Peach Chips and Watermelon Stix

I do love my dehydrator.  Today I dried some peaches and watermelon.  They are great for snacking since I added no extra sugar. I like to pack the peach chips in my lunch as I have made them many times before, however, this is my first try at making watermelon stix. They were very good, too.

My dehydrator is just a home machine.  There are bigger ones out there but this one has worked beautifully.  It is easy to clean.  The brand is Presto Dehydro.  I bought it at Walmart.  The photo makes it look a little stretched out, but for storage the trays nest down inside each other and the size becomes practically the same as the base.

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I keep it in my pantry and the pantry monkey guards it.

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He’s a plucky fellow.  Enjoys his job immensely.

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To make the the peach chips, you simply peel, pit, and blend peaches so you will end up with 4 cups of puree.  I make parchment paper liners to go on top of my dehydrator racks.

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Use a spoon to smooth out approximately one cup of puree per shelf.

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To make the watermelon stix, cut watermelon in french fry sized pieces.  Arrange on the parchment paper lined trays and dehydrate.

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I dried these for about 5 hours.  You can stop the drying sooner if you want softer fruit or continue for crispier treats.

When they come out, they look like this.

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I fold the sheets in half and store them with the fruit on them in gallon sized ziploc bags.

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Snack time. These are the peach chips.  They will keep quite a while (several weeks) if you can keep the moisture out of them. We usually eat them in a few days.

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The watermelon looks like bacon.

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I’ve tried drying applesauce, blueberry puree, and strawberry puree, but I like the texture and taste of the peaches and watermelon best.  Next I want to try tomato slices with basil or Italian seasoning on them.  I think those would be good combinations for snacking, too. I would try it today but I am out of tomatoes for the first time this summer.  I guess we are heading into Fall in a hurry.

My Giant Head

What a busy week I have had!  Starting last Monday I had a choral booster meeting, Thursday a gifted parent meeting, Friday I went to Blue Ridge, Georgia for a girlfriend weekend, Saturday I went to Hampton for a choral retreat at Camp Calvin, Saturday night I went back to Blue Ridge, Sunday I came home from Blue Ridge, Monday I went to Dawsonville, Tuesday I went shopping locally and planned another girly trip via conference call, and here I am tonight just getting back from Davis’ voice lesson.  Whew!

Blue Ridge, Georgia. (Taken from the internet.  Sorry, that I don’t know who to give a photo credit for this picture.)

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Davis at Camp Calvin last year.  Having trouble downloading the ones from this year because MY COMPUTER IS OLD however the blog must prevail.

Dawsonville LeCreuset.  I was hunting down the last few pieces of my discontinued color.

 

I wanted to update you on my recipe contest.  My school system has placed an announcement on our county website so if you have absolutely nothing better to do you can look at my giant head on your computer at this website.  The picture will scroll on by if you stay on the site long enough.  FCBOE WEBSITE  Davis was at school today and the site was up on his teacher’s computer and he was quite startled to see me buzz by.  He then announced, “There’s my mom.”  They probably didn’t believe him because he is quite the clown but he got a good chuckle out of it anyway.

And if you didn’t get enough of my big giant head, you can see it again here at the Fayette Citizen Newspaper site.  My school system sent it into the paper.  The Citizen is where I heard about the contest so they were happy to run the article.  FAYETTE CITIZEN  In case the link doesn’t work it is under the Community tab and then under the Names and Faces tab.

The picture they used was from my name tag.  I remember about 4 years ago we had to get our name tags redone.  My friend Kathy and I primped for about thirty minutes in the school’s teacher’s lounge beforehand.  You would have thought we were getting ready for an 80’s glamour shot. I even wore pearls.  Crackin’ me up.  HOWEVER…I’m glad I did now since it is being used!!!

In case you didn’t click on the links above, here is the aforementioned glamour badge photo. I wouldn’t want you to miss it. Ha!

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Looking forward to getting back to a less hectic schedule, but not too boring.  I like being busy, just not crazy busy.

I Need a White Elephant

My girlfriend weekend is coming up and I need a white elephant gift.  We play games and eat and have fun and so I really need a white elephant gift.  Sadly, I took a quick trip around my house and it didn’t take long to find all of these decorative gems…

First stop is the frog.  I don’t even keep things on my refrigerator so how he even ended up here is beyond me.  I would ask Davis but he would inevitably say, “Not me” so I think it’s a waste of time with the inquisition.

