Seriously, what is up with my husband?!?! Tonight I was struggling to figure out our schedule for the weekend. Jeffrey and I discussed a few options about getting friends and family together for a tiny celebration for my birthday. We also briefly discussed that I wanted to head downtown to see a friend tomorrow night. A few hours later, I picked up the same conversation, and he looked at me with a blank face and said, “What are you talking about?” My eyes bulged. My jaw clenched. I was about to bite my tongue and choose my words carefully, but before I managed to, out spewed, “WHAT THE HECK??? Weren’t you listening?!?”
He smirked, knowing he’d done something that pissed me off, but seemingly had no idea WHAT: “Listening to what?” His cute, defiant little smile definitely saved him from a tirade from me… “OOOOOH,” he said, “I just registered that whole conversation incorrectly, I thought you were talking about something ELSE.” Um, yeah, ok…what’d you think I was talking about: waxing?!?! Dumba**.
ARGH! Jeffrey. I love him, but he’s a butt head.
ANYWAY…moving onward. I got a text message late this evening from my good friend Jason Boots who is going to be in town for a quick 24 hours. He is playing at Dantes tomorrow in downtown Portland. Boots (no, I didn’t name my dog after him; my dog was named when I got him) was part of our LA group years ago, and like all the rest of us, has followed his own path. For what seems like ages now, he has toured with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers – a band from Arizona that has a crazy cult following. He comes fairly frequently to the Portland area, so I get to see him every so often. We’re trying to work out a way to have them all visit the farm, as Boots wants them to see our little piece of heaven. At the moment, transportation is a bit complicated for them, so we’re not sure if it will happen. Just in case, I’m rolling some menu ideas around in my head!
Since Jeffrey was home today, I actually made lunch…well, I TRIED to make him lunch. I had planned to make pork chops, broccoli, and some kind of carb, but just as I started the honey pecan sauce, Jim and Annette Neely came to the door. They had brought a load of Frank’s new hay and were dropping off the bill. Of course, I had to give them an update on the Frankster, and Annette had to meet the dogs and see all their scars, as well as have a looksie around the garden (that is now mulched and ugly). We had a nice visit and I headed back in.
Lower Rose Garden
Looking up into the main rose garden
Returning to the kitchen, I was greeted by the stench of burning honey, pecans, and pork chops. CRAP!!!!! I ran to the stove, hoping to save whatever was left, but nothing much had escaped the charcoling process. I somehow managed to salvage the chops (by slicing off their burnt side), and Jeffrey said they were still incredible. I was disappointed to not have a complete photo to accompany the recipe, but it was nice to see that he still loves that dish after all these years!
The sauce before the Neely’s visit
The sauce AFTER the Neely’s visit
The salvaged lunch *yes, that broccoli is from our summer garden – I froze it*
Ellie still isn’t 100% herself. She’s just “off” – I’m thinking she might have a little bit of the scratchy throat that I have been fighting. You can hear the rasp when she yells, “Uppp- Peee!!!” Her little voice calling out, “Mama” is just so darn cute; she rarely calls me, so when she does it makes me grin fro
m ear to ear. I think she might be having a little bit of a love affair with her pajamas. She goes to her pj drawer, pulls all of them out, and attempts to put one set on while carrying the others in her hand or thrown over her shoulder or over her head. It’s become an obsession. Some kids have their blankies; some kids have their stuffies; but my daughter has her pajamas!
See! She’s wearing them over her clothes!
With EG taking two naps today (well, one nap and one quiet time), I had plenty of time to filter and bottle more of my crazy infusions: Blackberry, Original Pear and Wild Cherry. I have the most of the Blackberry, which happens to be one of the slowest to filter. If I don’t filter it enough, it can get rather “syrupy.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like drinking syrup.
The fourth and last filtering for the blackberry vodka
Three of the bottles waiting for labels!
