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Easter’s not really my thing. It’s nice and all, but as far as holidays celebrating the return of goodness and light are concerned, I prefer the Vernal Equinox. Easter doesn’t do much for me anymore. The egg-dying thing is great, but that’s about it. And though I do love me some Cadbury Mini-Eggs, they are not a holiday in-and-of themselves. I’m just not big on the Easter celebrating the way I was when I was a kid. Maybe in the future it’ll mean a little more.

For Easter this year, Geordie and I didn’t do much. On Saturday, we finally got around to going to the Sherwood Forest Faire, about a two-hour drive from San Antonio. Yes, it’s a Renaissance Faire type event, though it’s more of a Medieval Faire, really. The focal point is the story of Robin Hood, which I know is a big draw. For me, it’s – well, to be blunt, it’s just okay. I can’t say I’m much interested in Robin Hood tales because I’m more interested in historical accuracy. I recently finished a biography of Queen Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine (mother of King Richard the Lion-Hearted and Prince John), and I found that far more fascinating that any of the Robin Hood stories. Maybe because tales of Robin Hood tend to ignore the fact that Queen Eleanor served as Regent of England while Richard was off doing Crusade-y things and that the reason England was so poor during this time was because every spare cent went towards a ransom to release Richard from his captivity in Germany. John may have tried to wrest control away from the men Richard left in control of the country, but he never was much of a threat.

But I digress. The point: Robin Hood doesn’t interest me much. That said, one can ignore his presence at the Sherwood Forest Faire without having to try very hard. Thankfully.

We didn’t go in costume, because frankly, we don’t have anything costume-ish for this kind of thing. Maybe next year. I encouraged Geordie to get a kilt while we were there, but he was put off by the price. Understandable. As with many such events, everything was a little expensive, and the only thing we ended up spending money on was food and entertainment. I’ll have to find some other way to get Geordie into a kilt.

Although we didn’t stay very long (a little over three hours), we had a good time. The day started off a little cloudy, but by afternoon, the sun had come out. One of the reasons we decided to leave was that I could feel myself starting to get a sunburn. It turned out to be not so bad, but only because there was plenty of shade to be had. Again, thankfully.

So, food.

Geordie vs. the Turkey Leg.

Geordie vs. the Turkey Leg.

Geordie just had to get himself a turkey leg. The skin tasted predominately of propane, but once you got down into the meaty bit, it tasted a lot better. I had a few bites; he ate the majority of it. We also got a serving of the most onion-y tasting hummus I have ever eaten. It was pretty gross. The pita served with it was great, very soft and flavorful, but the hummus just ruined everything it touched. Ew. Still hungry, we went in search of other food and eventually found a place that sold crèpes. We had a beef-mushroom combo that was really quite tasty. For dessert, we had thought about getting a sweet crèpe but ended up with some baklava instead. Tasty. Not exactly a good example of food from 1192 A.D., but I suppose you’ve got to do what you can with what you’ve got.

We wandered around quite a bit and observed more than participated. Geordie did try his hand at axe-throwing and failed pretty miserably. Poor guy. He consoled himself with some mead, which was actually quite tasty (don’t worry, I only took a sip, enough to judge that it was more honey than anything else).

We watched the “Third Annual Combat Tournament of Sherwood,” which was had plenty of adult humor to go with its violence. But it was fairly enjoyable, being well-performed and quite amusing.

combattournie

Finally, we enjoyed that manliest of Faire events, the joust. I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s fun to do things just because I’m with Geordie. I’m a very low-key spectator. Geordie is not. Geordie gets actively involved, which is both awesome and adorable. I love it when he enjoys himself. I did enjoy the joust too – a lot of fun to watch, and one can’t help but be impressed by these guys, because this is their job and none of it looks easy. Especially on a hot and sunny day.

Our section cheered for Sir William, in the red and gold.

Our section cheered for Sir William, in the red and gold.

The second pass, in which the opposing knight broke his lance upon Sir William and moved himself into the point lead.

The second pass, in which the opposing knight broke his lance upon Sir William and moved himself into the point lead.

The fourth and final pass, in which Sir William unseated his opponent, thus capturing victory for himself!

The fourth and final pass, in which Sir William unseated his opponent, thus capturing victory for himself!

Compared to Saturday, we spent Sunday pretty quietly, which was fine by us. All in all, it was an enjoyable Easter weekend, and we had no complaints.

So, yeah, that’s it. I’m ending this kind of abruptly, but I don’t really have anything else to say. Happy April, folks!

My husband bears an Irish surname and fully embraces the Irish in him. He sings Irish drinking songs like a pro and looks good in a kilt. St. Patrick’s Day brings out the giddiness in him. Also, although I wouldn’t exactly call them “dates,” we went to two St. Patrick’s Day parades in Tokyo. This was before we were a couple, but they were both highly enjoyable, certainly worth the trip to Tokyo. So, it’s fitting that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together, in our own humble way.

Last year, I did a corned beef brisket in the slow cooker. As much as Geordie would have liked me to do that again, I wanted to do something a little different. Because I don’t often serve anything with sausage, I thought bangers & colcannon might be a good way to go this year.

And it was.

Chicken Apple Sausage in Guinness Gravy with Colcannon

Chicken Apple Sausage in Guinness Gravy with Colcannon

Guinness Float

Guinness Float

Dinner was great. Maybe not a traditional Irish meal, but it tasted terrific and wasn’t too much on the unhealthy side. We finished off the night with Guinness floats. I didn’t feel like pulling the blender out to make milkshakes, so I just floated a couple scoops of ice cream in some Guinness. Lazy, yes, but still tasty. I also made some Irish soda bread muffins, but I seem to not have any pictures of them. Hmm. Well, they’re good, but nothing terribly exciting. Nice to have breakfast figured out for the week.