I like the frog’s posture.  That’s the way I feel sometimes.

Hey! Gimme some more ice cream! Let me in!

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Also in the kitchen high above the door is “Baby!”  He/She was placed there by my children with bets to see how long it would take for me to notice.  Finally after about a month the kids would moan “Baabbbyyyy” at me until I finally burst out with my typical “Shut your pie hole” and so they broke down and told me to look up on the cherub shelf.  There was Baby waiting for my attention.  Shows how often I dust up there…never.

Baby is still sitting on his/her place on the shelf waiting for you to look up and see him/her. DSCF3525

Also in my kitchen is the BabaYaga.  Olivia brought her to me from Greece when she was there this spring.  I find her quite festive.

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Head upstairs to my jewelry box for this treasure. They eighties are calling.  They want their bracelet back.

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Look to your right and on the mantel is the Aztec god of something.  He’s quite stoic.

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I didn’t have to dig far to find this rootin’ tootin’ mousie gunslinger.  She even has a fringed shawl for those windy prairie nights.

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Finally, I end this tour of delights with the ever-popular card-playing shell guys. They were downstairs in the Man Cave or should I say Teen Depository because girls are definitely allowed.

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I brought them upstairs for their photo shoot.  He seems pretty happy about it.

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I could go on.  This was seriously only a five minute tour of the fabulous finds in my abode. Am I the only one who has this assortment of oddities?  Possibly, but you know, I wouldn’t part with any of them.  Great memories all.

I guess I’ll keep searching for that white elephant  gift for tomorrow.  Something’s bound to turn up!

Valhalla

Berry College is building a new football stadium.   We decided to pop up to Rome last Saturday to check it out. Since the team is the Berry Vikings, the name of the stadium is Valhalla.  DSCF3424

 

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the place where the god Odin houses the dead of his distinguished warriors. It is a place of perpetual fighting guarded by wolves and eagles. Finally, after the struggle, the warriors emerge healed and sit around the hall’s table.

 

Here’s Chupa in his best Norse pose.

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Ironically, the Berry stadium had to be moved from its original site plan because a bald eagle had nested on the spot.  The name now seems even more appropriate.  You can watch these eagles in the fall on Berry’s Eagle Cam.   http://www.berry.edu/eaglecam/

It’s quite fascinating to watch eagles in the wild caring for their young.  Often I tune in with my students.  However, just as I get them all settled in to watch for a few minutes, as Murphy’s law would have it, the mama eagle comes swooping in with a fish or rabbit to feed the young and then proceeds to rip its guts out. Wild animals can be pretty gory sometimes. We all squeal and appreciate our salads even more.

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You can see the nest in the tip top of the tree.

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People come from far and wide to watch and photograph the Eagles. There are benches for relaxing and gazing.  Groups meet online and then gather at Berry to socialize and watch the birds in action.

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They are not in the nest right now but hopefully a pair will entertain us this fall if they return.

Now, the legend says that Valhalla is guarded by wolves in addition to the eagles.  We didn’t see any wolves but there are thousands of deer on campus. Chupa  met a friend.

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Next stop was pizza in downtown Rome.  We were joined by Olivia’s boyfriend, Alec, and served by one of her besties, Madison.

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Loved the pimiento cheese and spicy crackers at Johnny’s Pizza.

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We strolled across the street for cupcakes and coffee.

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I bought some cupcakes and tiny little cupcake stands at Honeymoon Bakery.  Here is a pic of one of them.

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We drove back by the field for one last photo. Olivia’s boyfriend plays football at Berry so we are looking forward to watching him play on the new field this year.

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Finally, we dumped Olivia out in front of Psycho Deer and watched her scramble for safety. Hey, you gotta get entertainment whenever you can.

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She did make it back to her room safely. She’s a quick sprinter.

Better luck next time, Bucky!

Mullet Hosting

I hosted a Mullet Party – business up front and party in the back!

It wasn’t a real mullet party for our hair. The actual story is that I had the high school choral board at my house for our annual salad supper and school kick-off meeting.  We don’t call it a Mullet Party but that’s my name for it because the gathering is fun but we get our business done!

