A Snowy End to 2012

It has been snowing here almost all of this, the last day of December … a heavy, wet snow with great big flakes, making the day grey and quiet and the end of the year rather sleepy-feeling.  Below are a few pictures that I took early this afternoon. And as the day turns to evening, the snow continues to fall.



Wishing you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and the very best in 2013!

Another Happy Wedding … Cake

Despite the frigid temperatures today, we had another beautiful outdoor wedding here at The Morning Star. The bride wore a stunning strapless gown and the groom was in dress military uniform. There were only six people at the service, so I made a miniature, but highly detailed, wedding cake. The three layer white butter cake was frosted with real vanilla buttercream and decorated with hundreds and hundreds of sugar pearls in varying sizes.  It took two of us about 45 minutes to place them all. The cake was then finished with fresh roses and the bride’s cake topper. I didn’t want to get in the photographer’s way, but I did manage to get a few pictures of the cake. This is one that I liked because the late afternoon sun’s rays seemed to imbue the scene with real emotion. May the bridge and groom have a truly happy future together!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

Surprise! I am a day late with my weekly photo challenge entry. But I only found a suitable subject today … and given that the theme is ‘surprise’, I thought that I could be forgiven.

I have a number of Phalaenopsis Orchids all of which stopped blooming when the autumn sun started pouring in through the kitchen windows. Seeing no indication that the orchids would ever bloom again, I was starting to give up on them.  However, I have great difficulty bringing myself to throw away living plants. So this afternoon I put the orchids in a sink to water and fertilize them when to my surprise I discovered new growth on several of the specimens.

NewGrowthOrchidNow I can hope for new blooms in the new year. Maybe someday they shall even look like this again!

OrchidTrioWishing you a new year filled with happiness and hope …

Roasted Pheasant, A Christmas Present

When you are running low on ideas for what to get someone for a present, it can be nice to prepare a special meal for that person. For an early Christmas present, I decided to cook Roasted Pheasants as a lunch for my husband and my mother. This was the first time that I had ever cooked game birds and so I am not going to pretend to be an expert on their preparation. I had to do a little searching for information on temperature and times. I mostly followed the recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.*

I started out with wild Scottish pheasants and  brushed them with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled them with sea salt and fresh-ground black, green, and pink peppercorns. I then added slices of lemons and leeks to the pan, drizzled them lightly with olive oil and topped the pheasants with a bit of fresh rosemary from my snow-covered garden.



While the birds were roasting, I prepared a leek and broccolini risotto. The flavors of lemon, leek and rosemary blended quite well with that of the wild pheasants. After lunch, Bill and Mom were too full for dessert, but we sat around anyway and had an interesting conversation.

PheasantRoastedSharing good food is a great way to bring people together, particularly when one puts the thought and effort into making a special meal.

Happy Holidays!

It Is Beginning to Look a lot Like … Winter

Fortunately the worst of Winter Storm Draco, which passed through the midwest last night and this morning, missed us in Manhattan, Kansas; but we did receive our first snowfall of the year. Here are some pictures that I took this morning. It was quite cold, by the way – in the teens early on. Brrr …. I kept having to pop back in the house because my fingers were going numb and I couldn’t adjust the controls on my camera. I’m glad to be inside and warm again!







Poinsettia Leaves

Poinsettias can add cheerful color  to a house around the holidays. I have a beautiful bushy dark red one that everyone loves. The photo below, though, is of a scrawny pinkish one that I purchased solely because I liked its color. Initially I had buyer’s remorse. Afterall, who buys a skinny poinsettia? A skinny poinsettia is like a skinny Santa. I found new appreciation for this little plant, however, once I started photographing it because its sparse form allows the individual leaves to really show. Happy Holidays!


Happy Reindeer Daiquiri

In my previous post, as part of the Two Little Chefettes’ Cooking Challenge, I published a recipe for Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup. One way to use this syrup is in cocktails and mocktails in place of plain simple syrup. Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup imparts rich cinnamon and caramel flavors to drinks.  The Happy Reindeer Daiquiri is an excellent example. Cheers! Happy Holidays!

Happy Reindeer Daiquiri

2 oz. rum (or apple juice, for an alcohol-free drink)

1 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 – 1 oz. brown sugar cinnamon syrup, or to taste (recipe)

Maraschino cherry

Cinnamon stick

Pour rum, lime juice, and brown sugar cinnamon syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a coupe or martini style cocktail glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry and cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.