Monday, September 1, 2014

Pineapple-Zucchini Bread

As promised, I'm finally getting around to sharing the recipe for my blue-ribbon-winning Pineapple-Zucchini Bread.

Pineapple-Zucchini Bread

                     3 eggs                                                        3 c. flour
                     2 c. shredded zucchini                                2 c. sugar
                     3/4 c. oil                                                    2 tsp. baking soda
                     8 oz. can crushed pineapple                       1/2 tsp. baking powder
                     1/4. c. pineapple juice                               1 tsp. cinnamon
                     2 tsp. vanilla extract                                  1 tsp. salt

Drain the crushed pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice. Combine the eggs, zucchini, crushed pineapple and juice, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, then stir into the liquid ingredients until just moistened. Divide the batter between two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350° for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until it tests done. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Picnic Day

Steve and I are both graduates of the University of California at Davis. I was an undergrad from 1990-1994, then got my teaching credential there in 1995. Steve (who is four years younger than me) started his undergrad in 1994. Each April, UCD hosts an open house called Picnic Day. It is an amazing event. Every department on campus shows off its stuff with exhibits, games, activities, foods, demonstrations, or something else. There is a parade, a Battle of the Bands competition, a Doxie Derby, and about a thousand other cool events. Almost everything is free, including admission and parking.

Both Steve and I attended Picnic Day each year as students and most years since. We started taking Trevor when he was two. Picnic Day is very child-friendly, even for toddlers. Trevor absolutely loves it.  He starts making his Picnic Day game plan weeks in advance, pouring over the schedule to decide what old favorites he wants to see and do (like the Materials Science Magic Show, this horrifyingly awesome art project, corn shelling, the multi-cultural children's craft and activity area, the exotic fruit taste test, the liquid nitrogen ice cream, tie-dye shirts, planting tomatoes, etc), and what new activities he wants to try.

2014 was the Centennial Picnic Day. UCD celebrated the centennial in many ways, but the one that caught our eye was a huge scavenger hunt all over campus. Trevor LOVES scavenger hunts. (So do I. If you type "scavenger hunt" into the search bar to the right, there are 8 pages of posts that come up. We do a LOT of fun and creative scavenger hunts in the deRosier household.) We decided to make the scavenger hunt our main activity for the day, figuring that it would take us to most of our regular favorites and introduce us to other things as well. Sure enough! It was a blast.

Scrapping it was just as fun. I struggled to narrow down the photos, but ended up with five that did a pretty good job of representing our day. I used the GORGEOUS teal polka dot patterned paper by The Traci Reed that I've been drooling over since CreativeLive and paired it with a neutral stripe. I wanted to play up the red balloon and red phone booth in the photos, so I hand-stitched around the title with red embroidery floss, added a red arrow, and set off my journaling with a strip of red (that is actually Christmas paper). I love how it turned out.

Picnic Day 2015 is already on our calendar! If you're within driving distance, I'd highly recommend marking your calendars for Saturday, April 18. It really is an incredible event.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Amazing Photo

Every once in a while, I take an amazing photo. By amazing, I don't mean an award-winning, technically-perfect photo. I mean a photo that perfectly captures a moment, a mood, or an emotion. I took a picture like that last October. Trevor had a day off school, so he and I headed to the pumpkin patch a few towns over right when they opened, hoping to beat the crowds and play in their huge corn bath without a ton of other people. We definitely beat the crowds; it turned out none of the surrounding school districts had the day off and we literally had the entire place to ourselves. We ran and chased, buried each other, and leaped off the hay bales and into the corn, with no worries of kids in our way or people to avoid. We had a blast. 

My amazing photo caught Trevor mid-air. It showed how empty the place was and how much fun we had. But when went to scrap that picture, I decided not to tell the story of having the place to ourselves. Instead, I just started writing about a side of Trevor that I don't see very often, a side that takes risks and jumps right in, a side that isn't always cautious and holding back. I wasn't thinking that when we were at the pumpkin patch. It was the photo that made me see that Trevor is starting to take some risks and isn't quite as cautious as he used to be. 

