If You Like Strawberries . . .

Let me preface this post by saying I love tiramisu.

Lady fingers soaked in coffee with mascarpone cheese, eggs, and whipped cream is traditional tiramisu.

However, I was looking for an easy dessert that featured some springtime lightness.

The lady fingers are dipped into a mixture of strawberry preserves, water, and balsamic vinegar.

Into a google search I put the words: cream, strawberries, lady fingers.  The result was a recipe for strawberry tiramisu.

These lady fingers, also called

The most difficult part of the recipe was finding the hard ladyfingers; I searched 4 grocery stores until I finally located them.

This layered dessert is easy to assemble.

It takes no cooking or baking and has no raw eggs.

The crispy lady fingers soften up overnight.

I thought the recipe was worth a try since it only needs to be assembled and can be made a day in advance.

Happily the third dish of dessert was left for us to eat after the party.

If you’re only serving one dessert, this is THE one.

What’s your go-to dessert?

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Beef Brisket for a Crowd

I like brisket but I’ve never made one before today.

I cut the brisket in half so it would fit in the pot.

For tomorrow’s party I cooked a 4.5 pound brisket.

The pieces browned in the oven while I made the very simple tomato sauce.

First I let it come to room temperature (about an hour). I couldn’t decide whether to cook it in my large paella pan or cut it in half to braise in a Dutch oven.  I decided on the Dutch oven so I wouldn’t have to fool with foil.

I used unsalted crushed tomatoes from Trader Joe’s.

Then, following this recipe, I browned the meat in the oven while making the sauce.

Fresh rosemary smells so nice.

I used fresh rosemary from my pots near the porch and chopped it in a small electric herb grinder. I used about half the herbs and spices since my piece of meat was about half size.

The recipe makes a ton of sauce which would be good on rice or quinoa.

I replaced the wine in the sauce with bone broth because my family doesn’t like wine-flavored sauces.

The meat cooked for about 4 hours and is very tender.

The brisket cooked for 4 hours and came out nice and tender.  I let it cool then put it in the refrigerator.

I ate a little bowl of the spicy sauce.

The sauce is delicious and very spicy.  Instead of blending the sauce smooth I decided I like it chunky.  Tomorrow we’ll heat up the sauce and serve the meat at room temperature.

When was the last time you cooked a piece of beef?

Party Dinner Menu for Early May

We’re having a get-together on Saturday for which I’ve promised dinner.

Tags for the party favors — small plants for each guest.

I wanted a menu that doesn’t take much last minute prep because Charlie, Sug, and I each have a role in the preliminary part of the celebration.

The first part of the party will take place in the lower yard — a little risky.

I’ve updated my preliminary menu which was actually slated for last autumn.  Most items are the same except for the nod to spring in the dessert.

The oven will be in use for hours.

Menu:

  • Salad with baby greens, grapes, roasted beets, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette
  • Beef brisket 
  • Baked penne and cheese
  • Rolls
  • Strawberry Tiramisu

    Strawberries have been very good this spring.
  • Coffee, tea, iced tea

With Sug’s help I plan to cook on Friday afternoon and evening including preparing the dessert.  I think we’re expecting about 25 people and not everyone is staying for dinner so some recipes will need to be doubled and others tripled.

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

May Day! May Day!

The title sounds like a call for help because I’ve packed the month of May with enough tasks to fill a year.  Thankfully my team — Charlie and Sug — plus my son and his wife are committed to a long, desperate summer’s worth of to-do lists.  The fun will start in May.

More or less in order of what’s about to happen we’ll be doing the following:

Revival: 

Party on Saturday:  The Dedication of the Chapel at the Glade.

We’re hoping for good weather for our chapel dedication.

The program is set, the menu is set, the guest list is set — time for the party.

Ready:

We will need the guest room — my son’s old bedroom — for weekly visits from him due to his work schedule.  He plans to stay overnight once a week instead of driving back and forth to the Eastern shore of Maryland, 2.5 hours away.

We’ll be welcoming overnight guests very soon.

There are a few more items in the back room that need to be distributed or done away with.  We’re planning to finish up the guest room (#9 on the 101 in 1001).

Relax:

Charlie and I will be spending long weekend at beach (#24 on the 101 in 1001).  Charlie has to play the piano for some meetings but I am just going along for the ride.

We’ll be staying near Cape May, New Jersey.

We’ll be staying on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, but plan to do a little touring on this long weekend.

Recuperate:

Mother’s Day — I’m declaring this as my personal free day.

Mother’s Day would be a good time to invigorate the mantel.

I only plan to do stuff I enjoy.  I’m hoping to also have something special and delicious to eat.

Renovate:

I have spoken with our contractor who is getting ready to add a new surface and railing to our bedroom deck (#73 on the 101 in 1001).

Hoping to finally make some progress on the master deck.

We haven’t used the deck for a couple of years except for building projects due to the lack of railing.

Reposition:

Although Charlie and I are not planning to move to this property we’re going to purchase, we’ll be working on it almost every weekend until it is liveable.

Planning to make some improvements to this 1930s Cape Cod-style cottage including a new roof.

