Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow Stops & Flip-Tops!

After our destructive ice storm last week, the sun came out. It was dazzling on the ice. Bushes looked like they were full of diamonds...

...and plants looked like they were made of glass.

But our reprieve didn't last long. Just a few days later, it began to snow...

...and snow...

...and snow.

These European starlings argued noisily over our suet feeder. We made sure to keep all the feeders well-stocked so no one would go hungry. I wanted to leave out cut-up apples and carrots for other wildlife, but Todd suggested that we may not want to draw them to our yard.

Too late! This star-shaped print tells me that a possum came snooping...maybe the same little guy I found last year?

These longer tracks belong to raccoons. Their long, nimble fingers are very efficient when it comes to gathering food!

Because it's been so cloudy outside, I decided to bring home some cheerful flowers. Nothing says "spring" like tulips!

I have a lot of wide-mouth vases that are difficult to fill with the small bouquets I bring home from the grocery store. More often than not, the flowers end up flopping to one side, no matter how cleverly I cut the stems.

I learned a good trick to avoid this. Using tape, make a grid on the mouth of the vase...

...and then you can carefully arrange your flowers as you'd like. The tape supports the stems and makes your bouquets appear much fuller.

Now I just have to be patient until these start appearing in my garden!

I haven't been completely happy with the mittens I knitted last month. They're just a little bit large, so I decided to knit a more practical pair. To those of you who haven't seen this before, I'm happy to introduce you to convertible mittens. They're fingerless mittens with an attached "cap". The cap has a loop at the tip, which is used to attach the cap to the wrist part of your glove when not in use. I use these as normal mittens when outside, and when I drive, I flip the top down so I have a better grip on the steering wheel. No more pulling off my mittens when I need to use my cell phone!

It's the best of both worlds!

In my experience, convertible mittens always have an annoying seam across the back, from where you picked up stitches to create the cap (see left mitten). I decided to improvise and knitted a 4 inch, 3-stitch I-cord braid. It was easy to sew it on, and I think it looks much better than the glove with the bare seam.

I've really enjoyed wearing them this week!

Last week, I noticed a past-its-prime container of cottage cheese in the refrigerator. I hate wasting food, but I didn't relish the thought of trying to eat slightly curdled cottage cheese, which is sketchy to me even when fresh. Then I remembered a random recipe I'd found a few months ago, which was for a dessert that used a ricotta-based dough. Ricotta and cottage cheese are relatively interchangeable, right?

This had to be one of the best snacks I've had in a long time. The dough was soft and chewy, and the warm jam added just the right touch of sweetness. These were so easy to make, too! Doesn't everyone have some old cottage cheese to use up?

Cottage Cheese Jam Stacks
1 tablespoon warm milk
2/3 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon butter, room temperature
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup jam

Combine warm milk, honey, cottage cheese, butter, and egg. Add yeast, mix well, then stir in flour and salt. Mix for about 8 minutes, and then cover bowl and let dough rise for about an hour.

After the rise, turn your dough out onto a floured surface. Roll it out thin and, using a cookie cutter, cut out your circles.

You probably want to roll your dough out a little thinner than I did here!

One you have all your circles cut out, spray a cookie sheet with a nonstick spray. Give a generous spread of jam (I used blackberry - YUM!) to a circle, put another circle on top, and give another generous smear. Stack one final circle on top. There's your stack!

These can be a little messy! Because my dough circles were a little too thick, some of my stack layers slid a little. It's easy to right them, though.

Let these stacks rise for another 45 minutes and then bake for 15 - 20 minutes in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees.

Stacks of soft, warm, slightly sweet bread with sweet jam? Oh, yeah!

This recipe should yield around 12 stacks.

I hope you try it. Enjoy!


  1. Those mittens are adorable! They turned out great! The color you chose is to die for! very nice!