Thursday, February 28, 2013


Mine by Teckelcar
Mine, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The Boca Negra is long gone and it certainly left an impression.

Nate and Max didn't care for the cake, but the rest of us thought it was fabulous. Jacob and Rebecca were always asking for a slice. And on that sad day when it got down to the end Jacob and Rebecca split the last piece. She wasn't hungry at the time so she asked if she could save it for later. I told Rebecca that was fine, all she had to do was label the slice.

Later I got a look at her handy work. Rebecca made it very clear that it was her slice of cake.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Artist of the Week: Tessellations

Nate by Teckelcar
Nate, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Mr. Nate.

For once he wanted me to take his picture, quite a change from his normal camera adverse self. The reason for this change of heart is object that is in the picture. He is working on a self propelled car for school and at one point the teacher required a picture of the prototype to be brought to school. Mind you in the end he rejected my pictures and elected to take his own without my help.

An almost bit of wasted effort on my part. The one saving grace is that I now have a non-blurry picture of my middle boy.
Tessellation by Teckelcar
Tessellation, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Now about the tessellation, this site has a neat non-mathematical rundown on the subject (think Escher). Nate made his tessellation for his math class. I think it came out quite well, particularly since it was done at the last minute. Originally he did not color it in, but since he brought it to school that idea got changed. I think the pattern of white and gray is lovely and makes the picture easier to see and understand.

Currently Nate has it up on the wall in his room. I guess he is rather proud of it as well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shoot Me: Depth of Field

daffadil close up by Teckelcar
daffadil close up, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The current photo challenge for "Shoot Me" is depth of field, a bit tricky to pull off now that I have a very simple camera. However, I didn't let a little thing like lack of manual mode stop me from giving it a try.

All three of the pictures here are, apart from rotating the image, straight out of the camera. No editing was done, just download from the camera, rotate the image if necessary, and upload to Flickr and the "Shoot Me" group.

The top picture I took with the camera a mere inches away. With camera forced into macro mode I was able to get a fairly shallow depth of field. The focus is all on the bloom in front, anything beyond becomes increasingly blurred.  I am pretty happy with this photo and I'm very happy I got a sunny day to take pictures,
daffodil by Teckelcar
daffodil, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The next picture in the series is of the same flowers, but no longer in extreme close-up mode. The flowers are in focus and in the forefront, clearly dominating the photo. The light blurring in the background softens the dried and fallen leaves littering he ground. Not as dramatic as the first picture, but still a good effort.

The morning the light that day  was really making the yellow "pop." and I'm glad I got moving before the sun sifted and through them all into shadow.
daffodils in the woods by Teckelcar
daffodils in the woods, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The third and final picture has me standing up and back a bit. The flowers are still a focal point, but feel is more of a landscape than just the daffodils. By standing up I also changed the horizon, no longer is there a patch of sky in the background. The overall tone is darker as the lights trails off in the back.

The depth of field is much greater and  to me the composition is a rather blah. I am a big fan of getting as close in as you can and this series of pictures confirm that to me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Her Morning Elegance / Oren Lavie

A lovely video utilizing stop motion animation. The use of fabric through out the video is very evocative of Adele Enersen's images from her book When My Baby Dreams (originally a blog titled Mila's Daydreams).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Purim

hamantaschen by Teckelcar
hamantaschen, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This is that is left of the five dozen hamantaschen I baked for today's Purim party.

The bottom two are my standard chocolate filled hamantaschen. The recipes for both the filling and the dough are here and as an added bonus you get to see very cute pictures of Rebecca when she was four and a half years old.

The top two are Caramel Apple Hamantaschen, a new to me variation I found over at The Shiksa in the Kitchen, dulce de leche is added to cooked apples for a delicious little treat.

So yay! I get to use the best ever written recipe and make some dulche de leche.

Rebecca wasn't too sure about the apple filling, but she was more than happy to add it or chocolate to the little circles of dough. We ended up making 2 1/2 dozen of each of the two cookies. Both of the cookies were well received at the party, thus only the four cookies remain. Fortunately for the kids I had squirreled away half or the dough and the left over filling to make more cookies just for us.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Apple Cranberry Pecan Pie

Apple Cranberry pecan pie by Teckelcar
Apple Cranberry pecan pie, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Way back in the beginning of the month I detailed how I made an apple tartlet for myself from the scraps of another pie. I mentioned that I would write about the big pie I was baking that day at a later date. Well today is the day I tell y'all about my apple-pecan-cranberry pie.

The offical recipe name is Berkeley Apple-Pecan-Cranberry Crisp from the cookbook "An Apple Harvest Recipes and Orchard Lore" by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva. The Houston Chronicle published the recipe in 2011 with proper attribution so I'll send you there for the full run down, the second recipe down is the one you want.