Our son and his wife are excited to live in a rural area that’s only 3 miles from the Nanticoke River.   They will do a little farming and .  .  . who knows what else.  Oystering and crabbing come to mind.

Rabies:

It’s time to have Dash’s rabies innoculation updated.

Dash is a very good dog except when he’s not.

Last year he could only get a year-long shot.  This year he can have a 3-year shot.  We generally get the shot at the county dog shelter.

Renaissance:

We’ll be attending a baptism for an adult friend.

We are so delighted to be asked to be present at this important event.

Renewal:

By the time Memorial Day rolls around I think I’ll need a break although I’m guessing we will have some fun at the new property.

Charlie helped fold the American flag at Fort McHenry.

We are so glad to be able to celebrate a patriotic holiday in one of the original states — Maryland.  Sometimes I can’t believe how beautiful it is here, especially in spring.

Read:

Finally I need to finish my first reading of The Screwtape Letters so I’ll be ready for our book club in June and July.  We have a good group of committed readers to study this satire about the devil.

The Screwtape Letters’ study is coming in June.

That sounds like a crazy full month of must-dos to me.

What do you like to put on the grill on Memorial Day?

April D-tails Done

When April began I had plans which included celebrating birthdays, going to the opera, and celebrating Easter — dates which could not be changed. We succeeded in accomplishing most of the things we set out to do and at least put a dent in the others.

Dedication

My son celebrated his birthday in April.

Our son has helped us with a few projects and is now getting ready to start a major project of his own in conjunction with the team at The Glade.

Not only was he born in April but his actual birth-day was on a Palm Sunday so I always think of Palm Sunday as a day to also remember his special day.

Distraction

I helped to plan a retirement party for the matron of honor at my wedding.  Her boss left the details to me.

The central hall of the house where I work was transformed into a dining area.

The party was well-attended and everyone enjoyed their party favors of tiny Turkish coffee cups.

Diversion

Porgy and Bess at the Baltimore Symphony was fantastic.

Porgy and Bess was a wonderful evening of music and drama.

Naturally the music is great and the story is poignant, but we were also treated to magnificent singers and actors.

Doing

I had high hopes at the beginning of April to finally get back to working on the laundry room.

On the left laundry with new door open, on the right door closed.

Three items that needed doing in the laundry room were:

  • doors for the closet–still  undone,

    The closet on the right needs doors.
  • door for the entrance–installed,

    The door still needs trim.
  • baseboard and chair rail trim–still undone.

    Profile of the laundry chair rail which needs to continue around the room.
Devotion

We had a full and blessed Easter week.

Charlie started to play the organ for Sunday Mass at a small convent.

We have been enjoying attending services of different denominations where Charlie has been asked to play their services.  It’s interesting to experience the similarities and differences of various places of worship.

Dance

Charlie and I have finished five weeks of Argentine tango lessons. We have learned to walk tango-style — I walk backwards — in both parallel and cross pattern.

Our dance floor before our first lesson.

I can perform ochos and a thing called the “code”. One last class and we’ll try to decide if we should continue.  Tango has been a weekly challenge in concentration and performance which I can highly recommend.

All in all April was a busy and productive month.  We made some decisions for new projects which will be revealed in May.

Would you like to learn to do something new?

Living Party Favors

We planned a Chapel Dedication last fall but postponed it until the first week in May.

Shade-loving perennial plants have been planted on the hill near the cross.

With the event less than 3 weeks away I wanted to get the  favors organized.

A local nursery had a large selection of bedding plants.

I decided to get enough flowering plants for everyone who attends to place one in memory or honor of loved ones in our chapel area.

I bought enough plant markers to use in our own garden.

I ordered plant markers from Amazon so the honoree could be memorialized in writing.

Flowers in shades of pink and magenta with accents of chartreuse.

I purchased double the number of plants to have enough for each person to take one home with a tag that says: May your love in Christ grow and flourish.

Some of the flowers (dark pink) are nicotiana which I hope will be attractive to our hummingbirds.

The pink flowers should complement other ones already in the yard like the Japanese blue iris.

A lilac bush is beginning to bloom near the back of the greenhouse.

With our unpredictable weather I am storing the plants in Charlie’s greenhouse.

The entire yard is lightened with dogwood blossoms.

The rest of the yard is cooperating by breaking into bloom.

What’s blossoming in your yard?

Dessert for a Party of 70

We were setting up the house where I work for a party.

Our own staff set up the drinkware in the pantry.
The large dining table was used for service.

We used the dining room table to serve the catered buffet.

Roll cakes and tiramisu.

Our own staff made the desserts.

Yellow roll cakes were filled with vanilla pastry creme and strawberries.

One cook made 4 roll cakes.

The base of tiramisu is mascarpone cheese.

The other one made four pans of tiramisu.

Lady fingers soaked in coffee with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream.

I was very happy to learn she had made an extra one just for me.

Centerpiece

The cooks also arranged flowers for all the round tables that were scattered around the house .

The central hall had eating tables, hors d’oeuvres tables, and party favor tables.

The food was delicious.

Heirloom vegetables and blue cheese dip.

The evening was a big success.

Do you like to throw parties?