Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food and stuff

Happy Halloween! It's not widely celebrated by people in my life, but I can't help but get a little festive about most holidays that have fun memories attached. Halloween night was always kind of special growing up, whether I went trick-or-treating or stayed home and handed out candy while playing Scrabble and eating junk food with the family. It's a fun night to go for walks, watch scary movies or bake something fallish. I like holidays!

Today I took a few fallish pictures while it was sunny. I'll post those later on. For now, here are some photos from yesterday when I made dinner for a couple of friends.

BUT FIRST: I completely forgot to reward Jennifer for winning my little "guess the fruit" contest (see the end of that entry). Congratulations, Smarty Smart! How vast is your mind! How diverse your knowledge! And now you're calling me at this moment so I'll stop. :P

I bought some flowers for the table, because it's one of those little extras in life that I am allowing myself more often. Especially when I have company!

I baked some shortbread cookies for our dessert. These are so easy and so good. I used this recipe, since it's similar to the one my mom always used, and just added some vanilla extract and sprinkled the top with sugar.

I ended up making up a recipe based on others I've seen. Call it Italian Braid if you must call it anything. :D I think it needs more tweaking to be perfect, but I'll give you the general idea of how I made it.

I made up the filling with a package of browned Italian sausage, a small amount of spaghetti sauce, some garlic, olives and chopped raw zucchini.

The dough is Pillsbury Garlic Breadsticks. What you see in that picture is two cans worth laid out side by side. I pinched the centers together a bit more under where the filling would be placed, and tore the perforated dough on the sides to form strips. Then, obviously, I added some shredded Italian cheese.

"Braiding" it is very easy. Just pull up the strips and overlap them at an angle to make it look kind of braidy. Pull up the ends to hold everything in nice and snugly, then brush with some egg whites (it takes less than one egg's worth, and make sure to beat with whisk first).

I also sprinkled additional cheese on top, which you can see in the finished product photos.

Looking lovely after some time in the oven! I used the temperature suggested on the dough container and just kept an eye on it. I suppose the total time was at least 20 minutes, and it could've probably used more time. So maybe 22-25 minutes, depending on your filling and any other factors you feel like considering.

Another photo of the finished product? Certainly!

The reason my recipe needs tweaking is that the end result was a little too greasy. I think next time I'll just go with ground turkey and a bit more sauce and some seasoning. I was trying to make it more flavorful with the sausage, but the grease actually leaked out of one side of the braid (strategically not shown in the photo).

Have you been cooking anything new lately? I have lots of recipes I want to try, and thankfully I have friends who enjoy tasting my cooking projects. I hope to post more recipes here during the winter since it's harder to get nature photos.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I just got back from a quick trip to California. While there, I took several photos of my nieces. My youngest, in particular, since I haven't had as many opportunities to photograph her. These were all candid and not set up with perfect backgrounds or poses, but I thought some of them turned out very cute. It helps that I have the most gorgeous nieces in all the land.

The many expressions of N.

Yeah, these are all very similar, and yet here I am posting them anyway!

Those are her sisters' hands.

Speaking of sisters, here's one of them by my parents' koi pond. The other was inside the house during this time.

Oh did you miss N? Here she is again!

She likes sitting on this fish.

K watered the plants and suggested I take some pictures.

Of course N wants to see what her sister is up to.

We were at a memorial service earlier in the day, hence the nice dresses. The girls love wearing dresses and didn't want to change.

Aren't I a lucky aunt? :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oregon Garden 2

Welcome to part two of my Oregon Garden photos. Make yourself at home.

More K!

And more, though she's sliding out of the photo. The lighting was bad but I wanted to try something with those weedy things in the background. I didn't really succeed, but it kind of goes with the other one so I'm posting it anyway.

I think these are called "hardy" oranges.

They had a ton of these peppers.

And check out these purple ones!

I'm not very talkative about today's set of photos. I just got back from the pumpkin farm, so I'm tired.

Hi, K!

Okay, this last one is a guessing game. Do you know this fruit? I had never heard of it before. The person to correctly guess the fruit name wins a free shout out in my next blog post (if I remember)!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oregon Garden 1

I went to the Oregon Garden with my friend K today, so of course I have a bunch of photos to show you. The weather was perfect and the garden was pretty, as usual, but I'm not crazy about my photos. The lighting wasn't ideal and maybe I just wasn't ideal. Still, I have enough to show you that I'll divide them into two posts.

I tried to hold back from taking the same old photos I've taken there before and try some different ideas.

Okay, so how did this one make the cut?

K graciously agreed to let me practice some more portraits on her. I haven't done any portraits in awhile! Isn't she so cute with her vibrant scarf? R, doesn't her face/smile resemble our friend M.S. (de Brazil) in this photo?

K likes purple, so I like to pose her near purple stuff sometimes. (And Sunny D at other times.)

K spotted this goldfinch that some other people pointed out was sickly, which is the only reason I could get such close photos. Yes, I took advantage of an ill bird.

I like this gazebo. It's gazebo-y.

More gazebo. I want a gazebo someday.

I liked the "polka dots" on this bush.

Sooooo...I took quite a few photos of it. BONUS SUBJECT: Bee.

I have no idea what bush this is.

The clouds were cool.

Did you hear me say they were cool? Because they were. Cool, that is.

Mas to come!


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