Now of course I didn't just do the crisp as written, I had to modify it just a bit to suit my tastes. A proper crust is very important to me so I added one for the bottom. I used the remaining ball of crust I had stashed in the freezer from my French Apple Tart back in January. My other variance was to peel the apples. I'm not a fan of apple peels, so off they came. The rest of the crisp/pie was done as written.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pie, Larry brought it for a shiva call and I stayed at home to man the fort. The pie was a huge hit, not a crumb was left. As I recall Larry told me that more than one person raved about the pie.I guess I'll have to make it again so I can get a taste and see what I missed.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Not a Heart

not a heart hat by Teckelcar
not a heart hat, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
On Valentines day Nate came home with a paper project from art class. He
emphatically stated that it was not a heart shaped basket. The object was in fact a hat... a hat for dachshunds.

So we did the only thing we could do, take pictures of dogs wearing a "not a heart shape" hat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Artist of the Week: Sheriffsaurus

Rebecca by Teckelcar
Rebecca, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Rebecca is this week's artist, but she doesn't want to be seen.

I asked to take her picture this morning at the bus stop, the sun was out and she was wearing her cute husky hat. I got one shot of her face with a rather petulant  expression and decided that was a no go. So instead, here she is from behind. At least you get to see the cute little ears.

Anyway, this isn't about cute hats it's about art. Specifically the creation of the aforementioned petulant husky.

At some point somebody brought home some modeling clay,  my guess is Rebecca since there was no great outrage over her use of their precious contraband. I'm not a big fan of the stuff since it inevitably gets ground into the carpet, smashed into the furniture, and most likely eaten by the dogs
Sheriffsaurus by Teckelcar
Sheriffsaurus, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
So yeah, modeling clay is tightly regulated when I buy it. That being said, I do recognize it is a great deal of fun. Particularly when it is used in an imaginative way.

Last week Rebecca decided that one of our dinosaurs was sorely in need of a job and a hat. Thus the sheriffsaurus was created. He has a cowboy hat, sheriff's star, handlebar mustache, and a beard. I thought the final result was outstanding. The whole idea is wonderful and the execution is perfect. We'll see how long he lasts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baking With Julia- Boca Negra

Feb 17, 2013 004 by Teckelcar
Feb 17, 2013 004, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's Baking with Julia challenge was Boca Negra. As always the full recipe is hosted on another site, this time it's A Frederick Food Garden.

It doesn't look like much, but this cake packs a wallop. a bourbon laced and chocolate flavored smack down on the taste-buds. And the cream, I could just rhapsodize about the white chocolate cream sauce all by itself.

For once I actually planned ahead. I made the white chocolate cream sauce (of awesome) a day before the main attraction. As I made it I had a little taste to see if I got the bourbon amount right. I have never been a big fan of bourbon, but I appreciate how alcohol can really kick up the flavor in cooking. The taste was electric. It took some serious effort on my part to put the spoon down and not just suck down the sauce in one go.

The next day, which just so happened to be Valentines day, I made the cake using the food processor method. I was able to bang it all together in under half an hour and then it was off to the oven in it's water bath. I had a slight water leakage problem with my springform pan, a bit of water collected on the surface of the cake. I remedied that by broiling the cake for a few minutes after the 30 minute cooking time. The offending spot quickly dried out and I had a luscious cake.

Flipping out the cake was not a problem and soon we were enjoying an incredibly moist and chocolatey cake that literally melted in your mouth. The white chocolate cream was utterly divine on top. Boca Negra is an amazing dessert and I will be repeating it sometime in the future.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Heavenly Appeals"

A short film by David Lisbe that shows that actions are greater than words.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter in Dribs and Drabs

Winter by Teckelcar
Winter, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It snowed again here and for once nothing got cancelled. Of course it being a holiday weekend not much was going on in the first place. In the end it was just a trace amount since it was a bit too warm in the beginning for anything to stick, by mid day it was all gone.

Nate said this was an ugly picture, everything looks dead. I see his point, it is an ugly time of year. Everything is dried out and battered, it's hard to believe that spring really is just around the corner. That's a big thing I miss about proper winters. At least there is solid snow coverage for a few months, thus hiding all the dead annuals.

Friday, February 15, 2013


spider by Teckelcar
spider, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
A few days ago there was a great hue and cry concerning a large spider on the deck. Considering it's February I thought this was highly unlikely, but I was assured that there was indeed a very large spider on the deck.

I grabbed my camera and grudgingly went outside. I had my suspicions about the spider and I thought it would be a good idea to bring the camera along.

And lo and behold I was right..

It turns out that the spider was in fact a rather large knot of wood on one of the deck planks.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Swag

Valentine Swag by Teckelcar
Valentine Swag, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Here are the goody bags Rebecca, Max, and myself got today.

