Monday, September 26, 2016

Passion Fruit Margarita Sorbet

We came home  yesterday with a bag full of passion fruit from our niece's vines, and today I decided to experiment. 

My first thought on tasting passion fruit was that it would make a killer Margarita, but not knowing how long they would last, plus having a nice bag full, and not being the sort who likes to drink more than one Margarita, I decided to make Passion Fruit Margarita Sorbet instead. 

I'd had a nice success with Peach Sorbet this summer (though it did freeze a bit hard in the freezer), so I was ready to experiment some more. Since adding alcohol makes sorbets softer, I decided it might actually be an improvement; I figure that I could always put it in a glass and drink it if it didn't get to dessert consistency.

Step 1:

Scoop the fruit and seeds into the blender until you have 2 cups of fruit.

Step 2:

Blend the fruit and seeds and add honey to taste. Although it will lose some sweetness when frozen, it will also gain some sweetness from the Cointreau, so if it tastes about right, it should work out. I figured that it's better to err on the side of a little tart; I can always serve it with a drizzle of honey or a splash of Cointreau. 

Blend some more.

Step 3:

Add 2 cups of water and blend some more. The alcohol is going to soften it up, so I figured that it needed more liquid to give it a better chance of getting hard enough to scoop out. Plus, passion fruit is a pretty strong flavor and, let's face it: I wanted to end up with more than just a couple of cups of sorbet.

Put the blender jar into the fridge for at least an hour. More is fine.

Step 4:

Meanwhile, pour 3 ounces of Cointreau into a measuring cup.

Step 5:

Pour 6 ounces of tequila into the same measuring cup (9 ounces of alcohol total).

Cover the measuring cup and put it into the refrigerator, too.

Step 6:

The Passion Fruit mixture separates in the refrigerator, so give it another whir in the blender before freezing. Pour it into your ice cream freezer and run it until it is frozen.

Step 7

Add about 2 ounces of the alcohol and let the ice cream freezer run until it is absorbed. (If you have the kind of ice cream freezer that turns the freezer while keeping the dash stationary, you can scrape some of the frozen bits off the wall with a spoon to stir it up faster.) 

Repeat, adding about 2 ounces of alcohol at a time, until you've added all the alcohol. Resist the impulse to add all the alcohol at once. 

Run the freezer until the contents are about the consistency of a thick frozen margarita. 

Pour the sorbet into a container with an air tight lid (my sorbet had a few frozen bits on the bottom which I broke up with a spoon) and freeze until firm enough to scoop out. I tested mine after 24 hours, and it was still a bit soft, but definitely firm enough to hold its shape. I garnished it with a sprig of basil, but mint or starfruit would be equally as pretty. It made a very nice, light dessert!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Time Machine

There is nothing that takes me back to childhood quite as quickly as a jar of mixed beads.  Although my friends love to tease me about my neat little rows of beads on my bead board, and my clear desk, a jar of bead soup takes me back to being nine years old, sitting at the dining room table at our house in Granada Hills, looking for treasures in a big box of mixed beads

That big box of beads came from Grandma Newcomer, and it had a little bit of everything in it.  It's long gone now; many, many projects were made from its contents and I have no idea where it ended up. It was a gift for all of us, and we learned how to share (sort of) negotiate (mostly) and fight very, very quietly because of it. It was not unusual to find us sitting around the table on a Saturday afternoon, pawing through it, picking out special beads, and looking for more of our favorites.

Sometimes there were more, and sometimes there weren't. Imagine the horror of finding that special bead, and then noticing that its mate is sitting on the table in front of your sister. Was it special to her? Did she know that she had a treasure, your treasure? Would she change her mind and put it back if you stayed quiet; or did she really and truly love it as much as you did, and was she, even now, looking for more? Would she find another one before you did? If she did, would she give it up? Could you ask for it, very casually, and get it for a small price; or would she sense your desperation and demand blood?

Those are surprisingly good memories.

But this jar is all mine. It was a gift from my friend, Marcia DeCoster. It was a joke gift, but I love it. Whenever I want to, I can run my fingers through these beads and find treasures. It's childhood in a jar for me, but without the fear of loss. The mate to a special bead may be in there, or it may not. The hunt is on, and my childhood just got rosier.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Modern Beaded Lace

I honestly didn't realize I'd been away so long, but I have a good excuse: I've written a book! It's currently available for pre-order, and will most likely be released by the end of July. You can find it in the Interweave Store, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other places as well.