Jeffrey took Ellie Graye with him when he took Victor and Lorena home, giving me a chance to make dinner. Things were nearly done when they returned, but the last minute touches needed to be done. Ellie loves helping, and sat patiently on my hip as I finished up. If she pays attention, she’ll be a top chef before she’s 5 years old! Go ELLIE!
I didn’t realize the knives were within her reach until I saw this picture! I need to be more aware!!!
Chicken with a mushroom balsamic reduction sauce and spinach orzo
We had dinner, and then continued to be together as a family – a treat that is rare! EG didn’t let Daddy have a minute’s break, but I think he may very well have loved every second!
First they built towers
And Ellie Graye knocked them down
then they did some upside down swinging…
and she asked for more!
when that was over, they did some flying…
and she asked for more!
when sign language didn’t work, she tried tears…
but he was just too worn out!
so it was off to bed for Ellie Graye! Goodnight, Moon!
After putting “la preciosa” down (as Lorena calls her), Jeffrey headed into the TV room to watch a movie, and I headed to the kitchen. You see, I have this fear that the pumpkins from my garden don’t taste like pumpkins. Yeah, I know, stupid, right? But seriously, what if I had grown pumpkins that weren’t really pumpkins. I’ve never done this before, and I have been suspicious that the people who sell pumpkins to grocery stores have this big huge secret – besides using pesticides, and herbicides, and genetically modified seeds. I had made pumpkin bread the other day, and thought it tasted great, but I don’t trust my taste buds – not one bit. In the back of my head, I have been thinking, what if this pumpkin bread is just good because of the nutmeg, the allspice, the cinnamon, the sugar…what if the spices tricked my brain into thinking that this bread tastes like the pumpkin bread I make from canned pumpkin? I’d be mortified if I gave it to a friend and they couldn’t taste the pumpkin!
Constant doubting of my gardening, cooking and baking ability is why I married my husband – yep, the one and only reason! I needed a brutally honest taste tester, who will try anything. That’s what I got: a husband who is always blunt about what is crap and incredibly complimentary if it’s good. So, as I handed him the pumpkin bread, I fully expected him to say, “Hmmm. Doesn’t really taste like pumpkin.”
“How is it?” I asked.
“It’s pumpkin bread. I like pumpkin bread.”
“But does it taste like pumpkin?”
“Are you sure.”
“Are you REALLY sure?”
“You’re not lying to me because you want me to be happy?”
“Oh My God, Melissa. It’s GOOD!”
“Damn it, you don’t sound convinced. I’m going to try another recipe.”
And soon I was slaving away over a layered pumpkin cheesecake – maybe not “slaving,” but certainly going at it. I do “cheat” on some recipes sometimes, and this was one of those cases. I had bought mini-graham cracker crusts when they were on sale, and it was the perfect time to bring them out! Because this was a test run of the recipe, having many individual cakes meant that I wouldn’t ruin the visual of a full-size cheesecake by removing a single slice! I’ve made this cheesecake many, many times, so I had a good reference as to what it should taste like.
First layer: plain cheesecake
folding in the roasted pumpkin
Second layer: pumpkin – I was worried because of the lack of the usual glowing sunset color
As it turns out, the first bite of these simple looking cakes nearly my knocked both Jeffrey and I off our feet. They were INSANELY delicious. Jeffrey took it so far as to say that they’re the best thing that has ever come out of my oven – THAT, my dear friends, is saying something. Over the years, I’ve baked some kick-ass delectables, and there’s no denying that these are at the top of my “Scrummy Yummy” list. YUM, YUM, SCRUMMY YUM!!!! All my fear about not using canned pumpkin? For naught. Never again will I bake with canned pumpkin – from here on out, it’s Deer Park Pumpkins all the way.
RANDOM PHOTOS OF THE DAY
one of my favorite things about my kitchen…
Easy in, easy out; no plugging and unplugging, no heavy lifting; no ugly appliance on the counter
Roasted Pumpkin bagged for freezing; each bag is about the equivalent of a small can of pumpkin – if you want to buy some from me, let me know! It’s the best!