Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Weekend with Uncle Frank

Last weekend my baby brother, who lives in Pennsylvania, paid me a visit. He arrived on Friday afternoon and departed after breakfast on Sunday. Whooosh.......a whirlwind !

The first place he wanted to visit was the Mini Cooper showroom. He drove up to NY in a used Mini Cooper that he purchased a couple months ago. In my imagination, I thought he wanted to visit the Mini Cooper showroom to, perhaps, buy a new set of floor mats. But, lo and behold, he wanted a whole new car.

I spent the next couple hours reading all the magazines in the showroom while he dickered and doodled about prices. Finally a deal was made and we were to return the next day to pick up the new car.

The new Mini
We came home and had dinner of the leftovers from my cooking class of the day before.    Watched a little TV before retiring in preparation for a marathon tourist Saturday.

Saturday began with breakfast at the Rochester Public Market. We purchased breakfast at a Hispanic Bakery at the market. We brought our take-out breakfast of bacon, egg and cheese on a grilled, buttered hard roll, to the coffee bar a few door down the road where one of our cousins is a barista. We enjoyed breakfast with that whole family of cousins (4) plus husbands.

Chatting over breakfast, I mentioned that I planned to venture by the market stalls to get some local fresh whatevers when a cousin said "come on over to my house - I have lots of whatevers from our own garden for you to take home.

This is what I gathered up from cousin's garden 

Artichoke growing in cousin's garden

Cousin's Veggies prepped for ratatouille

After breakfast, we wandered through the market for a bit, then went to cousin's house to gather what she had for me.

Next on the agenda - off to visit a favorite niece. Here's her garden. She actually built it all herself out of pallets. While there, I did a little photo shoot for a few hats I just knitted up for my etsy shop.

Niece's garden

Hat photo shoot

Then off to pick up the new Mini. And to top off an "energizer bunny" type day - dinner at P.F.Changs - with even more relatives.


On the gloriously sunny and bright Sunday morning, we had a date with two of Uncle Frank's childhood friends and their wives at yet another bakery.

He returned to PA and I collapsed on a chair with my feet up to recover from a weekend with Uncle Frank.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cooking With Cousins

On Thursday last, three of my cousins, my sister and my BFF participated in a cooking class at the NY Wine & Culinary Center, situated on Canandaigua Lake in the town of Canandaigua, NY in the NY Finger Lakes Region.

This was a mini-family reunion for us. We do meet several times a year for a marathon breakfast at a local coffee bar but this event was a memory maker. The culinary center is exquisite, overlooking the lake. The lush surrounding gardens, tables and tents outdoors, walkways through the gardens and being with people you love made it feel like a holiday.

One thing I regret is that we didn't go much earlier. We did not get an opportunity to explore the center. They do stage weddings there, have culinary and wine making classes, plus turn out amazing chefs.  Our class took place from 6 to 9 PM and we arrived just in time. Arriving earlier would have given us time to explore the gift shop and whatever other goodies were hidden inside.

The classroom was a mega kitchen with three huge square stations, each with a (vegetables only) sink, a 4 burner stove on each side. There were ovens, refrigerators, more (hand washing) sinks along the walls. Each station had four prep areas with a huge under counter drawer of supplies.

potato gnocchi

Each of the 4 pairs of cooks had a different assignment. My friend and I made gnocchi with duck ragu, 2 of my cousins made risotto with peas and asparagus, My sister and cousin made Bolognese sauce with buccatini pasta, and the final couple (who we didn't know at the beginning of the class - but after cooking and dining with them) felt quite chummy - made Penne with sauce Norma plus dessert.

fixins' for duck ragu

At each of the 4 prep areas, all the ingredients to make each dish were measured out and arranged on a tray. If any slicing of vegetables was required, the fledgling chefs needed to do that. We were given explicit knife handling instructions beforehand. (thank goodness, there was no blood).

duck ragu

The same meal was prepared at each of the three stations. When the prep and cooking was finished, the 8 people at each station enjoyed the meal, that they all participated in preparing, together.

risotto with peas and asparagus

buccatini with bolognese sauce

gnocchi with duck ragu


The theme of our class was cooking dishes that would be common in Sicily. I came home with all the recipes except for the sweet we had for dessert. It was a "rolled up like a cinnamon roll" fried dough, dipped in honey then dusted with powdered sugar. Scrumptious. Must see if the others took home the instructions for that.

We got to bring leftovers home. As a bonus, I had a meal all prepared to share with my weekend house quest (the baby brother).

I can't wait to go back there again.    

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tablecloth Curtains

My bedroom has never had curtains at the windows. The windows are the crank out type. There's a double on one wall and a single on another wall. They are the type of windows that have double panes with a venetian blind in between the two pieces of glass. The slats on the shades can be opened and closed as much as you like but you cannot move the shade up and down and just see clear glass. It's all self contained.

I'm sort of minimalist regarding windows. I want light. I'm not into closing off the source of light with drapes. If I use curtains at all, they have to be white and very "see through".

Lately I've been thinking about introducing some softness into my bedroom by curtaining the windows. And since my aesthetic is "vintage remakes", the thought occurred to me to use vintage lace tablecloths as curtains. I had recently purchased a beautiful handmade vintage crocheted tablecloth at an estate sale. I carefully laundered it in preparation for selling it in my etsy shop. But when the curtain prospect came into view, I thought of that tablecloth. But, alas, it was not a good fit. So it will indeed go into my etsy shop.

this one didn't work - it'll go into my etsy shop


I did have another vintage lace machine made cloth that was the right dimentions  and makes a beautiful curtain for the smaller of the two windows.

For the larger window (the one with two panes of glass) I was having trouble finding a tablecloth both long enough and wide enough. I did have a treasure though that I purchased last year at an estate sale. At first I thought it was a bed sheet but then decided it was a tablecloth because it has handmade lace on all four sides. Plus the entire surface of the linen is embellished with embroidery and cutwork. So that is covering the big window for now. I do have it over to one side. I don't mind at all that the curtains are different.

this is the cloth I used for the larger window

this is how it looks at the window

I will still be on the "lookout" for vintage lace for the big window. I may have to get two tablecloths in order to be able to close the curtains. And I'll be looking for the manufactured lace type because they are airier than the hand crocheted ones.

I did want my curtains to be hung from bamboo poles. I discovered that you have to buy that at garden centers. The curtain rings can be purchased at the home dec stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. The rings have a spring clip to grab the curtain material. Super easy to do.

I am happy with my "new" curtains. I think they look dreamy and romantic. It's kind of fun having decorating dilemmas to solve.