened chocolate square, Mexican chocolate is preferred
1/2 cup chicken stock, plus 2 1/2 cups
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Toast ancho, guajillo, and cascabel chiles in a heavy skillet until skins blister. Remove from skillet and stem, seed, and devein chiles. Set aside.

Place tomatoes and green tomatoes in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain and blend in blender or food processor and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat corn oil over low flame. Cut the telera bread or 4 slices of white bread, into pieces and fry in the corn oil until golden brown. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, thyme, cumin, sesame seeds, peanuts, almonds, raisins, plantains, and walnuts. Stir ingredients together. Add more corn oil, to coat ingredients lightly. Add chopped roasted onion and minced roasted garlic. Continue to fry over low flame for about 20 minutes. Add blended tomato mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place corn tortilla over open flame and cook until burnt and crispy. Cut up and set aside.

In a medium frying pan, fry roasted chiles in corn oil along with burnt tortilla pieces for a few minutes. Combine tomato/spice/nut mixture with chile mixture in large saucepan. Add chocolate piece and cook until melted over a low flame. Add about 1/2 cup chicken stock to mixture and stir. Place mixture into blender or food processor and puree until all ingredients have combined completely. More chicken stock may be added to smooth out sauce.

In a large saucepan, heat vegetable shortening. Cook the puree in the shortening, stirring constantly. Add more of the chicken stock until you achieve the right level of consistency that you'd like. Warm sauce for another 30 minutes over a low flame.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Housewarming and Summer

This is the sole photo taken of our housewarming party last Sunday--the tray of tomato/basil/cheese hors d'oeuvres that Mom assembled for me. It was just so pretty! You drizzle them with olive oil and add a little salt and pepper. Yum!

I am no longer working at WIM so my days are pretty wide open. It's been an adjustment, and I'm not quite fully used to being a house wife, or stay at home mom, or just generally unemployed. But that's not really an accurate description, I AM employed. Self employed. In fact today I went to my friends Rob and Jenni's house to photograph their brand new son, Judah Walker Lord and his three older sisters, Emerson, Hattie and Elzie Claire. Judah was born right in the middle of my photo session with the Indian family (see Simple Happies' blog). So I think he's two weeks old now? I'll post photos of him later. They're still downloading onto our computer.

So Hannah's gone to Georgia with Mom and tonight we've got Molly and Brent's wedding shower/party to attend. A grown up party! I'm so excited!!

My car's A/C has died, so we are now on the hunt for a New Car. Exciting! And about time. She's been a good car, my little Plymouth Breeze. Dad got her for me when I'd barely lived in Texas more than six months. She had about 28,000 miles on her, and now she has 112,500! Good times, good times.

Hope you're having a great summer. We are!

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