Heck, I'm on a book buying spree these days!
I've bought about half a dozen Kindle books, and I just purchased two native landscaping and native edibles books that are centered on the Midwest region. On a recent tour of Elmwood Cemetary off of Truman Road in Kansas City, I just had to buy a book there as well!
I'm a bit of a book fiend.
Upcoming Discounts and More
Smashwords is having a storewide sale in July and ALL of my books are included! Get every one of my books for half off their regular prices. Click on the links below for more info or to purchase...
War's End: The Storm (Book 1)
War's End: A Brave New World (Book 2)
War's End: Tales of the Collapse (Book 3)
War's End Omnibus (Books 1-3)
G581: The Departure (Book 1)
G581: Mars (Book 2)
G581: Earth (Book 3)
Hired Gun (Book 1)
Smoke & Steel (Book 2)
So here's your chance to get one of my books for a low, low price!
My first official W2 earning job was at Gelato Classico off of Union Street in San Francisco. Before that, I'd worked in my stepfather's dental office in Flagstaff, Arizona, developing x-rays, helping the hygenist chart mouths, and even balancing the books (by hand) with my mother. I'd also helped out with office work at a company my father worked at in San Francisco.
Gelato Classico was the quintessential teen job. Left alone in the tiny store, I basically browsed on the luscious, creamy ice cream for hours.
When we were on our annual family vacation to San Francisco, I insisted on stopping by Gelato Classico. And not just once.
I have no confusion as to where those extra six pounds I returned with came from! That said, it didn't take long before I was Googling "gelato recipes" and realized it wasn't that different from the ice cream recipe I make at home. A little less cream to milk ratio, and the addition of egg yolks to the mix.
I guess I figured that the creamy, silky feel of gelato came from more cream, but it turns out, less is more in the case of gelato. Here is the base recipe, upon which all flavors can be built. This can be created in the Cuisinart ice cream maker. If you don't have one, consider buying this one. My Cuisinart has faithfully served me ice cream for nearly fifteen years now without fail. From a financial perspective, it has paid for itself over and over as well. You can make your own creamy and delicious ice cream for less than $2 in materials and get 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream (or gelato). Where else can you find that kind of price?
Another good reason to make your own ice cream is that you can adapt it to dietary needs. Lactose intolerant? Use coconut milk and coconut cream instead. Diabetic? Use stevia instead of sugar. Years ago, I made the coconut milk/cream version for my firstborn and added mint flavoring, semisweet chocolate chips, and even some green food coloring to make her favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream. She actually teared up. It was the first time she had eaten lactose-free ice cream (without it tasting like some nasty mint toothpaste) since being diagnosed with lactose intolerance.
I use a half stevia/half sugar option in mine. I'm pre-diabetic, and doing my best to keep the diabetes at bay, but all stevia/no sugar can change the texture of the ice cream and make it hard to scoop. The 50/50 stevia/sugar mix is a decent compromise.
So here is the recipe...
Not Gelato Classico But Still Damned Good
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (or use half stevia/half sugar for low-sugar option)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee*
Whip egg yolks and sugar at max speed for about 5 minutes until it is a soft, fluffy cream. Place in a medium to large saucepan.
Heat milk in small saucepan until almost at a boil (185 degrees F). Do NOT let it boil.
Add hot milk to egg/sugar mixture in larger saucepan slowly, mixing as you go. Add instant coffee. Put it back on heat and cook for another five minutes but do not let it boil. Constantly stir it.
Turn off heat and add cold heavy cream. Mix well. Add to ice cream maker and run as usual.
*I absolutely adore coffee gelato. But if you prefer something different, consider adding 2/3 cup of shaved dark chocolate and 1/2 cup cocoa powder instead of the instant coffee for a delicious dark chocolate gelato, or 2 Tbsp of vanilla with a little scraping of the inside of a vanilla bean for plain vanilla. If I get around to experimenting with different flavors, I'll post them here.
p.s. I, uh, ate it before I thought to take some photos. Um...sorry?
I've Been Remiss
I've been remiss in posting photos of our yard and garden this year. I usually do an annual roundup in the spring, but I completely forgot this year. Too busy building paths and planting those 500+ strawberries.
