Divine Strata – dessert or a fancy brunch dish – the kids LOVE it – you will too!

Most strata are made with cheese and spinach – and are delicious. I tried this one as a dessert or brunch strata and it worked so well that I wanted to share it with you. The only downside is that it requires a little planning – but that is a positive for me – as I like making stuff in advance so that there is less to do when guests are already here. This requires a night in the refrigerator – you can plan for that can’t you? Not a biggie….

Strawberry Strata

Ingredients:

12 slices day-old french bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup fresh strawberries
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
 1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon butter
DIRECTIONS:
1. Spray Pam butter spray into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish, and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup strawberries over the cream cheese, and top with remaining bread cubes.
2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
3. Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
4. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned. This is now cooked strata.
5. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup strawberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the fruit is macerated ( soft). Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked strata

Here is our crop of Little Farm Strawberries. They are not as perfect as the ones we get in the market but they taste a LOT better! Of course this is not the time of year when we grow them, so we do buy them at the market for this dish. But ( unlike on the East coast and most of the Northern Hemisphere) California is experiencing great sunny and warm weather so all the blossoms are blooming at the Little Farm and we are already thinking SPRING~!!!!!

Little farm Strawberries

Posted in Blog, Desserts, Family, Fruit, Little farm products, Recipes, Recipes to Make with Children | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slow cooker heaven – and cooking with kids!

This time of year is great for the Slow Cooker. Mine is used at least twice a week if not more as I have been making desserts in it too – some of which were on earlier blogs. Here is a recipe that is truly special with Chicken Thighs – try it out!

Chicken thighs raw skinless

Thai Chicken in the Slow Cooker ( not good if you have peanut allergies…..)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup mild salsa ( we like it mild – you can use hot if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter ( Laura Scudders is best unless you can get fresh ground at a farmer’s market)
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce ( we use low sodium soy)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger ( did I mention that we grow our own?)
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs ( you can use boneless if you wish- I do)
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, for topping
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for toppingItalian Parsley

Directions

  1. Combine the salsa, peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger in the slow cooker; mix well. Place the chicken in the sauce, spoon mixture over chicken to coat.
  2. Place the lid on the cooker and set to LOW. Cook until chicken is very tender and sauce has thickened, 8 to 9 hours. A meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of a thigh should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Garnish with peanuts and cilantro before serving.
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When berries are a bit squashed – make a smoothie!

I often find that even the best berries eventually ( some sooner rather than later) look squashed and so really cannot be served elegantly.

Here is a great way to make use of them – and preserve the good taste if not the great appearance!

Make a smoothie!

I added fresh tangerine juice ( about 1 cup – you could use orange juice instead) to a half a container of raspberries and blackberries, a tablespoon of brown sugar and put it into my blender – and presto! A really thick and delicious smoothie!

Enjoy!

raspberries and blackberries

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The late Andy Rooney formerly of the 60 minutes TV News Show was a man of few words…

andy-rooney-300Here is Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney encapsulated deep thoughts in few words – a true art. Here are some of his sayings:

  • I’ve learned…. That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
  • I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows.
  • I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’     makes my day.
  • I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
  • I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.
  • I’ve learned…. That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
  • I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.
  • I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
  • I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
  • I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
  • I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
  • I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.
  • I’ve learned…. That money doesn’t buy class.
  • I’ve learned…. That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
  • I’ve learned… That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
  • I’ve learned…. That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
  • I’ve learned…. That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
  • I’ve learned…. That love, not time, heals all wounds.
  • I’ve learned…. That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
  • I’ve learned…. That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
  • I’ve learned…. That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
  • I’ve learned… That life is tough, but I’m tougher.
  • I’ve learned…. That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
  • I’ve learned…. That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
  • I’ve learned…. That I wish I could have told my Mum (and Dad) that I love her (him) one more time before she passed away.
  • I’ve learned…. That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
  • I’ve learned…. That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
  • I’ve learned…. That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you’re hooked for life.
  • I’ve learned… That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
  • I’ve learned…. That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

And now one of mine –

I’ve learned that when strong people show their vulnerability, they receive love from unexpected places

Thank YOU to each of my friends and family members who have shown me such love and support over the past three months. You have filled my life with joy.

 

I’ve learned…. That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows.
I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’     makes my day.
I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.
I’ve learned…. That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.
I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.
I’ve learned…. That money doesn’t buy class.
I’ve learned…. That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I’ve learned… That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I’ve learned…. That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I’ve learned…. That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I’ve learned…. That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I’ve learned…. That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I’ve learned…. That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I’ve learned…. That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I’ve learned… That life is tough, but I’m tougher.
I’ve learned…. That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I’ve learned…. That when you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I’ve learned…. That I wish I could have told my Mum that I love her one more time before she passed away.
I’ve learned…. That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I’ve learned…. That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I’ve learned…. That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you’re hooked for life.
I’ve learned… That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
I’ve learned…. That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.
To all of you…. Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence.
It’s National Friendship Week. Show your friends how much you care. Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND, even if it means sending it back to the person who sent it to you. If it comes back to you, then you’ll know you have a circle of friends. HAPPY FRIENDSHIP WEEK TO YOU!!!!!! YOU ARE MY FRIEND AND I AM HONORED! Now send this to every friend you have!! And to your family. This was sent to me by a friend.
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Happiness is being with grandchildren and pets!

Our identical twin grandsons love going to the Farmer’s market and getting their faces painted! And they love going on the little train there. You can see how happy I am. Nothing could be better – how blessed I am!

