Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blueberry Delight

"Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
n the cavernous pail of the first one to come!"

~Robert Frost

In early September, I went blueberry picking with my parents, John, and Diana. We went to Philoxenia Farm, an organic blueberry farm, outside Hillsbourough, NC. The weather was warm and the blueberries were ripe! It was towards the end of the season and we got to the farm just in time. There was a good amount of blueberries left on the trees and there were plenty available to be picked. We were informed that there was only about a week or two left of good blueberry picking. I was ecstatic that we made it in time! I never get sick of blueberries! I could eat berries every day and still want them the next day. Their sweet tartness never gets old to my taste buds.

We had fun giggling and chatting as we picked and ate blu
eberries throughout the day. My Dad got tired and the sun, so he sat most of the day out. The rest of us kept on picking. It was a fun challenge to be able to fill up a bucket of blueberries. The four of us stuck together as we picked the heavenly little berries. It worked well because my Mom and Diana are both 5'2" and John and I are taller. We hit the top of the trees and they hit the bottom. We worked well as a team!

By the end of the day, we had a ridiculous amount of berries to take back with us! I cannot remember exactly, but I think we had close to 12 lbs of berries. John and I picked the most berries and were delighted with our picks. We saved some of the berries to eat fresh and the rest we froze to enjoy later.

The first treat that I made with berries was a blueber ry cake. The cake is very simple and only has several ingredients, but has a mountain of flavor! I brought the cake to a potluck and it was a hit! I received many complements on the recipe. (I should have taken a picture of the cake on a plate, instead of the bright blue pan. )

I am so happy to have blueberries in our freezer. We enjoy blueberry pancakes, muffins, and other sweet delights. I had hoped that having the blueberries in our freezer would motivate us to use them more often, but so far it has not. As it gets closer to the holidays, I plan to use them more. Maybe I can even convince John to get up one weekend morning and make me pancakes! Yummy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chocolate Equals Happiness

Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness. ~Alexis F. Hope

If I had to choose a favorite food, chocolate would be among my top picks. Dark chocolate is my absolute favorite. When I do partake in chocolate consumption, I prefer it to be high quality. I prefer organic chocolate from Whole Foods (or the natural section of any grocery store) and have several favorite brands.

My Mother's birthday was in September and I offered to make her a cake to celebrate. She said that she wanted chocolate. I was ecstatic to get to make a chocolate cake! I made a mountain high chocolate cake, from scratch, and a rich chocolate icing. The icing recipe has been in our family for many years and it is so good that I never look elsewhere and always want this recipe. The icing contains coffee, but it does not add a coffee flavor. The icing is just rich and dark chocolaty tasting. Mmmmmm.....

This year, I decided to add a little pizazz to my Mom's cake. I bought organic raspberry jam and a tub of raspberries and got to work. After making cake one, I gave it a thin layer of icing and then a thick layer of raspberry jam. Cake two also got a preliminary coat of icing. Then, the whole cake was then iced and topped with raspberries.

I am my biggest critic and usually am very picky about what I make, but I must say that this cake was scrumptious! My Mom loved it, I loved it, and John loved it. My Dad would not try it because he does not like raspberries. He also refuses to eat vegan food. He surely missed out though! My Mom is not a vegan, or vegetarian for that matter, and loved the cake. She said she would never be able to tell that milk and eggs were not in the cake. I have made the cake and icing for others any they could not tell either. I will admit that I have made several vegan desserts that did not turn out, but you never know until you try. Right?!?!

I am not the best photographer in the world, but still think the cake looks yummy. In the end I do not really mind that my Dad did not have any because we got to indulge in more slices! Mm...mmm....mmm GOOD!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Dog Named Sue

"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened"
~Anatole France~

In September, we had the opportunity to dog sit for a sweet little Dachshund named Sue. We were asked by Ruby, my co-worker, to dog sit. I have become the go to person where I work to dog sit because everyone knows about my love of dogs.

I got Sue after work on a Wednesday and we kept her until Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed taking Sue on walks, cuddling with her, and playing with her. Sue is generally a calm dog and enjoyed being around us. She enjoyed being pet and would even give us hugs! I have never experienced a hug like this from a dog before. Sue would put her head down and into my body and then take her front right leg and put it around my arm. It was really sweet! If I tried to end the hug too soon, she would continue to nuzzle into me until she was finished with the hug. I knew that dogs knew how to cuddle, but I did not know they knew how to hug!

Having Sue stay with us made us want a dog even more! Each time we would come home, Sue would leap for joy. She would dance around and jump as we pet her. The welcome home is unlike any human could ever match and the happiness on her face made us smile. Each time I would return home, I would become excited in anticipation of seeing her.

At night, she slept at the end of our bed on a towel. During the night she would walk in circles and sleep on our feet. Sue would sometimes walk up to my face and sniff me. All of her movements kept me up, but I did not hold it against her. I enjoyed waking up to her and taking her on a morning walk. She would get two morning walks. One when John got up at 6:30 and then one again before I left for work at 7:45. I felt guilty leaving her home during the day and thought about her often. I was glad when the weekend came and we could spend more time with her.

Sunday afternoon was bittersweet for us. We spent the last couple of hours with Sue playing, walking and having fun but, we knew that our time with her was ending soon. It was hard to part with Sue because she became a part of our house and hearts. Returning home for the first time after she had left was depressing. We were greeted to silence and an empty house.

We know that having a dog is not the best decision for us right now, but we still dream about it. When we have more time to be home with a dog, we know we will be great pet parents. We would like a larger dog, but have grown fond of small dogs like Sue (and Bailey).