Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cloud Formations

The clouds were very unusual on my Wednesday morning drive to work. I was unable to capture the most intriguing ones hanging over East Mountain as I was looking south from Route 23. When I arrived at work however, I was able to go to the other end of the parking lot to take a few shots and the result is this, four photographs patched together into one:

Click on the image to see it up close...

The photo does not really show how defined these clouds were. I still haven't had the chance to check my weather book to see what kind they might have been. Anyone know? Stratocumulus undulatus?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chocolate-Orange Cake With Kumquats

For a recent morris dancer birthday I made a very dense chocolate-orange cake, using coconut flour and cocoa powder instead of wheat (therefore making it wheat and gluten-free!), adding both orange juice and zest for extra flavor. The icing is the 7-minute orange icing from the Joy of Cooking, though mine is an older edition from either the 50s or 60s (?). I decorated the cake with kumquats that I had left over from another friend's birthday (see below post) when I made ginger-kumquat agave syrup (see recipe below, I might post the cake eventually too, if I can remember what I did!).

Ginger-Kumquat Agave Syrup (Cake to come!)

Peel a nice a chunk of ginger (my mom says 3 oz., but I don't measure such things) and chop into a few pieces.

Blend in a (high-powered!) blender (such as a Vitamix) with agave syrup (1 cup, or more...) and some halved and pitted kumquats until completely smooth. Don't strain the mixture, or you'll loose a lot of nutrients. Just keep on blending for awhile until it's smooth.

Bring to a low boil on the stove to kill off any microorganisms present.
Cool. Can be stored at room temperature at least without the kumquats, but I've been refrigerating it with.

To mix with seltzer, add 1 tsp+ to taste with a small amount of seltzer. Mix well, and then add more seltzer after mixing for best results.

Oscar the Parrot & Ginger-Kumquat Agave Syrup

Recently my mom came up with a low-glycemic index recipe for ginger syrup using agave as a healthier substitute for sugar. It can be mixed with seltzer, club soda, or any other bubbly substance (as well as gin!) to create a ginger brew or ginger ale alternative. Agave syrup can be purchased in bulk, otherwise it can be more expensive per volume. I made my own version of the syrup as a present for my friend Bharati's birthday using kumquats.
(See recipe below in above blog...)

My mom has an African Gray parrot that was rescued from a tree in a friend's yard. Even though Oscar lives in the same house as both of my parent's, when I say he's "my mom's bird," that is because he views my mom as his mate and my father as a threat. Interestingly enough, he's OK with my brother, and views him more as "cool buddy" and will whistle at him when he comes in the room.

Because of the above listed recipe, my mom has a lot of ginger lying around the house. Oscar loves ginger, and when left alone for barely a minute, he will seek it out and... himself!
He's also very fond of garlic, and will go after an entire head!
Cat food is not his favorite, but he
will have some crunchies once in a while...Stealing some nuts from my mom's display...Busy at working building a "nest."

Flowers By Alicia

My Swiss-Spanish-Australian, multi-lingual, talented friend Alicia (and recently momma of two!) sent me these lovely felted flowers and necklaces from Australia a few months ago after I sent her her wedding dress in the mail. They were the most unexpected early springtime surprise!