Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms!

That’s two successful non-wheat recipes today! First, I made mac n’ cheese with some brown rice pasta The Wiz sent me from Arizona, and it was actually good! The elbows were firm and toothy, and not gummy at all, and I made a five cheese sauce, using up all the leftover Ementhaler, Asiago, Bleu, Gouda and Fontina from Thanksgiving. What? You don’t have a cheese tray on the holidays?  Best gluten-free recipe yet- until I made these. I got this recipe from a woman in my ward whose husband and daughter are Celiac, and they are the bomb. As you can see, there are some little elves eagerly waiting for them cool enough to scarf.

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tps vanilla extract
  • 1 bag Hershey’s kisses

That’s it. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in your mixer until combined. Don’t worry if it’s crumbly. Roll into about 40  ping-pong sized balls, roll in granulated sugar, and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. At the ten-minute mark, take the cookies out and gently press a naked Hershey’s kiss into the center, thus creating the familiar crinkled and cracked edges. Pop them back in the over for 2 more minutes, then remove from baking sheet and cool. That’s it.  I know! It’s too good to be true, but I promise, they’re great!

Houston Market Photos

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This picture was taken the night before the show opened. You would not believe some booths- I mean, shipping crates after shipping crates arriving with furniture, props and beautiful things. I felt like such the ugly duckling- me and my two Southwest-allowable suitcases. That’s it. All I had. I even had to borrow pins from my neighbor to hang my quilts. How sad is that? A quilter who didn’t bring pins. All of my booth shots are from before the convention center laid down the screaming-red aisle carpet that night.  I was shaking in my boots. Little fish, big sea. Yeah.

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Here’s the other angle- you might recognize the birthday banners- it was the one frivolous thing I was able to stuff in the suitcases. The night before, I had the bathroom scale in the kitchen, and was repacking the bags at midnight because they were over- I got them to 49.8 pounds… by the skin of my teeth.

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The table skirt and drapery were borrowed, and my scary midnight run to scary Houston Voldemart netted the hand sanitizer and candy. I forgot a bowl though, and used my roll of stickers to hold treats. Classy. Oh yeah. Have I mentioned how nervous and scared I was?  Terrified doesn’t even come close to how I felt. But you know what? I can do scary things.  I can do things which make me shake in my boots, and come out better than before.

I have a million ideas for next time. The learning curve was steep, but I had a folder full of sketches before the show even opened. It was a very good experience.

And then here, for comparison, is Heather Bailey’s booth:

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Oh yeah. And that IS Heather herself standing there. Her booth is literally four times the size of mine. And it wasn’t even close to the biggest or fanciest- Now can you see why I felt like the country mouse?  Like I was totally in over my head?And yet I did it. It’s done. I lived.

And maybe- no, certainly- something good will come of it. People liked my stuff. People were kind to me, and an awful lot of folks had good feedback and even kudos me… Me, the tiny fish in the big scary sea.  Exhaling now…

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Holy Guacamole

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I get a lot of recipe requests. I’m no Ree, but I can throw down some good eats- and hands down, people ask for this recipe. Which has always kind of baffled me, because honestly? How do you screw up guacamole? But it’s possible. People add all kind off wrong things. This is an honest guac. No mixes, no fancy spices, no mayonnaise (egad!). Everything added is there for a specific reason, and adds it’s own simple voice to the song.

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Here’s who’s coming to the party: You need 3-4 HAAS avocados, salt, jalapeno, a Roma tomato, lime or lemon, garlic, salt, sour cream, and hot sauce. That’s it. No, do not add onion. Do not add cumin, no matter what Rachel Ray says, “smokey cumin” is NOT good in everything. Do not add mayonnaise, or I will hunt you down. Do not add cilantro. Just don’t, and I love Cilantro. I do. But it is not invited to this party. The end.

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Slice the avocados in half, twisting the pit out with the sharp edge of your knife. I started out with four avo’s, but one was too bruised and got tossed. Three works almost as well as four.

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(My kids think it’s great fun to put the pits in a glass of water and grow an avocado plant on my kitchen window sill. You will soon be overrun with plants that cannot live in your climate- unless you live in LA. Secretly toss them.)

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With a spoon, just scoop out the insides. No need to score them or get all Bobby Flay- just scoop. If they are perfectly ripe, they will be like butter.