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I had 12 people at my house for the officer meeting.  I must start with a little disclosure before I show more photos. This was probably the first party I have ever had where I used paper products and plastic silverware.  I know that sounds unimportant to report,  but I love dishes and serving pieces. I REALLY love dishes and serving pieces. In fact, I currently own 15 sets of dishes in various amounts.  Add to that several sets of dessert plates that go with plain white dishes such as my High Museum of Art dessert plates, Valentine’s dessert plates, and Christmas dessert plates (in addition to my two sets of Christmas plates) and you will see that I’m serious about table settings!

Inventory:

Brown Restaurant Rectangle

These were the first dishes I ever received. It was 1977. They were actually retrieved out of a restaurant dumpster, new in the box.  One was broken on top so I think they thought they were all broken. And, FYI, I wasn’t the one dumpster diving.  These were given to me. (Ha! my kids probably never knew they were eating on dumpster dishes.)

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Currier and Ives

This Royal China set were some of the ones my grandparents had and I hand washed MANY of them at their kitchen sink as did all the cousins. I received a few from my grandma but have since added many more to my collection.

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Star Glow

These are from Royal China and I always liked them because they are so retro looking.  They remind me of the Jetson’s cartoons.

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Mikasa Garden Harvest

These are the everyday dishes I selected for my wedding registry in 1990.

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Lenox Autumn

I chose these dishes as my fine china for my wedding registry.  These go in the top three favorites for me. I love the gold rim and raised enamel fruit.

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Bavarian Pink

I love these dainty dishes.  A lady was selling them at an estate sale before she went into assisted living.  I assured her I would use them and take very good care of them.  I like to use them for Mother’s Day luncheons.

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American Sweetheart

American Sweetheart dishes were made in the 1890’s are hard to find. I don’t have a very large set of them but they are pretty on a blue tablecloth. The dishes have a blueish tint to them.

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Lenox Christmas

Also in the top three is this set of Christmas dishes.  They are ornate and remind me of my Eating Cardinal friends.

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Twelve Days of Christmas

I decorate with the Twelve Days of Christmas theme on my stairwell and with the kids gift hunt on Christmas morning.  This is what we eat our Christmas coconut toast on every year. There is a different plate for each of the 12 days. They are from William’s Sonoma.

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White China

Gotta have some go-to plates.  My mom has a set so between us we can serve 24.

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Hawaiian Melamine

Only 12 people can come to my luau, though.

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Halloween Melamine

I got these at Kroger one year.  Love them.

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Fourth of July Melamine

I feel like I just put these away.  I pull them out every year for the Fourth.  They are from Target. They have great seasonal inexpensive dishes.

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Valentine’s Melamine and Ceramic

I have two sets for Valentine’s cuz I just love Valentine’s Day (not really…if you know me well, you know it is, in fact, my least favorite holiday.) Men…..

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Williams Sonoma Easter

I’ll finish with a happy plate.  These are from William’s Sonoma.  There are quite a few other pieces to go in the set and they are all lovely.

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Do I have an absolute favorite? Yes and no.  Each set has different memories attached to them.  For example, the Brown Rectangle plates were the first olive out of the jar, so to speak, and got me collecting different and unusual sets.  The Currier and Ives were some of the ones we ate off of at my grandparents so that brings back memories. The Mikasa Garden Harvest and Lenox Autumn dishes were the dishes I first picked out as an adult. The Christmas plates are always a happy plate to pull out and the Easter plates remind me of Easter egg hunts when Davis, Olivia, Nick, and Elyse were little. If I pick a favorite, I feel like I’m slighting the others, but secretly I do admire the American Sweetheart set.  They are the oldest dishes dating back to the 1800’s and I treasure them for their antiquity.

So, with my love of dishes, why did I use paper and plastic?  I have had this choral group here for the last two years and used regular dishes.  This year I started pulling out the dishes and then I remembered that the choral members told me to use paper and in years past  how many dishwasher runs it took to clean it all and the time it takes to put it all away and then I realized my decorating palette was still red from my summer colors and I didn’t really have summer dishes that went with red except for the Hawaiian and I didn’t want to do the whole luau thing…blah, blah, blah… so the choice became clear. PAPER PLATES and PLASTIC CUPS.

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It was hard to let go at first because I do love a nice table setting but when everyone came and dumped their plates in the trash after eating, I did feel a little relieved not to have a couple of hours of cleanup afterwards.

Why am I explaining all of this?  Mostly because I looked at my photos and thought,”Who wants to see pictures of plastic cups and paper plates?”  Ha!  Now that you’ve heard my long boring story, you can look beyond the plastic at my nice clean house and the smile on my face 10  minutes after the Mullet Party when all the clean up was done!

