Sunday, February 28, 2016

Everyone Needs a Steve

Our beloved Steve always had a cup of coffee in his hand when he walked in the door.  

Four years ago when my friend, Mary, introduced me to her jack-of-all-trades and friend Steve, I had no idea what a special friend Steve would become to Dan and me.  Initially, Steve came to install a painting I had that I wanted to use to conceal a new electrical panel that had been moved from a closet to a wall in our kitchen.  He had done something similar for Mary. 
He installed the painting using a piano hinge so that it would swing away if we needed to access the electrical panel.

When the painting is closed, it hides the electrical panel behind it.
From that one task I became to use him more and more for lots of things around the house, and Dan and I became to treasure him as a friend. He became a member of our family.

He would have long discussions with Dan---political, religious, literary, philosophical.  He was truly a Renaissance man and was intellectually curious about so many things.  I remember once Dan made some comment about a certain kind of rabbit being not a rabbit but a hare.  We were at the table having lunch, and Steve immediately wanted to know the difference between the two.  Dan explained and I googled, and we had a long discussion over lunch about the difference between a rabbit and a hare.  Every lunch we shared usually ended with a long discussion of some new topic for Steve or for us.

I came to rely on Steve for any household project I had in mind.  I wanted to renovate our TV room and while we were on vacation in Florida, Steve removed the wallpaper, prepared the walls, painted the trim, picked out a couple of suggested colors for the wall and when we returned  he painted the wall.  I gave Steve full rein in redecorating the room using art work that we had scattered around the walls of the other rooms. 
Steve chose a soft yellow for the walls, added a new bench, moved the giraffe art from our living room.
The result was lovely, and it is one of my favorite rooms now.

When we decided to convert our two-car garage into a guest suite, I told Steve what I had in mind and put him in charge.  We had so much fun together working on that project. 
Steve designed and  built a picket fence of sorts to hide the water heater in the bedroom of the suite.  He gave me these bamboo clothes hangers to match other bamboo pieces I had on hand.

He built shelves on the bedroom side of the suite and chose books, pottery and art from our collection to display.
He chose a cotton painters drop cloth to cover a door between the two sides of the suite. It is beautiful (and cost next to nothing.)
Steve went with me when I was shopping for furniture for the suite, and this is a chair that he and I chose.

As soon as I learned how creative and what a good designer he was, I didn't undertake any project without having him on board.  I've always enjoyed projects around the house, and it was fun having Steve's experience and talent along.  Steve was just a joy to have around.  He was a great conversationalist and he had a great sense of humor. 

Steve particularly enjoyed working in the garden, and when we extended the deck in the little courtyard between our house and the garage, Steve did the landscaping.

Steve was a talented landscaper. 

For the last two years Steve did our decorations for Christmas.

Our front door decoration this past Christmas, handiwork of Steve.

Steve's greenery in the window boxes for Christmas. 

I simply put Steve in charge and he took care of the wreaths, the table decorations, the tree, and even helped wrap the presents.  There was nothing Steve could not do when it came to design, and whatever he did he did to perfection.

Our kitchen corner that Steve designed and built.

Another project involved adding a corner counter in the kitchen where we once had a small table.  This was going to be my station for storing my mixer and for baking.  Steve designed and built the counter and  picked out the counter stools.  He hung some of my pots and pans above the counter.  I use this space constantly now. 

All of our pantry doors hang perfectly now.

Our organized pots and pans pantry.

Just three weeks ago, Steve began his last project for me--organizing our pantries.  Our house was built in the 50s and some of the doors on our pantry shelves had become askew.  He took all the doors off and rehung them so that they are now straight and they close perfectly.  Then he organized our pots and pans pantry. 

There were other project on my list for Steve, but Steve passed away suddenly last week, and this has left a hole in my life and in my heart that no other will be able to fill.  We no longer have our Steve, but he will live forever in the hearts of his many friends. .

                                                 RIP Steve Gilewicz
                                July 30, 1961--February 23, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Easy Tiramisu

A delicious serving of tiramisu.  Yummy!

