Note: I just got my 1st COVID vaccine, a Moderna, yesterday. I won’t lie — it’s knocked the stuffing out of me so I’ll keep this post brief. Make no mistake, as uncomfortable as I feel (achy, chills, fever, headache, poor sleep, which means my body is building protection, doing what it’s supposed to do), I most certainly will get my 2nd shot and totally recommend everyone get immunized.
Persians like my dear husband celebrate the Iranian New Year on the first day of spring. The celebration is two solid weeks of partying and time off from work, much like our winter holidays. Same as the European New Year, Nowrooz is a secular holiday. However some regard it also as a holy time.
No-rooz mobarak: Happy New Year
Eid-eh shoma mobarak: Happy New Year to you (formal)
No-rooz pirooz: Wishing you a prosperous New Year
Sad saal be in saal-ha: Wishing you 100 more Happy New Years
Here we stand before the “sofre” that Khashayar puts together annually. Items represent a plethora of auspicious things that start with the letter “s” (in Farsi, of course). Here and here when I posted earlier about it, you can find out more. What a delight to see that my local Ralph’s grocery store put out a sofre with detailed explanations.
And what would a holiday be without a cute little dog licking her lips at the sight of those tasty patries?
Have you been immunized against COVID-19 yet? If so, which brand did you get, and how were your first days, and later?…
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Staying home makes me hungry! How about you? And when I get hungry, my first thoughts are of sweets! Cute ones are all the more enticing…
South African author Robbie Cheadle hosts a blog, has an author page on Goodreads, and Tweets from Johannesburg. For all ages, she writes books and contributes to anthologies. There are her “Sir Chocolate” children’s books (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), and her middle-grade “Silly Willy” series. And there is her preteen/young adult fictionalized bio about her mom’s World War II childhood in England, along with a book of poetry co-authored with Kim Blades. As Roberta Eaton Cheadle, she’s venturing into supernatural and horror stories for adults and young adults, the first titled, “Through the Nethergate.”
“How to make fondant (sugar dough/paste) peonies” by Robbie Cheadle
My husband’s birthday is approaching, and I wanted to make something special to mark the day, especially as we are likely to still be in some form of COVID-19 lockdown. I decided to make peonies in a dark pink and dust the outer petals with edible gold.
Making the peonies was quite a challenge, as I wanted to get the shape right. Peony petals curl inwards, which means that each layer must be allowed to dry completely inside a correctly sized bowl-shaped container. I made these containers out of tin foil, which I pleated and folded to fit the four different stages of the petals.
You will need…
Fondant coloured dark pink
A large fondant rose cutter
A large and a small ball tool
Edible sugar glue
Peony petal cutters in three sizes (standard pack)
Edible dark pink food colouring powder
Edible gold dust
Two medium-sized paintbrushes
A flower veining tool or toothpick
Mix a quantity of dark pink fondant and place it in a lock zip plastic bag. Take a small amount and roll it out as thinly as possible. Use a thin layer of cornflour on the surface of the fondant when you roll it out to prevent it from sticking. Cut out two rose shapes using your large rose cutter.
Use a ball took or toothpick to frill and flute the edges of the two rose shapes and use the flower veining tool or toothpick to texture the petals. Place in a small silver foil container pleated to round the petals. Allow to dry to the texture of leather.
Roll a bud from fondant with a fatter base and narrower tip. Use a bit of sugar glue to attach it to one of the rose shapes. Paint a small blob of sugar glue on the bottom part of each petal on both sides and wrap the petals around the bud. Use a toothpick to separate the petals and create a rosebud shape. Use sugar glue to attach the enlarged bud to the other rose shape.
Wrap the other shape around the enlarged bud. Leave to dry overnight.
Roll out more dark pink fondant and cut out six peony petals using your smallest peony petal cutter. Frill and flute the edges using a small ball tool or a toothpick. Use the toothpick for flower veining tool to texture the petals.
Place them upside down in a sliver foil container and allow them to dry to the texture of leather.
Dab sugar glue along the bottom half of both edges of the petals and place them around the bud, pressing them firmly into place with your fingers. When all six petals have been placed around the bud, place the flower into a piece of silver foil shaped into a cup. Leave overnight to dry. Your flower will look like this…
The following day cut out six middle-sized peony petals and repeat the steps above. Place in a slightly larger silver foil cup and leave to dry overnight.
