3 Weeks of Spanish

I’m planning to brush up on my never-was-very-good Spanish this month.

We were lent a Spanish lesson system.

I’m not sure how the first ten days of the month got away from me but I have 3 CDs to listen to and plan to complete one per week.

Ready for the car CD player.

Charlie is planning to learn a few phrases, too. We’ll see.

Any advice?

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Galette des Rois

After looking at a few here is the recipe I chose to make a Galette des Rois, Kings’ Cake.

Galette des Rois

Sug and I worked together to make 2 Kings’ Cakes.

Sug rolled out puff pastry that I bought frozen.

We used frozen puff pastry and had to roll it out just a little to make it large enough to cut a round using a large frying pan lid as a pattern.

Chopped orange peel.

In addition to almond flour, butter, eggs, and sugar the seasoning included almond extract, vanilla extract (instead of the recipe’s suggestion of rum) and orange zest.

The filling is fluffy and holds its shape.

Filling is put on the bottom round with a margin which is them brushed with water so the top and bottom pastries will stick together.

The top pastry is carefully fit over the filling.

We put the cakes together with the filling inside and refrigerated them overnight so we could serve them warm the next day at our party. I cut a design into the unbaked dough with a sharp knife.

Both Sug and I tried our hands at crimping the edges as described in the recipe.  Nothing leaked out.

Just before baking I glazed the pastry with egg yolk/milk carefully avoiding the edges so they would puff up.

The top is glazed with an egg yolk and mixture.

This recipe is subtly delicious.  I could eat it every day with coffee if I had to.  Delicious.  Like an almond croissant in Paris.

A seriously elegant recipe.

We made 2 galettes and  only have a few pieces remaining. I’ll make this again.

Do you have a favorite pastry? Do you buy it or make it?

Epiphany Mantel

I created a special mantel over the fireplace for our party celebrating the 3 wise men.

The caravan always comes from the east.

It had camels, magi, candles, and an oriental-style vase.

Tall grass has interesting seed heads.

The whole scene needed some height and movement so I asked a friend if I could harvest some of his tall grass.

Epiphany theme mantel.

Now it’s time to put all vestiges of Christmas away for a few seasons.

Some of the best things are just simple.

I’ll probably keep the grasses out for a while longer but the Christmas tree is going in storage.

What’s your next holiday?

Forcing Quince

Flowering quince shrub in spring.

Last week I brought in a few quince branches from our large bush in the yard.

Pink blooming quince.

When this bush blooms in spring the flowers are pink.

Branches from the same bush are blooming white this winter.

The flowers that bloomed inside this week were white.

White flowers are actually my favorite.

Flowering quince are a nice reminder of spring on frigid winter days.

What is your reminder of warmer weather?

Charlie’s Leg of Lamb

I received a 12-pound leg of lamb as a gift from work.

Charlie rubbed the lamb all over with olive oil.

Charlie has roasted this major piece of meat before and so I enlisted his expertise again.

Charlie topped off our pot of rosemary and chopped it in a small electric coffee grinder.

In addition to the lamb he needed garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The lamb covered with olive oil, salt, and pepper readily browned under the broiler.

First he rubbed the lamb all over with olive oil then put it under the broiler for 5 minutes on each side until it was brown.

The lamb is covered with rosemary and garlic in olive oil.

Then he rubbed the lamb with a mixture of chopped fresh rosemary and garlic in olive oil.

The leg of lamb is ready for the oven.

Once the broiled lamb was covered in garlic and rosemary it was put into the oven at 325 degrees under an aluminum foil tent.

The cooked lamb rested before being carved.

When the oven thermometer inserted into the lamb reached 145 degrees Charlie took the lamb out of the oven and let it rest for about half an hour under its foil tent.

Ultimately the lamb was carved from the center, not the end.

When Charlie made the first slice we all wanted a taste.

145 degrees internal temperature made the lamb perfectly done to our liking.

Charlie carved most of the leg and we used it for small sandwiches on fresh rolls.

Are your kitchen knives sharp?

Uh Oh, No Water

Earlier this week there was a water main break directly in front of our house so we had no water for a few hours. The county crews had it fixed before the end of the day.

Water pipes in the Cottage attic have frozen and broken in the past.

Then tonight Sug came over to say she had no water. We had water; she had none. She checked all the water lines in her attic and found no leaks so we brainstormed as to what could have happened.

Water comes into the Cottage from underground at the front corner.

Since the temperature has been in the single digits we figured something was frozen somewhere.

Sug let her hairdryer run on the part of the pipe where water settles and had apparently frozen.

Sug used her hairdryer to warm up the copper pipes where the water enters the Cottage.

The water flows

Sure enough water started to trickle, then it flowed freely. Yea! Water. YEA!!!!

What would you miss more: water, heat, electricity?

Number 1 on my 101 in 1001

When I was a teenager I had a long-haired dachshund named Princess.  As a young married I had a miniature long-haired dachshund name Max.

Princess looked a lot like this beauty.

I have been talking about getting a dog for awhile now so I finally contacted a breeder and put my name on a waiting list for a red-haired miniature long-haired dachshund expected to be born early in February.  I’ll take either a boy or a girl.

My favorite breed: long-haired dachshund.

I hope to get one of a litter whose mother looks a lot like my former dogs.  The take home date will be early in April.

Do you like big or little dogs?