Happy Halloween to all you ghouls and zombies!
Tonight is a night for picture-taking, candy stashing, going from home to home and scaring and delighting children!
As you know, Mei had her first Halloween party a couple of nights ago, but tonight, she and her boyfriend Louie got together for a quick playdate to exchange some Halloween goodies. We got Louie some American baby treats that he has enjoyed in the past and a fun cup to eat them out of in the car, one of Mei’s extras that she loves. It has a soft, swirly top that you can plunge your hand into, grab a treat (in her case, Cheerios) and pull one or two out without the rest of the little bowlful, it’s quite clever and a godsend! It keeps her occupied in the car and teaches her new skills, so it was a perfect gift for Mr. Louie!
The only thing we didn’t do is to take pictures of their costumes. Louie wore a skeleton costume too, but his had the hands and feet on them on both sides so when he crawled around, you could see the bottoms of his bones. You get the idea. Anyhow, we are getting into the holiday season where there will be more and more picture-taking as the end of the year grows near and the holiday season begins!
What do you do with your pictures from throughout the year? I have friends and family both that make photocards and postcards throughout the year, saving a “good” picture for their Christmas cards with some wishes for the new year and a re-cap of the year past. I always love getting those in the mail, mixed in with the bills and other garbage that comes through our mailbox! It’s just plain fun to see what people pick as their highlights and seeing some of my favorite pictures from Facebook and such come across cards.
Last year, I made my own photo memory, pin board. You know the kind that are so popular right now? they are covered with fabric and crisscrossing ribbons so you can tuck in notes, photos and whatever else you like? I made it to go in our office and spend the year collecting photocards on it and never take any off, so that when they fall down on their own we get to see all the ones that came before it. Oh, and the school pictures! It’s crazy to see how much kids change from one September to the next!
So what does this have to do with blood? … Well, nothing whatsoever. But it harkens to the pictures we took of Mei’s first Halloween. I have been diligently documenting her first year of life and plan to put those pictures into our own photocards in the years to come and in the photo-cookbook I plan to one day make for Mei. I would love to include pictures of her first time making certain meals along with the recipes and instructions so that she can re-create her favorite meals when she one-day moves away or goes to college or gets married herself and wants to make her loved one a special meal. It would be great to take pictures of her learning her way around the kitchen also, to include in the book.
I also love how candid Mei is in some of these photos, just looking at the past few months of my blog. She has really grown! Her reach has expanded, she is crawling now and doesn’t like to sit in one spot for very long and her vocabulary is expanding! It’s hard to pick from so many cute pictures which ones should go into a photobook or made into some kind of photo gift or go on a photocard! …
After seeing Shutterfly’s selection, I think I might indulge and get a calendar made of pictures of what we were doing in the months before I got pregnant, through the pregnancy alongside some pictures of what Mei was up to at those months in the previous year. It would be a great personalized gift for my husband to take around with him when he can’t be home and for us to keep at the house, possibly with some pictures of where he was in the world during certain months.
I have friends that have their preferences of places to get photocards and gifts made although more and more of them are going to different online websites and I have heard good things about Shutterfly! Plus, they have some of the most diverse products at good rates (considering what some companies charge for shipping) that it makes it worthwhile for someone living abroad. I have been making a wish list of different things I plan to make for Mei, chronicling her first year and among them are a butt-load of blankets! Different themed quilts for every season, every new step and word… you get the picture… but I have always wanted to make a photo throw! I might take advantage of all the great photos we have taken this year to finally make one! I certainly want to make use of Shutterfly’s Christmas themed cards, they have so much more variety than any other site I have seen and it makes it even harder to deny! So much of the impending holiday season makes me teary-eyed looking at pictures and trying to pick just one. Or four. Possibly it would be easier to “pick” if I just made a couple different cards to mail out. Hmmm….
As you can see, I’m a bit conflicted on which cards or gifts to make (why not all right? … if you can’t pick! This way I don’t have to!) and a bit sentimental of this past year. At least I have another month or so to figure it out! Maybe we will just have to make up a Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years AND First Birthday photocards!
Back to Halloween! It was a toss up between something “gross” and pumpkin pie truffles today and since my last experience with ganache was a bit trying, I settled on something “gross.” Nice, big, flavorful raspberries were on sale at the market so I went ahead and decided to make “blood” or raspberry panna cotta. I figured I would leave the seeds in, hoping that they would look like maggots and add some red food coloring to hopefully get a deep, dark blood color. But alas, no amount of red food coloring managed to get the panna cotta the color I wanted and the seeds didn’t really stand out, so I used a quarter of the raspberries that I had reserved to make a thick, bloody sauce to put on top of the finished pinky-magenta hued panna cotta a fresh blood-letting appearance.
I held back on the sugar a bit, so that the panna cotta would be sweet but tangy and left most of the sugar out of the raspberry “blood” and added a teaspoon of rose water, which gave the “blood” an interesting aroma and a sharp taste, as if you were licking blood off a wound or papercut.
It was the perfect dessert! And served in silver tipped goblets? Any aspiring vampire’s dream come true! I feel that this would delightfully put off and amuse the palate of any person daring enough to try a goblet full of congealed blood with fresh blood garnish!
- 1 C heavy cream
- 16 oz/ 500g greek yogurt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 C sugar
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 5 TBS cold water
- 2 pints raspberries
- 1 tsp rosewater
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a bowl to soften, for about five minutes.
Bring the cream, sugar and vanilla to a simmer in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and mix in the gelatin.
Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth, then whisk the cream mixture into the yogurt until well combined.
In a small saucepan, smash one pint of raspberries to a pulp with the back of a spoon, stirring it with 2 TBS of sugar until the sugar has resolved and the berries have broken down. Then stir this into the cream and yogurt mixture with some red food coloring to color the panna cotta to your liking. Pour into molds then cool in the refrigerator until set for at least four hours or overnight.
In the saucepan, smash the raspberries to a pulp with the back of a spoon and sprinkle over as much sugar, up to two tablespoons, as you like, then put in one tablespoon of rosewater, stirring over high heat until the raspberries have broken down and reduced by one-third. Let cool.
You can invert the panna cotta or pour some of the sauce over the it, in the mold and enjoy!