Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

With much love from Mandie, Tim, your Pixie Stick, Bubba and the Michelin Man

Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge #3

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.

Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Little Confession

My name is Mandie and I am a PBS dork. It began early last year when we noticed that Kidnapped was on Masterpiece Theater on a Sunday evening. Then it was Miss Marple on Mystery, and the Inspector Lynley series on Mystery and they even threw in an excellent Sherlock Holmes and the Silk Stocking. Not to mention the excellent adaptation of Dickens' Bleak House, which truly was a masterpiece. And so now, it is sort of an established miniature date night after the children go to bed on Sunday evenings.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, 2 weeks ago they began a Masterpiece Theater series~ The Complete Jane Austen. Every novel she wrote will be translated to a BBC-style movie. First up was Persuasion (which Tim and I missed), but last week was Northanger Abbey. This is a lesser known book by Jane Austen, but truly one of my favorites since I read it almost 10 years ago. I was quite impressed how much I liked the screen adaptation. This week will be Mansfield Park~ the only Austen book I haven't read. And I'm sort of upset that I will see the movie before I read the book, and I thought for as moment that I might read the book in a week. But then I came back to reality and remembered that when I read at night and actually get through 4 pages before I drop the book as my eyes cross, I'm doing well. That's ok, though. I'll save the book for a later time when I can actually enjoy leisurely reading again . Anyway, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, and I hope you all will watch and enjoy, too.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Extreme Home Makeover January Continues!

At the same Lowes trip alluded to in the previous post, we noticed that they had some light fixtures on sale and we found this gorgeous chandelier for really cheap. Seriously cheap. Usually they have kind of ugly fixtures on sale, but finding this was like finding treasure. Another gift from God! I've been looking for a pretty chandelier that matches our home for as long as we've lived here. And typically, the light fixtures I've been looking at are way out of our price range. For me, it was love at first sight. It matches all our other brushed nickel hardware in the house. And it's beautiful! It even includes 6 CFLs! I get so excited when I think about it hanging in our foyer and replacing that really ugly fixture that just screams "cheap standard brass lighting". Which leads me to my next project. I need to find someone to help me hang it. Did I mention that my foyer ceiling is 20 feet high? I'm not afraid of heights, but heights combined with hot electricity... I've been advised not to do it myself. So, I need someone who knows what he is doing. And it would be nice to find someone who knows what he's doing that already owns or has access to a scaffold, or else we'll have to rent one. Which naturally leads me to think that if we had an electrician paired with a scaffold, he might as well install our ceiling fan that's been prewired 20 feet above our living room... More on this later.

Hopefully, the next time you see this chandelier, the camera will be pointed heavenward and you will see our sage green foyer...

Extreme Makeover Dabney Edition

(Despite the above picture, it is a satin finish, not glossy paint)

Well, it looks like I'm officially getting into my typical January groove now. I've noticed since we became homeowners, that every January I become overcome with the urge to improve my home. Last year we got new lamps and organizers for the master bedroom and master bath and I painted my kitchen and powder room a lovely parchment yellow. This year, we bought more organizers, especially for the kids' bathroom and we (finally) bought a garage door opener and had it installed. Praise the Lord! What a treat to have both cars in the garage at the same time!

Also, if you've been to my house, you know there is only 1 room in the whole house that is not painted. Yep, Dabney's room. This is because we've always planned on painting it pink and honestly, I'm not a pink person. The last thing I wanted was some obnoxious color on the walls attacking our retinas. When we went to Lowes (I'm a Lowes junkie) to get the garage door opener, I checked the mis-tinted paints like I always do and I mentioned to Tim that I'm looking for the perfect pink color for Dabney's room- not too bright, not a pastel, not Barbie-ish, not orange-y pink, but a classic pink that will never go out of style and a pink that will blend with the other colors of the house. Oh, and it has to go well with the green bedframe and dresser that already reside in her room. That same night, Tim had to run to Home Depot for something and came back with a gallon of mis-tinted pain in the perfect color! Talk about perfect providence! I've been searching for almost 3 years for Dabney's paint. How on earth did he find it within 90 minutes? Anyway, I tackled the room last Saturday and I love the way it looks, especially with the white trim and accents we already had on the walls. The room like a completely different space now- it's a rich color and the finger smudges are gone and the finger smudges that are yet to come can be wiped off easily. Now I'm really tempted to install that beadboard wainscoting, but that would require money and a table saw and a nail gun and who knows what other power tools plus Norm Abrams (or my dad). Maybe next January.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

We love you so much and we are so thankful for you! We miss you but we hope your birthday is completely wonderful!

Gwamma's Girl

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I forgot one

I forgot this picture in my last post-it's one of my favorites and I think it really sums up our Christmas morning.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

More Pictures

Dude! I got a Dell!

Hey everyone! Hope your January is beginning well. As you might have guessed, yes, we got a laptop for me last weekend and it is a great machine. How nice to have a computer for the household again and not have to wrestle with the local spreadsheet guru (read: IT genius) over his laptop. However, we're having issues staying online for more than 10 minutes at a time. Hopefully, we will work out all of the kinks and I'll get more sweet Park City Christmas pictures up soon!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sorry I've Been MIA...

We had a lovely Christmas in Park City, Utah with these lovely people.
I hope your Christmas was as incredibly blessed as ours was!
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