Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Busy Day, Hubble Telescope, Linville Gorge.

Do you ever feel you are running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off, that's how yesterday felt to me - or at least in the morning. Especially as when we went to the cleaners for my Kimono it wasn't ready although the woman had promised me it would be when I took it in a week ago. We did get some US dollars at an excellent rate and I made my periodic visit to my foot nurse. Then Matt got his hair cut and I shopped for a few last minute things we needed, dropped books off at the library and then came home. Once home I had to make a number of phone calls and so on and so on. Then later Matt discovered that a car wash he had paid for a while back expired yesterday so he had to go down after supper to get the car done. Just one of those days I guess. Some wonderful new pictures from the Hubble Telescope on GMA today, click here to see a video. It has now been repaired and it is like having a new telescope. There is one picture which shows a spiral galaxy, this light left its galaxy 6,000,000 years ago which is almost inconceivable. There is an article about the repairs and the telescope at Hubble's Cosmic Comeback which makes interesting reading. I am not sure if I will be able to do my blog at all whilst I am away. I have an old laptop which was given to me a couple of years ago and it is now playing me up, the mouse pad causes the cursor to jiggle and getting it to point at something specific is a pain in the rear end. So I may end up taking the two weeks off anyway. Go on cry, I know you will miss me!!! I will tell you all about it when I get back. I have just made a discovery about the existence of the Linville Gorge in the mountains of North Carolina. I lived in NC for 12 years and I never heard about this before even though we visited the mountains several times; we had friends in Blowing Rock. Here is an article about Linville Gorge click here which I think is too far for a short trip from the coast apart from which I would never cope with the walking, what a pity. We have been saying for years that North Carolina is a great state neglected by most tourists who drive straight through on their way to either South Carolina or Florida. Linville Gorge is yet another reason to visit. Here is a recipe suitable for my friends with celiac disease - a gluten free dessert from Eating Well. Vanilla Bean Flans with Agave Syrup & Caramelized Walnuts From EatingWell: January/February 2009 This melt-in-your-mouth custard is delicately flavored with vanilla bean and lightly sweetened with agave syrup. Crunchy caramelized walnuts are an addictively delicious topping. Adapted from Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta: Recipes from the World-Famous Spa (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008) by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider with Chef Jesùs González, Chef of La Cocina Que Canta. 6 servings Flans * 1/4 cup agave syrup, (see Note) * 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk * 1 fresh vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract * 3 extra-large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks * 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar Caramelized Walnuts * 6 tablespoons chopped walnuts * 1 tablespoon agave syrup * 1 tablespoon brown sugar Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath. 2. To prepare flans: Put 2 teaspoons agave syrup in the bottom of each of six 6- to 8-ounce straight-sided ovenproof ramekins. Refrigerate the ramekins for 15 minutes to thicken the syrup. 3. Meanwhile, pour milk into a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean and, with the tip of a sharp knife, scrape all the black paste inside into the milk. Add the pod. (Or add vanilla extract to the milk.) Heat over medium heat until the milk is very hot and bubbles form around the edges of the pan, but do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. 4. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add 1 cup of the hot milk, whisking constantly as you pour. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk a little at a time. 5. Strain the custard back into the pan through a sieve; carefully skim off any foam. Divide the custard among the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan. Carefully pour 1 inch of boiling water into the pan, being careful not to splash water into the custard. Cover the pan with foil. 6. Bake until the custards no longer jiggle in the center, 25 to 35 minutes (depending on the size of the ramekin). Carefully remove the foil and let the flans cool in the water bath for 1 hour. Cover the ramekins and transfer to the refrigerator until chilled, about 1 hour. 7. To prepare walnuts: Reduce oven temperature to 300°. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. 8. Toss walnuts with agave syrup and brown sugar until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 6 to 10 minutes, checking frequently. Spread out on wax paper to cool. 9. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and invert onto a plate. Top each flan with about 1 tablespoon of the walnuts. Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the flans for up to 2 days. Store walnuts (Steps 7-8) in an airtight container for up to 3 days. | Equipment: Six 6- to 8-ounce straight-sided ovenproof ramekins * Note: Agave syrup or nectar is the naturally sweet juice extracted from the agave plant. It has a lower glycemic index and is lower in calories than table sugar, but is even sweeter. Use it in moderation when substituting for table sugar. Look for it near other sweeteners in natural-foods stores. Have a great day.

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