Grandma with twins on train at farmers market Feb 2015And although we lost our little kitten Beauty last week – here are her sisters and one brother – 5 adorable kittens playing and growing up fast. They are hard workers on the Little Farm – and are only fed once a day so that they hunt and rid us of vermin at night.

Kittens only 5 left but all healthyAnd finally our sick dog Sunny is getting better – still has acute pancreatic disease which gives him pain but he is eating, drinking and pooping and so there is  a good chance that we can bring him home tomorrow and nurse him here as he is also very weak, tired,  and anemic. He chewed off his drain last night – not good – but now that it is out – there is no real need to keep him in hospital as all that which they are doing for him there, we can do for him at home.Here he is last night – I think he is smiling – don’t you? A miracle dog to be sure… keep praying until he is home and progressing well…..

Sunny two days before release

 

 

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Some charts and maps that will put your world into perspective – show your kids!

A friend sent me these – very educational and eye-opening! Share with your kids!

The Economist Magazine published this view of Africa – it is larger that you might have imagined!

Africa image from Economist

This is perhaps the most surprising map of all. This is a map of our corner of the universe. It’s called Laniakea and it’s got more than 100,000 galaxies and stretches more than 500 million light years across. Each of those points of light is an individual galaxy. Each galaxy contains millions, billlions, or even trillions of stars. There are many other galaxy superclusters out there.” You can see more in this video from Nature. It kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

lanikea_map.0.0_standard_1280.0

 

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Space Shuttle Endeavor – AMAZING!

We had an opportunity through a support group I belong to, for the MUSIC CENTER in LOS ANGELES called THE BLUE RIBBON – to attend a fundraising event at the California Science Museum which built a special building to house the Space Shuttle Endeavor. What an amazing evening – and to get so close to this miracle machine. Incredible. Truly something to see when and if you come to LA. Makes one so proud of our country and the risks taken by so many to benefit us all. I remember the Challenger -as I was CEO of advanced materials distribution company at the time that it crashed – and all of our contracts with JPL, NASA and the US Government for space products and exploration, ceased. It was a tragic time for the nation, and a scary time in business for me and my colleagues. We learned an important lesson – diversify! With that tragic accident, we diversified into the electronics industry – a good news story in the end – but tough times in between.

Endeavour Space Shuttle 2015

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Face painting for little ones! Such fun!

Hanging out with the grandkids is the best thing that I do in my life. The twins Noah and Gabriel decided that face painting was what they wanted. So at a recent farmers market – they became ‘skeleton’ and ‘monster’. And took enormous delight in looking at each other! Adore those kids!!!Noah and Gabe Face paints 2015 FebWe have a citroen tree – and it gives HUGE fruit. Here is a picture of one citroen next to a normal sized apple – just to show how big it is. I am going to take 4 and make marmalade from them. Tart but good!

Citroen and Apple

 

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Sunny – our beloved rottweiller – please pray for him

Sunny our beloved 10 year old rottweiler is fighting for his life in an animal hospital here in Los Angeles. Please pray for him.

Last Saturday he had a perforated ulcer, with peritonitis in his abdomen, and had major surgery. He has been in intensive care since then. We thought he was rallying – but today he seems to have slipped back a bit. Here he is just a few years ago.

CIMG0323Noah Gabe and Sunny Dog Dec 2012Jack loving sunny dec 2013Sunny as Ring Bearer – he was SO proud of himself – wore a black tie with a little box on top with the ring in it – walked down the aisle like a champ!Sunny as ringbearer at Mikey Marias wedding

He is  a dog who has touched the lives of many – children and adults alike – he has over 250 followers on Facebook, and has been ring bearer in a wedding of friends, babysitter for grand-kids, plaything for everyone and our close companion during times good and bad. We cannot imagine life without him. Your prayers will help him which is why I am posting this and the pictures below. The doctors and nurses at the animal hospital tell us he has had more visitors than any other patient – including our mail lady who has come every day. This is not his time to leave us – please send your prayers for his recovery.

Sunny in dire straits 2015 Sunny sick on day 3 2015 Sunny sick 3 on Day 3

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Birthday Cakes from MINECRAFT for our grandson Jonah – a labor of love!

I love making birthday cakes for my grandsons – its a lot of work but so worth it to see their faces. YUM!
Mine-craft  is all the rage with little boys mainly – a game where they build imaginary worlds – with sods of grass, lakes, buildings and internal and external choices. They love it. And Jonah – who is now 6 – is besotted! He is only allowed limited time on the video game but loves every second as well as the books and Lego and more. Here are the two cakes I made for him – one is CREEPER ( a mine-craft figure) and the other is a very large piece of sod. CREEPER was made from yellow cake, cut into the shape that I got off the internet – with green cream cheese frosting, squares of Cadbury’s milk chocolate covered with green, or black or white frosting as the squares and more chocolate squares for his eyes, nose and feet.

The sod was from THREE individual layer cakes – one strawberry ( in the middle to make it rainbow) and the other vanilla and yellow on top and bottom. The cakes were stuck together with cream cheese frosting ( white) and then frosted around the sides with chocolate frosting. Then I crumbled double chocolate creme Oreo’s and stuck them on the side to make the dirt pieces, and got a special Wilton grass making nozzle, filled my frosting bag with green frosting and stood Minecraft Cake Jonah happy Feb 2015pulling up 300 tufts of grass. Lots of arm work but such fun! The candle 6 on top of both cakes completed the job. Jonah was delirious with happiness. What a lovely day!

Minecraft Grass Sod CakeMinecraft rainbow cake half eaten Feb 2015 Minecraft grass sod cake 2 Minecraft Creeper Cake

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