Repeat the above process on days three and four, using the large peony petal cutter and slightly larger silver foil cups.
Once the peony is completely dry, use a medium-sized paintbrush dipped into dark pink food colouring power, and smudge it into the centre of the peony. Dip a medium-sized paintbrush into edible gold shimmer dust and paint over the outermost petals until they shimmer and shine.
Your peony flower is now complete.
For step-by-step instruction on how to make more of our fondant artworks, for recipes, and for free audible readings of our free Sir Chocolate books, please visit our YouTube site.
Our YouTube site is a community service project that my two sons and I have started to bring readings of our free Sir Chocolate books and simple recipes to children and their parents to help keep children entertained during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our step-by-step creature videos can be made with children using playdough or fondant.
These are trying times worldwide — perhaps my other posts here and here and here and here and here and here and here will lift your spirits a bit?
Has your eating changed since COVID19?
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“Stay safe.” How many times a day do you hear that? During this COVID19 era, whether the conversation is for business or pleasure, the majority of mine end with someone telling me, “Stay safe.” Then I ask them to do the same.
Here in Los Angeles, weeks have turn into months. No complaints from me, proud of the liberal blueness of my state as I am. Assuming folks remind me to ‘stay safe’ at home with super-clean hands, for my part, I mean something different. Stay safe, dear reader — stay safely happy as well as healthy.
Now that we’re on the subject, how are you managing that? Me, I do my usual keeping busy. Let me preface that with: it’s easy for me. I am most definitely lucky, lucky, lucky. I’ve got food, shelter, and all my people are sound inside and out. That includes my four-legged furry little girl. And I live in an area where Spring has sprung amid a fabulously mild climate.
Recently I heard that sheltering has affected dogs (surely the menagerie of other beloved pets too) — in a good way! It turns out that at least one doggie needed vet-prescribed relaxation to recover from wagging their tail so much. Ah, the sheer bliss of having one’s person(s) home ‘round the clock, ‘round the week!
My heart goes out to everyone who struggles as a result of the pandemic. Thank you, all who are working away from home. You are my heroes.
But I feel guilty. You too? Because for as terrible as the situation is…
These are some of the gifts that I will miss when sheltering is over…
I live within walking distance from a commuter airport, and my home has single-paned windows. Fewer flights mean I’ve been sleeping better and now I hear more birds in the daytime.
Though I didn’t eat out much even before the sheltering, stocking up for two weeks at a time takes rethinking errands and cooking. That’s not so bad — I’m finding that shopping far less often leaves me more time to write, to walk, to do all kinds of things.
Nature too is getting a ‘reboot.’ Fewer drivers result in cleaner air, more birds singing this spring-time, and less road-kill. It’s nice to look up to a night sky of more twinkling stars, fewer airplanes.
It’s lovely to see neighbors I never knew. They ride their bikes past my window, their kids following like ducklings.
More pets are out with their owners. On my strolls, dog in tow or not, it’s a relief to not worry about rush-hour traffic mowing us down.
People are adopting more pets!
My expenses are down. Since this started, I haven’t needed to put gas in my car.
I have less laundry and buy fewer clothes I haven’t gotten my hair styled, and I definitely use fewer cosmetics.
My rare drives are a breeze in the reduced traffic.
Definitely, it would be great to see my friends and family in person soon. On the other hand, with all this extra time, we’re keeping in closer contact thanks to Zoom and FaceTiming. Moreover, visual visits require us to really pay attention to each other.
When I had my annual physical, speaking with my doctor didn’t cost me a co-pay, as it was a phone visit.
Without the commute to parties and my beloved yoga studio, I’m keeping fitter with fewer days of over-indulgence and the daily zoom workouts.
My husband is whiling away his extra time by assuming much of the grocery shopping and cooking duties.
For all anyone knows, I’ve got a mustache and mask-tan lines on face — but I won’t tell!
Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. When I asked my Facebook friends, they had plenty they appreciated. I forgot to ask permission to name them, so I’ll paraphrase. Some are exercising to videos and glad for more time to cook, garden, create art, and to watch old and new favorite TV shows. Personally, I’m totally on the same page as the friend who’s binging on “Monk” shows. Even my local newspaper, The Long Beach Post News’ columnist Tim Grobaty, reports some good fallout from all the pollution slow-down.