Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dissolve My Heart in Thankfulness

We had an incredibly blessed and family filled weekend.   We started the celebrations on the Wednesday night before Easter and weren't really done with our family party until the following Tuesday.  We spent a lot of time together - cooking, eating, talking and enjoying being together.
My mom had asked me to bake nut roll for my Grandma's 90th birthday celebration.  So, on Wednesday after school I made the dough and the nut filling.  Then after dinner Reading Girl and I filled and rolled the nut roll.  I usually ask the kids to join me in the kitchen.  But, due to the business of the evening  - we got home late, we were packing, I was finishing laundry, homework needed done, showers, etc.- I hadn't asked them to help.  However, once Reading Girl realized what I was doing I couldn't keep her out of the kitchen.  A nice feeling all on its own.  I was really pleased with how the nut roll turned out.  My Aunt Y told me that they were even better than my great grandma's (and she learned how to make hers in the old country).

Nut Filling

1 1/4 lb. walnuts - ground
3/4 c. sugar
3 T honey
1/2 - 3/4 can condensed milk
Put all of the above ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick - stir frequently.

Nut Roll

1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c.sugar
1 t. salt
Scald the milk.  Remove from heat.  Add the butter, salt and sugar.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
Put 1/4 c. warm water in your mixing bowl.  Add 1 T yeast.  Then add cooled milk mixture, two eggs and 4 c. flour.  Knead until smooth.
Let the dough rise 1-2 hours.  Then divide into 4 parts.  Roll into a 9x13 square and fill generously with the nut filling.  Roll (like you would for making cinnamon rolls).  Place seam side down on a greased sheet and shape into a crescent.  Rise for 15 min.  Brush with beaten egg right before baking.  Bake for 30 min. (until golden brown) at 350.
Adding the nut filling

Shaped and Rising for the Second Time

Rolling the Nut Roll

Golden Brown Perfection

Test piece - yum!  Eaten warm from the oven with a bit of butter.

Thursday after school we headed to the farm.  Dad made me an early birthday dinner of Guiness marinated steaks.  They were delicious.  Soccer Boy and I enjoyed getting back to our caveman roots - we gnawed on the bones and didn't waste a morsel.  Since only half of our house eats meat we don't even own a grill - Daddy always makes me feel good and spoiled when he makes steak for dinner.  Love on a plate - grass fed, local steak grilled to medium rare perfection outdoors while he stood in sleet and freezing rain. 

Guinness Stout Marinated Steaks with Guinness butter topping. 
Friday morning the kids and I went out for the last ski trip of the year.  Western PA has gotten snow almost every other day all winter so every trail was open - even the little ones that run through the woods.  The day was warm and sunny.  The slopes were virtually empty.  The snow was soft and slow, so I was even brave enough to do several black diamond trails (the hardest ones), something I'm usually entirely too chicken to do.  Reading Girl was insistent that I try.  She sent me down the mountain first and then encouraged me the whole way.  What a great kid.  I'll be basking in the warmth of those memories for a long time.  The Woodsman joined us in the afternoon, and then we all went out for dinner before I headed off to join my parents and sister at the Good Friday service.

A Cold Farm House Means Warm Morning Snuggling
Saturday morning we headed out to help Farmer Dan tear down the sugar camp (more on that in a later post), then we cleaned up and headed to Matka's party.  It was a wonderful afternoon.  We saw cousins that we usually only see once a year.  My grandma had a smile from ear to ear for most of the afternoon.  She's so proud of getting to 90.  After the reception we took Grandma out to our favorite local Italian restaurant.  With our bellies stuffed full of Rizzo's Antipasta, Eggplant Parm and Fettuchini we took the kids home, tucked them in and went out to Tulune's Beer Emporium to share conversations and Goulden Caralis Easter Barley Beer with The Woodsman, my sister, brother-in-law, favorite cousin, and my best friend from high school.  We talked, and talked and the conversation didn't stop until almost 1 in the morning.  It's such a fulfilling experience to be with people who know you so well, and who have known you forever.  I never feel more like myself than when I'm with those people who love me so much.
A very blurry pic of Grandma on her birthday.  I wish I had a better one.  She looked beautiful.

Serving the cake and ice cream - Soccer Boy wore his Pap's boyhood cowboy tie.


Yum!  This Nut Roll is good!

I wish I could have bottled this cuteness to take it home.
Uncle H. enjoys his great grandbabby.

The two teachers encourage swap strategies to survive the rest of the year.

Nat and Aunt Mar share Pizelles and conversations

All pretty in purple and ready to play.
Sunday morning was Easter, and my birthday.  We spent the morning in church together.  Soccer Boy has really started to sing the hymns - it puts joy in my heart to hear him belt out the Alleluijahs.  Then after chuch we gathered for an Easter dinner (with Grandma and my Aunt D).  The definite highlight of the whole meal was my birthday cheesecake (Meyer Lemon with Lemon Ginger Curd) lovingly created by my sister.  Every mouth was heaven.

And,as if that wasn't enough celebration, we stopped and did something we never do - we had Shamrock Shakes from McDonald's for dinner.  I almost always give up sugar for Lent, and Lent usually falls squarely during March so I hadn't enjoyed a Shamrock Shake for probably a decade.  Amazing how something so simple can bring so much joy.  I felt like I was about 10 years old when The Woodman carried them out to the car.
Cheesecake with Meyer Lemon Ginger Curd
Finally, on Monday evening we celebrated Easter at home as a family.  Reading Girl was very involved with my Easter basket this year.  She worked really hard to make sure that I had lots of goodies I really like including Ethiopian coffee and Fair Trade Dark Chocolate.  Gotta love that kid.
The Easter Bunny left lots of books for the kids and Laser Pointers for the cat.
This was probably the best birthday weekend I've ever had.  What more can a girl want?  Great food and a loving family - it's all I need.

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