Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Fun

Thursday Evening in Belton
 Our weekend actually began on Thursday evening, when we met up with our friends, Susan and Robert, for dinner at The Gin in Belton. Belton is the community just next door to Temple. Dan and I hadn't really explored Belton much, so when Susan and Robert invited us to go to dinner there, we were excited. The Gin is a steakhouse located in what was, actually, the old cotton gin of Belton, when cotton was king in the area. Outside is a courtyard with a number of fun little shops and cafes surrounding it. Musicians often entertain in the courtyard. From the balcony of The Gin you look out on the park-like setting of the Nolan River.

After dinner Robert and Susan took us on a tour of the Belton area. It is such a beautiful, historic little community! The heart of the town is the gorgeous campus of the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.

Church Picnic at the Park
 This morning we left home about 10:30 for a picnic at the park with our new church family. By the time we arrived, Rodney (our preacher) had been cooking the main course meats for hours. The aroma of barbecued beef brisket, ribs, sausage and chicken filled the large picnic shelter. There were about 80 folks there, who all contributed side dishes to accompany the meat, beans, bread and drinks supplied by the church.

Rodney at the grill

Some were pitching horseshoes, but others, like Dan, pitched washers

On the left is Robert (of Robert and Susan, with whom we had dinner on Thursday)
We are really enjoying getting to know everyone at our new congregation. As you can see by some of the following pictures, it has a nice mixture of young, old, and in-between.

The lady on the left is Susan, Robert's wife, from our Thursday night dinner get-together

Friday, April 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' April Challenge - Nazook

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake. We had the choice of making one or both of these yummy desserts, and I made the nazook. (Link to recipes HERE.)

 The nazook dough was a dream to work with - silky, pliable, and not too sticky. The recipe for the filling was very similar to the recipe for the crumbly top I put on cherry or apple pies, the main difference being the addition of a generous splash of vanilla extract.

At first I had a little trouble rolling up the dough and keeping the crumbly filling from falling off, but then I read a terrific hint, on-line. After sprinkling the crumbles over the dough, I spread a sheet of plastic wrap over it all and, using the rolling pin, lightly pressed the filling into the dough. That made it a breeze to roll up (cinnamon roll fashion) without the crumbly filling slipping out. Here'a a picture of the little beauties, all rolled up and ready to pop into the oven.

I used an egg yolk wash on top of the nazooks, which produced a glossy, golden shine. Half of my recipe had the traditional vanilla flavored filling, just like in the recipe. To the other half I added a sprinkling of cinnamon. Both were delicious, especially with a cup of tea (for me) or coffee (for Dan). I took a few over to our next-door neighbors (Alan and Kelly), and the next day Alan told me that, after tasting one of them, he was sorely tempted to hide the rest from his wife so he could have them all!

Here's a close-up, showing the sweet filling between the layers of delicately crispy dough.

I only had time to make the nazooks, but after having such good success with this recipe, I will want to try the nutmeg cake, as well. Who knew that the Armenians had such delectable pastries? That's what I most love about the Daring Bakers - learning about new foods and learning new techniques from bakers around the world.

Monday, April 23, 2012


For Christmas Chris and Kelsey gave me a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle with dozens of small-print factoids about Texas history. Even though we are settled into our house, even though we have our new voter's registration cards, even though our cars have Texas tags, I figured I couldn't claim to be a true Texan until I passed this jigsaw exam.

This is what the puzzle looked like as I laid it out on our dining table on the 14th of April - 1000 brown pieces on a brown table!

And this is what it looked like today, nine days later, after completing the "exam." I passed!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Highlights of Our Day With the Kids

Clara and Nanny share a special moment

Robert's latest fascination is with robots

"Take my picture, Grandma"

Clara impersonates the Easter Bunny

Clara Margaret and Margaret

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mom Visits

Wednesday of last week I drove from Temple to Mom's house in Carlsbad. It's an eight hour drive. I spent the night at her house, and then, on Thursday, the two of us headed back to Temple. It would be Mom's first time to visit us in our new home. It's nice having her here. We've done a little bit of shopping for things she doesn't have access to in Carlsbad, and we've toured some of the lakeside parks. The weather has been beautiful, and everything is so green here now. Here's a picture of the roses at the front of our house.

Tomorrow Mom and I will hit the road again to go see Chris, Kelsey and the grands. We'll leave fairly early in the morning, so should be there by lunch time. It's a three-hour drive, much of it over country roads.

This afternoon I decorated some sugar cookies to take to Clara and Robert. I hope they enjoy them. I think there are enough for them to share a few with their daddy and mommy, too.

On Tuesday Mom and I will return to our house, in Temple, and on Thursday I will drive her back home to Carlsbad. For those of you who are trying to do the math . . . in all, I'll be covering approximately 2275 road miles in ten days. Whew!

Stay tuned; I hope to have a few more pictures to post after visiting the kids.