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Decapitate your fresh jalapeno, and if you are a wuss, scrape out the membrane and seeds with a spoon. You’ll just have the sweet fruit left, and there’s practically no head in the fruit. Don’t poke yourself in the eye or change a diaper after you’ve handled peppers. Don’t ask me how I know.

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See? Wuss pepper. Fruity and fire-less. Mince that bad boy up:

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And add to the avocado.

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Now you need to choose your mashing tool. Any of these work, and I routinely use them all. Do not, I repeat NO NO NO, do not use a food processor or blender. We are making guacamole, not green mushy soup. We want texture, chunks- we want to know we are eating avocados! Well, at least I do. You do whatever you want. But I warned you…

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Add a good pinch of kosher salt and mush mush mush. The kids like this. Good luck at your house.

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Like this. See? Texture is a good thing!

Now I’ve cheated, because you can clearly see I’ve already dice my tomato- but just go with me here, okay?

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Cut one Roma tomato in half. I know I showed two, but with only three avocados I needed to think on my feet, and one/three ratio is perfect. Slice it in half and scoop out the gelly goop in the middle. It’s good stuff, but not in guacamole. Dice the tomato up:

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And add to the mushed up bowl.

Now, it’s time for the spice. The excitement. Regard the tender clove of garlic, impaled on my 12″ Wusthoff :

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This little gem of acids and flavor has been hanging out in my fridge for a little too long, and has decided to sprout. Ever had that happen? When you cut open a clove, there is a tiny little green shoot inside?

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You want to get that out of there. It’s bitter. It’s not good eats. The garlic is still perfectly good,  just pop that little shoot out with the tip of your knife. Thus:

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It’s in a little sheath, and will usually pop out in one piece. One big clove or two small cloves are perfect for a 3-Avocado batch of guacamole. And, despite what the fancy food TV chefs may say, I am a fan of the garlic press. Voila:

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Perfectly mashed garlic with no large raw chunks to ruin anyone’s guacamole experience.

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Oh, hello Blurry. Next add the juice from half a lime or lemon. I prefer lime, but all I had today was lemon, so lemon it is. It really doesn’t mater- the whole point is the acid, and you get that from either. But you do need one of them! Also, and this is unorthodox and sacrilege to some purists, I add a blop of sour cream. Let me tell you why. Combined with the acid from the citrus, it keeps the avos from browning too much. You can leave it out, but you’ll end up with brown guac a lot faster. You have been warned.

Now, we need to pick our poison:

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Any of these are perfectly lovely. If I have refined guests, I’ll opt for the Green Tabasco. If it’s for me, Habanero it is. My favorite sauce is Cholula, and I’m out, otherwise she would have been my girl today. As it was, I went for the old stand by:

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You just cannot go wrong with good old Avery Island McIlhenny peppers. They truly are divine.

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Now stir it all together.

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Gently, gently now- mind your texture. And that’s it. You are done. Pop into a pretty bowl and scarf it down. Top some sopapillas made from your own masa. Grill up some fish and have soft tacos with guacamole. Or, you could just eat it. Enjoy!

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Apropos of Everything

Yesterday, a friend of mine came by to hang out. Sitting at the kitchen table, she was describing how her children are driven,  focused people, and how foreign that is to her working mind. I’m nodding in agreement. (People who are focused make me envious; no matter how hard I try, I’m about as laser-like as a cotton ball.)

Then, she says  “I’m like a dandelion puff, and my kids are like jet planes. They roar by me, and my puff goes flying in a million directions.”

I’ve never, in my whole life, felt my own mind described so succinctly. There it is.

Garage Sale Finds: SCORE!

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This one just makes me giddy. That table is a solid walnut, antique, Duncan Pfyffe knock-off, with filigree edge and brass toe-caps on the tri-corn legs. The filigree is broken a little in the back- but it doesn’t bother me at all. It was marked fifty cents. Yes, that’s right. FIFTY CENTS. I asked the lady if that was right- actually, what I said was “This can’t be right, can it?” and she said sure, it was damaged. I slapped down my two quarters and ran to the car.