Like I said, an amazing photo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brazilian Lemonade

I'm a big Olympics fan, but that's the full extent of my interest in sports. I don't watch the Super Bowl, World Series, or any of the other ones (which I don't mention primarily because I can't think of what they are called). I didn't watch any of the World Cup this last summer either. I was aware of it though, primarily because all the food blogs I follow started sending interesting Brazilian recipes. 

In particular, I was fascinated by recipes for Brazilian Lemonade. There are a few things that make it interesting: first, there are no lemons in Brazilian Lemonade; and second, it is made from whole limes (as in, unpeeled limes). I've had excellent success with recipes using whole oranges, so I was totally game to make something with whole limes. 

I followed this basic recipe. I washed the limes, cut them into wedges, and dropped them into the blender. 

I added the rest of the ingredients and blended. It was frothy, which I didn't expect.

I strained out the lime pulp as directed.

Then I filled three glasses with ice and poured us each some 'lemonade.' I am not exaggerating when I say it was AMAZING. We loved it. So yummy! We finished the pitcher within a day.

As I've mentioned many times, I almost never follow a recipe. The fact that I followed this recipe exactly left me wondering... could I adapt it to make something even more delicious?! When my friend Sheena came over the next day, I mixed up a new pitcher and began experimenting.

My first thought was that this yummy drink would be even better with a touch of vanilla to enhance the creaminess and to give a deeper flavor. My cousin's wife, Ginger, sells homemade Madagascar vanilla extract under the Kennedy Farms label. It has a really complex flavor that screams vanilla and it is so, so good. My favorite way to use it is in vanilla ice cream. (To try some, check out the Kennedy Farms Facebook page and tell Ginger I sent you!)

Anyway, I took 1 cup of the Brazilian Lemonade and aded 1/2 tsp. of Ginger's amazing vanilla, mixed, then poured small samples for Sheena and me. I probably should have taken the photo before pouring, since this clearly shows 3/4 c. Oh well.

The new vanilla-enhanced lemonade was really creamy and delicious. It was amazing how significantly the drink changed with such a small amount of vanilla! Both Sheena and I agreed that it was fantastic with the vanilla, but that it had completely dulled the tart citrus taste that we both loved. It tasted like a Lime Julius would taste, if there were such a thing. Delicious, but no longer lemonade. Time to try a different mix-in.

What goes with limes? Tequila! I measured out 4 ounces of lemonade and added 1 ounce of tequila. We each had a tiny taste. Good, but significantly less good than the original plain Brazilian Lemonade. 

How about adding grenadine? I mixed 1/2 c. lemonade with 1 tsp. of grenadine. The color alone was reason not to. It turned a ghastly medicinal pink. It tasted ok, but definitely not an improvement over the original. 

We tried two other mix-ins. First, I added 1T. lemon juice to a 1/2 c. of lemonade. For some reason, I didn't take a picture of that, nor of our next mix-in, which was Sprite, added in equal parts to the lemonade. Along the way, I took a lot of notes as we tasted each item and graded it. Here are the results:

So, when all was said and done, the original recipe was the best, with the lemon juice and vanilla extract mix-ins close behind! I'm going to be making all three versions of Brazilian Lemonade again and again. Thanks to Sheena for not only tolerating, but enthusiastically encouraging, my constant efforts to turn everything in life into a taste test. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Allison's Baptism

Four photos from my niece Allison's baptism had been sitting on my desk for nearly a year, so I thought it was time to do something with them. I made this layout:

I like it, but I am absolutely kicking myself for not including the group picture of our whole extended family. I don't know what I was thinking. I may have to violate my strict policy and do a second layout from this event. In a sense, I already did. Can I possibly do a third layout from the same 2 hour baptism, when a year-long monthly project, a week's vacation, and an entire year of Cub Scouts each only get one page? I'll have to think about that. Maybe I'll save the group picture and do some sort of then-and-now layout in the future....