Jaded Optimist

Mothering, making, and generally blathering on

Fremont Friday November 30, 2013

Filed under: Baking,Family,Kids,photography — bonniep @ 10:08 pm

Thanksgiving has been and gone. Our guests preferred last year’s Winter Luxury pie to this years pie of many pumpkins despite its strong showing at the pie taste test. However, I believe I achieved pie nirvana with a deep dish apple sour cream crumb pie. I made six or seven other things for Thanksgiving, including a cranberry fig sauce which I forgot to even remove from the fridge and which we will now be eating for days, but really could have stopped after the pies.

The now five of us usually spend the day after Thanksgiving in downtown Seattle, getting a vegetarian brunch in Fremont and then walking around to visit the troll under the bridge, look for used clothing, marvel at the boutiques and get some fancy snacks. The past two years we have then moved onto Ballard for more small store shopping and dinner. No 5am Walmart shoppers here! My learning curve with the new camera is quite steep and the lens I have for it, well, does not lend itself to nice portraits in overcast (read: winter in Seattle) weather. However, this means the Christmas card shot remains elusive and thus photos from the day can be shared here.



Those girls are fierce!


It was a great day. Baby C hardly napped (hard while walking around in the cold in a stroller with no suspension while all sorts of interesting people are around—you can see her attention is often diverted in the photos…) but was a sweetheart the whole day anyway. Despite picture number one up there, she is a happy smiling baby at all times. And “crazy eyes” M is suffering from 3 separate ailments (much to my shame when I took her into the pediatrician on Wednesday to check her out) but complains about none of them and is second only to Baby C in good cheer.

Baby C seems to be speeding towards her first birthday but remains firmly rooted to the ground for now. She dances and pats and will occasionally clap to music. She has given high fives. She waves and says “hi” pretty clearly, and “mommy” and “daddy” less clearly. She attempts to blow bubbles during swimming class (and baths) but usually ends up coughing up a bunch of water and then sneezing. And then immediately trying again. She gets excited for books, Birthday Cat, and daddy sightings, squealing and bouncing for joy. She spent about 20 minutes the other day repeatedly trying to put on a hat and headband, but mostly throwing them backwards over her head.


She loves to unload things and evenly coat the floor in toys.


She has one tooth on top and three on the bottom and several more that seem to be on the way (and which only bother her at 4 am).


We still haven’t gotten good shots of her in the chair this month. Sigh. These may have to do.



Well, much Christmas shopping to be done, a first birthday to plan, and Christmas baking to be commenced. I have pulled out all my Christmas cookie magazines from years past and need to nail down a plan for the annual baking plate to be shared with the neighbors. 2010 is here, 2011 is here, and 2012 wasn’t blogged last year but I still managed to get it out despite being 9 million months pregnant (you may notice the plate has just four items this time—something had to give).


I believe the photo is from one day before my due date…which was 11 days before the baby was born.


What a difference a year makes. Sniff.


Pie throwdown and more November 24, 2013

Filed under: Baking,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 10:42 pm

Baby C turned 11 months old today, but more importantly I made pie and people came over to eat it. Over the past however many years, I have been on a quest to find the best pumpkins for making pumpkin pie. Sugar pie pumpkins are the ones most often seen in stores—they look like little jack o lantern type pumpkins. I discovered Long Island cheese pumpkins at a local specialty market (Central Market, which is Whole Foods-esque) a few years ago—they are wide, flat, and peachy colored with almost neon orange flesh. And last year we tried Winter Luxury pie pumpkins from a local pumpkin patch/corn maze—they look like regular pumpkins covered in a beige lace and are fairly yellow of flesh. But never have we tried all of them at the same time.

So today I cooked five pies, using exactly the same recipe for each (a hybrid of three recipes I found online) and frozen crusts (Marie Callendar, I am not crazy enough to make that much crust. Also, not good enough at making crust). One pie used Libby’s solid pack pumpkin (which I understand is a special hybrid unique to the Libby’s company but similar to butternut squash), and three more used the various pumpkins mentioned above. Earlier in the week I had roasted each one, pureed the flesh, and left it to drain in a cheesecloth lined strainer. The fifth pie was a combination of all the leftover fillings from the first four pies.

I ran into a few issues trying to cook multiple pies at once which could account for some differences in looks. In general the self-roasted pumpkin pies cook longer, probably due to extra moisture in the pumpkin. I wouldn’t say that the spice mix I used was that great—a little bland. And I realized far too late that I had forgotten to include salt in all the pies, which could have made a huge difference.

Anyway, five pies made and labeled A – E, we had about 30 people over to the house to taste test and vote on the pies. Voting was taken fairly seriously and many made the effort to sample all five pies. Votes were 1-5 for taste, texture, looks, and overall and were tallied by software engineer and finance guests. Sadly, G did not save the file with the final results and I am a bit too tired to recompile them all now. Might redo the work later though.



A=Libby’s solid pack pumpkin, B=sugar pie pumpkin, C=hybrid (a little of each), D=long island cheese pumpkin, E=winter luxury pie pumpkin

As one who spends hours many years roasting and pureeing pumpkins I was quite prejudiced against the Libby’s and going into it would have said the Luxury Pie pumpkin would be the best. However I feared that the familiar taste of the Libby’s would garner many votes. Without the scores in front of me I can’t report exacts, but the overall winner was C, the pie made with a combination of the leftover fillings from the other four pies. I guess the whole is better than the sum of its parts? A, the canned pumpkin and D the long island cheese pumpkin were close. The solid loser was B, the sugar pie pumpkin. No need to buy those anymore (actually I had given up on those a while back but for completeness felt it necessary to include it here!) I will say that every pie had some folks that loved it and some that hated it (OK, noone fully loved B).

So, that was fun. I still need to decide what to make for Thanksgiving dinner—to be honest, I have about six pies worth of frozen puree left to work through!


Speaking of pumpkins…I found the photos that I had been looking for of big C behind the pumpkin wheelbarrow.

078pumpkincarvingplus 164

The more things change…

And little C turned 11 months old today, but I haven’t done the formal photos yet (see: pie baking). You can tell she is quite upset.


So, hopefully more soon! (New knit hat, and lots of other knitting and sewing happening here…)


Aphrodite, a Ghost and a scooting tiger November 6, 2013

Filed under: Kids — bonniep @ 11:46 pm

I did in fact get better pictures on Halloween.


Goddess of Beauty. Nailed it!


Spoooooky ghost, looking ‘”intense” in the last shot. I think she looks very ghostlike, but I guess the hat was misleading (it is supposed to look kind of Caspar-like). One person guessed “tooth” or “marshmallow”. OK, we are not THAT creative. Just plain old Halloween ghost here.


And our little tiger, who turned out to be quite heavy when carried around for several hours of trick or treating. We got a lot of use out of this costume this year though—bingo night, pumpkin carving party, music class, and Halloween itself. The music class teacher was quite excited to get a picture of baby C in her costume with a tiger ball….


And now an attempt to show why we call her “Scooter Bum”: