Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toppermost of the Pop(over)most

More snow! Three inches on the ground and two more inches coming. I love these chilly days, and I'm not the only one. A cat (Clarence, perhaps?) crisscrossed the yard on the freshly-fallen snow, leaving behind telltale tracks.

A squirrel (Peabody, no doubt!) ventured out, nosing around under our feeders for fallen bits of sunflower seeds or nuts.

The falling snow got caught in the dried dill I left up for "winter interest." I'm glad I did...it looks so pretty!

Bosewichte has a love-hate relationship with snow. He hates to be cold and wet, but loves to be outside. He compromises by begging to go outside, but only staying there for about five minutes. He loves to explore the bushes, which look so different in winter.

Peabody came out of his drey after the storm to have a quick nibble in the open air.

I noticed a surprising bit of color outside. The knotholes in the fence have all turned a deep orange. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the temperature change...but it's awfully pretty!

Below-freezing weather means that I can do one of my favorite winter rituals. I got this idea from an old Martha Stewart magazine, and I do it every year. In the spring and summer, I gather and press violets.

There are lots of uses for pressed flowers. Sometimes I glue them to linen fabric and frame them, but I've discovered that the color fades quickly. I found one of my practice strips and decided to display it in the sun room to add a little bit of color.

For the particular project, the dried violets are sprinkled in the bottom of a large glass bowl. Add water, and then put a smaller bowl inside. A stone or heavy candle can weight the small bowl down. Then I'll put it in the freezer overnight.

In the morning, I leave the frozen bowls out for about a half hour, until they are loose enough to remove. What's left is a beautiful ice bowl with bits of dried flowers caught up in the rim.

Put a small tea candle inside and it makes a really nice light. If you have fence posts, these look so pretty, stacked on top and lit from within. You can really change the entire look of your yard with a few strategically-placed ice bowls...and they last until spring!

Ice bowls outside, and new kitten drama inside. Tabitha, true to form, has been spending her time sleeping...

...and riding around in the hood of Todd's sweatshirt.

She's trying to make friends with Bosewichte, who's generally annoyed by her presence. I caught them here, just a few seconds before he shoved her off.

Sometimes, though, he's just too warm, comfortable, and lazy to move. He grudgingly lets her snuggle up. I try to keep her from bothering him too much.

Apart from these referee duties, I've been feverishly knitting. The last of my Christmas knitting is almost done. Here's a quick peek!

I've also been churning out mini square after mini square for my blanket. I'm absolutely addicted!

I've taken some time out for baking, too. Recently, I made a big batch of popovers. I love them because they're so simple, but they're incredibly versatile and flavorful.

I don't have a popover pan, so I just use a muffin pan. Don't they look good?

Popovers have a delicious chewy texture.

If you don't use a popover pan (which is bigger than a muffin pan), you might get these bottom indentations...
...but likely you'll still get the desired hollow center, which is delicious filled with cheese, jam, bacon, or something sweet, like melted chocolate.

The secret to good popovers is putting them in a cold oven, and turning it to a high heat. The high temperature causes the hollow center to form, just like when making pita bread. You can add cheese, onions, jalapenos, cinnamon, or anything else you'd like to the basic dough...or just enjoy the taste of the plain recipe.


2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat eggs, and then add in remaining ingredients. Be careful not to overmix!

If using muffin tins: grease tins and fill them halfway with batter. Place in cold oven and turn temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (depending on the size of your tins - popovers are done with puffed, with slightly browned tops).

If using popover pan: grease and fill cups halfway. Place in cold oven and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 - 20 minutes.

If you need some cheerful music to listen to while cooking, I'm completely addicted to Sufjan Stevens' Christmas albums right now! Have a listen and enjoy your week!


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