New Year Violets!

January 5th, 2012 by pattiebell

Where I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, violets peeking through the last of winter’s snow announced the arrival of Spring. This little patch of them growing right outside the Ranch House entrance (possibly planted by Merle herself in the ’50s?) seems to be wishing us a Happy New Year!

Our Tree

December 21st, 2011 by pattiebell

Last year was our first Christmas at the Inn. We rounded up a few of the family’s Western ornaments and added some traditional Scandinavian straw stars that I found at our Unicef store. Mitzi, our massage therapist and neighbor, contributed her lovely bird collection. Then we went to town baking and decorating gingerbread cutout cookies in cowboy boot, cactus, chile pepper, and all the holiday shapes.

These I packed up and stored and was happy to find very much in tact a year later.  Next a shopping adventure at Borderlands, a great importer of all things Mexico. They have opened a big new location right around the corner from the Inn. There I collected a nice variety of painted tin cutouts, and some really sweet tiny hand blown glass bulbs.
Diana forged out on a cold and rainy day and chose this absolutely perfect spruce that reaches almost to our ceiling. A crackling fire and the Rat Pack Christmas album set the decorating mood. The candy canes are a nod to the Bells, but I must admit I draw the line at tinsel when it come to honoring family traditions!

A Most Admirable Amaryllis

December 21st, 2011 by pattiebell

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the appearance of these floral favorites.

Every year I adopt one and enjoy the process of seeing it burst into bloom. This year’s may be a record breaker ~ SEVEN blossoms at once!

I have to keep adjusting it’s stance just to prevent it from toppling over.


Peppermint Kisses

December 20th, 2011 by pattiebell

These little delights are on the cover of December’s Bon Appetit magazine. I thought I’d give them a try.

Light, minty meringues, with their cheerful red swirls…what’s not to like?!

I just followed the recipe. Here’s the link. Lots of other good cookie offerings there as well.


The last piece of Carrot Cake…

December 4th, 2011 by pattiebell

I meant to take a picture of the whole cake, sitting regally on it’s stand before I served it Thanksgiving day, but that didn’t happen. So here it is… after all the guests are gone, along with the rest of the leftovers. The last piece of Carrot Cake…

As I savor the moment before I indulge I think about all the Carrot Cakes I have known.  If you are my age you remember the time BCC, that is before there seemingly was such a thing. You probably also remember how suddenly every restaurant you visited, every birthday party and special event you attended had a Carrot Cake to offer.

I have made a few and tasted many. In my catering days there was the ubiquitous Carrot Wedding Cake ~  prettily piped and adorned with fresh flowers. I especially and fondly remember the one I watched the Cream Cheese Frosting flow from as it awaited it’s ceremonious serving at an unrefrigerated beach wedding in North Florida (not to be confused with the rest of Florida).

It was certainly a first for me to serve one at Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit. I perused quite a few recipes and settled on this approach ~ carrots, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, walnuts and no raisins.  The frosting was 2 to 1 cream cheese to butter, plenty of vanilla, and just enough powdered sugar to put a dent in the zingy tartness. Two layers were sliced into four with very thin applications of frosting between and on the sides. A little extra on top to make it look pretty and some more nuts pressed on the sides to cover any bare spots and voila!

I am going to miss having a polite slice every day, but it is, after all, time to make room for Christmas Cookies. More on that soon…

Mexican Wedding Cakes

September 6th, 2011 by pattiebell

Mexican Wedding CakesThis is one of my favorite simple traditional cookies recipes!

1 C. butter, room temperature

1/2 C. powdered sugar

2 t. vanilla extract

2 C. unbleached flour

½ t. cinnamon

½ t. salt

1 and 1/2 C.  finely chopped toasted pecans

1 and 1/2  C. powdered sugar for rolling and dusting

Cream butter and 1/2 C. powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Sift together flour, cinnamon and salt. Beat into butter mixture until just blended. Add the nuts and mix until evenly distributed. Press dough into a ball, flatten and chill 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 16-18 minutes until set and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to rest on baking sheet for just 5 minutes. (If cookies cool too much put back in the oven for a couple of minutes to reheat.) Roll while warm to coat in powdered sugar and cool on wire racks. When cooled dust again with powdered sugar.

Makes about 3 dozen.  Enjoy!

Simply Sublime Shortbread

August 2nd, 2011 by pattiebell

Sometimes simple is simply the best! I have added everything from sesame oil and seeds to fresh rosemary and orange zest to this shortbread, but sometimes this unadorned basic recipe is all you need!

Cream 2 sticks room temperature butter with 1/2 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Gradually blend in about 2 cups unbleached flour until dough pulls together and is soft and smooth and no longer sticky. Form into a ball and cut in half. Pat each half into a buttered 9 inch pie pan until flat and even. With the tines of a fork score the edges all around. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden.  As soon as you remove the pans from the oven, cut each into 12 wedges and poke the decorative holes with fork tines. Allow to cool. Can be stored in pans tightly wrapped for a few days at room temperature.

You can experiment with adding different extracts, zests, spices and nuts for a variety of flavors and textures. Or not. Either way, enjoy the buttery crunchiness of this lovely traditional shortbread!

Summer Bounty ~ Red Fruits!

July 23rd, 2011 by pattiebell

Owls in our neighbor's waterfall

July 5th, 2011 by pattiebell

Mother and Child

July 5th, 2011 by pattiebell

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