Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers' June Challenge - Bakewell Tarts

(With Some "Nostalgia Tarts" Thrown In, for Good Measure)

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England. (Recipe HERE.)

I had read about these tasty delicacies in British mystery books, but I never really know what they were. There's a lot of lore surrounding the Bakewell Tart and controversy about its origin. One version of the story is that the landlady of an inn, in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to bake a "pudding" for her guests. There was, however, a failure in communication. What the baker produced was this shortbread pastry shell, with fruit and a topper of frangipane. The guests loved the tart, its fame spread, and it took on the name of the town - the Bakewell Tart, also known as the Bakewell Pudding.

The Bakewell Tart is a classic English dessert, and is sold, today, in English supermarket baking sections and in ready-made, mass-produced forms, some sporting a thick sugary icing and glazed cherry on top for decorative effect. It can be enjoyed best with a nice hot cup of tea.

I chose cherries as my filling, and spent one evening cooking up some delicious cherry jam from fresh store-bought cherries. Dan even bought me a very fancy, 4-cherries-at-a-time cherry pitter!

Making the tarts was not difficult. The crust was sort of like a shortbread, which was pushed into my little tart pans. A fairly thin layer of cherry jam covered the inside bottom of the shell, and then the frangipane topped everything. The main ingredient in frangipane is crushed almonds, and it baked up into something similar to a spongy cake.

Truthfully, I wasn't thrilled with my results. The crust did not have that wonderful shortbread texture that I was expecting, and the overall tart was too sweet and too intensely almond-flavored for my taste. Once again, though, Dan disagreed with my assessment. He really enjoyed them. I baked a few filled with lemon curd, as well as the cherry ones. He thought they were both delish'.

A few days later I decided to try to make some cherry tarts like my Dad used to make in the bakery. I've dubbed them "Nostalgia Tarts." They, too, were made with a shortbread pastry, and filled with cherry pie filling. Dad always formed his from a strip of shortbread with a pinched-up border, to hold in the filling, and with criss-cross strips across the top. I did a few like that, although my criss-cross strips didn't look as neat and tidy as his. The rest I made in my tart pans.

Now THESE were the cherry tarts I remember and love! The shortbread recipe I used for them was perfect. Every bite melted in the mouth. They were definitely best the first day, though. I sealed them in a plastic container, and by the next day the shortbread had softened and lost its tender crispness. They'd make a great dessert for company, as long as they were served the day they were baked.

Ahhhhh! Now THAT'S a cherry tart!

[Oh, and by the way, both challenges - Daring Bakers and Round Robins - had a posting day of the 27th, so don't miss out on the Round Robin Challenge, just below . . . ]

Round Robin Photo Challenge: Wildlife

The Round Robin challenge, this time around, was to capture wildlife images. The ones I'm posting are a mixture of Alaska and New Mexico shots. This theme was suggested by Gina of Gina's Space, and by Nancy of Nancy Luvs Pix.


Take a close look. You might want to click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the detail of the face of this spawning salmon, in Sheep Creek, near Juneau, Alaska. He's a handsome fellow, isn't he?!

A whale tail! This was taken near the entrance to Tracy Arm Fjord, in Juneau.

These sealions are lounging on this buoy (click to enlarge and see them better). Notice the glacier, shining through the mist, in the upper right corner.


Sandhill Craines in the morning sky, at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

A pair of Sandhill Craines on the ground.

Scads of Snow Geese above a field in Bosque del Apache.

A bald eagle, near the Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau.

Ducks enjoying the early morning sun, in a pond near the Rio Grande River.


These lizards move FAST. It's hard to catch one sitting still. This one was basking in the sun, on a headstone, in an old cemetery that I visited.

Take a look at the work of some of the other Round Robin challengers. Click HERE.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Southeast Alaska Empire, Tuesday, June 17, 1969

I've been on one of those manic cleaning sprees lately, and the office closet has been my first target. Last week, as I was going through books, class notebooks, photo albums and other things, I ran across three copies of the newspaper that was published, in Juneau, two days after our wedding. In it was an article titled, "Clark-Judd Wedding," including a picture of the bride (me).

Despite my need to finish organizing that closet, I couldn't help but sit down and read through that newspaper. I figured it wouldn't take too long since it was only 8 pages. I thought I might read some "Ahhh, those were the days" stories, but not so! Here are the opening paragraphs of the most prominent articles:

MOSCOW (AP) - The international Communist conference held in the Kremlin since June 5 ended today with official acceptance of a call for Communist unity against imperialism.

