Monday, August 31, 2009

What's for breakfast: Almond Tart


I needed to bring food to a coffee last week, so I made this Almond Tart. I originally had it as a dessert in my first year of Cooking Club, but I think it's perfect in the morning.


Almond Tart
from Colorado Collage by the Junior League of Denver

1 c flour
1 T sugar
pinch salt
½ c butter
1 T vanilla
1½ t water

¾ c sugar
¾ c whipping cream
1 T Grand Marnier
½ t almond extract
pinch salt
1 c sliced almonds

Lightly grease 9" round tart pan with removeable bottom (I use a rectangular tart pan whose dimensions yield a similar area). In food processor combine flour, sugar, salt and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. In small measuring cup combine vanilla and water. With processor running, gradually add vanilla mixture to the dough. Process until dough just comes together. Press into prepared tart pan. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until set and slightly browned. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350°.

In small bowl combine sugar, cream, Grand Marnier, almond extract and salt. Beat with fork until slightly thickened. Stir in almonds and mix well. Turn into prepared crust. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until top forms a crust similar to pecan pie.

Cool then slice into bars.

Serves 10.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I like: High School Football.


Disclaimer: This game was played at SMU's stadium, not at a high school stadium

I am probably the least athletic and most uncoordinated person I know. But I have always loved watching sports. I was a huge Atlanta Braves fan growing up, and my dad took us to lots of baseball games (the Braves were terrible in the 70's so tickets were easy to come by!). I loved keeping score and studying the player and team statistics. I still enjoy reading the sports section of the paper, and I could make a full time job of perusing local high school hockey stats, which are available in staggering detail on the Internet these days.

I especially love high school football. Unfortunately, Vivian abhors noisy crowds, which are an inherent part of the high school football experience, so most Friday nights in the fall find Robert, Vivian and me in my car driving around and around our high school stadium with our windows down and our radio tuned to the game broadcast.

Last night was the season opener for Hockey Boy's high school's team, and I decided I would really like to attend in person. It took Robert and me an hour, but we were able to coax Vivian into the car so we could attend the game together. My friend Karey had suggested bringing noise-reducing headphones for Vivian, and they, along with a Dora video on Robert's iPhone, worked like a charm. We pushed Vivian in in her stroller, and she only mildly protested as we entered the stadium but was easily distracted by some Skittles and her movie. She even put the headphones and video aside at halftime to watch the band and the drill team!


Our weather has been unseasonably lovely for the end of August in Texas. The pleasant temperatures combined with the start of school and the advent of high school football make it easy to believe that fall is imminent.

This darling group of girls came running over, shouting, "Hi, Vivian!" Several of them had been Vivian's peer tutors at school last year (please ignore the monkey nightgown that Vivian is wearing over her clothes; it was part of the concession we made to get her out from under her bed before we left for the game)

Dots attended the game with a friend. She is way too cool to sit with her parents these days, but at least she stopped to speak to us. Hockey Boy, on the other hand, has some sort of radar that warns him that his camera-toting mother is near, and he was thus nowhere to be seen

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to school.

First, an apology for my neglect of blogging lately. I have been in charge of online registration for the girls' school and have been consumed with processing the data and getting it into reports to send to the appropriate people. Our district has a fabulous online registration system that allows parents to complete all of the usual first day forms (emergency contacts, health, migrant worker survey, volunteer opportunities, etc.) online as well as order yearbooks, school directories, t-shirts, etc. It saves so much time for families with multiple children enrolled in the district because a lot of the basic information is copied automatically onto the other children's forms, but there is a lot of work involved getting the forms proofed and uploaded to the system and then processing all the data afterward. I also had to serve several shifts on the district helpline answering calls from parents during the period of online registration. My responsibilities with that job are almost done, and I look forward to using my computer time to write posts and read other people's blogs again.

Secondly, a disclaimer about the awful quality of the pictures to follow. I don't know WHAT I did to my camera's settings, but the pictures are terribly out of focus. Unfortunately I had such unwilling subjects on the first day of school that had I no opportunity to fiddle with my camera settings.

My kids started back to school on Monday. Everyone except Vivian seemed pretty excited about the first day.

We have another boy living with us this school year. *Friend of Hockey Boy* is playing for a AAA hockey team in Dallas, a level that in unavailable in his hometown. He attended Hockey Boy's high school last year, and they became friends. He is a very polite and appreciative boy, and so far I have hardly known he was here.

I would appreciate prayers and good thoughts for Vivian right now. I have had a terrible time getting her on the bus these first three days. She has a new driver, a new pickup time and a new seat assignment, none of which are making an already stressful task any easier. I am trying to jump through bureaucratic hoops and get Vivian back with her old driver (who is still driving a route in our area and dropping off kids at Vivian's school). If we can't work that out, the district has offered to have Mr. Kemp (Vivian's wonderful aide at school) stop by and help get Vivian on the bus in the morning for a few weeks. Hopefully one way or another that situation will improve soon.

Hockey Boy and Friend of Hockey Boy (I cannot even believe that I am posting such terrible pictures)

The response I got when I called out, "But boys, I don't think my camera was in focus!"

I got an equally helpful response when I told Vivian her bus was here!

Fortunately Robert stayed home to make sure Vivian got on the bus ok. It took both of us to wrestle her on board! Her new driver was not very patient, which didn't help matters

My sweet Dots who was excited about the first day of school. Unfortunately I'd spent so much time dealing with Vivian that I didn't have a chance to fix my camera before leaving to take her to school

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vivian and friends.

One last picture from Jackson Hole...

These bears are usually on my mom and dad's front porch welcoming guests, but they're hanging out on the driveway during construction. Notice Vivian is holding both *Sarah's* and the bear's hands. She wanted to check on these bears often, was very concerned that there was a Daddy Bear and a Mama Bear but no Baby Bear. We were perpetually on the lookout for *Baby Bear*

Snapshots from Jackson Hole, final installment.

Hockey Boy had to go home a couple of days early (for Varsity Hockey and Senior Registration Day at school, not because he was afraid of getting dragged on another hike!). Robert took this shot on their way to the airport. This and all of his pictures from the hike were taken on his iPhone; can you believe it?

That afternoon my mom hosted a picnic lunch for the men who are working on her house (clearly containers are allowed on the table when it's a picnic)

Robert grilled the hamburgers and hot dogs, and I helped serve the food

While my mom did all the behind the scenes work

Pretty nice site for a picnic!

In this picture you can see the stone work that these men are doing on the front of my parents' house as well as their beautiful view

The next day my mom took Robert, Dots, Vivian and me into Grand Teton National Park

We stopped at the newly constructed Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve

This beautiful visitors center contains educational, geographical and historical information about the area in addition to several sensory exhibits highlighting the natural features of the Preserve's hiking trails and lakes

The Center as viewed from the other side

Robert showed us on this topographical rendering where he and my dad and Hockey Boy hiked

It's hard to tell from this picture, but this room had four screens showing beautiful photographs of the Preserve in all four seasons while peaceful music played in the background

Vivian loved this picture of two baby bears climbing a tree. We had to wait for the slideshow to cycle through several times so she could see them again and again!

We took a brief walk on the Preserve's beautiful trails. We could only get so far with the stroller (Vivian was happy in it and we didn't want to rock the boat by making her get out)


Dots loved the trails, especially the waterfalls

After leaving the Preserve, we stopped in Teton Village, where the Jackson Hole ski area is located

We had a lovely lunch on the patio at the Four Seasons

One of us didn't think lunch at the Four Seasons was such a swell idea. Luckily there was an empty sofa next to our table which made a fine spot for lying down and watching "Dora the Explorer" on the iPod (which Vivian refers to as her *phone*)

For dessert we shared this fabulous chocolate fondue

All in all a great vacation for our family. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Snapshots from Jackson Hole, part III.

Hockey Boy, Robert and my dad took a 20 mile hike in Grand Teton National Park.

It wasn't exactly *clear* to Hockey Boy that they would be going that far when he was coerced talked into going along

My creation
Nor did anyone mention that it might SNOW or that the raingear brought along for him was my mom's pink Gore-Tex jacket

Hockey Boy wishes he were still back at the house asleep

My creation
He looks a little happier here; I think these might have been taken early on

Look at this beautiful view!

A happy Hockey Boy at the end of the hike. Perhaps he should have noted the name of the canyon before they set off

Meanwhile back at the house...

Look what the girls and my mom and I spotted in the backyard!

It's a fox!

to be continued...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Snapshots from Jackson Hole, part II.

Flowers on my mom's back deck - aren't the colors vivid?

Dots entertains herself on the computer

Vivian waits for her pancakes. The syrup bottle waits for my mom to notice Vivian has brought it to the table!

Robert and my dad read and watch the PGA Championship

Vivian, Dots, my mom and I run some errands in town. These antler arches are the trademarks of the town square in Jackson

You can take a stagecoach ride around the town

This is a famous saloon on the square (the tourist in the foreground is taking a picture of the arches)

We stop for lunch at a little bistro and eat outside

We had promised Vivian McDonald's if she behaved. The rest of us enjoy a much finer meal!

Making homemade pizzas for dinner - yum!

There was a wedding at a neighboring house

We climbed up my mom and dad's trail and listened to the band

My dad made this sign for his trail

Vivian colors a picture. She has been amazingly sweet this week

To be continued...