Mine is pretty straight forward, a bag from my favorite chocolate and candy store in Richmond. Larry knows what my favorite chocolate is and never fails to get it for me. I love that man of mine and my dark chocolate covered salted caramels.

Max and Rebecca, on the other hand, made their bags at school. The bags were used to collect cards and whatever treats they acquired today.

I love how Rebecca's bag is a very feminine and a classic  Valentine's Day and  design. Max, meanwhile, is very much an eleven year old boy. He has no interest in the whole Valentine's day theme, instead he created a rather patriotic bag featuring the flags of the US and Israel (on the back)  and a couple of soldiers. They may be twins, but they are polar opposites.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baking With Julia- Focaccia

Focaccia by Teckelcar
Focaccia, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Here is the promised focaccia that I supposed to make last week for Baking with Julia. As always there is a full run down on the recipe, just head on over to host of the week's site: Wandering Through...

I decided to target the bread for Friday and started making the dough Wednesday. I wanted to give the dough the full 36 hours rise time in the fridge. The longer the rise the more developed the flavor and I'm all for more flavor. Thus the dough was duly divided up Wednesday night and tucked in the fridge until Friday morning.

The recipe has the dough dived in thirds and top with fresh herds such as rosemary and thyme, salt, and olive oil. I didn't have any fresh herbs so I used my dried rosemary on one of the loaves, while the other two got garlic or Italian seasoning.

It was a good call on all three toppings. Two of the loaves were quickly gobbled up and the third was gone by mid-day Saturday. Jacob said they were all good, with the Italian being the best. My four children declared this was the best bread yet and want me to make more ASAP.

Monday, February 11, 2013


No particular reason other than Jacob got a new mute and was messing around with his trumpet. This led to our searching out songs on Youtube he could play. After the theme for Rocky we decided to check out Taps and this video came up.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Shoot Me: Self-Portrait

me 2 by Teckelcar
me 2, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The third Shoot Me challenge was, appropriately considering the group's name, self-portrait.

I was not particularly thrilled with the assignment, I am usually less than thrilled with pictures of myself. But I decided a challenge is a challenge and I could just put on my big girl pants and suck it up.

It turned out that sometimes I can get a decent shot of myself. I had a handful of pictures I liked and was just able to winnow them down to two. The top picture has great lighting and I like the interplay of all the reds in my sweater, the shutter and my hair.

me by Teckelcar
me, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
In the lower picture the lighting was a bit flat, but I really like the pose. I ditched the sweater to tone down all the red. I'm still posing at the railing of the stoop and the picture is pretty much framed the same.

For both pictures I elected not to use a tripod, nor a timed shutter release, or even remote. I just stuck my left arm out and took a picture. I would immediately check the shot and reposition the camera as needed. I was surprised with how well the pictures turned out and that I had more than one to chose from.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Strawberry and Lemon Tart

Strawberry and Lemon tart by Teckelcar
Strawberry and Lemon tart, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Or... Why yes, this is turning into a food blog.

Tonight was the last night of shiva and Meryl and I decided to pay a call. This of course means I need to make something for the family. Casting about the fridge I noted I had strawberries that needed to be used, a bunch of cream cheese I got on sale, and a jar of lemon curd that was begging to be used. Throw in the box of graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter and I had all the ingredients to make a Strawberry Jewel Tart.

I found the recipe years ago in Parents magazine, July 1998 to be exact. A quick online search drew a big goose egg, so I will detail the recipe here. It is dead easy to make and has a beautiful presentation.

Strawberry Jewel Tart

1 1/3 cups graham-cracker crumbs
2 Tbs. sugar
6 Tbs melted butter

Heat the oven to 350 F. Stir together the crumbs and sugar; mix in butter until combined. Press mixture onto the sides and bottom of a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

1 jar (10 to 11 oz. ) lemon curd
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 pint strawberries, quarter lengthwise*
2 Tbs currant jelly, warmed in the microwave**

In a large bowl, with electric mixer on medium, beat lemon curd and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spoon mixture into crust and smooth top. Arrange strawberries in a pattern of concentric circles (alternating cut-side-up and cut-side-down)***. Brush strawberries with jelly. Chill tart at least 2 hours before serving.

*I just trimmed off the strawberries' tops and cut them in half lengthwise. 

**I didn't bother with the jelly

***I kept them cut-side-down, I think the tart looks better that way.

It was absolutely delicious. The flavors of the lemon  curd, strawberries, and cream cheese are wonderful together. I love easy desserts that are simple to make and full of flavor.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Artist of the Week: Blueprints

outdoor jake by Teckelcar
outdoor jake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is a rather silly Jacob.