A couple of years ago I had a wonderful dessert of tiramisu at the Lavender Bistro in Tryon, North Carolina.  That inspired me to undertake making this dessert, and I discovered it is really quite easy.  I wanted to find a recipe that did not use egg yolks and did not use alcohol.  I tweaked a recipe of Sandra Lee's of the Food Channel.

1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature  *(I used 8oz of mascarpone cheese.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (7-ounce) package of ladyfingers
1 cup strong black coffee *(I made a cup of strong espresso---stronger than coffee.)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Sandra Lee made her recipe in 4 wine glasses---four individual servings.  I used an 8 x 8 inch glass dish and I was able to get 6 servings from this.

1.  In a chilled bowl combine 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar.  Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 
Heavy cream and sugar ready to make whipped cream.

2.  In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.  (Next time I will use only 1/4 cup of sugar here, because the mascarpone cheese is  sweet.) Whip with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
Mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla.  Blend together.
Cheese mixture.

3.  Line the bottom of the glass dish with ladyfingers that have been dipped quickly into the coffee.  You do not want to soak the ladyfingers, because they will turn into a mushy texture.  Dip quickly, no more than 5 seconds.

Ladyfingers dipped into coffee lining bottom of glass dish.

4.  Spread half of the cheese mixture on top of the ladyfingers.
Sptread cheese mixture on ladyfingers.

5.  Add a second layer of ladyfingers that have been dipped into the coffee.
Second layer of lady fingers.

6.  Spread the remaining cheese mixture on top of these ladyfingers.    Top with the whipped cream.
Top with whipped cream.

7.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  Just before serving put the cocoa powder into a small sieve and tap gentle to dust the top of the dessert. 
Dust with cocoa powder before serving.

This is an easy dessert.  It would be quite elegant served in individual wine glasses as Sandra Lee's recipe suggests.  I'll be making this again. 

Ready to eat. 
Check this out for a recipe to serve in individual wine glasses.
Photo from Well Fed.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Trader Joe's Mocha Yogurt my Sweets for Sunday

I'm gradually getting back to having my Sunday "sweets", but I'm careful  to stay within my 24 g limit of sugar per day.  Yogurt is a favorite of mine, but since so many yogurts have added sugar I've had to resort to plain yogurt rather than the flavored varieties.  Trader Joe's Coffeehaus European style yogurt in mocha or chocolate has always been one that I liked.  But when I discovered there are 16g of sugar (that's 4 teaspoons) per container., I knew I would have to consider it a dessert for special occasions or a Sunday "sweet". 

Yesterday (Sunday) I savored every bite of this yogurt and I consider it my "sweets" for the week. 


  • Serving Size: 1 cup (this is referring to the container that it is in which is 5.3oz not 8oz)
  • Amount per Serving
  • Calories 130Kcal 8%
  • Calories from Fat 20Kcal 3%
  • Total Fat 2g 3%
  • Saturated Fat 1.5g 9%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 10mg 3%
  • Sodium 90mg 4%
  • Total Carbohydrate 20g 9%
  • Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
  • Sugars 16g 37%                    
  • Protein 8g 17%
  • Vitamin A 300IU 6%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Calcium 250mg 25%
  • Iron 0.36mg 2%

If you like yogurt, and if you like chocolate or mocha, you will surely like Trader Joe's European style mocha or chocolate yogurt.  .   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Right Place at Right Time

I'm not gadding about much these days, because Dan is ill, and I have to stay close to home.  But I did venture out to Whole Foods yesterday, and came upon a young mother in the parking lot whose two year old was locked in the car.  The mother's phone, keys and everything were also locked in.  The child  accidentally hit the remote and the car locked while the mother was getting the stroller out of the trunk.
Mother trying to get her two year old to open the door.

Fortunately I had my cell phone, and we called 911 and the fire truck arrived pretty quickly and they managed to open the car door.  All the while, the two year old was enjoying every minute of this.  She thought it was some kind of game I guess. 
Firetruck arrives!
Firemen opening the door. 
Happy Mom.

All's well that ends well!!.