In any case here are some photos, starting with the east end of our properties...
We have more plenty of plants ready for picking, like the sour cherry tree near the gazebo. That little bush usually produces in excess of a gallon of sour cherries!
Some areas you see, like the backity back of the property, don't look impressive at all. But give it time (and a lot of sweat equity on my part). It will. In the backity back, I've already planted a bunch of old-fashioned roses, and soon I hope to expand my hosta and shade loving plantings on a massive scale. Before long, the path will be extended all the way to the brew shed and there will be space for a table and chairs and more for the menfolk to relax on while brewing beer. Who knows, we might even host some Airbnb experiences where guests get to learn how to brew beer or mead on premises!
I've got a bunch of projects going at once. I'm painting our porch swing and also prepping an old chair to become a planter for a fairy garden that my first grader and I will put together and then add to the Airstream deck.
The landscape stones will eventually form a retaining wall between Cottage West backyard and ours. We will rebuild the back stoop and stairs going down and create a backyard BBQ and dining area for the guests as well.
Having all of these plans means learning patience and there is an art to it, there really is. You have to hold a vision of what you want to see and help it to unfold as time and finances allow. Some of these plants take years to develop and mature. There are no instant payoffs. I've learned to savor those gratifying moments, however.
More Plants? Always!
I stopped by Suburban Lawn & Garden, which is kind of like visiting Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods). There were nice, normal-looking plants there for ridiculous amounts of money. One, a pot no bigger around than my hand was marked $119.99!
In any case, I found some teeny tiny succulents, as indicated in some of the pictures, and mixed them with other succulents I've already been growing. I also planted the styrofoam head the other day after giving it a coat of silver paint. The adorable little galvanized planters were courtesy of Dollar Tree. I punched a few holes in the bottom, and added some die-cut flowers and butterflies (also from Dollar Tree).
These tiny little cups the succulents came in were so stinking cute. My teenager insisted on having one and I kept the other two.
One Down, Untold Number to Go
I've finished the first chapter in Broken Code and begun the second. I think I'm going to alternate between my two protagonists on a chapter by chapter basis. Don't hold me to it, but it could provide an interesting change of perspective from one chapter to the next.
I'll admit, every time I start to write, my brain slides a little sideways as it remembers, yet again, that our foster to adopt journey is in the final stages. We received the letter from our attorney the other day. The date is set for July 1st for our soon to be first grader to become a permanent member of our family. And our sweet little baby boy will follow soon after that. When, I am not completely sure, but likely before the end of the year. After that, we will close our foster care license and revel in a future that does not include monthly visits from caseworkers and court dates. We won't have to sit in the corner of a courtroom and pretend we are potted plants anymore. And let me tell you, that will be very, very nice. And despite this being our focus and hoped for outcome for some time now, it is still a bit of a stop you in your tracks kind of thing. I remember when the foster care worker brought this cute little toddler to our door, talked with me for a moment and then left. She... LEFT. And here was this tiny little girl, confused, but sweet, in our home. We didn't know her and she didn't know us. And it was...weird. It wasn't much different when I picked up the Little Prince from the hospital. As I drove away with him in the car seat behind me, it felt so surreal. Just as it did five months to the day later, when I said goodbye to him. Except at that point, I couldn't stop crying. I still look for him, still wonder how he is.
You would think I would have gotten used to it by the time I went home with our sweet little boy last fall. But again it hit, even after a night spent in the NICU holding him. The thought that kept repeating in my brain, "They are actually sending a baby home with me. I get to hold him and love him and take care of him."
It is a weird, disconcerting feeling.
In any case, weirdness aside, children are easy to love. I am not raising "someone else's children" - that's a phrase I hear a lot. I'm raising MY children. Whether they are in my home for five months, eighteen years, or somewhere in between. While they are here, they are MINE, not some stranger's child. We get to know each other, look past the maddening quirks, and love them. That's what we do with our kids, born to us or not.
I'll get down off my soapbox. I've got work to do now. I'd best get to it. Hugs and kisses. Go read something neat and then come back and tell me about it.
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