I took this picture of him a few months ago. He was goofing around and mugging for the camera, a rare moment indeed. I loved the resultant picture so much I put it in our annual calendar that we give out to family each year. We have been doing the calendar since Jacob was a baby and it has become a sort of annual photo album. A good thing since I haven't made one in years, dare I say decades.

Anyhoodle this is about Jacob and not my lack of the scrap-booking gene.

blueprints by Teckelcar
blueprints, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The picture I have here to the right is a blueprint. Specifically the blueprint of a house designed by Jacob to my specifications.He is taking Architectural Engineering Building Systems and the ongoing assignment is to design a house from the ground up. I was asked about where I wanted to build, what kind of heating system, what style of house, and so forth. I settled on a home along the James River with a Victorian flare, but with geothermal heating. Oh and I wanted a walk out basement and at least one turret.

He is having a lot of fun with this project. Before this class he was having doubts about the whole engineering thing. It has reminded him of his love for architecture. The program the class is using is Revit and is an awkward piece of software. Despite the bugs and oddities of bathtubs being installed sideways and sunken in the floor, he has rekindled his passion for architectural design.Plus I get plans for a pretty funky house.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Mini Apple Tart

Mini apple tart by Teckelcar
Mini apple tart, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I fully intended to make focaccia today for the whole Baking with Julia thing. I cracked open my cookbook, all ready to make bread, when my eye caught the line "This dough is mixed quickly in a heavy-duty mixer, allowed to rise, and then refrigerated for at least twenty-four hours, the time it needs to set that bubbly structure in place."

Whoopsie, I guess the focaccia isn't going to be baked today.

Which turned out for the best because I ended up making a quick apple cranberry pecan pie/crisp for Larry to take to a shiva call this evening. Thus bringing us to the mini apple tart.

I had a small amount of dough left after I trimmed the edges of the pie crust. I didn't want it to go to waste and since I wasn't going to get any pie, I decided to make a little tart for myself using one of my 4 inch tart pans.

Two apples were peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces. I tossed the apple chunks with a bit of brown sugar and squeezed on some lemon juice. The apple mixture was then packed into the waiting crust in the tart pan. For the topping I made a mixture of flour, brown sugar, ground ginger, and butter. I cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then sprinkled it on top of the apples. Into the oven at 350 and about half and hour later I had a luscious little tart.

Using just ginger was a nice change of pace. The pie I sent off with Larry had just ginger and I decided to give it a whirl.  Both the tart and the pie were very tasty, Larry told me the one he brought got rave reviews. I'll have to post about it another time.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Missing Her

Missing Her, Directed by Michael Weisler, was a Tropfest 2011 Finalist. In this film the director asks "If you had to leave everything you ever loved behind, except for one thing, what would you take with you? And if you lost that one thing, could you ever find your way home?"

Sunday, February 03, 2013


cloudy by Teckelcar
cloudy, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I am heartily sick of all the cloudy weather this winter. Today was grey and dull with a couple of moments of brilliant sunshine between snow flurries.I am happy to report, however, that drivers around here are starting to be a bit less freaked out by things like the inconsequential smattering of snow today. I think the local inhabitants of where I lived might be just getting used to this whole winter weather thing.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Shoot Me: Reflection

Pavement Puddle by Teckelcar
Pavement Puddle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The latest Shoot Me challenge is "Reflection" and as you can see, I went for puddles.

We have had endlessly wet weather, so puddles abound. The hard part was getting a bit of sunshine amongst all of the cloudy days. Patience paid off and I ultimately got a bright day that made the puddles sparkle. I had a wide variety to choose from and I had a hard time winnowing the pictures down to just three.

The first one featured here was taken in a parking lot near a playground. I like the contrast of the black and crumbled tarmac to the trees reflected in the water.

Median Puddle by Teckelcar
Median Puddle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Next up is a ditch that is contained within a median dividing the roadway. I like the strong lines in the composition from the roadway, the ditch, and the tree trunks. Another nice aspect is that the individual trees can be matched with their reflections. All in all it's a good picture, I just wish the winter colors were not so muted in tone. I could boost the color, but that really isn't my style.

The third and final picture I think is my favorite,. It asks a bit more of the viewer, but I think that makes it a bit more interesting.
Ice Puddle by Teckelcar
Ice Puddle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
At first glance you don't even notice the reflection, but it is there. A tree is reflected in the puddle of water on the surface of a frozen pond. The refrozen crack in the upper left also roughly mirrors the shape of the tree, a sort of reflection of a reflection. The sky was a bit more overcast for this shot, you can just pick out the clouds that are reflected in the puddle. The clouds, meanwhile,  look more like ripples in the ice.

All three pictures were taken last Saturday and within easy walking distance of each other. It was a productive day's work.