So, yeah, that was our St. Patrick’s Day. We don’t usually go anywhere on Sunday, and we didn’t see any reason to change that for St. Patrick’s Day. We enjoyed our day, and that’s all that matters.

And I realized that I haven’t posted a picture of the kittens recently. So, here’s one, because – well, why not?

kittensondesk

Anything that’s called “heart of cream” is guaranteed to be a winner. I mean, seriously. I love my carbs, but I’d die without dairy. And this creamy, decadent dessert fulfills all of my dairy desires.

Cœur à la crème is a heart-shaped cream-based dessert that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Forget the heart part – you don’t have to have a special mold for this, a strainer will do just fine – it’s just perfect. It’s creamy and sweet without being cloyingly sweet, and it pairs fantastically with berries, chocolate, and champagne.

Once, long ago, before I started cooking regularly, I saw a cooking show that featured this dessert – and I was fascinated. I couldn’t imagine how it would taste. It looked like a very light cake – but how could that be with no flour, no baking, no cake-related anything. At the time, I had no inclination to make it myself, but I was thrilled to see a recipe for it included in Dorie’s book. And even more thrilled when it was voted in for the week of Valentine’s Day.

I really wanted to make this recipe. I just never got to it, because I thought it would be complicated.

It’s not. It’s really not.

This recipe is simple to throw together – so simple that I didn’t take many pictures of the process. It just wasn’t all that interesting, but it was fast and it was easy.

One note: the recipe called for framboise and a homemade raspberry coulis, but I opted out of that. For one thing, raspberries were not to be had at my local grocery, and I’m not keen on working with frozen ones, especially when fresh strawberries are readily available and on sale. I definitely want to try this again with raspberries, though, because raspberries are easily my favorite berry and I bet this would be terrific with them. But strawberries made a decent substitution, so there’s nothing to complain about there.

Besides, I think strawberries are more suited to Valentine’s Day. The season is right, the shape and color are right, and who can resist the temptation of a beautiful ripe strawberry? Particularly when matched with cream.

Cream cheese is beaten into velvety smoothness, then combined with powdered sugar and beaten again. In went vanilla and some strawberry rum for another beating. This combination was creamy and delicious enough on its own, but then it’s made even better by the addition of unsweetened whipped heavy cream.

Oh, heaven.

This delightful mixture is then spooned into the awaiting molds and wrapped up in cheesecloth to spend the night in the fridge.

heartmold

creaminmolds

There’s not much that can go wrong here, unless you’re worried about the cream setting properly. The idea is that the unmolded dessert maintains its heart shape. I actually didn’t have any worries about this. My cream mixture was fairly solid, and it conformed to the mold quite nicely. When I checked it the next morning, no liquid had drained out of it, but it had firmed up and looked beautiful. And smelled delicious.

I made a Dorie-dinner for Valentine’s Day. From Around My French Table: twenty-minute duck breasts and pommes dauphinoise. This was quite an adventure, in more than one way, and the meal did not turn out quite how I wanted it to. But it was delicious, and it was very nice for the evening, and I’ll tell more about it tomorrow when I post my (new) weekly dinner wrap-up. This post is all for the cœur à la crème.

The hearts unmolded beautifully. No mess, no fuss – just a beautiful white heart delicately cross-hatched with the pattern of the cheesecloth. The chopped red berries accented the heart perfectly.

strawberrieswithcreamheart

I could have served it like this, and it would have been delicious. But I’d had two pints of strawberries to play around with, and this heavenly beauty needed something to make it really sing. Instead of a raspberry coulis, I made a strawberry one.

I went for an uncooked version: twelve ounces of fresh strawberries were hulled and quartered and thrown into a blender. A little water, a little sugar, a little clementine juice (because I had no lemons). A quick blitz, and then through a strainer it went. It wasn’t as thick as I would have liked (too much water, I guess), but it tasted awesome and that was way more important. It went into the fridge to await its moment of glory. It was still  a little thin, but when drizzled over the hearts, it looks so pretty and full of promise.

coeuralacreme

Oh, heaven.

This was better than I imagined it would be. I thought it would be heavier, more cheesecake-like. But it’s light. It’s so light. The whipped cream gives it this airy etherealness that makes it feel like you’re eating a strawberry-scented cloud. It’s a decadent dream, and it performs all its magic without making you feel weighed down. I realize that it can’t be in any way healthy for you, but it’s so good that I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Also, it had strawberries. So it could have been worse, right?

Geordie said he couldn’t taste the strawberry rum very well (I could), and he would have liked a chocolate syrup to drizzle on top. I can’t argue with that, but all of the chocolate in the pantry is reserved for Tuesday’s boca negra, and I don’t buy chocolate syrup from the store (because, ew), so we went without. Honestly, these hearts don’t need any chocolate. They are delightful as is.

But chocolate wouldn’t hurt.

I loved this recipe. Loved it. I will make it again. I will probably try Ina Garten’s recipe sometime in the future. I will be serving it for Valentine’s Day for years to come. It’s exactly the kind of dessert I want after a meal full of duck and potatoes, exactly the kind of dessert I love: a lovely, airy dessert that still has all the creaminess I crave. This is fabulous.

To see how the Doristas received this dream of a dessert, check out the links at the French Friday site. And if you adore creaminess the way I do, give this dish a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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