It's called Modern Beaded Lace and contains 18 projects, as well as information about beaded lace and designing your own projects. It has been my obsession for the past year and a half - sometimes I felt as if I were giving birth to an elephant!

It was a huge project, but I am so happy with the results; holding my own book in my hands is an amazing feeling. It's everything I hoped it would be; you see, I have wanted to write a book since I was a very little girl. I can remember finding out that real people wrote books (I had thought they appeared magically) and from that moment, I wanted to be a writer. I've written a lot over the years, but this book is very special to me, because it's from my heart. I love lace and I love beads, and combining the two makes me very, very happy.

I've started a Facebook group for my readers, and if you are one of the people who have pre-ordered it, look me up on Facebook and you'll see a post about it.

There's a free bonus project in there, and all you have to do to join is post a screenshot of your preorder page (make sure you don't include any personal information!) and I will add you to the group where you can download this free bonus project, titled Romantica.

It's a little extra to get you started while you're waiting for the book to ship!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's here! It's here! It's here!

...and I'm still pinching myself.

Being part of this book means more to me than I can say, and not just because it's a book and I'm in it, but because so many of my favorite people are in here with me.

Reading it is like having all of them in my home for a visit, talking about beads and beading, and sharing our work. From here on out, I will always have this particular moment in time, these wonderful people, and their beautiful work, within reach.

Anytime I want to, I can open it up and be with my friends and our beads. That's the best part.

The name of the book is Marcia De Coster Presents: Interviews with 30 Beaders on Inspiration & Technique (Spotlight on Beading Series) and it's available in all of the usual places. If you love beaders and beadwork, I think you'll really enjoy it. It's not a how-to book (although many of the beaders in it do offer instructions for some of their beadwork on their websites); rather it's a collection of photos of beadwork and interviews with the designers.

Marcia has done a wonderful job of selecting a wide variety of designers, and the questions she asked gave me new insights into each one, even those I thought I knew very well.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their work in this book, and especially, thank you to Marcia DeCoster who made it happen.

I love you all!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Change: making a joyful noise

This is one of my tribes; I claimed my place in it this year. Last year, I hovered on the edge of this tribe; I watched and I listened, but I was afraid to join in. This year, I vowed to change that. This year, I promised myself that I would not shy away; yes, I promised myself that last year, too, but this year I did it. This year, I let myself sing.

It was a wonderful weekend, filled with music, laughter, and fun. We played well together; that was the theme of one of the classes I took, and was I ever thrilled to learn that playing well with others could mean more than just being able to play well. I'm a beginner on the resonator guitar, and although I only contributed a few notes every now and again as we played together, they were good notes, and I added something to the sound. What a kick that was! Next time, I hope to contribute more, but it was so encouraging to be able to contribute even at my level. I had so much fun with my little bit of noise.

I also learned something very important about me. I'm not Joni Mitchell and I never will be. You see, hers is the voice I hear in my head; hers is the voice I want to have. And because I don't have a soaring, rich, resonant, soprano voice, I have always felt that I shouldn't sing out loud. I have worked so hard for so long to find her voice inside of me; when I sang, I concentrated on each note and tried to make it happen. It never did, but I kept trying. And I told myself that I shouldn't sing in front of other people until it did. (Recordings don't count; I can have do-overs when I record, and I can manipulate the tones to fill in where my voice is weak; I can add echo for richness and do all sorts of things to make me sound more like I want to sound.)

This past weekend, I came face to face with those expectations, and even while I mourned that I will never have the voice I want, I realized that I am not without strengths. When I'm not trying to be Joni, I can have fun singing. I can do what I do best; I'm an actress at heart. I can sing very expressively when I concentrate on the words and forget about trying to make each note as good as possible. And I can pull other people into the song when I do that; I can give them that experience. It may not be what I wanted to have, but it's a pretty darn good thing to have.

So: Goodbye, Joni.
Hello, Cindy.

If you love music, write songs (or want to learn how to write them!) consider joining the Summer Songs West tribe. Click here for more information.