The wingback chair is also a thrift store find, $5.00. Yes, I ran with that one too. And its matching partner, which lives on the other side of the fireplace. I have a bolt of natural linen that I plan on making them slipcovers- and eventually I’ll get around to it. Won’t they be darling in linen slipcovers? The orange doesn’t do it for me, but hello!? FIVE bucks each? Thank you very much!

Tag Sale Photo Overload

Canon PowerShot A1000 ISFirst off, meet my new camera. A lovely friend, who wishes me to leave her anonymous, had my grumpy mail-lady leave this little brown-bag wrapped package happily on my doormat. At first I was dumbstruck- who would do something so nice and so thoughtful, and well holy crap, so generous?! Then I thought for half a second and realize I knew a lot of people who are that awesome. I love my friends. The real life ones, and the ones who live in my computer. And today, especially, this particular friend. And her hubby, who she sent out to buy my camera. That’s love. Muuuoosh.

So, without further ado, here’s the updates, the skinny, the poop, the real deal…

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Both of these are tables from garage sales. One the left is the spool table from last weekend, for $5, and is now overloaded with books, next to my bed. Mama Soule’s book is underneath my loud-ticking Big Ben alarm clock. My grandma had one, and I love it. The table on the right was gotten for $10 at a sale, and is in my entry way. The lamp, pineapple down below, doily and the books all came from yard sales.

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On the left is the Singer sewing machine cover made from tiger oak that I paid $2 for. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with it- my treadle machine folds down into it’s cabinet- but come on! TWO bucks! You would have bought it too! I haven’t even cleaned it up or dusted it yet- and it’s that pretty. *sigh* I love wood.

On the right, one of my linens drawers in Phoebe, the Buffet that I put pictures up of last summer. She’s a thrift-store find. All the linens are hand-embroidered and have been gotten at tag-sales, rummage sales and estate sales. Here are some close-ups:

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The goose hand towel is a favorite- I just love it. The napkins behind the goose have tiny rosebuds embroidered on each one. The picture on the right is all applique, and it’s some of hte finest I’ve ever seen. The stitches are so even and tiny it’s unbelievable, and yet it’s all handmade. I love these things. I love that someones hands lovingly decorated and cared enough to make a plain linen towel so pretty. And the feel of real linen is just beyond lovely…. *sigh*

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These are two finds I love- the sewing basket is just like one my mom has that belonged to her grandma- only hers is green, and mine is obviously yellow. You find these at antique shows, but I got this at a junk sale. I think I paid $5 for it. That’s a lot for me, but it had sentimental value, so I bit. The white stool is genuine 1940’s- and I picked it up at a sale last weekend. It was brown with dirt and grime, and the bolts were loose; see what a little elbow grease and an old toothbrush can do? It was $3.00. That’s part of the trick- you have to be willing to look at an ugly-ducking and see the swan.

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On the left is a dress I made Abby- I just LOOOOOVE the fabric. Super easy shift cut, elastic sleeve and a ruffle around the bottom. Anyone who sews could make this, really. The blouse on the right is from the estate sale I went to a few weeks back- where I scored a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing about. I bought it because it was made with such care and skill. It doesn’t fit me, but I hang it in my sewing room for inspiration.

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Bag of solid wooden spools from a week or two ago. This pincushion was in the bottom of the pop-box from the estate sale on Friday. It’s little Asian figures surrounding the silk cushion. I don’t know what to think of it, besides awesome.

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This is the silk ribbon and a few samples of the embroidery that was in the bottom of the box. I guess I need to learn how to do this now, too.

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All of the above is from the one estate sale, found in my pop-box when I got home. I’m never buying anything new again.

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On the left is the pile of handkerchiefs I got for $2, and on the right are the heat-transfer books I found, four books in all, and I’ve never seen anything like them anywhere. They are all entirely intact, and the heat works lovely. I’ve already used one.

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And just for giggles, here’s a shot of one wall in my sewing room. Oh, and yeah, my haircut. Twelve inches, gone. I love it, and it feels so light. It really is not two different lenghts, but that’s what you get at 2 in the morning taking a picture of yourself in the bathroom. Ya get what ya get.

I want you all to go out and garage sale this weekend. Check Craigslist, drive around and look for signs. See what you can find. Don’t be afraid to get out and look- and keep your eyes peeled for things that are awesome, but might not look like it at first. A toothbrush and some vinegar are a garage-saler’s best friend!

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