Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Greetings From My house to Yours

Decorating for Christmas is such fun and I love it.  A big wreath going to my backyard.  But where is the snow?
My wreath on the front door with poinsettias, red berries, blue plaid and silver ribbon, silver balls and boughs.
 We have had this Fraser Fir tree for three weeks now and it is still so fresh.
For years I have been collecting the House of Hattan ornaments.  Unfortunately they have been discontinued for years.
I love the "maid a milking".
I love blue with my Christmas theme.
These black ceramic angles playing an assortment of instruments came from San Bartola Coyotepic which is south of Oaxaca City, Mexico.
The bar is ready, especially with my favorite Spanish wine, Aalto!
Garland around the fireplace mantle with an assortment of birds and bird houses.
The kitchen counter has my Santa collection along with some tiny twig rain deer that were made in a small town that I go through from the airport in Leon, Mexico to my home in San Miguel de Allende.  The twig rain deer line both sides of the road in this town, some are over six feet tall. Now that would be a little difficult to get on the plane.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!  
And Feliz Navidad to all my friends in Mexico and Spain!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chihuly At Night

The other night we bundled up and went over to the Denver Botanic Gardens with our friends, Judy and Denny.  It was getting close to the end of the Chihuly exhibition and we really wanted to see the sculptures lit up at night.  Above is the Blue Icicle Towers.
The Summer Sun was brilliant against the dark sky.
Pretty cool to see some of the lily pond frozen over with the Monet Pool Fiori amongst the snow and ice. 
The Red Reeds were probably one of the most successful sculptures lit up at night.  The reeds had more depth and intrigue in the dark sky than during the day.
And I liked how the silhouettes of the people stood out amongst the reeds.
The White Tower came to life in the darkness.  During the day, it seems to have gotten lost with not much punch as the other sculptures.
Where as the Boats and Balls on the ponds were lost in the night, the Turquoise Reeds came to life against the orange wall.  
From a distance, the Saffron Tower was somewhat medieval, like a tower out of the movie, Lord of the Rings with its glowing facade with wild vines holding it in bondage.  Actually it is the trees in the foreground that give the tower that magical look.  For scale, take a look of the man walking in front of it.  
 On a closer look, the Saffron Tower takes on new life. 
Denny and Len, Men in Black, with the Red Cattails.
It was interesting to see the sculptures lit up at night.  Many preferred the night time viewing where I loved the sculptures the best during the day.  The vibrant glass pieces against the blue, blue Denver sky was breathtaking and the mirrored reflections of the boats and balls were spectacular.  Overall, it was one of the best shows the Denver Botanic Gardens has had and they have had some winners over the past few years.
To view Chihuly during the day, see my post dated July 16, 2014.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A great Thanksgiving along with hints on making the perfect cheesecake

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with family and good friends!  I cooked for three days and had the table set the day before.
My Dad (Bob), Fred and Suzy.
Judy, my Mom (Lorraine) and Denny.
And the best, my husband, Len.   Len had a roaring fire going in the living room where we had appetizers and drinks.  Even though it was a gorgeous day in Denver, the fire added that special touch.
For one of the appetizers, I made a cheese ball of mascarpone cheese, white cheddar, cream cheese, fried sage leaves and roasted almonds.  Just before serving, I rolled the ball in pomegranate seeds.  Makes for a festive appetizer for the holidays!  Going forth, I would make it in a log shape, easier to cut into.  I tried another new recipe, a tuna pate, that was okay but not worth making again.
Two weeks ago I made 98 butternut ravioli and froze them.  For Thanksgiving, I served one ravioli with a brown butter, sage, roasted pistachio and two crushed Amaratinni cookies.  I used espresso cups as the serving vessel along with spoons from my grandmother Mullen's spoon collection. Needless to say, it was a big hit.
The trick to a really tasty turkey is to cut jalapenos in half, de-seed them and slip them, cut side down under the skin around the breast area.  Such a great flavor!
I was determined to make the perfect cheesecake without and cracks or a collapsed center.  
There are many factors to take into consideration to accomplish this.  Grease the sides and bottom of the spring form pan with butter. Let all the ingredients come to room temperature.  Do not over cook the cheesecake.  Fill a baking pan half way up with water.  Put this pan on the rack below rack where you will put the cheesecake.  Bake the cheesecake in the middle of the oven.  I cooked it for exactly 50 minutes.  I proceeded to turn off the oven, open the door and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Once I had it out of the oven, I ran a knife around the sides to insure that is was not stuck to the sides.
As you can see, it turned out perfectly.  Light, creamy and delicious.  For the recipe, see my post dated December 13,  2013.  
After dessert and a little Spanish Cava, we returned to the living room and played Gestures.  Talk about a lot of laughs.  It was a full afternoon and evening, people arrived at 4:00 and left around 10:00.   I'm so thankful for my husband, my parents and such good friends.