SAIGON (AP) - North Vietnamese troops attacked a Marine base camp near Da Nang today for the third time in a week, despite a big allied sweep in the area.

BALTIMORE (AP) - Dr. Hugh Davis Graham, a history professor, who codirected a federal study of violence in America, has said that given the kind of people Americans are, "continued violence is something we can look for - like it or not."

TEL AVIV (AP) - An Iraqi artillery shell hit a taxi near the Dead Sea today killing an American woman tourist and wounding six other Americans.

PORTLAND, Ore (AP) - Pat Nixon received a generally warm welcome at the start of her West Coast tour and appeared not to notice three anti-war demonstrations.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - A group of American missionaries called today for the "de-Zionization" of Israel and the creation of a Palestine state in which Jews and Arabs would have equal rights. The alternative, the Christian missionaries said, is "implacable hatred, vindictive contempt and endless rounds of indecisive little slaughters."

On our wedding day, America was in the midst of the Vietnam war; the Cold War was heating up; and the protest movement in the United States was in full swing. The Hippies espoused their countercultural values; the Beat Generation was writing poetry and songs, inspired by anger and hallucinatory drugs; and America was being introduced to Eastern religions and philosophies.

Someone once said that love is blind. That must have been true in my case, for, despite the tensions and fears that weighed on us, as Americans, in the late '60s and early '70s, I have always remembered the early days of our marriage as "the good old days."

There's a part of me that wishes I hadn't picked up that newspaper and looked back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Have You Seen My New Grandbaby?

Take a look at this little one! Baby is due in November. Chris and Kelsey are not planning to find out the gender until the baby is born. That means the nickname I choose has to be gender-neutral. I was thinking of "Sprout," or "Twig." "Twig" might be good, because I could modify it, slightly, to "Twiggy" for a girl. Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Round Robin Photo Challenge: Looking UP

Things are really LOOKING UP for those of us who participated in this Round Robin challenge, which was suggested by Robinella.

I dare you to look at all of these without getting a crick in your neck! These photos are from my archives; none of them have been posted recently, and some never have been.

Looking up at the sky through the leaves of a tree at the Rio Grande Zoo.

Looking up at the steeple of the church in Albuquerque's Old Town.

Looking up at the graceful geese in this piece of public art in Albuquerque.

Looking up at one of the towers of the Salinas Pueblo Mission ruins (NM).

Looking up at two climbers, near the Gilman Tunnels, NM.

Looking up at fireworks from last year's Fourth of July celebration, Albuquerque.

Looking up at a bald eagle as it leaves its perch at the top of a tree, Juneau, Alaska.

Looking up at hot air balloons, floating above the crowd at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

Looking up at the Thunderbirds in a 2006 air show at Kirtland Air Force Base.

You can find a list of other Round Robin challengers HERE. Visit some of them, if you have time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Talk About a "Tall Order"

For breakfast this morning, I ordered a "glass of milk." Here's what came. I thought about asking for a ladder! I'm only 5'3", after all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

60 Isn't Old . . . For a Galapagos Land Tortoise*

* Average life span: 193 years.

I had another physical therapy appointment today, for my knee. A different therapist worked with me, and her name was Phoebe. She was fairly young, and very nice.

As she put me through my paces, she asked me questions. "Do you have any children or grandchildren?" "How long have you lived in Albuquerque?" "Where did you live before you moved here?" When she found out I was from Alaska, she told me about her cousin, who lives in Haines. She wants to go and visit him, and she had lots of questions for me about traveling there. In the course of this conversation she asked how long I had lived there, and I gave her a brief accounting of my years in Alaska.

When I was done with the exercises, Phoebe did an ultrasound heat treatment on my knee (wonderful!). While she was doing this, another young therapist came in the room and turned on some music. "Oh," the newly-arrived therapist exclaimed, "I've always loved that song! It's from the movie Pretty Woman. Do you remember that movie, Phoebe? It's an old one."*

"You think that's old," said Phoebe, "Do you know she (pointing at me) lived in Alaska before it was a state?!" It only took a second or so for her to realize the implication of what she had said, and then she turned red and started a bumbling apology.

As for me, I burst out laughing. Well, you know, it was either that or cry!

*Pretty Woman came out in 1990. Wasn't that just yesterday?