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Georgia Crafted

Davis and Olivia both get monthly treat boxes.  Davis gets one called the Loot Crate and Olivia gets a Birch Box.  Davis’ has geek and gamer goodies while Olivia gets to enjoy makeup samples from hers.  I thought it might be fun to have a box of my own.

I received my Georgia Crafted goody box yesterday.  You can get a box of products made by  Georgia artisans delivered to your door each month from Georgia Crafted. This month featured a Georgia shaped cutting board, Gayla’s Grits, Prissy’s of Vidalia  Vidalia Onion Tomato Dressing, granola from Heidi’s Heavenly Cookies, and Lulu’s People Chow.   By the way, I am not affiliated with Georgia Crafted in any way and was not compensated for mentioning them in the blog.  I just enjoyed the box and wanted to share.

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I used the grits and the tomato dressing this afternoon to make some Georgia French Fries from the Gone with the Grits cookbook by Diane Pfeifer.  Incredibly delicious and I will be adding this to my repertoire.

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Georgia French Fries

1 cup grits (uncooked)

3 cups water

1/2 +1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 stick butter (or more) for frying

Bring salted water (1/2 teaspoon salt) to boil in medium saucepan.  Slowly stir in grits, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally until  liquid is absorbed and grits are tender. Spread into a buttered 9X13-inch pan and let cool until firm.  Cut into French fry-sized pieces (about 1/2 X 3 inch pieces).  Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon pepper, seasoning salt, and paprika in medium bowl.  Coat grits strips in breading mixture on all sides.  Melt butter in large skillet.  Fry grits until crispy on all sides.

I served mine with the  Vidalia Onion Tomato Dressing.

This was an easy recipe to make.  Especially if you can channel back to your summer camp days (in the south) when they would serve grits in the morning with the bacon-cheese-eggs and biscuits.  If you didn’t eat the grits immediately they would harden into a grits disc that would inevitably be flung across the table accompanied by squeals of delight.

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Cut the grits into french fry-sized pieces and coat with the seasoning mix.

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Fry in butter until crisp.

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Our breakfast for dinner was greatly enhanced by these yummy grits fries.  They were easy to make and brought this ordinary meal up a notch for sure.

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Winner! Winner!

My Salmon Pie was the WINNER for the state of Georgia in the No Power! No Problem! contest for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency!  I’m still a little shocked and of course excited. Here is a screen shot of the announcement on Facebook.  Go “like” me!

https://www.facebook.com/ReadyGA

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GEMA/HS INVITES RESIDENTS TO COMPETE AGAINST CELEBRITY CHEFS IN EMERGENCY RECIPE CONTEST

Amateur chefs can match talents with “Top Chef” judge, contestant and other notable Georgia chefs in No Power? No Problem! Recipe Contest

(ATLANTA) – When a natural disaster strikes and you’re stuck at home without power, it’s tough to find good food. That’s why the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA/HS) Ready Georgia campaign is inviting Georgia amateur chefs to compete in the second annual No Power? No Problem! Recipe Contest.

Designed to raise awareness about the importance of preparing a three-day supply of food in case of an emergency, this year’s competition will pit Georgia residents against well-known professional chefs, including “Top Chef” judge Hugh Acheson, “Top Chef” finalist Kevin Gillespie and the winner of last year’s No Power? No Problem! contest, Jason Starnes.

“Anyone who has lost power after a storm knows how tough it is to make a good meal, but if you’re not prepared, it’s impossible. The No Power? No Problem! Recipe Contest is a fun way to encourage everyone to get creative with emergency recipes and stock their Ready kits at the same time,” said GEMA/HS Director Jim Butterworth. “Last year’s contest was limited to professionals, but we heard from a lot of residents who wanted to compete, so this year we’re inviting everyone to come up with their best recipes and take on some world-renowned chefs.”

From July 13 through 31, all Georgia residents 18 and over are invited to submit their best “no power” recipe via the Ready Georgia Facebook page. Recipes must use only non-perishable ingredients, such as those you can store in a Ready kit, as well as manual tools and alternative heating sources.

Amateur chefs’ recipes will be judged by a panel of experts and the winner will compete against six well-known Georgia chefs during September, which is National Preparedness Month. This year’s professional chefs include:

The winning amateur chef will be announced in August and will win a Ready kit valued at over $100 and have their recipe permanently featured on the Ready Georgia website.

For more information on about preparing for emergencies, or to view last year’s emergency recipes, visit www.ready.ga.gov.

You will notice it says that I won a “Ready Kit.”  It came in the mail today.  It was a big box full of great products to use in an emergency.  

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I will keep you posted regarding the rest of the contest.  I’m not sure what it will entail since I am the very first amateur chef to win.  Yay!

Rescue Mission for the Basil

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After the caterpillar party yesterday on my dill, I thought I should check out my basil. Although the sprig in the photo is a good one, the bugs had nibbled a few holes in the basil, too.  Time to use it up.

I decided to make some Caprese Paninis.  I thought I had cleverly come up with that concept but a quick look on the internet told me a few adventurous souls had beaten me to it.  I didn’t copy their recipes so this is somewhat my own invention.

I still have some wonderful tomatoes left from Gregg Farms and of course, the basil.  I stopped by the grocery store after work and bought some fresh mozzarella.  To me, at $7.99 it was a little pricey so I’m going to try freezing the leftovers in slices so I can make these sandwiches whenever I want to because I will never finish the log of cheese before it spoils.

I first made a flavored oil for the outside of the bread.  I mixed equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar (today it was a tablespoon of each) and then added dried basil and dried dill. It was probably about 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of each.  I just dumped but my tastebuds would say it was between those amounts.

I spread the oil on one slice of bread and placed it oil side down on the panini press.  I layered on the tomato, basil, and cheese.

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Then, I topped it with another slice of bread.  You could also drizzle some inside the sandwich.

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Goodbye Dill

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I enjoyed having an herb garden for a very short while and then these critters came along and apparently held a dill festival.  I’m pretty sure they even named their festival.   Dilltopia is what I thought I heard.

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I’m thinking Black Swallowtail butterfly.  I’m sure you gardeners can correct me if I’m wrong.

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I love contributing to the circle of life but I want my dill back!

 

 

Weekend Pasta and Pie

Olivia came down for the weekend so she could unpack and repack some of her school items to get ready for her new dorm move. She, like me, has lots o’ stuff so it was necessary to make some dorm-worthy decisions.   Davis’ girlfriend Allie joined us for Sunday lunch.

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I had planned a pasta bar with Baked Ziti, Garlic Bowties, and Vegetarian Lasagna. However, I ran out of time for the lasagna so it became a “Pasta Duo” instead of a “Pasta Bar.”     And then, the Pie…  Let’s just say that if I worked at Kraft, this is what the pie would have looked like.

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However, we decided not to wait for the pie to freeze completely, and therefore  this is what your pie looks like if you don’t work at Kraft. It was very tasty though so it didn’t really matter what it looked like. We did eat the leftovers later after the pie froze correctly but we all liked it softer so maybe a hybrid semi-frozen pie is the ticket. (Now if you are a first time reader of the blog, please look here or here.  My food picture are usually a little more appetizing than this gloppy mess of a pie.)

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Peach Yogurt Pie

1 ready-made crumb pie crust (I used the shortbread kind)

2 6-ounce cartons yogurt (I used one peach and one vanilla)

2 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and pureed

1 cup  whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl mix together the yogurt and peach puree.  In a separate bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff; add the vanilla and powdered sugar.  Blend together the yogurt mixture with the whipped cream.  Place in a pie shell and freeze.

Strawberry Topping

1/2   16-ounce container frozen strawberries with sugar

1/2 cup +2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Blend the frozen strawberries with 1/2 cup water.  In a small cup mix together the corn starch and the 2 tablespoons water.  In a small sauce pan, heat the strawberries and water.  Add the cornstarch and water and cook until slightly thickened. Chill and serve over the pie.

Moving on from the pie.  Olivia has a new secret hair cut.  Very interesting and I love it.

Here is the back of her hair.  No big deal.

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Then, if you lift the back….

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…you will see a lotus flower shaved on her neck and bottom three inches of hair.  It is a fun trend called hair tattoos.  You can be professional and normal looking, but then you have a secret fun side to the hair cut. Genius.  She’s a cutie with her new secret do.

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After lunch, we decided we needed even more peach in our day, so we drove on down to Hollonville for some peach ice cream and a bag of O’Henry peaches. Here is Allie and Olivia with their cups of peach and strawberry swirl.  Fun day!

 

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